Benjamin Netanyahu

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On the Politics of Victory and Defeat: How Gaza Dethroned the King of Israel

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 10/06/2021 - 2:42am in

How did Benjamin Netanyahu manage to serve as Israel’s longest-serving Prime Minister? With a total of 15 years in office, Netanyahu surpassed the 12-year mandate of Israel’s founding father, David Ben Gurion. The answer to this question will become particularly critical for future Israeli leaders who hope to emulate Netanyahu’s legacy, now that his historic leadership is likely to end.

Netanyahu’s ‘achievements’ for Israel cannot be judged according to the same criteria as that of Ben Gurion. Both were staunch Zionist ideologues and savvy politicians. Unlike Ben Gurion, though, Netanyahu did not lead a so-called ‘war of independence,’ merging militias into an army and carefully constructing a ‘national narrative’ that helped Israel justify its numerous crimes against the indigenous Palestinians, at least in the eyes of Israel and its supporters.

The cliched explanation of Netanyahu’s success in politics is that he is a ‘survivor’, a hustler, a fox or, at best, a political genius. However, there is more to Netanyahu than mere soundbites. Unlike other right-wing politicians around the world, Netanyahu did not simply exploit or ride the wave of an existing populist movement. Instead, he was the main architect of the current version of Israel’s right-wing politics. If Ben Gurion was the founding father of Israel in 1948, Netanyahu is the founding father of the new Israel in 1996. While Ben Gurion and his disciples used ethnic cleansing, colonization and illegal settlement construction for strategic and military reasons, Netanyahu, while carrying on with the same practices, changed the narrative altogether.

For Netanyahu, the biblical version of Israel was far more convincing than the secular Zionist ideology of yesteryears. By changing the narrative, Netanyahu managed to redefine the support for Israel around the world, bringing together right-wing religious zealots, chauvinistic, Islamophobic, far-right and ultra-nationalist parties in the US and elsewhere.

Netanyahu’s success in rebranding the centrality of the idea of Israel in the minds of its traditional supporters was not a mere political strategy. He also shifted the balance of power in Israel by making Jewish extremists and illegal settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories his core constituency. Subsequently, he reinvented Israeli conservative politics altogether.

He also trained an entire generation of Israeli right-wing, far-right and ultra-nationalist politicians, giving rise to such unruly characters such as former Defense Minister and the leader of Yisrael Beiteinu, Avigdor Lieberman, former Justice Minister, Ayelet Shaked, and former Defense Minister, and Netanyahu’s likely replacement, Naftali Bennett.

Indeed, a whole new generation of Israelis grew up watching Netanyahu take the right-wing camp from one success to another. For them, he is the savior. His hate-filled rallies and anti-peace rhetoric in the mid-1990s galvanized Jewish extremists, one of whom killed Yitzhak Rabin, Israel’s former Prime Minister who engaged the Palestinian leadership through the ‘peace process’ and, ultimately, signed the Oslo Accords.

On Rabin’s death in November 1995, Israel’s political ‘left’ was devastated by right-wing populism championed by its new charismatic leader, Netanyahu, who, merely a few months later, became Israel’s youngest Prime Minister.

Despite the fact that, historically, Israeli politics is defined by its ever-changing dynamics, Netanyahu has helped the right prolong its dominance, completely eclipsing the once-hegemonic Labor Party. This is why the right loves Netanyahu. Under his reign, illegal Jewish colonies expanded unprecedentedly, and any possibility, however meager, of a two-state solution has been forever buried.

Additionally, Netanyahu changed the relationship between the US and Israel, where the latter was no longer a ‘client regime’ – not that it ever was in the strict definition of the term – but one that holds much sway over the US Congress and the White House.

Every attempt by Israel’s political elites to dislodge Netanyahu from power has failed. No coalition was powerful enough; no election outcome was decisive enough and no one was successful enough in convincing Israeli society that he could do more for them than Netanyahu has. Even when Gideon Sa’ar from Netanyahu’s own Likud party tried to stage his own coup against Netanyahu, he lost the vote and the support of the Likudists, later to be ostracized altogether.

Sa’ar later founded his own party, New Hope, continuing with the desperate attempt to oust the seemingly unconquerable Netanyahu. Four general elections within only two years still failed to push Netanyahu out. Every possible mathematical equation to unify various coalitions, all united by the single aim of defeating Netanyahu, has also failed. Each time, Netanyahu came back, with greater resolve to hang on to his seat, challenging contenders within his own party as well as his enemies from without. Even Israel’s court system, which is currently trying Netanyahu for corruption, was not powerful enough to compel disgraced Netanyahu to resign.

Until May of this year, Palestinians seemed to be marginal, if at all relevant to this conversation. Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation looked as if they were mollified, thanks to Israeli violence and Palestinian Authority acquiescence. Palestinians in Gaza, despite occasional displays of defiance, were battling a 15-year-long Israeli siege. Palestinian communities inside Israel seemed alien to any political conversation pertaining to the struggle and aspirations of the Palestinian people.

All of these illusions were dispelled when Gaza rose in solidarity with a small Palestinian community in Sheikh Jarrah in occupied East Jerusalem. Their resistance ignited a torrent of events that, within days, unified all Palestinians, everywhere. Consequently, the popular Palestinian revolt has shifted the discourse in favor of Palestinians and against the Israeli occupation.

Perfectly depicting the significance of that moment, the Financial Times newspaper wrote, “The ferocity of the Palestinian anger caught Israel by surprise.” Netanyahu, whose extremist goons were unleashed against Palestinians everywhere, similar to his army being unleashed against besieged Gaza, found himself at an unprecedented disadvantage. It took only 11 days of war to shatter Israel’s sense of ‘security’, expose its sham democracy and spoil its image around the world.

The once untouchable Netanyahu became the mockery of Israeli politics. His conduct in Gaza was described by leading Israeli politicians as “embarrassing”, a defeat and a “surrender”.

Netanyahu struggled to redeem his image. It was too late. As strange as this may sound, it was not Bennett or Lieberman who finally dethroned the “King of Israel’, but the Palestinians themselves.

Feature photo | MintPress News | Associated Press

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) and also at the Afro-Middle East Center (AMEC). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

The post On the Politics of Victory and Defeat: How Gaza Dethroned the King of Israel appeared first on MintPress News.

Palestinian Attacks – Israel’s Retaliations Are Always Massively Disproportionate

Mike’s written an excellent piece over at Vox Political on the current escalating clashes between Palestinians and Israelis at al-Aqsa Mosque. The clashes began with protests after Friday prayers last week against the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from a district of Jerusalem in order to make way for Israeli settlers. Mike’s piece includes a tweet showing a very entitled Israeli settler who makes it clear he believes he has every right to evict a Palestinian family from their home and have it instead. The Israeli police have shot people with rubber bullets and tear gas inside the mosque. This is horrendous sacrilege. It is the Islam’s third holiest shrine, and as a holy place it should be immune from violence. The Palestinians have launched rocket attacks, which have been met with even further violence and repression by the Israelis.

In an earlier piece about these clashes, Mike challenged Israel’s zealous defenders to justify the country’s actions. They have been unable to do so, except to point to the Palestinian attacks. As Mike says, they miss the point that he doesn’t approve of those either.

But it also needs to be said that Israel’s response to Palestinian violence is never proportionate. It is always massively excessive. The Israeli historian and pro-Palestinian activist Ilan Pappe has made this point in his book, Ten Myths About Israel. He specifically talks about Operation Cast Lead, launched by the man I’ve heard one Jewish academic call ‘that bastard Netanyahu’ in response to attacks from Gaza. He also discusses other incidents when the Israelis have contrived to provoke violence from the Palestinians so that they could respond with even greater force. This is all part of the decades-long campaign to grind down and expel the Palestinians from eretz Israel.

This ethnic cleansing is opposed by many sincerely liberal Jews and Israelis. The Israeli human rights organisation, B’Tselem has been very active denouncing it and educating people about Israel’s oppression of the indigenous Arab population. There is also the veterans’ group, Breaking the Silence, of former servicemen speaking out about the atrocities they committed and witnessed as part of the IDF. These good people are hated by Netanyahu and his supporters. There have been rants demanding that any Israeli, who assists the Palestinians should be stripped of their vote. Ilan Pappe was forced out of his post at an Israeli university and his home because of his determination to expose what was happening.

And now apparently Boris Johnson is following the scumbag American right in wishing to pass laws to ban the Boycott, Divest and Sanction campaign as ‘anti-Semitic’. No, it’s really not. BDS does not call for the boycott of Jewish goods, nor even that of goods and businesses located in Israel. It only calls for a boycott of Israeli goods and businesses located in the Occupied Territories, on land that rightfully belongs to the Palestinians. It has the support of many self-respecting, Torah-observant and secular Jews, who are smeared and reviled by Netanyahu’s supporters as self-hating anti-Semites. And as Mike has also pointed out, Jewry and the state of Israel are certainly not synonymous, whatever laws Netanyahu passes to say so. There are ‘True Torah’, ultra-Orthodox Jews who object to the state of Israel as a blasphemy, because in their theology Israel can only be restored by divine power through the Messiah. And there are other Jews, who strongly believe that Netanyahu’s actions against the Palestinians are a form of Fascism. One Israeli chemist and philosopher coined the term ‘Judeonazism to describe it. For them, Jews should always take the side of the oppressed, never the oppressor.

I had an email from Labour & Palestine stating that a demonstration has been organised for this Saturday. The email runs:

THIS SATURDAY – March to the Israeli Embassy, 12 noon, Marble Arch
#SaveSheikhJarrah #FreePalestine


GET INVOLVED: RSVP & share the demo here – check local events here


Hello,

We are writing to urge you to join the above London demonstration and local actions this Saturday taking place under the vital slogans  #SaveSheikhJarrah #FreePalestine – as well as going yourself, please tell friends and try and get your local Labour Party and other banners along!

In order to support these protests, we have also rescheduled our workshop for our supporters only on building support for Palestine in your CLP for 6.30pm-8.00pm on Thursday May 27. This event will include a briefing on current developments in Palestine and presentation of our model/Conference motion on Palestine, which we are currently updating to include the latest developments. You can RSVP here.

I am not intending to go, but I have put news of it up in case anyone else is interested.

Israel’s actions are deplorable and Boris’ attempts to try to ban BDS is another attack on British freedom of belief.

Israeli Police Clash with Palestinian Protesters at al-Aqsa Mosque

Mike put up a piece this morning asking what the Israeli cops were doing shooting rubber bullets at and firing tear gas canisters at Palestinians inside the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. This is Islam’s third holiest shrine and occupies part of the site of Solomon’s Temple. According to today’s Independent, the clashes have been provoked by the possible eviction of Palestinians from their homes in the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in east Jerusalem and the land and homes given to Israeli settlers. Crowds had gone to the mosque for Friday prayers to celebrate the end of Ramadan, and protests against the possible evictions began after the service ended. Members of the crowd threw rocks at the police, injuring 17, but over 100 Palestinians have been hurt.

More than 200 Palestianians injured after clashes with Israeli police at mosque (msn.com)

Mike begins his article on the violence by asking

Would the Israel apologists – preferably those who scream “anti-Semitism” at every criticism of that country’s appalling government – please explain this shocking act of brutality in one of Islam’s most holy places of worship?

It’s a good question, and no doubt the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism and all the other frantically pro-Israel smear merchants are working on their mealy-mouthed apologies, just as they managed to excuse the IDF for the shooting of unarmed civilians, including a young nurse, when they broke through the Gaza fence a year or so ago. That was a disgrace, but the present violence is potentially explosive.

The al-Aqsa mosque is so revered that even secular Muslims will flinch in shock and outrage at the idea of any assault on it. Way back in the 1980s the Israeli government was forced to crack down on a militant Jewish extremist organisation, Gush Emunim, after they caught a group of its members trying to bomb the shrine. They wanted to destroy it so that Solomon’s Temple could be rebuilt. If they’d succeeded, I think it would have resulted in an apocalyptic war as every Muslim nation would have wanted to avenge the attack. I think Gush Emunim were banned, but not before they spawned Kach, another extreme Israeli nationalist organisation which openly wants all Palestinians expelled from eretz Israel. I’ve got a feeling that Kach, or an organisation derived from it, merged with another extreme nationalist party, and that party that resulted from the merger is now a partner in Netanyahu’s governing coalition. And unfortunately, Kach also has sympathisers in Britain. Tony Greenstein has put up photos of various Zionist demonstrators from some of the protests against pro-Palestinian meetings and the mass rallies held against Jeremy Corbyn a few years ago. One of those attending them is seen sporting a Kach T-shirt.

A few years ago one of the liberal papers – I think it was the Independent – carried a piece by a liberal Israeli journo, who was shocked at the growing racial and religious intolerance by Israelis against the Palestinian inhabitants of Jerusalem. He described meeting a group of Jewish schoolgirls, who blithely told him that Jerusalem had to be purged of Palestinians so that the Messiah would arrive. The impression I’ve got from reading Tony’s blog and other materials elsewhere is that the Israeli settlers are extremely right-wing and bitterly intolerant, with a number expressing similar views about the necessity of expelling the Palestinians and/or other non-Jews from Israel.

This is the government British Jewish official organisations like the Board of Deputies have been defending and smeared its critics as anti-Semites, even when they are staunch anti-racists and proud, self-respecting Jews. This is the Israeli government, which was greatly aided in its aims last year when Trump’s government moved the American embassy to Jerusalem. Trump’s Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner, dealt in land seized from the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. There has been international condemnation of the land seizures by the United Nations, but such disapproval is just brushed aside by the Israeli state. That’s why Boycot, Divest and Sanction movement was founded to persuade shoppers not to buy Israeli goods produced in the Occupied Territories. However, they’re under legal attack in America and elsewhere as a supposed anti-Semitic organisation, despite considerable Jewish support.

It’s very ominous indeed that the Israeli police feel they can fire on people in the al-Aqsa mosque. It looks to me that the support for Netanyahu’s fascistic government by Trump and other world leaders has emboldened the Israeli authorities to take such violent action. And it’s action that could very well produce terrible conflict in turn from justifiably outraged Muslims around the world.

Israel’s actions aren’t unprovoked, but they seem massively disproportionate and a real threat to world peace.

Israel: How a Trifecta of Court Cases Could Cement King Bibi’s 12-Year Reign

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 17/02/2021 - 2:30am in

Three judicial matters have been in Israeli headlines recently, all of them very serious in nature and all likely to serve Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the upcoming Israeli elections.

The first is the indicted prime minister’s court hearing in early February regarding his ongoing corruption case. The second is that the prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced that the territories Israel occupied in 1967 are within its jurisdiction, meaning that many Israelis may well be the subject of war-crimes investigations. The third is an Israeli court ruling from January 2021 banning the 2003 film “Jenin, Jenin,” made by Palestinian actor and director Mohammad Bakri. The film documents the atrocities committed by IDF forces in the Jenin refugee camp in the spring of 2002. All three are likely to raise serious concerns among the highest echelons of the Israeli government.

Yet even as these court cases loom over him, his government, and the Israeli military, and with national elections rapidly approaching, for Netanyahu these crises present opportunity. Taking the familiar pages from the Trump playbook, Netanyahu can turn every accusation of corruption into an attack by liberals, any claims of war crimes, or even misconduct by Israeli forces, into an attack on all Jews by antisemitic forces. Only in Netanyahu’s Israel could so many problems be a blessing.

Indeed, Netanyahu and his supporters claim that the corruption charges against him represent persecution of the prime minister by the liberal press and a biased judicial system. He is leading the charge to attack the ICC and has already stated that its decision is antisemitism raising its ugly head again. As for “Jenin, Jenin,” it is being universally condemned in Israel and is characterized as libelous and totally false.

When you are Benjamin Netanyahu, the best card player in the casino of Israeli politics — when you are the one who knows how to play everyone else in the room, possessing decades of experience — there’s nothing better than a good crisis. It helps to rally people around you. As a matter of fact, dealing with crises is what Netanyahu does best.

 

Indictment? No problem!

According to the Times of Israel, because Netanyahu’s corruption case has been in the news cycle for close to five years already, “[a]ny political fallout is already baked into the views, poll responses, and voting calculations on all sides.” In other words, nobody cares, and the election results will not be affected in any significant way.

Furthermore, the Times states that many of Netanyahu’s supporters “agree with Netanyahu that he is being unfairly targeted by a politicized prosecution.” Those who feel that the accusations of corruption against him have merit argue that “the advantages he brings as a leader far outstrip any possible malfeasance claimed in the indictment.” In fact, polls quoted in the Times show that “up to 54 percent of Israelis think he’s the best prime ministerial candidate.”

 

Making a deal with the devil

When no crisis is available, Netanyahu creates his own. Tensions along the border with Syria, a threat from Iran, or an impending War on Gaza are the usual favorites and work very well.

In recent days Netanyahu and his Likud Party signed an agreement with the most right-wing elements in the Zionist political spectrum. The worst neo-fascist religious fanatics within Israel have always been his natural allies and he has now come to an official agreement with them on a vote-sharing deal called “surplus votes.” Under the agreement, “Likud promised that Netanyahu would include Religious Zionism MKs ‘in any government he forms.’” That means that after Knesset votes are counted and applied towards seats in the Israeli Parliament, any leftover votes must be shared with Israel’s militant, right-wing religious fanatics.

Surplus vote-sharing agreements are widely used in Israeli elections and allow parties to ensure that extra votes do not go to waste. Instead, the parties utilize them through special agreements with other parties.

While the vote-sharing agreement has irked many in the center and what is sometimes referred to as the center-left of Israeli politics, it shows once again that Netanyahu calls the shots as he sees fit. If other members of the Knesset and even of his own party are unhappy, well then, they are welcome to go elsewhere. However, with nowhere else to go, year after year and election after election, not only do members of his party come running to him, members of the other parties do too.

The parties with which Netanyahu’s Likud signed the vote-sharing agreement include the far-right Religious Zionism Party and the openly racist “Otzma Yehudit,” or Jewish Might. Members of these parties support an ideology that includes expelling Palestinians who refuse to declare loyalty to Israel and accept diminished status in an expanded Jewish state. Some party members also support LGBT conversion therapy. These fanatic religious-Zionist parties represent armed gangs that openly terrorize Palestinians across the country.

 

The International Criminal Court ruling

After lengthy deliberations that led to a landmark decision, the International Criminal Court ruled that it has jurisdiction over war crimes committed by Israel in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem. This ruling opens the door to possible criminal charges against Israeli military personnel and potentially even against government officials.

Netanyahu called the international tribunal’s decision “pure antisemitism,” a meritless claim he failed to explain. The ruling addresses specific incidents in which the Israeli military was involved and has absolutely nothing to do with Jewish people.

 

After nearly 20 years, court ruling bans Jenin Jenin

Israel’s Central District Court has banned the screening of the 2003 documentary film “Jenin Jenin” and ordered the confiscation of all copies of the film in the country. In addition, the court ordered the film’s director, Mohammed Bakri, to pay Lt. Col. Nissim Magnagi, one of the reservist officers who was allegedly present during the assault on the Jenin refugee camp and was shown for a brief moment in the film, 175,000 shekels in damages on top of 50,000 shekels in legal expenses.

One has to question the merits of banning a film in 2021 when it was made in 2003. There are no public screenings of the film and the only viewers that watch it do so online — and that of course cannot be banned. The fine, however, is a blow and it has yet to be seen what will happen when the decision reaches a higher court for appeal.

Of the three judicial issues stated here, only one pertains to Netanyahu and is likely to have little or no effect on his chances to win the elections. The other two only confirm what the Israeli electorate already believes, that the International Criminal Court is antisemitic and that a film made by a Palestinian showing Israeli military crimes must be a vicious, libelous lie, and the common wisdom is that Netanyahu knows better than anyone how to deal with the anti-Semites.

The Israeli electorate is used to both crises and to the controversy surrounding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The results of the next election, just like the results of the three previous ones, are almost guaranteed to go in his favor.

Feature photo | Israeli protesters hold signs during a demonstration against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Dec. 26, 2020. Hebrew reads: “Mafia member.” Sebastian Scheiner | AP

Miko Peled is an author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. He is the author of “The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”

The post Israel: How a Trifecta of Court Cases Could Cement King Bibi’s 12-Year Reign appeared first on MintPress News.

Beeb Documentary Next Week on American Evangelical Christian Support for Israel

Also on TV next Wednesday, 19th January 2021, at 9.00 pm in the evening, is a programme on BBC 4 on the support for Israel amongst American Evangelical Christians and their influence on Donald Trump’s administration, ‘Til Kingdom Come: Trump, Faith and Money. The blurb for this on page 89 of the Radio Times runs

Documentary exploring the relationship between American evangelicals and Israel’s foremost philanthropic institution, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, and its influence on both nations’ foreign policies.

There’s an additional few paragraphs about the programme by Jack Searle on page 87, which states

This seems at first to be telling a small, local story: we’re in woodland in Kentucky, where a man loading an assault rifle in preparation for some target practice explains how Donald Trump, he feels, spoke up for ordinary folk like him. But he isn’t just a regular Republican voter. He’s an evangelical pastor whose calling in life is to raise money for Israel.

Maya Zinshtein’s film explores the global significance of US Christians, who believe Israel is the key to the Second Coming, and ow that partly explains Trump’s highly controversial relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem. It forms a spiky fable about what happens when politics and rigid religious dogma interact.

Apocalypticism and the desire to hasten Christ’s return has been a very important strand in Christian Zionism since the 19th century. Historians and activists critical of Israel and its barbarous treatment of the Palestinians, like Ilan Pappe and Tony Greenstein, have pointed out that Zionism first emerged amongst Christians in the 19th century. They wished to see the Jews return to Israel in order to fulfil, as they saw it, the prophecies in the Book of Revelation. Support for Israel in America is now strongest amongst Christian evangelicals. The largest Zionist organisation in America by sheer numbers of members is Ted Hagee’s Christians United for Israel. Jewish support for Israel is waning, especially among the young. American Jews were like their European coreligionists before the rise of the Nazis. They wished to stay in the countries in which they were born, and this attitude continued at least up to 1969. One of the Jewish magazines ran an article that year lamenting the lack of interest in Israel among Jewish Americans. The Neo-Conservative movement, founded by William Krystol, had its origins as an attempt to raise support for Israel amongst Americans. Young Jewish Americans are increasingly losing interest in Israel or actually becoming opposed to it, because of its treatment of its indigenous Arab population. The numbers of school leavers taking up the heritage tours of the country, sponsored by the Israel state as a way of gaining their support, is falling. Many Jewish young people have joined the BDS movement against goods produced in the occupied territories. As a result, Israel is shifting its efforts to muster support to American Christians.

I do wonder how many of those evangelical Christians would still be vocal in their support for Israel, if they knew that Israel pulls down monasteries and churches as well as mosques and that some of the extreme right-wing rabbis in Netanyahu’s coalition have said that they’d like to see every church in Israel pulled down as a place of idolatry. Or that the European founders of Israel really didn’t want Arabic Jews, the Mizrahim, settling in the country, and only accepted them because they needed their labour while also heavily discriminating against them. Possibly some might find this troublesome, but I’ve no doubt others would find some way to justify it and their continued support for the country.