By Philip Giraldi
It is interesting to note how a group that constantly flaunts its claimed status as history’s perpetual victims to provide immunity from its own crimes can entertain policies that might lead to the genocide of a whole category of potential “enemies.” Israel’s new government, once again headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, has shifted hard to the right, incorporating as it does the extremist settlers’ movement as well as parties that have spoken casually of forcing the Palestinians out and even of extermination if it comes to that.
Half of Israelis are comfortable with the Arabs having minimal civil rights even if they are Israeli citizens and many accept the desirability of forced expatriation of the Palestinians to neighboring states like Jordan or Lebanon. Arab residents of Israel have only limited legal rights and, contrary to the Israel lobby’s constant assertion that Israel is a “democracy,” Israel in reality became an apartheid state by law when it in 2018 declared itself to be legally the nation state of the Jews with “exclusive right of self-determination.”
More recently Netanyahu has made clear exactly what his government stands for. In late December, he stated that “the Jewish people have an exclusive and inalienable right to all parts of the land of Israel,” and went on to vow that his government “will promote and develop the settlement of all parts of the land of Israel.” He was explicit that “all parts” was intended to include the West Bank and even Gaza, which have long been the presumed basis of a future Palestinian state.
To be sure, Israel and its powerful U.S. lobby know very well that the constant claim of victimhood combined with labeling its perceived enemies as “anti-Semites” and “Holocaust deniers” to discredit them is little more than a tool employed in part to excuse war crimes and human rights violations committed by the Israelis. In 2002, a former Israeli government minister, Shulamit Aloni, revealed in an interview how labeling a critic as an anti-Semite to discredit them is little more than “a trick.” She said, “Well, it’s a trick, we always use it. When from Europe somebody is criticizing Israel, then we bring up the Holocaust. When in this country [the U.S.] people are criticizing Israel, then they are anti-Semitic.”
She added that there was an “Israel, my country right or wrong” attitude and “they’re not ready to hear criticism.” Anti-Semitism, the Holocaust and “the suffering of the Jewish people” are used to “justify everything we do to the Palestinians.”
Indeed, there is every indication that Prime Minister Netanyahu will be taking a much harder line not only with the Palestinians, but also with its foreign “enemies”—the Syrians, Iranians, and Lebanese. And there is every sign that he has drawn the United States into his web. President Joe Biden, a self-declared Catholic “Zionist,” is politically too weak to take on the Israel lobby and he has in any event surrounded himself with Zionist Jews dominating his foreign policy and national security teams that would consider any weakening of ties with Israel to be unimaginable.
Jewish power in the U.S. demands unconditional military, financial and diplomatic support for Israel, even as Israel moves to the right and becomes more dangerous regionally, threatening to involve the United States in new wars. Seemingly blind to what is developing, the U.S. last week proceeded with the largest wargames ever involving the Jewish state. The games simulated an attack on Iran and could be a model for a series of pointless conflicts initiated by the more hawkish Israeli government.
And there is almost certainly much more to come, including a bill in the Knesset that will make it nearly impossible for Arab citizens to organize political parties. The new government in Israel has also placed police under the control of ultra-nationalist Jewish Power party head Itamar Ben-Gvir, who serves as National Security Minister. He is exploiting his position to already call for a war to destroy Hamas in Gaza. Meanwhile, the shoot to kill policy vis-à-vis Palestinians has increased the number of deaths already in 2023, totaling twelve on January 25 and 26 alone when a refugee camp in Jenin in the West Bank was raided by the army and two teenagers elsewhere were shot dead. Many more Palestinians were wounded and the Israelis, as is their practice, routinely denied them any access to medical help.
The army’s chief of staff has declared that its policy on using firearms will not be changed in spite of the large number of civilian deaths. Israeli soldiers and policemen who kill Palestinians, who are routinely described as “terrorists,” are almost never investigated or prosecuted and have been, in some cases, praised in the media and promoted.
And Ben-Gvir is not the only fanatic who has surfaced as a worrisome character in the new government. Another is Bezalel Smotrich, the leader of the Religious Zionism party and now Finance Minister, who has called for Israel’s annexation of the entire West Bank and the imposition of citizenship requirements that would make Jewishness a prerequisite for inclusion.
Smotrich’s party aspires to make Israel a theocracy governed by the racist Talmud, and both he and Ben-Gvir support the expulsion of Arabs who fail to agree that “the land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people.” Smotrich has stated that his immediate plans include authorizing dozens of new and completely illegal West Bank outposts to include continuing the demolition of what he claims are unauthorized Palestinian homes there.
Smotrich is also enthusiastically racist when it comes to the Palestinians, asserting that new Jewish mothers in hospitals should be separated from new Palestinian mothers. “[My wife] would not want to sleep next to someone who just gave birth to a baby who might want to murder her baby in twenty years,” Smotrich once said.
Another prominent right-wing Israeli member of parliament has perhaps suggested what he and many of his colleagues would like to see done to the Palestinians who are either Israeli citizens or subject to the Israeli domination of Gaza and the West Bank. Zvika Fogel, a prominent member of the governing coalition, has called for a “final war” against the Palestinians to “subdue them once and for all,” following international condemnation of National Security Minister Ben-Gvir’s incursion into the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem, an illegal move intended to assert total control over access to Muslim holy sites.
Fogel responded to the criticism, saying in an interview that Israel’s policy of going to war with Palestinians “every two or three years” was no longer good enough and that there should be one last war to “subdue them once and for all.”
“It would be worth it because this will be the final war, and after that we can sit and raise doves and all the other beautiful birds that exist,” Fogel explained.
Home demolitions, property seizures, checkpoints, and other round the clock harassment of Palestinians also are increasing in frequency as the Israelis expand their occupation of the West Bank. The Palestinian flag has now been declared illegal and the possibility that the Arabs will stage a general uprising increases daily, leading to demands from some Israelis that remaining Palestinian centers of resistance be utterly destroyed.
Many young Jewish Israelis have recently been demonstrating against their own government’s shift rightwards. And in the United States, many liberal Jews are concerned at developments, though they are critical of what is happening for all the wrong reasons.
An increasing number of American Jews believe that Israel is indeed an apartheid state and that its treatment of the Palestinians is inhumane to say the least. But they, at the same time, oppose doing anything to punish the Israeli government to make it draw back from its most brutal and dangerous policies. They argue that the Netanyahu government is risking a confrontation with the U.S. government, and the Jewish community will splinter over Israeli human rights abuses and weakening political support in Washington for a strong and enduring relationship with the Jewish state.
In a sense, the power of the Jewish diaspora, both in the U.S. and elsewhere, thereby becomes the enabler of Israeli bad behavior even as it ostensibly disapproves of what is taking place.
Philip Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer and a columnist and television commentator. He is also the executive director of the Council for the National Interest. Other articles by Giraldi can be found on the website of the Unz Review.