[THS] Chris Hedges on Netanyahu, Lieberman and the future of Israel.
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Thu Apr 8 13:31:28 CEST 2010
* Adbusters #89: The Ecopsychology Issue
The Assault on Israeli Legitimacy
Chris Hedges on Netanyahu, Lieberman and the future of Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Bibi Netanyahu
Israel, with its vast settlement expansion including the hundreds of new homes it
intends to build in East Jerusalem makes no pretense anymore about working
toward a two-state solution.
It is an overtly apartheid state. Its goal is no longer rapprochement with the
Palestinians but rather the carving up of the West Bank into ringed Palestinian
ghettos that will replicate the misery and violence of the large ghetto that has
The Jewish settlements and their constant expansion in the two decades since the
signing of the Oslo accords have created a vast and elaborate Israeli infrastructure on
Palestinian land that can no longer be reversed. The faint hope that Barack Obama
would pressure the Israeli government to abide by UN resolutions and international
law was shattered when the president refused to condemn Israels brutal 22-day
assault on Gaza. Obamas obsequiousness was cemented when Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Bibi Netanyahu flatly rejected the administrations call for a halt to illegal
settlement expansion. At that point Obama appeared to have given up.
Israels decision to seize most of the West Bank and leave 1.5 million Palestinians
trapped in the open-air prison that is Gaza inevitably means the creation of a
deformed Jewish state in which privileged citizens will live with one set of rules and
second-class citizens, Palestinians, will be systematically denied national and
individual rights. In this apartheid state, Palestinians will be subjected to ever more
humiliating and demeaning forms of control and repression.
The Israelis have consciously orchestrated acute misery and poverty in the Palestinian
territories over the past two decades in an effort to subdue and ethnically cleanse the
captive population. They have reduced Palestinians, many of whom now live on less
than two dollars a day, to a subsistence level. They have created squalid, lawless and
impoverished ghettos in the West Bank and Gaza. The Israeli soldiers who surround
these ghettos have the ability to instantly cut off food, medicine and goods,
perpetuating the misery. When these little Bantustans become restive, Israel drops
1,000-pound iron fragmentation bombs and artillery shells as they did in Gaza on
the concrete hovels that pack neighborhoods. The Israeli objective is to turn the
Palestinian territories into a hell on earth. This policy has, however, swollen the ranks
of radical Islamists in the occupied territories and throughout the Middle East and
exposed the criminality of the Israeli state to the wider world.
When I was based as a correspondent in Jerusalem two decades ago, it was
unthinkable that an Israeli politician who openly advocated ethnically cleansing the
Palestinians from Israeli-controlled territory, as well as forcing Arabs in Israel to take
loyalty oaths or be forcibly relocated to the West Bank, could sit in the Cabinet.
The racist tirades of Jewish proto-fascists like Meir Kahane stood outside the law.
They were vigorously condemned by most Israelis and were prosecuted accordingly.
Kahanes repugnant Kach Party, labeled a terrorist organization by the United States,
Canada and the European Union, was outlawed by the Israeli government in 1988 for
But in the last two decades Israel has undergone a radical and disturbing change.
The racism spread by Kahane whose thugs were charged with the murders and
beatings of dozens of unarmed Palestinians and whose members held rallies in
Jerusalem where they chanted Death to Arabs! has been embraced by leading
Israeli politicians, including Israelis foreign minister and deputy prime minister,
Avigdor Lieberman. Lieberman openly calls for an araberrein Israel an Israel free of
There has been a moral erosion from the days of the socialist Mapai Party, which
founded Israel in 1948 and later merged into the Labor Party. The Labor Party held
within its ranks many leaders such as Yitzhak Rabin who, while certainly blinded by
Zionism, were nevertheless serious about coexistence with the Palestinians. The rise
of political extremists such as Netanyahu and Lieberman signals a new era.
Israelis foreign minister and deputy prime minister: Avigdor Lieberman
Lieberman, a former nightclub bouncer who was a member of the Kach Party,
represents the new face of Israels apartheid state.
He has the personal and political habits of the Islamic goons he opposes. He was
found guilty in 2001 of beating a 12-year-old boy and fined by an Israeli court. He is
being investigated for multimillion-dollar fraud and money laundering and is rumored
to have close ties with the Russian mafia. He lives, in defiance of international law, in
the Jewish settlement of Nokdim on occupied Palestinian land.
Lieberman, as did his mentor Kahane, calls for the eradication of Palestinians from
Israel and the territories it occupies. During the massive Israeli bombardment of Gaza
in 2008 and early 2009, he said that Israel should fight Hamas the way the United
States fought the Japanese in World War II. He noted that the occupation of Japan
was unnecessary to achieve victory, alluding to the dropping of atomic bombs on
Nagasaki and Hiroshima. When he assumed his position as foreign minister he
announced that the 2007 Annapolis peace agreement was dead. He said in 2004 that
90 percent of Israels Palestinian citizens have no place here. They can take their
bundles and get lost. This statement was especially galling since Lieberman, unlike
Palestinians who can trace back their ancestry in the area for generations,
immigrated to Israel in 1978 from Moldova and retains a heavy Russian accent. And
Lieberman, from the floor of the Knesset, openly fantasized about executing the
handful of Palestinian Knesset members.
We requested that in the government guidelines it would say explicitly that all the
inciters and collaborators with terrorism that sit in this house should bear the brunt of
the penalty for those actions, Lieberman said from the Knesset plenum in May of
2006. All those who continue to meet freely with Hamas and Hezbollah, who go on
monthly visits to Lebanon. Those who declared Israels Independence Day to be
nakba [Arabic for catastrophe] Day and raised black flags
World War II ended
with the Nuremberg trials. The heads of the Nazi Party went to be executed but not
just them, also those who collaborated with them. Just like [the prime minister of
Vichy France during World War II Pierre] Laval was later executed, I hope that this is
the fate of the collaborators in this house.
He has suggested bombing Egypts Aswan Dam, an act that would lead to a massive
loss of Egyptian lives. As Ariel Sharons minister of transportation he offered to bus
several hundred Palestinian prisoners to the sea and drown them. He told the
president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, one of Israels few Arab allies, to go to hell.
And, along with Netanyahu, he advocates massive air strikes on Irans nuclear
The rise of racist trolls like Lieberman and Netanyahu, together with the increased
repression, like the saturation bombing of Lebanon in 2006 and the recent
assassination of a Hamas official in Dubai by the Mossad, is making it harder and
harder for Israel to present a democratic facade to the outside world. In February
the Reut Institute in Tel Aviv reported to the Israeli cabinet, which it advises, that
violence had failed to achieve Israels ends and had produced worldwide revulsion
In last years Gaza operation, the report said, our superior military power was
offset by an offensive on Israels legitimacy that led to a significant setback in our
international standing and will constrain future Israeli military planning and
Israel, despite warnings from many within the Israeli establishment, has embarked
on a course that will see it, like the South African apartheid regime, become ever
more isolated and reviled. A Palestinian state, if it comes into existence, will have to
be declared by forces outside of Israel most likely the United Nations. These
international forces will openly challenge Israels apartheid regime and unilaterally
draw state lines along the old 1967 border. Once this takes place, Israels very
legitimacy like that of its old ally the apartheid regime in South Africa will be in
Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the New York Times, is the author
of several books including the best sellers War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and
Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.
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