The Ecopsychology Issue

The Assault on Israeli Legitimacy

Chris Hedges on Netanyahu, Lieberman and the future of Israel.
Chris Hedges: Annexation of Territory and Slow Ethnic Cleansing
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 become Gaza.

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 Israel’s brutal 22-day assault on Gaza. Obama’s obsequiousness was cemented when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu flatly rejected the administration’s call for a halt to illegal settlement expansion. At that point Obama appeared to have given up.

Israel’s 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. Kahane’s 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 inciting racism.

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 Israeli’s foreign minister and deputy prime minister, Avigdor Lieberman. Lieberman openly calls for an araberrein Israel – an Israel free of Arabs.

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.

Israeli’s 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 Israel’s 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 Israel’s 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 Israel’s 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 Egypt’s Aswan Dam, an act that would lead to a massive loss of Egyptian lives. As Ariel Sharon’s 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 Israel’s few Arab allies, to “go to hell.” And, along with Netanyahu, he advocates massive air strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

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 Israel’s ends and had produced worldwide revulsion instead.

“In last year’s Gaza operation,” the report said, “our superior military power was offset by an offensive on Israel’s legitimacy that led to a significant setback in our international standing and will constrain future Israeli military planning and operations.”

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 Israel’s apartheid regime and unilaterally draw state lines along the old 1967 border. Once this takes place, Israel’s very legitimacy – like that of its old ally the apartheid regime in South Africa – will be in doubt.

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.

274 comments on the article “The Assault on Israeli Legitimacy”

Displaying 41 - 50 of 274

Page 5 of 28

Daniel Waterman

Could you guys perhaps differentiate between Jews and Israeli's? And secondly, how about differentiating between racist zionist supremacists and the many Israeli's who just happened to be born in Israel/Palestine through no fault of their own, and who are feeling as powerless to do something anything about their government as we feel outside Israel. There are racist idiots everywhere. And religious fanatics. The fact is that a majority of people in Israel would still be perfectly willing to live together with Palestinians in peace and harmony if racism and social inequality had not become institutionalised in that country. Just one example: from inception Jewish Unions have tended to prevent Palestinians from joining and demanding equal pay. So while there was a strong basis for demanding social equality in Israel, Palestinians were unable to benefit.

The kind of hatemail at the top of this blog is not just hurtful and stupid, it is also really badly misinformed about the history of this conflict and the causes of racism in general. I am surprised it was published at all, but at least it gives us a chance to respond.

I am an Israeli who lives in Holland. I burned my passport in response to the Gaza bombings (see it on youtube: burning my Israeli passport). I should have done it a long time ago, but of course it is just a weak statement of my powerlessness.

Daniel Waterman

Could you guys perhaps differentiate between Jews and Israeli's? And secondly, how about differentiating between racist zionist supremacists and the many Israeli's who just happened to be born in Israel/Palestine through no fault of their own, and who are feeling as powerless to do something anything about their government as we feel outside Israel. There are racist idiots everywhere. And religious fanatics. The fact is that a majority of people in Israel would still be perfectly willing to live together with Palestinians in peace and harmony if racism and social inequality had not become institutionalised in that country. Just one example: from inception Jewish Unions have tended to prevent Palestinians from joining and demanding equal pay. So while there was a strong basis for demanding social equality in Israel, Palestinians were unable to benefit.

The kind of hatemail at the top of this blog is not just hurtful and stupid, it is also really badly misinformed about the history of this conflict and the causes of racism in general. I am surprised it was published at all, but at least it gives us a chance to respond.

I am an Israeli who lives in Holland. I burned my passport in response to the Gaza bombings (see it on youtube: burning my Israeli passport). I should have done it a long time ago, but of course it is just a weak statement of my powerlessness.

Yonatan

"racist zionist supremacists" - I think you just topped it off!
I assume that ANYONE who believes the Jews have a right to their homeland (like myself) is a "racist" and a "supremacist".
You make it out to be as if all the "poor Israelis" who's only fault is that they were born have to endure the hate of the Arab world (and those who follow it).
Buddy, you're quite the story teller there!
Most Israelis believe in their right to live in Israel, most Israelis want nothing better than to stop being in-charge of the pal-Arabs and see them living in their own state, safely and freely.
But I guess to people like you - we're all "racist supremacists"...

Also, you keep ignoring that the pal-Arabs AREN'T citizens of Israel (THEIR own choice) and thus aren't entitled to the same rights as Israelis.
Those who chose to take upon them the Israeli citizenship enjoy equal rights, serve in the Knesset, some go to the IDF et"c.
I'll freely admit that there ARE Israelis who're so hurt from the pals that they outright hate them, and that is sad, because hate breeds more hate.
The Israelis who were hurt by the palis (be it through losing family members to terrorist-attacks, or losing friends in their military service) sometimes turn into haters themselves, and that is a terrible thing indeed.
But again, the palis REFUSED Israeli citizenship and thus do not deserve the same rights, simple as that.
(They don't pay taxes, they don't serve in the military, et"c)

I find it sad that you talk about "the Gaza bombings" yet ignore the 8 years of rocket and mortar fire on the Israeli south (they still shoot them to this very day).

You burnt your passport: a wonderful act of rebellion! one that we in Israel also benefit from - one less hatemonger and historically blind person to deal with.
The funny thing is, if ever the events that took place in Europe just 60+ years ago were to repeat themselves, we'd still welcome you back in the land of the Jews, no questions asked...

Yonatan

"racist zionist supremacists" - I think you just topped it off!
I assume that ANYONE who believes the Jews have a right to their homeland (like myself) is a "racist" and a "supremacist".
You make it out to be as if all the "poor Israelis" who's only fault is that they were born have to endure the hate of the Arab world (and those who follow it).
Buddy, you're quite the story teller there!
Most Israelis believe in their right to live in Israel, most Israelis want nothing better than to stop being in-charge of the pal-Arabs and see them living in their own state, safely and freely.
But I guess to people like you - we're all "racist supremacists"...

Also, you keep ignoring that the pal-Arabs AREN'T citizens of Israel (THEIR own choice) and thus aren't entitled to the same rights as Israelis.
Those who chose to take upon them the Israeli citizenship enjoy equal rights, serve in the Knesset, some go to the IDF et"c.
I'll freely admit that there ARE Israelis who're so hurt from the pals that they outright hate them, and that is sad, because hate breeds more hate.
The Israelis who were hurt by the palis (be it through losing family members to terrorist-attacks, or losing friends in their military service) sometimes turn into haters themselves, and that is a terrible thing indeed.
But again, the palis REFUSED Israeli citizenship and thus do not deserve the same rights, simple as that.
(They don't pay taxes, they don't serve in the military, et"c)

I find it sad that you talk about "the Gaza bombings" yet ignore the 8 years of rocket and mortar fire on the Israeli south (they still shoot them to this very day).

You burnt your passport: a wonderful act of rebellion! one that we in Israel also benefit from - one less hatemonger and historically blind person to deal with.
The funny thing is, if ever the events that took place in Europe just 60+ years ago were to repeat themselves, we'd still welcome you back in the land of the Jews, no questions asked...

Ryan

Yup. You are a racist. You got it. Good. Now that you admit it please do something about it. Like leaving the "homeland" of the people you took it from. Thanks.
I'm sure you'll be fine in your second or third home in Brooklyn or Los Angeles.

Ryan

Yup. You are a racist. You got it. Good. Now that you admit it please do something about it. Like leaving the "homeland" of the people you took it from. Thanks.
I'm sure you'll be fine in your second or third home in Brooklyn or Los Angeles.

Misterioso

For your edification:

Attacks with homemade rockets from the illegally occupied Gaza Strip began in 2001 and took their first Israeli victim in 2004. Since then, there had been 14 Israeli deaths prior to Israel’s massive land, air and sea 22 day assault against the caged and defenceless inhabitants of the Gaza Strip which began on 27 December 2008 (Operation Cast Lead.) While tragic, hardly comparable to the 1,700 Gaza Strip Palestinians, including many innocent bystanders, women and children, killed by Israel during the same period (i.e., 2004-Dec. 2008.) During Operation Cast Lead Israel slaughtered 1,417 Gazans, including 926 civilians, of whom 313 were children and 121 were women, along with 255 civil police officers (traffic police.) Israel suffered 13 dead, including three civilians from rocket fire and three soldiers killed in a friendly-fire incident.

In violation of the terms of the 17 June 2008 cease-fire agreement with Hamas, Israel permitted only 20% of the amount of essentials agreed to into the Gaza Strip which led to sporadic rocket fire into Israel (causing no casualties) by Islamic Jihad and Fatah’s Al Aqsa Brigades, not Hamas, which attempted to stop the rockets. On November 4 – the day of the U.S. presidential election - Israel crossed the border and killed six Palestinians. Hamas responded with rocket fire but at the same time offered to extend the June 17 truce if Israel would abide by its terms. Israel refused. Hamas rocket fire resumed and although no Israeli was killed, it was used by Israel as a justification for Operation Cast Lead.

BTW, we are fully aware that the Palestinians residing in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the occupied Gaza Strip (still occupied under international law) "AREN'T citizens of Israel." They are a brutally occupied people undergoing constant dispossession and oppression. Although your posting is difficult to understand, and setting aside your false assertion that "Those who chose to take upon them the Israeli citizenship enjoy equal rights," it seems to me that you are implying if Palestinians under occupation were to adopt citizenship in Israel, you would have no objection to them having full democratic rights. I assume you know that Palestinian Christians and Muslims already outnumber Jews between the Jordan River and the Med. Sea. and within 20-25 years will number between 12 and 15 million. Sounds great to me. One democratic state between the River Jordan and the Med. - one person one vote. Ali Abunimah will be very pleased.

Also, one indication of the racist nature of Israel is that it is the only country in the world that differentiates between citizenship and nationality. There is in fact no such thing as an "Israeli" nationality. There are only Jewish and non-Jewish citizens of Israel, the "Jewish State."

Nor should we forget that the Holocaust was committed by Europeans. Palestinians were not responsible. Why should they have had to pay the price? You Jewish zionists are short-term smart and long-term stupid. You made enemies of the Arab Muslims and Christians who have been your best friends and jumped in bed with western "Christians" who have been your oppressors. REAL STUPID!!! Prepare for reality, the "love affair" is coming to an end.

Misterioso

For your edification:

Attacks with homemade rockets from the illegally occupied Gaza Strip began in 2001 and took their first Israeli victim in 2004. Since then, there had been 14 Israeli deaths prior to Israel’s massive land, air and sea 22 day assault against the caged and defenceless inhabitants of the Gaza Strip which began on 27 December 2008 (Operation Cast Lead.) While tragic, hardly comparable to the 1,700 Gaza Strip Palestinians, including many innocent bystanders, women and children, killed by Israel during the same period (i.e., 2004-Dec. 2008.) During Operation Cast Lead Israel slaughtered 1,417 Gazans, including 926 civilians, of whom 313 were children and 121 were women, along with 255 civil police officers (traffic police.) Israel suffered 13 dead, including three civilians from rocket fire and three soldiers killed in a friendly-fire incident.

In violation of the terms of the 17 June 2008 cease-fire agreement with Hamas, Israel permitted only 20% of the amount of essentials agreed to into the Gaza Strip which led to sporadic rocket fire into Israel (causing no casualties) by Islamic Jihad and Fatah’s Al Aqsa Brigades, not Hamas, which attempted to stop the rockets. On November 4 – the day of the U.S. presidential election - Israel crossed the border and killed six Palestinians. Hamas responded with rocket fire but at the same time offered to extend the June 17 truce if Israel would abide by its terms. Israel refused. Hamas rocket fire resumed and although no Israeli was killed, it was used by Israel as a justification for Operation Cast Lead.

BTW, we are fully aware that the Palestinians residing in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the occupied Gaza Strip (still occupied under international law) "AREN'T citizens of Israel." They are a brutally occupied people undergoing constant dispossession and oppression. Although your posting is difficult to understand, and setting aside your false assertion that "Those who chose to take upon them the Israeli citizenship enjoy equal rights," it seems to me that you are implying if Palestinians under occupation were to adopt citizenship in Israel, you would have no objection to them having full democratic rights. I assume you know that Palestinian Christians and Muslims already outnumber Jews between the Jordan River and the Med. Sea. and within 20-25 years will number between 12 and 15 million. Sounds great to me. One democratic state between the River Jordan and the Med. - one person one vote. Ali Abunimah will be very pleased.

Also, one indication of the racist nature of Israel is that it is the only country in the world that differentiates between citizenship and nationality. There is in fact no such thing as an "Israeli" nationality. There are only Jewish and non-Jewish citizens of Israel, the "Jewish State."

Nor should we forget that the Holocaust was committed by Europeans. Palestinians were not responsible. Why should they have had to pay the price? You Jewish zionists are short-term smart and long-term stupid. You made enemies of the Arab Muslims and Christians who have been your best friends and jumped in bed with western "Christians" who have been your oppressors. REAL STUPID!!! Prepare for reality, the "love affair" is coming to an end.

-

Yes, Yonatan, it is racist and is also supremacist; it the desire for ownership and domination. This isn't to say just yet how severely so, since it is a matter of degree, but the roots are there. Examine your premises, if you're serious about honesty. An Israeli exile in Holland has done just that: examine who HE/SHE is, and not identify with an abstraction.

There is a distinction between identifying with an artificiality (state nationalism) and identity. The Palestinians weren't given much of a choice; it is not surprising that they opted to not take the deal. It is quite ironic that Gaza is the tiny strip that was ancient Israel.

— Max

-

Yes, Yonatan, it is racist and is also supremacist; it the desire for ownership and domination. This isn't to say just yet how severely so, since it is a matter of degree, but the roots are there. Examine your premises, if you're serious about honesty. An Israeli exile in Holland has done just that: examine who HE/SHE is, and not identify with an abstraction.

There is a distinction between identifying with an artificiality (state nationalism) and identity. The Palestinians weren't given much of a choice; it is not surprising that they opted to not take the deal. It is quite ironic that Gaza is the tiny strip that was ancient Israel.

— Max

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