Israeli fascists reshuffle

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While British politicians, opportunists and the ruling class media have been whipping up a frenzy to try and smear any opposition to Israel as anti-Semitic* a real and largely unreported crisis is engulfing the Zionist regime. In May, Moshe Ya’alon quit as defence minister in Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition government over disagreements about 'manifestations of extremism, violence and racism in Israeli society'. His replacement by the notorious racist Avigdor Lieberman confirms the rightward direction of the Zionist government. His appointment also raises the question whether the government will reject the opinion of army chiefs that another open war on the Palestinians would be unwinnable. Because of its increasing international isolation, the Zionist ruling class is split over its response to Palestinian resistance.

On 24 March a video emerged of an IDF medic shooting and killing Abdul Fatah al-Sharif, an unarmed 21-year-old Palestinian activist, in Hebron as he lay injured on the ground. As it went viral, Ya'alon led criticism of the soldier for not representing the 'values' of the army. Netanyahu initially supported prosecuting the killer, but when Channel 2 reported that 42% of the Israelis it surveyed believed the soldier had acted 'responsibly', he backtracked and defended the murderer, contacting his parents to offer solidarity. Ya’alon also defended IDF deputy chief Major General Golan when he said on Holocaust Remembrance Day (5 May)

‘If there is something that frightens me about the memory of the Holocaust, it is seeing the abhorrent processes that took place in Europe, and Germany in particular, some 70, 80 or 90 years ago, and finding manifestations of these processes here among us in 2016.’

Despite his criticism of Netanyahu, Ya’alon will leave behind a record of unflinching loyalty to Zionist militarism. At the beginning of the second Intifada he told press that 'The Palestinian threat harbours cancer-like attributes that have to be severed.' Known for his popularity with settlers, he held army positions in every major onslaught from the 1973 Yom Kippur war, through the horrors inflicted on South Lebanon, both Intifadas and Operation Protective Edge. His military ethos and his relationship to the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) as Chief of Staff threatened Netanyahu's ambition to exert more control over the army leadership.

Following Ya’alon’s resignation, Netanyahu tried to enlist Labour Party leader Isaac Herzog for the defence minister job but turned to Lieberman after the Labour Party blocked the move and withdrew from his coalition government. Lieberman, an illegal settler living in the occupied West Bank, used a 2015 election campaign speech to attack Palestinians with Israeli citizenship: 'Those who are with us deserve everything. Those against us, it cannot be helped, we must lift up an axe and behead them - otherwise we will not survive here.' In January 2015, then as Foreign Minister, Lieberman warned that 'a fourth operation in the Gaza Strip is inevitable, just as a third Lebanon war is inevitable.'

Israel's liberal newspaper Haaretz sees Lieberman's appointment as a 'crisis in confidence' between Netanyahu's government and the IDF leadership. Writer Amos Harel expresses Zionist fears of the inevitable Palestinian resistance to Israeli militarism, particularly in Gaza,

'where Israel is two mistakes away from another war with Hamas... Gaza is a powder keg. Statements by Lieberman, who only a month ago threatened to kill Hamas’ Ismail Haniyeh are like throwing a match into that keg. We can only hope that from the minister’s office on the 14th floor of the Defence Ministry, things indeed look different.' (Haaretz, 20 May 2016)

Top army figures say they want to avoid war in Gaza and are hostile to what they see as government meddling with the IDF's rules of engagement in its repression of the West Bank Palestinians.

After Ya'alon and Labour withdrew their support for Netanyahu's coalition, Labour leader Ehud Barak, a former Prime Minister, said the Likud-led government 'needs to be brought down before it brings us all down'. Echoing General Golan’s comments, Barak added that Israel has been 'infected by the seeds of fascism' and worried that, 'There are no serious leaders left in the world who believe the Israeli government'. Barak himself is another war criminal who, as Netanyahu's Defence Minister, led Operation Cast Lead which killed 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza in December 2008-January 2009.

The divisions within Zionism are becoming more open. Roni ‘Rambo’ Daniel, a prominent Zionist military correspondent and IDF loyalist, complains: 'I went and fought all of the wars I was asked to fight. For the first time I feel - because of these kinds of politics... like I’m not sure that I want my children to live here.' However, Refaat Alareer, a Palestinian activist and journalist for Gaza Writes Back, warns, correctly: 'We should not be fooled by Zionists who hate the Lieberman-Netanyahu unity, they, too, want Palestinians killed, but with silk scarves, not bombs!'

The bombs continue. Since March, aerial bombardment of Gaza has resumed following a period since October 2015 during which Israel focused on brutally repressing resistance in the West Bank. On 11 March a 6-year-old girl Israa Abu Khoussa and her 10-year-old brother Yassine were killed by shrapnel from an Israeli rocket in Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza. On 4 May Zeina Al Omour, a 53-year-old woman, was killed in Israeli airstrikes on Khan Younis refugee camp. Meanwhile Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) data shows that only 3% of Gaza's water is fit for human consumption. About one million people – half of Gaza's population – lack continuous access to water and the PWA warns of a catastrophe due to pollution of the aquifer and infiltration by seawater. Resistance to the continued Zionist blockade is the only option.

Louis Brehony

* See Labour left crumbles in the face of Zionist attacks http://tinyurl.com/z6oqfoz.