Zionist racism on display in Israeli election campaign

While the Labour Party conducts an anti-Zionist witch hunt on the basis of a definition of anti-Semitism which claims it is anti-Semitic to call Israel a racist endeavour, the rhetoric around the election campaign for Israel’s April elections continues to demonstrate the inherently racist nature of the Israeli state. On 10 March, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared in line with the Nation-State Law that Israel is ‘the nation state, not of all its citizens, but only of the Jewish people.’ His prospects of winning the election have improved enormously after US President Trump recognised Israel’s annexation of the illegally-occupied Golan Heights in Syria on 23 March.

Earlier, in February, he had announced that he would be trying to bolster his Likud party’s chances in Israel’s parliamentary elections in April by entering an electoral alliance with the far-right Otzma Yehudit, or Jewish Power, party. Jewish Power is inspired by the politics of Meir Kahane – an extremist rabbi whose political movement was classified as a terrorist group by the United States. Jewish Power believes that Israel should annex the Palestinian territories and ethnically cleanse the Palestinians living there. Every year the leader of the party holds a memorial at the grave of Baruch Goldstein, the Israeli terrorist who gunned down 29 Palestinian civilians in a mosque in the West Bank in 1994. If Netanyahu wins the election in April, Jewish Power will likely join him in forming the government.

Explicit racism

Elsewhere on the Israeli right wing, Ayelet Shaked, co-founder of the New Right Party and Justice Minister in Netanyahu’s government, released a campaign ad in the style of a mock perfume commercial depicting Shaked spraying herself with a bottle of ‘Fascism’. The ad was intended to satirise her critics who accuse her of being a fascist, but many observers saw it as all too close to the truth. Shaked became infamous for a Facebook post she wrote during Operation Protective Edge in 2014 in which she explicitly justified the massacring of Palestinian civilians. Of the mothers of those Palestinians killed, she wrote, ‘They should follow their sons… They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.’

As shocking as these far-right parties’ rhetoric is, the parties on the ‘centre’ of the Israeli political spectrum are little better. Netanyahu’s most serious rival is the centre-left ‘Blue and White’ coalition led by former Israeli Army Chief of Staff, General Benny Gantz. Gantz was the general who oversaw Operation Protective Edge in 2014, when Israel bombed the Gaza Strip intensively and indiscriminately for seven weeks, killing over 2,000 Palestinians. While a dubious distinction by most standards, in Israel’s ultra-militaristic climate this is an achievement to be celebrated; Gantz has actively played up this particular legacy, with one of his campaign ads crediting him with sending parts of Gaza ‘back to the Stone Age.’ Gantz has promised to keep Israel’s ‘eastern security border’ on the Jordan Valley – meaning maintaining Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian West Bank. Gantz’s partner in the ‘Blue and White’ coalition, Yair Lapid, is no better. Lapid has argued that there is no such thing as a ‘right of return’ – referring to the right of the millions of Palestinians who have been exiled by the Israeli state to return to their homeland as opposed to the right of Jewish people to come from any part of the world to settle in Palestine.

War criminals

Nor do Israel’s mainstream ‘left’ parties offer any hope for reprieve from these racists. Former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni retired from politics in March after polls indicated that her ‘left-wing’ Hatnuah party would fail to win enough votes to gain any seats in Parliament. Livni was foreign minister during Operation Cast Lead in 2008, another indiscriminate bombing campaign against Gaza that saw over 1,400 Palestinians killed in just over three weeks, including over 300 children. Livni was a staunch supporter of the operation and as foreign minister was tasked with justifying that bloodbath to foreign audiences. That such a war criminal is seen as a ‘leftist’ – and that even she is now seen as too far to the left by Israeli voters to have a chance of obtaining any seats in April – is an indication of just how extreme Israeli political discourse has become.

At time of writing, polls predict a close race between Gantz and Netanyahu. This is in spite of a pending indictment against Netanyahu on charges of political corruption. Israel’s attorney general announced in February that he will be proceeding with the indictment against Netanyahu for charges including performing political favours to friends in the media and telecommunications in return for positive coverage.

These are serious charges indeed; yet notably absent from the list of offences is anything relating to Netanyahu’s role in the ongoing oppression of the Palestinian people. A litany of crimes against the Palestinian people could be laid at Netanyahu’s door – from Operation Protective Edge itself, which he ordered and oversaw as Prime Minister, to the killing of unarmed demonstrators in Gaza in the past year. In February the UN released its report on the mass killings of Palestinian demonstrators at the border between Gaza and the Israeli state during the Great March of Return demonstrations that began in March 2018. Over 200 Palestinians have been killed in these demonstrations and around 18,000 wounded. The UN found that these Palestinians – which included journalists, health workers, and children – were the victims of deliberately-aimed shots by Israeli army snipers. The report concluded that these actions may have constituted war crimes by Israel. This has not deterred the Zionist state, which has launched yet more raids on Gaza in response to rocket attacks, and whose forces killed teenager Sajid Muzher near Bethlehem on 27 March even though his reflective vest clearly identified him as a paramedic.

But such crimes will be absent from the charges brought against Netanyahu. As far as the Israeli state is concerned, no amount of brutality against the Palestinian people is worthy of punishment. Nowhere on the political spectrum of Zionist parties is there any real opposition to such atrocities in which all the leading parties of the Israeli right, centre, and left are complicit. While differences over other policies exist, on the fundamental question of the rights and lives of the Palestinian people these parties all speak with one voice. And that voice is moving further and further to the right.

Wesam Khaled

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 269 April/May 2019


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