[News] War Versus Peace: Israel Has Decided and So Should We

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Wed Apr 17 11:20:42 EDT 2019


http://www.palestinechronicle.com/war-versus-peace-israel-has-decided-and-so-should-we/ 



  War Versus Peace: Israel Has Decided and So Should We

April 17, 2019

*By Ramzy Baroud <http://www.palestinechronicle.com/writers/ramzy-baroud>*

So, what have we learned from the Israeli legislative elections on April 9?

A whole lot.

To start with, don’t let such references as the “tight race” between 
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and his main rival, Benny 
Gantz, fool you.

Yes, Israelis are divided on some issues that are particular to their 
social and economic makeup. But they are also firmly unified around the 
issue that should concern us most: the continued subjugation of the 
Palestinian people.

Indeed, ‘tight race’, or not, Israel has voted to cement Apartheid, 
support the ongoing annexation of the Occupied West Bank, and carry on 
with the Gaza siege.

In the aftermath of the elections, Netanyahu emerged even more powerful; 
his Likud party has won 
<https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/elections/final-israeli-election-results-bennett-wiped-out-netanyahu-s-likud-gains-one-seat-1.7111025> the 
elections with 36 seats, followed by Gantz’s Kahol Lavan (Blue and 
White) with 35 seats.

Gantz, the rising star in Israeli politics was branded throughout the 
campaign as a centrist politician, a designation that tossed a lifeline 
to the vanquished 
<https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/elections/labor-s-collapse-proves-liberal-zionism-is-facing-an-existential-crisis-1.7108904> Israeli 
‘left’ – of which not much is left anyway.

This branding helped sustain a short-lived illusion that there is an 
Israeli alternative to Netanyahu’s extremist right-wing camp.

But there was never any evidence to suggest that Gantz would have been 
any better as far as ending the Israeli occupation, dismantling the 
Apartheid regime and parting ways with the country’s predominantly 
racist discourse.

The opposite is true.

Gantz has repeatedly criticized 
<https://www.timesofisrael.com/ministers-push-hard-response-to-rocket-attack-gantz-pm-lost-grip-on-security/> Netanyahu 
for supposedly being too soft on Gaza, promising to rain yet more death 
and destruction on a region that, according to the United Nations, will 
be unlivable by 2020.

A series of videos 
<https://www.timesofisrael.com/only-the-strong-survive-gantzs-new-campaign-videos-laud-his-idf-bona-fides/>, 
dubbed “Only the Strong Survives”, was issued by the Gantz campaign in 
the run-up to the elections. In the footage 
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JigyAON0848>, Gantz was portrayed as 
the national savior, who had killed many Palestinians while serving as 
the army’s chief of staff between 2011 and 2015.

Gantz is particularly proud of being partly responsible for bombing Gaza 
“back to the stone age.”

It mattered little to Israeli centrists and the remnants of the left 
that in the 2014 Israeli war on Gaza, dubbed Operation “Protective 
Edge”, over 2,200 Palestinians were killed 
<https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/israel-gaza-conflict-50-day-war-by-numbers-9693310.html> and 
over 11,000 were injured. In that most tragic war, over 500 Palestinian 
children were killed, and much of Gaza’s already ailing infrastructure 
was destroyed.

But then again, why vote for Gantz when Netanyahu and his right-wing 
extremist camp are getting the job done?

Sadly, Netanyahu’s future coalition is likely to be even more extreme 
than the previous one.

Moreover, thanks to new possible alliances, Netanyahu will most likely 
free himself 
<https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20190412-israel-election-right-wing-seeks-alliance-with-ultra-orthodox-to-curtail-liebermans-power/> of 
burdensome allies, the likes of former Israeli Defense Minister, Avigdor 
Lieberman.

One significant change in the likely makeup of the Israeli right is the 
absence 
<https://www.jpost.com/Israel-Elections/Election-results-published-Likud-wins-with-36-seats-New-Right-out-586597> of 
such domineering figures, who, aside from Lieberman also include former 
Education Minister, Naftali Bennett and former Justice Minister Ayelet 
Shaked.

All the grandstanding from Bennett and Shaked, who had recently 
established a new party called “The New Right”, didn’t even garner 
<https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/israel-gaza-conflict-50-day-war-by-numbers-9693310.html> them 
enough votes to reach the threshold required to win a single seat in the 
Israeli Parliament, the Knesset. They needed 3.25 percent of the vote 
but only achieved 3.22 percent. They are both out.

The defeat of the infamous duo is quite revealing: the symbols of 
Israel’s extreme right no longer meet the expectations of Israel’s 
extremist constituencies.

Now the stage is wide open for the ultra-orthodox parties 
<https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/elections/final-israeli-election-results-bennett-wiped-out-netanyahu-s-likud-gains-one-seat-1.7111025>, 
Shas, which now has eight seats, and United Torah Judaism, with seven 
seats to help define the new normal in Israel.

The Israeli left – if it was ever deserving of the name – received a 
final blow; the once prominent Labor Party won merely six seats.

On the other hand, Arab parties that ran in the 2015 elections under the 
united banner of the “Joint List”, fragmented once more, to collectively 
achieve only ten seats.

Their loss of three seats, compared to the previous elections, can be 
partly blamed on factional and personal agendas. But, that is hardly 
enough to explain the massive drop in Arab voter participation in the 
elections: 48 percent compared to 68 percent in 2015.

This record low participation can only be explained through the racist 
‘Nation State Law”, which was passed 
<https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/19/israel-adopts-controversial-jewish-nation-state-law> by 
the right-wing-dominated Knesset on July 19, 2018. The new Basic Law, 
declared 
<https://www.timesofisrael.com/final-text-of-jewish-nation-state-bill-set-to-become-law/> Israel 
as the “nation-state of the Jewish people” everywhere, relegating the 
rights of the Palestinian people, their history, culture and language, 
while elevating everything Jewish, making self-determination in the 
state an exclusive right for Jews only.

This trend is likely to continue, as Israel’s political institutions no 
longer offer even a symbolic margin for true democracy and fair 
representation.

But perhaps the most important lesson that we can learn in the aftermath 
of these elections is that in today’s Israel, military occupation and 
apartheid have been internalized and normalized as uncontested 
realities, unworthy of national debate. This, in particular, should 
summon our immediate attention.

During election campaigns, no major party spoke about peace, let alone 
provided a comprehensive vision for achieving it. No leading politician 
called for the dismantling of the illegal Jewish settlements that have 
been erected on Palestinian land in violation of international law.

More importantly and tellingly, no one spoke of a two-state solution.

As far as Israelis are concerned, the two-state solution is dead. While 
this is also true for many Palestinians, the Israeli alternative is 
hardly co-existence in one democratic secular state. The Israeli 
alternative is Apartheid.

Netanyahu and his future government coalition of like-minded extremists 
are now armed with an unmistakably popular mandate to fulfill all of 
their electoral promises, including the annexation of the West Bank.

Moreover, with an emboldened and empowered right-wing coalition, we are 
also likely to witness a major escalation in violence against Gaza this 
coming summer.

Considering all of this, we must understand that Israel’s illegal 
policies in Palestine cannot and will not be challenged from within 
Israeli society.

Challenging and ending the Israeli occupation and dismantling Apartheid 
can only happen through internal Palestinian resistance and external 
pressure that is centered around the strategy of Boycott, Divestment and 
Sanctions (BDS).

It is now incumbent on the international community to break this vicious 
Israeli cycle and support the Palestinian people in their ongoing 
struggle against Israeli occupation, racism and apartheid.

/– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine 
Chronicle. His last book is ‘The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story’ (Pluto 
Press, London). Baroud has a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the 
University of Exeter and was a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center 
for Global and International Studies, University of California Santa 
Barbara. His website is www.ramzybaroud.net /

-- 
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