[News] War Versus Peace: Israel Has Decided and So Should We
news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Apr 17 11:20:42 EDT 2019
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
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
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
‘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
The opposite is true.
Gantz has repeatedly criticized
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
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
over 11,000 were injured. In that most tragic war, over 500 Palestinian
children were killed, and much of Gaza’s already ailing infrastructure
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
burdensome allies, the likes of former Israeli Defense Minister, Avigdor
One significant change in the likely makeup of the Israeli right is the
such domineering figures, who, aside from Lieberman also include former
Education Minister, Naftali Bennett and former Justice Minister Ayelet
All the grandstanding from Bennett and Shaked, who had recently
established a new party called “The New Right”, didn’t even garner
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
Now the stage is wide open for the ultra-orthodox parties
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
the right-wing-dominated Knesset on July 19, 2018. The new Basic Law,
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
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
Considering all of this, we must understand that Israel’s illegal
policies in Palestine cannot and will not be challenged from within
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
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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