Israeli Taliban had its national convention the other day, and the nutballs won
out: the Likud party went on record as declaring
that it would never accept the legitimacy of a Palestinian state. In a stemwinder
of a speech, ultra-rightist Benjamin Netanyahu gave
voice to what has been, up to now, a largely unspoken sentiment, advocated
only by the most extreme fringe parties:
order to defeat terrorism, we must take three steps. First, we must complete the
purification of the area, and clean it out totally of all fighting forces and
arms. The Prime Minister and the government began this mission, but it has not
yet been completed."
yes, "purification" – an ominous word choice.
be fair, this translation is unique to the excerpt that appears on David Horowitz's
site: on the Netanyahu.org site, which offers the complete text of the speech,
this word is missing. But that is just nitpicking, for the ethnic cleansing of
Palestine has always been implicit in the Zionist program, in spite of the (public)
protestations of its leaders and is now becoming more explicit as the Middle
East crisis reaches a feverish pitch.
percent of Israelis support what even Vladimir
Jabotinsky, the founder of hard-line "revisionist" Zionism,
out – the forcible expulsion of 3 million Arabs. Over
60 percent want the government to "encourage" Israeli Arabs
to leave the country, according to Ha'aretz. The growing
respectability of these ideas is symbolized by the entry of
the fundamentalist National Religious Party into
Likud coalition partner is the Molodet party, which holds
the Ministry of Tourism: Benny Elon, the head of the ministry,
recently launched a publicity campaign on behalf of his party's
main platform plank: "Only transfer will
bring peace," as the billboards emblazoned with the Molodet
According to the
Zionist ultras, there already is a Palestinian state, it is located in Jordan
– and the Palestinians need to go back there. Sharon, during his tenure as Defense
Minister, once averred that "there is a Palestinian state. All that is needed
is a headline." To say that the Jordanians, not to mention the US State Department,
oppose this on the grounds it would be destabilizing is a bit of an understatement.
one wag put it: "Presumably the headline would be 'King Hussein dead. Arafat
get a good look inside the Netanyahu mindset, check out Christopher Hitchens'
memorable piece posted
four years ago in Salon:
"A few weeks ago, in this holy city, a public lecture was offered by Benzion
Netanyahu. It was in honor of a man named Abba Ahimeir.
Neither of these two men is, perhaps, as well known as he ought to be. Benzion
Netanyahu, the 87-year-old father of the [then-]Israeli prime minister, is a scholar
at Princeton University and the author of The Origins of the Inquisition
… Abba Ahimeir was a writer and activist in British Mandate Palestine, and a zealous
lieutenant of Jabotinsky. In the pages of the magazine Doar Hayom, during
the late 1920s and '30s, he wrote a celebrated column titled 'From the Notebook
of a Fascist." He hymned Mussolini, referred to Jabotinsky as 'Our Duce,' and
even went so far as to say that Hitler was on the right track, except for his
excessive anti-Semitism. … Ahimeir, said the elder Netanyahu, had been his mentor."
but is the son responsible for the sins of his father? Hitchens informs us "it
is very well attested that Netanyahu the younger makes few moves without consulting
his revered papa, who also rose to be Jabotinsky's secretary and pallbearer."
His mentor, Ahimeir, headed a faction of Jabotinsky's Revisionist movement called
Brit Habirionim, or Alliance of the Strong, although birionim, in
the contemporary vernacular, has come to mean "hooligans." Netanyahu senior once
told an interviewer:
is obvious to me that there is no Palestinian people. Not in the past, nor in
the present. ... What we have here is simply a branch of the Arab people. The
claim that such a people exist is only being made so as to justify the call to
liquidate the Jewish state. They [the Palestinians] are trying to create the illusion
of a people that in fact has never existed."
cites a March 21, 1998 article in Ha'aretz, by Shani Litman, reporting
on a talk given by Netanyahu to an audience of "right-wing retired officers and
security men in Tel Aviv." He assured them there would be no sell-out:
are making a constant effort to preserve the maximum, including territories I
would fight for even if they had no security value."
also cites a piece by Israeli analyst Akiva Eldar that told of a "memorandum of
understanding" signed by the Israeli and Palestinian security chiefs, brokered
by the Americans, designed to combat underground terrorist outfits and arrange
for an exchange of intelligence. But there was a glitch, Eldar reported:
representatives of the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) to meet with their Palestinian
and American counterparts for the purpose of establishing a joint monitoring mechanism
that would supervise the implementation of the memorandum. It is difficult to
fathom how this very same individual, who swears allegiance three times a day
to the cause of the security of Israel's citizens, is willing to forego a formal
Palestinian Authority. The reason for Netanyahu's position is that he
is opposed to a concomitant Israeli commitment to confiscate firearms in the possession
of Jews who plan, or support, terrorist actions."
a man like Netanyahu wields such power in the governing party – and may even be
the next Prime Minister of Israel – is ominous enough. But that prospect takes
on an even darker hue in light of the
arrest of Noam Federman and associates in connection with a plot to bomb an Arab
school for girls. Federman is a supporter of the virulently supremacist Kach
movement, founded by the late Meir Kahane. Israeli authorities are now investigating
to see if other terrorist attacks on Arabs are connected to an extensive extremist
we can see in Netanyahu, and the radicalized Likud, is the Jewish equivalent of
the Taliban rising out of the fundamentalist, militant, and messianic currents
roiling Israeli society. Sharon is held captive to this constituency, and cannot
govern without them. Netanyahu's coup at the Likud party conference was but a
prelude to the coming challenge
to Sharon's leadership.
always stood for the idea of a Greater Israel – a concept that has more to
do with religious fundamentalism than any genuine concern for "security." There
cannot be a Palestinian state, in this view, for the simple reason that God promised
the Jews not only all the lands of Judea, Samaria (the West Bank), and Gaza, but
the Nile to the Euphrates. Describing God's covenant with Abraham, Genesis
your descendants I give this land from the River of Egypt to the Great River,
the river Euphrates."
of fundamentalists the world over, both Christian and Jew, believe that: what's
more, they are willing to fight and die for it.
are all-too-well acquainted with the scourge of Islamic fundamentalism, but the
Israeli version – with the help of Christian "Zionists" in the West – may pose
a deadlier danger in the long run. For the Afghan Taliban never even came close
to acquiring nuclear weapons: the Israelis are already nuclear-armed. No one knows
what a government beholden to a crackpot "spiritual advisor" like Rabbi
Yosef is likely to do, in a crisis – and do we really want to find out?
even more outrageous is that this upsurge of religious fanaticism and ultra-expansionist
sentiment has been fueled by a flood of US tax dollars, which fund not only the
settlements but the religious schools that
promote political extremism.
his speech to the Likud party conference, Netanyahu boasts that he was feted during
his trip to Washington, and that, in no small part thanks to his effort:
great American nation is not only not against us – it supports us, and by a huge
majority! And that is important, because in the final analysis, what determines
the position of the administration in the United States is public opinion – especially
since the current administration – and primarily President Bush, knows perfectly
well just who Arafat is and what he is striving for."
of course this last is nonsense. Or else what are we to make of the American insistence
on Arafat and the PLO as the only possible negotiating partners in a Middle East
peace agreement? Oh well, never mind, because even the President of the United
States is subject to political pressure. As "Bibi" puts it: "We have the ability
to sway this public opinion."
Israeli Taliban could easily be reined in, and nipped in the bud by US policymakers
– but for the exertions of Likud's American supporters. Ensconced in both parties
– allied with the Christian Right and the New Republic liberals
– uncritical supporters of Israel dominate the national discourse on the Middle
East. Wrapped in a protective shield, and subsidized to the tune of $3 billion
a year by US taxpayers, the worst elements in Israeli society are coming to the
fore, and pose a direct danger not only to US interests, but to the whole region.
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