Israel’s War Against Palestine: Documenting the Military Occupation of Palestinian and Arab Lands

As’ad Ghanem: Thank you for bringing us together

23 October 2010

By As’ad Ghanem, Haaretz – 22 Oct 2010

In his October 13 opinion piece (“The man behind Avigdor Lieberman” ), Aluf Benn proposed focusing on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in order to understand the proliferation of measures aimed at repressing the ambitions and aspirations of the Arab public in Israel. To my mind, this is a correct approach, but not sufficient. I also propose viewing the measures being taken by the current government as clear manifestations of the rise of a new right in Israel. This must be understood as a historical development that is beginning to change the face of the state and its attitude toward the Palestinians in general and the country’s Arab citizens in particular, a development that will lead to a profound change among the Arabs themselves.

Israel’s new right is fundamentally different from the classical revisionist right, which has almost disappeared from the country’s political map. Taking its place is a right that closely resembles the European model represented by Frenchman Jean-Marie Le Pen or Austria’s late Joerg Haider. It’s a right that believes it is possible to subdue the minority only by force, and that emphasizes the racial superiority of the dominant ethnic group.

In its political propaganda, the new Israeli right relies on instilling among the majority fear of those perceived as alien. To the distress of those who hold democracy dear, among both the Jewish majority and the country’s Arab citizens, this is not just a marginal rightist phenomenon, but rather a significant political force that supports the steps the government is taking.

The official policy coalescing here is aimed at hobbling the Arabs and bringing about a new violent confrontation with the Palestinians; those behind it are prepared to pay the price of conflict with the Arab world and the West in order to maintain their ideology of Jewish supremacy.

But not everything being done by the new right is negative. Here are two ideas that could earn Netanyahu a nod of gratitude from the Palestinians.

First of all, the demands and policies of the extreme right, as part of the government, will quickly lead to the exposure of the true face of official Israel – as an occupying state, one that tramples human and civil rights, abuses a part of its citizenry and is based on a belief in ethnic superiority that manifests itself in ways even more complex and effective than those employed in South Africa during the apartheid era.

Secondly, the right in power today is well on its way to negating Israel’s earlier achievements in crushing the Palestinian people, and it will bring about their reunification. The Israeli left and center did quite a lot to split the Palestinian people and to transform them into distinct groups: Palestinians in Israel, Palestinians in the West Bank, Palestinians in Jerusalem, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and Palestinians in the diaspora. Each of these groups became focused on achieving distinct goals for itself, and in this way the Palestinian people have been prevented from creating a united front and working toward common goals.

Regrettably, a large part of the fragmented Palestinian elite bought into the Israeli policy and its members have each made the struggle of their respective group the main purpose for which they strive. Take, for example, the idea of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, which today is the main demand of most of the Palestinians. This is a demand that accepts the principle of the splitting of the Palestinian people and is ready to accept that split as a permanent situation.

The Netanyahu government and the extreme right that has taken control of Israel’s agenda are striving for two goals that in the end will constitute the main catalyst for the reunification of the Palestinian people, initially in terms of its political consciousness and later in its political agenda as well.

First, the aim of achieving a partial agreement with the Palestinian Authority – based on geographical separation and on the establishment of a “crippled state” – will not be acceptable to the Palestinians. Sooner or later, thanks to the policies of the current government, most will realize that the idea of a Palestinian state alongside Israel is past its time and no longer feasible, and that there is no alternative to going back to the idea of a single, binational, egalitarian state for Palestinians and Jews in historical Palestine.

Second, the demand to recognize Israel as a Jewish state will ultimately make Palestinians realize that the main problem lies not in Ramallah, but rather in Tel Aviv. Not in the occupation of one territory or another, but rather in the insistence upon extorting an acceptance of Jewish ethnic superiority, even from those who are not candidates for citizenship in Israel. The Palestinians will be obliged to merge their political platforms and pose a counterdemand.

The Palestinians’ counter-proposal must be based on a demand for democracy as a humane solution for everyone. They must not content themselves with a territorial enclave between Nablus and Ramallah that will be called the “State of Palestine.”

For all this and more, the Palestinians will yet say: “Thank you, Mr. Netanyahu.”

Dr. As’ad Ghanem is a lecturer in political science at the University of Haifa.

Back to Top

Readers are welcome to discuss IOA content on our Facebook page. To participate, please click HERE.

Please support the IOA so that we can continue covering the Israeli Occupation. To help, please click HERE.

Previous post:

Next post: