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Naftali Bennett on Palestinian “Problem:” Like Shrapnel in the Ass; Palestinian State is Dead

naftali bennett

Naftali Bennett, Palestine denier  (Nir Elias/Reuters)

Some people are Holocaust deniers, others are Palestine deniers.  Almost the entire Israeli cabinet fall into the latter category.  The world rightly condemns those in the former, among them the most recent president of Iran.  For some reason, in Israel being a Palestine denier gets you a job as a minister.

One of Israel’s most prominent young right-wing politicians and a senior minister in the government, Naftali Bennett, likened the “Palestinian problem” (his words) to a man with shrapnel in his ass.  He told a settler-sponsored conference on hasbara and communications this story:

I have a friend with shrapnel in his bottom.  They told him that they could operate but that he’d become an invalid.  He decided to continue living with it.  There are sometimes situations in which the urge to finalize a solution causes more harm than good.

Given that Bennett is a far-right settlerist (and former Netanyahu chief of staff) I’d guess that removing the shrapnel and becoming an invalid meant giving up the settlements and returning to 1967 borders, and not expelling all the Palestinians in Israel.  By “living with” the problem, he meant continuing with the status quo on a more or less permanent basis (as if that were possible!).

The image that will linger (one of many such vividly despicable similes articulated by Israeli rightists) is the shrapnel in the ass.  It will take its place alongside Rafael Eitan’s  sealing off the Palestinians “like cockroaches in a bottle,” or Dov Weisglass’ claim that Sharon put the peace process “in formaldehyde,” or that Israel’s siege would “put Gaza on a diet,” or Ben Zion (“Netanyahu”) Millikovsky’s wish that Israel would treat uppity Nig…oops, Palestinians like in the old Ottoman days, when they “strung up a few troublemakers in the town square” just to teach people a lesson.  Colonial conquest is a terrific originator of inventive language depicting conquered peoples.

On the subject of creating a Palestinian state, Bennet stated that he’d come to a “dead-end:”

Never have so many labored for so long on a matter so pointless.  We must move from a situation of persuading the world that this is a mistake to acting as if the idea from now on is behind us.  There are 400,000 Israelis living in Judea and Samaria, another 295,000 live in East Jerusalem.  10% of Israel’s population lived [outside] what’s known as the Green Line.  The attempt to establish a Palestinian state with out state is dead.

In response to another Knesset member who spoke publicly recently saying that Israel’s situation was becoming more and more reminiscent of South Africa under apartheid, Bennet said:

How can one be a conqueror in one’s own home?

I’m prepared at this point to say that either Bibi Netanyahu is a fool when he speaks of a two-state solution (which he rarely does), or he’s a liar.  He certainly knows his entire government rejects the solution.  His father, if he believed his son embraced this view, would’ve strung him up from a town square.  There is no conceivable way Bibi believes in two-states.  Everyone around him who denounces it speaks truly.  If Bibi says otherwise, he’s a liar or a fool.

The fig-leaf of two-states serves a useful purpose in Israel’s external relations.  Bibi can go abroad or speak to John Kerry in the language of the world.  He says the right words but makes sure never to actually do anything that would implement a two-state solution.  This relieves pressure on Israel and its Occupation at home.  It gives it breathing space to pursue its goals of further settling the Territories and ensuring, as Bennet told the settlers above, that two-states are dead.

What’s ironic is a statement like that of Tony Blair yesterday saying that one-staters were deluded.  He was speaking of the growing tide of liberal and centrist Zionists who are coming to the realization that the Likud has strangled the two-state baby in his crib, leaving nothing but a one-state solution.  In truth, it isn’t those who’ve grown despondent who are to blame.  It is Bennett and Bibi and the ultra-nationalists who’ve created their own version of the one-state solution.  The one state is Israel with nothing left over for the Palestinians.

Those on the left are increasingly drawn to a one-state reality as well.  But it won’t be the state Bibi envisions.  It will be a single state encompassing all the Jews and Palestinians from the Mediterranean to the Jordan.  The question is: whose one state will it be, Bibi’s or the realists’?

U.S. political leaders are willing collaborators in this charade as are American Jewish leaders.  They feign annoyance at Bibi’s intransigence.  They pretend that he’s on the same page as them regarding two-states.  But nothing could be farther from the truth.  If they were honest, Obama and his advisors would admit that Bibi’s leading them on and act accordingly.  But to do so would require speaking candidly and telling the world that Bibi is a liar and a fraud.  No American president since the first George Bush (and Jim Baker) has been willing to do that.  And the querulous, quavering Obama isn’t about to start.  All of which means America’s pusillanimous policy toward Israel will continue indefinitely.  Settlement and Occupation will continue indefinitely.  The charade will continue indefinitely.

If you’d like to see what idiots some American Jewish leaders can make of themselves, read this Haaretz story.  Here’s a representative sampling:

“I think these are all irresponsible statements which do not in any way reflect the commitment of the Israeli government, not to mention the long-standing position of the U.S., that the two-state solution is the only possible solution,” said Rabbi Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism.

You have three ministers, two quite senior, in a week’s time denounce the two-state solution and yet you claim these rejections don’t reflect the real views of the Israeli government?  In what universe is this guy living?  Not in any that includes latter-day Israel.

Let’s not leave out the ever-quotable Abe Foxman:

“Netanyahu has made it clear that, even if we don’t know the details, there are contacts going on with the view towards reaching a two-state solution.”

Indeed, and I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn and some beautiful ocean front property in Florida.

More Foxman:

…If to go by Bennett or Dannon, it is Israel that is saying no to the two-state solution, that becomes the imagery. When in fact it is not Israel that is not serious, it is the other side.”

God forbid anyone in the world should believe that Israel’s leaders reject the two-state solution.  Spit three times for even thinking such a thing!

{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Nimrod June 19, 2013, 11:23 PM

    a small correction for you: “Given that Bennett is a far-right settler”
    No. Bennet is not a settler – he lives in the city of Ra’anana.

    • Richard Silverstein June 20, 2013, 12:01 AM

      @Nimrod: Thanks for the correction.

      • shabbi June 21, 2013, 6:35 AM

        Another correction: his story is not about shrapnel in the ass, it’s about shrapnel near the spinal chord near the ass suffered by an army comrade. The point of it was the risk of surgery: it could solve the problem completely (ie, the search for a complete peace deal with the Palestinians) but could also leave his army buddy paralyzed; or he could live with the pain. Here are his comments in Hebrew to check if I am misrepresenting his view in this instance:


        • Richard Silverstein June 22, 2013, 12:57 AM

          All the reports of this I’ve read never mentioned that friend’s the so-called operation could “solve the problem completely.” ONly that he had the choice of having it taken out & becoming an invalid or leaving it in. If there is such a version as you claim, offer it.

  • Glenn D. Murphy June 20, 2013, 2:54 AM

    The Times of Israel article mentioned a number of powerful members of the current government who “are staunchly opposed to a two state solution, advocating instead the partial or complete annexation of the West Bank to Israel.” They are: Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin, Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, Deputy Knesset Speaker Moshe Feiglin, and coalition chairman Yariv Levin.

  • Oui June 20, 2013, 4:35 AM

    A Hanging
    Obama hangs a Medal of Freedom around neck of Peres, Peres does the same to Obama, Peres adds another for Clinton …
    Couldn’t help reading yesterday’s JPost article where Tikun Olam is mentioned. What an hypocrisy all around, seated in the audience was Rwandan President Paul Kagame. A great line-up for an ICC investigation of war crimes (that will never happen). Middle-East politics, all smoke and mirrors.

    BTW, State’s key witness in Bar Noar murder case disappears.

  • yankel June 20, 2013, 9:33 AM

    One has to face the truth. The problem is not with the Bennets who – at long last – state openly the obvious fact that the two-states-solution is – and has long been – dead in the water.

    The problem is with the Bibis – and their hapless Palestinian collaborators – who maintain the crumbling facade of two-states’ peace talks while knowing too well there’s no longer a solution to be found under this lamppost.

    With (literal) bad-blood aplenty, a bi-national single-state solution is a horrid one with many a bloody precedent.
    Unfortunately, the Pereses, Bibis and Bennets of the last 4 decades managed to bring about the current status quo of ever worsening Apartheid whose only feasible alternatives are such a bi-national one-state or yet another Naqba.

    • Richard Silverstein June 20, 2013, 1:17 PM

      @Yankel: I’ve rarely found someone who puts the case precisely as I feel about it, as you do here. As much as at one time a 2 state solution might’ve worked or been preferable (at least to some of us), its days appear done/caput thanks to the machinations of Israeli uber-nationalists.

      Now the only way a single state solution can work is with good will on both sides. I don’t see any coming from the Israeli side. So I just don’t know what to think about the future. If, however, there was an international body or force compelling Israeli Jews to deal as there was in Kosovo, then Israeli Jews might sullenly come to terms with this eventuality…eventually.

  • Sascha June 20, 2013, 1:08 PM

    Sickening. Richard Thank you for maintaining this wonderful website. It shows me every day no matter how low the israeli politics can sink some Israelis are wonderful people and I would be happy to count them as my friends. Greetings from Berlin.

    • Richard Silverstein June 20, 2013, 1:13 PM

      Thanks. I’m not Israeli, but there are indeed wonderful Israelis who you could count as friends. I try to write about them when I find them.

  • bluto June 20, 2013, 2:01 PM

    Bennett is like Bernie Madoff admitting he was running his Ponzi Scheme for the last 60 years – but only because he can’t make any money off of it anymore and now wants to use it to burnish his credentials or drum up interest in a new book he’s writing

  • Camille June 21, 2013, 12:17 PM

    “There are sometimes situations in which the urge to finalize a solution causes more harm than good.”
    This is the comment that stands out in Bennett’s rantings… “the final solution”. Does this not ring a bell… even in Israel?

    • Richard Silverstein June 22, 2013, 12:54 AM

      Bennett’s comment in the original Hebrew didn’t infer any connection to “final solution.” But his wording was hard to translate into English. Instead of the word “finalize” he used the Hebrew word “hashlama” which carries a connotation of “perfecting” or “achieving” a solution.

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