Israel named its new cabinet (Hebrew) yesterday and the names are a Who’s Who of the most rabid, racist, brutal and cruel politicians in the nation. The only one who rivals them and is missing from the show is Avigdor Lieberman, who’s bowed out for political reasons of his own. In the past, nations of the world have isolated individual leaders of nations and refused to visit or meet with them because their ideas are so noxious that they fall outside the consensus of international discourse. Kurt Waldheim and Jorg Haider are examples of this. The time has come to put the Israeli government in herem. You can pick your poison among them as to which deserves special ostracism.
Several other publications have covered this story. But you won’t find a more thorough list nor accounting of their Greatest Hits of Hate than here:
♦Moshe Yaalon: defense minister; warned Israel would consider using nuclear weapons against Iran, but “wasn’t quite there yet.” He called Peace Now a “virus” and spoke of Palestinians as a cancer when he said: “some say it may be necessary to amputate organs, but at the moment I’m applying chemotherapy.”
♦Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan: deputy defense minister; called Palestinians “animals, said “Jews always have higher souls than goyim, even if they’re gay.” He will serve as chief Israeli administrator for the Palestinian Territories. Imagine how the “beasts” will feel about that!
♦Tzipi Hotovely: deputy foreign minister; adamantly opposes two-state solution, supports West Bank annexation, invited Lehava, NGO advocating Jewish racial purity, to Knesset
♦Naftali Bennet: minister for education, minister for Jerusalem and Diaspora; supports transferring Palestinians from West Bank and ethnic cleansing: “I’ve killed many Arabs in my life. There’s no problem with that.” He has also called for Palestinians to be shot. Contrary to Israel’s vaunted gay rights claims, opposes gay marriage. He will be specifically responsible for Judaization of the Negev, which means the ethnic cleansing of Bedouins.
♦Ayelet Shaked: justice minister; republished settler screed advocating Palestinian mothers should be killed because they are raising “snakes” to attack Israel. Anglo-Israeli columnist said behind her “wide-eyed innocent face lurks the Angel of Death.”
♦Moshe Kahlon: finance minister; the so-called “moderate” in the bunch devoted solely to economic issues.
♦Danny Danon: ministry of science, technology and space; “the biggest problem of the State of Israel is the Arabs of Israel,” (Hebrew source) ejected by Netanyahu from last government after he denounced last summer’s Gaza ceasefire.
♦Miri Regev: minister of sport and culture; during violent anti-African riots in Tel Aviv, she incited the crowds by calling the victims a “cancer” and then apologized to cancer patients
♦Silvan Shalom: interior minister; wealthiest MK, failed in campaign for Israeli president, denied foreign ministry job he coveted, said that the 16% of Eilat residents who are African refugees “endanger the future of the city.”
♦Aryeh Deri: minister of economy and Negev development; an ex-felon convicted of taking $155,000 in bribes, served three years in prison
♦Uri Ariel: minister of agriculture and rural development; as minister in last government, single-handedly torpedoed U.S.-Israel relations by announcing thousands of new settlement units during delicate peace negotiations, admitting he’d passed on information to settlers about IDF troop movements
♦Zeev Elkin: immigrant and absorption minister; “proud to be a settler,” and admitted that he’d spied on the IDF on behalf of settler extremists
♦Yisrael Katz: minister of transportation and road safety, intelligence minister; suspended from studies at Hebrew University for use of violence in breaking up campus meetings of Palestinian students.
♦Ophir Akunis: minister without portfolio; denies existence of a Palestinian people or its right to settle anywhere in the Land of Israel (including within the Green Line), claims Israel’s right to all territory from Egypt to the Jordan River. Sponsored bill to restrict foreign funding for left-wing NGOs. Regarding them, he compared them to supposed Soviet agents in America exposed by Sen. Joseph McCarthy. “Sen. McCarthy was correct in every word he said–there were Soviet agents in America [sic].”
♦Haim Katz: minister of welfare and social service; accused of arranging for Likud Party dues of thousands of Israeli defense industry employees he oversaw (who voted for him in the primary) to be paid for by NGO he also supervised.
♦Yuval Steinitz: minister for infrastructure, energy and water;
♦Yariv Levin: minister of internal security and tourism; accused the Supreme Court of holding values at odds with the “traditional” values of the public; and said this “endangered our ability to secure our existence.”
♦Gila Gamliel: elderly affairs minister; accused of offering a bribe to a competing student council candidate at Ben Gurion University
♦David Azulay: religious services minister;
♦Avi Gabay: environment minister;
♦Benny Begin: minister without portfolio; son of Menachem Begin, ejected from Party leadership during last party primaries for his so-called “moderate” views; apparently he’s been included as a moderate fig-leaf for an extremist government
Netanyahu will maintain the foreign ministry for himself, hoping he can persuade Buji Herzog to join his coalition. While I never underestimate the greediness of Israeli leaders for the perks of power, I can’t see why Herzog would throw Bibi a life preserver. The present government has a majority of one seat. It could fall based on the whim or vanity of a single one of its 61 members. And even if Herzog does betray what few principles he has by joining, where is the glory in that? History shows that moderate leaders and parties that join coalitions with him (Barak, Lapid, etc.) end up wiped out in the following election.
This is not just a government of hate, but a government of war. My prediction is that if it lives out its full term there will be two wars: one against Lebanon and another against Gaza. Further prediction: at least 5,000 civilians will be murdered in total. The world might want to contemplate how many more Israeli wars it can tolerate before it says, Dayenu (“enough”).
The governments of the world might want to begin considering how to justify maintaining contact with individuals holding views that range from genocide to mere homicidal impulses.
This is a government that is not only undemocratic, it abhors democracy–for non-Jews.
Pres. Obama has a general notion of what’s in store. But in a public statement he only acknowledged “some” of the new mintisters don’t share his views:
“I continue to believe a two-state solution is absolutely vital for not only peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but for the long-term security of Israel as a democratic and Jewish state,” said Obama. “I know that a government has been formed that contains some folks who don’t necessarily believe in that premise, but that continues to be my premise.”
“That prospect seems distant now,” he continued. “But I think it’s always important for us to keep in mind what’s right and what’s possible.”
In truth, none of them do. Not a single one of these incoming Israeli ministers believes in a two-state solution. So in addition to keeping in mind what the president thinks is “right,” he should also keep in mind that a two-state solution is not possible. In fact, this government supports a one-state solution–for Jews only. And that’s not only not right, it shouldn’t be possible either. It’s long past time for Obama to get tough with Israel. Allow the Security Council to consider Palestinian statehood. Support an ICC referral for Israel.
Similarly, our Congress might want to consider how they can approve legislation that would outlaw BDS when this movement is fighting a government whose collective views are as odious as this one’s are. If you do sanction BDS, what tools does that leave the world to resist such evil? The world must come to realize that mere words and statements are no longer enough. Much tougher measures are called for.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.