One of the ruling Bayit Yehudi’s leading firebrands is Orthodox settler, MK Bezalel Smotrich. He has a long and sordid history inciting hatred of almost every Israeli minority, Jewish or Palestinian. He’s hosted a “Beast Day” featuring live animals on Gay Pride Day. He called himself a “proud homophobe.” He rejects the term “Jewish terrorism,” and the notion that the arson murders of the Dawabsheh family are terrorism:
“The murder in Duma is not an incident of terrorism, Period,” he wrote. “Whoever calls it terrorism is deviating from the truth, causing mortal and unjustified harm to human and civil rights,” he explained.
Defending the extremist illegal Jewish settlers, who perpetrated the crime, he wrote: “Cheapening the term terrorism, and as a result at the end of the day damaging the effectiveness of the battle against it. We are not in a war against Jews.”
So he’s a Palestine denier in addition to a Jewish terror denier. I’d even call him an exterminationist (see below). He also inveighed against “race-mixing” in Israeli hospitals, demanding that Palestinian and Jewish mothers be segregated. And he did this all as a proud, unabashed Jewish nationalist, a disciple of Meir Kahane. A member of the current Israeli political mainstream. Think of a hetero-Orthodox version of Steve Bannon sitting in the Knesset passing laws.
But this week he’s outdone himself entirely. An Orthodox Jewish Facebook member, Tehila Friedman posted an account of a closed-door session last week in which Smotrich presented his plan for the “final solution” to the Palestinian problem. Here’s her account (this is a translation of the Facebook post above):
Last week, I heard MK Betzalel Smotrich present, before an esteemed group of public officials from the religious Zionist movement, his “decisive plan”–a plan to finally end the conflict and defeat it [Palestinian nationalism]. A plan, whose goal is to cut off any hope for Palestinian nationhood. Three options will be put before the Palestinians (and possibly also the “Arabs of Israel,” that’s not clear):
- continue to live in the [occupied] territories that will be annexed to the State of Israel, without the right to vote for Knesset. Their status will be as alien residents which, according to him, follows Jewish law which declares they must always be a bit inferior [to Jewish status].
- leave the country
- those who do not accept either of the two previous options–the IDF will know what to do.
When he was asked: “You’re also speaking of killing children and women from families who are not willing to accept these conditions?” The answer was: “Yes. When in war, as in war.”
So there you have it: Israeli Jews are in a state of constant war against the Palestinians and it will not end until we exterminate their will to nationhood. And if we cannot, then we will exterminate them.
Some Smotrich apologists in the comment thread have noted the deputy Knesset speaker’s lame claim that he never said what Friedman reported. In reply, I note that Tomer Persico published his own account of Smotrich’s talk in his Hebrew blog (and in Haaretz) that added more of the content of the speech. His reference to offering three options to the Palestinians corresponded to the Bible’s account of the Israelite invasion of the ancient land of Israel. Joshua, according to the Rambam, offered the native inhabitants three choices: they could leave, they could stay and accept inferior status, or they would die (“don’t leave a single soul [alive]”). So apologists, stop with the narischkeit. You know he said it. You know he meant it. He only denies it now that he’s been caught and called out for it.
In a separate interview in Haaretz, when asked how he would deal with those Palestinians who resist his first two options, he replied:
“What will I do? Either I will shoot him or I will jail him or I will expel him.
Ah yes, I can hear the excuses now: Smotrich is a provocateur. You’re giving him just the sort of attention he craves, etc., etc. That’s what they said about Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and Breitbart News less than a year ago. They’re outliers. They’re beyond the Pale. But look what happened to them.
Betzalel Smotrich is no aberration; no anomaly. He is a living breathing exemplar of the Israeli body politic. He is an extremely popular far-right politician. If the ruling rightists stay in power he will be a senior minister in short order.
Do not doubt him when he says he has a final solution to the Palestinian problem. And make no mistake, his plan is no different from Hitler’s. Sure, it may have a few alterations just for propriety’s sake. He’ll tone it down for foreign ‘consumption.’ But this is the face of the far-right future. And when it is unmasked Israel is doomed.
The next time you hear Bibi inveigh against the alleged anti-Semitism of BDS, ISIS, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Iran or Hamas, just remember this little spawn of Satan-Kahane sitting nice and comfy in his back pocket.
H/t Zohar Eitan.
He is talking of expulsion, not extermination.
That aside – strictly speaking he is not a Kahanist I believe. The current Kahana branch is for example: Ben-Gvir, Lahava, Otzma Yehudit, Michael Ben-Ari, etc. I believe from a strictly taxonomical point of view that he’s a “Hardal” advocating a hard-line stance – which I suppose you could contrast with Kahana, but that he isn’t a “direct offspring” of the Kahana movement – but rather an off-shoot of “Ihud Haleumi” (which rose from Moledat (initially led by secular Zeevi – but always with a Hardal wingman – but post Zeevi the secular wing there disappeared).
I’m not saying your comparison is wrong – just that this is a “different tree” growing next to Kahana, and not a branch off of the Kahana tree.
Richard Silverstein says
Not really. When he says “the IDF will know what to do with them,” that’s extermination. Unless he’s arguing the IDF will put them in trucks and send them to Saudi Arabia. But if so, why do you need the IDF to do that? Nor do I believe Smotrich’s use of Hebrew terms that can be construed as “final solution” or “final defeat” of the Palestinians are meant as anything other than allusions to genocide. You may argue that they’re whispers rather than shouts, but they nevertheless echo those noxious Nazi terms.
Thanks for laying out the Jewish nationalist-supremacist taxonomy. I don’t claim to be an expert on the finer points of the subject. But clearly there is a great deal of overlap theologically & ideologically between Kahanists and Hardal/Moledet.
Smotritz replied to Friedman with a post on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Bezazelsmotrich/posts/809725429181836
Basically he says – don’t put words in my mouth. Indeed, he doesn’t say anything about murdering of women and children but about winning this war for the prosperity of the region.
This is only fair as you Richard probably don’t like it either.
At the end, Smotritz challenges her to come up with an actual plan, not just criticizing other ppl plans. One state solution? that is just a title! how will it actually work? Or will it work?
Richard Silverstein says
@ Jim: What Smotrich says he said is irrelevant unless he can produce a tape or transcript of his remarks. I far more trust Friedman’s version than his. If she says he confirmed he was willing to kill children and women I believe her. To say that Smotrich wants to win the war against Arabs for the sake of prosperity is ridiculous. He’s a Haredi settler fer chrissakes! Not an economist or even a CEO.
Finally, I need you as a megaphone for Betzalel Smotrich like I need a hole in the head.
Here is a YouTube video in which he says exactly the same things over the Knesset podium. https://youtu.be/GkMccLgePQc
Nowhere he says anything about killing women and children. Those are words you/Tehila put in his mouth. You really hate it when people do that to you.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Jimbo: You’re confused. YOu say he says “exactly the same things” in the Knesset video. But then you say he doesn’t say exactly the same things (at least as far as Friedman records). You can’t have it both ways. Just because he said one thing before the Knesset is not proof he wouldn’t say something far more homicidal in a private closed meeting. In fact, it makes perfect sense he would speak in a totally unburdened fashion.
So if you want to defend Smotrich or minimize the damage, I’m afraid you’ll have to look elsewhere to do that.
Friedman didn’t put words in his mouth. She, who has no axe to grind, recorded what he said. He, who definitely does have an ax to grind & an ass to protect claims otherwise. Who ya gonna believe? A nice Orthodox Jewish mother who’s probably never told a lie in her life; or a disgusting settler pol who’s spouted hate for yrs, if not decades? Gee, hard choice.
You are done in this thread.
Ariel Shalom says
Who is this Friedman? A week ago no one even heard of her, all of the sudden she is the highest authority?
Is that a joke?
Richard Silverstein says
@ Ariel Shalom: Uh, she was at the speech, she clearly recorded notes of it. No one else did. She recounted her notes clearly in her FB account.
Were you there? Did you publish your notes of the speech? Can you get the tape of it? If so, send them & I’ll publish them. If not, shut the f(&K up!!
Elizabeth Block says
I was in Palestine last year, part of a Christian Peacemakers Team (you don’t have to be Christian! who knew?), and a woman who is part of ICAHD – Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions – told us that she doesn’t use the word “genocide” for what is happening now. She is waiting until it actually starts.
If you don’t think this man is talking about killing, you are fooling yourself.
PS On my website, along with photos of pottery, there’s an account of my trip.
Mark Lewis says
it is irrelevant whether or not he said the words, we do not need to choose who to believe, what we can say is that those are terrible words and should be condemned by every right thinking member of society.
That does not equate to the fact that such views are held by all Israelis or even most Israelis. They are not a majority view and as I said should be condemned outright.
I say this as a Zionist and supporter of Israel.
Accept inferior status, leave or die certainly seems to fit with the practice of the Israeli state. The recent killing of more than a hundred Palestinians and the wounding of thousand more by Israeli snipers for merely protesting, which has been justified by Israel as “self defence” clearly shows how entrenched this view is within the Israeli state.