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.
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.