The surest path to advancement in Israeli politics is either to kill Arabs with your own hands or advocate murdering the leaders of Arab nations. Israeli housing minister, Yoav Galant, has made a remarkable call for the assassination of Syrian Pres. Bashar al-Assad. He did so supposedly in response to the horrific news that Syrian forces may have established a prison crematorium to dispose of bodies of prisoners of the regime:
“The reality of the situation today in Syria, in which they are executing people, using chemical attacks against them, and the latest extreme measure — burning their corpses, something which we haven’t seen in 70 years in this world — we’re crossing a red line,” Galant said Tuesday at a military conference in Israel. “In my opinion, it’s time to eliminate Assad.”
After cutting off what he described as “the snake’s tail,” then “we’ll be able to get to its head, which sits in Tehran,” Galant said.
Israel has never been known for reticence in rattling sabers against its enemies. But this is even more grotesque than the usual “banter” that Israeli generals and politicians reserve for discussion of their regional enemies. While there’s no doubt that both sides of the conflict in Syria are guilty of heinous acts, the idea that an Israeli ex-general and junior cabinet minister should take it upon himself to advocate an outright war crime is breathtaking.
Israeli politicians don’t make their reputations in the way most do in western democracies. They eschew passing major pieces of legislation which aid the population. They don’t champion social justice causes or the cause of the downtrodden. They don’t campaign for human rights. They ‘hate on’ Arabs. That’s the surest way to win the popularity contest in the crazy system that is Israeli politics.
So many junior politicians have advocated murdering one or another of Israel’s enemies it’s hard to focus on one as an example. But the most obvious is Ehud Olmert, when serving as deputy prime minister to Ariel Sharon, suggested assassinating Yasser Arafat. He did this both to float an idea and test the response of the world; and to bolster his street cred among hard-core Likud voters. After Olmert made this statement, the Israeli cabinet actually approved the murder. Then guess what happened? Arafat died. And Sharon led his confidants to believe that he’d ordered his murder. Guess who became prime minister when Sharon suffered a major stroke? You guessed it. Killing Arabs? Can’t hurt.
Galant has done something of the same thing. Israeli politicians are a little like Mafia made-men. When you first begin you serve the Don. You do him favors, run errands. Eventually, you’re assigned to murder an enemy. And another. The better you do your job the higher you rise in the hierarchy.
Galant, at one time, was almost appointed IDF chief of staff. But his greed had caused him to build an addition to his home on state land he didn’t own. When this was exposed and reported by the media, Gallant lost his opportunity. As a result, his stock sank and he only managed the settlement portfolio in the government. This is the ministry responsible for building all that housing in those illegal settlements. As such, Galant earns lots of points from settlers who are the true power-brokers in the government. By putting in his time, he hopes he will be rewarded with more senior assignments and eventually vie for leadership when Bibi’s days as prime minister end.
Showing you have a knife in your teeth when it comes to the Arab enemy is a sure path to success for the Israeli pol.
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.