My rights and the rights of my wife and children to travel through Judea and Samaria [sic] take precedence over the right to travel of Arabs [sic]. Sorry, Muhammad, but my right to life takes precedence over the Arab right of movement. This is the reality.
אבל הוא אמר סליחה מוחמד pic.twitter.com/m0tgNAx4oi
— מוחמד מג’אדלה محمد مجادلة (@mmagadli) August 23, 2023
There is another reality, far more inconvenient for Ben Gvir: when asked about the epidemic of crime and gangland-style murders in Palestinian-Israeli communities, along with the series of Palestinian attacks in the West Bank, he deflected criticism of his performance as police minister. He claimed that the crime wave is the product of Hamas smuggling weapons into the West Bank. But certainly not the fault of his police.
While weapons are smuggled into the West Bank through Israel’s border with Jordan, many of the guns are sold by Israeli soldiers. The IDF is, in part, blameworthy for both domestic crime and Palestinian resistance attacks.
As for the murder and violence in Israeli-Palestinian communities: the main reason is the absence of any police presence. It treats them with total neglect, like no-go zones. This is a further indication of the racism at the heart of Israeli society. Ben Gvir urged every Israeli Jew to get a gun. The unspoken corollary is, of course, that he expects you to use it to kill Palestinians. This echoes the infamous slogan of Meir Kahane in the 1960s: every Jew a .22. Ironically, guns are readily available to Israeli Jews. Virtually anyone who wants one can get one. They don’t need Ben Gvir to tell them to do so.
In response to this, an Israeli tweeted that Ben Gvir’s racism is a perfect advertisement for BDS. “They should give him a medal.” His comment aroused a storm of anger including a rebuke from the US State Department which is willing to criticize his directly, while pulling its punches regarding Israeli government misdeeds.
A senior Likud minister criticized Ben Gvir saying he is a media whore. He has no interest in governing or legislating. He only cares about the headlines and TV cameras. He is all noise and ineffective. Nor does he have any interest in actual police work; nor any interest in crime in the Palestinian communities. He babbles all day long, doing damage domestically and internationally.
This criticism misses one critical point: Ben Gvir’s audience is not Netanyahu or even his own government. It is the Judeo-fascist core in the settlements. The ones who truly control many of the levers of state power. Netanyahu may control foreign policy, but they control every aspect of domestic policy concerning the Palestinians, Jerusalem and the Occupied Territories. They also have an automatic veto on negotiations or agreements with the Palestinians.
Ben Gvir doesn’t care what the US thinks. In fact, we are his punching bag. The harder he punches the more support he gets from his crowd. He’s a huckster and a grifter. Like his rebbe, Kahane, he gives rabble-rousing speeches, which are red meat to his disciples. That’s all he cares about. Nothing more.
Nor is Ben Gvir an outlier. The ranks of Israeli politicians are replete with those advocating ethnic cleansing, apartheid and even genocide. As I’ve written here, a Likud MK called for building death camps for “Arabs.” The leading candidate to run the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum, Effi Eitam, has said of Palestinian MKs:
“The day will come when we will expel you [to Gaza]”
“We should expel the vast majority of Arabs from Judea and Samaria, we can’t have all these Arabs…”
Regarding Lebanon, he said: “Simply slaughter Civilians? Yes, that is the equation. It’s cold, it’s cruel. But that is it.”
I suppose there could be no better candidate for a museum commemorating Nazi genocide than someone who advocates genocide. Every time someone hears him talk about the Holocaust. they will be reminded of his own genocidal rhetoric. Seriously, it is a grave insult to the 6-million to appoint a former IDF general, a cruel, vicious brute to safeguard their memory. But that is par for the course for this state birthed in the crucible of Nakba and continuing it to this day.
Bezalel Smotrich is finance minister and deputy defense minister. He called for “wiping out” the village of Huwara. And his accomplices in the three surrounding settlement vipers’ nests answered his call, descending upon it like locusts, burning everything in sight from cars to houses to people. Earlier in the Knesset plenum he declared that it was unfortunate that Ben Gurion only expelled 1-million Palestinians. He wished Israel’s first prime minister had finished the job. As I’ve written here, one of the slogans of fascist anti-Semites living in villages to which Jewish inhabitants returned after the War ended was: “Itzik, we will finish the job.”
Finally, the Nazis did not formally adopt the Final Solution until 1941. In the years prior to that they believed they could accomplish their goals by squeezing the Jews out of Europe by encouraging emigration or, if necessary, forced expulsions. This is why Adolf Eichmann, who visited Palestine in 1937, declared: “If I were a Jew I would be a Zionist.” In this, he agreed with Ben Gurion and the Zionists, who declared that life in the Diaspora was doomed, and the only safe place for Jews was Israel. Ironically, Ben Gurion wrote a letter to his son the same year in which he laid out his plan to expel Arabs in order to secure a Jewish demographic majority and permanent Judeo-supremacy.
Israel is now in the phase of squeezing Palesitnians out of their homeland through house demolitions, violent raids, burning crops, killing livestock. Three villages of 500 residents have been depopulated in the past few months due to constant settler attacks. The next stage could be forced expulsion in whole or in part of the Palestinian population. If this doesn’t happen it will not be for lack of will. It will be due to Israel’s awareness that it can only go so far in oppressing the Palestinians without risking extreme backlash or even global boycotts a la South Africa.
Another example of Judeo-supremacist impulse to ethnically cleanse all of Greater Israel is the document listing the ideological aims of the current government. Benzion Saunders tweets: “The Jewish people have an exclusive and indisputable right to all parts of the Land of Israel.” This is false on several counts. First, Israel does not represent “the Jewish people.” No Diaspora Jew bestowed that right upon Israel. Second, declaring that Israeli Jews are sovereign over all of Greater Israel is a declaration of ethnic cleansing. A people with exclusive right to territory may do whatever it wants to a minority in its midst. This is precisely what Bosian Serbs did to Bosnian Muslims; what Myanmar did to the Rohingya; and what whites did to Native Americans.
Genocide does not happen suddenly. It evolves from lesser crimes and gradually grows into a monstrous hate capable of exterminating tens of thousands or millions, depending on circumstances. For this reason, I’m not satisfied with the word ‘apartheid’ alone. While it is an accurate portrait of current reality, it is not sufficient. As I’ve written, we must speak about genocide. Its most extreme form is the extermination of the people. But genocide also encompasses incitement to genocide; attempts to erase culture, language and traditions. These are all genocide. Israel qualifies on all these counts. It assaults Palestinian NGOs, destroys thousands of homes, steals land, demolishes schools, bombs universities, power plants and sewage treatment facilities. All this is genocide. That it has not yet exterminated tens or hundreds of thousands is no comfort. That may yet come, considering the venomous hatred of the Judeo-Nazis above. In the meantime, genocide remains a potent and accurate term.
In the meantime, I would like to see in a future Palestine-Israel, a Museum of the Nakba, commemorating this historic crime against the Palestinian people. It should sit on the same Jerusalem hill as, and next door to Yad Vashem. The two institutions should bookend the Jewish and Palestinian experience.