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The right-wing solution for the violence

The Israeli Right has offered up legislation to deal with stone throwing, supported new settlements, and at times even championed annexation. The result has only led to a worsening security situation.

In the thick of a wave of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, Israelis are either looking backwards to figure out how we got here, or forward to see if tomorrow things will get worse. And tomorrow looks like a mystery; the Israeli media treats Palestinian violence like the autumn rains that began this week — it  comes and goes arbitrarily.

But what about the longer-term future? Is there any chance for a policy shift? After three wars in Gaza, nothing there fundamentally changed. Regarding the West Bank, several main policy approaches have emerged in recent days: from the broad left, the far right, and the prime minister, who reflects the mainstream right wing in Israel today.

The Israeli Left calls half-heartedly for a negotiated two-state solution. But there is a feeling in the air that they must apologize or keep silent for the special crime of believing that ending military rule through a negotiated political framework could reduce violence. Their voice is stifled, because at moments like these, Israelis view a two-state solution as a prize for violence, or at the very least, a generous concession Palestinians do not deserve.

The left’s all-but discredited approach hardly matters anyway, since it has no political power. The two streams of right-wing thinking are those that will determine Israeli policy now and for the foreseeable future.

The prime minister, as usual, indicates no overall vision regarding the future of the conflict. Instead, Netanyahu used his press conference on Thursday to insist that the current violence is not caused by settlements (or by extension, the occupation). He scoffed that the attackers inside the Green Line “just want to destroy.” He talked about protecting the security of Israeli citizens; nary a word about the long term. It is fair to conclude that there will be no change in his no-policy approach.

The response of the further-right — settlers and certain members of the Jewish Home party and Likud — involves several themes.

Get tough. Many demand a crackdown, as if Israel has been soft until now. Over the summer, Israel passed legislation stipulating sentences of 10-20 years’ prison time for different types of...

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Israeli settler couple killed, and the band plays on

Our hearts are desensitized by horror fatigue, convinced that nothing can change. But we must still try, if not for the dead then for the living.

A lifetime of sorrow lies before four children who became orphans last night when their parents were killed in a hailstorm of bullets on a West Bank road. The children were in the car when it happened, including a four-month-old infant. The oldest was nine. They were unharmed physically, but their suffering is indescribable.

But it’s time to admit that aside from their circle of family and friends, no one else really cares. If we did, we would change our circumstances. Instead, the conditions and sentiments before and after the attack are routine — ritualized. We are caged inside a dystopian daily theater performance, in which actors respond like robots programmed to repeat their lines forever.

The Right, whose settlement expansion agenda has run roughshod through the West Bank for nearly five decades, says the attack demands further settlement expansion. On Wednesday, about 50 families made a pilgrimage to a new site they call “Shalem” – meaning whole – in the same area as the attack, dancing and celebrating the future settlement. Thursday evening, the family was killed on that road. Friday morning, right-wing websites announced a march to the site in response.  It’s a settle-die-and-settle dance.

Prime Minister Netanyahu also repeats his lines verbatim, like a mad caricature of himself: Palestinians, and first of all Mahmoud Abbas, incited the attack and didn’t condemn it. His “sounds of silence” speech in the UN just hours earlier now has a perfect bookend soundbite: “look at the PA’s deafening silence,” despite the fact that “we condemned the attack in Duma.” To Israeli ears, this translates as: Israel wants peace, Palestinians are “bloodthirsty,” as per the right-wing commenters.

The Left, too, offers the usual answers: Zuhair Bahalul from the Zionist Union (Labor Party) said that regular people are paying the price for the frozen political situation. After another recent death, my colleague Lisa Goldman argued that the only way to stop stone throwing in East Jerusalem is to give residents full rights and end the occupation. The left-wing script reads, broadly: the lack of a political resolution feeds the violence. We don’t condone such things, but what can you expect. If we end the occupation and reach a final status accord, the violence will subside.

But these stock lines...

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Polls: Israelis despair of peace, Palestinians have other priorities

New polls show most Israelis supported last summer’s Gaza war, are not interested in taking in Syrian refugees, and agree with Netanyahu on the Iran deal. 

At the start of a Jewish New Year, Israelis took stock of their lives in a series of polls. The highest circulating newspaper, the free right-wing daily Israel Hayom, wrote flashy headlines on the cover of its holiday supplement about what “Israelis” think, but conducted its survey only among Jews. Haaretz’ survey included Arabs but not politics, instead posing fun questions about life habits and some public issues, while ignoring the conflict. The Peace Index, a monthly poll by the Israeli Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University, asked about the conflict and other foreign policy issues, which is its raison d’etre. But the results confirm longtime patterns: the majority of Israelis fear existential threats, and despair of peace.

The media-commissioned polls reflect what Israelis prefer to think about: the optimistic personal and public mood, pastimes and choices such as vegetarianism, reading, pot-smoking, vacation activity and sex, social values, cost of living, a smattering of politics. Here are some highlights about how the country thinks.

Closed military zones

- Consistent with all historical findings, the IDF is the most trusted institution tested, with 8.1 average on a scale of 0-10 (10 indicates the highest trust); but Arabs were not asked. (Israel Hayom)

- Seventy percent say it was the right decision to go to war in Gaza last summer – among Jews, 80 percent. Nearly 70 percent percent of Arabs said it was not the right decision. (Peace Index)

- Less than half of the Israeli public (43 percent)  think the results of the war were “good” or “very good.” (Peace Index)

- A majority (53 percent) of Jews believe Israel is a “villa in the jungle.” (Israel Hayom)

- Over three-quarters (78 percent) of Israeli Jews say Israel should not open its doors to refugees from Syria, Iraq, or other countries. (Israel Hayom)

- When told that Europe is absorbing hundreds of thousands of refugees, half of Jews (51 percent) are unmoved. Nearly half (46 percent) say this made them less interested in taking refugees. (Israel Hayom).

- A minority of Jews say Israel should take in a few thousand refugees (16 percent) or an unlimited number (2 percent — Israel Hayom)

Existential threats,...

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A place of dignity for refugees in Berlin

An outpouring of hospitality is on full display at a shelter in the German capital, where volunteers insist on treating refugees as people, not just victims. But as the gifts pour in, how deep is the well of kindness — and what is brewing under the surface?

BERLIN — A few young teenage Arab boys line up loosely, side by side, in a concrete courtyard. They are concentrating hard on four big guys dressed in black, who are busting hip-hop moves to music blaring from an amplifier. The boys bounce a little with the beat, then follow after the big guys, giggling and shaking their legs and hips, executing jumps and turns. One wears sport pads over his knobby knees.

A girl of four or five runs by, curls flying, her face painted from the nose up with swirls of red and silver. A skinny boy tries to stand straight, his feet plunged deep inside bright pink plastic roller blades. A group of men gaze at a guitar player, clapping and filming on their phones.

As scenes of misery roll in from the borders of Hungary, Austria, and the Balkans, this is not a calm country fair, but a snapshot of 763 refugees (last Thursday) from 32 different countries, living in a vast, vacated city hall building in the Wilmersdorf district of Berlin.

In mid-August, German authorities began sending refugees here, with no infrastructure. The Arbeiter Samariter-Bund (Workers’ Samaritan Federation), an independent charity, got involved.

“When this place started,” said Holger Michel, one of the volunteers who is there every day, “there were 150 people, a security team that the municipality brought in, and nothing else.”

That was the situation when a young man named Philipp Bertram heard about it and came to see what he could do to help. He is 24 years old, with the blond boyishness of a surfer. He is originally from Saxony – an area with heavy anti-refugee sentiment, where the anti-Islamic movement Pegida was born. Philipp had worked with refugee projects in the past, and quickly developed “an idea” of the kind of place he wanted to be able to provide.

A few days later, Philipp established a Facebook group to recruit help. Within hours, 300 hundred people had “liked” the page. By that evening, there were one hundred actually volunteering, he says. One month later, there have been a thousand volunteers, some...

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Are Israelis too scared to have opinions anymore?

A law barring public broadcasters from expressing opinions is just the latest in a long line of legislative and regulatory attempts to limit speech in Israel.

At 3:24 a.m. on September 3rd, Israeli parliamentarians passed a controversial law to revamp the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA), the body responsible for public radio and television. At the last minute, right-wing members of Knesset from ultra-Orthodox party United Torah Judaism and Likud snuck in an article stating that public news broadcasters must “avoid one-sidedness, prejudice, expressing personal opinions, giving grades and affixing labels, ignoring facts or selectively emphasizing them not according to their newsworthiness.”

Only 43 out of Israel’s 120 legislators were present and voting at that hour: 25 supported it, with 18 opposed. Journalists were furious and instantly dubbed it a “gag law.” Radio hosts joked that they could no longer say things like “very interesting!” to their guests. Public radio and television in Israel offers high-quality reporting and hard-hitting interviewers who lean both left and right. Most assumed the article would eventually be used to target specific shows – left-leaning ones.

After the outcry, the prime minister promised to strike the offending provision. Ofir Akunis, the Likud minister who had advanced the bill, stepped down as minister responsible for the IBA (he continues as minister of science, technology and space). Nevertheless, The Marker reported that the legislation is already on the books as passed, since it cannot formally be changed until the Knesset returns from recess after the Jewish holidays.

The Communications Ministry said it will not enforce the law. But its Orwellian description as part of the “ethical code” and justifications have been ringing through the public sphere. The Jerusalem Post quotes what amounts to an irreconcilable clash of meanings of freedom of speech:

I’m for freedom of expression,” Eichler (from UTJ, who initiated the item – ds) said…“but no one should be paid with tax money to give one-sided opinions…using a microphone that belongs to the nation… “it is unthinkable that I, as a taxpayer, am paying someone who incites against my beliefs and views.”

… (Ofir) Akunis defended the provision…Journalists send out rude tweets against politicians and don’t show any respect,” he lamented on Army Radio.”

It is the latest in a trend of Israeli politicians using their formal powers to...

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The Left cannot ignore violence against Jews

Two recent incidents in Hebron illustrate the dangerous and wrongful manipulation of violence against civilians to advance political ideology. The Left is guilty too — and it must change.

Masked settlers in Hebron attacked a Palestinian man who was being detained by the Israeli army on Saturday. When a soldier tried to stop them, the Israeli settlers turned on him as well, before discharging pepper spray at the Palestinian.

Last Thursday in Hebron, five young ultra-Orthodox American yeshiva students driving towards the adjacent settlement of Kiryat Arba took a wrong turn into the Palestinian neighborhood of Jabel Johar. A gang of young Palestinians spotted them and attacked their car with stones, then set it on fire.

When I started writing this article, it was supposed to only be about the two violent incidents in Hebron. By the time I finished writing, another person had fallen victim to the conflict. Reham Dawabshe from Duma, near Nablus, became the third person to die of her wounds from a firebomb attack that incinerated her home, her husband and her toddler son.

The incident in Hebron could easily have mirrored the grisly scene in Duma. Instead, the five Jewish students were led out of the car by another young Palestinian who took them up a steep dirt alley. Another Palestinian man rushed them into his home to shelter them. The Jerusalem Post reported that he used one of the students’ phones to call the Israeli security authorities, who came to get the yeshiva students out about an hour later.

The close timing of these attacks creates a sense of helpless symmetry to the violence: Israelis and Palestinians kill or try to kill each other.

Yet that paralyzing sentiment too easily gives way to something worse: each side quickly exploiting the events to prove the evils of the other side.

It is troubling to me that the Left does this too. Even here on +972 Magazine, we reported the settler attack on Palestinians in Hebron, without mentioning the mob that nearly killed the Jewish students just a few days earlier.

The error comes from a mentality that political context is a trump card; that the violence is not symmetrical because (insert “your side”) is the victim.

Context is of course essential, and the political situation in Hebron is explosive: it is the most divided city...

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Nabi Saleh's weapon against occupation: Humiliation

The residents of the small West Bank village, who were recently propelled into the international spotlight, know that neither slingshots nor sophisticated camera angles are their best weapon against military rule.

Many Israelis never heard of Nabi Saleh before a video of a soldier struggling with a child and his women family members went viral.

It wasn’t just the violence of a soldier’s overwhelming might rushing the delicate body of an injured kid that made the video upsetting. There was something horrible about seeing a grown man lose his armed-to-the-teeth cool to a mere child, struggling and cursing as if fighting for his life. He had lost control, not only of the situation, but of himself.

The women who harangued him caused no physical damage. But his soul and his distorted mouth, pulled wide by the women’s fingers, looked tormented.

Military injuries — a bullet or even a rock — can look heroic in popular imagination. Having one’s mouth pried open and the fingers of your enemy stuck inside robs the soldier even of his heroism. The pain of this video for Israelis is that he looks wrecked, violated — humiliated.

The political background to Nabi Saleh’s demonstrations is simple. The villagers are protesting against the settlement of Halamish, across from the village on a neighboring hill, and specifically for the spring that lies between the two communities. Every Friday since 2009, residents of Nabi Saleh march down the road leading out of the village to reach the spring; at the end of the road, the IDF waits to block their exit.

The barricade is a line of Border Policemen bulky with visor helmets, vests, automatic weapons and buzzing communications equipment. They try to disperse the protests with stun grenades, tear gas, rubber and occasionally live bullets and in previous years, tank trucks spewing miasmic “skunk” water. The demonstrators bring flags and chants, and the shabab: the teenage boys or young men hovering on the rocky slopes above the road with stones ready.

This week, right wingers held a demonstration in support of the soldier in the video. A small group gathered at the bottom of the road from Halamish and marched to the spring. Nobody stopped them.

Read: In Nabi Saleh, an occupier’s sense of entitlement

Despite the simple issues, when last...

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The quieter, more dangerous boycott

Three recent divestment cases indicate that even when there are no flashy headlines, maybe especially so, boycott and divestment efforts can have a major impact where it hurts.

The largest supermarket chain in Luxembourg, Cactus, may be considering taking Israeli produce off its shelves unless suppliers can prove they do not come from occupied territory, Israeli news site Ynet reported this week.

If the chain follows through, this would be the latest in a number of related incidents that show European companies’ growing discomfort with contracts, holdings and investments in Israel. The discomfort appears rooted not in ideology or politics, but in dollars – and sense.

In June, the CEO of French telecom giant Orange stated that its brand-use contract with an Israeli mobile operator was becoming a costly political headache in France and overseas, and that he would be prefer to end the contract. His statement prompted a diplomatic incident: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out at the company, and France’s foreign minister responded with fast back-peddling.

In August, another massive French company, Veolia, sold the last of its holdings in Israel after several years of phased withdrawal, according to Israeli group “Who Profits.” Veolia had been involved in a range of projects in the region, from bus lines, water and waste management, and perhaps most prominently, the Jerusalem light rail. The company has been a target of boycott activists for years due to its involvement in West Bank projects including transportation services and ownership of a landfill. Critics also charge that the light rail underserves the Palestinian population of East Jerusalem, while contributing to the de facto annexation of the eastern, Palestinian part of the city.

BDS supporters consider Veolia’s move a major victory, while Veolia completely denies any political basis for its decision. In a written statement conveyed through a spokesperson, the company told +972 Magazine that it began a strategic divestment plan in 2011, with all subsidiaries divested by August 2015, but that “[i]n no case has this divestment, or its decision, been the result of a boycott campaign or the opposition of any group whatsoever.”

However, already in 2010 rumors surfaced that Veolia sought to exit the Jerusalem light rail operations due to boycott pressure and concern that it would lose contracts elsewhere. California-based group Global Exchange has documented projects Veolia lost in recent years, claiming links to political campaigns highlighting Veolia’s Israel-Palestine activities and directed at local clients....

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Arab-American comedians turn hardships into gags at West Bank festival

Thousands of Palestinians flock to Bethlehem, Ramallah and Jerusalem for the 1001 Laughs comedy festival where serious topics such as identity, stereotypes and the difficulty of air travel turned into comedy gold.

On Friday afternoon Mo Amer stood under two looming globe-shaped light fixtures pouring heat over a makeshift stage at a Bethlehem hotel. The white-sleeved chairs in the modest ballroom were all taken and people stood in the back. Air from mobile units reached no one. With a few comic complaints and melodramatic forehead wiping, Mo plowed on, leaning in to say: “we Arabs, we don’t need doctors. We self-diagnose. If we are sick? It is nothing! It’s just because of lafhet hawa [catching a draft - ds]! And the cure for everything – olive oil!” Ripples of laughter ensued; a lean older man with missing incisors bobbed and grinned and said: “Aywa!”

Mo – short for Mohammed – was one of seven Arab-American comedians performing short skits in an English, or rather Arabish, comedy festival called “1001 Laughs.” Sponsored by the Movenpick Hotel in Ramallah and American Consulate General, the show ran this past week in Ramallah, East Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The producer, opening act, and MC Amer Zahr is well-known to +972 Magazine. He has committed the rare act of spinning his Palestinian diaspora life story, Arab and mixed-religion culture into the stuff of self-deprecatory humor that turns anger on its head, even while legitimizing its causes.

Audiences seemed thirsty for comic relief. Although mainly in English, all shows were sold out, Zahr told +972 Magazine, while explaining that some local artists joined the shows earlier in the week. He said that over 1,800 people attended in total, and that the Bethlehem event was added at the last minute for free – “but…we still consider it sold out!” said Zahr onstage to giggles. The group was surprised: “We worried we wouldn’t get large enough audiences, but people were sitting in the stairs,” Zahr said. He attributes the enthusiasm to the fact that “Palestinians love to laugh, and we know how to turn crazy and sad situations into things that make us laugh.”

Those situations translated into a few core themes that arose throughout the routines, reflecting the maddening frustrations of life that are the basis for good jokes: hardship as an Arab or Muslim American; trouble with air travel; explaining names and identity, typecasting as terrorists.

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Yes to dual loyalty, no to war with Iran

Here is my bi-partisan proposal to opponents of the deal: don’t cut our countries adrift from our allies, and don’t light my region on fire. If this deal falls, I’ll have to suffer the consequences of the war you chose.

Criticize Jewish or Israeli opponents of the Iran deal, and you are an anti-Semite. Not only that; conservative hysterics now say you have de facto accused such opponents of dual loyalty, an antiquated anti-Semitic charge being wielded as precisely as a club.

It’s time to drop that old trope altogether. The very idea that there’s something wrong with dual loyalty is obsolete. It’s a fossilized relic of single-identity patriotism to the patria from centuries past. Nowadays, people migrate, have mixed heritage, multiple citizenships, meta-state communities and even multiple sexualities.

I am proudly loyal to both the U.S. and Israel. I have the tax returns to prove it. And it is a privilege; I am enriched by seeing and feeling the arguments of both sides, and I share in the needs of both. Most of the time these interests are highly aligned. When the needs differ, they often complement each other.

It is good that Israel’s security needs have been so front and center to the negotiations over curbing Iran’s nuclear program. Never mind that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s apocalyptic predictions about Iran destroying Israel are fetishized manipulations for his own political image. Even paranoids have enemies and there has been some value in reminding the negotiating countries across the sea or the ocean about the regional concerns right here. A nuclear armed Iran really could upset the balance of power in the Middle East, embolden actors such as Hezbollah and accelerate the existing arms race. The left must know that these factors could affect not only our lives but the possibility for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

With the unrelenting voices of Israeli concerns in their ears, the powers have reached a deal with Iran. Is it good, bad, the best we could so, or disastrous? Mere mortals who are not nuclear scientists (those who are support the deal) must take our cues from figures we trust and choose the arguments we find most credible. It’s hard when political interests merge with substance and regular people don’t know what’s real.

But the overriding argument that trumps all others is what President Obama said in his...

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No, BDS does not unfairly 'single out' Israel

Ironically, the boycott movement actually expresses some level of faith in Israeli democracy by assuming a little pressure might motivate it to change.

When the most recent flotilla set sail for Gaza to protest Israel’s eight-year blockade, Prime Minister Netanyahu wrote an open letter to the activists. In a tone dripping with sarcasm, he suggested they had taken a wrong turn on the way to Syria. It’s part of a theme repeated obsessively: “there are worse violations elsewhere, but no one ever protests them. Therefore, protesting the occupation on behalf of Palestinians is hypocritical, anti-Israel or anti-Semitic. Therefore, it can be ignored.” Nowhere is this argument more prominent than as a response to boycott, sanctions and divestment (BDS) efforts against Israel.

At first glance, it is a genuinely troubling point. No one who claims to care about human rights should sleep at night knowing what is happening to millions of Syrians who are and have been uprooted, and the hundreds of thousands who have been butchered – for a start.

The problem is not that liberals don’t care. The problem is that the accusations of global indifference are simply false. Whether you support or despise the boycott of Israel, it’s time to stop writing it off as hypocrisy.

Start with sanctions. The U.S. and Europe have both placed sanctions on Iran for human rights violations, not just for nuclear research. International sanctions to end human rights violations began long before the putative “singling out” of Israel, even before the occupation.

In 1965, Britain placed sanctions on Rhodesia; then in 1966, the UN Security Council for the first time in its history authorized international sanctions against the white minority government, for the next 14 years, until Rhodesia created a fairer government and became Zimbabwe. (Israel, incidentally, was one of the countries that did not respect the sanctions – displaying at least moral and political consistency.)

The UN imposed sanctions against Iraq (1990, for its treatment of Kuwaitis during the invasion) and against Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, for its treatment of ethnic minorities. In those cases, sanctions preceded international military intervention, something that has never remotely been on the table in the West’s treatment of Israel.

Numerous other countries perpetrating egregious human rights violations, such as Sudan, Somalia and Sierra Leone have been placed under international sanction regimes....

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A death penalty for terrorists would be terrible for Israel

Not only would the death penalty have no deterrent effect on bona fide terrorists. It’s just plain wrong.

Update: On Sunday afternoon, Haaretz reports that the Prime Minister postponed the ministerial debate on the death penalty bill for three months – most likely a delaying tactic. He also instructed the formation of a government committee to look into the issue. The bill’s sponsor responded that delaying the debate over the death penalty is proof that Likud isn’t truly part of the “national” camp. Israel’s Justice Minister supports of the bill.

A ministerial committee was expected to decide whether or not Israel’s governing coalition will support a bill allowing the death penalty for terrorists on Sunday. Israel Beitenu, Avigdor Liberman’s party, says that the bill applies to people convicted of “murder in terrorist circumstances,” including in the West Bank. 

The bill fulfills a campaign promise by Liberman’s “Israel Beitenu” party. The current version of the draft law was sponsored by his neophyte legislator Sharon Gal.

The death penalty proposal is only the latest in a long-running tactic of Liberman’s: float outrageous ideas during the campaign season to rally his far-right base and then try and turn them into policies and legislation after the elections. The first example was “no loyalty, no citizenship,” which appeared during the 2009 campaign – a direct attack on Arab citizens. That was eventually translated into a series of bills designed to harangue them, sponsored or co-sponsored by Liberman’s legislators. Some of them passed. We should have known his “death penalty for terrorists” slogan was no stunt either.

Haaretz ticks off some of the obvious and well-known reasons why the law is ill-conceived: research has shown that the death penalty has little deterrent effect, especially when the potential perpetrator is ideologically motivated to commit, for example, a suicide attack. The Western world has largely disavowed the death penalty, with the exception of the U.S. (and I want to believe that even there it is fated to go the way of bans on gay marriage). Further, Israel’s attorney general is set to oppose the draft law, reports Haaretz, such that even if the committee approves the bill as expected, it will face hurdles.

But stranger things have happened and the consequences of this bill actually passing one day must be considered. Those consequences will be terrible...

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Why Netanyahu can’t just wish Palestine away: Analysis of a failed policy

Instead of earnestly pursuing peace, consecutive Israeli governments have attempted three policies: separating the Palestinians, erasing borders and boundaries, and attempting to change the world’s perception of reality. All three have failed.

Since Benjamin Netanyahu began his second term as prime minister in 2009, he has resisted reaching a two-state solution but he also claims not to want a single state, with or without a Jewish hegemony. Nobody seems to be willing to simply ask the prime minister: what do you intend for Israel and the Palestinians in five or 10 years from now?

In lieu of a vision, Netanyahu has aggressively pursued three policies: separation between Gaza and the West Bank (and within), the merging of Israel and the West Bank, and messaging the rightness of both — hasbara.

Although these policies are all ostensibly means to some elusive end, they have been implemented with zeal as if they are ends in themselves. Yet all three have failed.

Separation — FAILED

Israel has long pursued the physical, political, economic, cultural and religious separation between Gaza and the West Bank. The hope was that Israelis, the international community and no less important, Palestinians themselves, would view these societies as different entities, requiring different political solutions. The idea of a cohesive Palestinian state was supposed to dissolve.

It didn’t start with Netanyahu; physical movement restrictions between the regions from the early 1990s were compounded by Ariel Sharon’s partial withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. The latter created a sense of victory for Hamas and touched off the political rift that paralyzes Palestinian politics to this day. Israelis increasingly view this chopped up society as unsuited to statehood.

But nobody else does. Some Palestinians envision the 1967 territories, others yearn for the whole land (just as Israel loves to generate maps showing the whole land for itself). Under no Palestinian scenario does Palestine not include Gaza.

The international community didn’t read the memo either. In the recent UN report investigating Protective Edge, the commission of inquiry treated the two parts as a contiguous political whole. It acknowledges that Hamas controls Gaza internally but views the latter as part of the state that has acceded to international treaties on human rights. Which is lucky for Israel, because it meant the UN commission of inquiry held Hamas accountable to international human rights law – and for violations of it.

Israel also nurtures separation within...

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+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

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