Mideast Reacts with Horror: “Israel has elected Extremism and Racism”

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) –

Observers in the Arab press who contemplated the victory of far right Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu in the Israeli elections express emotions from “concern and anxiety” to out and out horror at the potentially destructive impact it will have on the region.

Barhoum Jaraisi writes in the Jordanian newspaper al-Ghad (Tomorrow) that in voting so many seats to the far right wing Likud Party, the Israeli electorate has chosen “extremism and racism.” He points out, however, that Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu still has a choice of what kind of government to form. The Israeli parliament has 120 seats and the ruling coalition needs 61. Likud appears to have gotten about 30. There are two ways for it to gain the other 31 or more. Netanyahu could form a government of national unity with the center-left Zionist Union (something its leader, Isaac Herzog, appears to have ruled out late Tuesday. Such a government would have a better footing with the international community. Or, he says, Netanyahu could cobble together a smaller majority of right- to – far – rightwing parties and exclude the center and the left, producing a government that many in the international community would feel extremely uncomfortable with.

Ziad Halaby writes from East Jerusalem in Alarabiya.net that Netanyahu’s win shows that you can always get more votes in Israel by showing you can direct a war than by promising peace. He says that Netanyahu’s win means the end of the two-state solution. He argues that in stealing the issues for his Likud Party of support for Israeli squatter settlements in the Palestinian West Bank and scaremongering about war with Iran and other countries, Netanyahu cannibalized his other far right wing allies, taking seats from The Jewish Home (Ha-Bayit ha yahudi) and Yisrael Beitenu (Israel our Home), the former a squatter-based party and the latter mainly serving a Russian Jewish constituency that arrived in the 1990s and after. Both lost seats to Likud. Halaby believes that Netanyahu will put together a far right wing government and drop any fig leaf of moderation for the outside world. The message of the election is the worrying one, he says, that the Israelis don’t want to withdraw from territories they occupied in 1967 and don’t want a Palestinian state.

Jihad al-Khazen in the pan-Arab London Daily al-Hayat (Life) argues that Israel is now, after the 1990s collapse of Afrikaaner South Africa, the primary exemplar in the world of the racist, Apartheid state with regard to its policies in the Occupied West Bank. Khazen worries that Netanyahu’s pledge to keep millions of Palestinians stateless and subjected to the Israeli jackboot is actually a call for a third, fourth and fifth Palestinian uprising (Intifada) and possibly a turn to extremism and rise of a Palestinian leadership willing to attempt to do real harm to Israel, say with chemical gas attacks. It is a dark vision but Khazen is one of the few to see the real possibility of a civil war in the West Bank that could be momentous for the history of the region.

Related video:

AFP: “Palestinians in Gaza react to Netanyahu election victory”

32 Responses

  1. When Rabin was shot the region was again put on its road to hell, there have been many forks in the road to get to a better place, Israel just squandered another one.

  2. For Netanyahu to rescue himself from defeat (apparently, please convince me this is wrong) by announcing that he won’t ever permit a Palestinian state, and by demonizing the fact of Arab Israelis exercising their franchise, seems to pretty much demonstrate that Israel right now is a one-religion, one ethnicity state, determined to oppress all other religions and ethnicities. Not that it would have been much better if Herzog had won. Likudism seems to have done to the possibility of Israeli Arabs participating in Israeli politics what McCarthy did to the possibility of socialism in US politics — pretty much killed it. Every Jewish political party and alignment in Israel today seems committed to treating Arab citizens of Israel like political lepers.

    Israel has become like South Africa under apartheid, and it’s long past due for the US to start treating Israel as we did apartheid South Africa — cut off all aid and impose sanctions.

  3. There cannot be any doubt, that the people of Israel overwhelmingly wanted the occupation, illegal settlements, and Netanyahu’s on going violence against Israel’s neighbors, to go on. They seem to be quite content with the status quo, because they wield the power and use the deadly weapons, that are used against civilians. Israel is a sick society.

    The question is how is the US now going to handle the fact that the butcher of Tel Aviv has openly stated there will never be a two state settlement, and that the illegal settlements will continue? Pretend he never said it, and continue the aid and weapons to what the world considers an apartheid state?
    Time those who keep supporting this brutal regime stopped pretending Israel is interested in ending the occupation and wanting peace.

    • The US can do nothing. We are paralyzed by the Right Wing extremists. Only at the UN can sanity prevail. End the automatic Security Council veto the US uses to protect Israeli crimes against humanity.

  4. My guess is that after he forms a government Netanyahu will start paying lip service to the two state solution again.

    • Well, it is almost predictable that Netanyahu will use his usual cunning to pacify world leaders who must be now forced to admit he does not give a damn for peace, and wants to keep behaving like a war monger. He reminds me of a used car salesman, who lies when he keeps duping customers.
      Despite his arrogance and grandstanding, he know Israel cannot survive without suckers like the US propping it up.

    • You nailed it! This afternoon, the once & future PM was all Emily Litella: “Never mind….”

    • Well, yes.

      Bibi will, once again, just say what needs to be said, and most importantly, what his (temporarily) disenchanted supporters want to hear. They’ll hear what they want to hear as certainly as they have only seen what they want to see when viewing Israeli behavior over the years.

      This is illustrative of how people get away with abusing others everywhere: we have all seen this sort of thing play out in other settings, however mundane.

      The offender here will simply say he was caught up in the moment and all is well. Bibi will reassure everyone that he is a Man of Peace, and that if he only had some Palestinians who were ready to make peace, we’d all have a merry christmas. Then he’ll trot out those market tested tropes: Israel has a right to exist; they live in a very tough neighborhood; etc, ad naseum.

      He’ll speak out sincerity on one hand, and have the stick of the anti-Semitic label ready on the other, if anyone responsible says he’s proven himself to be full of s—.

      Then there is the cognitive dissonance that has been mentioned on this blog before. For the supporters of Israel in the congress who really are too stupid to have seen through the facade of Israeli good faith, or too compromised to do anything else, his reassurances will be all the lip service they need.

      Remember, this is only something he SAID. Israeli actions over the years have been consistent and unambiguous, if one simply looks at the facts.

      • For the supporters of Israel in the congress who really are too stupid to have seen through the facade of Israeli good faith, or too compromised to do anything else, his reassurances will be all the lip service they need.

        I wouldn’t give the people in Congress credit for being too stupid to know what is going on with Israel. They know what they are doing and they know they have sold their souls to the Israel lobby.

    • Sure he will backtrack – he already has. Question is can any peace talks resume when an Israeli PM has rejected the establishment of a Palestinian state under his term of office no matter what concessions are made?
      If there is no longer a path to peace or even the semblance of an Israeli partner how can the recognition of Palestine be vetoed in the UN?

  5. After WWII the whole world was in shock but out of it rose a hope for the future of the human race which fed into the birth of Israel, founded with the most optimistic of expectations and from the most generous of motives. I was nine at the time and my fond companion was a furry hamster called the Empress. One day I found an abandoned nest of newborn mice. I gathered the little pink orphans and gave them to the Empress to nurture. I can still hear their screams as she devoured them and I get echoes of the same helpless horror from the fate Israel visits on Palestine and its people.

  6. vickijee

    @BlueDuPage *i don’t think it was any accident that Netanyahu used language he used still trying to stop US and Iran negotiations

    • I think you’re right. And John Boehner invited Bibi knowing what he would say because it’s all part of their plan to deal with Iran and the Palestinians at the same time.

  7. On more Intifadas:
    I’d advise NO. Palestine as a nation has begun to be officially recognized at the United Nations and by civilized nations throughout the world. Palestine has become a member of the International Criminal Court, and is filing charges of war crimes against Israel.

    On the Israeli side, even Americans are getting the news of Netanyahu’s big win being driven by last minute racist appeals and a categorical rejection of any Palestinian state, ever. We may even remember this when he unleashes the next war against Gaza or even the West Bank.

    This is no time to jinx the process of accepting Palestinians as civilized, rational human beings who will use legal, peaceful means to accomplish their goals.

    • “On more Intifadas…….”

      Agreed, except to the extent a Third Intifada consists of non-violent resistance – which should be encouraged.

      “On the Israeli side……..”

      Many Jewish Israelis see the West Bank as part of their heritage as adherents of Judaism and that they won the land as spoils of war – with Arabs in the Occupied Territories having to live with the fact they lost any sovereignty to the land in war to Israel.

      “This is no time to jinx the process…….”

      Agreed. The jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, the ramping up of international boycotts against Israeli goods, and the further crystallization of the Obama administration in critical attitudes toward the Israeli government are positive developments – some observers feel the U.S. State Department will refrain in the future from discouraging international sanction activity against Israel due to human rights violations.

    • I’m not sure the admission of a Palestinian state is the way to go here. One-state solution for the win.

      Start demanding voting rights in Israel, and Netenyahu is SCREWED, because in order to oppose that, he has to openly oppose democracy. There is only one country in the world which is getting away with openly opposing democracy, and that’s Saudi Arabia; even the Emirates and North Korea pay lip service to democracy.

      Palestinian leadership needs to take this lesson from South Africa.

  8. After our US legislaturers gave Netanyahu one standing ovation after another, we should all be fearful of what is yet to come. Our beloved country is more than compleced we are joined at the hip with Israel. Considering how the rest of the world hasn’t the love of Israel as the US does, this means we are all pretty much alone on this one. I suspect that any violence between the Palestinians and the Israeli’s will be all Netanyahu will need for him to make his one state solution workable. My question is; how many in the US will buy his one state product?

  9. FogBelter

    @Kyrondo The mask is off, is all. Bibi’s statements are a trailing indicator of Israel’s character. Israel’s morality is defined.

  10. Jordon is a staunch ally of the far right wing Israeli government. It is amusing to see Jordanian media ignore that fact.

    The media is all a fa├žade. Collaborators putting on a show for the masses. Exercises in population control.

  11. I doubt you can have any stable nation formed on the basis of a religion. Be it Jewish; Islamic or whatever.

  12. Why be surprised here? Bibi’s an honest man. He wants Israel cleansed of all but Jews. He wants “Samaria and Judea” for Israel. Bibi will not give up any land. Bibi is right for Israel, which wants to keep the occupied territories. Moreover, America has got Bibi’s back.
    The more things stay the same, the more things stay the same…and the beat goes on.

  13. Apparently, it could have been worse: “Netanyahu Victory Lays Bare Israel as Racist, Colonial State: Analyst Shir Hever: Despite Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing, neoliberal, and racist policies, his reelection thwarted a potentially more aggressive and violent regime from taking power” – link to therealnews.com

  14. I’m horrified by the election. But seeing how a good majority of the middle East, most noticeably Egypt, is embracing ethnic chauvinism and militarism I can’t say I’m surprised. at the same time, the optimist in me says this can get the area one step closer to a democratic and pluralistic Israel/Palestine that will eventually have emerge in order to avoid genocide or ethnic cleansing. and it will get me one step closer to enjoying pepperoni pizza in public university cafeterias in Israel.

  15. The Arab press should be pleased. A left wing coalition would restart peace talks with the US at an intermediary – a peace process which has gone on since at least the days of Nixon and Kissinger with the only tangible result being the establishment of a virtual bantustan and the flooding of settlers into the West Bank.
    Netanyahu is a liar. He claims to support a two party state and then no Palestinian state depending on his audience. The argument against international sanctions – the peace process must not be derailed – has been nullified because there is no peace process without a willing Israeli partner.
    The rift with Obama gives the Palestinians the green light to push ahead with all speed in international law at a time when the blocking actions ot the US are its lowest.

  16. I’m not sure that Netanyahu’s reelection is all that negative.

    It should accelerate the application of pressure on him and the second level leaders who have been complicit. It looks as though the US is now going first to the UN instead of to renewed negotiations which he will frustrate anyway with more time being lost. Once there is some sort of UNSC declaration of Palestinian sovereignty beyond the green line and the criminal nature of the occupation, it should be fixed in stone that coercive measures by the international community and at the state level can go forward. It should also demonstrate to the Israeli people that they will never take title to the West Bank.

    • While all this is correct, it’s a “heighten the contradictions” argument. And while those arguments are correct, it makes for a really viciously unpleasant period for the people who have to live through it.

  17. Once again , Israelis have shown they can not think more than one hour into the future.

    Apparently no one in Israel is capable of understanding that the current situation can NOT be sustained. No One seems to be capable of asking “So what happens tomorrow when the global power shifts and the entire world has the same military capability as Israel?”

    Do the Israelis really think they will be able to oppress the non-Jews forever? What happens when they are no longer able? Already Hezbollah and Hamas have the ability to cause massive damage to the heart of Israel and the situation will only get much worse as weapons improve AND decrease in cost. Israel has no “magic weapons.”

    Do the Israelis really think the USA will protect Israel forever? What happens when the USA either does not have the ability nor the desire to protect Israel? The USA has many internal problems, in particular the transfer of power from the old white minority to others in the population. The USA population is going to be internally focused for many years as it sorts out power. There will come a time when Israel is more pain than it is worth.

    Do the Israeli really think some other country will replace the USA as its protector? Who? Israelis frequently mention China, but all China wants to do is strip-mine Israel for Intellectual Property and leave it a dried up husk. China may play nice for a short period of time, but will not be hesitant to “whack” Israel if it needs to do that. China has learned a lot over the last 5000 years (a lot more than the Israelis).

    Do the Israelis really think they can somehow avoid economic damage from their largest trading partner, Europe? Who will replace Europe if Europeans decide to boycott Israel? Over 75% of Europeans were born after WW2 and they feel zero guilt about WW2, even the younger Germans. To most Europeans, Israel is just a huge pain in the rear and soon it will be very easy for Europe to just quit trading with Israel. This will not hurt Europe at all, but will cause massive economic problems in Israel. Asia will NOT fill the gap because Israel produces nothing that is not also made in Asia for much less cost.

    No one in Israel seems to understand the path they have chosen and how painful the end will be.

    I suspect that over the next year, Israeli citizens are going to discover how much of a mistake they have made and I will not be surprised if there is a large exodus of the “best and brightest” to the many places on earth where they can live very nice lives with minimal fear of war. Why should very talented people stay in a war zone with very high cost of living, when they can live so many other places? Sure, the emotional attachment is strong, but over the last 5000 years many, many people have broken similar bonds and moved for better lives. Just look at all the millions that have left their homelands with nothing but their clothes, to come to America.

    this is not going to end well for Israel.

    • This is unfair. There are many Israelis who recognize that this situtation is unsustainable and will lead to utter disaster. Such as the Mossad ex-chiefs and Shin Bet ex-chiefs who were giving speeches about this precisely a couple of weeks ago.

      Unfortunately, these sensible people are not a majority of the Israeli voters. (They are a majority of the population of Israel, of course, but with so many in the West Bank and Gaza disenfranchised…)

      As for the exodus of the “best and brightest”, it’s been happening since Rabin was assassinated. The situation, however, sucks for the second or third generation Israelis who have no other citizenships and difficulty emigrating. Particularly the Mizrahi who as a group are actually native to the region and have never, ever had any power in the racist Israeli government, because the racist Israeli government thinks of them as dirty Arabs.

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