Israel’s Government Ratchets even Further Right: Great Moments in Colonialism

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) –

Binyamin Netanyahu has succeeded in putting together a shaky coalition of parties that would give him 61 seats in the 120-member Israeli parliament. In such fragile coalitions, each small party has enormous power, since if it left, it would cause the government to fall and provoke new elections.

Netanyahu has again allied with the far, far right Ha-Bayit Ha-Yahudi or the Jewish Home Party, whose leader refers to Israelis to his left as “bacteria.” This small party opposes ever accepting a Palestinian state, which is to say, it is dedicated to keeping several million Palestinians stateless and without basic human rights. It also is dedicated to stealing even more of what little land they have left in the West Bank for new Israeli colonies there.

If such a government were elected in Europe, with such principles and goals, no other capital would receive its politicians because they would be seen as toxic for their ultra-nationalism and discrimination against minorities. And, it is a sad commentary on the Israeli electorate that they elected this government.

In other words, this is a government dedicated to denying millions their rights, dedicated to denigrating about half of the Israeli population themselves, dedicated to territorial expansion and expropriation of the property of others.

There have been similar turning points in the past. In 1848, for instance, James Andrew Broun-Ramsay, 1st Marquess of Dalhousie, became Governor-General of India. He centralized the administration and vastly extended the territory directly ruled by the British as opposed to ruling through local rajas and princes. He annexed seven such principalities, including, in 1856, that of the kingdom of Awadh (Oudh). Dalhousie boasted of thus adding 10 million persons to her majesty’s stock of subjects, and talked of Oudh as a “ripe plum.”

In 1857-58 the people of Oudh mounted a determined rebellion against the British that nearly cost the latter their Indian empire, which Indians now call the First War of Independence but which the British refer to as the Great Mutiny, because even British Indian soldiers joined in, often massacring their officers.

Or one thinks of the 1984 election of P. W. Botha to head the Apartheid government of South Africa. Botha had spearheaded constitutional reforms but left the black majority without representation in the government, just as the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza have no representative government that controls land, air, water and property rights in their territories. He ratcheted up secret police crackdowns on protesting Africans and strengthened the Apartheid system and that of Bantustans designed to denaturalize the African citizens. He had a stroke in 1989 and was forced out of office. A few years later Nelson Mandela was president of South Africa, occupying a position Botha had created for himself.

Netanyahu’s policies and those of his far, far right allies, may or may not provoke the kind of trouble that torpedoed the political projects of Dalhousie and Botha. But if they do, it will come as no surprise.

Reuters: “Israeli PM Netanyahu reaches deal to form new government”

9 Responses

  1. Netanyahu’s governance may be inconsistent with Western liberal values, but does seem consistent with our other allies in the Middle East, Egypt and the monarchies. Sure, we want a two state solution, but we also have little objection to Israel’s bomb, bulldoze, and starve solutions.

  2. Nothing new here. The Jewish Home Party is a good fit for Bibi. Also a good fit for America which wants to see Israel expand.

    • “…….(t)he Jewish Home Party is a good fit for Bibi.”

      It’s the reverse.

      With Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu Party leaving the government and Zionist Union not wanting to join the a national unity government coalition as proposed by President Rivlin, the Home Party leadership extracted a sweet deal from Likud to form a government – including the demand that MK Ayelet Shaked – widely regarded as an extremist kook – to receive the cabinet seat for the Justice Ministry. Press accounts in Israel have observed that members of the usually quiet Israeli judiciary have expressed outrage that Shaked’s appointment will damage Israel’s international standing as a democracy.

      Foreign Minister Lieberman had previously bitterly complained that the attorney general in the Likud-led government of Netanyahu had unfairly targeted his party’s leaders in a far-ranging corruption probe that he, Lieberman, claimed was politically motivated. Netanyahu then went on a campaign punctuated by anti-Arab bluster that further damaged Yisrael Beitenu’s electoral fortunes by scavenging its ultraconservative voter constituency – leaving it with only six seats in the Twentieth Knesset.

      It is, therefore, no surprise that Yisrael Beitenu joined the Israeli opposition in the Knesset, and Bibi was forced to accede to steep demands of the Jewish Home Party that renders his coalition government appear as unduly extremist.

  3. Israel’s Government Ratchets even Further Right

    And our “leaders” in Washington will make more obvious their moral deficits by continuing to endorse whatever cruel and usual punishment Israel’s right wing inflicts on their prisoners in Gaza and the West Bank.

    The politicians in Congress are occasionally exposed to profiles in courage. The words of one, Joseph Welch, appear to be in order today: ” You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” And that also goes for the female members.

    • Actually, Welch was never a politician, but was counsel for the U.S. Army in the Senate hearings when he addressed Sen. Joseph McCarthy with his famous line.

      Joseph Welch is perhaps best known among movie buffs as the smooth-talking judge opposite Jimmy Stewart’s defense lawyer role in “Anatomy of a Murder”.

  4. I believe there are two kinds of Zionists, political and religious.
    The former want a secure home for Jews protected from the ravages of anti-Semitism. The later want that, too, but also want the Jews to reclaim the god-given land they supposedly lived on in biblical times. Q. Is Netanyahu a political or religious Zionist? Personally, I think the latter. He tries to appear otherwise, but it’s why he puts up every conceivable barrier possible to establishment of a Palestinian state. It would be on that supposed ancient,
    god-given land.

    • What you refer to as religious Zionism is in fact the basis for a very secular political movement that goes back to the 1930s: Revisionist Zionism. Ze’ev Jabotinsky–the founder of the movement–articulated the goals that right-wing Israelis have pursued ever since: an Arab-free Greater Israel. The Likud is simply the current embodiment of Revisionist Zionism.

  5. Israeli PM Netanyahu has raised eyebrows by appointing an attractive young former Texas Instruments executive with no law degree or any legal experience to the influential cabinet post of Justice Minister.

    Ayelet Shaked also has previously made news while a member of the Knesset by posting an article on Facebook advocating genocide against Palestinians and she was compared to Adolf Hitler by the Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan.

    Some links chronicling her extremist behavior:

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    The Israeli PM has definitely made a statement by first appointing extremist Uri Ariel to an important cabinet seat – and now Ms. Shaked.

  6. The only way to encourage people to change their values is to demonstrate the benefits of doing so or the disadvantages of not doing so. As far as Israelis are concerned they are advancing nicely without giving two figs what others think, after all they have vastly extended their population and territory, they participate like everyone else in international forums, scientific conferences, sporting and entertainment contests, while high profile critics find themselves unemployed and ostracised, and lesser mortals humiliated, incarcerated or eliminated. It’s up to the rest of the world to turn on the pressure, maybe it will turn out to be a generation thing link to . One thing is sure, the tide will turn, that’s what tides do

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