Steven Lamini
Steven Lamini

Power lodged in narrow hearts IV: The Netanyahu phenomenon

If there is one person who personifies the expansionist policy of Zionist Israel with ruthless cool-headedness, that person is Benjamin Netanyahu. Many years ago, in 1923, the founder of Jewish Legion, Vladimir Jabotinsky, wrote an article (“The Iron Wall”) in which he said, among other things, that “Zionism is a colonising adventure and therefore stands or falls by the question of armed force. It is important … to speak Hebrew, but unfortunately it is even more important to be able to shoot — or else I am through with playing colonisation”. Netanyahu through and through. There is nothing in the man’s actions and political makeup that disappoints the essentially Mussolini-esque outlook of Jabotinsky. It should be no surprise that negotiations for some form of governing alliance between Netanyahu’s Likud party and Livni’s Kadima party came to naught, after all, the fortunes of Likud are intimately weaved with the right-wing settler movement of Israel … and Netanyahu has become the political embodiment of all its fused social resentment towards Israel’s elite, its ultra-nationalism and anti-Arab chauvinism.
Today Netanyahu leads a party that has at its core the commitment to hold on to the occupied territories as part of the Greater Israel. A Likud government in Israel with Netanyahu at its helm is synonymous with the growth and affirmation of the settler movement. The crowning moment for Netanyahu’s Likud was the assassination of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin by Yigal Amir, a Jewish zealot in 1995, during peace negotiations between the Israeli state and the PLO. Likud came to power in 1996 and peace talks came to a halt. The same conglomeration of social forces that forestalled any prospect of even a shadow of an independent Palestinian state under the Sharon government are now hammering a governing agreement under Netanyahu’s watch — add twice the racist dose and an overtly brutal pursuance of fashioning the framework of the Greater Israel through a veritable war of terror, waged in the name of a “war on terror”. Netanyahu will never receive the Memo.
On May 12 2002, Netanyahu steered Likud through the adoption of a resolution rejecting the creation of a Palestinian state — now or ever. He dubbed, in a crude, racist slur, a Palestinian state as “Arafat-istan”. When Sharon stated his plan to “disengage” from Gaza, Netanyahu along with other members of Sharon’s own cabinet, resigned in protest. This “withdrawal” of Israel from Gaza was a mere tactical retreat in the face of escalating costs of settlement maintenance. Israel remains, till this day, the occupying power of Gaza, controlling its borders, seaport, airport and water supply. As seen recently, it reserved the right to invade Gaza whenever it sees fit. Naked aggression was not enough for Netanyahu. Colonisation proper with the ultimate aim of having only one national movement in Palestine: a Jewish one.
This is a man who, following Zionist leaders to the letter, denies the very existence of a Palestinian people, who rides bareback on the practice of that slogan “A land without a people for a people without land”, knowing fully well that the land that became Israel was populated by the people who today are forcibly scattered across the sub-region by Israel’s ethnic-cleansing campaigns. Netanyahu will soon lord over a state (for a second time) that is organically incapable of becoming a genuine democracy, where there is no concept of granting and securing equal rights to all. If there were illusions that there will be peace between the Palestinian people and Israel, an Israel with Netanyahu at its helm has dispelled them. Besides, there is no possibility to reconcile states based on ethnic, racial or religious exclusivism with the existence of democracy. Apartheid South Africa is testimony to this.
No section of Israel’s political elite will abandon police repression, military violence and wars of aggression in the region. These methods are inextricably part of the nature and character of the Zionist state since its establishment. Netanyahu is by far the most complete political expression of this phenomenon.