Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu gets worse and worse with each passing day. Not only did he tell the World Zionist Congress (and, by extension, the whole world) that Palestine is responsible for the Holocaust, and not Hitler, he’s now saying that Israel will forever live by the sword. Don’t believe us? According to Mondoweiss, this is what went down at a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs Committee:
“[Members of the Knesset] who took part in the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting — where the prime minister spoke — told Haaretz that Netanyahu turned to the politicians and said, hinting at the anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination: “These days, there is talk about what would happen if this or that person would have remained. It’s irrelevant; there are movements here of religion and Islam that have nothing to do with us.” Netanyahu then turned to opposition MKs and said: “You think there is a magic wand here, but I disagree. I’m asked if we will forever live by the sword — yes.”
“Live by the sword” means exactly that. Netanyahu is advocating for ongoing violence on behalf of Israel, and justifying it with, “It’s self defense!” Newsflash, apartheid, and the violence that goes with it, aren’t self defense.
He also said this:
“[A]t this time we need to control all of the territory for the foreseeable future.”
So, he plans to live by the sword forever and control all of the territory—including Palestinian territory—for the foreseeable future. In other words, there will be no two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict anytime soon.
Netanyahu keeps stalling on the idea of a real two-state solution. His actions suggest he never seriously considered it, regardless of what he’s said to the world. Worse, though, is that Haaretz reports that he said he’s ready to negotiate territorial concessions, but claims it’s Palestine that isn’t. Half of Palestine, he says, is controlled by Hamas, who wants to destroy Israel. It would seem that he thinks Israel needs to continue to occupy Palestinian territory, then, you know, for Israel’s own good.
It’s hard to expect anything else, though, from the man who not only supports apartheid, but actively maintains it. Make no mistake, Israel is an apartheid state. Palestinians aren’t citizens in occupied Palestine. They’re subjects. They’re a lower class of person, and they often aren’t treated like human beings. If you’re not Israeli, then there is no justice, fairness, or consideration for you. If they label you a terrorist, even without cause, that’s it for you.
We generally associate the word “apartheid” with what happened in South Africa. That creates confusion about what apartheid is. The difference between South African apartheid and Israeli apartheid, according to Noam Chomsky, is Israel just wants the Palestinians gone. Period. End. That’s what they want. At least in South Africa, white rulers knew they needed the country’s black population as a workforce. It wasn’t pretty, but they weren’t actively working to stomp out their black community.
Given the U.S.’s penchant for equality and justice, one would think we could not support such a regime, even if it is Israel. Sadly, the political right here, in the U.S., supports what Israel is doing, and eats up everything Netanyahu says.
We shudder to think about what our right-wing response will be to Israel forever living by the sword.
Haggai Matar, a writer at +972, asked the following in response to Netanyahu’s statement:
“What about hope? No hope. Is our hand stretched out in peace? Only while holding on to the sword.”
Someone has to put the sword down first, and Netanyahu has made it abundantly clear that it won’t be Israel. We have to ask, why should Palestine, which is under Israeli oppression, be the ones to put the sword down? The gesture is real and sincere when it’s the oppressor—in this case, Israel—that chooses to put the sword down first.
Matar is advocating for Israel’s Left to take over in the next election, because the Right just wants more of the same. They want to continue to occupy Palestine, they want to continue to keep Palestinians under their bootheels, and they want to continue their illegal settlements in Palestinian territories. Netanyahu plays to that, instead of advocating for the real peace and security that could come with the end of apartheid there. To have real peace, something has to change.
The Huffington Post says that Netanyahu is effectively fulfilling an election guarantee with these words. He promised pro-settlement voters that there would be no two-state solution if he remained prime minister. He’s remained prime minister, so there will be no two-state solution. There will be no change at all.