-By Mark Hage, Vermonters for Justice in Palestine
Jonathan Cook, an award-winning journalist and political writer who makes his home in Israel, recently wrote an illuminating and chilling piece about Israel’s recent election campaign. Here are some of his observations and insights.
This election, he says, “must be the first in which a sitting Israeli prime minister has sought to win over
voters by boasting about how much he insulted a president of the United States.” The president in question is not the one currently residing in the White House, who relocated the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and recognized Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Height of Syria to boost Netanyahu’s electoral fortunes.
The maligned former president is Barack Obama.
Benjamin Netanyahu produced a campaign video with footage of US pundits expressing their surprise and disbelief, as far back as 2011, at Netanyahu’s “public humiliation” of Obama. The ad closed with the Likud Party’s campaign slogan: “Netanyahu. Right-wing. Strong.”
Netanyahu’s rival for power, Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue & White party, “has steeped himself in dubious military glory with ads showing footage of the devastation in Gaza that he presided over, a bombing spree that killed more than 500 children. The video bragged about his sending the enclave “back to the Stone Age.’”
Blue & White, according to Cook, counts two other prominent generals in its ranks. These generals, he notes, “are no less opposed to Palestinian statehood. They understand the Israeli public’s mood: a recent survey shows that more than 40 percent of Israelis’ favor some form of annexation of the West Bank.”
Netanyahu, in the final days of the campaign, boasted he would extend Israeli sovereignty to the occupied and colonized West Bank during his next term, a brazen violation of international law.
Gantz, not to be undone, vowed he would “strengthen the settlement blocs,” as well as “retain control of security in the entire land of Israel,” which includes the West Bank and Gaza.
Gantz, unlike Netanyahu, tends to be cagey or evasive when it comes to discussing solutions to the severe problems facing Palestinians. He wants, like most Zionist security officials, to keep the West in his court by “giving the appearance of a willingness to negotiate.”
In this election, there were no left-leaning, Israeli parties in the mix. Cook summed up the contest as “a straightforward slugging match between the right wing (Gantz) and the even more right wing (Netanyahu).”
Netanyahu, as we know, came out on top and is in the best position to form a new government. To do so, as in the past, he will need the support of parties on the far-right, including religious-extremist organizations. To this end, “he has invited into a future coalition Jewish Power – the rebranded fascists of Kach, a party that was outlawed more than 20 years ago.”
In case anyone had doubts as to where Likud’s officials stand on holding power and punishing Palestinians, the current justice minister, Ayelet Shaked, of the settler-allied New Right party, produced a campaign video “in which she sprays herself with a perfume labelled “Fascism.” Oren Hazan, a legislator in Netanyahu’s Likud party, produced a James Bond parody video in which he is seen “emerging from a bubble bath…to shoot dead a lookalike of a leading Israeli-Palestinian politician.”
The days ahead in Israel and occupied Palestine will be hard, violent, and bloody for Palestinians and activists struggling for a just peace.
Jonathan Cook has won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His books include “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). Visit his website.