Opinion | Only the World Can End the Israeli Occupation. It Won't Come From Bennett
By Rogel Alpher
Published September 30,2021
The aftermath of an attack by settler in the Palestinian village of Khirbat al-Mufkara in the West Bank, Wednesday.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
There’s something distorted and exhausting in the criticism of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s failure to refer to the Palestinians in his speech at the United Nations and in blaming him for perpetuating apartheid. The man is a fascist. What did you expect? The country is fascist. Israelis are fascists. A country that operates on their behalf and whose governments are elected by them has been violently occupying another nation since the establishment of the state. First by military rule over Israel’s Arab citizens, and later by occupying the West Bank and Gaza.
There’s no Israel without occupation. There never has been. First the Nakba, then the occupation. Even if Bennett says “two states” a hundred times at the UN, there won’t be a Palestinian state. There is one state. There will be one state. It will be an apartheid state.
It will end if, and only if, the world ends it. First and foremost, the United States, and primarily the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. What will end won’t be the single state. It’s already a fait accompli. The settlers are here to stay. That’s the public’s decision. What will end, if it ends, will only be apartheid, en route to a binational state with one vote for everyone.
Yitzhak Rabin, with public support of half a nation, was trailing behind Benjamin Netanyahu in the polls when he was assassinated because of the Oslo Accords. Bennett, with six seats, is far less able to take action on the Palestinian issue. Those who aspire to replace Netanyahu were well aware of that when they supported the establishment of a “government of change” under Bennett.
There is a change. Bennett is not trying to change the system of government and to establish an authoritative autocracy of his own. He doesn’t attack the justice system and doesn’t incite against leftists and Arabs. He doesn’t address the nation every evening and doesn’t claim that Israel will collapse when Yair Lapid replaces him.
As opposed to Netanyahu, he won’t foolishly strengthen the Iranian nuclear project. Of course he ignored the Palestinians in his speech. After all, he isn’t perfect. In his attitude towards the Palestinians he is an extreme ultranationalist, blind and racist. Those are his fatal flaws.
Bennett is not the one who will end the occupation and apartheid. Who will end it? Lapid? Even Ehud Barak, the sharpest critic of the right and of Bibi-ism, didn’t end the occupation and apartheid. As we have said, the world will do that. One of these days. Until then, we recommend enjoying our freedom from the compressor. When he rattles our brains less, there’s no question that the despair is more comfortable.
The Palestinians in the Hebron Hills still have no water. Settlers are continuing with their violent attacks against Palestinians, including young children, and beating them up, under the auspices of the Israel Defense Forces, which encourages its officers to beat up anti-occupation demonstrators. Did anyone really expect Bennett to oppose the occupation? Has anyone heard Lapid defend the Palestinians?
How many Israelis voted for parties that oppose the occupation? What is the source of the absurd expectation that Bennett will voice his opposition to the occupation or try to end it? The despair is more comfortable for the Jews, but that doesn’t make them more moral. In the UN they got a speech from Bennett that reflects their basic opinion: They totally ignore the Palestinians. Why expect Bennett to reflect a different opinion?
If Bennett cancels the observance of Isru Chag in the school system (the day following a major Jewish holiday, when schools remain closed), he will be crowned a new Churchill. He will release the parents from Isru Chag, but not the Palestinians from the occupation. That’s all that is expected of him.
This occupation does not belong to Bennett, nor to Netanyahu, nor even to Rabin’s assassin Yigal Amir. It belongs to Jewish Israeli society. It is society’s creation. It is Israeli society that implements it by means of the young storm troopers it gives birth to en masse and educates to join the IDF and to become “fighters” against an occupied civilian population. With the help of the Iron Dome and the Shin Bet security service, it’s happy with its occupation. Until the United States, Europe and China cause economic distress to Israel, it will continue to be happy with its occupation.
And happy Isru Chag to all the parents of young children!
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