An Israeli minister has threatened genocide in Lebanon, but where is the outcry?

Naftali Bennett, leader of the Jewish Home party

Picture, if you will, what the front pages of the British newspapers would look like if Russia threatened to target the civilian infrastructure of a neighbouring country and send it “back to the Middle Ages.”

The uproar is not too hard to imagine.

Indeed, the condemnations would flow thick and fast. The government and the opposition would condemn Russian belligerence, and there would be calls to discuss the matter at the UN Security Council; plans for new sanctions would be drawn up.

In fact, such a threat was made only last month but we heard not a peep from any of the pillars of the British establishment. That’s because it wasn’t Russia making the genocidal threats, but Israel, the West’s favourite — and much favoured — colonial regime.

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Liberal Zionist newspaper Haaretz published an interview with Naftali Bennett, Israel’s education minister and member of the security cabinet, in which he threatened to make Lebanon a free-fire zone: “Lebanese institutions, its infrastructure, airport, power stations, traffic junctions, Lebanese Army bases; they should all be legitimate targets if a war breaks out,” he claimed. If Lebanese missiles were then fired “at the Israeli home front, this will mean sending Lebanon back to the Middle Ages.”

Bennett contrasted this with what he said was Israeli behaviour in Lebanon. During the 2006 Israeli war of aggression against its northern neighbour, he was a reservist commander in an “elite” unit. The unit was charged with trying to track down the rocket launchers of Hezbollah, the powerful militia which defends Lebanon from Israeli attacks.

You can’t fight rockets with tweezers,

Bennett grumbled in the interview.

However, as the newspaper pointed out, Bennett’s belligerence in openly threatening genocidal war crimes against Lebanon and its people, is nothing new for Israel, even if it did ratchet-up the rhetoric.

In 2008, Israel’s then head of the Northern Command, Gadi Eizenkot — he is now chief of staff — proclaimed the “Dahya Doctrine” in which entire villages were threatened with destruction. “In every village from which Israel is fired on… We will apply disproportionate force on it and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases… This is not a recommendation. This is a plan. And it has been approved.”

#IDF

During the 2006 war, Israel killed 1,200 Lebanese citizens. The flimsy justification for bombing civilian targets promoted in the western media was the lie that Hezbollah was using the population as human shields. In last month’s Haaretz interview, Bennett attempted this propaganda line again, claiming that Hezbollah weapons have been placed near civilians homes. In doing so, he inadvertently exposed Israeli propaganda as the fiction it is by admitting that, in 2006, Hezbollah rocket launchers were actually located away from population centres: “They moved their launchers from the nature reserves, outposts in open areas, to dense urban areas.” (Emphasis added.)

While Bennett half-heartedly claims that “we have no intention of attacking Lebanon,” the message is still clear: Israel is making no secret that it will target Lebanese civilians and civilian infrastructure during the next war. This threat to commit war crimes is in itself a violation of international law; it is an act of terror, intended to intimidate and bully a civilian population.

#Lebanon & #Israel

Moreover, in threatening to send Lebanon “back to the Middle Ages” the genocidal intent is clear. It is reminiscent of previous Israeli threats to conduct war against the entire Palestinian civilian population, including women and children, as expounded online by Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. Bennett is the leader of the extreme right-wing, anti-Palestinian, pro-settler Jewish Home party. As well as forming part of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling coalition, he is Netanyahu’s political rival. Hence, his posturing is an attempt to appeal to the increasingly pro-war and increasingly right-wing Israeli population, a large proportion of which supports each succeeding Israeli offensive against Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

Israel’s education minister has murderous form in Lebanon. As well as playing a part in the 2006 war, he had a role in the 1996 Israeli massacre of more than 100 civilians and peacekeepers at a UN base in the village of Qana during an Israeli invasion. More than half of those incinerated by Israeli missiles were children.

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Does this bother Naftali Bennett? Not at all; in fact, he seems rather proud of it. In 2013, he declared notoriously,

I have killed lots of Arabs in my life – and there is no problem with that.

In 2015, his role in the Qana massacre was brought to light after some criticism in the Israeli media. The question was not about him killing Arabs, but whether or not he was a fit political leader because he had sounded “panicky” on the radio as he called in the fatal artillery barrage. He dismissed this and defended his leadership credentials: “I am proud of how I functioned during Operation Grapes of Wrath [Israel’s 1996 invasion of Lebanon]; leave the warriors alone.”

Despite its alleged liberal credentials, Ha’aretz seems to have little problem with Bennett’s genocidal threats. Its headline writers appear to encourage him by summarising his interview with his promise to “Hit Civilians Where It Hurts”.

This is another reminder that liberal Zionism is as much an enemy of the entire Arab world as right-wing Zionism. After all, the worst Israeli crimes were carried out under “socialist” governments led by the Labour Party, including the 1948 Nakba as well as the illegal occupations which began in 1967. Both crimes are ongoing: the occupations are even more entrenched and the refugees of 1948 and their descendants still languish in exile.



NAFTALI BENNETT

MIDDLE EAST MONITOR


Trump Administration Faces New Charges of Anti-Shemitism

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As reports emerge about Trump’s plan to nix the Antisemitism Envoy post the same week Press Secretary Spicer made a controversial Hitler remark, the White House faces accusations of antisemitism.

jpost

US President Donald Trump’s administration has faced a myriad of accusations throughout the president’s first hundred days in office regarding what has been perceived by some as the White House’s insufficient stance on the battle against antisemitism.

Such accusations arose again on Friday following recent reports that the president is seriously considering nixing the State Department post of Special Antisemitism Envoy as part of Trump’s much-debated plan to pursue significant budget cuts.

The Office to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism is part of the US State Department Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Affairs and is devoted to combating antisemitism worldwide.

“It is deeply concerning that President Trump reportedly has no plans to name a Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat antisemitism, particularly during a time of increasing antisemitic incidents at home and abroad,” Congresswoman Nita. M Lowey, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, stated on Friday.

“From his reluctance to disavow David Duke [American white nationalist, politician and antisemitic conspiracy theorist] during the early days of his presidential campaign through his chief spokesman’s recent attempt to minimize the horrors of the Holocaust, President Trump has sent mixed messages regarding his commitment to combating antisemitism,” she added.

Lowey’s statement referred to the controversial incident that took place this Tuesday when White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer contrasted Syrian President Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons against his own people with the conduct of Nazi Germany leader Adolf Hitler. Spicer condemned Assad’s use of sarin gas against Syrian civilians and said that “someone who is despicable as Hitler… didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.”

Spicer has since apologized profusely for his statement, which drew the ire of Jewish leaders and captured headlines worldwide. However, many expressed skepticism over his apology and claimed that by denying the Nazi regime’s infamous use of the Zyklon B gas to murder millions of Jews in extermination camps during World War II, Spicer had not simply erred but rather committed Holocaust denial.

The spokesman’s blunder comes amid growing concerns that senior staff at the White House as well as the president himself are not occupied enough with the prevailing antisemitism in the US.

In late February, reports alleged that the president was not taking the JCC bomb threats that had plagued the US for several months seriously. After scores of Jewish community centers were forced to evacuate following bomb threats, Trump had reportedly said during a meeting with state attorneys-general that the bomb threats were possibly false accusations that were simply intended to “make others look bad.”

Claims against the president’s lack of concern for world Jewry were repeated in January, when during International Holocaust Memorial Day, the president released a statement honoring the day and spoke about the Holocaust, but made no mention of Jews whatsoever.

While some are convinced that Trump and senior members of his staff are prone to antisemitic views, others have repeatedly dismissed the accusation, noting the president’s warm relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and especially his family background.

Trump’s daughter Ivanka is married to Jared Kushner, an Orthodox Jew who serves as a shadow diplomat in Trump’s administration, and has converted to Judaism herself.

The two are known to observe many Jewish traditions, and just this past week the traditional Passover Seder meal was held at the White House.

In a statement made on Friday that could easily be interpreted as a confident rebuttal of antisemitism accusations, the president recognized Passover during his weekly address. “This week Jewish families across our country and around the world celebrate Passover and re-tell the story of God’s deliverance of the Jewish people,” Trump said.

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