Incitement breeds hatred and Naftali Bennett is well versed in incitement.
Naftali Bennett, chairman of the far rightwing Habayit HaYehudi party and Israeli Minister of Education, has once again brought the office of government to a new low.
“We have to bury Palestinian anti-occupation fighters in secret cemeteries and knock down all the homes in their native villages,” he recently threatened, according to the Palestinian Information Centre.
“Let’s roll into every single home and rake through every single corner. The anti-occupation fighters must bear in mind that all of those around them are under threat.”
Past the sheer cruelty of such a statement, Bennett proves that the Israeli government’s claims to democracy are farcical. When one of the highest ranking members of the government can incite so furiously against Palestinians with little backlash from his party, the notions of an inclusive and participatory society are negated.
First of all, when Bennett refers to “Palestinian anti-occupation fighters,” does he mean all Palestinians opposed to the illegal, 48 year occupation of Palestine by Israel? Because if he does, there are literally no Palestinians in the world that agree with the occupation. If he does, Bennett is inciting against the nearly 5 million Palestinians living live in historic Palestine, plus another 6 million refugees in the Palestinian diaspora.
All forms of nonviolent resistance against the occupation is a just fight. Just as it was in South Africa during Apartheid, just as it was in the Ghettos of Europe, just as it was in Russia at the beginning of the revolution.
And violent resistance, while abhorrent, is meeting violence with violence. It should not be advocated for, but Bennett’s comments seem to sew more violence than anything.
Nonviolent, anti-occupation Palestinians are being killed everyday by Israeli forces. Between December 2015 and January 2016, five Palestinian protestors were shot to death by authorities during protests near the Gaza border. In October and November of 2015, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem documented 14 additional instances when Palestinians were killed under the same circumstances.
Nonviolent, regular Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank are losing their homes every day.
Yet Bennett’s comments, unfortunately, come as no surprise. An extreme double standard, the racist rhetoric concerning Palestinians is part and parcel of the Israeli rightwing’s arsenal.
These are the same people who hold as their heroes the Haganah and Irgun—pre-IDF Israeli militant brigades that engaged in attacks and sabotage of both the British occupation of Palestine and the Arab natives before 1948 and the founding of Israel. These groups later became the Israel Defense Forces.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon stated on Tuesday that the grief felt by Israelis is distinctly different from that felt by Palestinians.
“Our grief is that of a society that wishes to live, a society that educates our boys to life, to be humans, to behave as human beings, to strive for peace. This is our society,” Ya’alon said, speaking with Yad Labanim, a bereaved Israeli families organization. “And opposing us is a society that yearns for death, as we can see around us in the happiness of a boy in becoming a martyr — a society that does not respect anything.”
“Our society chooses life and does not seek out wars, but strives for peace and sees war as [a] necessary [evil],” added Ya’alon. “On the other side of us is an element that desires death and causes devastation, not only against us but against itself.”
With one government official dehumanizing an entire population and another advocating their deaths, it really defies all logic to say that Israeli society “… does not seek out wars …”
167 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces since October; 30 Israelis, an American, a Sudanese and an Eritrean have also been killed in the same period.