Netanyahu has nothing to teach Europe about terror

Netanyahu is trying to paint Israel as a terror-stricken victim, while at the same time painting his country as one that has successfully defeated terrorism. No matter how he spins it, he cannot hide the fact that Israel is also an occupying power.

Passengers evacuate a subway in Brussels following the terrorist attack, March 22, 2016. (Evan Lamos/EurActiv)
Passengers evacuate a subway in Brussels following the terrorist attack, March 22, 2016. (Evan Lamos/EurActiv)

What does Netanyahu want from Europe? That the continent take a lesson from Israel on… what exactly? Last week we saw, once again, the desperate attempt to promote Israel to the “enlightened” international community through the back door of the war against terror. The prime minister uses sentences like “we are all part of one, big fight,” “once again the enlightened are pitted against the dark forces,” “black versus white.”

Netanyahu insists that there are good guys and bad guys. Not only does this mock the intelligence of the global community — and does very little to raise support for the country he represents — it also incites against the religion, nationality, and culture to which the terrorists belonged, people who likely grew in the extremist, murderous margins that no country wants.

Whenever millions of people are smeared for the religious affiliation, such as Islam, their nationality, like Palestinians, or culture — such as the Kurds — this is the first step in the guide to racism and hatred.

Like a juggler, the prime minister runs to every bloody corner of the world to proclaim “we have also been there, we got through it, and we can help you.” But who do these kinds of declarations actually serve?

First of all, Israel is not like Europe. Perhaps like colonial Europe from a hundred years ago. But it is definitely not Turkey or the United States. The notion that Israel is a peace-seeking country, an innocent victim that is not occupying an entire people and settling on its land — is anyone actually buying it?

Prime Minister Netanyahu meets soldiers from the Kfir Brigade on the Jewish holiday of Purim. (photo: Amos Ben Gershon/GPO)
Prime Minister Netanyahu meets soldiers from the Kfir Brigade on the Jewish holiday of Purim. (photo: Amos Ben Gershon/GPO)

The occupation of the Palestinian people, home demolitions, checkpoints, murder, settlements — and this is without even talking about Gaza — this government’s overall policy is nothing more than an occupation regime based on racism and power. This control is justified to the Jewish public with religious explanations that this land was promised to them thousands of years ago. Meanwhile, we tell the rest of the world that we must hold onto the West Bank because of the war on terror, which leaves us no choice but to use the power of the most moral army in the world in order to protect the Jewish people. Both these justifications are based on historical lies and are totally disconnected from today’s reality.

I’m confused: either we have been able to defeat terror or we have failed in our struggle against it. Netanyahu cannot tell AIPAC that we are the victims of terror, only to tell the Europeans the following day that we have defeated terror in our backyard, and that we would be happy to help our naive friends. The narrative of defeating terror does not gel with the narrative of the helpless victim attacked on all sides. Remember Netanyahu calling on France’s Jews to come to Israel, where they would be “safer,” following the Paris attacks? Now all that sounds like a bad joke.

No, Gush Etzion is not Brussels

Security is nowhere to be found. When will Netanyahu admit that there is an occupation and Palestinians are resisting? In Arabic we call it an “intifada.” And before you jump out of your seats, I am not talking about harming innocents. We have, on the other hand, seen what soldiers and settlers do, and what kind of effect their unlimited power has on young people under military oppression who live with endless despair.

Israeli soldiers gather around the body of a Palestinian man who allegedly tried to stab a soldier at the Jewish settlement located in the heart of of Hebron, West Bank, October 29, 2015. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills)
Israeli soldiers gather around the body of a Palestinian man who allegedly tried to stab a soldier at the Jewish settlement located in the heart of of Hebron, West Bank, October 29, 2015. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills)

So no, Gush Etzion is not Brussels, Jerusalem is not Paris, and Hebron is not London. In order to understand the world’s reaction to the Israeli leadership’s patronizing, arrogant response, we must first imagine an especially murderous terrorist attack in Israel, following which Belgium’s transportation minister declares that “instead of eating hummus all day, the Israelis should learn how to fight terrorism.” How would the Israeli street react? Aside from the fact that the Arabs would be up in arms over the fact that hummus and falafel are authentic Palestinian — not Israeli — dishes, the Israelis would send a hasbara delegation to Belgium, the average Israeli would get angry and develop a hatred for the bleeding-heart, self-righteous Belgian who knows nothing about the reality of the Middle East. And how long will it take until he is accused of anti-Semitism

Refusing to follow the Israeli logic

And now, let’s talk about ISIS: Netanyahu, the king of comparisons, says that ISIS wants to conquer Europe. And the Palestinians, who do they want to conquer? Israel, of course. I hope it is clear to all that ISIS does not want to conquer Europe, but rather harm it as much as possible, like it is doing in Turkey. After we stopped paying attention to what the group is doing in Iraq and Syria, since the bloodletting seems not to matter much to the international community (and where ISIS is slowly losing its power), now they have chosen the easiest targets in the world. ISIS does not strike against Israel, not because of Netanyahu’s iron-clad protection, but because it has no interest in doing so.

It is painful to see Israelis talking down to the Belgians, who have failed to respond to terror according to the average Israeli logic. Instead they choose restraint, embraces, and tears. I hope that despite the pain, the Belgians will hold fast to the principles of freedom, democracy, and human rights.

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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