Netanyahu responds to Leahy with a strange string of lies

The prime minister shoots off a sharply worded letter to a senior American senator who dared question Israel’s human rights record. That Netanyahu thinks anyone reading it will do anything but howl is worrying sign about his judgement.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a press conference in Jerusalem, March 23, 2016. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a press conference in Jerusalem, March 23, 2016. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

In mid-February, Senator Patrick Leahy, together with 10 other Democratic Senators, wrote a letter asking U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to investigate the possible violation of human rights by Israel, as a U.S. foreign aid recipient. The letter, which only made news in Israel on Wednesday, was prompted by suspicions of numerous extrajudicial killings of Palestinian suspected attackers over the last year.

Prime Minister Netanyahu responded to Senator Leahy, and posted this excerpt of his letter on Twitter:

(Posted on Benjamin Netayahu's official Twitter account)
(Posted on PM Netanyahu’s official Twitter account)

Reading it, I think Netanyahu must know deep in his heart that he is lying his face off, lying obscenely, to the point of absurdity — surrealism. Does it mean that he has, as Solzhenitsyn said, no other means of justifying our violence? That there are no other accurate arguments that effectively justify what happens here?

Reading it more closely, I realized that every single line in the graphic rendition of his letter contains a bald-faced lie, or at best an egregious omission. For those who think I am exaggerating, here is the annotated version:

The IDF and the Israel Police do not engage in executions.

It did, just last week. And its soldiers executed a 14-year-old girl in 2005 (acquitted). And the Shin Bet executed captured and bound hijackers in 1984. Those are the very obvious cases. There are numerous suspected executions over just the last year, when many were killed for attempted stabbing, killed for being a troubled child, killed for suspicion. There were the two teens killed for demonstrating in Beitunia in 2014 – the IDF closed its investigation into that last case just today. The cases over the last year generally involve at least two, and often a group of heavily armed soldiers killing individual suspects grasping knives, or in one case, a pair of scissors.

Israel’s soldiers and police officers defend themselves…

The military regime governing the West Bank is not a defensive mission. The soldiers were not present last Thursday in Hebron to defend the State, but in order to enact military rule over a population lacking civil rights under conditions most of us wouldn’t suffer for a day.

The military does of course defend settlers, but the settlers aren’t there to defend Israel either. They are there to expand sovereignty because they feel like it, and they do not believe that Palestinians already living there have anything resembling the rights enjoyed by all other human beings.

…and innocent civilians…

The fact that a person is a civilian means he or she must not be physically harmed. It does not mean that person is innocent of all other accusations, obviously. Taking away land, resources and livelihood from another society and benefiting from segregated parallel legal systems constructed to suppress and decimate one population and let the other flourish – well, settlers are guilty of that. All Israelis are, actually. That’s why I’m writing this, because I personally oppose this policy profoundly – almost desperately, as an Israeli. Civilians are not the only ones involved here, anyway. So this “innocent civilians” part just doesn’t work.

…with the highest moral standards…

Does anybody seriously believe our team – any team, anywhere – has the “highest moral standards?” Where is his humility? What does he even mean?

… against bloodthirsty terrorists who come to murder them.

Somebody who attacks a combatant carrying a loaded gun on active duty, in uniform, in a conflict zone, is not a terrorist; he’s a combatant in a conflict. Terror is attacking civilians for a political (or other) cause. The murderer who stabbed Dafna Meir, a 30-year-old pregnant woman in her home, is a terrorist. It’s a pretty clear distinction. Why does it matter so much? If the stabber was a Jewish Israeli, calling him a terrorist would be important for allowing certain extraordinary investigation procedures, including, lamentably, methods that count as torture. If the stabber is Palestinian, just using the term terrorist legitimizes killing on the spot.

Where is the concern for the human rights of the many Israelis who’ve been murdered and maimed by these savage terrorists?

Is Netanyahu for real? The American government issues endless condemnations after practically every bad thing that has happened to Israel. Those billion.s of dollars America dutifully hands over every year to protect Israelis, the years of stalwart diplomatic support for Israel – is there a way to show “concern” that the U.S hasn’t done?

The fact that I am responding to this point is crazy-making. The fact that Netanyahu thinks anyone reading this will do anything other than howl makes me terrified about his loss of judgment as the prime minister.

This letter should have been addressed instead to those who incite youngsters to commit cruel acts of terrorism.

Yes, there is also incitement behind the stabbings in addition to what I have mentioned a dozen times above. But did Netanyahu ever ask himself why it’s so horribly effective (for the few hundred out of 4 million who have attacked since September)? Put it this way: if someone told me, with my lovely Tel Aviv life, to go and stab someone, well, let’s see… I wouldn’t do it! I would probably think he or she was an eccentric quack and go on about my day.

Moreover, stuffing young people’s heads with some insane theory in which the cruel act of military rule over a stateless people for 50 years is a good thing – is that anything other than incitement? Long, slow-burning, indirect incitement, yes, but it works. Our soldiers are now either killers, or they’re getting killed. Of course that is pretty much the fate of all soldiers at war and it’s time to stop denying we’re in one. Yet young people, in Israel survey after survey, are on his side, ready to march off to this hellish fate with pride.

I am not sure why people take pride in the permanent military oppression of millions of Palestinians. Because to the Palestinian young people doing the stabbing, that’s what it has become.