The true colors of Netanyahu’s audience

Protests during Netanyahu’s speech on Tuesday will make it clear that he doesn’t speak for all Jews, but rather for a dangerous alliance between extremist elements in Israel and the United States. 

By Avital Burg

Speaker Boehner holds a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Congressional leaders following his address to a joint meeting of Congress. May 24, 2011. (Speaker Boehner / CC-BY NY 2.0)
Speaker Boehner holds a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Congressional leaders following his address to a joint meeting of Congress. May 24, 2011. (Speaker Boehner / CC-BY NY 2.0)

Thousands of bikers, wearing leather jackets decorated with skull-shaped U.S. flags, eagles and guns, will ride tomorrow to Capitol Hill in Washington DC to support Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial speech in Congress.

On their Facebook event page, one of the organizers, Tina WhiteBacon Lane, wrote about the chosen location for their rally: “…that is where the Muslims will be…It will be the fuse being lit, the revolution to take back Christian America….we cannot let it continue or go backward.”

This alliance, between the Israeli Right and a group of militant Islamophobic Americans, reflects one of the more dangerous aspects of the “special” relationship between Israel and the United States – the alliance between right-wing extremists in both countries.

A recent report by Molad, a progressive Israeli think tank, shows that Netanyahu’s speech is an expression of this alliance, which includes evangelicals in the United States driven not by Zionism but by religious fundamentalism and partisan political interests. In one illustrative example of the concerns of this demographic, the report quotes a speech given last October during the annual conference of Evangelical conservatives in Jerusalem, which was sponsored by the Israeli government. Jürgen Buller, head of the International Christian Embassy in Israel, told the audience:

The restoration is a process, it is a physical process that will bring spiritual restoration. God says that when the time is right he will unleash the spirit of Christ upon human beings. Be patient with the Jewish people. They are struggling with the same issues your countries are struggling with: there are pride parades in Jerusalem; abortions take place on this land. This is a nation that still needs to be saved.

It is thus not surprising that the Americans who profess the most hateful beliefs would be loudly supportive of the Israeli prime minister, who has led the most racist government in decades.

But tomorrow’s speech has nothing to do with Armageddon, or even with Iran.

Coming just two weeks before Israel’s general elections, Netanyahu’s speech and the Americans supporting it could very well get him reelected, enabling him to put together a coalition even more extreme than the last one. This prospect frightens many Israelis, who are angry and ashamed at the Republicans who invited him, behind the back of their president, to speak, spread fear, do further harm to Israel’s international standing, and possibly even endanger the well-being of Jewish people and their communities around the world.

Netanyahu is not a problem only for us Israelis. Recently, he has repeatedly claimed, with arrogance and chutzpah, to speak in the name of the entire Jewish people. His speech today at the AIPAC conference implied that he intends to do the same tomorrow.

This notion, of an elected prime minister of one state speaking in the name of the “Jewish people” all over the world is ridiculous. He was never elected to hold that position.

Tomorrow, Israelis For a Sustainable Future, a group of Israelis residing in and visiting New York, will demonstrate in front of the Israeli Consulate in New York during Netanyahu’s speech at Congress. Similar protests will take place around the country.

Because while Netanyahu may speak for the Israeli occupation, for John Boehner, for Sheldon Adelson, and for a minority of extremists in the United States – he does not speak for us.

Avital Burg is an artist and writer from Tel Aviv.

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