Those who say there’s no honor among thieves haven’t heard of Naftali Bennett

Many Palestinians — on both sides of the Green Line — see the rise of the openly fascist right wing as a positive development, because eventually it will work to sever the umbilical cord of support to Israel from the world.

Leader of the National Religious Party (“Jewish Home”) Naftali Bennett (photo: Yotam Ronen / activestills.org)
Leader of the National Religious Party (“Jewish Home”) Naftali Bennett (photo: Yotam Ronen / activestills.org)

As Israelis go to the polls to cast their ballots for the Knesset, many Palestinian citizens will not be voting in this round of elections. In a recent New York Times article, correspondent Jodi Rudoren expounds as to the many reasons why this is the case, save one. On a recent trip to the country I spoke with many Palestinian citizens of Israel who actually expressed a desire to see the further ascendancy of the Israeli Right. Their logic is based on the inadvertent consequences of right-wing control of Israeli politics. Essentially, the further movement of Israel to the right intensifies its ugliest and most undemocratic tendencies, which leads to further estrangement and isolation in international politics.

They view the rise of the openly fascist right wing as a positive development, because eventually it will work to sever the umbilical cord of support to Israel from the world. Europe, and even possibly the United States, will find it progressively more difficult to ideologically support a nation that is so unabashed in its views and against any form of peace process with the Palestinians. Israel is increasingly becoming Frankestein’s monster that even its former patrons are looking upon in disgust.

Some appreciate the brutal honesty of Israeli right-wing officials, as opposed to what they consider a more duplicitous rhetoric from Israel’s left and center parties, who only come knocking around election time. They believe the fall of the Left in Israel is due to a fundamental dishonesty inherent in their ideological position as well as crucial mistakes they have made during past periods of governance.

Essentially, the Left-Labor movement was the progenitor of the illegal settlements in the West Bank and Gaza to begin with, and continued to strengthen them even during the peace accords — an enterprise which marks the entire history of Israeli state building and colonization. While understanding the nature of Israel coalition politics, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres were both involved in this contradictory behavior, before, during and after Oslo. In essence, they were strengthening the enemy of their own position as a sort of insurance policy and with the political mindset that speaking out to the settlers and peaceniks simultaneously would win the support of both. All the while, however, as the settlement movement continued to grow in strength — a strength precipitated by the Left’s financial and political support — the settlers would develop their own national leadership capable of challenging the Left from their increasingly strong base. And this is what we are seeing today: outside of the traditional right wing who have always supported settlers — Ariel Sharon, Benjamin Netanyahu, etc. — a new national leadership is emerging in the likes of Avigdor Lieberman, Naftali Bennett and others.

Furthermore, when the peace process collapsed in 2000 after the failure of Camp David, Ehud Barak and the Israeli Left proceeded to put the entire onus of blame on the shoulders of Arafat and the Palestinians, thus making the case for the Israeli Right that there was no Palestinian peace partner. This backfired on the Israeli Left by pulling the rug out from under their entire political program and shattering their support from the Israeli center. The Israeli Right capitalized on this contradiction in the leftist position, and along with the bloody years of the Second Intifada, was able to pull the Israeli center much further to the right.

It is not that surprising then that many Palestinians I meet prefer the Israeli right wing because they do not cloak their message in liberalism, like the Left does. They do not preach one thing and do the opposite. Palestinians appreciate this honesty, even if it is directed against them. The new breed of right-wing Israeli politician is not interested in paying lip service to Europe and the United States, while at the same time working to dispossess the Palestinians. Those who say there is no honor among thieves have never heard Naftali Bennett speak.

Today many Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line are starting to view the two-state solution as either too far gone or undesirable in its implications. They believe that the Israeli Right is hastening the movement away from the two-state solution, in which one state will be the inevitable alternative — even if that is not the intention of the right-wing movement. As the Israeli right wing directs its policies against them in the short term, there is a belief that it will be better in the end. If Naftali Bennett succeeds in his plan to annex Area C for example — which comprises 60 percent of the West Bank — then there will no longer be any false pretenses about the possibility of a two-state solution. The peace process veil will be lifted and the ugly face of apartheid will be apparent for all the world to see. Will the U.S. continue to support Israel then?