A group of ex-generals is warning Israelis that another Netanyahu-Bennett government will mean being stuck with the Palestinians forever. But no matter what happens, Israelis and Palestinians will always be stuck with each other.
“With Bibi-Bennett, we’ll be stuck with the Palestinians forever.” I noticed a billboard carrying that slogan the other day and was immediately appalled. It is among the most offensive and racist I’ve seen in this campaign — and there is no lack of competition in that department. (i.e., Lieberman just added to his “death penalty for terrorists” slogan a suggested policy of beheading Palestinian citizens of Israel who support terror.)
At first I thought it was an election campaign poster, maybe by the Zionist Camp. But it is in fact sponsored by an obscure group of former army generals, self-proclaimed “experts in national security” who call themselves the “Peace and Security Association,” one of many ad-hoc groups popping up lately to campaign against Netanyahu. Their years of professional experience, it appears, qualifies and drives them to campaign on hatred and disgust for the Palestinians — which makes them no different than Bennett, Netanyahu, Liberman and others.
But the Palestinians are human beings, not objects you are “stuck” with. And if anyone is stuck, it is the Palestinians — “stuck” with Israel’s occupation for nearly half a century. It is hard to articulate in words just how insulting it is for a group of privileged members of Israel’s version of the military industrial complex to address an entire national group over which it has total control in such a way — and in the name of peace, no less. Think about what it is like for Palestinians citizens of this country to walk past these sign.
And I have news for the “Peace and Security Association”: no matter what happens, Israelis and Palestinians will always be “stuck” with one another. One state or two states, whatever the constellation, Israelis and Palestinians will have to find a way to live together and cooperate — economically, socially, politically, on every level.
So telling Israelis that by unseating Netanyahu they can avoid being stuck with Palestinians is not only offensive, it’s inaccurate and misleading. It is the same misguided thinking that inspired the Labor camp to negotiate and sign the Oslo accords: the idea that it is somehow possible to give the Palestinians a little money and some semblance of autonomy in order to detach and disengage from them and pretend they don’t exist.
Since almost none of the major issues facing Israel have been addressed in this election cycle — i.e. the country has no defined borders, its capital is not internationally recognized, there is no separation between religion and state, and oh yeah, it has held an entire population under military occupation for nearly half a century — it’s tempting to conclude that these elections are about nothing.
But actually, I’ve come to the realization that these elections are in fact about something; they are about how stuck most Israelis are in their own fears, hatred and ignorance. Like Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man wrote, 50,000 Israelis rallied to get Netanyahu out of government but not against the occupation itself, which preceded Netanyahu and transcends him. It’s easy to blame Netanyahu but the obsession with him is psychological projection. Israelis are deflecting their own responsibility for the state this country is in.
While both Netanyahu and Bennett have been inciting against the “Left” throughout the election campaign, at least they are explicit about their hatred and bigotry. The poster claiming to offer an alternative to them is even worse, since it is marketing hatred of the Palestinians behind the disguise of peace.