I said last week that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is an imperialist, a liar, a hypocrite, and a racist and that I would defend each of those assertions this week. So let's take them in order.
Imperialist? How else would you describe the continued expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, settlements all but universally regarded by the world community - including the EU, the US, the Int Court of Justice, the United Nations, and almost all experts on international law - as illegal? Netanyahu has made no secret of his intent to continue expanding those settlements, which are already home to nearly 400,000 Israelis in 121 settlements, not even counting the additional 375,000 Israelis living in East Jerusalem in land stolen from Palestinians.
Writing in the Jerusalem Post in December 2013, political scientist (and resident of Jerusalem) Daniel Steiman said:
It is abundantly clear to most observers that the settlements built in the territories were always intended to eventually be permanent parts of the State of Israel.That also means, although Steiman was not quite this blunt, the Israeli excuses that the seizures were temporary necessary security measures were bold-faced lies - unless, that is, "temporary" means "forever" and "security" means "stealing enough Palestinian land to have total Israeli control of the West Bank."
That is, the settlements constitute a land grab intended to present the world with a fait accompli that the West Bank just IS part of Israel so suck it up and stop whining about it. That has long been the policy of right-wing Israeli parties, including Likud, which is NetanYahoo's poltical party.
As a sidebar, I'll say that my views on what constitutes justice in the Middle East began to change some years ago when I learned from a friend who was an expert on the region that the slogan of Likud translated to "Both sides of the Jordan" - which would encompass not only all of Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank but a good part of modern-day Jordan.
Under NetanYahoo's government, those illegal settlements not only have been expanded, the pace of the expansion has increased.
Even people who are aware of the West Bank often don't grasp what the situation on the ground is. They think of the West Bank, they think of a map like the top one on the left: there's Israel, there's the West Bank.
But a better view of the situation on the ground is the map on the right. Every one of those red dots is an Israeli Jewish settlement. Every black circle is an Israeli outpost.
An even better sense of it can be seen in the lower map on the left: The brown areas of the West Bank are under the control of the Palestinian Authority. They are the only areas in the West Bank under that governance. The yellow areas are under what is supposed to be "joint" control: The Palestinian Authority runs civil matters, is responsible for trimming the trees and schools and picking up the trash and the like, but the Israeli military controls security. All the rest, everything in pale blue, is under exclusive Israeli control, an area peppered with Israeli settlements, which are marked in darker blue.
Simply put, the Palestinian population has been sliced up into a series of Bantustans and Palestinians often need the permission of the Israeli military forces to get from one area of Palestinian Authority control to another.
And the process of erasing the reality of a Palestinian homeland is continuing and not just in the West Bank but in East Jerusalem as well. Just last June, NetanYahoo's government expanded plans for over 1,000 Jewish settlement homes to be constructed in East Jerusalem openly and avowedly as an act of retaliation against the new Palestinian government after the Palestinians committed the horrible atrocity of voting in a free election for a government the Israelis don't like.
What is so horrible about that government? Hamas supports it as part of an effort to end the long-standing alienation between Hamas, which politically dominates the Gaza Strip, and the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank - that is, governs to the extent which Israel allows. That alienation also included a civil war, one which, I will note, Israel and the US helped spark - I maintain deliberately - by refusing to deal with a previous Palestinian coalition government.
You need to know that this new Palestinian government does not include any members of Hamas. It doesn't include any members of any other Palestinian partisan movement. In fact, it's mostly made of of technocrats. Israel doesn't care. The very fact that Hamas says it supports it brands it as, in the words of Israel’s housing minister, Uri Ariel, "the Palestinian terror government." He called the new construction "an appropriate Zionist response" to the Palestinian elections. Which I suppose is true if and only if "Zionist" means "imperialist."
Now, of course being Zionist doesn't mean you are an imperialist. But being Benjamin NetanYahoo means that you are.
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