Saturday, March 28, 2015

197.6 - Defending my charge that Benjamin Netanyahu is a racist

Defending my charge that Benjamin Netanyahu is a racist

Okay, we've covered Benjamin Netanyahu being an imperialist, a liar, and a hypocrite. Which leaves racist.

While the polls were open, while the voting was taking place in Israel on March 17, NetanYahoo posted a video to Facebook in which he said, quoting
The right-wing government is in danger. Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls. Left-wing organizations are busing them out. Get out to vote, bring your friends and family, vote Likud in order to close the gap between us and Labor.
He said it was the work of "the left" trying to "distort the true will of Israelis" and give "excessive power" to "radical Arabs."

This isn't even dog-whistle territory. By the way, if you've heard term but weren't sure of the origin, it came from the increasingly common practice among right-wingers and other assorted bigots to express their bigotry in vague or neutral-sounding code words with the idea that only the intended audience would "hear" what was being said.

But this doesn't even have the subtlety of a dog-whistle. This is blatant. "We are in danger! The Arabs are coming! The Arabs are coming! In droves! Busloads of them! Hurry, hurry, before it's too late!"

Presenting the image of Arabs voting - these Arabs, don't forget, are citizens of Israel - as a "danger," presenting the image of a group of Israeli citizens having a high rate of voter turnout as threatening, is patently, transparently, bigoted, racist, and foul.

And before you argue, as some have tried to do, that this was just election rhetoric and the only "threat" was to victory in a particular election, transfer the election to the US and the words to some US politician. "Our party is in danger. African-American voters are coming out in droves!" or "Our party is in danger. homosexual voters are coming out in droves!" or "Women voters are coming out in droves!" or "Hispanic voters" or for that matter "Jewish voters." Would any of those strike you as bigoted, as racist or homophobic or sexist or anti-Semitic? Would you dismiss them as meaningless electioneering rhetoric? If not - and I would hope the answer is no - then you cannot dismiss NetanYahoo's words.

Some didn't. For example, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, who is president of the Union for Reform Judaism, the largest Jewish denomination in the US, said he was "disheartened, distressed and frankly stunned" by NetanYahoo's video. He called it "anti-democratic and such a sad commentary on how Arab citizens of Israel are viewed."

The Rabbinical Assembly, an international association of conservative rabbis who normally don't comment on political matters, called NetanYahoo’s video "indefensible ... unacceptable ... divisive and undemocratic."

In Israel itself, the Zionist Union alliance, which was one of the groups running for seats in the Knesset, denounced the statement as racial fear-mongering, saying “No other Western leader would dare utter such a racist remark.”

Oh but that was before NetanYahoo turned liar and hypocrite again: Safely past the election, he offered a mealy-mouthed non-apology apology, saying he was "aware" that "some were offended" by what he said and he was "sorry" about that. Which is the classic mode of the non-apology apology: You'll notice that he didn't say "I said something offensive that I should not have said and I'm sorry," it's the passive voice "some were offended" - and in any event be assured that it was "never his intent" to offend and he's really really sorry that you took it that way.

Instead, he insisted his real concern in the statement was "foreign entities" interfering in the election. Which sounds kind of funny coming from someone who just a few weeks ago was in the US for the clear purpose of being a "foreign entity" undermining US foreign policy and negotiations with Iran. But more to the point, he never dealt with anything about "foreign entities" in the actual statement - and, again, transfer this to a US election: "When I talked about blacks voting in droves, I wasn't talking about them, I was talking about all those communists paying for the buses!" If that wouldn't persuade you that the original remark was entirely innocent, neither should NetanYahoo persuade you about his.

But then again, let's be entirely fair, which is more than he deserves. of course it wasn't his intent to offend. His intent was to gin up racist fears for his own personal, political, and ideological gain.

Well, then, does that mean that NetanYahoo isn't himself a racist, just someone who exploits racism? That's something I call a distinction without a difference. You don't get to play that game: You use racism, you exploit racism, you employ racism, you are a racist. Which means that if you are Benjamin NetanYahoo, you are a racist. Perioid.

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