How the Truth About Palestine Won Netanyahu the Israeli Election

Rebranding their party as “center-left,” Israel’s labor leaders distance themselves from the legacy of Yitzhak Rabin, pictured above in 1986, which is associated with a two-state solution. Image: Wikimedia commons

By Omri Boehm

There is a famous quote, often attributed to George Orwell, which says that in times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act. In last month’s Israeli election, it was Prime Minister Netanyahu who spoke the truth against a background of universal deceit: three days before the election he stated clearly that, if reelected, he would prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state. And he achieved something akin to a small revolution: In the last moment Netanyahu defeated not just Herzog and Livni, but Israel’s military, economic, and media elite, which had united against him. Exit polls gave Netanyahu twenty-seven seats in the Knesset, while earlier statistics predicted twenty-four seats or less. With the thirty seats that he eventually received, Netanyahu now has the power to establish, if he wishes, a coalition consisting exclusively of extreme right and religious parties. In order to begin to change where the country is going, the Israeli left will also have to start speaking the truth.

The universal deceit exposed by Netanyahu just before Election Day had two main lies for pillars. First, of course, his own lie, the 2009 “Bar Ilan Speech,” in which the Prime Minister, facing European and American pressure, pretended to renounce everything that he himself and the Likud Party had ever believed in, and publically endorsed the two-state solution:

The truth is that in the area of our homeland, in the heart of our Jewish Homeland, now lives a large population of Palestinians. We do not want to rule over them. We do not want to run their lives. We do not want to force our flag and our culture on them. In my vision of peace, there are two free peoples living side by side in this small land, with good neighborly relations and mutual respect, each with its flag, anthem and government, with neither one threatening its neighbor’s security and existence.

Non-experts may be unable to appreciate how dramatic this statement was. Ever since the 1930s, the ideological difference dividing Ben-Gurion’s mainstream Labor Zionism from Jabotinsky’s nationalist-revisionist alternative has turned on the question of the land’s partition. In 1947, Ben-Gurion enthusiastically supported the United Nation’s Partition Plan—encouraging the establishment of a two-state solution within today’s ’48 borders—while Jabotinsky’s successor as revisionist leader, Menachem Begin, fiercely objected.

True: some thirty years later, as Israel’s Prime Minister, Begin would hand over to Sadat the entire Sinai Peninsula. But this was a territorial compromise to the Arab Republic of Egypt, not a political-territorial concession to the Palestinian people, whose existence revisionists have always denied. Also true: Ariel Sharon, as Prime Minister, handed over occupied land to the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, and to that end evacuated thousands of settlers. But in order to do this, Sharon had to leave the Likud party, his natural home, and establish a new party, Kadima, with Labor leaders such as Shimon Peres.

So when Netanyahu stood in Bar-Ilan University and announced, as Israel’s Prime Minister and Likud leader, that the Palestinians deserve to get “their own flag, anthem and government,” he did something genuinely new in Zionist history. For die-hard revisionists such as Rubi Rivlin, Israel’s current friendly-looking president, Netanyahu’s two-state concession came as a shock. If the Likud Party kept relatively calm, it was because everybody knew that Netanyahu was lying.

Read more at the Boston Review

Categories: Foreign affairs, History, Israel, Middle East, Politics, Propaganda, Top stories, World history, World news

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5 replies

  1. It seems that Israel has become what they most fear.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As for this part:

    “Ariel Sharon, as Prime Minister, handed over occupied land to the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, and to that end evacuated thousands of settlers. But in order to do this, Sharon had to leave the Likud party, his natural home, and establish a new party, Kadima, with Labor leaders such as Shimon Peres.”

    That was pure propaganda and done to avoid peace and a the establishment of an independent Palestinian state..

    Dov Weisglass, Sharon’s Senior Advisor, explained it this way:

    “The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process, and when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. And all this with authority and permission. All with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of Congress. That is exactly what happened. You know, the term `peace process’ is a bundle of concepts and commitments. The peace process is the establishment of a Palestinian state with all the security risks that entails. The peace process is the evacuation of settlements, it’s the return of refugees, it’s the partition of Jerusalem. And all that has now been frozen…. what I effectively agreed to with the Americans was that part of the settlements would not be dealt with at all, and the rest will not be dealt with until the Palestinians turn into Finns. That is the significance of what we did.”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Howdy, Pickle. I have been thinking of you and all of our friends lately. I have been so preoccupied of late that I’ve neglected things and people a bit. But we’re all still here. 🙂 I hope everything is well with your family. I look forward to hearing about that.

      Thank you for the great comment. I think you can see why I am a fan of the Boston Review. Perhaps it was Isabella who first introduced me to this source. At any rate, that piece was a remarkable insider’s expose of the psychology and philosophy of the IDF. Deep stuff.

      I love the political analysis presented in this article. It confirms what most anyone who has been paying attention has long known, and that is that there is no popular support in Israel for a negotiated peace with the Palestinians. Netanyahu punked the Israeli political left in the last election by revealing this fundamental political truth while they were still feigning ignorance.

      Certainly, there is a significance part of Israeli society that is concerned with social justice and that desires peaceful relations with its neighbors. Sadly, that is not an electable worldview in Israel, which has become a deeply racist and nationalistic society. Netanyahu had only to separate himself from that fiction in order to win.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Good catching up with you! Great source, by the way. I thought it was one of MargaretKat’s sources. .
        I just get touchy about how the disengagement from Gaza is portrayed.

        Dov Weissglass’ statement gets ignored by those pushing an agenda. The Palestinians were given “control over the Gaza Strip,” EXCEPT for the borders, the airspace and the territorial waters.

        The “Israel can do no wrong crowd” throws the disengagement up often about how selfless and magnanimous that move was. It is patently false. The settlers they moved were a pain in the ass for Israel, and the ultimate objective was to put a halt to peace. It is always presented that Israel is pure as the driven snow, loves the Palestinians, and the only side that hates comes from the Palestinians. There are 2 parties involved in this conflict and a lot of hatred.

        Here is a Haaretz article about the withdrawl:
        It does not make any excuses for Israel’s actions, nor does it paint the move as an altruistic act.

        Often times, people are afraid to criticize Israel, because when they do, they are met with accusations of anti-Semitism. If Jewish folks criticize Israel, they are tagged as self-hating.

        Hamas is a terrorist organization. Israel is a westernized nation – or it claims to be. I do not require any leniency for asking Israel to act like a western nation. They use their western label to belittle the Palestians, yet bristle when asked to live up to the standards of the west. Occupation should not be condoned by any nation that purports western values.

        I also like to give the Left in Israel credit and don’t think that many trusted Bibi to begin with.

        Liked by 1 person

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