The right's herds of goats

Netanyahu wants to herd the Palestinians out

It seems that the prime minister, who was educated at the knees of land-stealing Zionist farmers, has grown up and become a certified goat herder.

Salman Masalha

The right's herds of goats

We often hear the claim among politicians in Israel that in order for peace to last, it has to be made between nations rather than between rulers. The use of the term, "rulers," comes up when Israel finds itself in a corner and is required by those "rulers" to pay the price of peace. As long as those "rulers" sit quietly and behave in accordance with Israeli expectations, they are not called "rulers," of course; they are "responsible leaders."

If they were to be voiced by the man in the street who really and truly aspires to live in peace with himself and his surroundings, these words could be accepted with full understanding, and even quite a bit of empathy. But when this claim is raised by the leaders of the Israeli right, who see only the continuation of the occupation and the theft of Palestinian lands before their eyes, they sound like the most ridiculous of claims.

Throughout human history, peace agreements have never been signed between nations. Nations don't stand opposite one another in a row, shake hands and pat each other on the back. Agreements of any type, all the more so when they are peace agreements between countries, are always made and signed between the representatives of nations.

There are some nations that live under one type of regime and other nations that live under another; and this will apparently be the situation in the foreseeable future. The Arab world will continue, for now, to live under regimes that are undemocratic, to say the least. Therefore, those who raise the claim about the need for peace between nations - a claim that is popular with the Israeli right - are, in the final analysis, concealing their true intentions.

Even if truly democratic elections are held in the Palestinian Authority, and even if all the Palestinians sign a declaration that they want an end to the 1967 occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel within those borders, and even if they all declare that that will bring an end to the conflict, the same Israeli right, in all its variations, will find new excuses not to believe the Arabs.

The Zionists after all are experts at pushing herds of goats into the Palestinian home, and even putting up pens for them inside the home itself - and all in order to later remove a goat here and a checkpoint there, thereby giving the Palestinian some sense of relief, so that he can walk through the living room and reach the window in his own home. The Arab proverb says: Anyone who grows up on something in the home of his mother and father is destined to grow old with it.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knows a thing or two about gathering herds of goats and moving them out. All the Bar-Ilan speeches cannot change his ideological stripes. These stripes are etched deep in his worldview. He has neither the desire nor the courage to erase this past and to embark on a new path.

I tend to believe things that a son says to his father in private. To this end, we should go back to 2009, to the words revealed by the father, Benzion Netanyahu, regarding the conduct of his son, Benjamin. With the consent of his son, the prime minister, the father gave an interview to Amit Segal on Channel 2 News, and this is what he said about the Bar-Ilan speech advocating the establishment of a Palestinian state: "He [the prime minister] doesn't support it. He supports it under conditions that they [the Arabs] will never accept. That's what I heard from him, not from myself. He proposed the conditions. They will never accept those conditions, not one of them," said Netanyahu Sr.

It seems that the prime minister, who was educated at the knees of land-stealing Zionist farmers, has grown up and become a certified goat herder.

Published: Op-Ed, Haaretz, 19 Sep. 2011
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