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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
For Hebrew, press here

Which people, what justice?

Who doesn't want "social justice"? Or "peace" or "equality"? But underneath these pretty slogans, things look different. We frequently come up against examples that reveal the lie behind the words.

Salman Masalha

Which people, what justice?

Even if the slogan uttered by tens of thousands in the streets of Israel of late is pleasant to hear, it is the greatest of lies. Were its users asked to explain which "people," demand what "justice" for which "society," the slogan would crumble.

The state and all its institutions have never acknowledged the existence of an "Israeli people." It is doubtful that the demonstrators recognize its existence. Therefore their lofty cry of a people demanding "social justice" cannot be put into practice, in light of the absence of the existence of said "people."

There is no shortage of nice-sounding slogans. Who doesn't want "social justice"? Or "peace" or "equality"? Who doesn't long for "coexistence"? But underneath these pretty slogans, things look different. We frequently come up against examples that reveal the lie behind the words.

Take, for example, this example of someone who was certainly raised on the principles of "social justice" and Zionist "equality" - Modi Bracha, a resident of Kibbutz Ma'agan Michael and deputy head of the Hof Hacarmel Regional Council. As he explained last month in a Haaretz story about opposition to expanding Jisr al-Zarqa, "No one needs to teach me about socialism, but if a farmer received land then why should he relinquish the asset that is supposed to provide him a living?"

To spell it out to the champions of "social justice," Jisr al-Zarqa is the only Arab community that "socialist" Zionism left along the coast. The community is trapped between the sea and the coastal road, between Caesarea and Ma'agan Michael. Data from the Central Bureau of Statistics can surely add to the explication: The population density in the village is catastrophic, 7,730 people per square kilometer, compared to an average density of 321 per kilometer for the whole country.

In order to ease the overcrowding, the Haifa District Planning and Building Committee seeks to to implement a plan under which land from the neighboring communities of Ma'agan Michael, Beit Hanania and Caesarea would be expropriated to Jisr al-Zarqa and the coastal highway would be diverted to the east. It turns out that residents of the three communities are fiercely opposed to the "social justice" reflected in the plan.

They are, of course, in favor of lovely slogans about coexistence and the like: "We are in favor of coexistence and peace. Despite the differences in mentality, we are doing a lot in this regard," said Beit Hanania Councilman Arieh Freedman in the same article. "We are not opposed [to the scheme] because they are Arabs; they are good neighbors and we have no beef with them," Freedman emphasized.

Later on his worldview was revealed in all its glory: "... but from a national perspective, too, I am opposed to the idea of taking land from a Jew to give to an Arab ..." He even warns the authorities: "If the plan is approved, there will be a mass departure: People will sell their homes and the existence of the community will be threatened."

Freedman and his ilk, who are "in favor of coexistence and peace," in favor of "social justice" and the like, must be told that European Zionism searched for a place in the Middle East, and there are many Arabs who live there. One must cope with this fact of life.

So it's nice to wave the flag of the social justice that the people demand, but it seems that first of all the people must demand a clear definition of justice, and of a people.
Published: Op-Ed, Haaretz, 5 Sep. 2011

For Hebrew, press here