“We will soon be the majority!” says a huge billboard in the heart of Tel-Aviv in Arabic, showing Palestinians with Palestinian flags. As Walla reports (Hebrew), many Israelis have “erroneously thought this to be a hostile takeover of the media by Palestinian terror organizations”. But this is a completely Israeli, Zionist campaign – in fact a liberal-Zionist campaign from the ‘center’ of politics.
A parallel television campaign is running at the same time. It starts by saying the phrase in Arabic, and then translating it into Hebrew with a caricatured Arabic accent. The ad ends with warnings from various Israeli security officials saying that soon ‘they’ will be the majority and that there’s no choice – we “have to separate from the Palestinians – now!”
The campaign is meant to frighten Jewish Israelis. It’s meant to spur them into action. This is actually the work of an Israeli ‘liberal’ organization called “Commanders for Israel’s Security.” The movement is comprised of some 200 senior commanders of IDF, Shin Bet, Mossad and police, and was endorsed by former PM Ehud Barak at last year’s Herzliya Conference.
Typically, the English description of the organization’s work that appears on the front page of its website is much more politically correct than the Hebrew version. The English version seems to be along the lines of a ‘two-state solution’, described as ‘two-states for two peoples’:
“The Government of Israel shall initiate a regional process to consolidate political-security arrangements with the Palestinians and the Arab States. These arrangements will grant Israel permanent and recognized borders that ensure Israel’s security, its solid Jewish majority and the democratic character of the state for years to come.
The agreement with the Palestinians will be based on the principle of “two states for two peoples” and the 1967 line with arrangements and adjustments as dictated by Israel’s security and demographic needs. Only this path will prevent the creation of a bi-national state.
Realities in the Middle East make it necessary, and the Arab Peace Initiative makes it possible to achieve a combined agreement – with the Arab States and the Palestinians – that significantly enhances Israel’s national security interests.
Israel’s security forces have the power to secure the borders agreed upon by the government of Israel and endorsed by the Israeli people.”
So far, it seems to dovetail rather nicely with the ‘Kerry logic’.
But it’s somewhat different when you open the Hebrew version which is much more candid.
When opening their front page in Hebrew, a 20-second audio description runs automatically and describes the organization’s four goals as:
1) Strengthening security of Israeli citizens
2) Strengthening our standing in the world
3) Mending the tear in the nation
4) Opening for future negotiations
The message ends with the slogan: “No waiting for a partner – we’re taking the initiative. Security now! Peace – later.”
At the center of the Hebrew front page there is a more elaborate description. It starts with the red headline “No partner is not a strategy.” This is a reference that leans heavily upon Barak’s slogan after his fictitious ‘generous offer’ in Camp David 2000, and the belief that ‘there is no partner for peace’. The headline on the page both strengthens the ‘no partner’ claim, as well as the need to take unilateral action. But what is that action, exactly, when it is said in Hebrew? Here is the rest of the Hebrew description of the goals, on the front page:
“SECURITY FIRST is an outline for an independent Israeli initiative, not reliant upon a partner.
The outline reflects the attitude, that between viable peace and passive alleviation of the existent threats, there exists a wide array of possibilities for initiative that would improve and promote the national goals of Israel.
The plan presents NEW APPROACH combining the need to enhance the personal and national security and the need for full security control of West Bank, preserving conditions which will enable, with time, negotiations regarding final-status and improvement of Israel’s regional and international standing.” [my emphases in last paragraph].
In other words, the emphasis of the initiative is not really ‘peace’ – that’s for ‘later’. Its emphasis is security, the one word which can unite Israelis like no other, and of course Israel’s PR image. “Full security control of the West Bank” is the goal while leaving the matter of possible negotiations to an indefinite point in the future.
When this is summed up, one wonders how this really differs from Netanyahu, when he had to backpedal from his promise that there will be no Palestinian state under his watch? Netanyahu’s pre-election remarks were for the Israeli public to get him elected (and they arguably did), but he had to do an ‘international version’ in English after the elections for some cosmetic diplomatic damage control. Netanyahu reassured international audiences by saying “I want a sustainable and peaceful two-state solution, but circumstances have to change for that to happen.” In the end every side got what it wanted – Israelis knew Netanyahu meant what he said before elections, and the US could say that he endorsed two states again and that there’s ‘hope’.
The Commanders for Israeli Security, whilst ostensibly separating themselves from the ‘delusional’ recent suggestions for annexation of West Bank territories by rightwing ministers (as the organization’s head Genreal (res.) Amnon Reshef notes in the Walla interview), nonetheless portray a no less nationalistic vein and attitude. Its main motto is ‘separation’, naturally in order to secure the sacred Zionist goal of Jewish demographic superiority and sovereignty. But whilst it emphasizes the diplomatic aspect and the need to preserve ‘democracy’ in the English face, it works on a much more coarse, nationalistic and blatantly racist line in the Hebrew version directed at Jewish Israelis, and its Arabic mock campaign just takes the cake.
It’s not strange for centrist, liberal Zionists to say their goal is “maximum Jews on maximum land with maximum security and with minimum Palestinians” – that’s MK Yair Lapid’s line.
The Commanders for Israel’s Security reveal in their campaign the true, racist face of liberal Zionism.