Sixty One Poster
Here’s an interesting new tactic in the liberal Zionist camp: Faulting Netanyahu for releasing Palestinian prisoners so as to build political capital for taking a stand against the settlements. The need to demonize Palestinians as violent shows just how rightwing the political discourse is in Israel, how much the security narrative involves all Israelis and all Israel supporters.
Item one. The American liberal Zionist group J Street was troubled by the prisoners’ release:
[Netanyahu’s decision to push settlements] was even more troubling when considered in the light of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s willingness to release over 100 Palestinians convicted of violence and terrorism as part of the agreement that paved the way for a resumption of peace talks.
(And yes, J Street’s head approved the release in the end, but only as a means to restart talks.)
Item two is the poster above, from Sixty One, a liberal Israeli thinktank, which seeks to demonize both Palestinian prisoners and the settlements. Writes Ofer Neiman:
Sixty One was started by people who had been dominant in the Sheikh Jarrah [anti-settlement] solidarity movement, and had steered it in a direction which many activists did not like (trying to appeal to mainstream public opinion in Israel, at the expense of building an international-Palestinian-Israeli solidarity movement. they left the movement later.
It is most unfortunate that sixty One, a think tank which aspires to lead the peace and human rights camp in Israel, has chosen the path of populism and de-humanization towards Palestinians. According to Sixty One, the release of Palestinian prisoners by Netanyahu shows that :
“[politically he] is being held hostage by people who care more about building a new neighborhood in the territories than about the security of Israeli citizens.
Sixty One drive home their point with great drama, adding: “In other words, you may come home in a coffin, but they [the settlers] will have Samaria”.
[Context: Freezing settlement construction was an alternative goodwill gesture proposed by Kerry; Netanyahu chose the release of prisoners]
Well, most of the Palestinian prisoners do not resume violent activities. If anything, the most significant phenomenon related with their release is recurring Israeli arrests and abuse, under the pretext of “release terms violations”. Moreover, the writers fail to realize that Israeli policies in their entirety produce Palestinian counter-violence, not specificPalestinian prisoners.
The settlements are a war crimes, and they should be dismantled. In addition to that, Palestine’s political prisoners should be released now, without reservations. And demagoguery should be stopped too. Because spins will neither bring an end to apartheid nor reestablish the Israeli peace camp