Netanyahu has just revealed what had been an open secret all along. He and his government are uninterested in a lasting peace with the Palestinian neighbor, and their vision for the future is one of a highly militarized Israeli society, focused on an ongoing occupation of Palestine.
If the two predominant motivating factors in politics are fear and hope, Netanyahu offers plenty of the former to his fellow Israelis and a sheer absence of the latter to the Palestinians. When he affirms that Israel will always have to “live by the sword,” he implies that the residents of occupied Palestine will live (and, above all, die) under that very sword, while Israeli citizens will survive with a constant sense of fear when they board buses and trams, go out to cafés, or simply walk in the streets.
As though the spatial occupation and control of Palestine were not enough, Netanyahu strives to occupy, control, and disfigure time itself, that is to say, the future, which could be qualitatively different from the murderous, violent, and oppressive present. This may well be another stage in the occupation of Palestine: after all the land grabs and unilateral determinations of ghettoized spaces through the euphemistically called “Separation Barrier,” the extremist Israeli government is intent on stealing the others’ future and, ultimately, time as well.
The attempt to do away with time helps explain many of the glaring inconsistencies in the Israeli policy. For example, Jerusalem is considered the “eternal and indivisible capital of Israel,” yet it is segregated and carved up with roadblocks, walls, and military outposts. The possibility of a bi-national state is rejected, yet Israeli occupation of the entire territory between the Mediterranean and Jordan River, inhabited by Israelis alongside millions of Palestinians, is affirmed as an absolute necessity. What’s behind these outright contradictions?
The logic is simple: time has to be conquered and, literally, cancelled out for the ahistorical, atemporal, metaphysical vision of the Israeli ideology to prevail. Netanyahu acts and thinks as if millennia did not elapse between the exile of ancient Jews from the Eastern Mediterranean and their “return.” He behaves as if there were no non-Jewish inhabitants in a land viewed under an outdated (to say the least) Biblical lens. All these fictions, all these as ifs would become reality, if time itself were done away with and the military occupation of Palestine were transformed into a bleak and everlasting present. For Netanyahu, historical chronology, the sequential order of time, does not matter, which is why he can attribute the German “Final Solution” to a conversation Hitler had with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem after the European Jews had been already subjected to the beginnings of mass extermination.
The above goes some way toward explaining the workings of Israeli ideology. But more important than any ideology is human suffering, which cannot be rationally grasped and, thereby, diluted through any elucidation. Undoubtedly, in the current crisis, the Palestinians are reacting to the actual deprivations of basic necessities, unemployment, misery, loss of dwellings, violations of their freedom of movement, to mention but a few afflictions. But the biggest deprivation of all is that of a different future, of the hope for a better life, the end of military and political occupation…
There is no incitement to violence more effective, no fanning of the flames of hatred more consequential, than the theft of time. This time around, Netanyahu might have outdone himself is such behavior.