On Tuesday, Bezalel Smotrich, a member of the Israeli Knesset from the Jewish Home party, delivered his ‘baby’ at a right wing conference. The baby has an official name: The ‘Decision Plan’. But its real name is Apartheid. It lays out a way for Israel to annex Palestinian territory, officially so, and to coerce the population to either live under Apartheid, explicitly relinquishing “national aspirations”, or be expelled.
Here are the officially stated two options:
“1. Anyone who is willing and able to relinquish the fulfillment of his national aspirations will be able to stay here and live as an individual in the Jewish state.
2. Anyone who is unwilling or unable to relinquish his national aspirations will receive assistance from us to emigrate to one of the Arab countries.”
This is a kind of “surrender-or-transfer ultimatum” to the Palestinians, as Haaretz correspondent Yotam Berger phrased it yesterday.
The plan, which Smotrich presented to a political faction called the National Union, which includes Members of Knesset from his party, also contains a “third option” concerning those Palestinians who resist its provisions:
“Anyone who insists on choosing the third ‘option’ – to continue to resort to violence against the Israel Defense Forces, the State of Israel and the Jewish population will be determinedly handled by the security forces with greater force than at present and under more comfortable conditions for us.”
Although the ‘third option’ leaves a lot open to the imagination, the de-facto Israeli policy of extra-judicial executions against Palestinians, even if they are merely wielding a screwdriver, means one needs little fantasy to imagine its deadly meaning.
Smotrich has been working on this ‘plan’ for many months, and he laid his ideas down for the Israeli Knesset in May, as Samah Salaime reported in +972 Magazine, titled “The Right’s plan to beat Palestinians into submssion”, noting “it’s as racist as you think”.
But this is not Smotrich’s first Apartheid baby.
Following reports that there exists a de facto policy of racial segregation in Israeli maternity wards, Smotrich tweeted
“It’s natural that my wife wouldn’t want to lie down [in a bed] next to a woman who just gave birth to a baby who might want to murder her baby twenty years from now.”
His wife, Revital, supported his view. She told Channel 10 she had “kicked an Arab obstetrician out of the [delivery] room. I want Jewish hands to touch my baby, and I wasn’t comfortable lying in the same room with an Arab woman. I refuse to have an Arab midwife, because for me giving birth is a Jewish and pure moment,” she said.
It’s important to notice the bigger paradigm here, so that we do not get drawn into thinking Smotrich is a loose aberration, representing nothing but a fringe lunacy. The maternity ward comments were set against the background of an actual reported policy of segregation (enacted upon request). In other words, Smotrich and his ilk are not advocating a new racism – they are simply exposing and supporting its existence, unabashedly so.
This vein of unapologetic racism has gained popularity amongst the Israeli right, and appears to be the hallmark of the younger cadre of right-wing Israeli lawmakers. Prominent examples besides Smotrich include:
– Israel’s top diplomat, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud), who said in her inaugurating speech in May 2015: “This land is ours. All of it is ours. We did not come here to apologize for that”.
– Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home), who stated less than two weeks ago “Zionism should not continue, and I say here, it will not continue to bow down to the system of individual rights interpreted in a universal way.”
– Minister of Education Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home), who beyond his comparisons of Palestinians to “shrapnel in the butt” and his boastings of having killed “many Arabs”, declared upon Donald Trump’s election in November “the era of the Palestinian state is over.” He has recently also coined the term “auto-anti-Semitism”, referring to Jewish leftists.
– MK Oren Hazan (Likud), who in July advocated a revenge-terrorist attack in response to the Palestinian terror attack killing a family at the Halamish settlement: “I want to be honest without sounding too extreme, God forbid, but if it was up to me I would’ve gone to the terrorist’s house yesterday, grabbed him and his whole family and executed them all together.”
While Hazan is more loosely populist with no ministerial power, the other three are far more powerful politicians.
This is where we need to return to the conference at which Smotrich spoke, the National Union conference. The whole point of it is about how to solve the Israeli conundrum, which is a typical Zionist one: wanting the land, but not the people. The whole point of it is to get rid of whatever is left of Palestine, by annexing it. The only problem is, what to do with the Palestinian population.
Since 1967, Israel has generally maintained a status of “belligerent occupation” in the Palestinian Occupied Territories, which allowed it to control a non-Jewish population under military rule without offering them civil rights. Israel has already annexed what land it could following the 1967 war, territory in which the ‘demographic threat’ of too many Palestinians seemed ‘tolerable’. In the Syrian Golan Israel enhanced this ‘tolerability’ by ethnically cleansing nearly all of the roughly 130,000 Syrians along with their 200 villages, and in East Jerusalem Israel managed the annexation by offering the East Jerusalemite Palestinians residence status rather than citizenship. Although theoretically speaking, Palestinian East-Jerusalemites can apply for citizenship, and even vote in municipal elections, not national ones, Israel has in fact nearly halted approval of any citizenship applications in recent years.
So now we are left with the big deal – the rest of the West Bank.
Rightist leaders have been speaking far more openly about annexation recently, as for example when Bennett said in January that Israel should impose Israeli law on “all of area C as soon as possible” (Area C is over 60% of the West Bank and encircles Palestinian enclaves).
Yesterday, head of B’tselem Hagai El-Ad wrote in an email that Israel was contemplating war crimes in those territories:
“According to Haaretz, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told journalists in late August that plans for the implementation of a measure virtually unheard of since 1967 were months away from completion. These are plans for the eviction: Eviction and demolition of two whole West Bank Palestinian villages. Together, the two villages, Susiya, in the South Hebron Hills, and Khan al-Ahmar, east of Jerusalem, are home to hundreds of people, about half of them minors.
Demolishing these communities would constitute the forcible transfer of protected persons, a war crime under the Fourth Geneva Convention. A forcible transfer occurs whenever residents do not leave of their own free will – for instance, when the authorities make living conditions impossible. This is exactly what Israel has been doing to these and to many other Palestinian communities throughout the West Bank for years – forcing residents to live without connections to electricity or running water and under the constant threat of demolition. Still, demolishing an entire community would be an extreme escalation of this already abusive policy.”
In other words, El-Ad is noting how Israel is becoming far more brazen and less apologetic in its enactment of ethnic cleansing, particularly in Area C. If and when Area C is consolidated as ‘Israeli territory’, all that will be left is holes in one big slice of cheese – the Palestinian Bantustans. As the late Israeli minister and Chief of Staff Rafael Eitan would say, “When we have settled the land, all the Arabs will be able to do about it will be to scurry around like drugged cockroaches in a bottle.”
But this is really not new. Israel has been working at this plan incessantly. In fact, the Bantustanization of the West Bank has roots in the ‘Allon Plan’, named after leftist leader Yigal Allon (who was also foreign minister under the first Rabin government in 1970’s). The Oslo accords of 1990’s, also enacted by a left-Israeli government, cemented this notion albeit under a supposed ‘temporary agreement’. Rabin had nonetheless assured that whatever would eventually come out of it would be “less than a [Palestinian] state” as he addressed the Israeli Knesset in 1995, shortly before he was assassinated.
So now the question becomes, How to consolidate all that? It’s clear that Israel – from left to right – wanted the territory to start with (where 1948 was simply an ‘unfinished job’). But the world has allowed Israel to get away with its 1948 conquests and ethnic cleansing more readily than it has allowed it to get away with annexing Palestinian territories in 1967. The world still considers the 1967 occupied territories “occupied”, and that also includes Gaza. ”Occupied” suggests ”temporary”, but after half a century, the rightists are getting more impatient with this game. If “this land is ours”, if “all of it is ours” as Tzipi Hotovely says, then the rest is just political correctness.
Indeed, as Smotrich said at the National Union conference:
“After a hundred years of managing the conflict, the time has come for a decision… The principles [of the left] have within a few years become accepted by growing parts of the Israeli leadership. First on the left, and later, unfortunately, also on the right, which to a great extent has lost its belief in the justice of our path and has been dragged toward the two-state solution.”
Smotrich noted that, “The vision of the decision plan is not new”, and that “These are the foundations on which Zionism was erected. We do not assume that there are two narratives here that are equal. There’s one side that’s correct, and another that is undermining the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state.”
What did I tell you? Unabashed. These guys are not here to apologize.
It’s really like Gideon Levy wrote, about Ayelet Shaked’s mentioned words on Zionism versus “individual rights interpreted in a universal manner”:
Thank you, Ayelet Shaked, for telling the truth. Thank you for speaking honestly. The justice minister has proved once again that Israel’s extreme right is better than the deceivers of the center-left: It speaks honestly.”
This is the what gives power to people like Smotrich – he says what others hide.
But Smotrich realizes he has one huge hurdle to get over: how do you manage such unabashed Apartheid, and still call it a “democracy”?
“The big challenge in this context will be the democratic challenge”, Smotrich says. “The need to persuade the world that among all the different alternatives, the alternative of democratic rights without the right to vote for the Knesset is the least bad alternative. It is indeed a challenge, but we can meet it.”
Now, finally, what does Israel’s supreme leader, Prime Minister Netanyahu, have to say about all this?
He sent the conference a video message:
“I was happy to hear that you are devoting the discussions at the conference to the subject of the future of the Land of Israel. Up until not so many years ago, this country was deserted and abandoned, but since we returned to Zion, after generations of exile, the Land of Israel is flourishing.”
Netanyahu said, regurgitating the Zionist hoax of “empty land”. He then continued:
“Within less than 70 years, we have succeeded in building a prosperous country, a world leader in economics, technology, security, agriculture, cybersecurity, health and many other fields. We are building the country and settling it in the mountains, the valleys, the Galilee, the Negev and in Judea and Samaria too, because this is our country. We have been given the privilege of living in the land, and we have an obligation to guard it carefully.”
The “privilege of living in the land” is obviously alluding to the messianic “promised land” notion, but it requires no Messiah, simply brute force. The rest God will manage. And Smotrich will help too.