Yesterday, the Israeli leftist hero Ehud Barak, congratulated US President Trump for saying to King Abdullah of Jordan that if a one-state solution comes to pass, “the prime minister’s name will be Mohammed.”
Barak was encouraged by Trump’s supposed clear-sightedness. He tweeted (Hebrew):
President Trump sees it from there. Netanyahu is blind to it from here. That’s how it is when a messianic vision, dread of investigations, and your own self-concern, instead of concern for Israeli citizens, blind you. It’s better that the suspect from Balfour [Balfour street in Jerusalem, the Prime Minister’s residence] listen to President Trump and to most of the citizens of Israel and stop the galloping towards the abyss. R-I-G-H-T N-O-W.
This is certainly not the first time that the former Prime Minister Barak lauded Trump’s visions. Ahead of the US recognition of the ‘united Jerusalem’ as exclusive Israeli territory and the decision to move the embassy there, Barak congratulated Trump for the idea, gave it a green light at the Saban Forum, and bemoaned the fact that the move had not taken place 65 years ago.
Indeed, for some reason, such visions about the ‘united and eternal capital’ are not messianic for Barak. He brags about how the Israeli left ‘liberated’ the occupied territories for Jews, and he of course calls those lands by their Hebrew biblical names, Judea and Samaria.
Trump’s expression is perfect scare-mongering for Barak. Barak’s endorsement is completely compatible with campaigns such as the scare campaign last year, in which huge billboards in Arabic in Tel Aviv proclaimed, “We will soon be the majority!” showing Palestinians with Palestinian flags. That campaign was initiated by an Israeli ‘liberal’ organization called “Commanders for Israel’s Security”, comprised of some 200 senior commanders of the IDF, Shin Bet, Mossad and police, and was directly endorsed by Barak. The logic there is a unilateral ‘separation’ of Jews from Palestinians: “No waiting for a partner – we’re taking the initiative. Security now! Peace – later.”
Let’s just take a step back, and think about Trump’s actual ‘scare:’ that an Israeli Prime Minister might, one day, be called Mohammed; that is, that he (not she) would be a Muslim. A non-Jew. An Arab. A Palestinian. Think about it. It’s enough to say ‘Mohammed’, and all the associations are there, all of which are just unacceptable. Imagine, if someone did a scare campaign in the US warning people that if they don’t separate from Muslims, the President may, one day, be called Rashida (referring to the presumptive Congresswoman from Michigan, Rashida Tlaib). That would rightly be seen as contemptible racism. Not in Israel. In Israel it’s an existential norm. And it’s being applied by the left; Ehud Barak, from the left, is using the words of the racist-nationalist Donald Trump, to chide Netanyahu, on the right, for being blind.
Barak warns us that if the dreaded Mohammed becomes Prime Minister, it will definitely be the ‘abyss’. This follows his warning of a couple of years ago of the “seeds of fascism” in Israel, along with his hint that he might need to come to the rescue.
Barak obviously seeks to portray himself as the diametric opposition not only to Netanyahu, but to the right. Yet when all is said and done, the differences between right-wing and left-wing Zionism are rather cosmetic. It is not true that the right wants a binational state. It just envisions slightly different modes than the left. Two days ago, Carolina Landsmann did a report in Haaretz: “How Israeli Right-wing Thinkers Envision the Annexation of the West Bank: From granting the Palestinians the right to vote in Jordan to expelling them creatively – how rightists propose to apply Israeli sovereignty in the Palestinian territories”. The Israeli left has never really offered Palestinians a state. It was always ‘less than a state’, as Rabin said of the Oslo accords just before he was murdered. Barak made no ‘generous offer’ in 2000 really – his offer amounted to Bantustans. And he later admitted that the whole point of a Palestinian “state” was for that state to be “non-viable”. At the Herzliya Conference last year, he said:
“How can this non-viable state, which is surrounded, be an existential threat on Israel?… Existential threat on Israel? This sounds like either fabricated or visionary or completely crazy planning”.
In the end, the Israeli right and left meet together in the center, represented by lawmakers such as Yair Lapid, and the motto is:
“maximum Jews on maximum land with maximum security and with minimum Palestinians”.
This is what it’s always been about, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that a supposed leftist like Barak uses racist-nationalist slurs by a right-winger like Trump, to chide Netanyahu from the right, as it were, for not being Zionist enough.
Thanks to Ofer Neiman