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Barak accuses Netanyahu of ‘restraint’ on Gaza – and makes his leftwing partners uneasy

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Ehud Barak’s new Israeli Democratic Party has authored talking points, including some about getting tougher than Netanyahu on Gaza. The points were distributed to the candidates of the new merger slate, Democratic Union, which includes the Meretz list as well as former Labor member Stav Shaffir. 

This was too much for Meretz, which is supposed to mark the far left of the Zionist spectrum.

The clause that upset the Meretz members, as Haaretz reported, said:

Before anything, we must restore the deterrence equation in Gaza. Netanyahu chooses restraint and pays protection to Hamas, and thus forfeits the security of residents of the border region.

The document also gave preeminence to generals:

Gaza creates a different challenge for the military echelons and the political echelons. The military echelons, the chief of general staff, the head of Military Intelligence and the head of Southern Command are the ones who will recommend to the government when and how to restore the deterrence against Hamas.

Several Meretz leaders demanded to have these points shelved, and they reportedly were. 

This macho talk, painting Netanyahu as too soft, is not surprising, coming from Barak, a former Israeli general.

This is precisely the militaristic macho vein that Benny Gantz, the Blue White center-opposition bloc leader, came in with, when he presented himself as contender in January, when he was still in his own party called Resilience to Israel. A former general, Gantz boasted of having brought Gaza back to the “stone age” as Chief of Staff, showed aerial footage of his destruction of whole neighborhoods in Gaza in 2014, and vowed to return to his policy of systematic extrajudicial assassinations.

And by the way, Gantz is supposed to be the moderate, liberal answer to Netanyahu.

As for Barak, who has now supposedly aligned himself as a “leftist” with Meretz, is he really left of Gantz?

According to Barak himself, not really.

“They say I’m a leftist”, he told Haaretz journalist Yossi Verter over a month ago, before the merger. But he was no more left than any of the principals of Gantz’s Blue White bloc. 

How am I more left-wing than Gantz, [Gabi] Ashkenazi or [Yair] Lapid? Maybe in some respects I’m to the left of [Moshe] Ya’alon, but if Yoaz Hendel was not in Kahol Lavan now, I’d happily take him.

Let’s have a look at that sentence. Barak is rhetorically saying that he’s to the right of those three leaders – Gantz, Ashkenazi, Lapid – and suggests that he just might be to the left of Ya’alon, a former Likudnik who has called the Palestinian problem “cancer” to which he applies “chemotherapy”. So maybe, maybe Barak is to his left, maybe not.

Then he mentions his affinity for Yoaz Hendel, a former Netanayhu advisor. Hendel is further on the right in Blue White than even Ya’alon. Hendel and Zvi Hauser boycotted the Blue-White dominated rally for “Democracy”, because it was announced that Ayman Odeh, the most prominent Palestinian lawmaker, would be speaking. (Yaalon merely complained that people were turning their cars around because an Arab was speaking). Yoaz Hendel is an author of rabidly racist anti-Palestinian revenge-fantasies, where they are Nazis. That’s the person Ehud Barak wants to have at his side.

Barak spoke to Verter when he was still seeking out political options on the Israel right. But this is not a slip of the tongue. Barak is really out there ideologically. Barak has boasted of having been to the right of both Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman on the question of bombing Iran, when he served as Defense Minister under Netanyahu, in the 2009-2013 government (Lieberman was Foreign Minister).

Meretz lawmakers Tamar Zandberg and Esawi Freige, as well as Meretz Knesset member Mossi Raz, were reported to have demanded the removal of the Gaza “deterrence” points from the documents. But talking points or no talking points, Barak is the hawk that these people decided to marry.

And this is the problem of Zionist politics in general. The parties generally end up pulling right in their survival calculations. Last elections Meretz invested a lot of effort in getting the “Arab vote”, and that managed to just save them from oblivion (falling below the electoral threshold of 3.25 percent). This time they’re turning rightwards, with faux ‘leftists’ like Barak. It’s also worth mentioning that Mossi Raz, formerly a Peace Now leader, has recently hailed Ben Gurion’s achievements, chiding Netanyahu for “destroying” them – typically failing to see the state-founder as a master ethnic cleanser. 

A Meretz source told Haaretz of the talking points: “That’s not our terminology. We believe that we must restore hope to the residents of the Gaza Strip, not deterrence. A term like ‘deterrence’ is from the lexicon of army people.”

The recent document also shows that the new ticket’s name hasn’t yet been absorbed by the public; so members were told to mention the slate’s three leaders – Nitzan Horowitz, Stav Shaffir and Barak – at every opportunity. So even though Barak is supposedly in the background as number 10 on the slate, unlikely to enter the Knesset, he is very much in the front here. He also assigned a General to represent his party as the number 3 in the merger slate: Yair Golan.

This is Barak’s text. It may be the they don’t want to talk that way right now in Meretz. But whether they speak the “lexicon of army people” or not, the militarist ideology is there. This cocktail is not a leftist one.

Jonathan Ofir

Israeli musician, conductor and blogger / writer based in Denmark.

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4 Responses

  1. Marnie on August 8, 2019, 12:12 am

    Ehud, like so many other men these days, are working hard 24/7 so there isn’t a long enough lull in the news cycle for questions about his connections to famous pedophile now captured and awaiting trial in the u.s. As far as disturbing ‘leftists’ I ask, what leftists? There is a left in the zionist state? If they call themselves ‘liberal’ zionists, fuck ’em. There’s no such thing as a liberal zionist, a kind nazi, a friendly good neighbor klansman or an all right alt-right. I’m sick of this language. There is no such thing as a liberal zionist. Stop sitting on the fence, you’re in or you’re out, but this halfway shit continues to kill people.

  2. Misterioso on August 8, 2019, 10:31 am

    Funded by U.S. taxpayers, supported by corrupt “bought and paid for” politicians in Washington and elsewhere and seemingly unconcerned that the world is now increasingly seeing them for the monsters they truly are, Zionists continue and intensify their now more than 71 years of bloody rampage against and dispossession/expulsion of the defenseless indigenous Palestinians who remain standing, defiant and will never give up.

    https://ahtribune.com/world/north-africa-south-west-asia/palestine/3356-idf-the-most-moral-army.html

    “Israel Has ‘The Most Moral Army in the World?’ by Philip Giraldi, American Herald Tribune, July 30/19

    “The creepy French intellectual” Bernard-Henri Levy gets it wrong”

    “Eight days ago eleven Palestinian buildings containing seventy family apartments located in the illegally Israeli occupied East Jerusalem village of Wadi al-Hummus were demolished in a military-led operation by more than 1,000 Israeli soldiers, policemen and municipal workers using bulldozers, backhoes and explosives. Residents who resisted were beaten by the soldiers, kicked down flights of stairs and even shot at close range with rubber bullets. The soldiers were recorded laughing and celebrating as they did their dirty work. Occupants who did not resist and who held their hands up in surrender were also not spared the rod, as were also foreign observers who were present to add their voices to those who were protesting the outrage. The injuries sustained by some of the victims have been photographed and are available online.

    “Twelve Palestinians and four British observers were injured badly enough to be hospitalized. The British reported that they were ‘stamped on, dragged by the hair, strangled with a scarf and pepper sprayed by Israeli border police.’ One who was hospitalized described how Israeli soldiers dragged him by his feet, lifting him up, and kicking him in the stomach, while one soldier stamped on his head four times ‘at full force” before standing on his head and pulling his hair. Another suffered a fractured rib after’ [the policeman] then stamped on my throat and others started punching my torso. It was a sadistic display of violence…’

    “Yet another foreign observer was dragged out of the house, ‘…her hands were crushed so badly that she suffered a fractured knuckle on her left hand, and her right hand suffered severe tissue damage’, ‘which will be permanently misshapen unless she gets cosmetic surgery.’

    “Edmond Sichrovsky, an Austrian activist of Jewish origin, who was in one of the houses, described how Israeli forces broke the door down, first dragging out the Palestinians, ‘knocking the grandfather to the floor in front of his crying and screaming grandchildren.’ Cell phones were forcibly removed to eliminate any picture taking or filming before soldiers began attacking him and four other activists. ‘I was repeatedly kicked and kneed, which left a bloody nose and multiple cuts, as well breaking my glasses from a knee in the face. Once outside, they slammed me against a car while shouting verbal insults at me and women activists, calling them whores.’

    “The buildings were destroyed due to claims that they were too close to Israel’s illegal separation wall, with the Benjamin Netanyahu government citing ‘security concerns.’ The families living in the buildings that did not have either the time or ability to remove their furniture and other personal items will now have to comb through the rubble to see what they can recover, if the Israeli soldiers will even allow them that grace. They will also have to find new places to live as the Israelis have made no provision for housing them.

    “The homes were legally constructed on land that is nominally controlled by the Palestinian Authority (PA), a fine point that the Israeli authorities chose to consider irrelevant. When the Palestinians object to such arbitrary behavior, they are sent to Israeli military courts that always endorse the government decisions. And the Netanyahu regime of kleptocrats has made clear that it does not recognize international law about treatment of people who are under occupation.

    “The buildings were destroyed a few days after rampaging Israeli settlers on the West Bank continued their campaign to destroy the livelihoods of their Palestinian neighbors. Hundreds of olive trees were burned on the West Bank on July 10th, a deliberate attempt to drive the Arabs from their land by making it impossible to farm, strangling the local economy. Olive trees are particularly targeted as they are a cash crop and the trees take many years to mature and produce. The Israeli settlers have also been known to kill livestock, poison water, destroy crops, burn down buildings, and beat and even kill the Palestinian farmers and their families. And in Hebron the settlers have surrounded the old town, dumping excrement and other refuse on the Palestinians shops below that are still trying to do business. It should surprise no one that the Jewish settlers who engage in the violence are rarely caught, even less often tried, and almost never punished. The ghastly Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has declared that what was once Palestine is now a country called Israel and it is only for Jews. Killing a Palestinian by a Jewish Israeli is considered de facto to be a misdemeanor.

    “And meanwhile the carnage continues in Gaza, with the death toll of unarmed demonstrating Palestinians now at more than 200 plus several thousand wounded, many of them children and medical workers. Recently, orders to the Israeli army snipers direct them to shoot demonstrators in the ankles so they will be crippled for life. This is what it takes to be the ‘most moral army’ in the world as defined by French fop pseudo intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy, demonstrating only yet again that the tribe knows how to stick together. But the war crimes carried out by Israel also require unlimited support from the United States, both in money and political cover to allow it all to happen. Israel would not be killing Palestinians with such impunity if it were not for the green light from Donald Trump and his settler-loving mock Ambassador David Friedman backed up by a congress that seems to cherish Israelis more than Americans.

    “How is it that the horrific treatment of the Palestinians by the Israelis as aided and abetted by the worldwide Jewish diaspora is not featured in headlines all over the world? Why isn’t my government with its highly suspect but nevertheless declared agenda of bringing democracy and freedom to all saying anything about the Palestinians? Or condemning Israeli behavior as it once did regarding South Africa?

    “Can one even imagine what The New York Times and Washington Post would be headlining if American soldiers and police were evicting and beating the residents of a housing project in a U.S. city? But somehow Israel always gets a pass, no matter what it does and politicians from both parties delight in describing how the ‘special relationship’ with the Jewish state is cast in stone.

    “In the wake of the home demolitions, Washington yet again shielded Israel from a United Nations censure for its behavior by casting a Security Council veto. The Jewish state is consequently never held accountable for its bad behavior, and let us be completely honest, Israel is the ultimate rogue regime, dedicated to turning its neighbors into smoking ruins with U.S. assistance. It is evil manifest and it is not in America’s own interest to continue to be dragged down that road.”

  3. Elizabeth Block on August 8, 2019, 12:19 pm

    People ask me “What about the Israeli left?” What Israeli left?

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