“They [the Palestinians] deserve better,” says Israeli PM Benyamin Netanyahu to a live YouTube audience. But I don’t buy it. After all, his political agenda proves that he thinks otherwise.
World View is a unique YouTube campaign featuring monthly interviews of the world’s most recognized leaders using questions asked by online viewers. Netanyahu served as the high profile guest for the month of March and as expected, his interview fell nothing short of openly racist propaganda in which he repetitively promoted the normalization of the occupation while altering reality to shed an artificial favorable light on Israeli policy. Needless to say, my blood pressure peaked at least a dozen times.
Virtually everything Netanyahu said contradicted the reality of the political quagmire into which his administration continues to sink. His responses were both deceptive and illogical. The most prominent example of this happened during his response to a question about settlements.
Netanyahu quickly dodged having to justify the problematic nature of the settlements by claiming that the real threat to peace is the Arab-wide rejection of a Jewish state built on land confiscated from an indigenous non-Israeli population. The moderator interjected and asked him to answer the given question, not his own interpretation of it.
But the prejudiced logic continued. The settlements constitute only “1 percent of 1 percent of the land” outside of Israel, said Netanyahu to the camera, so they aren’t necessarily the problem. “That not a big deal. It’s disputed land anyways,” is what he said. But what is a big deal is having to displace 350,000 to 400,000 Israeli settlers from their concrete homes and regimented lifestyles for the sole purpose of succumbing to the political whims of his counterparts. I was shocked – not necessarily by the answer (this is typical pro-occupation propaganda sponsored in full by AIPAC) but because the moderator didn’t call him out on his irrational assessment of the situation.
Not only are the settlements illegal (Yes, even in 1% of 1% of land!) but they stand as landmark precedents for the hypocrisy inherent in the way Israeli sociopolitical culture aims to eradicate the Palestinian people and its rich history. While Netanyahu openly denounces the forcible removal of 400,000 illegal Israeli settlers, has he forgotten that the country he swears allegiance to is founded on the mass eviction and forced removal of more than 750,000 Palestinian men, women, and children during the mid 1940s?
Netanyahu prefaced most of his statements by framing himself as pro-justice, open to change, and peace-loving. It was a true politician’s move but while I struggled to find any pro-peace or pro-justice sentiment in any of his responses, my blood pressure quickly shot up again.
The next question dealt with the civil liberties of the Arab minority in Israel. “Every fifth Israeli is an Arab,” he told the live audience, claiming that Arabs enjoy the same equal rights as any and every Jewish citizen. Proudly, he noted the presence of Arabs in the Knesset and denied any allegations of police brutality against Arab residents as if this absolves Israel of the repercussions of the prejudice and state-sponsored humiliation that exists under the umbrella of Israeli law.
Haneen Zoabi, to whom Netanyahu was directly referring as a Knesset member and representative of the Arab people, was recently stripped of many of her legislative rights and privileges as a result of her participation on the Flotilla that left nine individuals shot dead at close proximity by Israeli special military forces. In a lecture at the University of Chicago earlier this year, she discussed among other things the explicit discrimination she and her Arab colleagues face regularly both inside and outside of the parliamentary buildings. The slums inhabited by Arabs (and soon-to-be-deported foreign workers) reinforce the notion that non-Jews simply do not fit within the scope of equal rights as defined by Netanyahu and his administration.
Coincidentally, Netanyahu’s interview falls on Israel’s inaugural “National Cleanup Day”. First on the list of things to be thrown out is the garbage that spews from Netanyahu’s mouth.