Israel and the Right
I write this blogpost as new reports come in that Benjamin Netanyahu, the former PM of Israel who has faced multiple corruption charges, is poised to form a new government in Israel that is the most “hard-line religious and nationalist governments in the country’s history”. Considering the past years of Netanyahu’s governments and other Israeli far-right leaders, that is really saying something. Israel continues to embrace an ethno-centric Jewish state that uses violence and ethnic cleansing against Arabs and Palestinians.
It is perhaps unsurprising then that Israeli journalists have faced discrimination in covering the World Cup in Qatar. What is so blatant in discussions and discourse around Israel is that the US will support Israel until the end and any criticism of Israel is antisemitic. I have written another blogpost before about how the founding of Israel was predicated on ethnic cleansing and the imposition of a settler-colonial government. Indeed, Zionism is inherently a colonial project where Palestinians are rendered as inferior and ultimately disposable. Thus, chants of Free Palestine are not merely about self-determination for Palestinians, but part of a broader anti-racist and anti-colonial struggle against Israeli and US imperialism.
What is concerning about the election of this new, even more right-wing, government is that the Israeli government might consider mass killings or even genocide to impose an ethno-national Jewish state. I do wonder, though, if even mass killings would prompt the US or its Western allies to condemn Israel. Certainly, the murder of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was, until recently, met with relative silence by the US government. The US sees Israel as a powerful ally to pursue its imperialist project in the Middle East of extraction of resources (like oil) and supporting the killing of people it considers disposable (such as funding the Saudi bombing of Yemen). Of course, both Republican and Democratic governments in the US view support as tantamount to courting both the Jewish and the evangelical vote (the latter is a particularly important group of Republican voters). It is, of course, ironic that many far-right supporters of Israel in the US are themselves antisemitic, but this contradiction is ignored. Indeed, for the evangelicals who are rabid believers, when the rapture comes, presumably the Jews would go to hell just like all the other non-believers.
In this context, it is interesting to note how the Israeli far-right governments have courted the support of this at least nominally antisemitic group of evangelicals in the US. They know that courting this support will strengthen the continuous enormous military aid provided to Israel, so that it can continue its project of ethnic cleansing in Palestine. At the same time, any criticism of Israel by the Left is seen as horribly antisemitic. One only has to look at the smearing of Jeremy Corbyn (the former Labour leader in the UK) as being antisemitic because he dared to say he stood with Palestine. In fact, I am certain that this blogpost would be smeared as antisemitic for daring to criticize Israel.
Despite the attempts by the antisemitic Right to smear criticism of Israel, it is important to stand with Palestine. Once the context of Israel-Palestine is understood not as a conflict between two peoples but instead as a settler-colonial project of dispossession, then can it be easier to understand why any kind of anti-racist and anti-colonial perspective must oppose Israel. As recently as five days ago, Al-Jazeera reported that Israel demolished a Palestinian school serving 22 students in the West Bank. This colonial violence is supported wholeheartedly by US imperialism through its rabid support for Israel. This blatant destruction of a Palestinian school also demonstrates how Israel considers Palestinians to be inferior and how Israel’s colonial logic dictates that they can simply be displaced. It is thus imperative to dislodge the dominant discourse in the West about unquestioning support for Israel and expose Israel’s blatant colonialism and racism, particularly with a more emboldened far-right government under Netanyahu coming to power.