Netanyahu’s Dangerous Game
When Fascists and strongmen rise in a country or society, a critical step on the path there is the need for an internal enemy. This enemy is then blamed for a litany of social ills and the strongman’s power is consolidated in a fierce crackdown. The strongman will then “stand up” to that enemy, who is portrayed as the aggressor. While more infamous examples from history come to mind, this is still a widely used tactic. The Philippine’s Duterte has done this with drug users in the Philippines. China’s Xingping has done so with China’s Muslim population. What we’re seeing in Israel right now is another example.
Israel is on the brink of War-a huge escalation from riots occurring during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Each escalation has simply inflamed matters, and the escalation have been a calculated response by Israel against Palestinian protestors who were not acting on behalf or representing any government.
To understand how things got here, it’s important to know Israel’s current political crisis. Israel has had 4 elections in 2 years, with a 5th coming up. This is because no party has been able to form a lasting coaltion government-much less one where a party has the majority of seats. Israel’s Prime Minister is Benjamin Netanyahu-a man who has held that post off and on since 1996. He represents a hard right political party, in a nation that has a huge and dangerous right wing faction. A total of 13 Parties have won seats in Israel’s Knesset-their main legislative body. The Knesset has 120 seats. Netanyahu’s Likud Party only received 25% of the seats in the Knesset in the last election. He’s secured power due to a coalition government. Politically, Netanyahu doesn’t have to worry about opposition from the left. The left has collapsed in Israel. Only 3 of the 13 parties are left wing. Most are conservative, with some centrist parties. The left wing parties secured just 15.5% of the entire vote in the last election. Netanyahu’s key to victory is appealing to the far right.
And that’s exactly what he’s doing. Israel’s policies have left Palestinians in terrible shape, to put it mildly. Palestinians can have their land illegally seized, have services not rendered to them, and largely lack the suffrage to do anything about it. They are consistently redlined and treated as pariahs. Their land has systematically been stolen from them by imperialists-first by the British, and then through genocide and forced relocation by Israel. Israel now exists as an aparthied state. Netanyahu has been a key figure in sweeping existing international crimes under the rug, and committing many more. Those words are literal. Netanyahu is currently indicted for breach of trust, bribery and fraud.
Throughout the years, Israel has used force as the aggressor against the Palestinian people. The force used has been one sided according to all available data. After absolutely being brutalized, more radical Palestinians will fight back. A diplomatic solution is then called for, despite Palestinian statehood being blocked by the US in the UN. The entire time, Israel is treated as the “good guy”. Any nuanced take or one that calls out Israel for it’s crimes against humanity is labeled “Anti-Semitic”, and Israel has tremendous political power. They were the single biggest spender against Bernie Sanders in 2020, who essentially became the first candidate to acknowledge Palestinians as people in 2016.
When we hear a story about Israel, digging deeper is almost always needed. Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East, but it won’t stay that way long if it continues to dehumanize the Palestinian people and continues to let strongmen like Netanyahu run wild.