electronic intifada

Smotrich unmasks Israel’s truly genocidal face
Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada, Mar 20 2023

Netanyahu and Smotrich hold a news conference in Jerusalem, Jan 25.

Bezalel Smotrich, the ultra-far-right Israeli finance minister, declared in Paris on Sunday that Palestinians do not exist. There is “no such thing as Palestinians because there’s no such thing as the Palestinian people,” Smotrich said. His remarks were “met with applause and cheers from attendees,” The Times of Israel noted and videos of the event confirm this. Smotrich went further, declaring that he, a West Bank settler, is a “real” Palestinian.

Hanging from Smotrich’s podium was a flag depicting the whole of historic Palestine, Jordan and parts of Lebanon and Syria as belonging to the Zionist state, revealing a desire for even greater territorial expansion that other Israeli officials have expressed as well lately.

The claim that Palestinians don’t exist or are an “invented people” is widespread among Zionists. In 2014, Sheldon Adelson, the late billionaire mega-donor to anti-Palestinian causes and the Republican Party, similarly declared that the “Palestinians are an invented people.” Adelson added:

The purpose of the existence of Palestinians is to destroy Israel.

Two years later Brooke Goldstein, a prominent Israel lobby activist in the US, a href=”https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israel-lawfare-group-plans-massive-punishments-activists”>asserted:

There’s no such thing as a Palestinian person.

But perhaps most notorious is Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir’s 1969 declaration:

There is no such thing as Palestinians.

Meir was a stalwart of Israel’s ostensibly left-wing Labor Party establishment. Smotrich’s latest comment comes just weeks after he declared that the Palestinian town of Huwwara should be “wiped out” by the State of Israel. There should be no doubt that Smotrich means what he says and if given an opportunity, he and the ascendant political movement he represents would carry it out. There should also be no doubt that what Smotrich is talking about and inciting is the genocide of the Palestinian people. Nor are Smotrich’s remarks ill-considered outbursts; they reflect deep and careful thinking and a coherent ideology. In 2017, Smotrich set out a plan to force the Palestinian people out of their homeland and take their entire land once and for all. At the time, Daniel Blatman, a professor of Holocaust studies at Hebrew University, wrote that Smotrich took inspiration for his plan from the biblical Book of Joshua, which describes the wholesale slaughter of a people by the “children of Israel.” Blatman called Smotrich, who was then deputy speaker of the Knesset, “the most senior government figure to date to say unabashedly that the option of genocide is on the table if the Palestinians don’t agree to our terms.” Under Smotrich’s plan, Palestinians would have to submit to complete Jewish supremacy, or be forced out.

Today, Smotrich not only controls the finance ministry, but he has been given special powers over the so-called civil administration, the Israeli military occupation bureaucracy that runs the lives of millions of Palestinians, people whom Smotrich does not believe exist. Blatman, a former fellow of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, added:

Smotrich’s admiration for the biblical genocidaire Joshua bin Nun leads him to adopt values that resemble those of the German SS.

It should be emphasized that even at the time, Netanyahu was willing to give a tacit stamp of approval to Smotrich’s ideas. Netanyahu said in a recorded greeting played at the gathering where Smotrich set out his genocidal plan:

I was happy to hear that you are devoting the discussions at the conference to the subject of the future of the Land of Israel. Up until not so many years ago, this country was deserted and abandoned, but since we returned to Zion, after generations of exile, the Land of Israel is flourishing.

Liberal Zionists have already made intense efforts to portray the likes of Smotrich and Israel’s Kahanist national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir as aberrations who are somehow not true representatives of Israel and Zionism. We can expect those whitewashing efforts to intensify.

But there should be no doubt that Smotrich is simply articulating Israel’s foundational ideology and policy. In 2004, Haaretz interviewed Benny Morris, one of the Israeli “new historians” who in the 1980s used Zionist sources to validate Palestinian accounts of the Nakba. Morris explained that David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s founding prime minister, like Meir a pillar of the nominally secular left-wing Labor Party, personally directed the deliberate “transfer” of the Palestinian people from much of their homeland. Morris explained:

Ben-Gurion was a transferist. He understood that there could be no Jewish state with a large and hostile Arab minority in its midst. There would be no such state. It would not be able to exist.

The Haaretz interviewer told Morris:

I don’t hear you condemning him.

Morris responded:

Ben-Gurion was right. If he had not done what he did, a state would not have come into being. That has to be clear. It is impossible to evade it. Without the uprooting of the Palestinians, a Jewish state would not have arisen here.

But for Morris, Ben-Gurion’s mistake is that he did not do enough ethnic cleansing. Morris asserted:

If he was already engaged in expulsion, maybe he should have done a complete job. I know that this stuns the Arabs and the liberals and the politically correct types, but my feeling is that this place would be quieter and know less suffering if the matter had been resolved once and for all. If Ben-Gurion had carried out a large expulsion and cleansed the whole country, the whole Land of Israel, as far as the Jordan River. It may yet turn out that this was his fatal mistake. If he had carried out a full expulsion, rather than a partial one, he would have stabilized the State of Israel for generations.

No-one who calls themselves a Zionist, whether on the “left” or the far-right, can fundamentally disagree with Morris. That’s why no one who calls themselves a Zionist supports the right of return for Palestinian refugees. It is why Zionists, even of the “liberal” variety, constantly fret about the “demographic threat” from the births of Palestinian babies. And if no Zionist can fundamentally disagree with Morris, then they can’t really disagree with Smotrich either. Indeed, Smotrich himself echoed Morris almost verbatim in 2021 when he yelled at Palestinian lawmakers in Israel’s parliament in 2021:

It’s a mistake that Ben-Gurion didn’t finish the job and didn’t throw you out in 1948.

They may feign shock and disgust with Smotrich’s language, but anyone who believes that Israel must remain a “Jewish state” with a Jewish majority has to at least endorse the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians that Israel has perpetrated to date, whether or not they actively advocate further large-scale expulsions in the future. Indeed, the position of the diminishing number of Israeli “liberals” and other supporters of the so-called two-state solution can be summed up as follows: We support all the ethnic cleansing and land theft that Israel has already carried out but think future expulsions and land theft should be limited – although by how much is open to debate. Whereas the position of Smotrich and company is: We, like you, support all the ethnic cleansing and land theft to date, but think there needs to be much more. Morally and practically there is no difference because both positions relegate millions of Palestinians to living under brutal Jewish supremacist rule and apartheid or exiled from their homeland solely and exclusively because they are not Jews.

Coupled with the frequent claims that the Palestinians do not and have never existed as a people, Israel’s expulsions and massacres transcend the horrifying enough crime of ethnic cleansing and enter the realm of genocide: the complete erasure of the Palestinians as a people. Here too, Smotrich’s position that Palestinians have no existence, let alone rights as a people, is no aberration but a reflection of Israeli consensus. Recall that in 2018, Israel adopted its so-called Nation-State Law, a constitutional instrument declaring:

The right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.

They thereby denied to Palestinians any national rights or existence. And when Benjamin Netanyahu’s new coalition government took office in December, it declared as its first guiding principles:

The Jewish people have an exclusive and unquestionable right over all areas of the land of Israel.

It is often said, understandably, that Israel’s current government is its most openly racist and right-wing in history. That may be true in terms of its rhetoric, but there is no practical difference between Israel’s secular “socialist” founder David Ben-Gurion and a fanatically right-wing religious Zionist like Smotrich. But after decades of mostly suppressing Smotrich’s brand of openly genocidal language in favor of presenting a “liberal” and “democratic” face, why are Israelis now embracing it? It is because Israel’s “demographic problem,” the existence of “too many” living, breathing Palestinians on their own soil, is becoming urgent. With Jews once again a minority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, many Israelis clearly feel they have no option but to return fully to their country’s genocidal roots. That is why ostracizing Smotrich, as French officials have done by declining to meet him during his time in their country, is insufficient and misleading because it falsely portrays one “extremist” as the problem. The problem is Zionism itself, and the ongoing genocidal settler-colonial nightmare it has unleashed on the Palestinian people and their land.

Martin Forde interview makes UK’s fake media left squirm
Asa Winstanley, Electronic Intifada, Mar 19 2023

Owen Jones, Martin Forde and Aaron Bastani

The senior British lawyer whose inquiry into Labour Party racism concluded that anti-Semitism allegations had been “weaponized” against former left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn has finally spoken to the media. “Anti-Black racism, Islamophobia isn’t taken as seriously as anti-Semitism” in Labour, Martin Forde told Al Jazeera on Thursday. Forde spoke to Al Jazeera’s investigative unit in a new episode of The Labour Files series released online. You can watch the whole interview in the video below. The interview has prompted increased criticism of Labour from some of the small cohort of liberals passing for “leftists” permitted to have a mainstream profile in British media, such as Owen Jones and Aaron Bastani.

But grassroots former Labour activists have been criticizing the liberals for their belated response to the issue when it is too late to make a difference to Corbyn’s electoral chances. Back when Corbyn was still Labour leader and had a shot at becoming prime minister, these same people were actively promoting the fabricated “anti-Semitism crisis.” As The Electronic Intifada has reported for years, during his time as leader Corbyn was subjected to an unprecedented disinformation campaign, often led by Israel and its lobby, falsely painting the party as having a massive and unique “anti-Semitism problem.” In reality, the problem from the pro-Israel perspective was the party grassroots’ strong solidarity with Palestine.

In the interview Forde said he had heard almost nothing from Labour since his inquiry published its findings and a detailed series of recommendations in July last year. New leader Keir Starmer even promised to take steps to tackle racism in Labour following the report. Forde told the Qatar-based channel that this was “not in my view a sufficient response” to his inquiry, which detailed serious allegations of racism among senior party staff targeting Black pro-Corbyn MPs like Diane Abbott. Forde also revealed that not a single media outlet has interviewed him since his inquiry concluded, saying:

I think I was approached by one on the day of publication, but they hadn’t actually read the report. And I suggested they might want to do that first and they didn’t come back to me.

The media blackout on the Forde report was in stark contrast to the five years of incessant coverage of “anti-Semitism” allegations in the Labour Party when it was led by Jeremy Corbyn. Such allegations were more often than not concocted by pro-Israel lobbyists to attack Corbyn, a Palestine solidarity activist, and his left-wing supporters. Not only did the mainstream media completely blank the Forde report, but the BBC actively attempted to censor it. The report concluded that one part of the BBC’s 2019 Panorama program about the supposed Labour anti-Semitism crisis had been “entirely misleading.”

Forde revealed on Thursday that, soon after the publication of his findings, both Panorama’s editor and its lead reporter John Ware wrote letters asking him to change his report to remove this conclusion. Forde appears to have declined or ignored these requests, as of this writing the conclusion remains in the report still on the Labour Party’s website. Panorama editor Karen Wightman wrote to Forde in September asking him to “consider amending your report” and contesting its characterization of her program as misleading. Ware wrote to Forde insisting:

Your report has done significant damage to my reputation and to that of the Corporation for journalistic integrity.

He wrote a series of questions to Forde and asked him “to respond by 4pm tomorrow 11 October.” Forde’s Al Jazeera interview this week prompted renewed interest in the Panorama episode, which has come under increased criticism from left-wing activists in recent months, the same people who were so often falsely smeared as anti-Semitic due to their support for Corbyn. But renewed attention on the Forde report and criticism of the Panorama episode has also included those few supposed “leftists” who are regularly given platforms in the mainstream UK media, or were during the Corbyn years, the same people who ended up attacking or turning against the Corbyn leadership, often over the false “anti-Semitism crisis.”

This week those included Guardian columnists Owen Jones and George Monbiot, as well as Novara Media co-founder Aaron Bastani. Jones and Monbiot both ended up opposing the Corbyn leadership, while Bastani and Novara frequently indulged and promoted media lies about “left-wing anti-Semitism” in Corbyn’s Labour. But now all three appear to want to win back lost credibility among their audiences by finally questioning the Panorama narrative, four years on, and calling for something to be done by Labour on the Forde report. Meanwhile they fail to accept responsibility for promoting the false anti-Semitism narrative in the first place. Left-wing activists and commentators this week castigated Jones, Monbiot and Bastani:

Owen Jones has been notoriously opportunistic and has regularly flip-flopped on issues related to Israel, alleged anti-Semitism and Corbyn. He has embraced Zionism, spoken in favor of the pro-Israel lobby, driven the Labour membership purge of the pro-Palestinian left and even whitewashed a Zionist collaborator with the Nazis. Although Jones was promoted by British mainstream media as a supporter of Corbyn, his support was always half-hearted at best. Jones ditched Corbyn during the 2016 coup attempt by the Labour Party establishment, a position he later admitted was “wrong.”

In his 2020 book This Land, Jones admitted to participating in various coup attempts against Corbyn, writing that he wanted to have him replaced with soft-left MP and former soldier Clive Lewis, later pushing for his former boss and pro-NATO lawmaker John McDonnell to take over. Meanwhile George Monbiot abandoned any pretense of support for Corbyn back in 2017, joining in with the “anti-Semitism” witch-hunters at the height of the manufactured crisis in 2018.

For his part, Bastani and the rest of his Novara colleagues constantly threw the victims of the “anti-Semitism” witch hunt under the bus, including former London mayor Ken Livingstone, Black Jewish anti-racism activist Jackie Walker and former lawmaker Chris Williamson, even this reporter has been falsely smeared, without evidence, as “anti-Semitic” by Novara’s Michael Walker. Appearing on the BBC’s This Week program in 2018, Bastani vigorously agreed with presenter Andrew Neil and fellow guest Robert Winston, a celebrity TV doctor and anti-Palestinian activist, that “anti-Semitism” was “endemic” in Corbyn’s Labour.

This was at the height of the fabricated “anti-Semitism crisis” in Labour in 2018. But instead of pushing back Bastani used a major mainstream media appearance to promote the “crisis.” Bastani and the rest of the anarchists at Novara in large part launched their high-profile media careers off the back of their ostensible support for the mass movement that brought Corbyn to the Labour leadership, only to stab it in the back when it counted. With friends like these, who needs enemies?

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