Amos Oz is a noted Israeli academic, author, journalist and novelist. He’s also a vocal Netanyahu critic. More on his recent comments below.
It’s well known that Israel’s government reflects militarized occupation, colonialism and apartheid. It’s done to enforce harshness. It continues because it’s profitable. Doing so breaches international law.
The 1973 International Convention for the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid (the Apartheid Convention) called it state-sanctioned discriminatory “inhuman” racism. It’s “committed for the purpose of establishing and maintaining domination by one racial group of persons over any other racial group of persons and systematically oppressing them.”
Apartheid is an international crime. The above definition builds on the 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).
The 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court calls apartheid a crime under the Court’s jurisdiction. For 45 years, Israel flagrantly breached the law.
ICERD’s Article 3 calls apartheid a particularly egregious form of discrimination. The Apartheid Convention and Rome Statute criminalized its practice.
On Jan. 5, the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic & Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) called 2012 “an exciting year for the growth of the cultural and academic boycott of Israel.”
“We call on our partners and activists around the world to continue in this spirit in 2013 (and) especially work on the academic front to (isolate) Israeli academic institutions (as long as) apartheid, occupation and colonialism” continue.
Last October, more than 150 former international anti-apartheid activists called on South Africa’s ANC to boycott Israel.
A BDS South Africa press release “call(ed) on the ANC to support the Palestinian people in their fight for freedom, justice and equality.”
World opinion was galvanized against apartheid South Africa. It’s vital now against Israel.
Arabs are harmed most. So are Israelis. Instead of challenging rogue government, they’re largely dismissive.
On Jan. 11, Haaretz quoted comments Oz shared with 30 other academics. He called Netanyahu’s government apartheid. He made “angry predictions about its future.”
“In my mind,” he said, “Netanyahu(‘s) government is the most anti-Zionist government Israel has ever had. It is doing everything so there will be not two states here, but one.”
“It is striking (Abbas) blow after blow — violent morale blows, financial blows and political blows. It is strengthening Hamas more and more.”
“Perhaps that is the intention, to stop the chance for two states. They believe that Jews can rule over an Arab majority for a long time. No apartheid state in the world has lasted without collapsing after a few years.”
Prior to the Israeli elections, Oz rejected major party contenders. He supported Meretz — the only one he trusts.
Of the 120 Knesset seats, right wing extremists won 102. Some call themselves centrists. Their policy positions explain otherwise.
Labor once stood for something it now rejects. It’s been “crawling to Likud governments for 15 years now,” said Oz.
“It crawled under Shimon Peres. It crawled under Amir Peretz. And what good did it do? How did it slow the rate of settlements?”
“How did it stop the catastrophe of the abolishment of the state of the Jewish people?”
Israel under Netanyahu, coalition partners, supportive hardliners, religious extremists and weak-kneed opposition parties embarrass legitimate governance.
Elections are more sham than legitimate. Voters get little choice. Israel’s on a fast track to tyranny. Another four years under Netanyahu may institutionalize it.
Israelis are as out of touch with reality as Americans. They’re mindless about what’s coming.
Oz isn’t the only concerned figure. Six former Shin Bet heads expressed candid opinions. They did so publicly for the first time. They’re concerned for good reason. Their fears are well justified. They’re uneasy about Israel under Netanyahu.
Yuval Diskin headed Shin Bet (General Security Service) from 2005 – 2011. He called Netanyahu unreliable. His judgment is sorely lacking.
He “shirk(s) responsibility.” He represents “a crisis in leadership here, a crisis of values and total contempt for the public. Maybe people will think I’m exaggerating, but I’m telling you. From close up it looks even worse.”
Netanyahu has messianic ambitions, he added. He’s-over-the-top and dangerous. He wants his stamp put on history. He wants it written the wrong way.
He menaces Israel and regional states. He’s untrustworthy and dangerous. He created “a false picture on Iran.”
“When I see the current leadership,” he added, “I am worried about” Israel’s future. He, Oz and others have just cause for concern.
The Jerusalem Post is unabashedly right-wing. On Jan. 10, it headlined, “A Strong PM, a strong Israel?”
“In 1999,” it said, Netanyahu “fell in love with the term ‘strong.’ His slogan was ‘A strong leader for a strong nation.’”
Today he says, “A strong prime minister, a strong Israel.” He’s “romanc(ing)” Israelis because he’s “weak.”
“He doesn’t know it, but his staff knows it. The weak love to look strong.” They follow political handlers’ advice. Netanyahu relies largely on Arthur Finkelstein.
He gets bad advice. “(B)ecause Netanyahu is so strong, he does everything Arthur says.” He doesn’t have a mind of his own.
He’s weak, incompetent, unreliable, and dangerous but won’t admit it. Israelis aren’t wise enough to know better.
He represents triumphant hard-right politics. America, Canada and much of Europe have the same affliction.
In 1932, Mussolini declared the 20th century a “Fascist century,” saying:
“It is to be expected that this century may be that of authority, a century of the ‘Right,’ a Fascist century.” He claimed it would “sav(e) Western civilization.” From what he didn’t explain.
Demagogues take full advantage. Maliciously, they spread fear to attract adherents. They’re mindless that their best interests are harmed. They’re betrayed. They’re sold out without their knowledge.
Media scoundrels don’t explain. They support what demands condemnation. Haaretz is a notable exception. At times, it tries having it both ways.
Recent articles, commentaries and editorials expressed concern about Netanyahu. Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was quoted. He accused Netanyahu of wasting billions of dollars on “adventurous fantasies” and “military delusions.”
Haaretz said: “If Olmert didn’t exist, Netanyahu would have had to invent him.” He didn’t challenge him directly. He responded by press release, interviews, and cabinet meeting remarks.
Doing so “didn’t risk his hide one bit.” Olmert isn’t running this time. Likudniks hate him. He’s a convenient target. Netanyahu shuns debates. He prefers beating up on Iran. He hypes nonexistent threats.
On Jan. 13, Haaretz headlined “2012 deficit figures expose Israeli government failure,” saying: Deficit and tax revenues “are significantly worse than” earlier stated goals. Targets were missed by a mile. Doing so provides “further evidence that economic policies of the past few years have failed.”
It also reflects hardline control. Extremists Israelis should reject run things. They’re paying the price for voting the wrong way. They show no signs of changing. Nothing ahead looks promising.
On Jan. 14, Haaretz headlined “Netanyahu government doubled budget deficit to buy votes,” saying: Israel’s Finance Ministry announced it. FY 2012 spending doubled the 2% of GDP target to 4.2%. Israel’s budget deficit is NIS (New Israel Shekel) 39 billion (about $10 billion).
In 2013, painful cuts loom. Expect around NIS 14 billion, experts say. Last year’s deficit “testifies to the policy of waste and reckless spending that has characterized the past two years,” said Haaretz.
Israelis will pay the price. Holding Netanyahu accountable is essential. Opposition parties won’t dare.
“They supported, encouraged and applauded every time the Netanyahu government increased spending. In fact, they wanted even higher salaries, larger budgets and more extensive grants. How can they complain now about the deficit?”
Labor’s Shelly Yachimovich talk about “social hell and economic chaos” rings hollow. Haaretz said she supported every budget increase for “education, defense, the settlements, (ultra-Orthodox) Haredim (priorities), the yeshivas,” and much more.
She and most other MKs never asked what Israel could afford. “Is their no limit to their audacity?” Haaretz asked.
Enough is enough. “It’s time for our leaders (to) tell Israelis the truth about what awaits us this year.”
On Jan. 14, a Haaretz editorial headlined what’s unimaginable in America. No U.S. print or broadcast media would dare urge “Slash the defense budget.”
Haaretz called Israel’s budget deficit “the result of adventurous” wrongheaded policies.
“(E)xaggerated outlays” were approved. Defense spending bears most responsibility. It’s been out of control for four years. It way exceeds legitimate needs. It bears no relationship to national security priorities.
Chances that any regional state or entity would attack Israel “are practically nonexistent.” Facts on the ground are ignored. Defense interests are prioritized. Netanyahu supports what he should reject.
He hypes fear to enlist support. He “can’t scare people about” potential dangers and “at the same time cut the defense budget.”
Once electoral battles end, officials must “aim toward cutting” defense spending responsibly. The alternative is “a macroeconomic crisis that nobody wants.”
Anything done will happen on the backs of ordinary Israelis. Polls show they favor defense and settlement construction cuts. Netanyahu prioritizes increasing them.
He dismisses public sentiment out of hand. He’s favored to remain prime minister anyway. Israelis will have themselves to blame.
They’ll have to explain why they voted the wrong way. They repeat the same mistakes and expect change. They’re stuck in the rut they themselves dug. Nothing post-election looks promising.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected].
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10 a.m. U.S. CDT and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.