The members of Otsma Yehudit are thugs and some have been designated as terrorists, and Netanyahu has more stately manners. But their objectives and their actions are in perfect sync.
JERUSALEM, OCCUPIED PALESTINE — As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu enters into an alliance with the Israeli equivalent of neo-Nazis, media outlets — including the Washington Post and The Forward — and even AIPAC express uneasiness. However, for Netanyahu, this political partnership makes sense ideologically and politically. Netanyahu shares the racist-nationalist ideology of these extremist groups and, since there is a mad rush to the right within Israel’s political parties, Netanyahu, wanting to win the race, is now in an alliance with the most right-wing group on the Israeli political map — and that is saying a lot!
Otsma Yehudit, or Jewish Might, states in its party platform, in the “Enemies of Israel” section:
The fight against the enemies of Israel will be toal and without compromise. There will be no compromises or negotiations. The party will act to enforce Israeli sovereignty on all parts of Eretz Israel that were liberated in the 1967 war and it will work to sort out the status of the enemies of Israel in the Arab states that surround Israel.”
The platform also states that the party will act to see that all the enemies of Israel will emigrate and leave the country, returning to their countries of origin — and this out of a desire to keep Israel’s Jewish character. The party will fight without compromise to end the theft of land and will act to redeem the lands of Israel in the Naqab, the Galilee and elsewhere in the spirit of the JNF.
On the issue of Government and Morals, the charter states that the Jewish character of the state will take precedence over any “universal values:” “We do not wish to lose the Jewish state by war or peace or Western Democracy.”
To clarify some of the terminology, the “enemies of Israel” are the Palestinians, whom this party calls to expel. Their countries of origin are, according to this party, other Arab states. The general prevailing view among radical Zionists is that Palestine belongs to the Jews and that the Palestinians are invaders.
The JNF, or Jewish National Fund, has been the major force behind Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine and the covering of destroyed Palestinian villages with forests. On its website JNF claims that “We planted more than a quarter-billion trees in what was once a barren desert.” Which is true — except for the part about it being a barren desert. JNF further states that “We see the Negev and Galilee regions blooming with new families attracted by vibrant communities, meaningful work and affordable housing.” Again this is true — except for the fact that these new vibrant communities exclude the indigenous Palestinian Bedouin for whom the Naqab has been home since time immemorial. Furthermore, all of the development takes place on Bedouin lands.
Habayit Hayehudi (the Jewish Home) was established by Naftali Bennett, who now serves as Minister of Education. Bennett left the party to create a new party — a secular, right-wing party for “Israeli, right-wing Jews” — called “Yamin Hadash” or New Right.
Though one is a religious party using religious values as its core values, and the other calls for unity between religious and secular Israeli Jews, on the issue of the Land of Israel they are identical: The Land of Israel belongs to the Jews; Jews and only Jews have national rights on the land; there will be no compromises or negotiations on the land; settling the land with Jews is a national priority. They also claim they believe that minorities should have citizenship rights.
This last clause is problematic because if it is a Jewish state with Jewish symbols and priority is given to the settling of the land with Jews, this already negates the possibility that equal rights will be offered to the minorities. These minorities, who are the Palestinians, are in fact the majority between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea, so once again there is a clear inconsistency here that can be attributed to the fact that they have no intention of giving any rights to Palestinians.
In addition to that, Palestinians, being the indigenous people of the land, should be provided not only citizenship rights but national rights.
Though these two parties are now running against each other, it is likely that they will sit together in a coalition government once Netanyahu is elected.
The main player
The only stable party that remains significant in today’s Israeli political map is the Likud party, which is headed by Prime Minister Netanyahu. Its charter resembles that of the other parties, which so many find hard to stomach:
Protecting the rights of the Jewish People to the Land of Israel as an eternal and unquestionable right. Developing and settling all parts of the land of Israel and extending Israeli sovereignty onto all parts of the Land of Israel.”
The Likud too calls for equal rights to all citizens and encouraging minorities to be included in the state. Since the Likud has a history of governing otherwise, particularly in the last decade under the leadership of Prime Minister Netanyahu, it is clear that these calls are merely lip service.
In an interview I gave recently, I stated that the entire orchestra of people and organizations that criticize Netanyahu for his political alliance with these right-wing parties is pure hypocrisy. He shares their ideology and it makes political sense for him to align with them. Comparing them to the KKK or to Neo-nazis is not wrong, but one must remember that they are the cutting edge of Zionism and the State of Israel.
They are the “soldiers” who push the limits and allow the official state policies to move forward. The members of Otsma Yehudit are thugs and some have been designated as terrorists, and Netanyahu has more stately manners. But their objectives and their actions are in perfect sync.
Top Photo | An election campaign poster with the image of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lies among ballot papers at his party’s election headquarters, in Tel Aviv. Dan Balilty | AP
Miko Peled is an author and human rights activist born in Jerusalem. He is the author of “The General’s Son. Journey of an Israeli in Palestine,” and “Injustice, the Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five.”