Feb 12th 2015

Bennett: A Demagogue On The Loose

by Alon Ben-Meir

A noted journalist and author, Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is professor of international relations and Middle East studies at the Center for Global Affairs at New York University. Ben-Meir holds a masters degree in philosophy and a doctorate in international relations from Oxford University. His exceptional knowledge and insight, the result of more than 20 years of direct involvement in foreign affairs, with a focus on the Middle East, has allowed Dr. Ben-Meir to offer a uniquely invaluable perspective on the nature of world terrorism, conflict resolution and international negotiations. Fluent in Arabic and Hebrew, Ben-Meir's frequent travels to the Middle East and meetings with highly placed officials and academics in many Middle Eastern countries including Egypt, Israel, Jordan, the Palestinian territories, Syria and Turkey provide him with an exceptionally nuanced level of awareness and insight into the developments surrounding breaking news. Ben-Meir often articulates

It is hard to imagine how a devious, delusionary and destructive individual like Naftali Bennett, the leader of the Jewish Home party, can rise to prominence while openly advocating a racist political agenda. His “solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a recipe for obliterating Israel as both Jewish and democratic, and converting it into an apartheid state, reviled by the international community and condemned to live in isolation and disgrace.

No, this is not what Israel was created for, and the fate of the country cannot be entrusted to the hands of a conniving hypocrite like Bennett. He is an imposter whose rainbow political agenda is nothing but a cover for an insidious plan to deprive the Palestinians of a state their own, but little does he realize that it will bring Israel ever closer to self-destruction.

In an arrogant and unflinching manner, he declares that since the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is stuck, it is time for new thinking. Israel should focus, he argues, on improving the lives of the Palestinians by “upgrading Palestinian autonomy in areas A and B,” and goes on to say that the Palestinians will have “political independence” and can run their internal affairs as they see fit.

He is also generous to offer the Palestinians a “massive upgrade of roads and infrastructure, as well as the removal of roadblocks and checkpoints,” and to “build economic bridges… between Israelis and Palestinians.”

But, here is the caveat: “The Palestinian entity will be short of a state. It will not control its own borders.” And the worst is yet to come—his plan is to annex Area C, which represents 60 percent of the West Bank.

From his perspective, the Israeli settlements should continue to expand, starting with the annexation of the main three blocs by “applying Israeli law and asserting national sovereignty in those blocs.”

What this means is that the Palestinians will be allowed to live in cantons in places like Ramallah, Jenin, Bethlehem, and other small cities and villages—provided, of course, they behave themselves and dare not threaten or commit any violent act against Israel.

To be sure, Bennett is offering the Palestinians improved conditions in the same prison where they currently reside. Their “new” prison will now be renovated and better furnished, with open air and even clean, running water.

Bennett does not accept the premise that the Palestinians are entitled to a state of their own, but rather they must settle for the crumbs that Israel tosses them.

After all, he maintains that “we are not occupiers in our land,” and out of compassion the Israelis are prepared to give up a big share of their homeland – a land which is historically theirs. What is more, this is the “Land of Israel,” which has been bequeathed to them in perpetuity by the Almighty.

As a hard core religious, revisionist Zionist, Bennett finds great comfort in resorting to his Savior. He justifies his twisted political agenda by putting the onus on God: “Public opinion isn’t my compass, the Torah is my compass.” How convenient!

Religious conservatives often like to claim that “If there is no God, everything is permitted.” But as the philosopher Slavoj Žižek has observed, it is precisely the reverse that is the case: “If there is a God, then anything is permitted… it is for those who refer to ‘god’ in a brutally direct way, perceiving themselves as instruments of his will, that everything is permitted” [emphasis added].

Although he admits that the proposal is not perfect, as “it seems to go against everything Israel, the Palestinians and the international community have worked toward over the last 20 years,” it should be the government’s policy, he says, “because there is a new reality in the Middle East.”

Bennett should know that his plan is not only imperfect, it is an illusion, as if the Palestinians have no say and will simply bow to his whims. Under what circumstances will any Palestinian accept the continuing occupation under the guise of self-rule?

Bennett is mired in illusions, as illusions are based on wishes and not reality and one of the predictable psychological consequences of holding onto them is denial; that is, denial of the stubborn reality which refuses to accommodate itself to one’s pipedreams.

The Palestinians want to live in their own independent state—in their homeland as well—and this is the bitter, unshakable reality that Bennett must face. The Palestinians have resisted the existence of Israel for decades and now they have come to accept the two-state solution, precisely “because there is a new reality in the Middle East”—Israel’s unshakable reality.

There is nothing that Bennett or any of his schemers can do to change that, just as much as there is absolutely nothing the Palestinians can do to dislodge Israel.

All that any Israeli leader can justifiably demand is a permanent cessation of all hostilities, which the Palestinians must ensure if they wish to be independent. Any peace agreement ought to be structured in such a way to meet this unqualified Israeli requirement.

For Bennett to invoke the withdrawal from Gaza and the violence that erupted as a case in point, which must not be repeated in the West Bank, is disingenuous and misleading. No one in their right mind should evacuate the West Bank overnight, the way Prime Minister Sharon withdrew from Gaza.

Any negotiated peace agreement with the Palestinians will have to be implemented in stages over a period of at least ten years, with security arrangements fully coordinated with the Palestinians that leaves nothing to chance. This must be coupled with economic developments and cooperation on every level to foster trust and mutually-vested interests.

Only a suicidal Israeli government would follow Bennett’s nightmarish political treachery. For Bennett to become a Prime Minister, or even Defense Minister under another dangerously misguided Netanyahu government, is nothing but a kiss of death to the peace process and foretells the assured destruction of the Jews’ dream to live in a free, secure, and peaceful sanctuary.

Browse articles by author

More Current Affairs

Jun 25th 2020
EXTRACT: "The facts are clear: the wealthiest 0.54%, about 40 million people, are responsible for 14% of lifestyle-related greenhouse gas emissions, while the bottom 50% of income earners, almost 4 billion people, only emit around 10%. The world’s top 10% income earners are responsible for at least 25% and up to 43% of our environmental impact. Most people living in developed countries would fit into this category, meaning you don’t have to consider yourself rich in order to be globally affluent. Even many poorer people in wealthy countries have a disproportionately large and unsustainable resource footprint compared to the global average."
Jun 24th 2020
EXTRACT: "To be sure, the American Dream was always more aspiration than reality. Economic, social, and intergenerational mobility have always fallen short of what the myth of the self-made man or woman would lead one to expect. But with social mobility now declining as inequality rises, today’s young people are right to be angry."
Jun 19th 2020
EXTRACT: "There is only one way to repair America’s reputation, regain the trust of allies, and ensure that the US can act as an effective counterweight to China: address the root causes of the cracks that Trump’s disastrous presidency has exposed and widened. This is in line with the vision advanced in 2011 by two military strategists, Captain Wayne Porter and Colonel Mark Mykleby, using the pseudonym “Mr. Y.” Porter and Mykleby argued that national security depends not only on the capacity to respond to threats from foreign powers, but also – and perhaps more important – on the “application of credible influence and strength.” That influence, in turn, depends on America’s success in providing a “pathway of promise” for US citizens – and a model for the world."
Jun 14th 2020
EXTRACT: "The most critical question then is not how far Trump will go to promote his treasonous agenda, but for how long Republican leaders will silently accept and subserviently enable Trump to destroy the basic moral tenets and values on which this Union was founded, and which they swore to uphold and protect...............Of course, shame on us if we continue to be surprised by Republicans’ continuing silence, because as we all know, even when presented with overwhelming evidence that Trump committed crimes against the American people, Trump’s Republican stooges in the Senate exonerated him following impeachment almost unanimously...................The Republican leadership, to be sure, has made its bed. It has committed moral suicide. History will judge them harshly for their treason and betrayal of the nation, including all of those who have lived and died throughout our history to foster and protect our safety, integrity, and freedom."
Jun 9th 2020
EXTRACT: " Governments can do nothing about the quotidian offenses of living as a black person in America – the empty taxis that refuse to stop, being mistaken for employees in supermarkets, the myriad intentional and unintentional insults. Many now in the streets won’t be satisfied unless the result of this national spasm is improved schools, health care, and job opportunities for minorities – a fair shake for black people. What will happen when America once again falls short of honoring its professed values?."
Jun 8th 2020
EXTRACT: "It should be apparent to most observers of international relations that the Chinese government wants the world to play by its own set of rules. Beijing appears to believe that China’s rise and its assumption of global leadership positions are an inevitable extension of earlier periods in its history, when it was the world’s most powerful country. This is often at odds with the global norms that have been established – with China’s participation, it is worth adding – since the 1940s. While this is clearly the Chinese century, few outside of China would agree that Beijing’s global leadership is either inevitable or necessarily desired – certainly not on the Chinese government’s terms."
Jun 4th 2020
EXTRACT: "Many Americans are clearly horrified by their president’s crass and incendiary words. But will their disapproval be offset by anxiety about violent social unrest? Will age-old racial prejudices, often unspoken, or even acknowledged, still make them vote for the false security of a coarse white bully?  Much will depend on how hot this summer gets. If people think rationally in November, it is hard to imagine that enough of them would vote to keep this appalling administration in power for another four years. But fear is reason’s worst enemy."
Jun 2nd 2020
EXTRACT: "For starters, many Americans have accepted that they live in a winner-takes-all society of deepening inequality. While the wealth and incomes of those at the very top continue to grow, tens of millions of Americans struggle to afford health care, childcare, and other basic goods. This story has been told many times over. But what often goes unremarked is that the responsibility for managing the social costs of this system has been offloaded onto the police."
May 27th 2020
EXTRACT: "Obamagate is the latest conspiracy theory to be pushed by US president, Donald Trump. It started on the morning of May 10, when Trump retweeted the word “OBAMAGATE!” By the next day, the Obamagate hashtag had accrued over two million tweets and another four million by the end of the week. Trump has repeatedly reused the slogan on his Twitter feed since and it has been promoted by right-wing influencers including Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and many others....You are not alone if you’re confused by what Obamagate actually is or why Trump is tweeting about it."
May 23rd 2020
EXTRACT: "Not all aspects of our near and medium-term future can be foreseen at this juncture of the Covid-19 pandemic, but we now know enough to make some hypotheses about what is likely to change, based on what has already changed. The future is sure to look very different than it did before this decade began, regardless of whether a vaccine is found. If a vaccine is found, it is unlikely to be tested, approved, manufactured, and efficiently distributed to the world’s population of nearly 8 billion people for years. Bearing in mind that there is no vaccine for any coronavirus, what is likelier is that the world will be living with Covid-19 as a part of our ecosystem for many years to come – possibly permanently. That means that our new normal is probably already here."
May 21st 2020
EXTRACT: "LONDON – The new Franco-German proposal for a €500 billion ($547 billion) European recovery fund could turn out to be the most important historic consequence of the coronavirus. It is even conceivable that the deal struck between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron might one day be remembered as the European Union’s “Hamiltonian moment,” comparable to the 1790 agreement between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson on public borrowing, which helped to turn the United States, a confederation with little central government, into a genuine political federation."
May 19th 2020
EXTRACT: "In April 2011, Donald Trump, then considering a run for the presidency the following year, said that he had sent investigators to Hawaii to check out rumors that President Barack Obama wasn’t born there, but in Kenya, which would disqualify him for the presidency. His investigators, Trump declared, “cannot believe what they’re finding.” I can find no record of Trump being challenged on this outlandish claim at the time. In the fall of 2016, Trump, now the Republican presidential nominee, was convinced by his staff that he had to abandon this “birther” nonsense. He did so reluctantly, charging – also with no evidence – that such rumors had actually been initiated by his opponent, Hillary Clinton. There, in a nutshell, is Trump’s modus operandi: he’s not just a liar but a fabulist, seemingly unconcerned with whether his fictions will be exposed. If they are, the world simply moves on as he invents fresh distractions."
May 19th 2020
EXTRACT: "Li, a doctor, was purportedly silenced and chastised by Chinese officials for warning on December 30, 2019, about a new virus in the Wuhan hospital where he worked. When it became evident that he was on to something serious – so serious, in fact, that it ultimately killed him – the Chinese government changed its tune and celebrated Li’s bravery. If only that had happened sooner, the argument goes, the world would have avoided this horrific pandemic.................... But that’s not what happened."
May 9th 2020
EXTRACT: "Jana Winter and Hunter Walker at Yahoo News broke the story that 11 Secret Service agents have tested positive for the coronavirus. Likely some of them served in the West Wing. This week it was revealed at that a US military valet who brought Trump food came down with the virus, sending Trump into a “lava level” rage. Two aides to Vice President Mike Pence have tested positive. Some observers are afraid that the virus is circulating in the West Wing itself."
May 6th 2020
EXTRACT: "There has been much debate around the world about the source of the COVID-19 pandemic, ranging from a laboratory to Wuhan’s seafood market to some other form of animal-to-human transmission. While there is no proof (yet) that the virus may have been inadvertently released from one of the two biological research laboratories located at Wuhan, there is evidence that viral release has occurred in the past, and a host of additional data that point to a laboratory connection. "
May 4th 2020
EXTRACT: "A better bet is that nothing will be the same. Wealth will be destroyed on a catastrophic scale, and policymakers will need to find a way to ensure that, at least in some cases, creditors take part of the hit, a process that will play out over years of negotiation and litigation. For bankruptcy lawyers and lobbyists, it will be a bonanza, part of which will come from pressing taxpayers to honor bailout guarantees. Such a scenario would be an unholy mess."
Apr 29th 2020
EXTRACT: "We need the twenty-first century’s two superpowers, America and China, to set the example, by burying their rivalry and uniting all of humankind around a collective response to the current crisis, and to those that await us. As COVID-19 has taught us, the old international system can no longer guarantee humankind’s safety and security. We cannot afford to be taught that lesson twice."
Apr 29th 2020
EXTRACT: "It should come as no surprise that Trump has abused his power in orchestrating the federal response to the pandemic. For example, he made sure that Colorado received 100 much-needed ventilators, and made sure that Colorado voters knew it, in order to help re-elect troubled incumbent Republican senator Cory Gardner.  More alarming, Trump effectively threatened to wage germ warfare against US Postal Service workers by denying them congressionally approved virus-mitigation aid unless the USPS quadrupled rates on packages. Trump’s actual target was Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post."
Apr 28th 2020
EXTRACT: "These ten risks, already looming large before COVID-19 struck, now threaten to fuel a perfect storm that sweeps the entire global economy into a decade of despair. By the 2030s, technology and more competent political leadership may be able to reduce, resolve, or minimize many of these problems, giving rise to a more inclusive, cooperative, and stable international order. But any happy ending assumes that we find a way to survive the coming Greater Depression."
Apr 26th 2020
EXTRACT: "In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the US Federal Reserve will buy unlimited quantities of Treasury bonds, the Bank of England will purchase £200 billion ($250 billion) of gilts, and the European Central Bank up to €750 billion ($815 billion) of eurozone bonds. Almost certainly, central banks will end up providing monetary finance to fund fiscal deficits. The only question is whether they should make that explicit."