Dr Mohammad Makram Balawi
Benjamin Netanyahu has always been an open book. Although the Israeli prime minister is skilled at twisting facts and rewriting history when necessary, he has been very clear on his relations with the Palestinians since day one. The US cannot claim that it was taken by surprise with his strategy regarding the Washington-backed peace formula of the two-state-solution and the illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank which is intended to be the future Palestinian state. Most, if not all, of Netanyahu’s ideas were developed as a student in the United States when he was known as Ben Nitay. After his graduation, he was given a platform to voice his vision of the “final solution” to the “Palestinian question”, and was applauded for his brilliance and eloquence by the American elite.
In a video clip available on YouTube filmed in 1978 as part of a local Boston TV debate show called “The Advocate”, Nitay/Netanyahu presented his views as a “witness” on whether the US should support the creation of a Palestinian state. Compare his latest interview on CNN with Jake Tapper, and it is obvious that the ideas he presented in 1978 are the same as those that he holds today.
Basically, Netanyahu has his own version of history. In brief, it goes like this: Jews like himself have been living in their homeland for 3,500 years, and the Palestinians want to uproot them. In reality, if Jews have ever lived in Palestine for this period, as he claims, they would have been Palestinian Jews (as some are), not Europeans from Ukraine and Poland. If Jews were once uprooted from Palestine, as the Bible says, it was not done by the “Arabs” as he claims frequently, but by the Romans. The fact is that it is the Palestinians who have been and still are uprooted from their homeland in ethnic cleansing carried out by Zionists like Netanyahu.
Dispelling Netanyahu’s historical lies and distortions is not my intention in this article, though. I want to try to understand his definition of peace in general, and with the Palestinians in particular.
His ideas have more or less remained the same throughout his political career: Palestinians have no right to self-determination; only Jews do. Palestinians do not deserve their own state, because Jordan is really Palestine. Palestinians always define themselves as part of the Arab nation and want a real state, so they have to go to Jordan or any other Arab state and stay there. If they decide to stay in the West Bank, which is “Judea and Samaria”, the heart of the Jewish nation, according to Netanyahu, they might eventually have social and economic rights and a chance to have their own administration with Israel holding the overriding security rights, but this will only happen after reaching a final peace agreement.
Israel drowning in its crime – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/Middle East Monitor]
Moreover, Netanyahu believes that the West Bank is not occupied territory as defined by international law and the UN, but “disputed” territory. The illegal Jewish settlements built in the West Bank are there to stay. Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank — also illegal according to UN resolutions and international law —are merely “Jewish communities” of Israeli citizens, and he will not drive them out of “Judea and Samaria”.
Until this mythical peace agreement is reached, believes Netanyahu, the Palestinian Authority should fight its own people and work hard to protect Israel, even as Israeli security forces and settlers kill them and demolish their homes and villages. In this twisted scenario, the Palestinians are essentially not interested in peace and only want to uproot Israel. They have to wait until Israel makes peace with all Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia; only then will they find themselves obliged to reach a “workable peace agreement” with Israel.
It makes no difference who comes to the region, whether it’s US Secretary of State Antony Blinken or even his boss President Joe Biden. Nothing is going to change for the Palestinians. Washington’s discussions about Palestine and Israel will always be a discussion within the Zionist camp; non-Zionists need not apply to take part. You do not need to be of a Jewish background like Blinken or his spokesperson Ned Price to be a Zionist. Christians such as Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump are Zionists. There are even Muslim Zionists, while many of the most active critics of radical, racist Zionism are Jews.
Nevertheless, open discussions about Israel and Zionism see both the state and its racist ideology conflated with Jews and Judaism and lead to critics being branded as anti-Semites. We have seen the absurdity of anti-Zionist Jews being labelled “anti-Semitic” because of their political opposition to apartheid Israel. Throw in “terrorist” and “traitor”, and it is a toxic mix of abuse aimed to stifle free and open discussion about the state of Israel and Zionism. Look at what happened to Representative Ilhan Omar, when she was removed from the Foreign Affairs Committee in the US Congress recently for being openly critical of Israel. The discussion in the US is never about justice, because this approach might end up giving something to the Palestinians. It is always about how to make Israel achieve its goal, primarily occupying all of Palestine and becoming an integral part of the Middle East. When US officials talk about peace, it means Israel’s version of peace, and only Israel’s, because others really do not matter.
After more than 70 years of broken promises from the US and the international community, the Palestinians are left alone to their destiny and should not expect anything from the Americans or anyone else. They have just one realistic option left open to them: to seek their freedom in the best way that they know.