Moshe Feiglin, one of the most deluded and racist of those who make up the extreme right of Israeli politics and who is guaranteed his first seat in the Knesset after the upcoming election, has proposed what I imagine he regards as a nice way to complete Zionism’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine.
At a recent settler-organized conference in Jerusalem, he said Israel should pay Palestinian families to leave the West Bank, using funds earmarked for security measures. “We can give every family in Judea and Samaria $500,000 (USD) to encourage them to emigrate… This is the perfect solution for us.”
I imagine he regards it as a “perfect” solution because it would save Israel from having to create a pretext to drive the Palestinians off the West Bank by military means.
The question somebody should ask him is this. “For the sake of discussion, let’s assume that such an offer is made to the Palestinians on the West Bank and they reject it, what then?”
Feiglin lives in a West Bank settlement and heads Likud’s Jewish Leadership faction. He believes that the Bible, interpreted literally, should form the basis of Israel’s legal system. “This is just the beginning. Eventually, we will build the temple and fulfill our purpose in this land.” And his credentials as a racist are impeccable. In an interview with Jeffrey Goldberg for New Yorker, he said:
Why should non-Jews have a say in the policy of a Jewish state? For two thousand years, Jews dreamed of a Jewish state, not a democratic state. Democracy should serve the values of the state, not destroy them. In any case, you can’t teach a monkey to speak and you can’t teach an Arab to be democratic. You’re dealing with a culture of thieves and robbers. Muhammad, their prophet, was a robber and a killer and a liar. The Arab destroys everything he touches.
Just imagine what the reaction would be if an Arab politician running for office expressed similar vile thoughts about Israeli and other Jews and their prophets!!! (Zionism’s unquestioning supporters would call it a blood libel. Feiglin’s statement is that plus).
During the conference at which Feiglin made his proposal there was also a most interesting and, I think, very revealing contribution from Yuli Edelstein, currently the Minister of Information and Diaspora in Netanyahu’s coalition government. (I stopped using the term diaspora to describe the collective of the Jews of the world when my very dear friend Ilan Pappe explained to me why it was wrong to do so. Diaspora means, is the consequence of, the movement, migration or scattering of people away from an established or ancestral home. The term “Jewish diaspora” implies that all the Jews of it are from the same established or ancestral home, and that is nonsense. Edelstein’s original homeland, for example, is the Ukraine in what was part of the Soviet Union when he was born there in 1958).
Edelstein told the conference that the lack of Israeli sovereignty over Area C — the 60% of the occupied West Bank under full Israeli military control and in which most of Israel’s illegal settlements are situated — “strengthens the international community’s demand for a withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines.”
I think he was doing more than calling in code for the formal annexation of Area C. He was also signalling the need for Zionism to pre-empt any possible international pressure for withdrawal by going ahead with annexation without too much further delay. This would see Zionism resorting to its tried and tested way of defying international law. Effectively Israel’s leaders say to the world: “We know we should not have done this, but we’ve done it. What are you going to do about it?” On the evidence of history to date Zionism knows the answer to that question, “Nothing.”
Edelstein is not alone. As the battle for right-wing votes intensifies, more and more members of the Likud-Beiteinu election alliance are using the “a” (annexation) word.
What Feiglin, Edelstein and others said at the conference was seized upon by Tzipi Livni, the former Kadima leader and foreign minister, as an opportunity to advance the election prospects of her own newly formed “centrist” party, Hatnua. She said the conference had “removed the masks” of the Likud-Beiteinu alliance.
She went on: “Likud-Beiteinu is extreme right wing and will make Israel into a boycotted, isolated and ostracised state” and “lead to the destruction of Zionism and the establishment of a bi-national state.”
Those of us who are concerned with the need for justice for the Palestinians and peace with equal rights and security for all have to hope that her prediction will not be proved wrong by events.
I wrote this piece shortly before hundreds of thousands of Palestinian supporters of Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction were allowed by Hamas to rally in Gaza to mark Fatah’s 48th anniversary. If that’s a sign that there is now a real prospect of a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation for the sake of Palestinian unity, the probability is that the Israeli right will be strengthened in its conviction that the ticking demographic time-bomb of occupation must be defused by any means, including, if necessary, a final ethnic cleansing by military means, not the nice way Feiglin proposed.