Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Is Beginning to Sweat

Notwithstanding the agreement between President Barack Obama and Netanyahu on issues such as the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and the insistence that the Palestinians renounce violence, there are currently points of serious contention between the two leaders. These include Obama’s position that the two-state solution is the only way to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, his demand that Israel stop building settlements and his intimation that all the settlements are illegal. Other points of strife include Obama’s call for regional nuclear non-proliferation (which, in effect, assumes that Israel’s nuclear capacity will be part of the negotiations with Iran), his recognition of the plight of Palestinians, including the refugees, and his claim that Hamas is a legitimate rather than a terrorist organization.

So far Obama’s challenges to Israel have been theoretical, and the only substantive demand that Washington has made involves the 100 or so Jewish outposts in the West Bank. Reiterating President Bush’s directive, Obama recently asked Netanyahu to begin dismantling the outposts.

Legally, the outposts are just like the 121 settlements (namely, they are all illegal), only the outposts were built following the 1993 Oslo accords, and, as opposed to the settlements, which are now home to close to half a million Jews or about 7 percent of Israel’s citizenry, almost all the outposts are extremely sparsely populated with less than a dozen people in each one.

Netanyahu did not refuse, but instead of carrying out the job, he decided to put on a show.

Last week, the government sent troops to dismantle two outposts. The television networks were invited to cover the event, and that evening viewers watched how a group of settlers struggled against the most powerful military in the Middle East. Within hours of the news broadcasts, the settlers had already rebuilt the outposts, and thus today we are, once again, back to square one.

The perceptive viewer understands that the government and the settlers are staging the events, using the media to broadcast them to the world. The images of lawless fundamentalists fighting the military convey a clear message to the audience at home: if Netanyahu dares to dismantle the outposts, the settlers will not only topple his government, but there will be blood. More specifically, the not-so-latent inference is that if Netanyahu goes ahead with Washington’s directive, he will be responsible for a civil war.

While all of the major news networks provided a similar narrative, Channel Two, the most popular news provider, dedicated 14 minutes of prime time to the issue. In the segment, a reporter is shown interviewing a Jewish settler named Araleh from Karnei Shomron in the West Bank about the dismantlement of Jewish outposts. The two men are standing on a mountain ridge overlooking Palestinian fields that had been set on fire. The settler asserts that, “This is the price tag… People need to know that if they dismantle anything in Judea and Samaria, there is a price.” He then looks at the horizon and asks, “Do you see all these mountains?” and immediately responds, “They are all ours.” When the reporter inquires what the settlers will do if a nearby outpost is dismantled, Araleh exclaims that they (the government) will not destroy it, and then adds “they might destroy a little shack in the outpost to send pictures to the nigger in the United States.”

The crux of the matter is that this pathetic racist settler is right: the images of troops dismantling a few outposts and the forceful resistance are all part of a well choreographed spectacle that is being produced specifically for Washington. Otherwise why remove only two outposts at a time instead of forty at once and getting the job done? And why invite the networks to cover the events and not to dismantle the outposts by surprise in the early morning hours when the settlers are not ready?

The answer is straightforward: Netanyahu wants Obama to think that Israel will end up in a civil war if the White House stands firm.

The question now is whether Obama will back off or whether he will he have the courage to make Netanyahu dismantle both the outposts and the settlements. If Obama hesitates Israel will become a full blown Apartheid regime, while if he remains bold he will probably be remembered as the President who helped save Israel from itself. To do so he will have to make Netanyahu sweat much more.

Neve Gordon is the author of Israel's Occupation and can be reached through his website. Read other articles by Neve.

8 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on June 12th, 2009 at 11:24am #

    I do not think US is fooled by anyone; least of all by israel and/or ‘zionists’.
    it always had been a game for the judeo-christiam ad hoc alliance.
    It always wanted more land than what the christian world allocated to the euros with judaic cult.
    it can be noted that even churchill [who admired judaism so much] had said in ’22 to chaim weizmann: If you can take all of palestine, that wld be OK; if not, partition will have to do!
    neither churchill nor any other euro leader had, as far as know, said: But you mustn’t drive out palestinians.

    and neither had an amer or canadian leader said that. Even now, US is only saying to freeze settlements and dismantle fake ones.
    Moreover, why does obama insist on negotiations? He does that because the ‘negotiating’ with ‘jews’ with their several hundred ifs,buts, maybes, etc., the ‘negotiation’ can drag on for months or yrs.
    or else pals take a diktat: several statelets or three-gazan solution and a a state for ‘jews’ only which means pals must leave israel.

  2. Max Shields said on June 12th, 2009 at 12:24pm #

    This is really not about Obama, per se. It is about picking up where Clinton left off and the fact that unlike Clinton, Obama has an ultra-right wing warmonger to deal with.

    Obama will back off. That’s what he’s done on just about every issue where principle, spine and morality is concerned. You can expect it here…unless of course Netanyahu blinks first. I suspect Netanyahu sees what many here are seeing, a spineless orator, hitched to neoliberalism and foreign policy as usual.

  3. bozh said on June 12th, 2009 at 2:26pm #

    max, true
    it is better not to personalize US foreign policy [or even domestic]
    facts prove that basically US policies have not changed. Only tactics change [because of constant change], not strategic goal: after america was settled, the goal now is to settle the planet.

    whites may get tired of blacks and send them away novaya zemya or some other cool area of the world.
    latinos may be also shipped off to kamchatka or siberia while plutos and white people find haven in alaska or canadian north.

  4. RH2 said on June 12th, 2009 at 2:34pm #

    Max Shields,

    “I suspect Netanyahu sees what many here are seeing, a spineless orator, hitched to neoliberalism and foreign policy as usual.”

    That is exactly the case. I think we agree with each other that the subject Obama is not worth any details. We know who this figure is. In February 2009 the Israelis carried out their civil duties and brought their current world view to the polling booths. At first sight they left their politicians in the dark about the right direction. Pure Likud under Netanyahu or national unity under Kadima and Likud? That was actually a difficult question. EU Solana, the messenger of death in the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and once postman of European dictates in Iran prohibiting uranium enrichment before it would be too late for the security of Israel, explained during efforts in Egypt to negotiate a “ceasefire” between Israel and Hammas that a Likud-Netanyahu leadership would make the situation in the region more difficult. I imagine that Solana as a dove of peace was deeply concerned about security in the area. Had Israelis been insecure in the last 6 months before the Israeli elections? Now Netanyahu is the governing father of all Zionists. In my assessment he has an easier job than Obama. Obama, a freed slave, speaks softly about change, but he cannot afford to disappoint U.S. Imperialism and the AIPAC. On the contraray, Netanyahu does not need to show consideration for anything, neither does he need to go to the theatre. He is a real and true Zionist, not a Messiah of change a la Washington. I think he would outwit the poor theatrical Obama in the long run. European cohorts of U.S.Imperialism have given some hope. They “stressed” that the future of the relationship of the European Union to Israel would depend on accepting the establishment of a Palestinian state, not giving any definition where the borders of such a state should begin and end. You know the Imperial principle, “all options are on the table.”

  5. Max Shields said on June 12th, 2009 at 4:18pm #

    RH2, “Now Netanyahu is the governing father of all Zionists. In my assessment he has an easier job than Obama. Obama, a freed slave, speaks softly about change, but he cannot afford to disappoint U.S. Imperialism and the AIPAC. On the contraray, Netanyahu does not need to show consideration for anything, neither does he need to go to the theatre. He is a real and true Zionist, not a Messiah of change a la Washington.”

    Very astute assessment. Not only is Netanyahu unfettered by pretense; but he is a guy who’s been round the block. He’s been playing the game a long time. Obama is a child in comparison. As you say, Obama must placate; Netanyahu has no need to do so; he therefore holds the upper hand.

    The mere fact that Netanyahu can so easily push back on the two-state solution, to play the settlement card with such ease is reason to believe that the Palestinians will get no relief from this US government.

    Bozh, I agree that the system and the policies pre-date Obama (and all living Presidents) but the man/woman who occupies the White House is not simply a pawn. They’ve been given the car and the keys. That doesn’t mean they are not strapped by the limitation of the vehical but they’re is a flesh and blood being who has a propensity to play his hands this way, vs that. It is not ALL about the system. There are actors on the stage, and Obama is clearly one.

  6. Alex said on June 12th, 2009 at 4:57pm #

    Though I agree with the sentiment in this article and comments, I believe that everyone who was not a party to the elite’s actual dialog does not know what is actually transpiring. Basically, everything the public reads and hears on the news is for “public consumption”. I question if the world’s leaders are being honest with the public as they tend to speak for the purposes of quelling the masses rather than any notion of giving the truth.

    Think about it this way, the orginal American settlers had to have the same or similar type of conversation with the Native Americans concerning peace and a “two state” type solution to their conflicts. But, in fact, the American leadership never really wanted peace just land (manifest destiny) – same as in South Africa, Australia and now Israel.

  7. Mulga Mumblebrain said on June 12th, 2009 at 10:49pm #

    I’m afraid that after reading the Judaic triumphalism that accompanied Obama’s election, (after McCain feigned dementia to present the Presidency on a plate to ‘America’s first Jewish President’ as one notable Zionist had it), and perusing the evidence outlined in the American Judaic media of Obama’s careful cultivation as a totally pro-Israel puppet, that I can’t take any of this seriously. Just add Obama’s unsullied record, so far, of betraying his promises utilised to garner the credulous optimists’ vote, and his total reliance on pro-Israel zealots in his foreign affairs team and alumni of Goldman Sachs (that well-known nest of Gentiles) to run his economic policy, and I think we have the proverbial ‘open and shut case’. Obama is all hollow rhetoric. When push comes to shove he will fold, or be disposed of, with ‘extreme prejudice’. The vicious settler said it all. For the Judaic Herrenvolk, Obama, and the rest of humanity, just by the by, is a ‘nigger’. I’d dearly love to hope that this racist, fascist element of Jewry was about to be usurped by the humane, civilized fraction, but it ain’t going to happen. The very worst are coming to power everywhere, in every society, with Israel a particularly marked example. Need we relate the mountains of virulent racism that emanate from the Judaic racist Right, or the ubiquity of Judaic control, through money power, of the politics. media and the commanding heights of business throughout the West? This situation of a world dominated by one vicious hyper-power, itself controlled by a tiny fraction of its populace, seeking to impose a global totalitarian regime based on radical inequality, and unlimited murderous violence to quell any unrest or disobedience, is like some nightmare, beyond the dreams of Orwell or Kafka, come true.

  8. Mozzers said on June 13th, 2009 at 11:05am #

    Demographics will solve this problem, in the not too distant future America will fall, like any other overstretched empire before it, it is just a matter of time. Without the US they will not get away with this any longer. While this is happening the Palistinians will continue to grow, inside and outside Israel. Can you really see China giving a rats ass about Israel? Or India? One FINE day the people between the Jordan river and the Med will be able to fairly run their state, when this happens there will be no “Jewish” state, merely Hebrew and Arabic speaking citizens.

    Unfortunately something should be done NOW and the fact it isn’t is a matter of great shame, this conflict has repercussions all over the world and I for one am sick of tacitly supporting these gits just by living in the West and paying tax.

    Slow ethnic cleansing is ethnic cleansing all the same.

    Apartheid in the name of Judaism is no better that apartheid in the name of Protestant Calvinism.