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Thread: What is wrong with Netanyahu?

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    What is wrong with Netanyahu?

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    According to a BBC poll Israel’s reputation has taken a serious hit. Only Iran and Pakistan outrank Israel as the world’s most disreputable country. A recent Haaretz poll found that only 25 per cent of Americans between 19 and 29 believe that the recent attack on Gaza (Operation Protective Edge) was justified.
    And just last week the British newspaper, The Guardian, published a letter signed by 34 intelligence officers saying: “We refuse to serve in the occupied territories.” From within and without Israel is facing a serious new challenge.

    Israeli leadership is being put to the test. It is incumbent on leaders to provide a global vision for its role in the international community, Prime Minister Netanyahu is providing the opposite. After the latest assault on Gaza, many believe he is getting away with murder (literally), and as long as he believes that he can get away with it, and continue with impunity to build colonies-in defiance of his principal benefactor; Israel’s reputation will continue to plummet.

    Leadership requires a profound commitment to change: Netanyahu does not believe in change. He believes in the continued enforcement of a decades-long, illegal occupation, during which Palestinian land was stolen, homes demolished, freedom denied, children imprisoned and killed, and fundamental human rights for Palestinians violated.

    A true leader is committed to the truth-a quality absent in Netanyahu. Israel’s early leaders, for example David Ben Gurion (Israel’s first prime minister) had a more realistic appreciation of the obstacles facing the nascent state: “If I were an Arab leader, I would never make terms with Israel... we have come here and stolen their country, why should they accept that?”.

    Moshe Sharett (a former prime minister) is on record as saying that during his brief tenure as prime minister, he had to learn how to master the art of deception. Netanyahu, on the other hand continues to propagate the myth of the vulnerability of the Israel state. However, in the eyes of the world, his militaristic pursuit of Pax Hebraica is nothing more than a brutal colonial pursuit.

    A true leader is above the norm, easily distinguishable from the crowd with a high level of integrity. Like Caesar’s wife, Pompeia, she must be and seem to be above suspension. Netanyahu is the opposite. When visiting a family of Israeli colonists he bragged: “I know what America is. America is something that can easily moved — moved to the right direction.”

    In other words the American government is easy to manipulate. By his own admission, Netanyahu lied to President Bill Clinton when he told him that he was redeploying Israeli troops in Gaza and the West Bank in conformity with the Oslo Accords: when in fact he was consolidating the occupation. He admitted that he was single-handedly responsible for the destruction of the Oslo Accords: “I’ll give such interpretation to the Accords that it will make it possible for me to stop this galloping to the ’67 [armistice] lines. How did we do it? They won’t get in our way. They won’t get in our way.”

    A leader must be in tune with the pulse of the international community. Netanyahu is so out of touch that he continues to promote the antiquated narrative which erroneously conflates criticism of Israeli policy with anti-Semitism.
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    The case of Jake Lynch, Associate Professor at the University of Sydney Australia, is a clear example. As a supporter of the Boycott of Israel (which seeks to pressure the Israeli government to end its occupation of Palestinian territories and advocates for a Palestinian right of return) he refused to grant a fellowship between the Hebrew University (which has close links to the Israeli army) and the Sydney Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies. As a consequence he had to face a lawsuit for “unlawful discrimination” from the Tel Aviv-based NGO, Shurhat HaDin (WikiLeaks revealed the director, Nitsana Darshan Leitner, admitted to taking directions whom to target, from Israeli intelligence-the Mossad). According to their testimony Lynch had breached Australian anti-hate law by denying employment to an Israeli citizen. They argued that promoting a boycott of Israel contributed to discrimination against Jewish people and was therefore anti-semitic.

    According to Yves Hazan, solicitor for Lynch, the statement of claim brought against his client was “completely infected with... general narrative”, rather than material facts, and that it failed to explain exactly how Lynch’s conduct had breached laws against racial discrimination.

    Lynch testified that he made a distinction between criticising the militaristic nature of the Israeli government and the people of Israel... that he harboured no ill feelings for the people of Israel, and rejected the accusation that he was anti-Semitic. He told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz: “I refuse to take part in any institutional link which I believe will strengthen the Israeli government’s militarism and lawlessness.”

    The case which was billed as a landmark test of legality of the BDS movement, suffered a major setback when Shurat HaDin’s lawsuit was summarily dismissed for lack of standing and they were ordered to pay most of Lynch’s legal fees.

    Lynch said the agreement brought to an end “the quixotic attempt by Shurat HaDin to establish that any activism in the cause of [BDS] must perforce be motivated by some kind of anti-Semitism”.

    Israel fears but can no longer silence free speech on university campuses. From Australia to Canada and the US, university professors face unprecedented pressure and retribution for expressing their criticism of Israeli policies and/or support for BDS. However, not only professors have been subjected to this harassment.

    Palestinian students, have been intimidated and threatened, their associations suspended, their student leadership positions taken away, and they have bee required to register for courses and attend training sessions in which the curriculum material is either prepared by or approved by the Anti-defamation League (a pro-Zionist organisation).

    As increasing numbers of students organise on campuses around the growing popularity of Israeli-Apartheid Week, the university administration looks for more creative ways to censor activities and speakers.

    Israel has a terrible reputation and it is going from bad to worse. Israelis must debate this important question: To what extent can they hold their prime minister responsible for accomplishing exactly what he has accused his enemies of wanting to achieve: the isolation of Israel?

    Adel Safty is distinguished visiting professor and special adviser to the rector at the Siberian Academy of Public Administration, Russia. His book, Might Over Right, is endorsed by Noam Chomsky and published in England by Garnet, 2009


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