Friday, September 26, 2008

Israeli Right Attempts to Off its Critics

Apparently not content with regularly terrorizing Palestinians, the Israeli settler movement has expanded its activities inside of the Green Line. Professor Zeev Sternhall, a world renowned expert on European fascism who has published books emphasizing its confluence with Israeli national mythology, was the victim of an attempt on his life Wednesday when a pipe bomb exploded outside of his home. Investigators found fliers distributed around the site offering 1.1 million shekels to anyone who killed members of Peace Now, one of Israel's leading peace groups.

Effectively, this places a bounty on the head of any left winger in Israel. While authorities have responded with grave pronouncements and vows to not to rest until the "terrorists" are behind bars, the previous responses of Israeli law enforcement to settler violence are not encouraging. As Sternhall himself said "Society does not respond" to violence against the Palestinians, and when it does respond it is "positively or with a wink."

Though many portray this reticence to confront the settlers as mere cowardice on the part of official Israeli society, such a representation obscures the role the settlers play in Israeli politics. The settlers are, quite simply, the means by which Israel expands its control over formerly Palestinian territory. They are the leading edge of Israeli expansionism, a dynamic which has been at the heart of the state since 1948. Sharon's famous injunction to the settlers in 1998 -
‘Grab more hills, expand the territory. Everything that’s grabbed will be in our hands. Everything we don’t grab will be in their hands.’ - reveals the unity of the Zionist Boers with Tel Aviv.

The tacit peace treaty between settler thugs and the police is an open secret in Israel. From the IDF to Shin Bet to the local police, the agencies all turn a blind eye to settler violence against the Palestinians. The very juridical codes with which settler violence is handled attest to the legal dehumanization of the Palestinians. Assault on a Palestinian by a settler is officially categorized as "disturbing the peace," the same kind of language used to discipline a college party. Notice the lack of a victim in the category. Unlike say, Assault, battery, destruction of property, there's no implicit "against who" here. In Israel, violence against Palestinians is a victimless crime.

On the US front, Sarah Palin explains that all you need to understand Middle East politics is the narrative of a children's story: