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Debate Over



Above: A racist.

I guess the debate over whether Benjamin Netanyahu is a racist is over:

The prime minister also dismissed allegations that he was a racist following comments about Arab voter turnout during the election, saying simply: “I’m not.”

OK then! Netanyahu really is modeling himself after American conservatives, who reject the same (usually legitimate) charge against their own racism by simply denying it, which the media happily goes along with.

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  • dp

    I find it sad that Israel has decided to turn itself into an apartheid state.

    • randomworker

      Me too. I was sad yesterday. Today I am pissed.

    • Gator90

      I’m sad to say Israel has been an apartheid state from its inception. What Netanyahu has done (and in some twisted way I think he deserves credit for this) is drop the pretense of aspiring to be anything else.

    • NonyNony

      If a two-state solution isn’t workable, then Israel’s choices are apartheid or a non-Zionist state where the Jewish population is the minority.

      And the two-state solution was already killed years ago by Netanyahu and his government when they decided that the Palestinians couldn’t ever have a unified plot of land or be in any way autonomous to the extent that it could “threaten Israel” – where “threatening Israel” seemed to include anything that Netanyahu wanted it to.

      So this is more Netanyahu just saying the quiet part out loud finally – that there was never going to be a two-state solution. I think the elites in power kind of knew that this was the case, but as long as the Israeli government could keep saying that they favored a two state solution, everyone else agreed to play along. We’ll see where this goes – I doubt that it affects US support for Israel much at all in the short term (hell the religious nutters will probably start pushing for Netanyahu to start rebuilding the Temple again so that their Armageddon might finally arrive), but I do wonder how this will play out in Europe.

    • wengler

      “turn itself into”?

      It was founded as a state for Jews. Every single Jewish political party would push for continued Jewish dominance politically and militarily.

      It feels weird to me that people have just figured out that Israel is a racist state. Of course it is. It’s the reason why it exists.

      • JL

        It took me until maybe three years ago to really get this – granted that three years ago I was 26, it’s not like it took me until middle age, but I’d been paying above-average attention to Israel/Palestine for many years without getting it. I think it’s pretty common for people to have not fully grasped the implications of “Jewish state.” I spent most of my life thinking “Jewish state” in a sense of “It was started by Jews, is majority Jews and Jewish culture right now [I had not grasped the degree to which this was because of ethnic cleansing], and Jews are allowed to live there,” rather than “It’s a Jewish supremacist state.” I didn’t realize the degree to which a lot of Palestinians want to live in the area that is currently Israel and can’t and how this is rooted in racism. I think a lot of people think of it the way I did.

        The realization was what turned me from a J Street type into an anti-Zionist.

        • J. Otto Pohl

          Maybe it is because I am older, but I found this pretty easy to grasp before I became 20. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s there was certainly on the international, mostly UN, level an attempt to link the Palestinian struggle with the anti-apartheid movements in South Africa and Namibia. So the idea of a Jewish state in Palestine being similar to a white state in Africa had a lot of steam behind it for well over a decade by the time the first Intifada broke out.

          • random

            Probably related to Israel’s staunch support for African apartheid…..

            • J. Otto Pohl

              In part it had to do with the Israeli-RSA alliance. But, it also had to do with the Arab pivot of Afro-Asian solidarity going back to Nasser and more specifically a PLO-ANC alliance that developed. So Arab state like Egypt and Libya supported the ANC and after the 1973 War most African states broke diplomatic ties with Israel.

          • JL

            This might in fact be generational. I was 4 years old when the ’80s ended and not quite 9 when South African apartheid ended. I have no personal memories of the anti-apartheid movement or what was or wasn’t being linked to it. Or who was or wasn’t supporting the ANC during that time, for that matter.

            Or it could have been differences in upbringing/surrounding cultural environment. Or less astuteness on this subject on my part than on yours. Or my wanting to think vaguely well of at least the intentions of a state created by fellow Jews. Or all of the above.

        • Gator90

          it’s not like it took me until middle age

          It took me until middle age, but I wouldn’t claim to be as smart as you or J. Otto.

        • Weed Atman

          If you want to do some background reading to really dig into the history of it, an academic friend in the near Near Eastern Studies department of a large university told me to read Mark Tessler’s A History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. It’s thick, but very good.

        • Theobald Schmidt

          …what nation-state was created without extensive ethnic cleansing, and how does its ethnic cleansing make Israel different than, say, South Sudan, Greece or Poland?

          • JL

            Most states, even if they were founded in ugliness, eventually become states of all their citizens and attempt to stop with the ethnic cleansing. Israel is still a state for one ethnoreligious group only – which has practical effects on things like where people can live – and is still trying to “Judaize” the Northern area and the Negev (not to mention East Jerusalem and the West Bank), destroy Bedouin villages and force them into specified areas, run Palestinians out of Silwan.

            • Theobald Schmidt

              This is holding Israel up to a standard that no other nation-state meets, including places like Kuwait (Palestinians) and Bhutan (Nepali).

              Every state that has ever existed has that same darkness in their founding, and all existing got that way by completing their ethnic cleansing.

              Furthermore, no state is in actuality a state for all its citizens — Algerians in France, Turks in Germany, Sami in Finland, Norway and Sweden. It’s a very nice dream, but not one that has actually existed at any point in human history.

  • randomworker

    He seems pleased that he’s managed to piss off half the American electorate. Fine, he has about 100 nukes, maybe they can start taking care of themselves.

    • Rob in CT

      Saletan: pissed


      I wish it was 50%, or even close to that, of the US electorate though. It’s not. It’s like, maybe 1/6 at this point.

      • Murc

        Saletan isn’t actually pissed off enough to endorse meaningful action, of course. The closest he comes is endorsing a resolution that contains a poison pill. (The Palestinians will never, ever accept the stipulation that any state they get not have a military. Nor should they.)

        • Rob in CT

          Fair enough. Though the gist of his article reads to me as “let them fend for themselves if they want to be like this.” Which is, in the context of US politics, radical.

        • Gwen

          What about a Japanese style “Self-Defense Force”

          • Murc

            I’m honestly not sure; that would likely be an acceptable political lift, since any military force powerful enough to meaningfully allow a hypothetical Palestinian state to defend itself would also be enough to project power if they really had to.

            The problem, of course, is that the Israelis want to preserve their ability to strike the Palestinians at will but for Palestine to never, ever be able to execute a retributive strike. The Palestinians are not dumb and will never go for such a deal, I don’t think.

            • Cheerful

              Hypothetically, though, shouldn’t they? What use would it serve to have a retributive force? Anything large enough to cause Israel sufficient fear to perhaps deter would cause enough fear for its destruction, and engender a larger arms race in a space that doesn’t need it. it’d be like the German fleet before WWI.

              • Murc

                This might be true from a coldly logical perspective, but as a practical matter the Palestinians are not going to accept that the IDF will always have the ability to do whatever it wants to them and they’ll never be allowed to do jack shit about it. It’s an impossible political lift.

                Also, even if it weren’t, if you forbid a Palestinian state from having a meaningful military, said meaningful military will simply go underground. That’s bad. It puts any Palestinian government in the position of either being in breach of whatever conditions were imposed as a requirement for its creation, or having to brutally police its own citizens.

                • DrDick

                  Which would effectively maintain the status quo and we have all seen how well that has worked for the Palestinians. In fairness, it would still be a huge step forward from what Netanyahu wants (complete expulsion).

                • Cheerful

                  I agree that as an emotional/political matter it may not be possible. It’s difficult to get any group to practice passive resistance.

                  On the other hand, if that remains a bottom line for the Palestinians, that they retain the right to maintain a front line air force or significant armored divisions, or sizable rocket forces that actually hit aimed targets, or hundreds of artillery tubes sited on Tel Aviv, then I don’t think they will ever get the autonomy they otherwise seek.

                • Arouet

                  You have to be joking. It doesn’t even matter whether the Palestinians accept it in writing – the IDF will always be able to do whatever they want when push comes to shove. There is virtually no possibility a Palestinian state will ever be economically strong enough to threaten Israel, the only choice is whether to accept the restrictions – which can always be rewritten at a later date, see Japan – in writing, and maybe get a State, or not to accept them, and get nothing.

                • DrDick

                  to accept the restrictions – which can always be rewritten at a later date, see Japan – in writing, and maybe get a State, or not to accept them, and get nothing.

                  Assumes fact not in evidence. Netanyahu has said explicitly that there will be no Palestinian state, and he is hardly alone.

                • Gwen

                  The Palestinian State is going to need a bunch of guys with guns — whether you call them an Army, or a National Police, or a Self-Defense Force, or whatever.

                  The reason for this is because it’s going to need to defend itself from Islamists, etc. who might try to take power.

                  Surely, Israel must see the importance of having a Palestinian neighbor that is strong enough to protect itself (if not necessarily strong enough to make trouble beyond its borders).

                • Arouet

                  Assumes fact not in evidence. Netanyahu has said explicitly that there will be no Palestinian state, and he is hardly alone.

                  Hur hur, clever retort. Netanyahu won’t be Prime Minister forever, and even if he is – he’s not an idealogue, he was being a cynical bastard who knew saying that would win votes. If the political tides change, so will Bibi, but what won’t change is Israel’s demand for security assurances in excess of what they probably need. But unless you’re planning to raise an army to throw them out of Gaza and the West Bank, that is the choice.

                  Also, I said maybe, so I assumed nothing.

                  Also, Gwen: I agree completely, and so does Israel… they already allow this on and off in the West Bank. Obviously it is in everyone’s interest for them to be powerful enough to defend their state against internal threats. Murc suggests they need to be powerful enough to defend themselves against the IDF and project power, because those two go hand in hand. They will never be powerful enough for that, and it’s in no one’s interest to scuttle negotiations because Israel won’t let the Palestinians get some paltry, meaningless Air Force.

        • Arouet

          I don’t think calling that a “poison pill” adequately represents the Palestinian position. If it *is* their position that they won’t accept statehood if it comes with stipulations that restrain the size of their military in order not to unduly threaten Israel, they are never going to get a state. It’s really as simple as that.

          No one is going to give it to them but Israel because no one cares about the Palestinians. If they want it, it has been clear for a long time that limitations on militarization are a prerequisite. The Palestinians have, at various times, seemed willing to accept this.

          • DrDick

            The only land the current government is going to “give” them (how about return?) is the graveyard.

            • Arouet

              Semantics. However Israel got it the Palestinians are never going to have control over it without agreeing to this provision. Obviously there are other requirements as well (perhaps Netanyahu eventually leaving office, but who knows – he’s an opportunist, he doesn’t really care if there’s a two-state solution), but this one is never going to be negotiable. Nor is it relevant, because as I said the Palestinians could never threaten Israel to begin with. Being realistic isn’t a sin.

          • Gwen

            The Palestinians must never, ever be allowed to have Robot Unicorns with Wings.

            There, problem solved.

            In all seriousness… as has been said, nobody really expects Palestine to have a sizable military. It’s not going to be economically powerful enough to support a conventional military that would be able to go toe-to-toe with Israel. So restrictions by themselves, I don’t think anyone can consider that a serious objection, unless it’s simply about pride.

            OTOH, saying Palestine can’t have an Army (or something like an Army) is unreasonable. As noted above, it’s either an acknowledgement that Palestine would be a protectorate or vassal of Israel; or it would ensure a state too weak to stand on its own.

            (I’m sure Netanyahu would just love those options).

            • Arouet

              Obviously there’s a ton of room to negotiate specific provisions that should satisfy everyone here, but Israel is almost certain to demand restrictions on militarization that go beyond the basic fact that the Palestinians will never be able to challenge them as a practical matter.

              I would guess they would be allowed security forces but there would be an explicit or implicit understanding on a cap for the capabilities of those security forces. I mean other than the threat from Israel which is never going to be mitigated the Palestinians only really need internal security forces (which they have) and border control to ensure a state strong enough to stand on its own – what, is Jordan or Egypt going to invade them for their economically valuable land?

              Anyone who is railing against those provisions (not talking about you) both a) doesn’t understand that this is not one of the many deal-breakers for the Palestinians, and b) is essentially dooming the Palestinians to their current status because no one is going to force Israel to unhand the land.

        • John F

          (The Palestinians will never, ever accept the stipulation that any state they get not have a military. Nor should they.)

          If that was the last sticking point they damn well should, they can always break that stipulation later

  • Gator90

    Conservatives are also quick to deny being scientists, but those denials are generally more plausible.

  • c u n d gulag

    Bibi forgot the obligatory conservative follow-up comment:
    “I have many friends who are ______________________.”
    In this case, it’s “Arabs.”

    But that follow-up works in all cases for any number of people who conservatives hate – but can’t let on that they truly hate them.

    • Rob in CT

      Nah. I think this falls more in line with “no, I’m a race realist!”

  • Cheerful

    Has Bibi burned any crosses? or even a six pointed star? Has he personally lynched an Arab while calling that Arab names and announcing while doing so that his is lynching the Arab just because he’s an Arab? No? Well then how could he be a racist?

    • elm

      Right! Netenyahu did not personally lynch Emmett Till. Therefore he is not a racist. I thought this test was well established at this point.

    • Gwen

      Netanyahu has never once owned a Los Angeles professional basketball team!

    • rea

      Has he personally lynched an Arab . . . ?

      He’s just an existentialist.

      • toberdog
        • random

          Bull there’s no way that youtube would ever allow racist comments on one of their videos….

    • “What do you have to do? Shoot Medgar Evers?”–Chris Rock

  • tsam

    >Says blatantly racist shit

    >Says he’s not a racist

    Seems legit.

  • CrunchyFrog

    He – like most of the “citizens” of his country – is a racial supremacist.

    It’s interesting to see how nicely the Israeli right & center get along with the American GOP. Because their own religious ideologies see the other group as inferior heathens. Reminds me of the WW2 alliance between Japan and Germany. If their countries were next to each other they’d be at constant war, but separated by great distances they are united in their own racial supremacy ideologies.

    • Murc

      … why is “citizens” in scare quotes?

      Israel is a real country. It has real citizens.

      • rea

        Although apparently a good number of them don’t count, and shouldn’t vote.

      • CrunchyFrog

        What rea said. They don’t count millions of the people who live there as citizens because they are the wrong race.

      • djw

        On the nomenclature issue alone, I’m going to side with Murc here. Many states, probably most and including these here United States, do not distribute citizenship in a manner entirely consistent with the demands of justice and democracy as ideals (Israel’s gap between real and ideal is notably worse than most, but it’s a matter of degree). That’s pretty clearly the historical norm for the practice of citizenship. As a descriptive term, we don’t generally scare-quote citizenship when its distributional reach falls short; it’s an entirely real and ordinary use of the concept in such circumstances.

        • J. Otto Pohl

          The problem of course is that non-citizen Jews in the US and elsewhere have more rights in Israel than do Palestinian Arab citizens. Like a lot of places the dichotomy is not between citizens and non-citizens, but rather between specific ethnic groups. In this case Jews including non-citizens have more rights in Israel than do Palestinian citizens. Any American or French Jew can land in Israel tomorrow and they will have more legal rights than any of the state’s long establishd Arab citizens. This is very different from how rights and citizenship operate in the US. Foreign white Christians can not land in NYC and automatically have more legal rights in the US than native born Black citizens. While Palestinian Arabs with Israeli citizenship can vote in Israeli elections they also suffer from a host of civil rights restrictions in other spheres such as where they can live.

    • John F

      It’s definitely bigotry but I don’t think “racism” is quite the right word- “racially” speaking the arabs being pissed on are pretty indistinguishable from many of the non-Ashkenazi Jews in the Likud support base. What it is mostly is bigotry towards people of the wrong religion.

  • Shantanu Saha

    Bibi is probably not a racist. Racism would require an ideology beyond solipsism. He is definitely a sociopath who is out for his own personal political gain, and will use whatever tactic he believes will result in his personal gain, or in this case clinging to the power he already has.

    • NonyNony


      I mean you’re right – he’s clearly out for his own personal gain. But that doesn’t preclude him from also being a racist. You can be both (see many, many examples throughout US history for examples of power-hungry possible sociopaths who were also incredibly racist).

    • J. Otto Pohl

      Actually it doesn’t matter what his personal motivations are. He presides over a state that is institutionally and structurally designed to exclude “Palestinian Arabs” from the same rights and opportunities as “Jews.” His policies as leader will probably make things worse for the Palestinians, but what makes Israel a racist state is not the mind set of the current pm or any other politician. It is the existence of state and para-state structures that deny full equality to Palestinians. In this sense Israel has been a racist apartheid state since its foundation in 1948 and can only cease to be racist by dissolving the Zionist project and becoming a state of all its citizens rather than a Jewish state. The placing of non-expelled Palestinians under military rule from 1948 to 1966 followed by the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in 1967 has always meant that the Israeli military not civilian institutions ruled over most of the Arabs under its control. In contrast the Jews even those in the West Bank live under Israeli civilian law. The creation of two separate sets of laws and administrations to rule over people on the basis of their ethnicity/race is the very definition of apartheid. It was also practiced in the USSR against groups like Germans, Crimean Tatars, Chechens, and Kalmyks during the 1940s and 1950s.

    • MAJeff

      He intentionally does racist shit.
      He’s a racist.

      • CP

        Yep. It really is that simple.

        The delusion that “oh, you can’t prove that I meant to do racist things out of racist intent… in my heart” means you’re cleared of being a racist can’t die fast enough.

  • wengler

    It’s a bit silly because anyone with power in the Israeli government supports racist policy. I suppose the only distinction is whether or not someone sees Arab Israelis as the internal enemy.

    • JL

      Including the Palestinian-Israeli MKs? Or are you defining “with power” in this context to mean greater power than what they have as MKs?

  • keta

    Loathsome pig. And racist.

  • McAllen

    We know for sure because he didn’t say “but…” afterwards.

  • Brett

    Was there ever a debate? I think Netanyahu was obstructionist on the two-state proposal back in the 1990s, too. He’s never supported it much – and since he’s not proposing that the Arabs be made equal citizens in the combined state, it makes him a racist who wants them to either self-deport, be expelled, or be second-class citizens (preferably in cordoned-off ghettoes in the West Bank).

    Honestly, it just feels farcical even talking about it. Everyone knows that even if the Two-State Proposal hasn’t shown serious signs of life since the 1990s, the US and Israel will just put a pair of sunglasses on the corpse and trot it around for show every now and then. They need it for PR purposes.

  • rdennist

    Has he raised the issue of overconsumption of T-Bones and Cadillacs among certain people yet?

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