Zak-Attack on NetanNotNews

April 16, 2015

In Blog News

Benjamin Netanyahu is Not the Devil

There’s been a lot of focus on Prime Minister Netanyahu. He’s been rude to Obama, he’s ruled out a Palestinian state and he’s acting like a spoiled brat with Iran. Someone from the White House even called him “chickenshit” last year, and blamed his settlement policy for the failure of negotiations.

Complaints are everywhere. Calling him “Bibi” humanizes a butcher. His hair is fake. His wife is mean. His diagrams give Warner Bros. a run for their money . His mental state and evil eyes are ridiculed in posts, rants and memes. Even his secret anti-aging formula makes an appearance.[1]
But Benjamin Netanyahu is not the Devil.
Yeah, yeah, I get it. A serious war criminal is getting roasted in public. He’s casually gnawing at the hand that feeds him, and Americans are a little pissed off that he’s forgetting who runs the block. I won’t lie, it feels good to see this guy get criticized by a media that usually bends over backwards for him – even if the disapproval is pretty mild.
But is that the point? Is that what I care about? Feeling good, feeling vindicated that finally, others are starting to turn on this guy, only because they’re tired of him? Is that what baby Salma needs, as she freezes to death in Gaza?[2] Are jokes about Netanyahu and debates about his personality going to compel the US to end it’s support for the Israeli occupation?
There’s a very good reason why mainstream commentary is focused on the “historic rift” between the White House and Tel Aviv (which may not be so historic at all).[3] It allows them to talk about diplomatic protocol, Netanyahu’s election tactics and vague descriptions about that whole nuclear thing – instead of resource theft, illegal detentions, settlements and other significant issues.
The Iran deal is very important to millions of Iranians, but it has nothing to do with Israel. When it comes to Israel, and its global significance, the occupation is what matters. Netanyahu’s rants about Iran are irrelevant, and that’s why they’re all over the news.
Netanyahu is not the problem. The settlements, annexation and war crimes did not start with him. Some people recognized that a win for the new Labor alliance would’ve just meant another round of camouflaging Israeli expansion under the cover of negotiations, which tells me that Netanyahu himself is a superficial issue.[4] Better then, for the media to highlight his attitude, and avoid honest discussion about the two-state solution and international law.
Because that’s what you do if you wanna be taken seriously. Don’t mention North Korea’s diplomatic history, talk about the Supreme Leader’s haircut. Ignore Bush’s illegal aggression and focus on his grammar. Disregard Chavez’s record, just zero in on his uncanny ability to detect sulfur. But my wife says I’m stubborn, and she might be right.
When I see someone twist Netanyahu’s name, I’m gonna stick to “war criminal”.[5]
When I hear laughs about his combover, I have to remember that his bombs, when they rain down on residential areas in Gaza, are not funny.[6]
When someone says Netanyahu needs to shut up already, I gotta point out that he has to be arrested and escorted to the International Criminal Court for prosecution.[7]
When Americans complain about disrespect and billions in aid, I wanna let them know that the aid transfers could be violating US laws – and Congress doesn’t bother to check.[8]
I’m not as interested in his cartoon bombs as I am with his real bombs, the ones that obliterate people’s homes, neighbourhoods and families. I don’t care if he acts like a clown, because he orders real soldiers with deadly weapons to attack civilian infrastructure. I’m not worried that he said, on the eve of elections, that there will be no Palestinian state. I’m worried about the decades of settlement building that has been wiping Palestine off the map.
When battered and brutalized Gazans can muster the strength to stand with people in Yarmouk refugee camp, it makes me feel like maybe I need to buckle down too, and remember the important things.[9] Not Netanyahu’s serpent tongue, or his wife’s love of champagne, but the opportunity we might have right now to reach the increasing number of Americans who might be willing to listen.

[1] March 3, 2015, The Daily Show With Jon Stewart
[2] “The world has broken its promises about rebuilding Gaza – and the children will suffer” Chris Gunness, February 21, 2015, The Guardian
[3] Former US Secretary of State James Baker told CNN in 2014 that he had banned Netanyahu from the State Department because of statements that had been made. Did this have any significant impact on US-Israel relations? Will the current friction between Obama and Netanyahu lead to any substantive changes?.
[4] “Diary: The Israeli Elections” Yonatan Mendel, March 19, 2015, London Review of Books
[5] “Findings of the Final Session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine” March 2013
[6] On July 21, 2014, The Association for Civil Rights in Israel sent a letter, representing itself and 9 other Israeli organizations, to the Israeli Attorney General, detailing some of the IDF actions and consequences.
[7] In February 2015, the National Lawyers Guild submitted two reports to both the ICC and the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict, detailing various international crimes and addressing many of the talking points heard across mainstream media
Copies of this report were also sent to US President Barack Obama, US Secretary of State John Kerry and the UN Human Rights Council, accompanied by a cover letter
The report and all hyperlinks can also be accessed on the Truthout website.
[8] “Israel: US Foreign Assistance” Congressional Research Service, April 26, 2005, see section titled “Allegations of Misue of U.S. Aid”, document provided by Federation of American Scientists
[9] “Factions in Gaza march in solidarity with Yarmouk”, April 9, 2016, Ma’an News Agency