West’s Hypocrisy About Netanyahu Government

It is only a matter of time before this extremist Israeli government is also whitewashed, writes Ramzy Baroud.  

Parliamentary office set by Knesset member Itamar Ben Gvir in Sheikh Jarrah, February 2022. (CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

By Ramzy Baroud
Common Dreams

Even before the new Israeli government was officially sworn in on Dec. 29, angry reactions began emerging, not only among Palestinians and other Middle Eastern governments, but also among Israel’s historic allies in the West. 

As early as Nov. 2, top U.S. officials conveyed to Axios that the Joe Biden administration is “unlikely to engage with Jewish supremacist politician, Itamar Ben-Gvir.” In fact, the U.S. government’s apprehensions surpassed Ben-Gvir, who was convicted by Israel’s own court in 2007 for supporting a terrorist organization and inciting racism. 

U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan reportedly “hinted” that the U.S. government would also boycott “other right-wing extremists” in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government. 

However, these strong concerns seemed absent from the congratulatory statement by the U.S. ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, on the following day. Nides relayed that he had “congratulated (Netanyahu) on his victory and told him that I look forward to working together to maintain the unbreakable bond” between the two countries. 

In other words, this “unbreakable bond” is stronger than any public U.S. concern regarding terrorism, extremism, fascism and criminal activities. Ben-Gvir is not the only convicted criminal in Netanyahu’s government. Aryeh Deri, the leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party, was convicted of tax fraud in early 2022 and, in 2000, he served a prison sentence for accepting bribes when he held the position of interior minister.

Bezalel Smotrich is another controversial character, whose anti-Palestinian racism has dominated his political persona for many years. While Ben-Gvir has been assigned the post of national security minister, Deri has been entrusted with the Ministry of Interior and Smotrich with the Ministry of Finance.

Palestinians and Arab countries are rightly angry, because they understand that the new government is likely to sow more violence and chaos. 

(Photo in Tweet shows Israel’s new government meeting for first time.) 

With many of Israel’s sinister politicians in one place, Arabs know that Israel’s illegal annexation of parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territories is back on the agenda; and that incitement against Palestinians in Occupied East Jerusalem, coupled with raids of Al-Aqsa Mosque will exponentially increase in the coming weeks and months.

And, expectedly, the push for the construction and expansion of illegal settlements is likely to grow, as well. These are not unfounded fears. Aside from the very racist and violent statements and actions by Netanyahu and his allies in recent years, the new government has already declared that the Jewish people have “exclusive and inalienable rights to all parts of the Land of Israel,” promising to expand settlements, while distancing itself from any commitments to establishing a Palestinian State, or even engaging in any “peace process.”

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But while Palestinians and their Arab allies have been largely consistent in recognizing extremism in the various Israeli governments, what excuse do the U.S. and the West have in failing to recognize that the latest Netanyahu-led government is the most rational outcome of blindly supporting Israel throughout the years? 

In March 2019, Politico branded Netanyahu as the creator of “the most right-wing government in Israeli history,” a sentiment that was repeated countless times in other Western media outlets. This ideological shift was, in fact, recognized by Israel’s own media, years earlier.

In May 2016, the popular Israeli newspaper Maariv described the Israeli government at the time as the “most right-wing and extremist” in the country’s history. This was, in part, due to the assignment of the far-right politician Avigdor Lieberman to the role of the defense minister.

The West, then, too, showed concern, warned against the demise of Israel’s supposed liberal democracy, and demanded that Israel remain committed to the peace process and the two-state solution.

July 16, 2012: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meeting with Israel’s right-wing Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Jerusalem. (State Department)

None of that actualized. Instead, the terrifying figures of that government were rebranded as merely conservatives, centrists or even liberals in the following years. The same is likely to happen now. In fact, signs of the U.S,’s willingness to accommodate whatever extremist politics Israel produces are already on display.

In his statement on Dec. 30 welcoming the new Israeli government, Biden said nothing about the threat of Tel Aviv’s far-right politics to the Middle East region but, rather, the “challenges and threats” posed by the region to Israel. 

In other words, Ben-Gvir or no Ben-Gvir, unconditional support for Israel by the U.S. will remain intact. If history is a lesson, future violence and incitement in Palestine will also be blamed mostly, if not squarely, on Palestinians.

This knee-jerk, pro-Israeli attitude has defined Israel’s relationship with the U.S., whether Israeli governments are led by extremists or supposed liberals. No matter, Israel somehow maintained its false status as “the only democracy in the Middle East.” 

Israel’s ‘Democracy’ 

Jaramana Refugee Camp in Damascus, Syria, established after Nakba, 1948. (Wikimedia)

Jaramana Refugee Camp in Damascus, Syria, established after the Palestinian Catastrophe, or Nakba, 1948. (Public domain, Wikimedia Commons)

But if we are to believe that Israel’s exclusivist and racially based “democracy” is a democracy at all, then we are justified to also believe that Israel’s new government is neither less nor more democratic than the previous governments. 

Yet, Western officials, commentators and even pro-Israel Jewish leaders and organizations in the U.S. have been  warning against the supposed danger facing Israel’s liberal democracy in the run-up to the formation of Netanyahu’s new government. 

[Related: Thomas Friedman & The Myth of Liberal Israel]

This is an indirect, if not clever form of whitewashing, as these views accept that what Israel has practiced since its founding in 1948, until today, was a form of real democracy; and that Israel remained a democracy even after the passing of the controversial Nation-State Law, which defines Israel as a Jewish state, completely disregarding the rights of the country’s non-Jewish citizens. 

It is only a matter of time before Israel’s new extremist government is also whitewashed as more working proof that Israel can strike a balance between being Jewish and democratic at the same time. 

The same story was repeated in 2016, when warnings over the rise of far-right extremism in Israel — following the Netanyahu-Lieberman pact — eventually vanished.

Instead of boycotting the new unity government, the Washington finalized, in September 2016, its largest military aid package to Israel, amounting to $38 billion. 

In truth, Israel has not changed much, either in its own self-definition or in its treatment of Palestinians. Failing to understand this is tantamount to tacit approval of Israel’s racist, violent and colonial policies in Occupied Palestine over the course of 75 years.

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the editor of the Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books including: These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons (2019), “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story” (2010) and “The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle” (2006). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA), Istanbul Zaim University (IZU). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net.
This article is from  Common Dreams.
The views expressed in this article and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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7 comments for “West’s Hypocrisy About Netanyahu Government

  1. robert e williamson jr
    January 8, 2023 at 16:01

    Whitewashing, it’s what they do. They must if they expect their lies to stand the test of time.

    I just left a comment at Marjorie Cohn’s piece Netanyahu’s Most Right Wing Government yet.

    I’ll leave the same reply here.

    I just received a copy of the IRmep annual report. IRmep Director Grant Smith seems to be getting things right.

    First page of the report, see GRASSROOTS MOBILIZATION – “IRmep research has helped cancel or stall $7.21 billion U.S. in Israeli lobby project revenue.

    He is being effective evidently.

    Thanks CN

  2. Valerie
    January 7, 2023 at 14:03

    The hypocricy of the west begins with countries sanctioned for any number of reasons which they deem contrary to their mindset. In fact there are currently 25 countries around the world being sanctioned by the USA. Not one of them, of course, is israel. The UK is equally complicit.


  3. Vera Gottlieb
    January 7, 2023 at 10:37

    World…grow gonads and start standing up to israel. I am of Jewish background and ASHAMED of it.

  4. Donald Duck
    January 7, 2023 at 03:08

    Of course if anyone raises a peep about Israel and its depredations in the middle-east the cry of anti-semitism goes up and the zionist propaganda machine swings into action. In political terms the penetration of the Israelis into the political institutions in the Anglo-American world is there in plain sight and overwhelmingly present. In the UK all the main political parties have to take what is a virtual oath of allegience in support of the zionist state. Thus we have the Labour Friends of Israel, the Conservative Friends of Israel and the Social democrats Friends of Israel who dominate both the upper houses and lower houses of state, the Lords and the Commons. Any deviance to the party line from the Anglo-American political institutions is met by the full force of the ever present Israeli propaganda apparatus. Any aspiring politician with ambitions will decidedly not be considered by a rigorous selection process which ensures only the ‘right’ candidate is groomed for office.

    A case in point the Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn who ran as the leader of the Labour party in his electoral bid was met with the expected militant hostility from all the political parties – including Labour – as well as the prostitute media, and was consigned to the outer reaches of the political system. Israel has in fact got a stranglehold of the political and cultural institutions in the Atlanticist world. t

    • CNfan
      January 7, 2023 at 19:16

      Thanks for that very accurate summary.

      The PBS Newshour did a single story on Netanyhu’s recent election. They interviewed an “American” Israeli apologist who dodged all the major facts and issues, with no consideration of the Palestinians’ perspective, and wound up very skillfully telling the Newshour viewers nothing.

  5. shmutzoid
    January 6, 2023 at 21:45

    If you question US-Israel relations, YOU obviously are anti-semitic. If you state the obvious – Israel is an apartheid state – YOU are obviously anti-semitic. If you protest policies of the Israeli gov’t, YOU are obviously anti-semitic. And, if you support BDS, YOU are most certainly anti-semitic. —> This is how the Israel Lobby has managed to hijack the discourse in the West. (if you can find the documentary, The Lobby, do watch it).
    ————- In keeping with how some of the worst of the worst dictators in the world (many put in place by the US) are ‘great friends and close allies’ of the US, Israel’s ‘unbreakable bond’ with the US is particularly revolting. And, of course, like every other aspect of US foreign policy, the corporate media whitewashes the immense role US has in helping to sustain Israel’s murderous, anti-democratic regime.
    ———– If Israel were to next week ‘mow the lawn’ again and kill 100 Palestinians, do you think there’d be anything more than a murmured tsk-tsk from the US??? of course not. If 200 were killed??? The same. 5, 6, 8 hundred??? Perhaps a statement like, “We don’t have all the facts on the ground, we can’t speculate about what really happened. And, let’s not forget, Israels’ security is paramount – they have a right to defend themselves”. ………parody? …true enough?? …….you decide.

    • Valerie
      January 8, 2023 at 08:30

      Quite a few are protesting against the israeli government:

      “Thousands of Israelis have taken to the streets to protest plans by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government that they say threaten democracy and freedoms.

      The protesters gathered in the city of Tel Aviv on Saturday, days after the most right-wing and religiously conservative government in the country’s 74-year history was sworn in. It plans sweeping reforms, from expanding illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank to weakening the power of the judiciary.”
      (Aljazeera 8 january)

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