We Must Prevent Israel’s Far-Right from Hijacking the War
Jewish Israelis in; Palestinians out: That, in a nutshell, is the nightmarish “day after” plan for the Gaza Strip that the Israeli far-right has been hatching over the last three-plus months.
This past Sunday, that plan moved out of the shadows and into the limelight: At the Binyanei Ha’uma conference center in Jerusalem, thousands of attendees joined roughly one-third of Netanyahu’s Cabinet and almost half the members of his Knesset coalition at a public event that bore the triumphal title: “Conference for the Victory of Israel – Settlement Brings Security: Returning to the Gaza Strip and Northern Samaria.”
The title conveniently omitted reference to the second core part of the plan – the mass removal of Palestinians from Gaza. Such displacement, we’ve been told in recent weeks, would not be coerced, but achieved via so-called “voluntary” large-scale emigration – a supposedly “humanitarian” effort that would allow Gazans to flee the now-devastated Strip.
But no one should be fooled – the Israeli far-right, heirs to the expulsion and “transfer” movements of Meir Kahane and Rehavam Ze’evi, has no benign intent. Indeed, Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi, a member of Netanyahu’s Likud, made clear at the conference that displacement is a “price” that Israel must exact, and that “voluntary” emigration actually means “a situation you impose”. Orwellian!
In reaction to the conference, some have sought to reassure the world that the far-right’s plan is “fringe”; that Israel’s government will never let this happen and that there’s no cause for alarm. We demur. Dror Etkes of Kerem Navot (an NGO recently in our Kolot: Voices of Hope series) told the Wall Street Journal, for example, that the threat is very real, and that Hamas’s attack had given extremist views in Israel a “serious boost”. In addition, while the plan does not yet reflect the stated policy of Prime Minister Netanyahu, the forces of the Israeli far-right are his main allies and have significant sway in his coalition and even within his own party. It is by no means unimaginable that a beleaguered, indicted “Bibi”, fighting for his political survival, could yet greenlight at least an initial phase of the plan.
Israelis have rightly been grieving since October 7, and we grieve with them. They badly yearn for much-needed security. And it is precisely this emotional turmoil and national trauma that Israel’s far-right actors are now seeking to cynically exploit to their racist ends. We must continue to raise our voices so that their pernicious plan is not allowed to ever come to fruition.
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