On January 20, Netanyahu
said no to independent Palestine, yes to settlement expansions. More on
Freedom House calls itself "an independent watchdog organization
dedicated to the expansion of freedom around the world."
It deplores what it claims to support. It gets State Department
and other US agency funding. It serves Washington's dark side. It helps
further its imperial agenda.
Its January annual report headlined "Freedom in the World 2013."
It called Israel the Middle East's only "free" state. Doing so turns truth
on its head.
Free countries, it said, are ones with "open political competition,
a climate of respect for civil liberties, significant independent civic
life, and independent media."
Palestinians and Israeli Arabs have different views. So do most
Jews mindful enough to know. Neoliberal harshness and broken electoral
promises marginalize and harm them.
Haaretz discussed "false economic promises." It said Netanyahu and
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz "handed out money" to the usual interests,
"and now the public will have to pay the price."
It urged Israelis not to forget when heading to the polls to vote.
They didn't pay attention before and don't now. They've got themselves
Eva Berger is School of Media Studies dean/College of Management
Academic Studies. Until November 2011, she was Israel's press adviser.
She quit over eroding press freedom. She said she wouldn't "lend
(her) hand to this." She cited proposed legislation enabling government
to sue journalists and media sources for libel.
She mentioned shutting down a Jewish/Palestinian radio station.
At the same time, others were threatened for reporting anti-government
views. Legislative proposals worried her.
They're worse now than then. Freedom in Israel is fast eroding.
Netanyahu and like-minded extremists bear full responsibility.
On January 22, Israelis vote. Ballot options largely exclude choice.
Dominant parties control things. They spurn fundamental rights. Right-wing
extremism is policy. They reflect fascism, not democracy.
In summer 2007, historian Ilan Pappe left Israel. He felt like "public
enemy number one." He was pilloried for his anti-Zionist views.
Death threats came by mail, email and phone. His picture once appeared
in a prominent Israeli publication. A caption read "I'm not telling you
to kill this person, but I shouldn't be surprised if someone did."
Academics critical of government policies aren't safe. Supporting
right over wrong is hazardous. BDS advocates worry for their safety.
Netanyahu represents Israel's dark side. Freedom eroded greatly
on his watch. His proposed Loyalty Oath law requires all Israeli citizens,
Arabs and Jews, to swear allegiance to a "Jewish, Zionist, and democratic
state," its emblems and values.
Obtaining a national identity card signifying citizenship depends
on performing military or civic service. When introduced, Haaretz called
the measure a "societal fuse."
Forced allegiance is repressive and arbitrary, it said. It reflects
fascism, not democracy.
On January 20, Netanyahu rejected Palestinian self-determination.
He stressed continued settlement construction.
He said "Building in Jerusalem is not the problem of the world.
The problem in the Middle East is Iran's attempt to build nuclear weapons."
"This was, and remains, the main mission facing not only myself
and Israel, but the entire world."
He thanked Republicans and Democrats for "unwavering support."
"History will not forgive those who do not stop Iran's nuclear program,"
He said US/Israeli relations are good, but "there are differences
of opinion. When they tell me to return to 1967 lines, I stand against
it. When they tell me not to build in Jerusalem, I stand against it."
"It would be terribly easy to capitulate. I could return to indefensible
borders and divide Jerusalem and let Hamas get 400 meters from my home."
"I have to stand firm on our vital interests even when itís not
popular. That is the prime ministerís job."
"I am not in favor of a binational state. We need to reach a solution.
I donít want to rule the Palestinians, and I donít want them to rule us
and threaten our existence."
His supporters adorned Jerusalem's Old City with banners saying
"Only Netanyahu will protect Jerusalem" and "Warning: 67 border ahead."
Netanyahu spurns peace. So do most other Israeli officials. They're
in lockstep on major issues. Expected electoral results harden their resolve.
Palestinians have have reason for despair. They have much to fear.
Haaretz columnist Amira Hass said "Palestinian ghettos were always
the plan." It's longstanding.
Land theft is official policy. At issue is maximizing territory
and minimizing Arabs. Palestinians have no say. They're victims of Israeli
Ghettoization is Israel's aim. It's "been implemented for the past
65 years." It "concentrate(s) Palestinians in reserves."
It robs them of land rightfully theirs. It forces them to accept
Israeli policy or leave.
PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashwari sees peace "nowhere
"For Palestinians, Israeli elections signal deepening occupation,"
Zionist parties promise continued occupation, colonial expansion,
isolating East Jerusalem, entirely Judaizing it, "managing" military control,
and spurning peace.
"This formula is a sure recipe for disaster for both Israelis and
Dominant Israeli party campaigns ignored what's done and planned.
Fundamental Palestinian rights are spurned. Millions of victimized people
suffer. Millions more live in exile. Their right of return is denied.
Israel's occupation "constitutes the main source of violence and
instability in the region."
Israeli justice has no meaning except for privileged Jews. Arab
citizens are marginalized and denied. "(I)nstitutionalized discrimination"
harms them. "Incitement against Palestinians is on the rise."
"This culture of hate and exclusion is demonstrably evident throughout
most of the Israeli electoral campaigns."
Nothing changes. Party heads support settlement expansions. International
law is spurned. Palestinians are forcibly removed from land rightfully
Dozens of UN resolutions are ignored. Israelis have to realize that
"the longevity, security, and legitimacy of their state" depend on treating
Palestinians "and their commitment to peace and justice, not to the subjugation
of a whole nation."
Hours before Ashrawi's comments, Palestinian police attacked Amari
refugee camp residents. Live rounds were fired. Injuries were reported.
Clashes erupted during a solidarity rally for Palestinian political
prisoners. Ashwari ignored what happened. She left unexplained Fatah's
longstanding collaboration with Israel.
Whatever her personal views, she knows Abbas and other PA officials
spurn their own people. They enforce occupation harshness. They do it
for whatever benefits their derive.
On January 22, Israelis vote. Results will confirm hardline extremists
got another four years. Expected coalition partners will confirm it. Freedom
took another body blow.
Its weakened state can't sustain much more. It may entirely erode
before voting for Israel's 20th Knesset approaches.
Israelis should have thought about what they ignored. It's too late
to change things now.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge
discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour
on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and
Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.