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February 12, 2015 9:05 am

Naftali Bennett is a Demagogue on the Loose

avatar by Alon Ben-Meir

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Minister Naftali Bennett at a Bedouin employment center. Photo: Israeli government.

It is hard to imagine how a devious, delusionary, and destructive individual like Naftali Bennett, the leader of the Jewish Home party, can rise to prominence while openly advocating a racist political agenda. His “solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a recipe for obliterating Israel as both Jewish and democratic, and converting it into an apartheid state, reviled by the international community and condemned to live in isolation and disgrace.

No, this is not what Israel was created for, and the fate of the country cannot be entrusted to the hands of a conniving hypocrite like Bennett. He is an imposter whose rainbow political agenda is nothing but a cover for an insidious plan to deprive the Palestinians of a state their own, but little does he realize that it will bring Israel ever closer to self-destruction.

In an arrogant and unflinching manner, he declares that since the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is stuck, it is time for new thinking. Israel should focus, he argues, on improving the lives of the Palestinians by “upgrading Palestinian autonomy in areas A and B,” and goes on to say that the Palestinians will have “political independence” and can run their internal affairs as they see fit.

He is also generous to offer the Palestinians a “massive upgrade of roads and infrastructure, as well as the removal of roadblocks and checkpoints,” and to “build economic bridges… between Israelis and Palestinians.”

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But, here is the caveat: “The Palestinian entity will be short of a state. It will not control its own borders.” And the worst is yet to come – his plan is to annex Area C, which represents 60 percent of the West Bank.

From his perspective, the Israeli settlements should continue to expand, starting with the annexation of the main three blocs by “applying Israeli law and asserting national sovereignty in those blocs.”

What this means is that the Palestinians will be allowed to live in cantons in places like Ramallah, Jenin, Bethlehem, and other small cities and villages – provided, of course, they behave themselves and dare not threaten or commit any violent act against Israel.

To be sure, Bennett is offering the Palestinians improved conditions in the same prison where they currently reside. Their “new” prison will now be renovated and better furnished, with open air and even clean, running water.

Bennett does not accept the premise that the Palestinians are entitled to a state of their own, but rather they must settle for the crumbs that Israel tosses them.

After all, he maintains that “we are not occupiers in our land,” and out of compassion the Israelis are prepared to give up a big share of their homeland – a land which is historically theirs. What is more, this is the “Land of Israel,” which has been bequeathed to them in perpetuity by the Almighty.

As a hard core religious, revisionist Zionist, Bennett finds great comfort in resorting to his Savior. He justifies his twisted political agenda by putting the onus on God: “Public opinion isn’t my compass, the Torah is my compass.” How convenient!

Religious conservatives often like to claim that “If there is no God, everything is permitted.” But as the philosopher Slavoj Žižek has observed, it is precisely the reverse that is the case: “If there is a God, then anything is permitted… it is for those who refer to ‘god’ in a brutally direct way, perceiving themselves as instruments of his will, that everything is permitted.”

Although he admits that the proposal is not perfect, as “it seems to go against everything Israel, the Palestinians and the international community have worked toward over the last 20 years,” it should be the government’s policy, he says, “because there is a new reality in the Middle East.”

Bennett should know that his plan is not only imperfect, it is an illusion, as if the Palestinians have no say and will simply bow to his whims. Under what circumstances will any Palestinian accept the continuing occupation under the guise of self-rule?

Bennett is mired in illusions, as illusions are based on wishes and not reality and one of the predictable psychological consequences of holding onto them is denial; that is, denial of the stubborn reality which refuses to accommodate itself to one’s pipedreams.

The Palestinians want to live in their own independent state – in their homeland as well – and this is the bitter, unshakable reality that Bennett must face. The Palestinians have resisted the existence of Israel for decades and now they have come to accept the two-state solution, precisely “because there is a new reality in the Middle East” – Israel’s unshakable reality.

There is nothing that Bennett or any of his schemers can do to change that, just as much as there is absolutely nothing the Palestinians can do to dislodge Israel.

All that any Israeli leader can justifiably demand is a permanent cessation of all hostilities, which the Palestinians must ensure if they wish to be independent. Any peace agreement ought to be structured in such a way to meet this unqualified Israeli requirement.

For Bennett to invoke the withdrawal from Gaza and the violence that erupted as a case in point, which must not be repeated in the West Bank, is disingenuous and misleading. No one in their right mind should evacuate the West Bank overnight, the way Prime Minister Sharon withdrew from Gaza.

Any negotiated peace agreement with the Palestinians will have to be implemented in stages over a period of at least ten years, with security arrangements fully coordinated with the Palestinians that leaves nothing to chance. This must be coupled with economic developments and cooperation on every level to foster trust and mutually-vested interests.

Only a suicidal Israeli government would follow Bennett’s nightmarish political treachery. For Bennett to become a Prime Minister, or even Defense Minister under another dangerously misguided Netanyahu government, is nothing but a kiss of death to the peace process and foretells the assured destruction of the Jews’ dream to live in a free, secure, and peaceful sanctuary.

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies. alon@alonben-meir.com

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  • Ben

    Ben Meir needs a psychiatrist. I have never seen an article that consists entirely of adjectives. Not only are there no facts but he wants to tell us what to think and how to think.

    Bennet is trying to cope with the problem of terrorists and their enablers. Ben Meir is an enabler.

  • JeffB

    I think the name calling needs to stop.

    It may be that the Palestinian people are totally uninterested in anything other than total autonomy and easily trade away limited but almost complete autonomy and huge improvements in their personal welfare and thus the will fiercely resist Bennett’s plan. But that same logic would then apply to the 2SS. The selfless fanatics that you have opposing Bennett are who you must have built into your 2SS if it is to prove itself better.

    The argument is simple. If the Palestinians are really unmotivated by better themselves and won’t accept anything other than full autonomy they will never accept the limitations you propose like on the types of armaments they get. The 2SS as proposed is essentially a Palestinian colony because it will be economically and militarily dominated by Israel. The Palestinians get that, they aren’t stupid. They’ll either accept it or they won’t. If they are wiling to accept it then they aren’t selfless fanatics.

  • z

    Alon Ben-Meir is a foreign agent on the take. That said, Naftali Bennett is no better. The corruption is total and complete. Anyone who supports ANY of the CIA clowns and idiots promoted for us is really clueless to what’s going on.

  • Zach

    Historical revisionism is claiming that Israel displaced a nation which is now entitled to a state, not that the Jewish nation was expelled from its homeland 2000 years ago and has returned after a long exile. You are the historical revisionist, not Bennett.

    Additionally, the delusional ones are those like you who contradict all evidence with the belief that ceding land will result in peace- Bennett seems to have the most realistic path forward for Israel given the currently unsolvable conflict; given that the only partner for peace controls only a segment of the Palestinian territories and is part of a unity government with Hamas, the reasonable solution is to fill Judea and Samaria with a blossoming settler population and slowly dissolve the notion that the Palestinians are entitled to a state no matter what they do. After all, the dream of only one nation in history has survived for over 3000 years.

  • Martin Heldt

    What can save Israel from becoming a pariah state in company with North Korea?

    A shadow is upon Israel when Bennett can openly offer the privilege of living in barricaded ghettos to generations of Palestinians to come.

    Commentators here talk of a thousand plus Israeli dead and ten thousand wounded, ignoring the 10,000 dead Palestinians, 100,000 wounded and 500,000 living in rubble.

    One day coming the world will seal you within your tiny border. We will stop buying your goods. We will stop selling you our products. We will forget you because of your cruelties.
    Look around, we are already turning our backs upon you because of your lack of humanity.

  • Neil D. Chase

    When the State of Israel was founded, the Arabs were invited to help build it. Horrible religious leaders led them astray. Bennett is right, and this blogger is far from helpful.

    • JeffB

      Here are the import / export figures for Israel: http://www.cbs.gov.il/shnaton65/diag/16_01.pdf

      No the wold is not turning their backs on Israel. Israel’s trade is growing. Israel had much more serious boycott problems in the 40s, 50s and 60s than the BDS movement could dream of creating today. BDS is loud and annoying. But your level of practical impact is close to 0.

      If it becomes highly non-zero, Israel like it has done in the past will change course.

      • JeffB

        This reply was meant for Martin Heldt above not Neil.

  • Eduardo Sanchez

    Mr. Alon Ben-Meir,
    I am shocked at your comments, you should be ashamed, it’s obvious that you don’t understand the idea of Israel being the only Jewish state in the world, the danger of having lefties or liberals in Israel is what endangers it’s very existence.
    You probably don’t believe in G-d, cause if you did you wouldn’t be making such comments, Mr. Bennett is far more realistic than you, he sees the big picture, Israel offered so many times territory in exchange for peace, well, fact is that doing that always has brought more problems, but Israel has always tried to give territory to the so called Palestinians and they refuse, their goal is to destroy Israel… I want to see all those Mexicans and Mexican descendants trying to eliminate America, launch missiles to LA, S. Fco., New York, Washington, so please, make youself a favor, move to a different country if you don’t like it, and if you don’t live there anymore stop using your Hebrew name and replace it with a Mohamed, Hussein or something like that…

  • Mark D.Stromer

    This writer doesn’t realize after all the years of Jewish history giving in to Israel’s neighbors has never resulted in peace. The author appears to be another Jew trying to please the world by the “right word” or “right deed”, this will never happen. He also becomes rather nasty as this leader doesn’t appear to bend to his narrow view, and the article goes downhill from the beginning.

  • esther noodelman

    WITH ALL DUE RESPECT,DR. BEN MEIR,IT IS YOU AND YOUR COLLEAGUES IN IMAGINARY HOPES, DREAMS AND SCHEMES THAT HAVE BROUGHT US TO DISASTER AND THE FINAL REALIZATION THAT PROFESSORS SHOULD KEEP TEACHING AND PREACHING,BUT THAT WE ARE NO LONGER IDIOTS WHO HAVE TO GRASP AT STRAWS.WAKE UP AND SMELL THE ROSES! WE NO LONGER HAVE TO GO ALONG WITH IDIOTIC DREAMS.THANK G D MANY OF OUR LEADERS LIKE BENNETT,FEIGLIN,NETANYAHU HAVE AWOKEN AND WILL NO LONGER ENDANGER OUR PRECIOUS NAIVE NATION WITH DREAMS.

  • zadimel

    Oops:the “or” in the second line should be “for.”

  • zadimel

    While Bennett’s plan seems unfair to the Palestinians who have been attempting to eliminate the Jewish State from the Middle East or the past 67 years, the “at least ten years” plan of Professor Ben-Meir would merely delay their ultimate goal: the destruction of Israel. For nearly a hundred years prior to the establishment of the Jewish State, opposition to the rejoining of foreign Jewish settlers with those of the Ottoman Empire and its successor British version was endemic among the local Arabs and some others, who were drawn to the building of a strengthening economy,particularly in the 1930s. Allowing a fully functional,independent Palestinian Arab nation with a well-armed constabulary and military force to exist within a short walk of the Jewish State would be suicidal.

  • Bear Klein

    Actually Bennett realizes that a Palestinian State is a threat to Israel as evidenced by 20 years of post Oslo violence (1000 + dead Jews and 10,000 more wounded). The Palestinians do not agree to a permanent Jewish Nation State and have not done so for 100 years and this is the root of the conflict.

    Bennett has a plan where not one Jew or Arab moves from their home. His plan allows for Arab autonomy where 97% of the Arabs live in Area A/B. The Arabs would have freedom of movement.

    Area C which is vitally needed for Israeli security and where about 400,000 Jews live and maybe 50K Arabs would be annexed to Israel. The Arabs would be offered their choice of residence or citizenship.

    The plan is not a magic pill to cure all ills in the conflict, as Bennett says himself. The plan is open to modification.

    Bennett is a proud, intelligent Israeli who deals with reality and not the delusional thinking of a two state solution, that is nothing more than a formula for war from a less desirable geographic position for Israel.

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