Israel Is Trying to Piss You Off. And It's Working.

Netanyahu doesn't want you here. He doesn't want your kind backing Israel, wherever you are. He wants La Familia and Kahana to stay, and you to go.

Bradley Burston
Bradley Burston
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Bradley Burston
Bradley Burston

Benjamin Netanyahu doesn't want you. He doesn't need you.

And, if you are a person who believes that Israel should deal honestly, creatively, and vigorously with the real-life needs of both Israelis and Palestinians in distress, you may go now, thank you very much.

You're only in the way.

If you can't see Israel as a valiant, victimized, unqualified economic miracle, if you can't find it in your heart to recognize the Jewish state as an unalloyed democracy, a lone stable island of universal human rights and respect for freedom of worship in a churning ocean of fanaticism and despotism and bigotry, your rightful place is, as they say in Hebrew, not here.

Take off, Netanyahu is telling you. Make my day.

Makes no difference who you are, where you are, how much you care about Israel or Judaism. If you live here, he's telling you, you better accept that your children – if they want to have a decent shot at a decent life - will have to choose between one exile or another. Either exile in Berlin or Christchurch, or exile in the settlements of Ariel or Talmon.

If you live abroad, and you still support the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians to self-determination, security, freedom of opportunity, Netanyahu is telling you, you can get off the bus at the very next stop.

He's got time for his donors, like New Jersey-based telecommunications mogul Howard Jonas, the driving force behind a superfluous fracking project that was thankfully averted by environmental groups and the Environmental Protection Ministry (the country's one-ministry in-house Opposition) before the oil shale process could destroy one of Israel's most beautiful rural areas.

He's got no time for you.

If you want to be an Israel lover, he's telling you, you gotta get with my friends. You gotta slam your body down, and wind it all around, until you can accept that when Israel actually does something that seems right and just, Bibi's friends will trash it and disavow it and work to circumvent it until they get their way.

If the Supreme Court upholds the rights of African asylum seekers working to avoid return to lethal home nation environments, Netanyahu – with a nod to the racist, Kahanist, lowest common denominator of Israeli voter - will take pains to dismiss all African refugees as opportunistic sham welfare cheats. And then his Interior Minister Gideon Saar will suspend his announced departure from public life with a vow to fight the High Court, a move supported by a Kahanist former MK who calls the Court a greater danger to Israel's existence than the Islamic State.

Netanyahu doesn't want you here. He doesn't want your kind backing Israel. He wants La Familia and Kahana to stay, and you to go.

Even if you're a principal ally like the United States or Great Britain, whose governments stuck with Israel through the horrific casualties of the recent Gaza war, Netanyahu will let you have it, again and again and again.

The smoke of battle had yet to clear this summer, before new West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements were announced, and Israel's diplomatic version of stray artillery shells had landed squarely on the White House and 10 Downing St.

Having worn down John Kerry and pissed off the President enough to deep-six peace talks, Netanyahu's next mission is re-election. To that end, he has worked to keep his current term going for as long as possible, that is, in November, 2017. And his best bet, in that regard, may be an electorate too beaten-down and hopeless to even bother to vote.

In case that fails, though, another possible line of attack-as-defense came to light last week – the notion that people complaining about the day-to-day hardships of life in Israel are nothing but unpatriotic whiners and/or scammers.

In a remarkable opinion piece in Israel Hayom, the pro-Netanyahu mass-circulation daily, columnist Emily Amrusi argued that there is no hunger in Israel, and that poverty is largely a fiction promulgated and exploited by NGOs trolling for donations.

The article comes in the wake of OECD figures showing that Israel has the highest poverty rate in the developed world, with more than one in five Israelis living in poverty, and with the poor population having grown more than in any other OCED nation.

The article also follows a study released this year, showing that of the some 190,000 Holocaust survivors living in Israel today, some 50,000 live in poverty, with one in five having been forced to choose between buying food or medication during the past two years.

Nonetheless, writes Amrusi, a former spokeswoman for the YESHA [Judea and Samaria West Bank settlements] Council, "Just as 'human rights' organizations head-butt Israel from the outside, and make war against it, so do food-charity NGOs make war internally."

In a play on an old settler ad campaign ("YESHA is Right Here"), she continues, "For public relations purposes, they prompt the citizens of Israel to believe that Hell is Right Here."

Nonetheless, Amrusi concludes, "Israel is one of the best places in the world in which to live."

There it is: the blueprint for the new Netanyahu party line: "No poor, no problem."
As in: "No Palestine, no problem."

As in: "Gaza in ruins? Somebody else's problem."

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