News Flash: We Were All Wrong. Israel Is Perfect, After All

Moral: Criticize at your peril.

Bradley Burston
Bradley Burston
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A rainbow over the Neve Tzedek neighborhood in Tel Aviv, November 25, 2014
A rainbow over the Neve Tzedek neighborhood in Tel Aviv, November 25, 2014Credit: Adoram Leshem
Bradley Burston
Bradley Burston

Over the past two weeks, something has happened that should have changed the way all people everywhere view the Jewish state:

Israel, it turns out, is perfect after all.

Initial indications came at the end of May. As he often does, the prime minister was the first to identify the shift.

"The last thing we need to do is to bow our heads and ask where we went wrong, where we erred," Benjamin Netanyahu told the cabinet.

"We have done nothing wrong, and we have not erred."

According to Netanyahu, BDS, the "great struggle being waged against the State of Israel, an international campaign to blacken its name," has nothing to do with what is incorrectly termed the occupation of the incorrectly named West Bank.

It has nothing to do with anti-Arab Knesset bills incorrectly called racist, or Palestinian-owned land seized to build settlements incorrectly labeled illegal; nor with jailings, shootings and killings of Palestinians, some of them children; nor with settlers uprooting Palestinian crops and stoning Palestinian farmers and shepherds; nor with a grotesquely draconian anti-boycott law; nor with Israeli troops hindering Palestinian access to health care, education, travel; nor with separate but unequal school, infrastructure and other budget allocations to Jewish and Palestinian Israelis.

No.

"It doesn't matter what we do, but rather what we represent," Netanyahu told his ministers.

"What hasn't been said about Jews in history – that we are the source of evil in the world, that we drink the blood of small children - all this has been said about us. It was not true then, and it is not true now. As long as we reject this and refrain from self-flagellation, we will be stronger and more solid."

This week, Netanyahu expanded on his remarks. Above all, while Israel is urging a resumption of diplomacy over a solution to the conflict, the Palestinians are shunning negotiations and, in fact, running away from them.

"They ran from Barak, Sharon and Olmert, they ran from them all, and then they accuse us. Here, as well, their cynicism knows no bounds, and I regret that there are those who fall into this trap of organized hypocrisy."

In order to fight delegitimization as a country which opposes concessions for peace, "We will gather forces in Israel and around the world to shatter the lies of our enemies," said Netanyahu, flanked by Silvan Shalom (whom Netanyahu put in charge of talks with the Palestinians, and who is on record as opposing Palestinian statehood), and his other cabinet ministers, a majority of whom (including Uri Ariel, Miri Regev, Naftali Bennett, Ze'ev Elkin, Yaakov Katz, Danny Danon, Ofir Akunis, Ayelet Shaked, Haim Katz, and Yariv Levin) have explicitly and implacably voiced opposition to any two-state solution.

To be fair, the prime minister, his ministers, and such self-styled pro-Israel, effectively pro-occupation, advocacy groups as StandWithUs, often preface or follow their remards by saying, in the tone of exaggerated nobility which Netanyahu affected during the cabinet sessions, "We are not a perfect country, we do not pretend to be such."

Criticize, however, at your peril. As analyst Dahlia Scheindlin noted in a Tuesday +972 Magazine article titled "Against 'hasbara': Explaining ourselves to death,"

StandWithUs "members are known for attack-dog argumentation strategy and aggressive social media battles in which they gang up against those who criticize Israel in ways they do not accept. It is a tactic they share with far-right groups such as NGO Monitor. The latter, along with media watchdogs [like CAMERA], tracks every word published. They bully authors for critical attitudes, harangue and seek to discredit them over minutia."

Social media also function as a vehicle to attack and even routinely threaten critics of Netanyahu, occupation, and the current order.

Recently, when a prominent Israeli broadcast journalist interviewed President Obama on Israel Channel Two television, Ruthie Blum, a columnist for Sheldon Adelson's strongly pro-Netanyahu Israel Hayom daily, posted a question to her Facebook page:

"Watching Ilana Dayan interviewing Obama. The only question I want to know the answer to is: Do I shoot her or myself?"

The second comment she received was perhaps the most predictable: "Shoot Obama."

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