Netanyahu's 'Ethnic Cleansing' Video Is Leading Us Down the Road to Masada Redux

Why stop at charges of ‘ethnic cleansing?’ The prime minister should declare a revolt against the whole world.

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Netanyahu in the Negev during the Passover holiday.
A file photo showing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Negev desert.Credit: Screenshot from YouTube
Nehemia Shtrasler
Nehemia Shtrasler

Now I am absolutely certain. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu doesn’t simply love peace, he pursues peace. The video he posted recently testifies better than a stadium full of witnesses to just how much he is really a secret dove of peace, which has flown the coop. In it, the prime minister revealed to the whole world a new proposal for a peace agreement, an agreement that does not involve difficult evacuations and dramas. Netanyahu said that the settlements are not an obstacle to peace, just as the Arab inhabitants of Israel are not an obstacle to peace. He even calls the Palestinian demand for evacuation of settlements “ethnic cleansing.” No less.

So let’s not get carried away by the provocation. Let’s set aside the harsh and incorrect words and concentrate on the main thing: on the diplomatic solution that is hiding behind them. According to Netanyahu, there is a clear parallel between the Arabs of Israel and the settlers and therefore the moment a Palestinian state is established in the West Bank and the settlers are registered as its citizens, just like the Arabs of Israel here, there will be no need to carry out “ethnic cleansing” on any side – an elegant solution worthy of adopting.

The problem is that not for a single moment does Netanyahu dream of implementing this. His intention in choosing the words “ethnic cleansing” is to establish a parallel between the Palestinians and the Nazis, and between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Adolf Hitler. His intention is to raise the walls of hatred higher, to insert another barrier between them and us – in order to gain time. This is the entire strategy. From his perspective, every day that goes by without a withdrawal is a net gain.

Every day we build another house in the settlement of Kedumim is an achievement. Every day we pave another road in the territories is a celebration. He figures that when we reach a critical mass of settlers, the two-state solution will go up in smoke and we will keep ruling the Palestinian people forever.

This policy has been very successful vis-à-vis United States President Barack Obama. Netanyahu has made a laughingstock of him throughout his entire term. He made promises to the president and broke them and this week too he tarred and feathered him. He trumpeted “ethnic cleansing” and Obama, the anti-leader, reacted with a whispered mutter: ”We believe that using that type of terminology is inappropriate and unhelpful.” Could there be a more wishy-washy formulation?

It is not by chance that President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin thumbs his nose at Obama. He annexed the Crimean Peninsula to Russia contrary to what the president thought and became a key player in Syria contrary to the interests of the United States. Nor has the world forgotten how Obama folded in face of the Russian president when he gave up the positioning of ballistic missiles in Europe. Even the leader of North Korea, dictator Kim Jong-Un, scoffs at him. Kim carried out a fifth nuclear test even though he had promised Obama full disarmament, and Obama again mumbled something pusillanimous and vague.

It’s no accident that the Americans are now looking for a leader who will restore to America the strategic assets it has lost and halt the ongoing erosion of its standing.

Moreover, Netanyahu is not afraid to travel to Russia, for another useless round of talks with Mahmoud Abbas. He can sit and talk until the cows come home about “a diplomatic process” and “a freeze” and “arrangements” and then resume the talks the next day. In the meantime he will have gained another 24 hours without withdrawing from a single millimeter of the territories.

But since Netanyahu likes to innovate, the next time he should not content himself merely with making charges of “ethnic cleansing,” which managed to annoy only half the world. He should go all out and declare a revolt against the whole world. He has a good historical model: the Zealots’ revolt against Rome. They too were messianic. They too led the nation into a schism and a civil war. They too caused the destruction of the Temple, the ruination of the Galilee and Jerusalem, the deaths of tens of thousands, the captivity of hundreds of thousands and an exile that lasted for 2,000 years. But what does all that matter? The important thing is that the story came to a good end: the episode at Masada. And that is exactly where he is leading us.

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