Bibi’s Vulgarity: Using the Paris Shooting to Justify Israeli Colonialism

Making Israel the focal point of his message of condolence was crass and vulgar. Sure, he correctly stated that the Charlie Hebdo massacre was an attack on the values of Western civilization, but he was wrong in assuming that Israel is a shining beacon of that civilization.

Roy Isacowitz
Roy Isacowitz
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Armed French intervention police and firemen gather at the scene of a shooting in the street of Montrouge near Paris January 8, 2015.
Armed French intervention police and firemen gather at the scene of a shooting in the street of Montrouge near Paris January 8, 2015.Credit: Reuters
Roy Isacowitz
Roy Isacowitz

Never one to miss a self-serving opportunity, Benjamin Netanyahu issued an extraordinarily pompous and inappropriate statement in response to the massacre in Paris on Wednesday.

Being the lofty expert in terrorism that he is, Israel's prime minister did not indulge in the regular human reactions of shock, horror and sadness that typically accompany an incident like the one in Paris. Such gawky emotions are for lesser beings who don’t grasp the big picture, as he does.

Instead, Bibi took it upon himself to lecture France – and the rest of the world, while he was at it – about how to deal with Islamist terror; a prescription which seems to consist entirely of thinking as he does and supporting Israel, come hell or high water.

"The terror of Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS and Al-Qaida" won't end "unless the West fights it physically, rather than fighting its false arguments," the Great Thinker said. Note the order in which Netanyahu's purveyors of terror are listed.

The goal of Islamist terror, he continued, "is not agreement or borders or even Israel not mainly Israel and not primarily Israel. The key goal of Islamic terror is to destroy our societies and our countries. To uproot our human culture, which is based on freedom and a culture of choice and to impose in its place a fundamentalist dictatorship which will return humanity to years long past.”

That, after gunmen claiming affiliation with Al-Qaida in Yemen murdered left-wing journalists in Paris. Why bring Israel into the equation?

The Charlie Hebdo journalists died because, in the twisted logic of their killers, they had ridiculed the Muslim prophet. It’s probably fair to assume that the killers are not members of their local France-Israel friendship association, but that their views on Israel had absolutely nothing to do with their murderous rampage on Wednesday.

To make Israel the focal point, as Bibi did, is not only crass and vulgar; it testifies strikingly to the cognitive deficiencies of the man. His invariable reduction of the complexities of the Middle East and Islamist radicalism to Muslim hatred of Israel is beyond ludicrous. It’s a salutary reminder of his mental befuddlement for the Israelis who will have to decide whether to retain his services in March.

To be fair, Bibi was right in saying that the massacre at Charlie Hebdo was an attack on the values of Western civilization. Where he went wrong was in assuming that Israel shares in those values – honors and practices them – to the same extent that France does, say, or Britain. It doesn't. And it won't be anywhere near a full partner of the West for as long as Netanyahu and his ilk insist on grinding the Palestinians beneath the Israeli colonial boot.

Someone needs to remind our prime minister that colonialism is no longer a foundational principle of Western civilization. The son of an historian and a bit of a history buff himself, Bibi should not need reminding. But, bereft as he is of any ideas to solve the impasse with the Palestinians, he probably believes he'll get away with a bit of self-serving nonsense while everyone else is distracted by human emotion.

The irony, of course, is that the cartoonists and journalists who were killed in Paris would have been the first to recognize the crudeness and absurdity of Bibi's statement. After all, it was their sensitivity to – and abhorrence of – the very rigidity and hypocrisy that Netanyahu typifies which led to their being slaughtered in the first place.

Had Cabu or Charb or Tignous or Wolinski been alive today, they may well have regarded Bibi's arrogance and chutzpah as perfect material for a cartoon.

But they're dead – and Bibi was quick to seize the opportunity their deaths gave him to explain to Francois Hollande and the other European wimps that blind, irrational hatred of Israel lies at the heart of all Islamist militancy – even when it involves non-Jewish (except for one) satirists in the heart of Paris. Murderous Islamists and dead lefties; what could be better?

Violent Islamic fundamentalism – like all religious fundamentalism – is abhorrent and needs to be countered vigorously. But that has nothing to do with Israel and it certainly doesn't make Israeli colonialism right. Even if the Palestinians were on a murderous par with ISIS – which they are not – it still wouldn't make Israeli colonialism right.

As my dear Bobba used to say, two wrongs don't make a right. Not even if Bibi says they do.

Roy Isacowitz is a journalist and writer living in Tel Aviv and an editor at Haaretz English Edition.

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