Opinion |

Right-wing Israeli Lawmaker’s Plan to Coerce Palestinian Departure Is Nothing but a Fantasy

Despicable and impossible to describe without using the word 'apartheid,' Bezalel Smotrich's plan is really just a distraction

Iris Leal
Iris Leal
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Bezalel SmotrichMK Bezalel Smotrich in Jerusalem, September 12, 2017
MK Bezalel Smotrich in Jerusalem, September 12, 2017Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Iris Leal
Iris Leal

The plan for the territories proposed by MK Bezalel Smotrich is despicable, but it is also merely an intentional distraction. The semantics as well as the content of the fantasy that Smotrich surely wants to call visionary are disgraceful. Its main planks are the annexation of the West Bank, the voluntary expulsion of Palestinians who have not given up on their national aspirations and the establishment of cantons for the remainder, who will live comfortable lives devoid of rights — or be dealt with by security forces.

How will they run their lives, if they choose to remain without rights? After all, not only will they not gain the right to vote for the Knesset, but they will also be stripped of the possibility of influence in their daily lives, in the use of their land and their water.

The Smotrich plan offers them citizenship in name only, a life that even South Africa’s blacks would have rejected before the end of apartheid.

We touched a nerve here: When there is no choice but to mention the words “apartheid” and “transfer” — only a verbal acrobat could describe the plan without having to resort to them — it hurts Smotrich’s feelings.

“If there is any deficiency in the democratic nature of the plan, that does not mean it is not democratic,” Smotrich told Haaretz this week. “Israel is a democratic state and it will remain democratic. The democracy will not be perfect. If I must choose how I project the imperfect reality, I prefer the deficiency to be democratic.”

I am certain that he smiled a little when he said those words. No one has ever taken the name of democracy in vain with such intensity.

The goal of his plan, says Smotrich, is to change the public debate. To do so he proposes crappy new terms. But the real lie is in his declared desire to provide a true alternative to any plan that is based on dividing the land.

His plan is truly despicable, but it hopeless and nothing more than a trick, meant to distract. Smotrich has a rich fantasy life that is impossible to implement. When he admitted it, he actually referred to sexual fantasies, but anyone who heard him tell Israel Channel 2 News anchor Dana Weiss, a year and a half ago, “We are waiting for the Temple every day” and promise that he will not concede any part of the Land of Israel — in the dimensions specified in the Bible, which go as far as Damascus — could not help but notice the suppressed smile, in place of a wink, asking that his remarks not be taken seriously.

Smotrich’s plan is a distraction because his participation in two governments did not enable him to carry out his fantasies of absolute control, which draws its moral strength from Jewish superiority. Smotrich tells Habayit Hayehudi’s voters that after an enormous mental effort he managed to reach the perfect plan, which makes all the dialogue with the Palestinians superfluous, the absolute solution.

So for all the voters for the nationalist-messianic right and their ilk, I have the moral obligation to serve as a bucket of ice water: There will be no annexation and no transfer, nor will you live to see citizenship without rights. This, because if it were possible to make this fever dream come true, it would have already happened. See under Avigdor Lieberman and his promise to Ismail Haniyeh.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “keep dreaming” video greeting to Smotrich’s conference demonstrates this best. At the end of the conference, after the lights were turned off, we were left with two options: either a negotiated settlement, or devastation. So far, the choice is for the latter.



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