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Say It With Me: Bennett Is Establishing an Apartheid State

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem, in August.
Naftali Bennett in Jerusalem, in August.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Haaretz Editor-in-Chief Aluf Benn offered a skillful analysis of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s first 100 days in office in a piece published yesterday. In contrast to the anyone-but-Bibi sect, which is enamored with itself and can’t stop effusing about the change in style that Bennett has introduced – how he compliments his cabinet ministers and how we don’t hear anything from members of his family – Benn rightly minimized the significance of the style, to which people now ecstatically cling, and got right to the point: “[Bennett] gallops softly and determinedly toward one state with millions of Palestinian subjects,” Benn writes.

But it’s not just “one state” that Bennett is establishing. He’s establishing an apartheid state. That word "apartheid" needs to appear from now on in every text. Apartheid will be Israel’s middle name, at least from the moment its prime minister declared that he has no interest in a peace agreement with the Palestinians and that the occupation is eternal in his view.

Bennett deserves credit for telling the truth: He ended the masquerade of a peace process, which wasn’t a process and never intended to achieve peace. His predecessor once mumbled something about “two states,” which now, too, is over. That’s a positive development.

Bennett also said that he will not meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. That’s also for the better. What’s the point of one more in a series of photo ops that never, and I mean never, sought to bring about a just arrangement. Their only purpose was to ingratiate ourselves with the Americans and the Europeans, so they would let Israel continue to consolidate the occupation, build more settlements and ethnically cleanse more territory. What’s the point of issuing declarations about a two-state solution about which not a single prime minister was sincere, if it’s possible to say “one state” without upsetting anyone. That is the important point that Benn noticed: Bennett is the first to do so without annoying anyone.

The Israeli peace camp and the rest of the world embrace this founder of apartheid who intends to kill the Palestinian dream softly and even says as much. It’s not that the dream wasn’t already dead, but now it’s even impossible to dream.

“Apartheid” must be said, not for its lyrical beauty but as a punch to the face of the world that embraces Bennett. The American and the Egyptian presidents have gone out of their way to embrace this new, not-Netanyahu, and somebody needs to remind them whom they’re embracing. There were a considerable number of world leaders, including our own Yitzhak Rabin, who embraced South African Prime Minister John Vorster and later suffered regret and perhaps even shame. Now the world embraces Bennett, an affable, humble, pragmatic, talented and sane man, without seeing what’s hiding behind the man they embrace.

Well then, my dear Europeans, Arabs and Americans, you are enthusing over a sworn apartheidist. Make no mistake. You really should believe him when he says he has no intention of allowing the establishment of a Palestinian state.

But what are your conclusions, Bennett-embracers of the world? That instead of a single Palestinian state, he intends to give them two states? Or maybe citizenship, equal rights and “one person, one vote” in a single state? What do you think his goal is, if not a modern apartheid state? What is the endgame of this friend of yours, if not apartheid South Africa in a different format?

And now to the challenge that has been placed before the world. Any embrace of Bennett is an embrace of apartheid. Not everything can be wrapped in gratitude for being rid of Netanyahu. The willful blindness and the self-deception must end. Precisely because Bennett is so decent, humble and talented there is a need to look straight ahead and say: If not two states, then one state. If not democracy, then apartheid.

Bennett has chosen apartheid. There must be a price for that in the world beyond Israel.

How moving it was to see him apologize publicly to the family of one Israeli soldier, Barel Hadaria Shmueli; how shocking and unsettling to understand his vision for 5 million human beings who are fated to live as subhumans forever. This is the man you embrace, Joe Biden, Angela Merkel and Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi. Hey world, you up?

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