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A Perfect Work of Evasion

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Benjamin Netanyahu during the UN General Assembly meeting in New York, U.S., September 27, 2018
Benjamin Netanyahu during the UN General Assembly meeting in New York, U.S., September 27, 2018Credit: Bloomberg

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to the UN General Assembly Thursday night was a work of art with regard to evading the principal issue that has been threatening Israel’s existence for 51 years now, namely, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Year after year, Netanyahu exploits this respectable platform to send the same message: It’s 1938, the world’s deal with Iran is like the Munich Agreement, Iran is Nazi Germany and Europe is to blame.

Year after year, he mobilizes all his rhetorical talents and all the visual aids at his disposal to warn the world of the Iranian threat, and above all to try to rouse the Europeans from their slumber of appeasement and recruit them against the Hitler of our day.

Netanyahu attacked the UN for its attitude toward Israel and claimed that accusing Israel of racism is anti-Semitism. In his view, racism is against blacks, and he recruited the airlift of Ethiopian Jewry as proof of Israel’s innocence. As if racism against Arabs wasn’t flourishing under his rule, and as if he himself hadn’t spurred his voters to run to the polls in the last election by means of unbridled incitement against Israeli Arabs exercising their democratic rights.

It’s “preposterous” that “Israel is called racist for making Hebrew its official language and the Star of David its national flag,” Netanyahu declared in feigned innocence, as if the nation-state law didn’t enshrine the superiority of Judaism.

“There are dozens of countries that define themselves as nation states of a particular people, even though there are many ethnic and national minorities within their borders. None of those countries are denigrated or libeled for celebrating their unique national identity,” he lied brazenly. As if there were other nation-states in which nationality and citizenship aren’t identical. France belongs to the French and Germany to the Germans. But Israel, according to the nation-state law, belongs to the Jews.

Unlike Europeans and Americans, who are liable to be led astray by Netanyahu’s rhetorical juggling act, a great many Israelis who live here understand that he’s lying about the nation-state law and about the direction in which Israel is heading.

The value of the prime minister’s achievements, the praise he heaped on himself and the diplomatic ties he has forged depend solely on his ability to harness them for solving the state’s principal problem. Otherwise, Israel has no future.

U.S. President Donald Trump made it clear on Wednesday that the American peace plan is based on the two-state solution. Trump’s remarks were an invitation to Netanyahu to respond, but Netanyahu, as usual, refused to bite. He thereby reduced his speech to that of a UN ambassador who needs to sell a “cover story” to hide the fact that the person leading the country lacks any desire to promote a just and fair solution for our region.

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