Israel’s descent into unmasked, right wing extremism: A new generation rises to fight occupation, settler-colonialism, apartheid – Omar Barghouti/Salon.com
This Palestinian resistance is a spontaneous reaction to the most racist, far-right government in Israel’s history
As I write these words, a new unflinching generation of Palestinians is rising up against Israel’s decades-old regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid.
I usually succeed in shutting out the bloody images and the haunting stories of our children being brutalized by Israel’s occupying army so that I can focus on contributing my fair share to the emancipation of my people, without being emotionally overwhelmed, drained, and disempowered. But at a certain point you cannot help but reach a level of heavy heartedness. So I am not in a mood to write diplomatically today.
This phase of popular Palestinian resistance has broken out spontaneously, in reaction to exceptionally repressive policies of the most racist, settler-dominated and far-right government in Israel’s history.
Since Benjamin Netanyahu’s return to power in 2009, Israel’s descent into unmasked, right wing extremism has accelerated alarmingly. The number of Jewish settlers living illegally on occupied Palestinian land has grown by more than 120,000, something Netanyahu was recently caught on tape boasting about. Meanwhile, a steady stream of discriminatory, anti-democratic laws targeting Palestinian citizens of Israel, and to a lesser extent Jewish-Israeli critics of Israel’s apartheid regime, have been passed by the Israeli parliament. These include the so-called “boycott law,” and the “Nakba law.”
Following a recent visit to occupied Palestine, South African Parliamentary Speaker Baleka Mbete wrote, “Apartheid in South Africa was a picnic compared to what we have seen in the occupied territories.” Not just in the occupied territories, actually.
The ongoing Israeli “state terrorism” against Palestinians all over historic Palestine, the violent attacks and desecration campaigns by fanatic Jewish fundamentalists against Palestinian civilians, including burning a toddler and his parents alive, and the systematic desecration of our Christian and Muslim places of prayer, particularly the Al-Aqsa (Noble Sanctuary) mosque compound, were the direct trigger for the current Palestinian uprising, dubbed “The Jerusalem Intifada” by several political parties and youth groups.
For more than a decade, the fanatical messianic “Temple Mount movement” has been growing inside Israel, with the ultimate goal of destroying the Muslim shrines on the Noble Sanctuary and replacing them with a temple, something they declare openly.
Once on the fringes of Israeli society, today this dangerous fundamentalist movement has moved into the mainstream, counting senior government officials among its adherents. The Israeli government in fact provides direct financial and political support to extremist settler groups, like the Temple Institute and others, that are colonizing Palestinian homes and neighborhoods in Jerusalem and actively working towards building a temple in place of the Al-Aqsa mosque, putting paid to hollow, disingenuous claims by Netanyahu that Palestinians have no reason to fear an Israeli desire to change the status quo on the site.
The seemingly random but persistent Israeli violent attacks against Palestinians are in fact part of an official Israeli strategy whose goal is to intensify the ethnic cleansing and “Judaization” of occupied East Jerusalem, especially its Old City and, and to eventually take over the Noble Sanctuary. This was done with the historic Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron following the 1994 massacre of 29 Palestinian worshippers by an Israeli-American terrorist. Following the massacre, Israel’s occupation authorities partitioned the mosque and gave half of it to Hebron’s notoriously far-right and violent settler population for exclusive Jewish use, effectively rewarding them for the murderous acts of the killer who came from their midst and egging them on to pursue their criminal attacks on Palestinians with impunity.
As early as 2012, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing accused Israel of pursuing a “strategy of Judaization“:
“From the Galilee and the Negev to east Jerusalem and the West Bank, the Israeli authorities promote a territorial development model that excludes, discriminates against and displaces minorities, particularly affecting Palestinian communities, side by side with the accelerated development of predominantly Jewish settlements.”
Even the U.S. State Department acknowledged in its 2009 International Religious Freedom Report: that “many of the national and municipal policies in Jerusalem were designed to limit or diminish the non-Jewish population of Jerusalem.” The prominent South African jurist John Dugard compared those policies to those applied by apartheid South Africa.
This strategy could not succeed without the rubber-stamp Israeli judiciary, which a UN fact-finding report of the Israeli attack on Gaza in 2009 condemned as having “structural flaws,” and without the prevailing culture of violent racism and dehumanization of Palestinians that has taken over Israeli society.