Israel’s Threat From Within

Washington Blade’s contributor Richard J. Rosendoll writes about the home-grown fanaticism that isolates the Jewish state.

RichardJ.Rosendoll180x200A pair of recent atrocities by Israeli terrorists (which is what they must be called) underscores the futility of diverting attention from the country’s oppression of Palestinians by emphasizing its pro-gay policies.

The fatal stabbing of 16-year-old Shira Banki at Jerusalem Pride, and the firebombing death of Palestinian Sa’ad Dawabshe and his baby son, Ali Dawabshe, in a West Bank village, point to increased Israeli fanaticism. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appropriately denounced the attacks, but that is small comfort coming from a man who has done so much to stoke the extremism that led to the crimes.

The deluge of threats against Israeli President Reuven Rivlin after he condemned the violence demonstrates that vigils for the victims are not enough. The present situation disturbingly echoes the one 21 ago when a right-wing extremist killed Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin as he left a peace rally. At the time, Netanyahu eloquently said that bullets would not be allowed to determine the course of government, but in fact they did.

Israel is isolating itself more and more, including from American Jews, and failing to address internal threats for which it has planted the seeds. Netanyahu’s pledge in March never to return occupied land was not just an election ploy. Israel continues to build new West Bank settlements while knocking down Palestinians’ houses and cutting down their olive groves. In light of this, expressions of horror are unconvincing.

As a longtime supporter of Israel, I am well aware that it has faced existential threats since its birth. I know there are fifty majority-Muslim countries and only one Jewish country. Israel is the nation that made the desert bloom, a democracy surrounded by despotisms. But 48 years into its occupation of the West Bank, the bloom has wilted. Israel has weathered many storms. But its settler movement is increasingly unhinged, and its alliance with America has never frayed as badly as it has under Netanyahu, whose aggressive interference in America’s foreign affairs is unprecedented.

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