Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Israeli Right’s Monstrous Naiveté on the Occupation

Rogel Alpher,

Image from article, with caption: An Israeli border policeman orders Palestinians to move away from a checkpoint, Hebron, March 15, 2015.
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The grand obsession of the Israeli right is hasbara, public diplomacy. Benjamin Netanyahu, Naftali Bennett and Avigdor Lieberman are all convinced that if they could only explain the situation with logic and vigor, the world would understand. If the world would only listen, it would open its eyes. The criticism of the occupation, and the foolish insistence on the two-state solution, would end.

This obsession reveals the right’s innocence. The right, of course, tends to accuse the left of naivete. But the truth is that the extent of right-wing naivete is monstrous. The right-wing government’s new minister of hasbara is the former chairman of the Yesha Council of settlements, Dani Dayan, who was recently appointed Israel’s consul general in New York. He has declared that his main job is hasbara. He knows how to do it right, he said. He’ll tell them.

From time to time, Dayan publishes an opinion piece in The New York Times. He always uses the dateline “Maale Shomron, West Bank.” In July 2012, while boasting of the “realpolitik” that characterizes his approach and explaining that “Israel’s moral claim to [Judea and Samaria] and the right of Israelis to call them home today, is ... unassailable. Israel’s moral claim to Judea and Samara” and “the right of Israelis to call them home today, is therefore unassailable” and that “our presence in all of Judea and Samaria — not just in the so-called settlement blocs — is an irreversible fact,” Dayan was happy to report on an idyll: “Today, security ... prevails. ... “the economies are thriving; a new Palestinian city, Rawabi, is being built north of Ramallah; Jewish communities are growing; checkpoints are being removed; and tourists of all nationalities are again visiting Bethlehem and Shiloh.” He quotes the left-wing former cabinet minister Yossi Beilin as saying that a senior U.S. diplomat who toured the area told him “he found everyone ... Israel, the Palestinian Authority ... content with the current situation.” Dayan concludes: “The settlements of Judea and Samaria are not the problem — they are part of the solution.”

In his monstrous, blinding, fantasizing naivete, Dayan thought, in the summer of 2012, that the Palestinians in effect accepted as an irreversible fact the presence of settlers throughout Judea and Samara. He thought these people, disinherited and without civil rights, were happy with their lot. Such was the view out his window in “Maale Shomron, West Bank.”

Writing on June 8, 2014, “Dani Dayan, Maale Shomron, West Bank,” was even more optimistic. His monstrous naivete had taken on the proportions of caricature: “Israelis must let go of the trauma of the Second Intifada,” he said, based on his realpolitik analyses, the ultimate in realpolitik. He called for introducing drastic and immediate improvement in the everyday lives of the Palestinians, dismantling the separation barrier to restore complete freedom of movement and allow them to re-enter the Israeli job market — as a kind of prize for their submissive willingness to accept his eternal presence in “Maale Shomron, West Bank.”

He went so far in his utopia as to say that “Palestinians need to return to Israeli cities, and not only as blue-collar workers. Palestinian academics should be included in Israel’s advanced industries: An engineer from Ramallah should be able to work in Tel Aviv, and a Palestinian doctor treating patients in an Israeli hospital should not be a rare sight.” He called for rehabilitating the refugee camps out of recognition that a two-state solution is obsolete. We can only conclude that this naive man is simply detached from reality, deluded. He doesn’t know any settlers like Habayit Hayehudi MK Bezalel Smotrich. And he doesn’t know any 15-year-old Palestinian boys.

The problem is that his illusion, his utterly false picture of the world, is shared by everyone on the right. This hallucinatory, impossible vision is its vision. That’s what the right has to offer. That’s their explanation. And they call John Kerry messianic.

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