The Death of Peace in Israel
Against universal vengeance
Love justice, you that are the judges of the earth. Think of the Lord in goodness, and seek him in simplicity of heart
- The Book of Wisdom, from the Holy Bible
The destruction of human life for political ends is a crime. We in the West know well the programme of violent jihad. Calls to crush an entire people in response, however, are never permitted outside of Israel. Now they are celebrated.
The situation in Israel is the polarisation of a crisis between two factions. Both seek to widen their war by mobilising their allies. Hamas cannot hope to win a military victory. It seeks to involve state level actors in Hezbollah and in sympathetic nations, whilst also appealing for “al Aqsa” day of Islamic action on Friday 13th of October.
The faction which now directs the Israeli state also seeks to partner with international allies. Both sides see in escalation and the atrocities it produces a means of rallying support for their cause. This cause is the extermination of the other.
With the threat of a wider regional war, and fresh waves of terrorism across the world in response to a threatened “months long” ground invasion of Gaza, it is time to ask how and why this conflict suddenly exploded.
Why is the Israel we see today not the Israel of yesterday?
The Al-Aqsa Mosque
The mosque on the dome of the rock in Jerusalem is the 3rd holiest site in Islam. No non-muslim is permitted to pray there.
On the 4th of October, 2023, the mosque was occupied by around 1000 Israeli settlers. Screaming “death to the Arabs”, this crowd appeared not only to intentionally enrage muslims worldwide, but also to restate the intention of the ruling government faction to destroy the mosque and rebuild the temple in its place.
National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir visited the temple mount in July of this year. The site of the Al-Aqsa mosque, it is called the “temple mount” as it is also the site of the ancient temple of Judaism.
Ben Gvir leads the Settler-Religious party, which is in coalition with Benyamin Netanyahu’s Likud. Gvir’s party wishes to institute Halacha - the Jewish religious laws from the Torah - as the basis of the Israeli state.
He is committed to rebuilding the third temple, destroyed by the Romans in AD 70. To do this, the al-Aqsa mosque must be destroyed and replaced with it.
A ceremony must be held before the temple is built, with the mount scattered with the ashes of a red heifer. In September 2022, Netanyahu’s government celebrated the purchase and arrival in Israel of three red heifers, reported here.
Israeli settlers are behind the move to rebuild the temple, which muslims know will mean the obliteration of their third holiest shrine. The scattering of these ashes will “purify” the mount, encouraging many more religious Jews to enter the site.
“It could lead to maybe hundreds of thousands of Haredis [ultra-Orthodox Jews] or Sephardis [Spanish Jews] who might actually break into the mosque and cause a real religious war,”
This is what Dr. Abdallah Marouf, an Islamic history professor at Istanbul University and ex-media official at Al-Aqsa Mosque told MintPress News in May 2023.
Days after demonstrations by Jewish settler youths calling for “death to the Arabs” in Jerusalem, Ben Gvir told the press on his visit
“I am glad to ascend the Temple Mount, the most important place for the nation of Israel,”
“Police are doing wonderful work here and again giving a reminder of who the master of the house is in Jerusalem. All of Hamas’s threats won’t help. We are the masters of Jerusalem and all of the land of Israel.”
The Guardian reported the remarks of one Palestinian minister, warning of the dangers of provocation at the site.
Ahmad Majdalani, who is [a PLO affiliated] Palestinian minister of social development, called Ben-Gvir’s visit
“a provocative expression by the Israeli government as a whole, not just an individual expression by Ben-Gvir.
It is official policy to harm the feelings of Muslims worldwide, particularly Palestinians. We warn that if this continues, then it changes the situation from a political conflict to a religious one that cannot be controlled. The danger of this to the region cannot be overestimated.”
A Proven Method of Provocation
This technique of direct provocation has been used before.
The second Palestinian uprising, called the Al-Aqsa Intifada, was sparked by similar means. On September 28th, 2000 then opposition leader Ariel Sharon stormed the mount with 1000 heavily armed soldiers and police.
As Al-Jazeera reported in September 2020,
Diana Buttu, a Ramallah-based analyst and former adviser to the Palestinian negotiators on Oslo, said
“Everybody, including the Americans, were warning the Israelis that the Palestinians are reaching a boiling point, and you need to calm down. Instead, they turned up the fire even more.
Under the Oslo agreement by May 4, 1999, there was supposed to be an independent Palestine, Buttu noted, adding from the start of negotiations in 1993 until the start of the Intifada,
“what we saw was a fast expansion of Israel’s settlements”.
A Judicial Coup
The technique of violence is the means by which the settler-extremist faction has secured the state power to transform Israel completely.
The extreme settler movement claims all the land of Israel for the Jews. This naturally means the removal of the Palestinians from Jewish land and the settlement of Palestinian areas by Jews. It also means there can be no Palestinian state within the borders of Israel. This policy is known as Zionism. Many Jews themselves oppose it, with some Orthodox rejecting the idea of a Jewish state before the return of the Messiah.
Much of the Israeli state was staffed and informed by liberal Jews, religious and otherwise, whose direction of the major institutions is seen as an obstacle to the goals of the settler movement. This movement is now in power, with Netanyahu’s Likud.
This is the reason the police no longer prevent provocations at the Al-Aqsa mosque, as all the instruments of the state except the supreme court are now under the control of Netanyahu and his religious-settler partners.
Netanyahu has been indicted four times and currently faces prosecution on several counts of corruption. He is routinely charged in Israel’s press with leading a movement to destroy Israeli democracy in what has been described as a “judicial coup”.
“Shooting Ourselves in the Head”
Thomas Friedman in the New York Times warned in February of this year that Netanyahu’s moves towards “dictatorship” threatened an economic and violent meltdown.
Netanyahu is letting the judicial extremists in his cabinet ignite a legal intifada in Israel and a Palestinian intifada in the West Bank — at the same time.
Friedman cites an interview in Ha’aretz with Leo Bakman, the president of the Israel Institute for Innovation,
“Investors are taking a step back and saying: ‘First, decide whether you are a democracy or a dictatorship, and then we’ll talk,’” Bakman said.
“Look, I’ve been working with government ministries for years.” He continued, “We have always been apolitical. If I thought this [judicial] ‘reform’ was like shooting oneself in the foot, I would probably think twice about speaking out.
But I believe that we are shooting ourselves in the head.”
Netanyahu’s “coup” has been met with massive protests including threats of a general strike. Demonstrations have continued for months in Israel, with some coverage in the West. US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin’s visit in March was marked with a blockade of his transit airport, Ben Gurion.
Accompanied by the Israeli defence minister, Yoav Gallant, Austin spoke of his concern over the violent attacks on Palestinians by Israeli settlers,
“The United States [remains] firmly opposed to any acts that could trigger more insecurity, including settlement expansion and inflammatory rhetoric,”
reminding Netanyahu of the need for an “independent judiciary” - in a week which saw the Israeli President warn that the country was “at the point of no return”.
Two weeks later, on March 28th, Netanyahu sacked defence minister Yoav Gallant, who had opposed Netanyahu’s attempts to seize control of the judiciary. Despite refusing to apologise, Gallant was not removed. The reason given for this “serious dispute” being overlooked was that Israel’s enemies were preparing to attack.
The closer you look, the less there is of any element of surprise to the current situation.
One major reason is that Netanyahu’s entire political career has always been staked on the complete destruction of the peace process.
The Death of Peace
The Israeli government now admits that it had been warned days in advance about the Hamas attacks by the Egyptian government.
Yet the death of peace is not a surprise but a strategy. It saves Netanyahu from prosecution, which would likely see him imprisoned if he was no longer Prime Minister. This crisis is convenient, as only last week his Culture Minister Miki Zohar said Netanyahu would probably lose an election if it were called.
Without the support of Ben Gvir and his religious settler party, Netanyahu is finished. This is a further reason he has given carte blanche to the settlers and their demands for the violent expropriation of the Palestinians everywhere in Israel.
This means the death of peace, forever. The 1993 Oslo Accords were never implemented, and proposed a Palestinian state within the borders of Israel by 1999. Known as the “Two State Solution”, it is endorsed by the United Nations and is regarded as the only realistic roadmap to lasting peace.
There are reasons as to why it went nowhere.
The Two State Solution
In 1994 the first Oslo Accord was one year old. The second would come in 1995. Together, they aimed to realise the promise of two UN resolutions to secure the
"right of the Palestinian people to self-determination"
The then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was committed to implementing them and creating the Palestinian state they required. This also meant opposition to radical settlers taking more Palestinian land, and ceding some control to the Palestinians over the West Bank and Gaza.
The settler movement described Rabin as a traitor, a Nazi and an enemy of the Jewish people. In March of that year, the leader of the settler-religious party joined a demonstration with the opposition leader.
Here you see Itamar Ben-Gvir on that march with Benyamin Netanyahu. The coffin reads “Rabin is the death of Zionism”.
The next year, in November 1995, Yitzhak Rabin was shot dead by an settler-extremist.
There is a 2015 piece in the New York Times titled “The Assassination That Worked”, which gives an overview of the success of the strategy of violence versus peace.
For the 28 years since Rabin’s murder, Netanyahu has faced accusations that he incited the killing. A 2019 film, Incitement, attempts to document the pitiful cycle of violence and instability guaranteed by this political murder, which took place amid rabid statements made by Netanyahu himself.
He described Rabin as a traitor, including in this speech from 1994
“Prime Minister Rabin chose to favor Arafat and the well-being of the people of Gaza over the security of Israeli citizens.”
In 2022, on the anniversary of Rabin’s death, the leader of the Israeli Labour Party said this,
“Yitzhak Rabin was murdered in a political assassination. He was murdered in a political assassination with the cooperation of Benjamin Netanyahu and [Itamar] Ben Gvir,” Michaeli said.
Itamar Ben Gvir is now the Minister of National Security. He has a long criminal record including terrorist offences. He is infamous for having a portrait in his office of Baruch Goldstein, a settler extremist who killed 28 Palestinians and wounded 125 others in a 1994 massacre.
Ben Gvir leads a party called “Jewish Power” which is now in coalition with Netanyahu’s Likud. In 2018 Netanyahu boasted that the powerful will crush the weak.
Today’s state policies began with yesterday’s crimes. In these, Gvir and Netanyahu are partners.
Ben Gvir was filmed as a teenager boasting about stealing an emblem from Rabin’s car shortly before the assassination.
“We got to his car, and we’ll get to him, too,” he told a reporter at the time in televised comments.
“Rabin is a victim of peace”
Two youths were tried and received lenient sentences for distributing images of Rabin as a Nazi. Around the same time, Netanyahu was at rallies where supporters screamed “Death to Rabin” and called him a “murderer”, and a Nazi.
One of the youths responsible sprayed graffiti in Jerusalem after Rabin’s murder.
“Rabin is a victim of peace, Peres is next in line,”
Yitzhak Rabin was killed because he threatened these people with peace.
As The Times of Israel reported in October 2022
In the weeks before the assassination, Netanyahu, then head of the opposition, and other senior Likud members attended a right-wing political rally in Jerusalem where protesters branded Rabin a “traitor,” “murderer,” and “Nazi” for signing a peace agreement with the Palestinians earlier that year.
He also marched in a Ra’anana protest as demonstrators behind him carried a mock coffin.
Netanyahu’s political fortunes are staked on the annihilation of any chance of peace with the Palestinians. One year after the assassination, he narrowly won his first election to become Prime Minister of Israel.
He has always opposed the peace process as a betrayal of Israel. He has been Prime Minister for 16 of the 28 years since Rabin’s death.
Ha’aretz blamed Netanyahu directly on the day of the first Hamas assault. In fact, it asks a question whose answer should now be clear -
“Why did Netanyahu want to strengthen Hamas?”
A report from Wikileaks showed that Israeli intelligence looked favourably on the rise of Hamas and the replacement of less extremist Palestinian representation.
Netanyahu’s government, and especially his kingmaker National Security Minister Ben Gvir, have been bitterly criticised for failing to protect the Israeli people from the Hamas terror attacks.
Many argue their government aims to destroy democracy in Israel. Yet months of protests have come to an end with the declaration of war, and a firm pledge of support from the United States. This permits Netanyahu’s ministers to commit war crimes and call for the use of nuclear weapons on Gaza.
The Architects of the Present
Arnon Sofer is an academic whose work shaped the Gaza policy you see today. He said in 2004 that the policies he designed following Israeli withdrawal would create “…a Zionist state with an overwhelming majority of Jews.”
“When 2.5 million people live in a closed-off Gaza, it’s going to be a human catastophe. Those people will become even bigger animals than they are today, with the aid of an insane fundamentalist islam”.
This week, we have heard the Israeli Defence Minister order the collective punishment of the “human animals” in Gaza. The future Sofer hoped to forge is emerging from this fire.
Nothing is more offensive about this government than the facts about it.
The current minister of National Security Ben Gvir laughingly celebrated spitting on Christians and priests as an “old Jewish tradition”. He attended a wedding in 2015 at which guests were filmed stabbing the photograph of a dead Palestinian toddler. Music plays in the background - “revenge against the Palestinians”, bellows the chorus.
He and Netanyahu are dedicated to transforming Israel in their own image. They are criminals, and their response to the terrorism of Hamas is a terrorist attack on the 2 million people of Gaza.
Life Or The Abyss
This attack will almost certainly trigger a global wave of terror attacks which may become as routine as the brutality of life for many Israelis and Palestinians. Some seek to parlay it into a regional war. Both outcomes are possible and both will lead to the enormous multiplication of horror and human suffering.
The aim of each side in this war is to mobilise its allies. Do not join this madness. Terror begets terror, and after decades of liberal intervention the former inhabitants of countries bombed out for “democracy” now live beside us all. The deliberate collapsing of nations to shape the world to the tastes of a few is a policy which must end now.
The two state solution is the only alternative to mutual annihilation. It is a solution which may well be exported, along with the terrorism and the grievances which inspire it, far beyond the borders of Israel.
This is not a matter of who is right and who is wrong. It is a white hot fury fuelled by images of unspeakable horror, and if we do not stop it now it may consume us all.
This is a choice between life and the abyss. There has to be a better future for all of our children than annihilation. Speak for it.
If you found this helpful do please share it.
I have spent days writing this, so if you can support me - please do.
I will not paywall this piece because I think it provides context for the argument for life over death.