Ever since settlers in the occupied West Bank burned to death the Palestinian baby Ali Dawabsha last Friday, the Israeli government has put on an ostentatious show of contrition.
For effect, it has included vows from defense ministerMoshe Yaalon to lead an “uncompromising” fight against “Jewish terror.”
Though it still has not found the killers of Ali, it has evenarrested the grandson of Meir Kahane, the founder of the racist and violent anti-Palestinian organization Kach.
All of these gimmicks and the Israeli handwringing over “Jewish terror” are strictly for international consumption – to convince observers that Israel is a responsible state that abhors “terrorism” rather than practices it.
As my colleague Rania Khalek has already noted, however, it is difficult to find a single Israeli cabinet minister who has not himself or herself openly incited or directly participated in racist violence against Palestinians. And of course their state-sanctioned, uniformed violence is always on a far larger scale than the attack on the Dawabsha family home in the village of Duma.
Nuke Tel Aviv
Israel’s sudden discovery of “Jewish terror” in a few “extreme” pockets is designed precisely to deflect attention from the religious fanaticism and violent ideologies that are foundational to the Zionist project.
A case in point is Israeli army reserve Major-General Gershon Hacohen who is sympathetically profiled by The Times of Israel as “one of the most interesting figures to come out of the army in recent years.”
In fact, Hacohen is a religious fanatic with alarming and dangerous views. He urges Israel to conquer every inch of historic Palestine, land “he believes God gave to the Jews.”
That does not distinguish him very much from the rest of Israel’s mainstream political establishment, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
But astonishingly, Hacohen states frankly that he would rather see Tel Aviv destroyed by an Iranian nuclear bomb than see the removal of even 100,000 settlers from the occupied West Bank and the creation of a Palestinian state.
Israel is the only military force in the region that possesses nuclear weapons.
He views the Israeli army as “holy” and describes it as “the most beautiful and most important thing created by the Jewish people in the last one thousand years.”
Hacohen commanded the removal of several thousand Israeli settlers from the occupied Gaza Strip a decade ago, but now believes that the settlers should return to the besieged, overcrowded and devastated territory.
“Beyond mentioning that he prefers an Iranian nuclear bomb on Tel Aviv to a two-state solution,” The Times of Israel states, Hacohen says “he would happily forgo prosperity … in exchange for the perpetuation of the status quo and that, in the future, in the face of pressure, he would be willing to grant all Palestinians the vote.”
But his Jewish supremacist version of a one-state solution would offer a vote without power, for in his religious and messianic zeal Hacohen believes – hopes – that “a rise in anti-Semitism” or a rise in Zionism would bring 3 million Jews from the US to help colonize the country and “save the Jewish majority.”
In the long and ugly tradition of colonial warlords who view natives as noble savages – to be respected anddisplaced or exterminated – Hacohen says: “When I tell Arabs that I am a God-fearing man and they see that I am, as one might say, primitive, like they are, then they treat me with respect.”
Arabs would have to be very primitive indeed not to see Hacohen and his ideology as anything other than a mortal, existential threat.
This kind of religious extremism is known to be a growing problem at every level of the Israeli army, from rank and file members who vow to refuse hypothetical orders to evacuate settlements, to senior commanders.
Last summer, Colonel Ofer Winter, commander of the Givati Brigade, told his men as they were about to enter Gaza that they were engaged in a war to “wipe out” an “enemy who defames” God.
It was under the command of the ultranationalist religious Zionist Winter that that the Givati Brigade carried out the massacre of hundreds of civilians in Rafah one year ago.
Hacohen himself praised Winter’s men, saying they “were not just going to war, but coming to their work with God.”
The frightening reality that men like Hacohen, Winter and their equally extreme political superiors are in command of Israel continues to make a mockery of the hasbara – propaganda – campaign to paint the murder of baby Ali as a mere isolated act.