The Daily Northwestern

Letter to the Editor: Israel’s damn security facade

Omar Shanti

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Yoni Pinto’s article justified Netanyahu’s campaign methods as well as the Israeli support it garnered, under the much used claim that Netanyahu employed his tactics for “the safety of his country.” This is not only fallacious and immoral, but also historically ignorant. Given that Israeli support for Netanyahu was largely brought out after his warnings about Arab voters “coming out in droves” and declaration that there would be no Palestinian state, I feel compelled to address Netanyahu’s racism and respond to Pinto’s defenses of it.

Pinto neglects to mention that Netanyahu’s campaign is not only built on NOT giving the Palestinians the land that the United Nations has formally recognized as Palestinian, but on building Israeli settlements on this land and subsidizing Israeli settlers living on it. This process of demolishing homes, securing the surrounding land, imprisoning Palestinian protesters, (what Defence for Children International dubbed the “systematic and institutionalized ill-treatment and torture of Palestinian children by Israeli authorities”) and building settlements is a tremendously profitable cycle both for the state of Israel and for involved multinational corporations, which Northwestern Divest made tremendous efforts to shed light on. These illegal processes contradict the fundamental principles of basic international law. There is more to say about the illegal occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights, but I will leave it at that.

Furthermore, the assertion that Netanyahu’s (debatable) intentions justify his actions is incredibly problematic. Not only is the premise of good intentions itself shaky at best, but giving Netanyahu the benefit of the doubt about his intentions will not erase the hugely devastating and destructive impacts of his actions on Palestinians. Given the Knesset’s history with measures taken “for the safety of (the) country,” this logic falls on its head.

Take the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law for instance:

This law was amended in 2003 to prohibit “Palestinian spouses from obtaining citizenship, permanent residency and temporary residency status in Israel by marriage to an Israeli citizen, a process referred to as ‘family reunification.’” Taken as a “security measure,” this law forces Israeli Arabs who marry Palestinians from the West Bank or Gaza Strip to either move to the Palestinian territories or remain separated from their spouse. This violates articles in international law such as the ICCPR and the ICERD, and was described by HRW as a “sweeping ban” without “any individual assessments of whether the person in question could threaten security, and is unjustified” and “imposes severely disproportionate harm on the right of Palestinians and Israeli citizens to live with their families.”

After receiving much criticism for the law offering virtually no security benefit, Ariel Sharon ended the charade in 2005, stating “There is no need to hide behind security arguments. … There is a need for the existence of a Jewish state” – implying that the Palestinian bodies expelled, and denied entry, would have otherwise ended the Jewish state’s existence. This reasoning is further explained by Bibi himself who said, “If there is a demographic problem, and there is, it is with the Israeli Arabs who will remain Israeli citizens.” He goes on to claim that should they “become well integrated and reach 35-40 percent of the population, there will no longer be a Jewish state but a bi-national one.” This very same argument has notably been used to keep African refugees and other asylum seekers out as well. Conflating security issues with demographic ambitions grants the Israeli government full support in pursuing its racist ideologies.

Under this false pretense of security, this government has forced out many Palestinians, just as it has seized over 40 percent and under Netanyahu’s governance, will continue to do so. As University of Illinois at Chicago Prof. Samuel Fleischacker highlights, around two-thirds of the Knesset seats went to parties that “either actively agree with Netanyahu or are indifferent enough to his views on this issue that they are willing to sit in coalition with him,” and so “about TWO-THIRDS of the Jewish vote essentially said, ‘We are happy to end the peace process and instead rule over millions of Palestinians indefinitely.’” Ignoring this narrative, as well as the vast sea of other motives that dictate Netanyahu’s actions, is counterproductive to analysis, and thoroughly misrepresentative of the Israeli government.

Omar Shanti, McCormick ’17