On Facebook today, Tzipi Livni, the Israeli justice minister and the top negotiator in talks with the Palestinians, posted an attack aimed at her coalition partner Naftali Bennett.
Bennett, Israel’s economy minister and leader of the pro-settler Jewish Home party, had the night before delivered a speech in which he apparently argued that Israel’s problem was one of hasbara, or PR. This is not a new argument from him — it’s not a new argument at all — but something set Livni off this time.
So in a Facebook post that was dripping with sarcasm, she proposes a PR campaign for Bennett’s vision of an Israel that has rejected of Palestinian statehood, and wonders if it could be even worse than apartheid South Africa.
Livni is not the first Israeli politician to warn that a failure to arrive at a two-state solution could lead to apartheid; she is not even the first scion of the “fighting family” of right-wing Revisionists who once stood for a Greater Israel to do so — that would be Ehud Olmert, the former prime minister.
But I’ve never seen any Israeli leader so senior describe so brutally an erosion of democracy in the country, nor have I seen anyone use real-time examples to posit an apartheid analogy. Olmert and Ehud Barak before him said that demographic realities could lead to Apartheid; Livni sees it looming before her in the radical Hilltop Youth settler movement and the “price tag” attacks on Palestinians.
Below is my translation of her post, which she had typed into her mobile phone. It was accompanied by a photo of Israel’s Declaration of Independence.
A couple of notes: At the outset, Livni is referring to a Knesset hearing on the dangers posed by BDS that was postponed for separate political reasons. The “Israel is a sister” reference at the end refers to a Bennett campaign slogan, “Bennett is a brother.”
They’ve announced that the hearing on BDS (the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel) has been canceled, which is a shame because I was listening last night to the speech by Bennett and I have an action plan based, naturally, on PR and hasbara, in line with the thrust of his speech.
No doubt you’ll agree that truth in PR is an important principle, because otherwise the publicity does not work (except during elections, when the truth comes out only in their wake.)
So let’s launch a worldwide campaign as Bennett recommends: Imagine pictures of our good boys and girls from the Hilltop Youth engaged in price tag activities (ok, fine, not the price tags on churches and monasteries, which is after all unpleasant), and the caption on the broadcast would be: Israel has decided: sovereignty over everything.
Or: This isn’t South Africa, Palestinians are not second-class citizens, they’re not citizens at all.
Or: We’re always in the right, and when we said ‘peace, we didn’t really mean it.
Or: Zionism is Judaism and not democracy. The “new Israel” (which is like the “new politics” and should catch on) erases from the Declaration of Independence the words: freedom, justice and equal rights.
Or, in fact, borrowing from the last election: Israel is a sister (assuming the rabbis will even agree to describe the state as a woman.) Because if it worked during the elections, why not go large now? In sum: best of luck to us.