Who and what is the real Netanyahu?

Binyamin Natanyahu mugshot

By Alan Hart

Is Binyamin Netanyahu a smooth-talking, disingenuous, cunning salesman who knows that everything he asserts about Israel being in danger of annihilation and not having a Palestinian partner for peace is propaganda nonsense, or, does he really believe what he says?

Before I offer my own thoughts here’s a quote from London-based Jamie Stern-Weiner who co-founded the New Left Project. In a recent article published by Mondoweiss he wrote this:

If Binyamin Netanyahu hadn’t gone into politics he’d be on Broadway, hamming it up as a pantomime villain. Israel’s hawkish prime minister is theatrically obnoxious to the point where even Israel’s staunchest allies in the American Jewish community are urging him to tone it down. He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t just show up to your house uninvited but brings along his dirty laundry, empties your fridge, urinates in the sink and then abruptly storms out, complaining about poor service.

If President Obama had read that I imagine he would have said to himself something like: “Spot on, Jamie. Couldn’t put it better myself.”

If Netanyahu knows that his assertions are “bs” (a Carterism for bullshit), I think it could be said that he is following in the footsteps of Joseph Goebbels, Adolf Hitler’s propaganda chief. Underpinning his approach to propaganda was the belief that the bigger the lie and the more frequently it was told, the more likely it was that it, the lie, would be believed. (In my view that was the key to Zionism’s success throughout the second half of the 20th century. The good news is that as the 21st century advances the number of Europeans and Americans who are buying Zionism’s propaganda lies is decreasing.)

Goebbels put into writing 18 principles for the guidance of all who were waging Nazi Germany’s propaganda war. Here are two of them.

14. Propaganda must label events and people with distinctive phrases or slogans.
a. They must evoke desired responses which the audience previously possesses.
b. They must be capable of being easily learned.
c. They must be utilised again and again.
16. Propaganda to the home front must create an optimum anxiety level.

The evidence of Netanyahu’s success in creating an optimum level of anxiety on his home front is in the fact that the vast majority of Israel’s Jews believe that they are and always will be in danger of annihilation. But now comes what seems to me to be a contradiction. In recent weeks Netanyahu has taken advantage of events to play his fear card in Europe with calls to its Jews to move to Israel.

A question arising is this.

If Netanyahu really believes that Israel is in danger of annihilation, is he not being irresponsible in the extreme with his calls for Europe’s Jews to make new lives there?

The only answer I can think of is that he knows Israel is not in danger of annihilation and takes comfort from a statement made by Yitzhak Shamir, the Zionist terrorist leader who became prime minister. According to a recent article by Israeli writer Akiva Eldar, Shamir once said, “For the land of Israel lying is allowed.”

Any assessment of who and what the real Bibi Netanyahu is must consider what he may have inherited from his Polish-born father Benzion who changed the family name from Mileikowsky to Netanyahu.

Benzion Mileikowsky/Netanyahu was an historian and writer who always believed in a Greater Israel. He opposed the UN Partition Plan because it didn’t give the Israel-to-be enough land; and at the time he was in favour of “transferring” the Arabs out of Palestine.

In fact, his analysis of what had to happen in Palestine for Zionism to get everything it wanted was exactly the same as that put into words by Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the founder of Israel’s army and what was called “Revisionist” Zionism but was actually honest Zionism. (The only difference between it and what was regarded as mainstream Zionism founded by Herzl and led by Weizmann was that the mainstreamers lied about Zionism’s true purpose and the implications of it. As I describe in my book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, the mainstreamers went through the motions of pretending there could be an accommodation with the Arabs. They lied for two main reasons. One was the need to avoid provoking too much Arab hostility too soon. The other was the need to mislead and deceive Jews, in Western Europe and North America especially, about Zionism’s real intentions.)

Russian-born Jabotinsky wrote The Iron Wall which became the bible of “Revisionist” Zionism and, actually, the main inspirational text for all Jewish nationalists who became Israelis, including those who would not have considered themselves to be revisionists. In 1940 Benzion Mileikowsky/Netanyahu went to New York to be Jabotinsky’s personal secretary.

Because knowledge of the mindset of Jabotinsky and Binyamin Netanyahu’s father is the key to understanding how and why Israel became an arrogant, aggressive and oppressive state, I am now going to quote (as I do in my book) nine paragraphs from The Iron Wall.

There can be no discussion of voluntary reconciliation between the Arabs, not now and not in the foreseeable future. All well-meaning people, with the exception of those blind from birth, understood long ago the complete impossibility of arriving at a voluntary agreement with the Arabs of Palestine for the transformation of Palestine from an Arab country to a country with a Jewish majority.

Any native people view their country as their national home, of which they will be the complete masters. They will never voluntarily allow a new master. So it is for the Arabs. Compromisers among us try to convince us that the Arabs are some kind of fools who can be tricked with hidden formulations of our basic goals. I flatly refuse to accept this view of the Palestinian Arabs.

They have the precise psychology that we have. They look upon Palestine with the same instinctive love and true fervour that any Aztec looked upon his Mexico or any Sioux upon his prairie. Each people will struggle against colonisers until the last spark of hope that they can avoid the dangers of colonisation and conquest is extinguished. The Palestinians will struggle in this way until there is hardly a spark of hope.

It matters not what kind of words we use to explain our colonisation. Colonisation has its own integral and inescapable meaning understood by every Jew and every Arab. Colonisation has only one goal. This is in the nature of things. To change that nature is impossible. It has been necessary to carry on colonisation against the will of the Palestinian Arabs and the same condition exists now.

Even an agreement with non-Palestinians (other Arabs) represents the same kind of fantasy. In order for Arab nationalists of Baghdad and Mecca and Damascus to agree to pay so serious a price they would have to refuse to maintain the Arab character of Palestine.

We cannot give any compensation for Palestine, neither to the Palestinians nor to other Arabs. Therefore, a voluntary agreement is inconceivable. All colonisation, even the most restricted, must continue in defiance of the will of the native population. Therefore, it can continue and develop only under the shield of force which comprises an Iron Wall which the local population can never break through. This is our Arab policy. To formulate it any other way would be hypocrisy.

Whether through the Balfour Declaration or the Mandate, external force is a necessity for establishing in the country conditions of rule and defence through which the local population, regardless of what it wishes, will be deprived of the possibility of impeding our colonisation, administratively or physically. Force must play its role – with strength and without indulgence. In this, there are no meaningful differences between our militarists and our vegetarians. One prefers an Iron Wall of Jewish bayonets; the other an Iron Wall of English bayonets.

If you wish to colonise a land in which people are already living, you must provide a garrison for that land, or find some rich man or benefactor who will provide a garrison on your behalf. Or else? Or else, give up your colonisation, for without an armed force which will render physically impossible any attempt to destroy or prevent this colonisation, colonisation is impossible – not difficult, not dangerous but IMPOSSIBLE! Zionism is a colonising adventure and therefore it stands or it falls by the question of armed force. It is important to speak Hebrew but, unfortunately, it is even more important to be able to shoot – or else I am through with playing at colonisation.

To the hackneyed reproach that this point of view is unethical, I answer – absolutely untrue. This is our ethic. There is no other ethic. As long as there is the faintest spark of hope for the Arabs to impede us, they will not sell these hopes – not for any sweet words nor for any tasty morsel, because this (the Palestinians) is not a rabble but a people, a living people. And no people makes such enormous concessions on such fateful questions, except when there is no hope left, until we have removed every opening visible in the Iron Wall.

That, a decade before the Nazis came to power in Germany, was the ideology of revisionist/honest Zionism. Its “big idea”, which thrilled Binyamin Netanyahu’s father, was the application of brute force in order to give the Arabs, when they had been dispossessed of their land, no hope of getting it back. There was to be no consideration of what was morally right or wrong. Compromise was entirely ruled out. It was a “them or us” strategy.

Benzion Mileikowsky/Netanyahu died in his Jerusalem home in April 2012 at the age of 102. Shortly after his death Jason Epstein, a co-founder of the New York Review of Books, let slip to a Jewish discussion group that Benzion once told him that he believed the only way Israel could survive was “by killing all Arabs”.

There’s no mystery about what Binyamin Netanyahu is. He is a disaster. For the Palestinians. For Israel’s Jews. For the region. For Jews everywhere. And quite possibly the whole world.

The question of how much the son was influenced by the father was put to Benzion in an interview with the Israeli newspaper Maariv in April 2009. He replied: “I have a general idea. Bibi [Binyamin] might aim for the same goals as mine, but he keeps to himself the ways to achieve them, because if he expressed them, he would expose his goals.”

And there, I believe, is the key to understanding the real Binyamin Netanyahu. Because he can’t tell the truth, it being that he is not remotely interested in peace with the Palestinians and that his preferred solution is a final ethnic cleansing of Palestine, he has to tell lies. But to have credibility in the face of Israel’s defiance of international law and criminal actions, they have to be really B-I-G lies and, as Goebbels advised, they have to be repeated again and again.

One obvious conclusion, it seems to me, is that Binyamin Netanyahu has always known that everything he asserts about Israel being in danger of annihilation and not having a Palestinian partner for peace is propaganda nonsense. But the truth about him today, as he prepares to address Congress again and deliver a public “Fuck You!” gesture to Obama, could be more complicated than that.

Way back in 1980 I had a conversation with Retired Major-General Shlomo Gazit, the best and the brightest of Israel’s directors of military intelligence. I told him I had come to the conclusion that it was all a myth – that Israel’s existence had never, ever, been in danger. He smiled sadly and replied. “The trouble with us Israelis is that we have become the victims of our own propaganda.”

So it might be that when Netanyahu addresses Congress in a desperate (and I think doomed) effort to create a big enough majority in that Zionist-corrupted assembly to sabotage the deal in-the-making with Iran, he won’t on this occasion be knowingly lying when he asserts that Iran is a threat to Israel’s existence because he has become the victim of his own propaganda, and now believes what he says is true.

If that is the case it would have to be said that he is not only beyond reason but deluded to the point of clinical insanity.

If Israel’s upcoming elections give him a fourth term in office – he is obviously hoping that more standing ovations in Congress will guarantee that – Zionism will continue its cruel and criminal efforts to bring about a Palestinian surrender on its terms, and the pace of the creeping transformation of anti-Israelism into anti-Semitism will be quickened.

There’s no mystery about what Binyamin Netanyahu is. He is a disaster. For the Palestinians. For Israel’s Jews. For the region. For Jews everywhere. And quite possibly the whole world.

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