Michael F. Brown
The Electronic Intifada / September 23, 2023
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the UN General Assembly on Friday.
Netanyahu’s map wiped away Palestinians’ right to the land and the historical geographic reality, both in early 1948 and later in the year after Israel seized territory the UN intended for an Arab state. Pre-state Zionist militias and later the Israeli army expelled some 800,000 Palestinians at the time.
Then Netanyahu flipped the map to show what he termed “The New Middle East.”
A version of this new reality – with no Palestine – could occur if Saudi Arabia agrees to normalize Israeli apartheid in the months ahead, abandoning Palestinians and their rights for an aid package to them and perhaps small, isolated Bantustans in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
In the new map, Israel still includes the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip as well as the occupied and illegally annexed Golan Heights of Syria.
Netanyahu tweeted, “The great privilege of my life is to fight for you, for our country.” Clearly, he is signaling to people in Israel and its illegal Jewish settlements his grand territorial ambitions and permanent apartheid for Palestinians.
‘Peace’ without rights
When Netanyahu speaks of seeking “peace to prevail,” he is referring to what he calls “the right of the Jewish people to have a state of their own in their historic homeland – the land of Israel.” And his maps indicate by “the land of Israel” he means all the land between the river and the sea.
“Peace,” then, is an Israel minus Palestinian rights.
This is his understanding of how things should have been from 1948 to the present day. Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden either ignored this fundamental fact driving an expansionist Netanyahu or didn’t care. With the UN maps, Netanyahu has made crystal clear what he wants.
Palestinians would have no rights and no claim to freedom under Netanyahu’s formulation, but should be under Israel’s thumb in “the land of Israel” if even allowed to remain, which was not the case with the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in 1948.
Yet this is not anathema to Israel’s prime minister who has ushered men such as Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir into his political tent. Neither extremist seeks to obscure his anti-Palestinian racism as other Israeli politicians battling to dispossess Palestinians sometimes attempt to do.
Netanyahu brought his racism and ethnic cleansing to the UN, unapologetically eviscerated Palestinians’ territorial rights and presence on his map, and received applause from the mostly empty hall. Nor does he intend one state with equal rights for all in that expansive Israel he touts.
Patrick Kingsley in an analysis piece for The New York Times claimed Netanyahu boosted his status with the US visit, but ignored the racist insult to Palestinians and their rights to the land represented in the erasure map employed by the prime minister.
Anti-Palestinian racism registers far too infrequently in mainstream US media.
President Joe Biden met with Netanyahu just two days earlier and touted the moribund two-state solution while calling into question the ability of the United States to provide a safe home for its Jewish citizens.
Biden stated, “I think without Israel, there’s not a Jew in the world that’s secure.”
The implicit insult to his own country should trouble all Americans as violent right-wing anti-Semitism grew in the Trump years and is still disseminated by the former president, while at the same time he promotes anti-Palestinian racism. Biden, of course, also pushes anti-Palestinian racism by, among other things, not addressing the ethnic cleansing, Jewish settler colonialism and apartheid Israel has carried out against Palestinians.
Netanyahu, in turn, lied to an agreeable Biden.
“So, I want to reassert here before you, Mr. President, that one thing is certain and one thing will never change, and that is Israel’s commitment to democracy. We will continue to uphold the values that both our proud democracies cherish.”
Yet Israel practices the crime of apartheid according to Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights organizations. To highlight Israel’s “commitment to democracy” is to make a mockery of the term.
Nonetheless, Netanyahu has now received an invitation to the White House before the end of the year despite his apartheid policies and his effort to undercut the Israeli judicial system which concerns Biden far more.
MBS seeks to ‘ease’ Palestinian life
Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman – commonly referred to in English-language media by his initials MBS – said during a Fox News interview that aired Wednesday that “every day we get closer” to a deal with Israel.
Bin Salman added that “for us the Palestinian issue is very important,” noting he wanted to “ease the life of the Palestinians,” “give the Palestinians their needs,” and see “a good life for the Palestinians.”
He did not, however, talk specifics as to the occupation, equal rights or the right of return for Palestinian refugees, backing away very quickly from a question about “concessions” Israel would “have to give the Palestinians.”
There is real concern that if Saudi Arabia, Israel and the US approach a deal that bin Salman will jettison Palestinian freedom and rights.
Netanyahu would certainly be delighted to see bin Salman abandon Palestinian rights and Biden would quite likely look the other way heading into an election year.
Michael F. Brown is an independent journalist