Standing in front of a map of what both no doubt hope will one day be Greater Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu and Tony Blair have today given a practical demonstration of chutzpah. Translated roughly as "audacity" (but could also mean "insolence"), the two men with blood on their hands tried to convince the world that the lives of three illegal Jewish settlers – "children," said the Israeli PM – are worth more than the lives of over 1,300 Palestinian children killed by the Israelis since September 2000 at an average rate of 3 murders per day. This is entirely consistent with the view expressed by at least one extremist Rabbi, Yaacov Perrin, at the funeral of Baruch Goldstein, the terrorist settler who murdered 29 Palestinians while they prayed in Hebron's Ibrahimi Mosque in 1984: "Even one million Arabs," claimed Perrin, "are not worth a Jewish fingernail."
To the best of my knowledge, Blair has never, even as arguably the most ineffective "peace envoy" the world has ever seen, expressed regrets at the loss of Palestinian lives with as much gravitas as he employed to condemn the kidnapping of the settlers. If, indeed, that is what has happened to them; with no credible claims of responsibility, there is already talk on social media that the three will surface unharmed after spending a few days in a military facility somewhere in Israel having served their purpose of giving Netanyahu an excuse to try to break Palestinian will and the unity government in one brutal step. Israel has carried out false flag operations before, so why might this be any different?
According to statistics supplied by Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, Israel is holding 196 Palestinian children in its jails. Although it regards Israeli citizens as adults from the age of 18, as far as sentencing is concerned, Palestinians aged 12 and over are "adults" in Israeli eyes. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) reports, "Every year between 500-700 Palestinian children, some as young as 12, are detained and prosecuted in the Israeli military court system."
There are almost two hundred men held by Israel under so-called "administrative detention". They have never been charged with or found guilty of any crime and their detention can be extended indefinitely. To all intents and purposes, they have been "kidnapped" by Israel's occupation authorities.
All of this doesn't matter, of course. With a compliant media at its disposal, Israel has once again been able to control the narrative so that Palestinian fatalities over the past few days are ignored and the missing settlers grab the headlines. This pattern is repeated in the lack of coverage of the almost daily Israeli military incursions into Gaza and attacks on farmers and fishermen, which go unreported. It is as if they have become so commonplace that they are not newsworthy. The PSC has monitored the BBC for its coverage of the conflict in Palestine: "[The Corporation] has a unique responsibility, enshrined in the BBC Charter, to provide news that is balanced, fair and accurate. In the case of its coverage of Palestine and Israel, this is not the case. Audiences are constantly presented with the Israeli perspective on events, while being kept in the dark about Israel's atrocities committed against the Palestinians." It is within that sort of context that we must view displays of solidarity by the likes of Netanyahu and Blair on any issue, not just missing settlers.
So when the Israeli prime minister declares that the Palestinian Authority should dissolve the newly-created unity government because "they cannot build a government that is backed by the kidnappers of children and the murderers of innocents" he should take a long, hard look at his own record, for that is exactly what his government, and those before it, are guilty of. Never mind the chutzpah, Netanyahu is being a "tsvuak" (hypocrite) of the highest order. Come to think of it, though, I think I prefer plain old schmuck; that suits him down to the ground.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.