Israel’s latest display of misplaced ire at the UN Security Council has provided a succinct illustration of how criticism of settler colonialism, even by Israeli NGOs, remains a cloistered subject. Following a presentation by Yesh Din, in which the NGO’s legal adviser Michael Sfard presented statistical information regarding Israeli settler terror, both Sfard and Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, retaliated against Venezuelan Ambassador Rafael Ramirez’s criticism of their country’s slow extermination policies.
According to Haaretz, Ramirez challenged the UN Security Council to ponder the information, asking: “What does Israel plan to do with the Palestinians? Will they be disappeared? Is Israel trying to impose a ‘final solution’ on the Palestinians in the West Bank?”
Right-winger Danon — who has advocated punitive attacks on the civilian infrastructure in the Gaza Strip — promptly resorted to the clichéd “anti-Semitism” accusation: “These are blunt anti-Semitic statements coming from the Venezuelan ambassador towards the Jewish nation.”
According to Yesh Din’s lawyer, the Venezuelan ambassador’s use of the phrase ‘final solution’ is “offensive, angering and completely incorrect”. Sfard made this claim despite telling the Security Council: “Yesh Din vigorously and unequivocally condemns all human rights violations and all international law infractions. There can be no justification for attacks on civilians no matter who the perpetrators are and whatever the identity of the victim is.”
According to YNet news, the Israeli delegation demanded immediate condemnations following Ramirez’s remarks, and was gratified by the US, Britain and France issuing — predictably — “decisive” statements. Ramirez also called on Danon to apologise for his use of the phrase “final solution” with its obvious connotations with the Holocaust; his apology was met by a demand for a more public version.
Israel thrives upon the blatant contradiction of committing human rights violations openly and without remorse, while resenting criticism of such illegal actions. Furthermore, this episode at the UN is evidence of the cycle of hypocrisy plaguing such organisations which are, allegedly, standing up for Palestinian rights; they fail to act on the evidence, no matter how strong it is, and this exposes their allegiance to the colonial state of Israel as well as the terrorism of its illegal settlers. However, the tactic has now been perfected to project blame elsewhere to the point where logical condemnation of colonial violence is deemed to be offensive, but the violence itself isn’t. This is despite the fact that Israel is adhering publicly to the implementation of Zionism’s ideological goal of “Greater Israel” by continuing its territorial expansion, ethnic cleansing and — yes — slow extermination of the Palestinian population.
Ramirez’s comments expose Israeli state terror, incorporating historical memory and exposing a colonial cycle that has not yet reached its completion. Israel has applied various forms of human rights violations against Palestinians, all geared towards a system that leaves no recourse, thus isolating Palestinians and creating a perpetual implosion. State policies reflect impunity while Israeli ministers such as Naftali Bennett have spoken openly about “disappearing” Palestinians. Hence, nothing in Ramirez’s speech can be construed to be within any context other than that of the reality on the ground. If anything, the Venezuelan’s words portray an awareness that is common to both Palestine and South America, both having experienced colonial and imperialist violence.
Nobody should take offence at what was said by the ambassador from South America. The incident should be seen as an educational experience of how the interpretation of colonial violence through time has navigated the perpetually-changing circumstances and, as a response, carved out a niche that encourages selective remembrance and memory of genocide in order to allow for a new form of genocide to be carried out within the framework of the ambiguities of international law. As Rafael Ramirez has found to his cost, Israel is allowed to commit genocidal crimes with impunity; it is those who condemn them who have to apologise.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.