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Italy’s Salvini said what the international community knows it can’t say: ‘Support Israel’

December 13, 2018 at 3:26 pm

Matteo Salvini, Italy’s deputy prime minister, gestures during a news conference at the Foreign Press Association in Rome, Italy, on 10 December 2018 [Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg via Getty Images]

It is no secret that the right wing has appropriated and manipulated the definition of “peace” in today’s poisonous political climate. Peace is now synonymous with power, and little is being done to challenge this notion on a political level, to the point that one can speak of collusion between the right wing and the alleged peace builders.

Consider, for a moment, Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini’s recent statement during a press conference on a visit to Israel: “Whoever wants peace, needs to support Israel.”

Whatever happened to the right of people living under a brutal military occupation to seek their liberation by all possible means? We are, surely, entitled to a reasonable answer to this question.

Shamefully, the reality is that the difference between Salvini’s outrageous remark in support of an aggressive colonial state and statements issued by international institutions is minimal. To retain a semblance of respectability, the UN and the EU, for example, speak of supporting Palestinians while endorsing Israel’s right to exist and defend itself (ironically, against the people whose land it has usurped and who have a legitimate right to resist colonial occupation). Salvini was overtly anti-international law in his comment, but merely uttered what our “peace loving” institutions can’t say due to diplomatic constraints: they “need” to support Israel.

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Likewise, what is the difference between the EU’s endorsement of the two-state paradigm and the incongruous supporting of “any solution that grows on the ground between the two parties”? The latter, expressed by Salvini, is reminiscent of US President Donald Trump’s previous statements about which purported solution works best. Both work best for Israel as the colonial demands take precedence; thus is peace defined once again from a position of power.

The tragedy is not the overtly racist politics of leaders such as Salvini. It is the fact that the international community is exploiting far right politics to establish itself as pragmatic when facing human rights issues.

However, let us be absolutely clear: pragmatism has no place in matters of human rights. If Palestinians are to reclaim their rights, their land and autonomy, peace must be attributed as an outcome for Palestinians, not solely for Israel’s security. It is useless to speak of two states and two peoples when the interests of only one state and one people are taken into consideration by the international community’s false sense of justice.

For decades, the international community has forced Palestinians to compromise for peace. With scant territory remaining, in addition to the increasing violations perpetrated by Israel against the people of Palestine, it is obvious that the global powers apply perpetual double standards when it comes to oppressed populations. Israel is never spoken of as a colonial power entrenched in historic Palestine, so the international community can conveniently overlook the fact that Palestinians have the legitimate right to liberate themselves from the coloniser.

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The truth is that the international community has orchestrated the biggest ever social, political and military experiment upon Palestinians. Its role is now to support Israel, and leaders such as Salvini are making the process much easier, as little thought is given to the wider complicity that works with ease behind the veneer of human rights. The Italian politician is deemed to be controversial due to his visibility, yet he is articulating the unspoken political intentions of the US, EU and their allies.

Hiding behind the rising spectre of the far right is a temporary matter. If the labels were discarded for a thorough look at the established institutions, one would see no difference between Salvini and the international community. As far as the latter’s expectations go, he is not out of line in his expression of colonial control for peace. Forget the self-righteous declarations about the end of the colonial era; colonialism is alive and kicking in the shape of the state of Israel. Palestinians were being dealt with as pawns in this immoral and illegal game long before Salvini and his despicable beliefs came onto the political scene.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.