The statements made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the visit of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to Israel this week, as well as the statements he made shortly after President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, represent the most explicit expression of his current mindset.
In his first statement, Netanyahu compared Israel and Brazil, saying, “Brazil is a world power, and Israel, which is an ancient country, is a new technological super-power.” In the second statement, he said referred to the “right” of sovereignty over the land by force and alleged roots, when he said, “The recognition by President Trump of our sovereignty over the Golan Heights will be remembered for generations. It took us a decade to achieve. When you stick a hoe [in the ground] there, you discover magnificent synagogues, which we are restoring. The Golan is ours by historical right and by right of self-defence – and President Trump recognised this.”
It seems that all the facts in Israel seem to be in aligned with the general election scheduled for next Tuesday. Speaking of the elections, many analysts said they do not remember the last time Netanyahu talked about peace with the Palestinians or the two-state vision. Haaretz editor-in-chief, Aluf Benn, has noted that in every appearance in the last few years, Netanyahu has only talked about Israel’s growing strength acting as a lever for alliances with other countries. Benn believes Netanyahu’s message is that whoever wants to accept Israel must accept it as is, with its occupation (he means since 1967) and settlements, and that whoever accepts Israel only within the Green Line, such as the European Union, are delusional and undesirable.”
As for the EU in particular, it is clear that Netanyahu does not fit in with the liberal countries of this union, which defend human rights, and therefore found alternatives on the eastern side of the continent, such as the Visegrad Group, as well as Russia, China and India. To these countries, the Haaretz editor adds Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE, noting that in these countries they only respect power, not justice.
There are those who believe that Netanyahu’s recent decisions against conservative and reformist Jews, notably the cancellation of the project to establish a prayer hall for non-Orthodox Jews in the Buraq Wall (Western Wall) courtyard and pushing forward the radical Judaisation Law is an expression of strategic separation from liberal Jews in the United States. It is not just an instantaneous whim caused by the pressure of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox (religiously extreme) but is part of a deliberate process that has been almost universally supported by the government. This was later reflected in the Israeli National State Law (July 2018), the sixth article of which made Israel a big brother for the Jews in the diaspora.
According to new press reports, there is a presumption in amongst those close to Netanyahu that the liberal Jews are nothing more than a passing phenomenon that will disappear on its own in the next generation. This is mainly because they marry non-Jews and lost interest in Jewish traditions and Israel. The truth is that over the years, liberal Jews have threatened to separate from Israel if it continued to discriminate against their religious trend. Some of them rejected the occupation of Palestinian territories since 1967, but now, the Israeli right-wing government is separating from them first.
It is expected that this message will be reinforced with Netanyahu’s victory in the upcoming elections.
This article first appeared in Arabic in Arab48 on 3 April 2019
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.