Netanyahu’s racism won him the Israeli elections

It has finally dawned on President Barack Obama that Netanyahu and those who elected him have no interest in making peace with the Palestinians. What the U.S. would have considered campaign rhetoric in the past, is aggressively criticizing as a policy reversal vis-à-vis peace and co-existence between Israelis and Palestinians. This will likely translate into less of the usual blind support at the U.N. and elsewhere.

President Obama is right in his criticism as the rift between him and Prime Minister Netanyahu has made it clear that Israel’s claim to democracy is far from reality and Netanyahu’s willingness to make peace is only equal to his agreement to stop building settlements: Nonexistent in other words. The same goes to his concern about what the U.S. administration thinks of his actions or his racist comments.

It is true that the blunt campaign racism, in my opinion, has hurt the path to peace so much that no backpedaling can fix it or mask it at this point. It is also true that Netanyahu has never helped that path or supported it in deeds or rhetoric in the past.

Problem attitude

In fact, the only serious attempt at peace with the Palestinians was shattered with the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, robbing both Israelis and Palestinians of their historic chance. Ironically, it was not a Palestinian who killed Israel’s general and hero; but an extremist Jew who did not wish Rabin to make peace with Palestinians, nor did he have a desire to co-exist with Palestinians. Pretty much the same as what Netanyahu has expressed publicly recently.

Netanyahu was able to turn the elections around to his advantage by simply playing the racism card

Octavia Nasr

This attitude remains a problem in Israel today where many still believe that peace with Arabs in general and Palestinians in particular will be a threat to Israel’s security. It is not a surprise that Netanyahu used the racist tactics; he knew very well that they work. By calling on Israelis to vote for him as “Arabs are voting in droves,” he simply confirmed what we already know and the U.S. was blinded to; that Palestinians in Israel are considered third class citizens and that Israel is not the democracy it claims to be. He has since said he “regretted” this statement.

Netanyahu was able to turn the elections around to his advantage by simply playing the racism card. However, his rhetoric will reverberate for a long time in distrust among the Left in Israel and the U.S.

This article was first published in al-Nahar on March 24, 2015.

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Multi-award-winning journalist Octavia Nasr served as CNN’s senior editor of Middle Eastern affairs, and is regarded as one of the pioneers of the use of social media in traditional media. She moved to CNN in 1990, but was dismissed in 2010 after tweeting her sorrow at the death of Hezbollah’s Mohammed Fadlallah. Nasr now runs her own firm, Bridges Media Consulting, whose main aim is to help companies better leverage the use of social networks.
 

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