Wed 22 May 2024 6:23 pm - Jerusalem Time

Silencing the conscience of the world

By Hagai El-Ad

Former General Director of B’Tselem

For anyone who cared to see, the truth was already perfectly clear in 1955: “They treat the Arabs, those who are still there, in a way which in itself would be enough to unite the world against Israel” wrote Hannah Arendt in 1955 Almost 70 years have passed since then. And the Palestinians, this stubborn people, have not left the scene.

But that was in 1955, barely a decade after the Holocaust – our great catastrophe and at the same time the protective covering of Zionism. So, no, what Arendt saw in Jerusalem at the time was not enough to bring the world together against Israel.

Nearly 70 years have passed since then. Meanwhile, Israel has become addicted to both its regime of Jewish supremacy over the Palestinians and the ability to exploit the memory of the Holocaust so that the crimes it commits against them do not rally the world against it. .

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not inventing anything: not the crimes and not the exploitation of the Holocaust to silence the conscience of the world. But he has been prime minister for almost a generation. During this period, Israel, under his leadership, has taken another big step toward a future in which the Palestinian people will be erased from the historical scene, certainly if the scene in question is Palestine, the historic homeland.

Not only was this done gradually: one dunam after another and one goat after another, one outpost after another and one farm after another – but it was finally declared publicly, based on the fundamental law of 2018, Israel Nation State of the Jewish People and the guiding principles of the current government, that “(the) Jewish people have an exclusive and inalienable right to all parts of the land of Israel”.

And in truth, the consensus on these points is much broader and more considerable than support for Netanyahu himself. After all, who in Israel did not like the brilliant gesture, on the eve of October 7, of normalization with Saudi Arabia designed to burn into the consciousness of the Palestinians the fact that they are a defeated people?

But the Palestinians, this stubborn people, have not left the scene. In a way, during all these years and the oppression and the settlements and the pogroms in the West Bank; and the "tours" of conflict with Gaza and the army's violence and lack of accountability and expropriation of land in Jerusalem, the Negev and the Jordan Valley, effectively every time a Palestinian is trying to hold on to its land, after all these years and a lot of blood and crime, the old Israeli hasbara trick has started to lose its bite, because the truth is that no, anyone who sees the Palestinians as human beings having rights is not anti-Semitic.

Meanwhile came the war in Gaza and its destruction on a biblical scale, which we waged on that territory and on the tens of thousands of Palestinians who died. There was so much blood and destruction that the question of whether it was genocide began to be seriously discussed at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

In Arendt's words, what we do to the Palestinians – those still in Gaza – still does not unite the world against Israel. But the world is already allowing itself to think about it loud and clear.

All this does not lead us to rethink the way we “treat Arabs”. Rather, we are once again trying to breathe new life into the used ball of the hasbara. If, in 2019, Netanyahu declared that the investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) was an “anti-Semitic decree” (which did not stop the investigation) and if, in 2021 he claimed that it was “pure anti-Semitism” (and that didn’t stop the investigation), so a week ago he started calling it an “anti-Semitic hate crime.”

Netanyahu, as usual, inserts a few words of truth between two lies.

In his speech on the eve of Remembrance Day at the Yad Vachem Holocaust memorial, when he described the ICC as a body "established in response to the Holocaust and other horrors", to ensure "More never like that,” it was true. But, with exceptional nerve (chutzpah), taking into account the place and the time, everything Netanyahu said around this statement was a lie, especially when he claimed that if an arrest warrant was launched against him, “this measure would be an indelible stain on the very idea of justice and international law”.

Truly, the stain on the foundations of international law is the fact that even after all these years of investigation, for all we know, there must still be an arrest warrant for Netanyahu and others war criminals.

And this, despite the fact that for decades Israel has perpetuated, in full view, crimes against the Palestinians, crimes which are government policy, crimes which are approved by the High Court of Justice, which are protected by the opinion of the attorneys general and cleared by the attorneys general of the army – although all this is obvious and known, reported and published, no one is held responsible for it, neither in Israel nor elsewhere, at least until now.

We are approaching the time, and perhaps we are already there, when the memory of the Holocaust will not prevent the world from seeing Israel as it is. The moment when the historical crimes committed against our people cease to be our Steel Dome that protects us from being held accountable for the crimes we are currently committing against the nation with whom we share the historic homeland.

Even if the moment is postponed, it is time for it to arrive. Israel will be without the burnt offering. His image will now have to be protected by two of the torchlighters of the prestigious national Independence Day ceremony at Mount Herzl, Israeli Arab hasbara genius Yoseph Haddad and content creator Ella Travels. Let's go !

Perhaps we would be better off opening our eyes and adopting a different attitude towards the Palestinians by treating them as equal human beings. This is certainly a much better lesson from the Holocaust. Arendt would certainly approve.


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Silencing the conscience of the world


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