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Bibi's chutzpah

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Image: Elvert Barnes/Flickr

Among the enduring contributions of Jewish people to the western world has been the introduction of the indispensable word "chutzpah". For those not entirely certain of its meaning, just gaze at a photo of Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, sneer and all. That's the incarnation of chutzpah.

This week Netanyahu has been telling the world, with the deepest possible faked sincerity and indignation, that Israel had no choice but to slaughter all those unarmed Palestinian protesters. So threatening apparently were the protesters to Israel that, since March 30, Israel snipers have killed over 110 civilians, most of them clearly marked, while not a single Israeli civilian has been killed by Hamas. 

The 1,359 wounded included Canadian MD Tarek Loubani, shot while dressed in distinct medic uniform and standing 25 metres from the protest. Of course it was Hamas' fault that the Israelis had to massacre and wound them.

Falling in line automatically behind Netanyahu, as always, were his Canadian lapdogs at the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA). CIJA claims to represent "the Jewish community" in Canada when they say "Israel had no choice but to use force." Since many Canadian Jews repudiate the leadership of CIJA, that too is chutzpah.

If the Centre cared about the truth they'd instead condemn Netanyahu, a man who keeps reinforcing his reputation for uttering false news.

For example, for over 20 years Netanyahu has regularly assured Israelis and his blindly loyal US allies that Iran will have nuclear weapons any second now, probably before breakfast. Yet Israel's intelligence chiefs have just as repeatedly told him that it just wasn't true. But that didn't constrain Mr. Netanyahu. Chutzpah trumps truth. And gives us the passionate bromance of Bibi and the Donald -- a disgrace to the Jewish people.  

Like Trump, Bibi knows things categorically even when there's no evidence whatever. He was among the most passionate advocates of the overthrow of Saddam Hussein: "If you take out Saddam's regime, I guarantee you that it will have enormous positive reverberations on the region." So much for a Bibi guarantee.

Now he's a leader in the campaign to take a hard line with Iran. If this means going to war with Iran and dangerously escalating the conflict in the Middle East, Bibi is ready.

He has said from the get-go what he repeated during the last Israeli election campaign: that there'd never be a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine impasse while he's Prime Minister. The only "solution" is the status quo. Soon after becoming PM in 1996 for the first time, he told a tiny group of settlers in the West Bank that "We will be here permanently forever". (This is a classic Jewish way to express something strongly: Not just "permanently" -- also "forever".)

Throughout Netanyahu's tenure, Jewish settlements on Palestinian land -- actually small towns and cities generously supported by his governments -- have flourished. There are now more than 600,000 Israeli settlers living illegally in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. "I do not intend to evacuate any settlements," the Times quotes Bibi.  

So the status quo is destined to continue forever, which means unending conflict. Israelis will be threatened by Hamas' largely ineffectual rockets launched from Gaza, and the Israeli army, with Netanyahu's blessing, will respond by continuing to turn Gaza into death and rubble. MSF called last week's conflict a "bloodbath" and declared that "the Israeli army must stop its disproportionate use of violence against Palestinian protestors." 

Shouldn't we expect Israelis, of all people, to have at least some empathy for the wretchedness of Gaza's almost 2 million souls imprisoned in their tiny enclave? Yet they seem to feel mostly race-based hatred. It's shameful. A UN report on the last active conflict called 2014 "a devastating year for Palestinians", the war leaving 1500 dead civilians (of 2200 Palestinian fatalities), 17,00 injured, and 100,000 homeless. Five hundred children were killed.

Five Israeli civilians were killed in the same conflict. As so often before, Palestinians were crushed, with all signs of future hope effectively wiped out. Israeli life went on as before.

In 2015, the Israeli group Breaking the Silence, an organization of veteran Israeli combatants, reproduced shocking testimonies from Israeli soldiers who served during the assault on Gaza the previous summer. The testimonies reveal the army's extreme and indiscriminate use of artillery on civilians and wanton destruction. No doubt Hamas made the Israeli army do it then too.

Palestinians have no hope for a better future. They protest without hope. Bibi doesn't care. CIJA doesn't care. Blame everything on Hamas. Everything. That too is chutzpah.

Image: Elvert Barnes/Flickr

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