Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
The Method in Netanyahu's Madness:
Israel Rules Out Non-Violence
By Jonathan Cook
Redress, Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, July 19, 2011
Jonathan Cook argues
that by outlawing non-violent protest against the Israeli occupation of
Palestinian territories and the siege of Gaza and leaving only violence as a
mode of resistance, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his
supporters believe that they can “safeguard the legitimacy of the Jewish
state – and destroy any hope of a Palestinian state being created”.
It was an Arab legislator who made the most telling comment to the
Israeli parliament last week as it passed the boycott law, which outlaws
calls to boycott Israel or its settlements in the occupied territories.
Ahmed Tibi asked: “What is a peace activist or Palestinian allowed to do to
oppose the occupation? Is there anything you agree to?”
law is the latest in a series of ever-more draconian laws being introduced
by the far-right. The legislation's goal is to intimidate those Israeli
citizens, Jews and Palestinians, who have yet to bow down before the
Look out in the coming days and weeks for a bill
to block the work of Israeli human rights organizations trying to protect
Palestinians in the occupied territories from abuses by the Israeli army and
settlers; and a draft law investing a parliamentary committee, headed by the
far-right, with the power to veto appointments to the Supreme Court. The
court is the only, and already enfeebled, bulwark against the right's
“The new [boycott] law makes it illegal for Israelis and
Palestinians to advocate a non-violent political programme –
boycott – to counter the ever-growing power of the half a
million Jewish settlers living on stolen Palestinian land.”
Watershed in the assault on civil rights
The boycott law, backed by Binyamin Netanyahu's government, marks a
watershed in this legislative assault in two respects.
knocks out the keystone of any democratic system: the right to free speech.
The new law makes it illegal for Israelis and Palestinians to advocate a
non-violent political programme – boycott – to counter the ever-growing
power of the half a million Jewish settlers living on stolen Palestinian
As the Israeli commentator Gideon Levy observed, the floodgates
are now open: "Tomorrow it will be forbidden to call for an end to the
occupation [or for] brotherhood between Jews and Arabs."
concern is that the law creates a new type of civil, rather than criminal,
offence. The state will not be initiating prosecutions. Instead, the job of
enforcing the boycott law is being outsourced to the settlers and their
lawyers. Anyone backing a boycott can be sued for compensation by the
settlers themselves, who – again uniquely – need not prove they suffered
Under this law, opponents of the occupation will not even be dignified
with jail sentences and the chance to become prisoners of conscience.
Rather, they will be quietly bankrupted in private actions, their assets
seized either to cover legal costs or as punitive damages.
Human rights lawyers point out that there is no law like this anywhere in
the democratic world. Even Eyal Yinon, the naturally conservative legal
adviser to the parliament, assessed the law’s aim as stopping a “discussion
that has been at the heart of political debate in Israel for more than 40
years”. But more than half of Israelis back it, with only 31 per cent
Delusional, self-pitying worldview
The delusional, self-pitying worldview that spawned the boycott law was
neatly illustrated this month in a short video "ad" that is supported, and
possibly financed, by Israel's hasbara, or propaganda, ministry.
Fittingly, it is set in a psychiatrist's office.
“Under [the boycott] law, opponents of the occupation …
will be quietly bankrupted in private actions, their assets
seized either to cover legal costs or as punitive damages.”
A young, traumatized woman deciphers the images concealed in the famous
Rorschach test. As she is shown the ink-splodges, her panic and
anger grow. Gradually, we come to realize, she represents vulnerable modern
Israel, abandoned by friends and still in profound shock at the attack on
her navy's commandos by the "terrorist" passengers aboard last year's aid
flotilla to Gaza.
Immune to reality – that the ships were trying to
break Israel's punitive siege of Gaza, that the commandos illegally boarded
the ships in international waters, and that they shot dead nine activists
execution-style – Miss Israel tearfully recounts that the world is "forever
trying to torment and harm [us] for no reason". Finally she storms out,
saying: "What do you want – for [Israel] to disappear off the map?"
The video – released under the banner "Stop the provocation against Israel"
– was part of a campaign to discredit the recent follow-up flotilla from
Greece. The aid mission was abandoned after Greek authorities, under Israeli
pressure, refused to let the convoy sail for Gaza.
mentality asserted itself again days later as international activists staged
another show of solidarity – this one nicknamed the "flytilla". Hundreds
tried to fly to Israel on the same day, declaring their intention to travel
to the West Bank. The goal was to highlight that Israel both controls and
severely restricts access to the occupied territories and to Palestinians.
Proving precisely the protesters’ point, Israel threatened airlines with
retaliation if they carried the activists and it massed hundreds of soldiers
at Ben Gurion airport to greet arrivals. Some 150 peaceful protesters who
reached Israel were arrested moments after landing.
“Netanyahu and the Israeli right … are carefully
dismantling every platform on which dissident Israelis,
Palestinians and international activists hope to stage their
protests. They are making it impossible to organize joint
peaceful and non-violent resistance, whether in the form of
boycotts or solidarity visits. The only way being left open
Echoing the deranged sentiments of the woman in the video, Israel's prime
minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, denounced the various flotillas as "denying
Israel's right to exist" and a threat to its security.
In reality, however, the surge in flotilla activity reflects not an
attack on Israel but a growing appreciation by international groups that
Israel is successfully sealing off from the world the small areas of the
occupied territories left to Palestinians. The flotillas are a rebellion
against the Palestinians’ rapid ghettoization.
comments sound delusional, there may be a method to the madness of measures
like the boycott law and the hysterical overreaction to the flotillas.
These initiatives, as Tibi points out, leave no room for non-violent
opposition to the occupation. Arundhati Roy, the award-winning Indian
writer, has noted that non-violence is essentially "a piece of theatre. [It]
needs an audience. What can you do when you have no audience?"
Netanyahu and the Israeli right understand this point. They are carefully
dismantling every platform on which dissident Israelis, Palestinians and
international activists hope to stage their protests. They are making it
impossible to organize joint peaceful and non-violent resistance, whether in
the form of boycotts or solidarity visits. The only way being left open is
Is this what the Israeli right wants, believing both that
it will confirm to Israelis their paranoid fantasies as well as offer a
justification to the world for entrenching the occupation?
appears to believe that, by generating the very terror he claims to be
trying to defeat, he can safeguard the legitimacy of the Jewish state – and
destroy any hope of a Palestinian state being created.
A version of this article originally appeared in
published in Abu Dhabi. The version here is published by permission of