One problem Israel keeps running into is how the institutionalized dehumanization of Palestinians which keeps the apartheid state operational also causes Israelis to say things that non-Israelis will find extremely shocking, which hurts Israel’s PR interests.
We saw this illustrated in a recent New Yorker interview with Daniella Weiss, a leader of the push to build illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land. Weiss stated frankly and unapologetically that she supports apartheid, that she doesn’t believe Palestinians should have any sovereignty anywhere, that she doesn’t believe Palestinians should have voting rights, that she wants the population of Gaza to be replaced by Israeli settlements, and that she is untroubled by the killing of children in Gaza because she feels it’s being done in the interests of Israeli children.
Asked where the Palestinians in Gaza should go, Weiss replied, “To Sinai, to Egypt, to Turkey.” When the interviewer said the Palestinians are not Egyptian or Turkish, she contended that “The Ukrainians are not French, but when the war started they went to many countries.”
To the question “When you see Palestinian children dying, what’s your emotional reaction as a human being?”, Weiss answered, “I go by a very basic human law of nature. My children are prior to the children of the enemy, period. They are first. My children are first.”
Asked if she believes human rights are not universal and should not apply equally to everyone, Weiss replied “That’s right.”
But perhaps the most revealing statement Weiss made was her entirely truthful explanation of what drives the Israeli push to colonize Palestinian land:
“In Israel, there’s a lot of support for settlements, and this is why there have been right-wing governments for so many years. The world, especially the United States, thinks there is an option for a Palestinian state, and, if we continue to build communities, then we block the option for a Palestinian state. We want to close the option for a Palestinian state, and the world wants to leave the option open. It’s a very simple thing to understand.”
That one paragraph right there will teach you more about the present-day realities of the Israel-Palestine conflict than an entire year of watching CNN. It’s horrid, and it’s jarring to hear it spoken out loud in a favorable way… but it’s true.
This sort of thing has been happening for years. Israelis who’ve been marinating in a self-validating echo chamber of Zionist ideology which dehumanizes Palestinians and normalizes oppression and abuse don’t think twice about saying things that make Israel look bad on the world stage, because to them it’s just the standard status quo way of looking at things.
Fauci, apparently fully aware that he was being filmed, famously replied to the family’s complaints that he was stealing their home by shamelessly telling them, “If I don’t steal it, someone else will steal it.”
And the thing is, he wasn’t lying. He was truthfully describing an abusive dynamic in apartheid Israel where Palestinians are being forced out of their homes in order to control ethnic demographics and advance the agenda outlined above by Daniella Weiss. If he’d been a trained propagandist for the Israeli state he never would have made such comments on camera, but because he was just a Zionism-indocrinated member of the Israeli public he saw no reason to hold his tongue.
Some years ago The Empire Files’ Abby Martin put together a devastating critique of the Zionist ideology just by going around the streets of Jerusalem with a camera and a microphone and talking to Jewish Israelis about their views on Palestinians. Over and over and over again they shared their support for tyranny, murder, genocide and ethnic cleansing in their own words and without hesitation, never thinking that their words could be used to harm Israel’s image, because to them these were just normal things that they said all the time in their day to day life.
You see the same sort of thing when Israelis are filmed sitting in lawn chairs to watch and cheer IDF bombing operations on Palestinian neighborhoods, during which a woman once told the press “I’m just a little bit fascist” after advocating the total destruction of Gaza City.
Every time this happens it sends viral video footage around the internet and does real damage to the world’s perception of Israel. That’s a big part of why Israel is struggling to control the narrative about the Gaza massacre today, which is in turn being exacerbated by more incendiary statements by Israelis, not just from the general public but from within the Israeli government itself.
On Saturday Israeli security cabinet member and Agriculture Minister Avi Dichter casually referred to the violent forced expulsion of Palestinians from the northern half of the Gaza Strip as “Nakba 2023”, a reference to the violent forced expulsion which was inflicted on Palestinians at the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948.
Israeli security cabinet member and Agriculture Minister Avi Dichter (Likud) was asked in a news interview on Saturday whether the images of northern Gaza Strip residents evacuating south on the IDF’s orders are comparable to images of the Nakba. He replied: “We are now rolling out the Gaza Nakba. From an operational point of view, there is no way to wage a war — as the IDF seeks to do in Gaza — with masses between the tanks and the soldiers.”
When asked again whether this was the “Gaza Nakba”, Dichter — a member of the security cabinet and former Shin Bet director — said “Gaza Nakba 2023. That’s how it’ll end.”
When later asked if this means Gaza City residents won’t be allowed to return, he replied: “I don’t know how it’ll end up happening since Gaza City is one-third of the Strip — half the land’s population but a third of the territory.”
Dichter’s comments are surprising not only because Israel has been publicly framing the mass displacement in Gaza as a measure taken solely to protect civilians, but also because the Israeli government has long officially denied that the Nakba ever happened, even passing laws forbidding its history to be taught in schools.
Even as western officials hasten to frame Israel’s actions as a defensive and measured response to the Hamas attack on October 7, Israeli officials have been falling all over themselves in a mad rush to make those western officials look like liars.
When talking about the Gaza assault Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made headlines by invoking the biblical nation of Amalek, whose people God instructed the Israelites to commit total genocide against. The first book of Samuel contains the instructions, “Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.”
President Isaac Herzog insinuated last month that all civilians in Gaza are legitimate military targets because they failed to overthrow Hamas, saying, “It is not true this rhetoric about civilians not being aware, not involved. It’s absolutely not true. They could have risen up. They could have fought against that evil regime which took over Gaza in a coup d’etat.”
When announcing the total siege on Gaza which would see the enclave cut off from electricity, food, water and fuel, Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant stated that “we are fighting human animals, and we are acting accordingly.”
Dan Gillerman, Israel’s former ambassador to the UN, said last month that “I am very puzzled by the constant concern which the world is showing for the Palestinian people and is actually showing for these horrible, inhuman animals who have done the worst atrocities that this century has seen.”
“Hamas became ISIS and the citizens of Gaza are celebrating instead of being horrified,” The Economist cites an Israeli general saying last month. “Human beasts are dealt with accordingly.”
“Creating a severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza is a necessary means to achieve the goal,” a major general named Giora Eiland wrote in an Israeli newspaper, adding, “Gaza will become a place where no human being can exist.”
Israel’s allies keep trying to portray it as a rational actor and a positive force in the world, but if you listen to Israelis themselves you get a very different understanding of what this murderous apartheid state is actually about.
As Maya Angelou said, when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.
My work is entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece here are some options where you can toss some money into my tip jar if you want to. Go here to buy paperback editions of my writings from month to month. All my work is free to bootleg and use in any way, shape or form; republish it, translate it, use it on merchandise; whatever you want. The best way to make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list on Substack, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. All works co-authored with my husband Tim Foley.
Bitcoin donations: 1Ac7PCQXoQoLA9Sh8fhAgiU3PHA2EX5Zm2