The saying “the more things change, the more they stay the same” rings true in the settler-occupier state of Israel.
Within one month, there was an 11- day war between Israel and Palestinian resistance forces mainly connected to Hamas, a brokered cease-fire, the ousting of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the installation of a new premier and coalition government.
However, after these dramatic events, its questionable whether the new “Change Government” is a change at all given air strikes on Gaza two days after taking power. Analysts say it is a sign of things to come. Another barrage of air strikes came June 17 as Palestinian militants launched incendiary balloons into Israel. The devices, helium-filled balloons, are cheap and aimed at starting fires on farmland and bush in Gaza.
“That’s just the status quo in Israel,” said Khury Petersen-Smith, the Michael Ratner Middle East Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. “The fact that days into the new government, Israel bombed Gaza and allowed an ultranationalist march into occupied Palestinian territory, which they protected with police indicates that kind of racism and violence is not limited to Netanyahu.”
Mr. Petersen-Smith told The Final Call the new government was sending a message to Israel and the world about its willingness to “embrace” and “uphold” the status quo.
The settler occupiers flag march June 15 was originally scheduled for May but cancelled because of the Israeli missile bombardment where nearly 300 Palestinian men, women, and children and 12 Israelis were killed.
The new government allowing the march as one of its first actions, coupled with renewed bombing of Gaza and arrests of Palestinians were high profile acts of violence and nationalism.
“This really was about a signal the government was unified on this,” observed Mr. Petersen-Smith.
The initial airstrikes came one day after an ultranationalist Israeli flag march where anti-Palestinian and Arab slogans were on the lips of many participants. While waving Israeli occupier flags some chanted: “Death to Arabs!” and “May your village burn,” as they converged on Jerusalem’s Old City. For Israelis, the day celebrates the annexing of Palestinian lands after the 1967 six-day war against the Arab nations of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria.
Palestinians countered the “celebrations” in East Jerusalem with protests against what they condemned as another provocation by the Jewish state. Media reports and the Israeli Defense Forces say Hamas responded by launching incendiary balloons into Israeli territory from the West Bank. The balloons are inflated with hot air, hydrogen, or helium, with a bomb, incendiary device, or Molotov cocktail attached then flown by wind toward its target.
True to form, the Israeli occupying forces disproportionately answered crudely made fire balloons with advanced missiles, breaking the month-old ceasefire agreement.
A report released June 15 said between May 6-22 there was a 15-fold spike in incendiary anti-Palestinian/Arab rhetoric online compared to the same period last year. The Index of Racism, Hatred and Incitement against Arabs and Palestinians report was published by the Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media, a non-profit watchdog organization for Palestinian digital rights. The center said there were 183,000 conversations involving “racism, insults or incitement against Arabs” that were monitored. These actions fed hostilities and lent to the belief that even with a new government, Palestinian marginalization will remain the order of the day.
Days before resumption of military air strikes to answer crudely made fire balloons, the new coalition Zionist government led by Naftali Bennett was sworn in. The coalition was voted in by a razor thin 60-59 majority vote.
Despite the June 13 ratification of the Change Government, when compared to its predecessor, it’s clearly a distinction without a difference.
Although the eight-party coalition government is diverse—left wing, centrist, right wing, and includes an Arab Israeli party— for the most part it consists of fractured proponents of a staunch Zionist agenda. Mr. Bennett is considered a hardliner against Palestinian justice and self-determination. Under his watch, observers expect no change in the type of intolerant, racist nationalism cultivated under Mr. Netanyahu.
It can be seen as a case of “Satan casting out Satan” and replacing him with Satan. This means continued Palestinian marginalization, unbridled land encroachments, and illegal settlements.
In his inaugural speech before Israel’s legislature, the Knesset, Mr. Bennett reiterated the new government will not focus on the 73-year-old quagmire caused by Zionist settler occupation of Palestinian lands.
Mr. Bennett vowed to keep coalition unity by forging forward on “that which we agree” such as transport, education and “what separates us we will leave to the side,” which primarily is the problem of justice for Palestinians. To freedom and justice advocates, sidelining the already sidelined Palestinians is problematic and unrealistic.
Mr. Petersen-Smith said regardless of the prime minister’s declaration, the Bennett- led government is entrenched in the problem. “They might not have unified statements rhetorically,” he said. “But in practice they support or accept policies that just continue the ongoing displacement of Palestinians.”
For decades the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam warned Israel will not enjoy peace.
“Because the ‘peace’ that you want is peace on your terms! And that is not going to happen,” he said in Part 12 of a pivotal lecture series called “The Time and What Must be Done” in 2013. Israel wants peace but doesn’t want to do justice which brings peace. Based on Israel’s unequal terms for existence, neither peace nor justice is realistic. Israel blocks security powers from Palestinians, without which in an independent state is a losing cause.
“How can you say that you want a ‘two-state solution,’ and you have no real sovereignty over what you possess … your own space or the space you’re hoping to get?” asked Minister Farrakhan. “These are not terms for peace. These are terms for a ‘false settlement’ that will allow the Israelis to continue their mastery over the Palestinian people,” said Minister Farrakhan. He has also warned unsettled conflict stemming from Israel’s mischief-making, blood-shedding, meddling in the affairs of other nations, and acting as a regional trouble source has the potential to spin a wider war. This is especially apparent with Israeli sable-rattling and deadly actions against Iran.
Using anti-peace rhetoric, Mr. Bennett characterized Iran as the “greatest threat” to Israel and said a nuclear deal would “embolden” Iran with “international legitimacy” and wealth.
“Israel will not allow Iran to be equipped with nuclear weapons. Israel is not party to the agreement and will maintain full freedom to act,” vowed Mr. Bennett.
Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action talks are ongoing involving Iran and world nations toward the U.S. return to the 2015 deal it quit under President Donald Trump. Israel has consistently made it clear it will actively sabotage any agreement.
Iran has accused Israel of being behind two attacks on its Natanz nuclear site in April of this year and July 2020. Israel has taken credit for the November 2020 assassination of Dr. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, a top Iranian nuclear scientist, and others over the decades.
Speaking to Israel’s Channel 12 investigative program “Uvda,” Yossi Cohen, the departing chief of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, hinted that Israel actively targeted Iran’s nuclear program and their scientists. So far Washington “agreed to disagree” with Tel Aviv on the issue.
Israel is using military operations to undermine an agreement the U.S. brokered while continuing to gift Israel billions of dollars in weapons, military aid and protection and diplomatic cover on the world stage.
“What’s really interesting is that the U.S. doesn’t have a problem with that,” said Mr. Petersen-Smith.