Double Standards on Israel’s Hate Speech

Syed Sharfuddin*

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu surprised the civilised world on 29 October 2023 justifying the killing of innocent women and children in Gaza by citing the Hebrew Bible and invoking the destruction of Amlak. The Old Testament 1 Samuel 15:30 reads: “Now go and smite Amlak and utterly destroy all that they have and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass”. What was even more surprising was that the Israeli Prime Minister got away by this hate speech and was not chided by a single Western leader for giving the green light to the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) to continue with the genocide of the Palestinians in Gaza. The Western friends of Israel do not themselves follow the Old Testament and believe that according to the New Testament Jesus’s message is not one of hate but love and compassion toward all human beings. But their silence on Netanyahu’s hate speech, who is in command of the destructive machine of Israel, is incomprehensible. These countries have strong laws prohibiting incitement and justification of violence, and murder of women and children even in war situations. They apply the hate speech laws on use of social media and internet, and sanction other nations and people for violating these laws. But they are quiet and perhaps complicit in their silence on Israel and its far-right Jewish leaders.

This is not the first time the Israeli leaders have uttered such racist and homophobic language against Palestinians. It is also not always Hamas that they have spoken against. The target of Israeli hatred is all Palestinians who are a hindrance in the
realisation of Greater Israel. Israeli establishment is determined to displace Palestinian people from Arab ancestral lands which the UN calls Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs), and force them to live like dogs. They say the Palestinians either obey us or get the hell out of Israel.

The record of Israeli Prime Ministers and other Cabinet Ministers on hate speech against the Palestinians goes back to the time when Israel was still under the British Mandate. The fact that they were not held responsible for their utterances then, led to many joining the hate speech barrage after 1948, which continues to this day.

In 1937 the Head of the Executive Committee of the Jewish Agency and the first Prime Minister of Israel, David Ben Gurion said: “We must expel the Arabs and take their places”.

In 1982 Prime Minister Menachem Begin said: “The Palestinians are beasts walking on two legs.”

The Prime Minister of Israel from 2001 to 2006, Ariel Sharon, said: “I wanted to encourage my soldiers by raping Arab girls as the Palestinian woman is a slave for Jews and we do what we want to her”.

In 2006 Ehud Olmert who was Prime Minister of Israel from 2006 to 2009 said: “Israeli lives are worth more than Palestinian ones.”

In 2012 the racist Interior Minister of Israel Eli Yishai said: “The goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages. Only then Israel be calm for forty years.”

In 2013 a former Prime Minister and leader of the far-right Jewish Home Party, Naftali Bennett said: “I already killed lots of Arabs in my life, and there is absolutely no problem with that.”

In 2015 a former Israeli Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman said: “Those who are against us deserve to have their heads chopped off with an axe.”

In 2016 the leader of the opposition and a member of the Yesh Atid Party, Yair Lapid, said: “We need to get the Palestinians out of our lives. What we have to do is build a high wall and get the out of our sight”.

A far-right former Minister of Justice and later Minister of Interior Ayelet Shakid said in 2017: “They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”

A retired army General and Minister without portfolio Benny Gantz said after the November 2019 Israel-Gaza clashes: “Parts of Gaza were sent back to the Stone Age.”

Israel’s far-right Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich said in 2012: “You are here by mistake – because Ben Gurion didn’t finish the job and throw you out in 1948.” In March 2023, he said: “After 2000 years God is gathering His people. The people of Israel are returning home. The Arabs don’t like it. They invent fictitious people and claim fictitious rights to the land only to fight Zionism.”

President Isaac Herzog said this month: “There are no innocent civilians in Gaza”.

A member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee Tally Gotliv said this month: “Powerful rockets to be fired without borders, Gaza to be smashed and razed to the ground without mercy.”

Israeli member of the Knesset Ariel Kallner said on October 9, 2023: “Now there is only one goal. Nakba (catastrophe). A Nakba that would dwarf the Nakba of 1948”.

The Head of the IDF Spokesperson Unit, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari reporting on the Gaza war said in October 2023: “We are dropping hundreds of tons of bombs on Gaza. The focus is on destruction, not accuracy”.

Ben Gvir Itamar, the Israeli Minister for Border Security and representing the far-right Party Jewish Power said: “The only thing that needs to enter Gaza are hundreds of tons of explosives from the Air Force, not an ounce of humanitarian aid.”

A 95 year old army reservist Ezra Yachin said on 23 October; “Wipe out their families, their mothers and their children. These animals must not be allowed to live any longer.”

The Coordinator of Israeli Military Activities in the OPTs, Maj Gen Ghassan Alian said on 28 October: “Animal humans will get treated accordingly, you wanted hell and you will get it.”

According to a June 2022 report by the Egyptian Coalition for Human Rights and Development (ECHRD) Israel’s hate speech and incitement against Palestinians tripled in 2021 over 2020. After the election of the far-right government in Israel in December 2022 it increased even further. And after the 7 October 2023 Hamas attack and abductions on Israeli kibbutz in Southern Israel, it has peaked. The sad thing is no one is trying to bring the temperature down. Is the civilised world waiting to wake up only when the cycle of hatred escalates to the point of poisoning the minds of the coming generations of the two communities beyond retreat.

*Syed Sharfuddin is a political analyst and a former Pakistan diplomat.





Translate »