The only way to make sense of Netanyahu’s claim that UNSC Resolution #2334 is a declaration of war against Israel is if, in his mind, all of Palestine has belonged to Israel for 3000 years. By this reasoning the boundaries of nearly all nations on our planet would need to be redrawn.

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Most often I write of love, acceptance, beauty, even soul. You may see that as the saccharine babble of an aged flower child, but I was not a flower child. I was a yuppie wife serving brunches of scrambled eggs decorated with truffles cut in the shapes of hearts, diamonds, clubs, and spades.

Since this post runs counter to my norm, I want to establish my creds. In Sarajevo I talked down a crazed man with a gun threatening to kill me. In Kabul I uncovered my blonde hair and stepped out of a van to face an approaching phalanx of frightened U.S. soldiers with M16 assault rifles; it was the day after an assassination attempt on Karzai and they thought we were going to attack the embassy. Outside of Bethlehem I ran, with the help of a young colleague, through Israeli tear gas canisters exploding like Fourth of July fireworks behind, in front, and beside us without an iota of justification. At the Qalandia checkout at the edge of Ramallah I photographed Palestinian men behind a dumpster being shot at from the Israeli military towers.

I know there is evil in the world.

Now, let’s talk about Netanyahu.

In 2007 I was photographing a female member of Israel’s Knesset in a sunlit alcove off the hallway along the members’ offices. It was in line with the interviews, photographs, and biographies for the book “Sixty Years, Sixty Voices: Israeli and Palestinian Women” that I produced and edited.

The alcove was warm and quiet, and my subject was generous of spirit. With the camera still to my eye, I turned from her to the hallway behind her when I heard people walking rapidly towards us.

The impact of the smug arrogant face I saw through the closeup lens crashed against the back of my skull. My camera unmasked pomposity, mindless hatred, and a craving for power. It took a couple seconds for me to realize I was looking at Netanyahu.

I put my camera down, shaken, praying he would never again be Israel’s Prime Minister. He was re-elected in 2009.

You cannot understand the actions of Israel without understanding the depth of the wounds of Jews; and we who are not Jews cannot fully understand that depth, its tentacles, and how it begets itself through generations. We should not try to tell ourselves we understand.

Still, we who are not Jews can see what perhaps the majority of Israelis and many non-Israeli Jews cannot see of themselves.

My daughter, perhaps the sanest person I know, is Jewish. She chose the religion of her father. In her cells she viscerally “knows” annihilating catastrophe could happen at any moment. She maps our family and friends escape routes for the vampire invasion or the nuclear bomb. She gives gifts of radios that can be hand cranked to hear broadcasts when the grid goes down.

Over a decade ago, I was driven back to East Jerusalem from Ramallah by a Canadian diplomat. It was the first time I heard someone say aloud what I had come silently to believe – Israelis were enacting on the Palestinians what had been enacted on them, and they did not know it. The inclosing wall, confiscation of property, inability to travel, restriction of goods, night raids, mass imprisonments, dehumanization, destruction of homes and fields, and repeated killings, including of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza.

I came to believe, further, that the majority of Jewish Israelis would not – could not — feel safe until they were able to do to the Palestinians (their “enemies”) what had been done to them. Only that amount of power would guarantee their safety. Faced with presumed alienation or survival, most Israelis would deny, and sadly or angrily justify, their actions. Further, the wall and laws against interactions with Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza made the suffering invisible if they wished it to be so.

Netanyahu, voted in by the most fearful of the Israelis, has never brought integrity to a peace negotiation. He has been videotaped telling Israeli families he has no intention of following through on any agreements he made.

For him, it has always been about stalling international powers while reclaiming Palestine as the Biblical Judea and Samaria by building “facts on the ground” through settlements. The belief that an Omnipotent Landlord promised this land to the Jews has more reality than the history of the land over time. The lure – perhaps the safety of a promised “homeland” – of this belief cannot be overestimated. Knesset docents explain the Chagall mural of an Israel that includes Judea and Samaria as the present day reality. Fundamental US evangelicals gape in awe, not realizing they are looking at a contiguous map of the nations of Israel and Palestine.

Like most tyrants, Netanyahu has become more delusional with time – more paranoid, frightened, and frightening. He claims UN Security Council Resolution # 2334 is a declaration of war against Israel. What it does, in fact, is reaffirm that Israel’s establishment of settlements has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation of international law and is a major obstacle to two States living side-by-side in peace and security, within internationally recognized borders.

The only way to make sense of Netanyahu’s reasoning that the UN revolution is a declaration of war against Israel is if, in his mind as in the mural, all of Palestine has belonged to Israel for 3000 years. By this reasoning the boundaries of nearly all lands on our planet would need to be redrawn.

Truth is difficult to unthread through our mismatched versions of history, but we have learned – or have we? – that arrogant, delusional, narcissistic heads of states are dangerous. Is that something we learn only in retrospect? Are we learning it again?

A constant vigilant closeup lens is require, of Netanyahu and others.


6 thoughts on “OUTING NETANYAHU

  1. Thank you for this, Patricia. I am a Jew in whose deep being lies a connection with Israel. No matter how other powers have divied up that small territory—choked as it is with meaning for all– I cannot, viscerally, understand why Jews cannot freely pray at the Temple wall. Nor can I understand, again viscerally, how the age old Jewish traditions of loving kindness and the sanctity of life can be dismissed out of political exigency. These conflicts are what has made resolution impossible for so long. Why won’t the Palestinians recognize the state of Israel? Why could that recognition not be a quid pro quo for cessation of building settlements? I am almost totally ignorant about the details of this situation–but the above sums up my feelings.

    • Dear Juliene, you have several points and questions but first I want to acknowledge your deep connection with Israel. It is a heart and gut connection, I know — and shared by many. I also feel it, though not as you.

      When you say Temple wall are you referring to Temple Mount? Certainly the Western wall (wailing wall) is constantly a site of jewish prayer – disputed only by that women are confined to a small section of it, and that women rabbis have not been acknowledged (that may have recently changed, I am not sure). When there are bar mitzvahs, the women have to stand on chairs to look over the wall that separates them from the men and their sons.

      Re: recognizing the state of Israel. Not only has the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank repeatedly officially recognized the state of Israel, they have even recognized previously Israel as a Jewish state, though there is hesitation now to recognize it as a Jewish state because of the awareness that to recognize Israel as a Jewish state puts Israeli Christians and Muslims in a situation where they can be furthered prejudiced against. That said, the UN resolution specifically states recognition (again) as one needed action (you could say a quid pro quo). Recognizing Israel by Palestinians is a no-brainer for 95% of the Palestinians even as Hamas leadership would probably still reject it. The statement that Palestinians don’t recognize Israel as a state is, essentially, a leftover from decades ago, and one that Israel keeps promulgating or simply has been unable to hear. One can ask, what difference does it make? Why is powerful Israel even concerned? I don’t know a single Palestinian, and I know hundreds, who doesn’t acknowledge Israel exists as a state. It’s a reality, it’s a given. It would be delusional to think anything else. While Israel leadership seems unable to acknowledge Palestine as Palestine and was furious that the UN accepted them as a nation, the overwhelming majority of Palestinians have gone past this years ago.

      • I believe we do need to acknowledge that Israel became a nation in 1948 with the assumption that the Jews, Gentiles, and Muslims that lived there together (more or less peacefully) would continue living there together. What happened instead were tactics, including at least a couple massacres, that led the majority of Palestinians to flee their homes where they had lived for centuries and generations. If there was a reluctance for Palestinians to recognize Israel as a result, it would seem a natural response as it meant giving up hope for their homes and fields. That said, overwhelmingly Palestinians accept the reality of Israel as a state and that it is required for peace.

      • As I said, I am ignorant about the facts– mea culpa– or however you say that in Hebrew. And I thank you for giving me more information. I would also like to hear answers from the “settlers” as I think they are called.
        What I am able to offer is a little insight into is why recognizing Israel as a state may be so important to Israelis and, indeed to all Jews.We were not called “the wandering Jews” nothing. Here again, my knowledge is woefully lacking, but try to realize why a homeland– a country truly and universally recognized throughout the world– would mean so much to a people who have had to flee from practically every country in which they have tried to find a home…even when they thought they had found one (sometimes for a long long time. Even where they were welcome for their contributions, a change of leadership (king) could mean expulsion.) Does this sound familiar in terms of what is happening in the world ;now? I am not an insecure Jew. America has given me that. But we have always been used as scapegoats (look different? dress different? pray different?). That has not changed. Anti-Semitism is rising globally at this very moment. I confess it has (fleetingly) passed my mind that if I had to, I could flee to Israel. This is the first time in history persecuted Jews have had a place they could actually flee to and belong. I am an American first. But I am a Jew in every fiber of my American being.

        • Dear Juliene, thank you again for your words.

          Yes, Jews have “wandered” around the world, both for opportunity and curiosity but, tragically way too often, as escape for survival — to Cuba, India, various nations in South America. The diaspora is vast, and the idea of a safe homeland has power as a reality and an emotional base. This is, indeed, why Israel craves universal acknowledgement so deeply — I would say that the national and cultural PTSD is also why they keep demanding the world (and Palestine) to repeat and support the reality of their existence. No matter how often it is repeated, they cannot sufficiently “hear” that they are recognized and safe. I say this not as a criticism but as a compassionate observation.

          You mentioned hearing from settlers. I doubt any will respond here but I can pass on what two settlers have said to me – one from Moscow, one from Ethiopia, both women, one made me an apple pie in her home. The belief that the West Bank is for the Jews infuses them and if you believe otherwise, you have “not read your Torah.” (Both used the same words.) To them, their God-given land extends well into Jordan and Lebanon though the exact borders seem vague. That said, they don’t need the Palestinians (Arab/Muslim/Christian) off “their” land. They see that they can all live together but the Palestinians would simply not be allowed to vote.

  2. Thank you Patricia for this amazing post. I think it would be good for folks to really look at the folks who were originally the occupants of the land now called Israel.

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