JTA — Tzipi Livni, justice minister and the top negotiator in talks with the Palestinians, posted an attack Wednesday on Facebook aimed at her coalition partner Naftali Bennett.
Bennett, the economy minister and leader of the pro-settler Jewish Home party, had the night before delivered a speech in which he apparently argued that Israel’s problem was one of hasbara, or PR. This is not a new argument from him — it’s not a new argument at all — but something set Livni off this time.
In a post that was dripping with sarcasm, she proposed a PR campaign for Bennett’s vision of an Israel that has rejected Palestinian statehood. She wonders if that sort of Israel could be even worse than apartheid South Africa.
Livni is not the first Israeli politician to warn that a failure to arrive at a two-state solution could lead to apartheid; she is not even the first scion of the right-wing Revisionists (who once stood for a Greater Israel) to do so — that would be former prime minister Ehud Olmert.
But this reporter has never seen any Israeli leader so senior describe so brutally an erosion of democracy in the country, nor have I seen anyone use real-time examples to posit an apartheid analogy. Olmert, and Ehud Barak before him, said that demographic realities could lead to apartheid. Livni sees it looming before her in the radical Hilltop Youth settler movement and the “price tag” attacks on Palestinians.
Below is my translation of her post, which she had typed into her mobile phone. It was accompanied by a photo of Israel’s Declaration of Independence.
A couple of notes: At the outset, Livni is referring to a Knesset hearing on the dangers posed by BDS (the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel) that was postponed for separate political reasons. The “Israel is a sister” reference at the end refers to a Bennett campaign slogan, “Bennett is a brother.”
They’ve announced that the hearing on BDS has been canceled, which is a shame because I was listening last night to the speech by Bennett and I have an action plan based, naturally, on PR and hasbara, in line with the thrust of his speech.
No doubt you’ll agree that truth in PR is an important principle, because otherwise the publicity does not work (except during elections, when the truth comes out only in their wake.)
So let’s launch a worldwide campaign as Bennett recommends: Imagine pictures of our good boys and girls from the Hilltop Youth engaged in price tag activities (ok, fine, not the price tags on churches and monasteries, which is after all unpleasant), and the caption on the broadcast would be: Israel has decided: sovereignty over everything.
Or: This isn’t South Africa, Palestinians are not second-class citizens, they’re not citizens at all.
Or: We’re always in the right, and when we said peace, we didn’t really mean it.
Or: Zionism is Judaism and not democracy. The “new Israel” (which is like the “new politics” and should catch on) erases from the Declaration of Independence the words: freedom, justice and equal rights.
Or, in fact, borrowing from the last election: Israel is a sister (assuming the rabbis will even agree to describe the state as a woman.) Because if it worked during the elections, why not go large now? In sum: best of luck to us.
The Times of Israel covers one of the most complicated, and contentious, parts of the world. Determined to keep readers fully informed and enable them to form and flesh out their own opinions, The Times of Israel has gradually established itself as the leading source of independent and fair-minded journalism on Israel, the region and the Jewish world.
We've achieved this by investing ever-greater resources in our journalism while keeping all of the content on our site free.
Unlike many other news sites, we have not put up a paywall. But we would like to invite readers who can afford to do so, and for whom The Times of Israel has become important, to help support our journalism by joining The Times of Israel Community. Join now and for as little as $6 a month you can both help ensure our ongoing investment in quality journalism, and enjoy special status and benefits as a Times of Israel Community member.