A party with members in Israel’s government has just endorsed a plan to force Palestinians out of their homeland.
A prominent Holocaust scholar previously called the plan potentially genocidal and likened the values of its chief proponent to those of the Nazi SS.
Yet the European Union, which claims a moral mission to combat extremism, racism and xenophobia, is refusing to condemn it.
The National Union faction, which has members in Israel’s parliament as part of the Jewish Home party, approved the plan at a conference this week.
It calls for annexing the occupied West Bank into a Greater Israel and effectively forcing Palestinians out of their homeland under threat of violence if they refuse Israel’s terms.
Palestinians would be offered a grim choice: “Anyone who is willing and able to relinquish the fulfillment of his national aspirations will be able to stay here and live as an individual in the Jewish state,” the plan states.
Otherwise, “Anyone who is unwilling or unable to relinquish his national aspirations will receive assistance from us to emigrate to one of the Arab countries.”
But if Palestinians don’t choose to surrender to the “Jewish state” or leave, they will be met with even “greater force” than the brutality Israel already uses to suppress the rights of millions of people under military occupation.
Netanyahu’s “stamp of approval”
The plan was unanimously approved by conference delegates, including Uri Ariel, agriculture minister in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet.
Both Ariel and Smotrich are prominent among Israeli extremists who support replacing the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem with a Jewish temple.
Netanyahu has not explicitly endorsed the plan but gave it what Haaretz termed a “stamp of approval” by sending a recorded greeting to the conference.
“I was happy to hear that you are devoting the discussions at the conference to the subject of the future of the Land of Israel,” Netanyahu said. “Up until not so many years ago, this country was deserted and abandoned, but since we returned to Zion, after generations of exile, the Land of Israel is flourishing.”
Netanyahu’s assertion that Palestine was “deserted and abandoned” prior to Zionist colonization is not only a falsification of history but a potential justification for future acts to forcibly remove Palestinians.
The plan adopted by the conference very likely meets the international legal definition of genocide.
It states that its objective is “to dismantle the Palestinian national collective.”
The international convention on preventing genocide defines genocide as any of a number of acts carried out “with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such.”
Although in the popular understanding genocide is equated with physical extermination of a group of human beings, its legal definition includes a broader number of acts. The key issue in defining an act as genocidal is the intention of its perpetrator.
Proponents of the plan explicitly state that existence of the Palestinians as a people is an obstacle to fulfilling Jewish ethnic-religious domination, and that they intend to target Palestinians because they are members of a particular national group.
“We do not assume that there are two narratives here that are equal,” Smotrich explained. “There’s one side that’s correct, and another that is undermining the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state.”
Values of the German SS
Daniel Blatman, a professor of Holocaust studies at Hebrew University, wrote in May that Smotrich takes inspiration for his plan from the biblical Book of Joshua, which describes the wholesale slaughter of a people by the “children of Israel.”
Blatman called Smotrich, a deputy speaker of the Israeli parliament the Knesset, “the most senior government figure to date to say unabashedly that the option of genocide is on the table if the Palestinians don’t agree to our terms.”
“Smotrich’s admiration for the biblical genocidaire Joshua bin Nun leads him to adopt values that resemble those of the German SS,” Blatman, a fellow of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, added.
There is a long history of human rights scholarship and legal analysis that supports the assertion Israel is already committing genocide.
Last month, Vera Jourova, the European Union’s justice commissioner, recalled her visit to Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial.
“We need to be the ones taking the message against racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism for future generations,” she wrote on Twitter.
“This is the EU,” Jourova added, raising the moral responsibility to speak out to a defining European value.
In keeping with this spirit, The Electronic Intifada asked the office of European foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini if it would offer a clear, unambiguous and specific condemnation of the transfer plan and of its endorsement by Israeli government ministers, including, implicitly, by Netanyahu.
But the EU refused to do so. Instead, a spokesperson provided a robotic, general statement that the “European Union supports a two-state solution and has consistently expressed that compliance with international law, including international human rights law, is a cornerstone for peace and security in the region.”
So much for moral leadership.
Of course, the EU’s unwillingness to condemn the plan is hardly surprising. Jourova herself recently held friendly talks with another senior member of the Jewish Home party, Israeli justice minister Ayelet Shaked.
In 2014, Shaked notoriously promoted a call for genocide of the Palestinians on Facebook.
Shaked’s posting declared that “the entire Palestinian people is the enemy” and justified its destruction, “including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure.”
And the EU’s embassy in Tel Aviv in July hired Israeli genocide advocate Avishai Ivri to star in a promotional video it posted on its Facebook page.
The embassy removed the video after The Electronic Intifada drew attention to Ivri’s calls to “wipe out” Gaza and systematically slaughter thousands of Palestinians.
But the EU never condemned Ivri’s statements or apologized for hiring him.
Honoring war criminals
While ignoring calls for the destruction of the Palestinian people, EU diplomats have plenty of time to honor those who have committed atrocities against them.
On Thursday, Emanuele Giaufret, the EU’s newly installed ambassador in Tel Aviv, attended a memorial for Shimon Peres, the former Israeli president who died a year ago.
Giaufret asserted that Peres was a “living inspiration to many” who “worked all his life” to “advance peace.”
Peres occupied virtually every senior post in the Israeli government during his decades long career.
“In all these roles,” historian Ilan Pappe recalled, “the decisions he took and the policies he pursued contributed to the destruction of the Palestinian people and did nothing to advance the cause of peace and reconciliation between Palestinians and Israelis.”
Among those in attendance at the memorial were Henry Kissinger and Tony Blair, fitting characters to pay tribute to a man who Palestinians and Lebanese will always remember as an unrepentant racist, colonizer and war criminal.