Netanyahu’s race-baiting was long-planned, not a ‘lapse in judgement’

Controversial comments by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about heavy voter turnout in Israel’s Arab sector were not one-time mistakes but part of a broader strategy executed by theWave-2 Likud campaign, a report broadcast Monday by Israel’s Channel 2 News demonstrated.

Netanyahu was heavily criticized, at home and abroad, for his last-minute plea for right-wing voters to support him at the polls in order to block Arab electoral strength. “Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls,” Netanyahu declared in a video message broadcast on Facebook. “Left-wing organizations are busing them out.” Read more at +972 Magazine

The Mideast After Massachusetts

My latest in Zeek Magazine explores the implications of the Republican victor in the Massachusetts Senate election and where Obama needs to go from here.

AN ELECTION THAT OFFERS LITTLE CHOICE

In my capacity as the Director of B’Tselem’s US Office, I’ve been asked frequently of late about the Israeli elections that are winding down as I write this. In general, B’Tselem stays away from matters of politics. Our credibility is dependent on our being focused on human rights, no matter what the shape of the Israeli, or any other, government may be.

An Israeli ballot box

An Israeli ballot box

But this time, I could answer honestly: It really doesn’t matter. Historically, Israel’s observance of international legal standards regarding the Palestinians, while having its peaks and valleys, has moved independently of the party or Prime Minister in power. And in this case, none of the candidates has offered any hint that they are different from the others.

The exception is not one of the contenders for Prime Minister, and that is Avigdor Lieberman. And all that signifies is how much of a threat Israeli democracy is really facing.

Settlement expansion, lack of law enforcement on the West Bank, ongoing house demolitions, the effects of the Separation Barrier, the massive proliferation of roadblocks…and many other issues, all of them get the silent treatment from all of the major candidates. Continue reading