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  • samchris51

Play it again Bibi

Updated: Dec 14, 2023

Netanyahu is coming full circle and reclaiming his political roots, opposing the Oslo Accords.  He made a speech in Hebrew today for Israeli consumption, blaming the Oslo accord for the tragedy of October 7.  This is most likely a preview of the core message of his next political campaign to win the election which is imminent after the war in Gaza ends.

Just as he did in 1996 when he won the election against Shimon Peres by a very narrow margin of 30 thousand votes (less than one percent), Netanyahu is again seeking to capitalize on the nation’s collective trauma and anger to deflect all responsibility from himself.  In 1996, he deflected any blame for Rabin’s murder, and today, he is seeking to deflect guilt for the horrors perpetrated by Hamas on October 7th.  His objective remains consistent: to advance his political interests. 

There was significant opposition to the Oslo Accords in Israel. Rabin was severely criticized, and extremists openly threatened his life.  Netanyahu was a leader of that opposition.  There were two rallies that Netanyahu led – one in Jerusalem’s Zion Square, featuring slogans like “In blood and fire we will expel Rabin,” and the second at the Ra’anana junction, in which marchers carried a coffin and noose. Netanyahu marched in front of the mock coffin and gave the incitement his approval.  There is no denying these extremist campaigns promoted the atmosphere in which Yigal Amir, a right-wing extremist, shot Rabin on November 4, 1995.

Since winning his first election for Prime minister in 1996, Netanyahu has held the post for 16 years.  He has consistently executed policies to delegitimize the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and strengthen Hamas in Gaza to ensure the West Bank and Gaza Strip remain separate entities, splitting the Palestinian leadership and preventing a two-state solution.  In addition, since being sworn into office on December 29, 2022, Netanyahu has sought to undermine Israel’s democracy and has diverted resources, including military, to his ultra-religious nationalist supporters, ignoring all warnings regarding the dangerous consequences of these policies.

Twenty-seven years later, this same Netanyahu has the gall to again invoke the Oslo Accords in an effort to retain power.  I remember when I heard the news of Rabin’s assassination, I was just outside of Fairbanks Alaska.  Heading home at the end of a six-hour drive from a remote community, I wept quietly.  I’ve always been a political junkie with left-leaning sympathies.  The Israeli-Palestinian conflict was thorny, with no clear good guys or bad guys.  In the final analysis, however, I found the Palestinian argument that they had a rightful claim to the land persuasive.  Like many, I appreciated the courage it took Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat to sign the Oslo Accords on September 13th, 1993. The signing made me hopeful that a peaceful resolution to the conflict was possible.  I had followed the protests against Rabin and was familiar with Netanyahu as the political leader of those protests.  I worried but had faith that most Israelis favored peace, and it would prevail, establishing a two-state solution to the long-entrenched conflict.  When Rabin was assassinated, I was very quick to blame Netanyahu for inflaming the passions of the right-wing extremists for his political gain.  I followed the election in 1996 between Netanyahu and Peres. I read how Netanyahu exploited the three suicide bombings in 1996 that killed 59 people and for which Hamas took credit.  He played on the appropriate fears of the Israeli people to challenge the peace process, arguing that it could not deliver peace and only he could do so.  It is mind-boggling to me that here he is again after having failed catastrophically to deliver on his promises to bring peace and security to Israelis, singing the same siren song. 

In 1996, when Netanyahu won the election, I was astonished that the Israeli electorate could vote for a man who had Rabin’s blood on his hands even if he did not pull the trigger.  I withdrew any sympathies I held toward the Israeli position in their territorial dispute with the Palestinians.  This was before I knew I was a Jew and had family in Israel.  Now, my relationship with Israel is much more complicated.  I had no trouble condemning the Hamas attack of October 7th, but I cannot unequivocally support Israel’s war on Gaza.  I shake my head in disbelief that Netanyahu might again stand for election on his old platform and win.  But then I live in the US where Trump might stand for election and win by promising, “I am your warrior; I am your justice.  And for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution.”  In the words of the song Master Jack “It’s a strange strange world we live in, Master Jack…”

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