The New Israeli Government: It’s Worse Than You Think

Michael Lerner writes for Tikkun on the genocidal character at the heart of the new government in Israel. Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun.

The new Israeli government is a total victory for the most extreme elements in the extreme Right in Israel. The overtly racist party HaBayit HaYehudi, the party of the West Bank settlers, will control the Justice Dept, the Education Dept, and almost all important government offices concerned with the Occupation of the West Bank.

And they have secured a promise from Likud to bring forward a proposed law that would make it illegal for any nonprofit to receive funds from a foreign government without approval from the government. That is directed at the various Israeli peace, reconciliation, human rights, and dialogue organizations that get support from a variety of European countries who want to see peace between Israel and Palestinians.

To get a sense of who these people really are, please read the following, written last summer after the brutal murder of a Palestinian teenager who was kidnapped as he walked down a street in Arab East Jerusalem by Israelis, set on fire and burnt alive to death, supposedly in “retaliation” for the brutal and outrageous kidnapping of three Israeli teens who lived in a West Bank Israeli settlement. I felt anger and horror at the murder of those three teens, and then the same upset at the murder of this Palestinian teen. But listen below to the story of what the woman just appointed to be the Justice Minister in the 2015 newly elected government of Israel, Ayelet Shaked, said in trying to justify the burning alive of that Palestinian teen. I do not subscribe to the view that Israel is seeking genocide against the Palestinian people, but it appears that its government now has in key positions people who do appear to justify a kind of holy war against Palestinians, and while I doubt that such a war will be waged in the next few years, and pray that it won’t, please do not underestimate the evil of some of the people now being put into positions of power in the new Israeli government (to see what I mean by evil, please read my editorial “Human Evil” in the Spring, 2015 issue of Tikkun magazine –subscribe now at and then write to, tell her you’ve just subscribed, but don’t want to wait for the Summer 2015 issue and she will send you the Sprint issue).

On the other hand, don’t expect the most extreme actions to take place immediately. I would not be surprised if Netanyahu comes forward with some kind of “autonomy plan” that creates a set of Palestinian cities as his idea of “Palestinian self-determination.” These bantustan kind of realities will have control over local city functions like collection of taxes, repair of roads, collection of garbage, etc. They will be surrounded by the Israel army and cut off from each other by Israeli checkpoints, and have no control over the borders or the ability of Palestinians to travel either within the West Bank or Israel or abroad, no ability to control their own economic development or to engage with other countries–in short, no real self-determination.

Palestinians will rightfully reject this just as Jews would have rejected a similar offer from the British in 1945-48 if such an offer came with continued British rule over Palestine and the refusal to allow for a Jewish state to arise. And this speculation of mine, of course, is an optimistic view of what Netanyahu may seek. The members of his coalition have spoken openly about the need to “mow the lawn” every few years, the disgusting way they talk about the periodic invasion of Gaza every few years to wipe out whatever Israel feels is threatening in Gaza (and of course, this is always helped by Hamas’ refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist and Hamas’ justifying acts of terror against Israeli civilians, thereby acting as the defacto “best friend” of the Israeli right-wing extremists).

We have much to mourn in the creation of this new right-wing government, and I haven’t even begun to talk about some of the elimination of civil rights for Israelis that will be imposed by the ultra-fundamentalist parties that are also part of this new government. The Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and Jewish Renewal movements are likely to suffer further restrictions on their ability to function effectively in Israel, and their members as well as all secular Israelis will face increased restrictions on their personal rights to choose how to conduct their personal lives in matters of marriage, divorce, and observance of Jewish religious restrictions (the cumulative impact of all this being to further discredit Judaism in the minds of the Israeli secular majority).


But don’t give up hope! History is not over and the fundamental goodness and decency of a significant section of the Israeli people and a significant section of the Palestinian people will emerge again, eventually. And we can play a role in making that happen. Join our Network of Spiritual Progressives /join and read my book Embracing Israel/Palestine (you can order it at for details about a strategy to make that happen. But first read the article below (I often disagree with the author Ali Abunimah, but in this case, the article he wrote in the summer of 2014 gives us important information that cannot be ignored, even while I challenge the notion that Israeli society is now committed to genocide against the Palestinian people.

–Rabbi Michael Lerner , editor, Tikkun
(Ismael Mohamad / United Press International)

  • Israeli lawmaker’s call for genocide of Palestinians gets thousands of Facebook likes (editor’s note: she’s now the new Justice Minister of Israel)
Written by Ali Abunimah on Mon, 07/07/2014 – 16:12
A day before Palestinian teenager Muhammad Abu Khudair was kidnapped and burned alive allegedly by six Israeli Jewish youths, Israeli lawmaker Ayelet Shaked published on Facebooka call for genocide of the Palestinians.
It is a call for genocide because it declares that “the entire Palestinian people is the enemy” and justifies its destruction, “including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure.”
It is a call for genocide because it calls for the slaughter of Palestinian mothers who give birth to “little snakes.”
If Shaked’s post does not meet the legal definition of a call for genocide then nothing does.
Shaked is a senior figure in the Habeyit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) party that is part of Israel’s ruling coalition.
Her post was shared more than one thousand times and received almost five thousand “Likes.”
Uri Elitzur, to whom she refers, and who died a few months ago, was leader of the settler movement and speechwriter and close advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Here’s a full translation of Shaked’s posting:
This is an article by the late Uri Elitzur, which was written 12 years ago, but remained unpublished. It is as relevant today as it was at the time.
The Palestinian people has declared war on us, and we must respond with war. Not an operation, not a slow-moving one, not low-intensity, not controlled escalation, no destruction of terror infrastructure, no targeted killings. Enough with the oblique references. This is a war. Words have meanings. This is a war. It is not a war against terror, and not a war against extremists, and not even a war against the Palestinian Authority. These too are forms of avoiding reality. This is a war between two people. Who is the enemy? The Palestinian people. Why? Ask them, they started.
I don’t know why it’s so hard for us to define reality with the simple words that language puts at our disposal. Why do we have to make up a new name for the war every other week, just to avoid calling it by its name. What’s so horrifying about understanding that the entire Palestinian people is the enemy? Every war is between two peoples, and in every war the people who started the war, that whole people, is the enemy. A declaration of war is not a war crime. Responding with war certainly is not. Nor is the use of the word “war”, nor a clear definition who the enemy is. Au contraire: the morality of war (yes, there is such a thing) is founded on the assumption that there are wars in this world, and that war is not the normal state of things, and that in wars the enemy is usually an entire people, including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure.
And the morality of war knows that it is not possible to refrain from hurting enemy civilians. It does not condemn the British air force, which bombed and totally destroyed the German city of Dresden, or the US planes that destroyed the cities of Poland and wrecked half of Budapest, places whose wretched residents had never done a thing to America, but which had to be destroyed in order to win the war against evil. The morals of war do not require that Russia be brought to trial, though it bombs and destroys towns and neighborhoods in Chechnya. It does not denounce the UN Peacekeeping Forces for killing hundreds of civilians in Angola, nor the NATO forces who bombed Milosevic’s Belgrade, a city with a million civilians, elderly, babies, women, and children. The morals of war accept as correct in principle, not only politically, what America has done in Afghanistan, including the massive bombing of populated places, including the creation of a refugee stream of hundreds of thousands of people who escaped the horrors of war, for thousands of whom there is no home to return to.
And in our war this is sevenfold more correct, because the enemy soldiers hide out among the population, and it is only through its support that they can fight. Behind every terrorist stand dozens of men and women, without whom he could not engage in terrorism. Actors in the war are those who incite in mosques, who write the murderous curricula for schools, who give shelter, who provide vehicles, and all those who honor and give them their moral support. They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.
Shocking words like this from Israeli leaders have an impact. And they are words backed by actions.
When Israel rampages against the entire Palestinian population, subjecting them to what Human Rights Watch calls “collective punishment,” it sends a clear message to the Israeli public that any Palestinian is fair game for “revenge.”
Shaked evidently has much worse in mind.
Hate trickles down
In another sickening example of the country’s endemic racism, Israeli website, which is oriented toward an Orthodox Jewish audience, referred to lynching victim Muhammad Abu Khudair in a headline as a “little terrorist.”
on Twitter
בינתיים באתר החרדי שטיבל: נער ערבי בן 17 שנשרף בעודו בחיים=מחבל
— LiatBS (@liatbs) July 7, 2014
The hate trickles down. These two images were posted on the photo-sharing website Instagram – they are among hundreds posted on various social media sites inciting “revenge” and celebrating violence against Palestinians.
The first image, posted on 3 July, apparently shows an Israeli soldier with a weapon on his shoulder and the word “revenge” with two bloody daggers tatooed or drawn on his back.
#נקמה #revenge #army #tattoo #צהל #ישראל
 In the second image, posted on 6 July, the badly injured face of Palestinian American 15-year-old Tariq Abukhdeir appears next to an image of a pig.
What’s this pix? #caption
Add caption
Abukhdeir was savagely beaten by Israeli forces in eastern occupied Jerusalem last Thursday. He is a cousin of Muhammad Abu Khudair.
Not “fringe”
In a New York Times article today, Isabel Kershner presents the rampant racism that apparently led six Israeli youths to lynch Muhammad Abu Khudair as a “fringe” phenomenon.
It is no such thing. Incitement comes from the top.
Shaked is not alone in inciting this kind of genocidal hatred and it was Netanyahu who was the first to incite “vengeance” after the bodies of three murdered Israeli teenagers were found in the West Bank one week ago.

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