A number of dark days have already passed since Benjamin Netanyahu was re-elected in Israel.
Fall-out from his pre-election rally in Washington D.C., which was underwritten and choreographed by John Boehner and the Republican congress, continues to this day. Like hyper-excited teen-age cheerleaders, McConnell, Graham, Cotton, Cruz, etc. frantically cheered themselves silly over every pronouncement from the thug-turned-prime-minister-turned-thug.
Netanyahu attempted to derail delicate nuclear negotiations and inserted himself—the Israeli Prime Minister—into the advise and consent role of the American congress. Talk about foreign interference!
Netanyahu returned home from this rather obvious campaign stop and promptly declared there will never be a Palestinian state as long as he is prime minister; directly contradicting his 2009 commitment to that very two-state solution.
Unfortunately, we shouldn’t have been surprised. In fact, Israel under Netanyahu is actively practicing apartheid—a system of unjust laws enforced by military power to restrict the human rights of one specific group, Palestinians, with the aim of keeping political power in the hands of another demographic group—Israeli Jews. They have imposed restrictions on residency, denied repatriation to refugees, demolished homes, illegally seized land and property, imposed restrictions on movement, and practiced discrimination in the allocation of natural resources.
Hopefully, Netanyahu’s “new” extremist coalition government will face renewed demands for peace and justice on several fronts. Since Netanyahu has repeatedly demonstrated his willingness to resort to scorched earth tactics, this allows us to dispense with any notions of violence.
The boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) was started by Palestinian political parties, trade unions and political movements in 2005. Signatories have included refugees, Palestinians in the occupied territories, and Palestinian citizens of Israel. Although the wheel turns slowly, perhaps this is one avenue well worth re-investigating.
Another, more immediate path, should present itself in Palestine’s membership in the International Criminal Court, which takes effect on April 1st. In spite of the Israeli government’s illegal and ill-advised attempt to intimidate the Palestinian Authority from joining this body by withholding over $120 million in collected tax revenues, the Palestinians are now in a position to refer the status of Israel’s occupied territories to the court for investigation.
In the meantime, the Palestinian people need a symbol in their struggle for statehood. Much as Gandhi utilized protest against the Salt tax to rally the Indian people in their fight for freedom from the colonial British Empire, the Palestinians need something with the same unifying power. I would argue they need look no further than the time-honored olive tree. More than “just trees”, these represent a part of Palestinians culture, heritage and livelihood. For reasons known only to them, Israeli authorities have recently seen fit to destroy over 2000 olive trees in the occupied West Bank.
One perfect solution to Netanyahu’s grim and repressive rule: replant Palestine, with thousands and thousands of olive trees. Life in contrast to death, light in contrast to darkness. Not even Netanyahu can delay change for long.