Netanyahu: Israel Is ‘Not a State of All Its Citizens’

Says Israel is a state 'only of the Jewish people'

For the sake of international standing, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tries to position himself as a right-of-center leader willing to talk peace. All of this flies out the window when an election campaign is ongoing, however, and Netanyahu shifts drastically right-ward, demonizing not just the occupied Palestinians, but also Israel’s own Arab minority.

If there wasn’t an election next month, Israel would be hyping its treatment of its Arab minority as equals. Instead, Netanyahu is trying to scare voters into thinking his political rivals might let Arabs into the government. When actor Rotem Sela criticized this, noting the Arabs are supposed to be equal, and so what if they were in the government, Netanyahu fired back that Israel was never meant to be “a state of all its citizens.

That sounds like the sort of thing a head of state would generally keep to himself. Courting the far-right vote, however, Netanyahu is steering into the narrative that Israel is a state “of Jewish people alone,” saying anyone who thought otherwise was “slightly confused.”

This puts Israel’s persecution and demonization of its minorities, far from an unfortunate result of decades of regional strife, as very much by-design for the ruling coalition. From Netanyahu’s perspective, such minorities can never hope to even have a representational position within a government.

This isn’t the first time election Netanyahu took a position far from what he’d long insisted. During the 2015 election, Netanyahu disavowed the idea of the Palestinians ever getting their own state. Once he secured his far-right coalition, he backed away from this stance.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.