The re-election of Binyamin Netanyahu’s right wing Likud party last week clearly showed how the Israeli state relies on racism and brutality against Palestinians.
Racism and promising to ramp up aggression against Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza were central to Likud’s election campaign.
Rabe Ghbariyeh is a Palestinian student activist in Tel Aviv. He told Socialist Worker that the racism in Israel meant that Likud’s victory came as no shock.
“Palestinians are not very surprised by the result,” he said. “Of course we are disappointed.
“But the Israeli people are very right wing and very racist. So we were not hoping that things would turn out differently.”
In the days running up to the election Netanyahu promised to expand illegal Israeli settlements in occupied East Jerusalem.
He also said, “Anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state, anyone who is going to evacuate territories today, is simply giving a base for attacks to radical Islam against Israel.”
The election result was expected to be a close call between Likud and Zionist Union, an alliance between the Israeli Labour Party and the liberal Hatnuah party.
But in the end Likud won by a considerable margin.
Its strategy proved successful, because racism towards Arabs and the oppression of Palestinians are integral to Israeli society.
So a victory for Zionist Union is often presented as being a more preferable outcome for the Palestinians.
Rather than focusing on attacking Palestinians, the Zionist Union tried to fight the election on social and economic issues inside Israel.
They are described as “dovish” because they say they would be willing to continue talks with the Palestinian Authority.
But Rabe explained, “We don’t think that Zionist Union is left wing. They’re also racists—they said they wouldn’t form a government with any of the Arab parties.”
Last month the Labour Party and Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog criticised Netanyahu for being “weak” against Hamas. Yet Netanyahu tried to crush the resistance group during last summer’s assault on Gaza.
More than 20 years of “peace talks” since the 1993 Oslo Accords have not brought the Palestinians any closer to freedom.
This is US president Barack Obama’s preferred strategy. Under US pressure, Netanyahu was forced to retreat from his total opposition to a Palestinian state after the election.
But Netanyahu’s belligerence exposes the true purpose of the Israeli occupation. And US imperialism still needs a powerful ally in the region.
Rabe said, “From one point of view things are getting worse so they can get better in the future. The election result reveals the truth of Israeli society.”
His opinion is echoed by Palestinian commentator Ali Abunimah. He wrote that “Netanyahu’s re-election is like the ‘nutrition facts’ label on a box of junk food—it tells you about the toxic ingredients inside”.
Likud’s re-election won’t automatically lead to increased resistance to Israel.
But Netanyahu’s victory highlights the fact that Israeli society is rotten to the core.
It shows why we have to step up the fight against Palestinian oppression.
And the hundreds of thousands that marched in solidarity with Gaza last summer are a basis to do that.