Obsession with Netanyahu

On May 29, The Guardian released an opinion piece that criticized Israel for its actions towards the ICC. Titled “By attacking and undermining the ICC, Israel has proved again it is a state gone rogue,” the article highlights “Israel’s” genocidal aggression in Gaza and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s refusal to comply with International Court of Justice warrants against himself and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. 

The ruling class media seemingly wants to convince the public that the U.S. and Joe Biden are goodwill actors in all this. MSNBC, AP, CNN, and Fox News all insist that Joe Biden and the U.S. political establishment are at odds with the current Israeli government because it has “gone rogue.” 

Both the Democrats and the Republicans have always supported arming Zionism. Regardless of U.S. political administration, the U.S. happily supplies the Zionist regime with arms.

There is no doubt that Benjamin Netanyahu is a despicable fascist genocidal demagogue hellbent on the expansion of U.S. imperialist interests in the Middle East. With that said, Zionism’s evil did not begin with Benjamin Netanyahu, and it certainly does not end with him. “Israel” was a bloody colonial project from the beginning. 

Bloody ‘Labor Zionism’

For the first 18 years of Israel’s existence, the Mapai party held most seats in the Knesset, “Israel’s” parliament. Mapai was formed in 1930 by fascist militia leader David Ben-Gurion and prominent labor Zionist A.D. Gordon. According to labor Zionist beliefs, “Israel” was envisioned as a socialist Jewish nation in occupied Palestine. In 1948, Ben-Gurion became the first prime minister of the Zionist regime, holding reign from 1948 to 1953 and 1955 to 1963.

During Ben-Gurion’s second reign as prime minister, he oversaw the Zionist regime’s invasion of Egypt in 1956, sparking the Suez War, with support from British and French troops. The UN forced Israel to withdraw from Sinai; nevertheless, Zionist forces held Gaza until March 1957. From 1956 to 1957, Israel killed, wounded, tortured, or imprisoned approximately 1% of Gazan civilians. Labor Zionism, as an ideology, was packaging to legitimize the full-scale colonization of Palestine on the world stage.

The Second Intifada and Kadima

The Second Intifada, or Second Uprising, began in 2000 after the Camp David Summit failed to establish an independent Palestinian state. 

In the Second Intifada’s first month alone, the IDF murdered 141 Palestinians and wounded almost 6,000. Amnesty International reported that 80% of the Palestinians killed in the Intifada’s first month were unarmed demonstrators or bystanders who posed no threat to “Israeli” security forces. 

Five months later, Ariel Sharon was elected as “Israeli” Prime Minister. Sharon immediately escalated the conflict with expanded IDF operations against civilians in Gaza and the West Bank.

As the violence escalated, the pressure on Israel escalated. For these reasons, Sharon proposed the 2003 unilateral Israeli disengagement from 21 settlements in Gaza and four in the West Bank. To be clear, Sharon’s motivation was not a sudden change of heart to anti-Zionism. 

Benjamin Netanyahu, then the defense minister, resigned from Sharon’s government because of the disengagement. Consequently, Sharon founded his own separate party, Kadima. Kadima was explicitly anti-Netanyahu but openly Zionist and supported most “Israeli” settlements. Three years after Kadima’s founding, Kadima leader and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert began a war in Gaza that killed 1,181 Palestinian civilians.

The mainstream liberal narrative is that if Israel just deposed Netanyahu, the problems of Zionism would cease. Tell that to the 100,000 people made homeless in Kadima’s war against Gaza.

Anti–Netanyahu movement 

The last five years have seen the growth of a fairly large protest movement against Netanyahu. However, we have to be clear: these protests are in no way and have never been anti-Zionist. The movement against Netanyahu is not pro-Palestine in any form. 

The initial demonstrations against Netanyahu began in 2020 and continued into 2021. The organizers were a coalition of IDF generals, Shin Bet intelligence officers, and politically moderate Israeli reporters. These early protests broke out after Netanyahu was charged with corruption. Never once was Palestine raised as a central issue in these protests.

Fast-forward to 2023, when anti-Netanyahu protests again erupted across the 1948 borders. This time, led by a coalition of moderate political forces similar to the 2020 protests, the movement targeted Netanyahu’s proposed judicial reform

Under the proposed reform, the Supreme Court of Israel could no longer overturn government decisions deemed extremely unreasonable. If passed, the reform would also have allowed the Prime Minister’s office more discretion over appointing judges. 

So again, the moderate forces streamed into the streets of “Tel-Aviv” and “Jerusalem” to protect their democracy! It is hard to take seriously a group of people demanding democracy when that same group of people is committed to the deprivation of democracy from the entirety of the indigenous population. The anti-judicial reform protests ended on Oct. 12, after Netanyahu formed a war cabinet.  

This is not to say that there have not been anti-Netanyahu demonstrations since Oct. 7. There certainly have been; however, these protests did not originate with the organized political center as in 2020 and 2023. The protests against Netanyahu as the war has raged on seem more organic and based on a genuine rage against the Zionist tyrant’s failure to “bring home the hostages.” 

And while somewhat different in their political origin, these two strains of the anti-Netanyahu movement do have one thing in common: their Zionism. Calling for Netanyahu to end the genocidal operations in Gaza is not the same as calling for the abolition of Zionism. Until the mass movements in “Israel” do so, they have to be viewed within their material political context, and that context is ultimately just liberal Zionism. 

Lev Koufax is an anti-Zionist Jewish activist.


Join the Struggle-La Lucha Telegram channel