Naftali Bennett, Israel’s new far right phenom—and who is sure to be a player after tomorrow’s election—, has advanced this “practical program for managing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” The argument, which is clearly convincing a certain number of people there—the video has gotten a huge number of hits—is slick and clever. But not only is the plan specious and disconnected from reality—does anyone seriously believe Israel could get away with doing something like this?—it also achieves the exact opposite of one claim Bennett makes, which is that “it will abolish the claims of those who accuse us of apartheid.” In fact, it would be the culmination of what was envisioned in apartheid South Africa, of the majority of blacks (here Palestinians) confined to Bantustans without rights of citizenship or sovereignty. Bennett’s scheme would, in fact, be even worse for the Palestinians in areas A and B than were the South African Bantustans, as the latter were destined to enjoy a fictive sovereignty, to be formally considered as independent states, but which here would be denied to the Palestinians. Moreover, the South Africans designated tribal leaders and other personalities to whom they ceremoniously handed over authority; so who would Israel’s Palestinian interlocutors be under Bennett’s plan? (As it so happened, BTW, Israel entered into formal relationships with “independent” South African Bantustans in the 1980s—such as no other country did apart from South Africa itself—, as I took note of while in Tel Aviv at the time).
(That was quite a big mission for a tiny, fictive country formally recognized by no state save one—South Africa—and which was known for nothing other than a luxury casino-resort, where white South African men could make remunerated contact with women of various races. I observed a to-and-fro of men from the mission, wearing sunglasses and none Bophuthatswanians. Intriguing.)
In any case, if Bennett’s plan were to become reality—which it won’t—and Area C is annexed to Israel, would we continue to witness scenes such as occurred in the south Hebron hills three days ago, near the Susya settlement, as one may see in the video here. This kind of thing happens every week in the south Hebron hills—where the settlers are the most fanatical and the occupation most brutal—, in this case, the occupation of Palestinian farm land by the settlers of the Mitzpe Yair outpost, which is “unauthorized” but, as always, is backed up by the army. (I was in this precise area four years ago and took photos, which I will post at a later date.) So what was that about apartheid, Mr. Bennett?
ADDENDUM: Shaul Magid, Professor of Modern Judaism and Religious Studies at Indiana University, has a post on TDB’s Open Zion blog on “Why [he] like[s] Naftali Bennett” (he’s being ironic).
UPDATE: Dani Dayan, chairman of the West Bank settlers’ Yesha council, was interviewed last week on BBC TV. He’s slicker than Naftali Bennett and less extremist. Definitely worth watching. Too bad the BBC interviewer was such an insufferable jerk, constantly cutting Dayan off and not asking the right questions.