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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu is the quintessential Teflon politician. Though his many years as a statesman have been plagued by one scandal after another, he remains at the helm of Israel unscathed and unchallenged.
The most recent scandal involves a gross conflict of interest whereby Bibi’s personal lawyer and confidant David Shimron advised the German ThyssenKrupp, a company that provided the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) with six state-of-the-art submarines and is in negotiations for three more, even though the IDF itself has deemed them unnecessary.
And lo and behold, just when the heat under Netanyahu’s throne started ratcheting up, in an ironic and devastating form of divine intervention, multiple fires have broken out all over Israel, causing vast devastation and the evacuation of thousands from their homes, including both Jews and Palestinians.
Bibi must have a friend or two upstairs, as now he can bask in his element – fear – and revert to autopilot, a standard operating procedure in which he cynically colludes with his coalition puppets and an all-too-eager Israeli media to incite against Palestinians. Never mind that the fires are not even out yet or that no formal investigation has been conducted, Netanyahu gets to divert attention from his corruption and can consolidate power by unifying Israeli society behind a common enemy, while the media get their ratings and associated cash profits. As history has shown, Israeli politicians are at their most dangerous when threatened.
Netanyahu and the media have chosen “the arson intifada” as the marketing slogan for this new and frightening form of “terrorism”. And what better time for Israeli politicians to outflank Netanyahu from the right in a predictable bid to pander to right-wing Israelis?
Education Minister Naftali Bennett tweeted: “Only those who do not belong to a country can set it alight”.
Culture Minister Miri Regev said that the flames are “a wave of terror” and “the punishment for the people responsible needs to be harsh.”
Meanwhile, though cheered by some online, many Palestinians respond to the flames coming from outside and within the halls of Knesset by stating: “if it’s intentional it’s madness. These are our trees and lands, so why destroy them?”
The hypocrisy of Netanyahu and his cronies in government is staggering, as over the decades of Israeli occupation the IDF and Israeli settlers have intentionally and unintentionally started countless fires in the Occupied Palestinian Territories that have destroyed many lands and homes. But were these fires ever deemed acts of “terrorism”?
These events prove once more that there is no telling how far Netanyahu and his fear-mongering right-wing government will go in their perpetual drive for power and their mission to scapegoat Palestinians, entrench the occupation and control all lands and people from the river to the sea.