How the Israeli Government Gets Support from its Population

In order for the Israeli government to continue its policies of land expropriation, settlement construction and occupation it needs a consenting public. Despite the fact that the Israeli government is violating basic tenets of international and humanitarian law, the Israeli public continues to support it. How do you explain the widespread unconditional support for the Israeli Government’s morally and legally unjust policies in the West Bank? How come 94% of Israelis supported the massacre of defenseless Palestinians in Gaza back in December 2008/January 2009?

In a democracy where the elite/ruling class can’t crush dissent with the use of violence (i.e. China’s massacre of students at Tiananmen Square or Iran’s recent violent suppression of Mousavi supporters), the government depends on a filtered media and a system of indoctrination to control the population that gives it power. The establishment media in Israel fails to engage in objective/truth-telling journalism and inevitably acts as the spokesperson for the Israeli government. As a result, the Israeli pubic has been led to believe that it is surrounded by numerous anti-Semitic Arab nations that want nothing but to push the Jews into the sea. These Arabs will continue to blow themselves up until they see the ultimate destruction of the State of Israel. It is simply inherent anti-Semitism, and not the result of Israel’s policies in the West Bank and Gaza, that causes Arabs to commit acts of terror. Additionally, Israel has successfully cast itself as the role of the eternal victim which enables it to avoid taking any responsibility regarding its brutal policies. Jeff Halper of ICAHD on Israel’s self-victimization, “A victim, after all, is a victim and cannot be held accountable, since his or her actions come merely out of self-defense.” By painting itself as the victim of irrational Arab hatred, and not acknowledging that it is provoking resistance via the occupation/settlements, Israel is able to carry out atrocities with the support of the public.

Israel has also been able to convince its citizens that unconditional support for Israeli policies is synonymous with being a good Jew. Remember, the Israeli government (including Netanyahu at the White House) has long insisted that Israel be recognized as the State of the Jewish People. The result is that the Israeli government continues to pursue policies that go against basic Jewish values. One of the most famous Jewish leaders in history, Rabbi Hillel, was once asked to discuss the essence of the Torah. He stated, “What is hateful to you do not do unto others. That is the whole Torah. The rest is commentary. Now go and study.” Imagine if the Palestinians were building a massive wall through Israel’s sovereign borders and were violently reppressing the Jews who resisted it. Imagine if Palestinians were bulldozing houses (legally owned by Jews) within Israel’s legal borders because God allegedly gave them the land 2000 years ago. The Israeli government’s policies are, in fact, antithetical to basic Jewish values of compassion and love for your neighbor. Zionism has perverted Judaism, and the values of the Jewish people, in order to accomplish its territorial goals.

The Israeli government claims that the occupation is the best deterrent against Palestinian terrorism. The reality is that the occupation actually increases the risk of a terrorist attack against innocent Israeli civilians. By claiming that suicide bombers are killing Israeli citizens because of radical fundamentalism and anti-Semitism, the GOI is able to whip up a state of fear within its society. George Bush Jr. made similar ridiculous statements following the 9/11 attacks, for the explicit purpose of scaring the hell out of the American people. ““Americans are asking, ‘Why do they hate us?’ They hate what we see right here in this chamber: a democratically-elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms – our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.” The Israeli and U.S. governments purposefully neglect to tell their populations that terrorism is the result of occupation. Both governments understand that a scared population is easier to control.

Israel also claims to be the only democracy in the Middle East and its citizens pride themselves as being members of a democratic society. However, blindly consenting to governmental policies does not automatically make you a good citizen. This applies to citizens living in Israel, America, France, England and any other country that alleges to be a democracy. If the policies of your government are unjust or illegal, then citizens involved in the democratic process have a responsibilty to question such policies. Israelis are happier not knowing what is occuring right in their backyard (the West Bank). Rather than going through the process of learning about the conflict, they accept and echo government talking points. I have no doubt that Israeli citizens are inherently good people but if they wish to be members of a healthy democracy they can’t just accept government statements as facts. The truth is that life is easier without getting involved in complex political issues and ignorance appears to be bliss for the Israeli public. But as Thomas Jefferson famously said, “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” I understand that the Israeli media and the government are incredibly adept at whipping up apathy and fear; but if Israeli citizens want to claim to live in a democracy they need to step outside of the box and question the policies being carried out in their names.

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