Bennett, economy minister and leader of the ultra-racist Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) party, stands on a hill in the occupied West Bank and, apparently addressing a European audience, declares: “Your war for freedom of speech starts right here.”
But more specifically, according to Bennett, it depends on Israel and its violent settlers continuing to occupy and steal Palestinian land in the West Bank.
Here’s what Bennett says:
I’m standing on the hills of Judea and Samaria, what many call the West Bank. Tel Aviv is just nine miles in back of me [sic]. To the north we have Hizballah. To the east we have ISIS. To the south we have Hamas.
Israel is in the forefront of the global war on terror. This is the frontline between the free and civilized world and radical Islam. We’re stopping the wave of radical Islam from flowing from Iran and Iraq all the way to Europe.
When we fight terror here, we’re protecting London, Paris and Madrid. If we give up this piece of land and hand it over to our enemies, my four children down there in Raanana will be in harm’s way. It’s just one missile away from hitting them.
To expect us to give up this land does not make sense. Your war for democracy starts here. Your war for freedom of speech starts right here. The war for dignity and freedom starts right here.
While Bennett markets himself as a lover of freedom and democracy in English, in Hebrew he boasts about how many Arabs he has killed.
Now Bennett seeks to exploit the rising tide of anti-Muslim hatred, turning it not just into generic support for Israel but specifically into support for Israel’s most violent and racist policies: its occupation and colonial theft of Palestinian land and its subjugation of millions of Palestinians to a system of permanent apartheid.
Bennett is of course not alone in trying to exploit recent incidents in Europe for Israel’s benefit. His coalition partner and election rival Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was quick to exploit the recent shooting attacks in Paris and Cophenhagen to exhort European Jews to abandon their homelands so they could fill up the West Bank settlements.
Bennett’s video can also be seen as an effort to make a “positive” case for Israeli colonial settlements, amid a growing European boycott.
Bennett’s party did well at Israel’s 2013 election and hopes to do better at elections next month, on a program of unmitigated violence and hatred towards Palestinians in particular and Arabs and Muslims in general.
It is in the interests of peace to counteract the bogus but dangerous and self-fulfilling “conflict of civilizations” narrative, to seek common ground among the largest numbers of people and to refuse to demonize whole populations on the basis of the acts of a tiny minority.
By contrast, the strategy of Israeli leaders, as Bennett’s video shows, is to stoke up as much fear and hate as possible.