Israeli leaders exploit Paris attacks to justify atrocities against Palestinians

Benjamin Netanyahu has tried to make the Paris attacks benefit Israel. (US Department of Defense/Wikimedia Commons)

Since suspected Islamic State operatives killed nearly 130 people in a series of attacks across Paris on Friday, Israeli leaders have rushed to exploit the carnage to justify violence against Palestinians. 

On the extreme end of the spectrum was Dov Lior, a prominent Israeli settler and rabbi, who celebrated the attacks as an appropriate punishment for the Holocaust. 

“The wicked ones in blood-soaked Europe deserve it for what they did to our people 70 years ago,” said Lior.

As the attack was still underway, Israeli journalist Dan Margalit mocked the victims over the European Union’s decision to label products from Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. 

“In order to save lives we should send medical aid and food from the settlements for the victims of Arab terror in Paris. And we should provide them with shelter and rehabilitation services in Ariel,” tweeted Margalit, referring to one of the major settlements. 

Meanwhile, some Israeli media attempted to falsely link the Paris attacks to the Palestinian-led movement to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel.

Israel’s more mainstream leaders, right-wing as they are, didn’t cheer the attacks as Lior did, nor did they mock the victims or blame BDS. Instead, they used the Paris attacks as an opportunity to malign Palestinians, as they almost always do following major attacks in Western countries. 

Masking colonial terror

For decades Israel has tried to sell its colonial conquest of Palestine as a war on Islamic terrorism. Indeed, the “war on terror” doctrine has long been pushed by Israel to justify atrocities against Palestinians. But it wasn’t until after 2001 that this framing really stuck. 

Speaking at Bar Ilan University in 2008, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu boasted that Israel was “benefiting” from the 11 September 2001 al-Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, which he credited with having “swung American public opinion in our favor.” 

Israeli leaders hope the Paris attacks can play a similar role. 

In their immediate aftermath, Netanyahu, who oversaw the killing of 551 children in Gaza during the summer of 2014, released a statement condemning “militant Islamic terrorism” for “the deliberate and systematic targeting of civilians” from Paris to Jerusalem.

“As I’ve said for many years, militant Islamic terrorism attacks our societies because it wants to destroy our civilization and our values,” he said.

Drawing a connection where none exists, Netanyahu later told his cabinet that the killing of two settlers in the occupied West Bank “mere hours” before the Paris attacks was no different than the killings in France.

Since 1 October, Israeli forces have killed 80 Palestinians, including at least 15 children, dozens in what Amnesty International labeled a “clear pattern” of summary executions.

At least 12 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians in the same period, the predictable outcome of Israel’s ramped-up colonial violence.

Israeli leaders will exploit any opportunity to deflect from that reality while pushing the narrative that Israelis are blameless victims terrorized by Palestinians. 

“In Israel, as in France, terrorism is terrorism and standing behind it is radical Islam and its desire to destroy its victims,” Netanyahu told his cabinet. “The time has come for countries to condemn terrorism against us to the same degree that they condemn terrorism everywhere else in the world.”

He went on to absolve Israel’s military occupation of any responsibility for fueling Palestinian violence, saying, “We should remember – we are not to blame for the terrorism directed against us, just as the French are not to blame for the terrorism directed against them. It is the terrorists who are to blame for terrorism, not the territories, not the settlements and not any other thing. It is the desire to destroy us that perpetuates this conflict and drives the murderous aggression against us.”

Israel’s brutality against Palestinians, who “have the same murderous intent as those in Paris,” is therefore justified, Netanyahu argued. “Thanks to our aggressive policy against terrorism – to control the ground, go into the villages, demolish terrorists’ homes and take preventive action against the infrastructures of terrorism – along with the determined action of the IDF [Israel’s military] and the security services in carrying out this policy, we succeed many times in frustrating and preventing more serious disasters.”

Cheering a third world war

Moshe Yaalon, the Israeli defense minister, openly fantasized that the Paris attacks would induce an erosion of European human rights.

“In the United States until the events of 11 September, the balance between security and human rights favored human rights on the issue, for example of eavesdropping on potential terrorists,” Yaalon told Israeli army radio on Sunday. 

“In France and other countries in Europe, that hasn’t yet happened,” he added. “Countries fighting terrorism have no alternative in this other than shifting in the direction of security. I assume that we will see a large number of steps [to carry out] inspections: passport inspections, inspections at the entrance to public places.”

Yaalon expressed a desire for Europe to emulate Israel, saying, “We as a democracy are experienced in fighting terrorism, used to it. The Western democracies in Europe will apparently need to include such steps in their countries too to defend themselves.”

Israeli leaders were similarly optimistic that Europe’s refugee crisis would generate a shift to the right modeled on Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.

But such a response would play right into the hands of Islamic State, which seeks to eliminate the “gray zone” of coexistence between Muslims and non-Muslims in Western countries by spurring a hawkish response and anti-Muslim security measures. The idea, as stated by Islamic State in its official magazine, Dabiq, is that rising repression in the West, fueled by Islamic State’s attacks, will force Muslims “to escape persecution from the crusader governments and citizens.” 

On Monday, Yaalon doubled down on his demagoguery, characterizing the Paris attacks as part of a new world war in which radical Islam is the enemy of the enlightened West. 

“We’re already there [a third world war] for a while now,” Yaalon told Israel Radio. “There are those that bury their heads in the sand and try to define it as a social problem, or try to define it as something else. What we have is Jihadist Islam that is calling to destroy Western culture.”

Islamic State and Israel: shared interests

If anyone can relate to what the people of Paris are experiencing at the moment, it is not Israelis but rather the people of south Beirut, Palestinian refugees in the Yarmouk camp of Damascus, Syrians, Iraqis and many more Muslims and Arabs who make up the majority of Islamic State’s victims.

Islamic State has demonstrated that it is far more interested in attacking Israel’s adversaries, like Hizballah and Hamas (both of them condemned the Paris attacks), than in attacking Israel. 

One day before the Paris attacks, Islamic State claimed carried out a double suicide bombing in Bourj al-Barajneh, a predominantly Shiite neighborhood in southern Beirut, killing 43 people and wounding more than 200. 

While Western media has rightly sympathized with Islamic State’s Parisian victims, the residential neighborhood targeted in Beirut was reduced to a “Hizballah stronghold,” language that effectively legitimizes the attack as one aimed at a military target and sends the message that the men, women and children who perished deserved their fate. 

Some American right-wingers even applauded the Beirut attack because they viewed it as a loss for Hizballah. 

In fact, the only beneficiaries of Islamic State’s attacks seem to be Islamic State and the West’s hawks, whose nearly identical “clash of civilizations” ideologies feed off one another in what amounts to a symbiotic relationship. 

The hawks, from Israel to the US, need Islamic State in order to justify more of the same destructive interventionism that gave rise to the fanatical death cult in the first place. And Islamic State needs a militaristic Western right wing to justify its propaganda about anti-Muslim crusaders.

Meanwhile, Israel is colluding with Europe’s right to capitalize on the disaster. 

Hungary’s government, notorious for its bigoted cruelty toward refugees, is actively looking to adopt Israeli solutions to ensure its own demographic purity. 

On Monday, Netanyahu met Peter Szijjarto, the Hungarian foreign minister, to discuss “security needs of their respective nations,” which, according to an Israeli government statement, included the “major challenges” posed by “mass migration from the Middle East into the heart of Europe.”

Szijjarto has blamed such migration for the Paris attacks. 




"The hawks, from Israel to the US, need Islamic State in order to justify more of the same destructive interventionism that gave rise to the fanatical death cult in the first place. And Islamic State needs a militaristic Western right wing to justify its propaganda about anti-Muslim crusaders."

An excellent, concise summary. The relationship is indeed symbiotic.

It's also worth emphasizing that Israel stands poised to reap enormous benefits politically and financially through the export of its "battle-tested" (on Palestinian civilians) technologies of repression. The US has proven a most accommodating market in this regard, but Europe has lagged behind in material purchases and training from "the villa in the jungle". We may expect more in the way of cooperation between the EU and Israel.

Rania Khalek

Rania Khalek's picture

Rania Khalek is an independent journalist reporting on the underclass and marginalized.