Netanyahu tells Arab-Israelis protesting police brutality to leave Israel

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Imagine for a moment that President Obama, during the height of Occupy Wall Street protests, suggested that activists move to Canada. Better yet, imagine that he invited Ferguson protesters demonstrating against police brutality to leave the United States.
Such irresponsible, anti-democratic incitement from our nation’s leader would have had only one result: an intensification of unrest across the country.
This is precisely what has just occurred in Israel during a time of incredible volatility, unrest and violence. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has “invited” Palestinian citizens of Israel engaged in ongoing protests to move to the West Bank or Gaza during a meeting of Likud leaders.

“To all those who demonstrate against Israel and in favor of a Palestinian state, I say something simple: I invite you to move there; we won’t give you any problem.”

To give a sense of how irresponsible and wanton Netanyahu’s words are, consider this: for the past three days, Arab-Israelis across northern Israel have been protesting the police killing of a 22-year-old Palestinian citizen, a killing which was caught on video and shows officers shooting the man in the back while fleeing.


Thousands of Palestinians took to the streets on Sunday and clashed with police after video surfaced of the killing of a 22-year-old Arab-Israeli citizen in Kfar Kanna.

This killing, and the protests now rocking Israel, are set against the backdrop of demonstrations and clashes with police in East Jerusalem which have been going on for weeks, incited by announced settlement expansions, political incitements over the Temple Mount, Netanyahu himself suggesting that Israel revoke the citizenship of Palestinians who speak out against the state’s legitimacy, and Israel’s Public Security Minister suggesting that police extra-judicially kill Palestinian murder suspects on the spot, rather than rely on the justice system.
Netanyahu’s words also are set against the backdrop of a dangerous uptick in violence. Today, two Israelis were stabbed to death in two separate incidents, and several Palestinians have been attacked by Jewish, right-wing mobs.
Is it any surprise that, tonight in Jerusalem, racist Israelis were on the prowl, chanting “Death to Arabs” while looking for Palestinians to assail?
No, it’s not. Nor is it a surprise to Netanyahu, the leader of the Middle East’s “only Democracy,” who rather than use his bully pulpit to calm tensions, intentionally has flared them.
This is Netanyahu’s main political card: incitement. Ask Yitzhak Rabin’s wife, Leah, whether Netanyahu is partially responsible for Rabin’s assassination due to his stoking extremist hatred toward her husband in 1995. She will tell you yes. Ask Palestinian families in the West Bank and Gaza whether Netanyahu incited Hamas to war with a brutal West Bank crackdown carried out under false pretenses. They will tell you yes.
Now, Netanyahu is inciting anger in the Arab-Israeli community just as the country appears to be breaking, and a third intifada begins. Why, you might ask, would he do such a thing?
For the same reason he has always done it: political gain.


What Do You Buy For the Children
David Harris-Gershon is author of the memoir What Do You Buy the Children of the Terrorist Who Tried to Kill Your Wife?, published recently by Oneworld Publications.
Follow him on Twitter @David_EHG.