The Hague a more fitting destination for Netanyahu than Paris
Paris’ long-held reputation as a protest city would have been largely lost on Benjamin Netanyahu this week.
The Israeli prime minister and his reams of bodyguards lumbered into the French capital at a time when their regime is actively murdering those who stand up to its cruelty. In such circumstances, demonstrators who turned up to express their outrage in Paris were kept well away.
At least three Metro stations were shut and some two square miles around the Champs-Elysees locked down by hundreds of officers clutching high-powered assault rifles while — obscenely — Netanyahu attended a “cultural” event at the Grand Palais on Tuesday evening. Bemused tourists were redirected to other parts of the city, while armored vehicles screeched backwards and forwards and sirens blazed.
This is the way Netanyahu and his cronies like it, of course. Their political vision is one of segregation, with them getting hold of the biggest and best weapons to enforce it.
Thanks to this chilling show of power, Netanyahu would not have heard any of those who continually chanted the name of Razan Al-Najjar outside the Palais. Razan was the 21-year-old Palestinian nurse shot in the chest by an Israeli sniper on June 1, while wearing a bright white paramedic vest and raising her hands in the air.
Her assassination was typical of what happens to those who try to claim their rights in Gaza, the blighted strip of land described as an open-air prison because close to two million people have been blockaded inside for the past 11 years. Its air, sea and land borders are controlled by the Israelis, who deprive all those trapped inside of basics such as clean water, electricity, food, and medicine.
Razan was among the thousands killed or seriously wounded during the ongoing Great March of Return — a campaign by those whose families were brutally dispossessed of their land, homes and livelihoods by the creation of Israel in 1948. A large number of these refugees retain keys to their stolen properties and want to go back to them, as permitted by international law.
As he attempted to avoid talking about such matters in Paris, Netanyahu certainly displayed the paranoid aggression of an alleged criminal — one who would have been better off appearing at the war crimes court at The Hague, rather than a manicured tourist city.
In Paris, Netanyahu displayed the paranoid aggression of an alleged criminal — he would have been better off at the war crimes court at The Hague.
In particular, his portrayal of all Palestinian demonstrators — including medical staff, journalists, the disabled and children — as “terrorists” fell on deaf ears. Those of us listening to his joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron heard the usual demonic justifications for killings and destruction churned out by Israel and its ghoulish propagandists.
“We are not talking about civilians and reality is not what we would see from here,” said Netanyahu, as he callously dismissed innocents like Razan as undesirables with no right to life. “We maintain our right to defend ourselves,” Netanyahu added, making it clear that any kind of expression of dissent is enough to warrant instant death.
Anybody — whether a suspected Hamas radical or a young medic — is denied judicial process. In fact, the mere “crime” of being Palestinian is frequently punished by summary execution or maiming.
There is a huge pro-Palestine movement in Paris, with many members sharing a similar heritage to the Palestinians. These include Arabs from former French colonies such as Algeria, which lost millions of lives during a protracted war to win freedom. All know full well that resistance to murderous violence is not just inevitable, but morally justifiable.
But there were plenty of other social groups protesting in Paris, most of them united by abhorrence toward the increasing extremism of the Israeli project.
This kind of aggression saw more than 2,100 Palestinians killed during the 2014 attack on Gaza, as well as 11,100 wounded. In turn, the UN documented 71 Israeli deaths, made up of 66 soldiers, four civilians and one foreign national. Obsolete rockets are the main weapons used by some Palestinians. Israel boasts it can easily deal with them using its “Iron Dome” shield, while launching state-of-the-art missiles and fighter jets at any opportunity.
Such an asymmetrical conflict reflects the determination of Western countries to maintain Israel as the most powerful regime in the Middle East. The United States signed an agreement in September 2016 to give Israel $38 billion in military assistance over the next decade, while Britain has approved the sale of $445m of weapons to Israel since 2014. These include components for the kind of rifles used to murder Razan in cold blood. Israeli leaders even admit that every human target is mapped out beforehand.
Now Israeli Security Minister Gilad Erdan has opined that those sending burning kites across the Gaza border, causing fires on Israeli land, should be countered with “targeted assassinations.” What is certain is that Netanyahu will have no qualms whatsoever about implementing the kites policy. As we learned long before his unsettling visit to Paris, he believes that protest is a crime, and that mass murder is an appropriate reaction.
- Nabila Ramdani is an award-winning French-Algerian journalist, columnist and broadcaster who specializes in French politics, Islamic affairs and the Arab world. Twitter: @NabilaRamdani