By Ray Hanania
Throughout the spectacular World Cup competition in Qatar, Israeli journalists have spent more time reporting on how they have been “poorly treated” by Arabs there than on football.
In Israel itself, violence has skyrocketed and, of course, the Israelis only focus on the violence against themselves, while excusing the violence they inflict on the Palestinians.
Last week’s dual bomb attack that killed one Israeli teenager and injured 18 others provoked vitriol from Israel’s leaders and the media, with the Palestinians blamed. What they have spoken far less about — and certainly with no emotion or empathy — are the killings by the Israel Defense Forces, police and settlers of dozens of Palestinian teenagers over the last year. Scores of Palestinians have also been injured. And, of course, there has been no punishment to hold accountable the Israeli soldier who murdered American Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
Unlike the Israeli leaders, who only express sorrow for the deaths of their own, I am saddened by all of the violence. The hypocrisy of the Israelis to selectively condemn violence when it suits them sends an ugly picture of their people around the world, because everyone in the world recognizes how Israel shrugs at the violence it commits against the Palestinians.
But while I am genuinely saddened by all of the deaths and injuries — Israeli and Palestinian alike — it was the frustrations of the Israeli journalists covering the World Cup in Qatar that attracted my moral judgment. At every chance they get, they complain about how they are being snubbed by Arabs, who refuse to do interviews with them.
Oh, poor baby Israelis. No one really likes them. No one wants to be interviewed by them. Many Arab athletes have even refused to compete against them. I wonder why.
What a shock about the reality of the peace supposedly brought about by the Abraham Accords. While these agreements can be a good beginning on the path to a badly needed regional peace deal, what have the Israelis done to spread peace as a result of the Abraham Accords?
Maybe the truth is that Israel is not doing enough to bring about regional peace. It could do a lot more to put substance into its end of the Abraham Accords and turn them into a blueprint for a peaceful future Middle East.
More significantly, Qatar has turned the tables on the Israelis, giving them a taste of their own medicine. It should remind them of how they so disrespect Arab journalists, who undergo censorship when covering news stories in Israel and the Occupied Territories. I do not recall any Arab country demanding that Israeli journalists’ reports be reviewed by censors before they can be published or broadcast. The censorship imposed on the coverage of Israel’s brutality against Palestinians brings shame on the journalists who abide by it without protest.
But with the imminent return of Benjamin Netanyahu to the government helm, things are not going to get better and will more than likely get worse.
Last week, the prime minister-designate tasked one of Israel’s most extremist politicians, Itamar Ben-Gvir, chairman of the Jewish Power party, with supervising the expansion of the illegal settlements and confiscation of more Palestinian lands. Netanyahu and Ben-Gvir agreed to amend the Disengagement Law in order to enable Jews to settle in the evacuated settlement of Homesh in the northern West Bank. And they agreed to expand the bypass roads that are built for the exclusive use of Jewish Israeli settlers, not for the non-Jews who live in the Occupied Territories.
You can bet with certainty that they will soon annex the West Bank because that is exactly what Netanyahu’s political partners have been clamoring for over the past two years.
The Palestinians are not without blame, of course. They have their extremists too, as we saw with the twin bombings. But the number of violent acts by Palestinian extremists does not even come close to the number of acts of violence committed by Israel.
In the most recent elections, the Palestinian citizens of Israel basically cut off their noses to spite their face by refusing to vote for incumbent Prime Minister Yair Lapid because they were unhappy with his leadership. They wanted more. But by failing to vote, they have painted themselves into an ugly corner that Netanyahu plans to exploit. The Palestinians will get far less under a Netanyahu government than they did under Lapid, and Netanyahu’s policies will undermine Palestinian and Arab rights and fan the flames of extremism among Israeli politicians.