Guardian op-ed lables Yair Lapid a ‘Jewish supremacist’

A Guardian op-ed by Yara Hawari, a senior policy fellow at Al Shabaka – a US based radical anti-Israel NGO – argued, in the context of the vicotry by Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, that, regardless of the right-wing nature of his likely coaltion, all Israeli leaders are the same on the Palestinian issue (“For Palestinians, Netanyahu’s victory is merely a changing of the prison guards“, Nov. 3).

After devoting several paragraphs detailing the extremism of Itamar Ben-Gvir, from the Religious Zionism block, Hawari – an anti-Israel extremist who has accused the state of genocide – writes the following:

Beyond the far-right, Jewish Israeli supremacy is normalised across the Israeli political spectrum. The outgoing prime minister, Yair Lapid – a so-called “centrist” – is no exception. In 2013, Lapid told Time Magazine: “You know my father didn’t come here from the ghetto in order to live in a country that is half Arab, half Jewish. He came here to live in a Jewish state.”

However, the Guardian contributor takes Yair Lapid’s quote – which, even if accurate, doesn’t indicate ‘supremacist’ views – completely out of context.  Here’s the relevant part of Lapid’s 2013 interview:

TIME: No one here wants to talk about the peace process. They’re well past that. Talk about that disconnect.

Lapid: Israelis convinced themselves that there is no use in talking to the Palestinians because they’re not to be trusted. I think they’re wrong. I think the Palestinians are not to be trusted and this exactly why we should talk to them.  Because you make peace with foes not with friends…. Interestingly enough, all polls show the mass majority of Israelis say the two-state solution is the only game in town, but is quite comfortable with the fact that nothing happens. I myself think this is irresponsible. I think we don’t want to make the mistake the Israeli left makes time and time again of telling up front what it is they’re willing to give up.  But we have to go back to the negotaitions table.

TIME: In a sincere way or because that is what the world sort of expects?

Lapid: No, in a sincere way. You know my father didn’t come here from the ghetto in order to live in a country that is half Arab, half Jewish. He came here to live in a Jewish state. And we have 3.3 million Palestinians now between the sea and the eastern border of Israel. If we don’t do something about it, her generation [nods toward a 15-year-old girl at our table] is going to spend her time with six or seven or eight million Palestinians.  So doing nothing about it is shortsighted.  Unbelievably enough I do believe Netanyahu believes the same, but he does not have the coalition, and right now not even the party to support him. So maybe in a few weeks one of my jobs will be to make sure he has enough fingers to vote about this, from within the coalition or from opposition, same thing.

Clearly, Lapid’s comments were in the context of expressing support for a two-state solution – a policy he’s supported throughout his political career.  He was saying that Jews who survived the Nazi genocide of European Jewry emigrated to Israel in order to live in a Jewish state, and that Israel’s status as the world’s only Jewish state – and the only national refuge for Jews – would be jeopardised if a peace agreement which includes the creation of a Palestinian state isn’t reached.

To contort Lapid’s words in support of peace negotionas and two-states as somehow representing an expression of “Jewish supremacy” is either shamefully dishonest or evidence that the author views support for Jewish state within any borders as intrinsically “supremacist” and illegitimate.  Based on the following sentences in the final paragraph of her op-ed, it seems to be the latter:

For Palestinians, more than seven decades of oppression, theft and colonisation of land has shown that, left or right, the government makes no difference to their future. The Israeli regime is fundamentally built on their oppression.

Indeed, Hawari has tweeted similar sentiments:

Finally, let’s remember that the term “Jewish supremacy” is an odious term of abuse towards Jews, one with a Nazi pedigree.

The allegation that such surpemacist views are common across the Israeli political spectrum suggests that Israel is a racist endeavor and, by extension, that diaspora Jews who merely support the state’s right to exist – as 90 plus percent of the world’s Jews do – are endorsing such “supremacy”.  Hawari is in effect saying that the overwhelming majority of Jews in the world are racists who are morally beyond the pale – another example of the Guardian platforming antisemitism under the guise of mere criticism of Israel.

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