Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank are actually better off than their counterparts in Arab countries, former IDF chief Benny Gantz has said, echoing the distasteful spin of apartheid South Africa.
Gantz’s contention that Israel’s military occupation and colonization is a blessing to Palestinians is a direct echo of South Africa’s apartheid rulers who insisted their brutal white supremacist regime was good for Black people.
Writer Ben White pointed to a 1977 New York Times interview with John Vorster, who was then prime minister of South Africa’s racist regime.
“The standard of living of the South African Black is two to five times higher than that of any Black country in Africa,” Vorster claimed.
Gantz, who is challenging Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in next week’s election re-run, slammed his rival’s refusal to allow American congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar to visit Israel and the occupied territories last month, insisting that had the two actually seen the West Bank “with their own eyes,” they would have changed their minds on the spot.
Tlaib – who is of Palestinian descent – and Omar would see that “the best place to be an Arab in the Middle East is in Israel… and the second best place to be an Arab in the Middle East is in the West Bank” if they had been permitted to visit, Gantz declared in a campaign ad.
Upping the ante, Netanyahu vowed to annex part of the occupied West Bank if he is returned to office next week.
He said he would apply “Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea,” a policy certain to be backed by the right-wing parties whose support he would need for a coalition.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said such annexation moves would “bury any chance of peace.”
And similar to apartheid South Africa who tried to fight the isolation of their regime, Gantz declared that “everybody who cooperates with BDS is operating against the state of Israel.”
The former army chief also claimed that BDS – the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement for Palestinian rights – is a “form of anti-Semitism.”
Israel’s re-run election falls on 17 September.
That same day there will be a court hearing in the Netherlands brought on by Ismail Ziada’s lawsuit against Gantz, the first ever civil claim against the Israeli army for killing civilians during its attacks on Gaza in 2014.
Ziada, a Palestinian-Dutch citizen, is suing Gantz and another Israeli commander for the 20 July 2014 attack on his family’s home in Gaza’s al-Bureij refugee camp.
The Israeli bombing killed seven people – Ismail Ziada’s 70-year-old mother Muftia Ziada, three brothers, a sister-in-law, a 12-year-old nephew and a friend who was visiting.
The 51-day 2014 assault on Gaza, commanded by Gantz, killed 1,462 Palestinian civilians, a third of them children.
Gantz ran ads in Israel’s April election – which failed to produce a clear winner, thus precipitating this September’s poll – boasting about how many Palestinians he slaughtered in 2014.