Anshel Pfeffer

Netanyahu’s toxic legacy

Credit: Getty

A week ago Israel was about to have a new government supported by right-wing, left-wing, centrist and Arab parties which was to concentrate on a ‘civilian agenda’ and ‘reconciliation’. Five days of internecine violence shattered that illusion. It’s still Netanyahu’s Israel.

I’ve yet to see real evidence Netanyahu somehow engineered these dual crises in Gaza and between Jews and Arabs in Israel but it’s a direct result of his policies. He inherited in 2009 the previous government policies of blockading Gaza but in 12 years did nothing to change it.

In regard to Jewish-Arab relations, Netanyahu did everything to exacerbate generations-old hatreds between communities, not because he’s a racist, but because an us-against-them mindset held his electoral base together. For political reasons, he also degraded the Israeli police.

The subject of repeated police corruption investigations, Netanyahu has underfunded and politicised the police so it became more a paramilitary security force and much less a public service. The results were clear this week in Jerusalem and Lod and lead directly to this crisis.

The heavy-handed over-policing in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah and Al Aqsa is in stark contrast to the way police neglected Arab neighbourhoods and towns in recent years, allowing them to descend in to gang warfare as murder-rates have rocketed, few deaths are properly investigated.

One Arab resident of Lod told me this week: 

‘How do you expect us to calm down when the police come here only when the victims are Jews? When an Arab murders an Arab, they come the next day, arrest a member of each family and then release them for lack of evidence. That’s all.’

The Jewish residents of Lod have no higher regard for the police who weren’t there this week when their homes, property and synagogues were being attacked by mobs.

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