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Analysis: The deadly electoral cycle in Israel

Nov. 22, 2012 1:45 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 24, 2012 9:35 P.M.)
By: Baha Hilo
Eight days of military assault on Gaza show that yet again, Palestinians must pay in blood for the Israeli electoral cycle.

Just two weeks after the Israeli Prime Minister called for early elections, the country’s air force killed three Palestinians in one strike on the Gaza Strip.

Hamas was blamed, with the army citing retaliation for what it called escalating attacks on Israel.

Civilians saw the deaths as the usual training strike on Gaza, or perhaps Israel’s response to the visit of the Emir of Qatar to the besieged strip earlier in the week. Most didn’t see the killings as worthy of comment.

For those with fresh memories of Israel’s 2008-2009 massacre of Palestinians in Gaza, the destruction of homes and infrastructure and displacement of thousands of Palestinians, the events of the last eight days have a great deal in common with ‘Operation Cast Lead’.

That 22-day war happened a few weeks before the Israeli elections in 2009. The current incumbent, Kadima, was struggling and needed to turn promised defeat into victory.

What to do? Bombard Gaza. Kadima won the most votes and the blood behind the victory was forgotten.

The party of Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu is not struggling -- in fact after merging his Likud party with the anti-Palestinian extremists Yisrael Beiteinu, predictions are that Netanyahu will win by a healthy margin.

But why not guarantee this victory and perhaps take more seats to please the bloodthirsty right-wing majority in Israel?

The elections slated for January 22 will prove yet again that Israel’s electoral majority are racist.

Even in the early days of Israel, the master of the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, David Ben-Gurion, was elected over and over again between 1949 and 1963.

It is nothing more than our blood that enabled a criminal like Ariel Sharon to establish a party from scratch and go on to get elected.

Today, we stand before another election campaign. One of the most disturbing things is the repetition of Israeli claims that the current attacks have nothing to do with elections, but with Israel defending itself.

It is disgusting that Israeli governments must remind their voters of the role they play in "defending the state" prior to every election campaign.

For most of Netanyahu's term, Palestinians were not on the agenda, with the focus on threats coming from Iran, showing Persians as the planners of a nuclear holocaust.

At the UN, hardly a mention was made of Gaza, and Netanyahu was busy drawing cartoons of the Iranian nuclear bomb.

Throughout his tenure, Netanyahu has only dragged out the Palestinians to blame us for the failure of the peace process, the failure to provide Israel with security, or when bragging about allowing Gazans to survive off of 2,279 calories per person.

The most attention Palestinians got from the current leader was new labels in the wake of the bid for UN recognition. Suddenly we became non-violent and diplomatic terrorists.

The attacks of today are so much the same as those of 2008-9, that the media might as well start replaying interviews and press conferences from Operation Cast Lead.

Analysis takes up the same arguments, the Israeli government uses the same excuses, employs the same system of destruction under the same ideology with the same ignorance.

It seems that easy: the more Palestinians you murder the more votes you get.

Now, why are Hamas and the Palestinians in Gaza to blame for the ills of Israel in the current elections cycle? It is simple: because they are there.

This whole nonsense about Gaza representing a strategic threat to Israel’s existence is just that, nonsense.

The very existence of Palestinians, whether in Gaza, the West Bank or inside Israel, is itself the strategic threat. We are the demographic bomb.

Let’s not also forget that Hamas and all the 1.7 million Gazans enforce a blockade on Israel, set up no-go zones, demolish Israeli homes, bomb Israeli cities, shoot Israeli fisherman and farmers, and occupy Israeli land.

All these Hamas actions truly do force Israel to defend itself.

Israel's logic is simple: Kill Palestinians, tout their retaliatory rockets for international condemnation, and come back four years later to repeat the same process again.

Baha Hilo works for the Joint Advocacy Initiative.

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