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Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu and Barack Obama (Steve Bell)

Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu and Barack Obama (Steve Bell)

In today’s Ha’aretz, Jonathan Lis sorts out the truth from the lies in Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu’s speech before the U.S. Congress on Tuesday:

[Netanyahu:] “We’re not the British in India. We’re not the Belgians in the Congo. This is the land of our forefathers, the land of Israel, to which Abraham brought the idea of one god, where David set out to confront Goliath, and where Isaiah saw his vision of eternal peace.”

[Lis:] Netanyahu was trying to show Congress how close West Bank lands are to the hearts of the Israeli people. “In Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people are not foreign occupiers,” the prime minister told Congress. He used the story of David and Goliath to illustrate the bond between the people of Israel and the territories. However, the biblical battle took place in the Ella Valley, which is near Beit Shemesh – well within the Green Line.

– Jonathan Lis, “The facts and fictions of Netanyahu’s address to Congress”, Ha’aretz, 26 May 2011

So as it happens, the land “where David set out to confront Goliath” (the Valley of Ella/Elah) is in Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory – territory which Netanyahu refuses to give back, based on an imagined community with other peoples who lived there 3000 years beforehand!

“…We’re not the British in India. We’re not the Belgians in the Congo…”

If colonialism, as Nicholas Dirks has argued, “transformed domination into a variety of effects that masked both conquest and rule” [Colonialism and Culture (1992), p. 7], the most important of those effects in Palestine was to efface Zionism’s colonial dimension, at least from the perspective of those building and supporting the Jewish state. It was to erase the question of “Palestine” from the history of the Israeli state and society, which had become, quite simply, the nation-state of and for the Jewish people.

– Nadia Abu El-Haj, Facts on The Ground: Archaeological practice and territorial self-fashioning in Israeli society (University of Chicago Press, 2001), p. 5.

Read the whole Ha’aretz article here.