“Welcome to Israel”: Human rights lawyer on campaign ads that depict killing of Palestinians


I wanted to ask you about the elections in
Israel and a campaign ad. A member of parliament seeking re-election
on April 9th is under fire over a campaign advertisement depicting him shooting and killing
a Palestinian colleague. In the ad, Oren Hazan, a lawmaker with the
ruling Likud party, who represents a Jewish-only West Bank settlement, is depicted as a character
in the Clint Eastwood film The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Hazan’s face is superimposed over a character
who shoots and kills Jamal Zahalka, a Palestinian citizen of Israel and member of Israel’s
Knesset. Zahalka has called for police to arrest Hazan
over the ad. This comes after another prominent Israeli
politician, ex-General Benny Gantz, released a campaign video showing a counter marking
a rising death toll of Palestinians superimposed over a video of a funeral. A second campaign ad promised that, if elected,
Gantz would bomb Gaza back to the Stone Age. Your response? Yeah, welcome to Israel. Welcome to Palestinian lives, of being literally
dehumanized, killed, ridiculed, accused and blamed for their own deaths, for the sake
of domestic politics, for the sake of international politics, while the rest of the world watches. When Israel massacred 58 Palestinians on May
15th last year, when the embassy was moved and when Palestinians continued their Gaza
Great March of Return, you know what U.S. headlines ran? They said, “How dare Hamas ruin and spoil
Israeli celebrations!” The level of dehumanization that is at play
is astounding, absolutely astounding. And it’s what should make us support more
forcefully brave lawmakers, like Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, like Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib,
who are actually using—who have ridden into Congress on the power of the people who have
brought them into Congress, on campaigns that support human rights and a complete anti-racist
platform, who are actually calling out the U.S.’s policy for what it is. Now, it should not be surprising that the
U.S., which is a settler colony and also maintains a racial caste system, would also frame what
Israel is doing as somehow forgivable. But there’s something to be said about media
that fails to let Israel speak for themself and take them at face value. Here are campaign ads where they are promoting
the murder and the killing and the death of Palestinians, even elected lawmakers, in order
to get more votes. Can you imagine how precarious Palestinian
life is? And when Zahalka called out Hazan for the
ad, Hazan turned around and called him the—literally said, “This is not anti-Arab racism, you
terrorist.” I mean, we’re talking about a doublespeak. And if you didn’t see it, you wouldn’t
believe it. And so, the only thing that I would encourage
is for more people to pay attention, for more people to see it, for more people to take
Israelis seriously when they use this racist discourse, and to understand that the people
who pay the highest price are Palestinians.

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