All of Israel-Palestine is on fire today. There is a recurrence of the mix of Hamas rockets from Gaza and overwhelming military response from Israel which we’ve seen episodically over the last 15 years. It’s as horrible as it was each earlier time. You can choose who you think is more to blame. But it is not new. Violence is now erupting in the West Bank. But most novel is outbreak of what the Israeli police chief is calling an ‘internal intifada’, widespread inter-communal violence within Israel proper, particularly in cities with relatively mixed populations, especially Lod.
In these towns there have been Jewish mobs attacking Arab civilians and Arab mobs attacking Jewish civilians. This isn’t unprecedented in Israel proper. But it is certainly at a different and more widespread level than anything seen in many decades. Each dimension of the crisis is distinct but deeply related. They all grow from the century-old conflict over who controls the land between the Jordan River and the sea. But the immediate trigger was violence by far-right Jewish groups against Arab civilians in East Jerusalem and related efforts to evict a group of Arab families from homes allegedly owned by Jews in East Jerusalem. That in itself was, as I’ve argued, tied to the on-going political crisis within Israel and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s increasingly desperate reliance on the far-right Kahanist movement and its electoral leader, MK Itamar Ben Gvir, to remain in power.
What I want to focus on is a clear political reality. This may look catastrophic but it is actually an unalloyed win for Prime Minister Netanyahu. Open and shut. Not even close.