5 Questions the Center for American Progress Should Ask Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu Today

The center-left think tank has come under fire for inviting the far-right prime minister to speak. Will they seize the opportunity to ask tough questions?

Marc DaalderNovember 10, 2015

(United Nations / Flickr)

This after­noon, Israel’s Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Netanyahu will speak at the Cen­ter for Amer­i­can Progress (CAP). CAP, a think tank which has close ties to the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion and usu­al­ly espous­es left-lean­ing views, now faces a back­lash from pro­gres­sives around the coun­try for host­ing and thus val­i­dat­ing the right-wing leader, with a peti­tion cir­cu­lat­ed by Jew­ish Voice for Peace gar­ner­ing the sig­na­tures of MoveOn co-founder Noah T. Win­er; pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­can-Arab Anti-Dis­crim­i­na­tion Com­mit­tee Samer Kha­laf; jour­nal­ist and activist Nao­mi Klein; and numer­ous oth­er pro­gres­sive fig­ures and organizations.

How can you tolerate the extrajudicial executions of Palestinians, only some of whom are even terror suspects?

Netanyahu’s vis­it is meant to repair bridges burnt dur­ing his last trip to the Unit­ed States in March, when he addressed an open ses­sion of Con­gress that many Demo­c­ra­t­ic law­mak­ers chose to boy­cott and noto­ri­ous­ly attempt­ed to tor­pe­do the Iran nuclear deal. Regard­less of the pro­pri­ety of CAP’s host­ing Netanyahu, the fact that the Prime Min­is­ter is speak­ing and answer­ing ques­tions from the think tank is an oppor­tu­ni­ty for the CAP staffer tasked with engag­ing with him to ask him some tough, reveal­ing ques­tions. Here are five ques­tions CAP should ask Netanyahu.

1. How can you tol­er­ate the extra­ju­di­cial exe­cu­tions of Pales­tini­ans, only some of whom are even ter­ror suspects?

Of the 68 Pales­tini­ans killed by the IDF dur­ing protests and unrest in Octo­ber, only 43 were even sus­pect­ed in ter­ror inci­dents like the recent rash of stab­bings of Israelis by Pales­tini­ans. Israeli secu­ri­ty forces also injured over 8,260 Pales­tini­ans, 2,617 with live or rub­ber-coat­ed steel bul­lets. Clear­ly, in the eyes of Netanyahu’s admin­is­tra­tion, the 6 mil­lion Pales­tini­ans liv­ing under Israel’s demo­c­ra­t­ic” rule deserve nei­ther the right to a tri­al, nor pre­sumed innocence.

2. Why have you ignored the opin­ions of your own gen­er­als as to the cause of October’s violence?

Dur­ing Octo­ber, three IDF gen­er­als, includ­ing the chief of Mil­i­tary Intel­li­gence Her­zl Hale­vi, argued that frus­tra­tion with Israel’s actions and poli­cies con­sti­tutes at least some of the rea­sons for the month’s unrest. Netanyahu, how­ev­er, has stead­fast­ly refused to accept this.

3. Do you believe in a two-state solution?

Netanyahu has been con­stant­ly self-con­tra­dic­to­ry on this seem­ing­ly sim­ple ques­tion. In 2009, he said that if Pales­tin­ian lead­er­ship rec­og­nized Israel as a Jew­ish state, We will be ready in a future peace agree­ment to reach a solu­tion where a demil­i­ta­rized Pales­tin­ian state exists along­side the Jew­ish state.” Yet, in the days lead­ing up to his reelec­tion this past March, he promised that so long as he remained Prime Min­is­ter, there would be no Pales­tin­ian state. Though he lat­er qual­i­fied that state­ment, Netanyahu should be made to answer whether he tru­ly believes in a two-state solution.

4. Why has your admin­is­tra­tion not yet charged the sus­pects of the Duma arson?

On July 31, in the dark of the night, two Jew­ish ter­ror­ists report­ed­ly set ablaze a home in the vil­lage of Duma, locat­ed in the West Bank, after scrawl­ing Revenge” and Long live King Mes­si­ah,” the mot­to of ortho­dox Hasidic group Chabad, on its walls. The arson led to the deaths of three of the four mem­bers of the Dawab­sheh fam­i­ly, includ­ing 18-month-old Ali.

In Sep­tem­ber, Israeli Defense Min­is­ter Moshe Ya’alon said that The secu­ri­ty agen­cies know who is respon­si­ble for the [Duma arson attack] but are abstain­ing from putting them on tri­al in order to not expose intel­li­gence sources in court.” We have heard noth­ing since. Will Israel con­tin­ue to refrain from pros­e­cut­ing attacks that Netanyahu him­self has calledter­ror­ism”?

5. Why are so many crit­ics accus­ing you of incit­ing vio­lence against Palestinians?

Octo­ber was a vio­lent month for Israel and Pales­tine, wit­ness­ing the killings of dozens of civil­ians and sus­pect­ed ter­ror­ists by secu­ri­ty forces and armed vig­i­lantes. Dur­ing this time, Netanyahu con­tin­ued to egg on anti-Pales­tin­ian sen­ti­ment, even going so far as to blame a Pales­tin­ian, the for­mer Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, for the Holo­caust. In response, Israeli mobs attacked Pales­tini­ans — and those who looked Pales­tin­ian, like Mizrahi (Arab) Jews, an Eritre­an asy­lum seek­er, and at least one Bedouin — indis­crim­i­nate­ly. This is part of a long-run­ning theme of Netanyahu’s time as prime min­is­ter. His recent reelec­tion cam­paign, for exam­ple, focused on demo­niz­ing Arab Israelis.

Marc Daalder is a jour­nal­ist based in Detroit, Michi­gan and Welling­ton, NZ who writes on pol­i­tics, pub­lic hous­ing, and inter­na­tion­al rela­tions. Twit­ter: @marcdaalder.
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