Ali Abunimah and Dena Shunra
The European Union has hired an Israeli who advocates genocidal violence against Palestinians as the face of a new promotional campaign.
Avishai Ivri appears in a video the EU embassy in Tel Aviv posted on its Facebook page last month.
“The European Union. You think it’s anti-Israel, right?” Ivri begins. “Let me surprise you.”
Ivri then rattles off trade and tourism statistics meant to convince Israeli viewers of just how much the European Union benefits Israel. He also boasts that the EU is a customer for Israel’s weapons industry, particularly drones.
The EU “are the best neighbors we have,” Ivri concludes.
Ivri was a writer for Latma, a defunct Israeli sketch show that reflected extreme right-wing and racist views, such as depicting migrants and refugees from African states as apes.
But that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
During Israel’s November 2012 attack on Gaza that killed 174 Palestinians, Ivri advocated even more extreme violence.
“Here’s a strategy that hasn’t been tried out yet: 1,000 Arabs killed for each one of our people killed,” he tweeted. “I think they owe us 5,000 from last week.”
“Fuck it, wipe out Gaza,” Ivri urged during the same attack.
Ivri is a strong supporter of a one-state solution, but not one where Palestinians and Israelis would have equal rights. Rather, he supports eliminating the Palestinians as a people altogether – a goal that fits the international legal definition of ethnic cleansing and probably outright genocide.
In January 2013, Ivri tweeted that “Judea and Samaria” – the name Israel uses for the occupied West Bank – “can always be annexed, full-stop.” If Palestinians resist, he warned, “they’ll be tossed away, on a truck. Force is always an option, but we prefer an agreed-upon solution (but if not, force).”
“There’s no such thing as a Palestinian nation and it certainly is not interested in a state,” he tweeted in February.
“In the state of Israel 500 years from now no one will remember that there used to be a thing called Palestinians,” he tweeted in May.
“Are Palestinians a nation?” he asked in 2012, before answering his own question: “They’re shit.”
Ivri sees Israel’s repeated assaults on Palestinians as opportunities for Israel to implement his violent agenda aimed at eliminating Palestine.
During Israel’s summer 2014 attack on Gaza that killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, including 550 children, Ivri urged total conquest of the coastal territory – as well as the West Bank.
“In 10 years, when Israel is the sovereign both of Gaza and of Judea and Samaria, we’ll ask ourselves what we’d been thinking for 30 (or 60) years and why we didn’t do it ages ago,” Ivri tweeted.
“No one will rule Gaza for Israel. Only Israel can do it,” he tweeted during the same Israeli assault, adding that Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas’ “days in power are numbered, and after he’s gone Israel will also have to rule Judea and Samaria.”
Ivri also shared an article during the assault arguing that Israel would be justified in cutting off water and electricity to Gaza – something that it has been doing, in violation of international law.
Ivri justifies this kind of exterminationist violence by total demonization and dehumanization of the victims of Israel’s regime of occupation and apartheid. Ironically, he does sometimes recognize the existence of Palestinians if only to cast them as devils.
“The Palestinians are the heirs to the Nazis,” he tweeted in May 2016, adding that the Palestinian flag “means only one thing = a call to murder Jews, wherever they are.”
This has been a consistent theme. In October 2014, he offered a “brief reminder: the Palestinians are Nazis.”
“They haven’t built gas chambers yet,” he asserted, because “the most advanced they have gotten is improvised explosive devices. But they’re definitely Nazis.”
During the 2014 assault on Gaza, he had tweeted that “Hamas are Nazis. Not like them, not approximately, not near them. Nazis.”
In October 2015, when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu caused international outrage by exonerating Hitler of masterminding the extermination of millions of European Jews and blamed it instead on a Palestinian, Ivri chimed in with apparent support.
“The Palestinians volunteered to help Hitler,” Ivri claimed. “It’s all well known.”
Normally, the EU would be expected to balk at gratuitous comparisons of other events to the Nazi genocide. But apparently this is fine as long as the targets are Palestinians.
Ivri’s incitement does not target only Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. He hates Palestinian citizens of Israel too, referring to Bedouins as a “time bomb.”
He also promotes racial discrimination in hiring: “An employer can’t find out if his potential employees are involved with terrorism. What should he do? Clearly he won’t employ Arabs at all. Put yourself in his shoes for a moment.”
Support for war crimes
Ivri’s support for war crimes against Palestinians is regular and casual. When in March 2016 Elor Azarya executed the injured, incapacitated Palestinian Abd al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif in cold blood – a slaying for which the army medic was eventually given a slap on the wrist – Ivri applauded.
“A truly moral army makes sure the terrorists are dead,” he tweeted.
Since 2016, Israel has escalated its campaign against human rights defenders. Even the EU managed to issue a timid protest of Israel’s so-called transparency law, which tightens monitoring of human rights groups that receive funding from European governments.
Ivri has joined in with the Israeli government’s relentless attacks on groups, including Israel’s B’Tselem, that document abuses against Palestinians.
Last December, he tweeted that “B’Tselem and the rest of the European organizations operating in Israel are another weapon in the arsenal of haters of Jews/Israel around the world.”
EU promoting hate
An emailed inquiry from The Electronic Intifada to the EU embassy in Tel Aviv included a question about how much European taxpayer money Ivri was paid for his appearance in the video.
The embassy did not respond to that question or to others about Ivri’s regular incitement to racism and violence, including war crimes.
But the EU ambassador in Tel Aviv has previously made no secret of his extreme pro-Israel views.
In an open letter reflecting on the approaching end of his four-year tenure, Lars Faaborg-Andersen recalled that as a youth in the 1970s, he spent time on a kibbutz – a type of Zionist colony that played a key part in the ethnic cleansingof Palestinians, but enjoyed a rosy progressive reputation among naive or complicit Westerners.
“In those days, young Europeans and Americans flocked to Israel to take part in the socialist kibbutz experiment and show solidarity with David in his struggle for survival against the surrounding Arab Goliaths,” Faaborg-Andersen wrote, regurgitating Zionist mythology that erases the Nakba, Israel’s expulsion of the vast majority of the Palestinian population in 1948, as well as the subsequent occupation and colonization of Palestinian land.
During his time as ambassador, Faaborg-Andersen and his EU colleagues have done all they can to advance Israel’s war against the Palestinian struggle for survival and freedom, including funding Israel’s arms industry and torturers, participating in Israel’s attacks on the nonviolent boycott, divestment and sanctions movement and remaining fully complicit in Israel’s brutal siege on Gaza.
The EU embassy in Tel Aviv has also served as a training ground for members of the Israel lobby in Brussels.
But surely, Faaborg-Andersen’s most infamous personal achievement will be employing an open advocate of genocidal violence as the face of the European Union and its much trumpeted “values.”
Ofer Neiman contributed research.
Ali Abunimah is executive director of The Electronic Intifada. Dena Shunra is a translator and writer.