From the banning of human rights groups to relentless warmongering, in 2018, the Israeli state continued to expand its settler-colonialism and ethnocratic structures, while anxiously investing in silencing critics and presenting itself to Western audiences as the epitome of liberal democracy.
For Palestinians, the 71st year of the Nakba saw large-scale peaceful protests in Gaza, known as the Great Return March. Israel violently suppressed these, as other, Palestinian resistance efforts through genocidal massacres and targeted executions. Palestinian protesters were categorically labeled as terrorists by Israel, while corporate U.S. media largely continued to whitewash Israel’s atrocities and blame Palestinians for their own deaths. U.S. political support for the Israeli regime reached unprecedented heights, as exemplified through the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.
Settler-colonialism continued to enfold inside Palestine/Israel, with settlement buildings for Jews and dispossession of Palestinians. Israel passed laws that enshrined the status quo of ethnocracy, further legalizing the marginalization of non-Jews.
Besides Palestinians, other people of color living inside Israel continued to face hardship at the hands of the country’s ethnocratic system, including detentions and expulsions.
While anti-Semitism was rising in the West, Prime Minister Israel Netanyahu whitewashed anti-Semites and Holocaust revisionists, from Hungary’s Viktor Orban to the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte. These latest foreign policy approaches made visible the historical alliances between Zionists and anti-Semites. These developments also reaffirmed the position of Zionism within right-wing, white Eurocentrism.
From Saudi Arabia to Oman, Arab governments increasingly embraced Israel and furthered the normalization of Zionism. Arab-Israeli harmonization further ostracized Palestinians. Geo-political ties between Sunni Arab governments and Israel are often based on shared opposition to Iran. To fuel anti-Iranianism, the IDF engaged in anti-Shiite incitement. The so-called Iranian and Shiite threat also shaped Israel’s aggressive approach towards Lebanon. In an attempt to divert attention from several ongoing corruption cases, Netanyahu intensified his country’s long-standing warmongering against Lebanon.
Israel’s dangerous endeavors, however, reached far beyond the Levant. Israeli companies conducted cyber espionage that undermined human rights globally. These efforts led to the persecution of journalists and minority populations. Even as Israeli cyber espionage facilitated violence against LGBT individuals, Israel continued its pinkwashing propaganda.
While facing corruption charges in Israel, Benjamin and Sara Netanyahu spent the end of the year in Brazil, where they met with the country’s new extreme-right, pro-Zionist President Jair Bolsonaro – the latest of Israel’s fascist allies. During this visit, Netanyahu addressed Brazil’s growing evangelical movement, proclaiming that Israel has no better friends in the world than the evangelical community.
Discussions over the legitimacy of the state of Israel persisted. Discussions of Israel’s human rights violations, critique of apartheid and illegal occupation, and criticism of the corrupt far-right Netanyahu government were, as always, often demonized and dismissed as efforts at delegitimizing the state of Israel. As the settler-colonial state continues to persist, it is safe to assume that Israel will continue to attempt to legitimize itself through coercion and violence – the very same methods through which the Israeli state was established.