Naftali Bennett, war criminal and the infamous 13th prime minister of the Zionist state, is scheduled to speak in Toronto on June 14 at the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center’s State of the Union. This event is set to celebrate 75 years since the establishment of the Zionist state through the violent displacement of Palestinians.
Bennett, a loyal servant to the Zionist cause, has a long record for escalating violence and the displacement of Palestinians. His speaking event will be moderated by Heather Reisman, founder of Indigo Books, which the Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East have called for a boycott of. Reisman and her partner, Gary Schwartz, are supporters of Zionism. They established the HESEG Foundation for Lone Soldiers, an organization that encourages foreign soldiers to serve in the Zionist army by offering more than $3 million worth of scholarships to further their academic studies in Israel.
The Palestinian Youth Movement’s Toronto chapter, alongside Toronto4Palestine, Al-Quds Committee, Actions4Palestine, Independent Jewish Voices, Association of Palestine Student at UTM and African Caribbean Black Network are planning a demonstration at this event to protest the arrival of Bennett.
Bennet, war criminal
Bennett has been responsible for a number of war crimes. He is controversially known for his role in the massacre of more than 100 Lebanese civilians at a United Nations base in the village of Qana in April 1996 during the Zionist state’s brutal occupation of Lebanon which lasted nearly two decades. At the time, Bennett was an elite officer in a unit in Lebanon and the leader of the extreme right-wing Zionist party Habeyit Hayehudi. In 2013, Bennett notoriously declared his affinity for violence at a cabinet meeting when he said “I have killed lots of Arabs in my life – and there is no problem with that”.
Bennett served as prime minister for a little over a year starting in June 2021. This short period was marked with incessant violence for many Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank, and Historic Palestine. Amnesty International reported that the years following his term as prime minister saw rampant ill-treatment, persecution, and collective punishment against Palestinians, including many children.
Given his fierce advocacy for annexation, it is no surprise that Bennett also also declared “I will do everything in my power to make sure [Palestinians] never get a state.”
Bennett’s actions reflect the structure of Zionism itself, which operates as an imperial and colonial force across the entirety of the Middle East. As prime minister, Bennett continued and advanced the goals of the Zionist colonial project through increased military and settler violence.
Bennett escalating the occupation
Escalating the occupation, the Bennett government issued tenders for the construction of 1,550 housing units in illegal settlements in 2021. This is a 15 percent increase from the average of 1,343 housing units per year when Netanyahu was in office. In contrast, only 10 building permits were issued to Palestinians in the same year. This is clear and blatant discrimination against the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories compared to their Jewish counterparts.
In a clear effort to further continue the occupation of Palestinian land, the Bennett government founded six new illegal outposts: Givat Hadegel in the South Hebron Hills, Karnei Re’em in the Salfit area, Mevo’ot Jericho Farm north of Jericho, Julius Farm in the North of the Jordan Valley and the Ohavey-Ya outpost West of Bethlehem.
Another example of Bennett’s flagrant anti-Palestinian policies is his support of displacing Palestinian families in East Jerusalem. Despite the Supreme Court giving the government an opportunity to assist in preventing the massive expropriation, Bennett did not intervene in Batan Al-Hawa (a case very similar to Sheikh Jarrah). Furthermore, Bennett supported the settlers from the Elad organization in their displacement of the Sumarin family from Silwan in favor of. He also supported the evictions in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem when he allowed the Jerusalem municipality to demolish the Sallehiya family home. These actions are all part of Israel’s long-time goal of Judaizing Jerusalem; an effort to erase all Palestinian identity from the Holy City.
The Bennett government deepened its commitment to the policy of expelling Palestinians when it demolished 639 Palestinian-owned structures, causing 604 people to lose their homes. This was a 35 percent increase compared to the number of demolitions during the Netanyahu years. The situation was even more grave in East Jerusalem where 189 structures were demolished and 450 Palestinians become homeless. This w3as a 59 percent increase compared to the Netanyahu years.
Government sanctioned violence under Bennett
This serves as a reminder that the Zionist ideology, a project that Bennett has dedicated his life to, is centered on the violent displacement of Palestinian people, in service of a Zionist colony in the heart of the Middle East.
Government-sanctioned violence also increased during Bennett’s government, a reality which cannot be separated from Bennett’s violent political discourse, and aggressive colonial policies. In the West Bank alone, 86 Palestinians were murdered by security forces. The extreme Zionist anti-Palestinian sentiment furthered by Bennett and his government is reflected in the 45 percent increase in settler violence incidents against Palestinians.
The Canadian state, which upholds colonialism and imperialism both through its own crimes against Indigenous populations and through its support of Zionism, has a law which states that: “persons who have committed or been complicit in the commission of a war crime, crime against humanity, genocide, or any other reprehensible act […] are not welcome in Canada.” This law has prompted the filing of a legal brief by Palestinian community members and human rights organizations to bar Bennett from entering the country, which the Canadian government has failed to respond to.
As Palestinians and Arabs in the diaspora, we affirm that it is our role to confront Zionism wherever it resides. Zionism is a global movement that is not confined to Palestine, as seen through Zionist aggression against neighboring Arab and Muslim states. Zionism plays a role in facilitating imperialist violence in the Global South. When Zionism presents itself in our cities, we must combat it.
On June 14 at 6:00 PM, we call on all those committed to the anti-colonial and anti-imperialist struggle against Zionism to join us in protest of Bennett’s visit at 150 Symes Rd.
Did you like this article? Help us produce more like it by donating $1, $2, or $5. Donate