When Empire Files host Abby Martin visited Jerusalem’s Zion Square, she met one Israeli after another who responded to her question about how best to end the conflict with the Palestinians with calls for extermination and ethnic cleansing.
Ironically, the Jerusalem Municipality has dubbed Zion Square — the site of numerous brutal mob assaults on Palestinian workers and youth — a “square of tolerance.”
“We need to kill Arabs,” declared one woman with a big laugh. She added that Israel must “kick out the Arabs.”‘
“Israelis have to take over, and they have to kick them away,” an Israeli man said of Palestinians. He added, “Islam is a very bad disease. Not just for Israel, for all around the world.”
Some Israelis suggested the genocidal extermination of Palestinians.
“I dont think there’s any answer to it. There’s only one way: I would carpet bomb them. It’s the only way you can deal with it,” a young Israeli man insisted. “I don’t trust them; you can’t trust them,” he said of Palestinians. “The only way is just to stop it completely.”
“The Jews should have rights to hate them,” he said of Arabs. “I think we have the right to hate them. I don’t see any reason why not. I wouldn’t trust any of them.”
Many of the Israelis interviewed by Martin were Americans who were born in the U.S. and only moved to the Middle East later in life.
“We know who the threat is, and it’s not coming from anyone random,” one young American woman said. “We know who our enemy is,” she added, condemning people for being “politically correct.”
A young Israeli with an American accent angrily declared, “You can’t deal with these people; there’s no need to try; there’s no need to talk to them.”
Many Israelis also maintained in their interviews that the land of Palestine has belonged to the Jewish people for 3,000 years.
One young man was from the group Lehava, a fascist settler paramilitary group that harasses Palestinians and promotes ethno-religious purity among Jewish Israeli youth. “Jews shouldn’t marry Arabs,” he maintained. “Jews is a special nation that God gave it to the Jews, and we don’t want Jews to get mixed up together with a different nation.”
“I think that the Jews came here; they took this land and this is our land now. And I don’t they should be here, no Arabs.” Later, in Hebrew, he added, “The Arabs, may their name and memory be obliterated.”
Another young Israeli insisted the military must go into the illegally occupied Palestinian territories and “kill every terrorist.” He added, “We have to kill the terrorists and then they’d be afraid to cause us any more trouble… We don’t have to live together.”
One Israeli man even suggested that the families of Palestinian “terrorists” should be executed. This policy, which was also proposed by far-right U.S. President Donald Trump, is a war crime that explicitly violates the Geneva Conventions.
In one of the most shocking moments, an elderly Israeli man even went so far as to echo anti-Semitic Christian fundamentalists, blaming Jews for their extermination at the hands of the Nazis and claiming that the Holocaust was God’s punishment: “God punished [our] sins… He sent the Nazis and now he sends the Palestinians.”
Interviewing an Israeli anti-Zionist on “brainwashing”
For the film, which was co-produced by journalists MIke Prysner and Dan Cohen, Abby Martin also sat down for an extended interview with Israeli human rights activist and anti-Zionist Ronnie Barkan, who spoke of how racist miliarized indoctrination and “brainwashing” in Israel begins at a very young age.
The settler-colonialist project of Israel “is all about creating a place which is for one select group and only that,” Barkan said. “It’s not only the fact that they wanted to take over, to usurp the land and the resources and all that; it’s also about this exclusive nature of the place, that this is ours and only ours.”
Barkan continued: “Any Palestinian, being born in Israel, even if they’re Israeli citizens, is already regarded as some sort of a threat to the state. The need to segregate, the need to separate and not interact with Palestinians is part of Israeli identity. So we have to understand that Israeli identity depends on denying Palestinian identity.”
The full Empire Files episode can be watched below:
Ben Norton is a reporter for AlterNet’s Grayzone Project. You can follow him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton.