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The Trump administration recently gave Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a tepid slap on the wrist regarding the burst of new illegal settlement building on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, saying this “may not be helpful” in achieving peace. The ascendancy of the president and his ideologically rightwing team is emboldening the Israeli extreme right as well as our own homegrown white nationalists. Trump’s chaotic distrust and fury towards Muslims entering the US and his promise to move the US embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem both feed this frenzy of racism and demonization. This all lends support to an “us” versus “them” version of the world where toughness and military might supercede diplomacy. The Israeli right couldn’t be happier.
I have just returned from the region where I saw the rising power of the right wing led by leaders such as Defense Minister Avigdor Leiberman, a settler whose political stands are best described as fascist and racist, and Education Secretary Naftali Bennett, who shares similar views. Bennett is pushing for the annexation of the huge Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim and 60 percent of the West Bank, where the massive settlement expansion is occurring. Ma’ale Adumim is located just outside of occupied East Jerusalem and annexing it would effectively…