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Israel Quick to Exploit Manchester Bombing

By: Ali Abunimah

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, seen at an airport farewell ceremony for President Donald Trump on 23 May, has moved quickly to exploit the Manchester bombing. (via Facebook)


It has not been 24 hours since the suicide bombing that killed 22 people and injured dozens more after a pop concert in the English city of Manchester.

British authorities have named the suspected killer as a 22-year-old Manchester native.

As people express anguish and horror – and appeal for unity – Israel has moved quickly and cynically to exploit the tragedy for its own agenda.

Meanwhile, Israeli army officers have explained why they tacitly support Islamic State, the group that claimed responsibility for the bombing.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a tweet declaring, “If the Manchester attacker was Palestinian and the victims Israeli, the terrorist’s family would receive a stipend from Mahmoud Abbas.”

Scoring points

The claim that families of Palestinian “terrorists” receive stipends from the Palestinian Authority has long been an Israeli talking point, revived in the months since Donald Trump’s election to place obstacles in the way of any renewed American-sponsored peace process.

Israel considers all Palestinians who engage in armed action against its military occupation, regardless of whether civilians or military personnel are targeted, to be “terrorists.” International law recognizes the right to resist occupation.

Netanyahu likely seized on the Manchester bombing to attack Abbas because Tuesday morning in Ramallah President Trump praised the Palestinian Authority leader for being ready to resume negotiations with Israel.

Trump later reiterated those comments later in a speech at the Israel Museum.

“I had a great meeting this morning with President Mahmoud Abbas and I can tell you that he is ready to reach a peace deal,” Trump said.

Other Israeli ministers sang from the same song sheet as Netanyahu, suggesting a coordinated government campaign to exploit the Manchester tragedy.

Education minister Naftali Bennett, who has previously boasted about killing Arabs, tweeted, “A terrorist murders 22 innocent fans in Manchester. Imagine his family receiving a permanent $5000-a-month payment for that. So Abu-Mazen [Abbas].”

Condemning the Manchester attack, Netanyahu also said, “Terrorism is a worldwide threat and the enlightened nations must work together to defeat it everywhere.”

Netanyahu has been similarly quick to exploit mass-casualty attacks in France, all with the aim of presenting Israel’s violent occupation and colonization of Palestinians as part of a linked global war on what he calls “radical Islamic terrorism.”

Israel’s tacit alliance with ISIS

What makes Netanyahu’s exploitation of Manchester more than usually cynical is that Israel is currently allied with the forces that are spreading the violent radicalism fueling the attacks.

There is the growing Saudi-Israeli alliance – notable in the context where Saudi Arabia has been one of the biggest sources of funding to so-called jihadi groups going back decades.

It has long been known that Israel has provided material support to al-Qaida-linked groups in Syria.

But more recently, Israeli officials and military officers have been frank that their tacit support extends even to Islamic State, also known as ISIS – the group to which some of the worst atrocities in Syria, Iraq and Europe have been attributed.

ISIS claimed credit for the Manchester attack.

Moshe Yaalon, Israel’s former defense minister, said last year, “In Syria, if the choice is between Iran and the Islamic State, I choose the Islamic State.”

Let the blood flow

This pro-ISIS thinking was reflected too in comments by senior Israeli military officers published on Monday.

“If Assad wins,” one Israeli army official told Politico Magazine, referring to the Syrian president and his army, “we will have Hizballah not on two borders but one.”

According to Politico, an Israeli brigadier-general explained that the “Iranian influence” – meaning Syria’s government and Lebanon’s Hizballah resistance organization – are “significantly more worrisome than ISIS or other Sunni Muslim terror groups.”

“If I can be frank, the radical axis headed by Iran is more risky than the global jihad one,” the officer said.

When asked if ISIS should be allowed to hold on to its so-called “caliphate” in parts of Syria and Iraq, the Israeli officer replied, “Why not?”

He likened the strategy to Israel’s approach to the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s: let both sides bleed.

This monstrous logic means that more lives are lost as senseless war is prolonged, more chaos spreads across the region and the world, millions more people become refugees and Israel sits in the middle claiming to be a defender of Western civilization.

Israel gains from the fear, hate and Islamophobia that the attacks by its tacit allies generate, because in Israel’s estimation this generates “Western” sympathy for its position and further identifies Palestinians with “terror.”

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