Brazil seeks to thwart Netanyahu’s promotion of colonial expansion

Brazil seeks to thwart Netanyahu’s promotion of colonial expansion
The appointments of Danny Danon and Dani Dayan as ambassadors to the UN and Brazil reflect Netanyahu’s intention to promote colonial expansion, writes Ramona Wadi.
5 min read
02 Jan, 2016
Born in Argentina, Dayan, himself a settler, has promoted settler-colonialism relentlessly [Getty]

Last August, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave further proof of his government’s intention to persist with colonial expansion by appointing Danny Danon and Dani Dayan as ambassadors to the UN and Brazil respectively. Given that the concept of “Greater Israel” can be interpreted as both an ideological and territorial acquisition, Netanyahu’s choice has been that of promoting colonial expansion not only through forceful, visible measures which international organisations have half-heartedly deplored, but also ttilising diplomatic channels and attempting to influence international and regional politics. 

As expected, the UN’s attitude towards Israel has remained constant through a calculated balance of condemning and condoning colonial violence. Brazil, however, which has relied on Israel for military and surveillance technology, has since August 2015, opposed Netanyahu’s decision to appoint Dayan as ambassador.

Support for Palestinian anti-colonial resistance 

Besides attempts at government level to counter Dayan’s appointment - a measure not only borne out of support for Palestine, but also due to Israel’s belligerent attitude in appointing an ambassador without prior notification - Brazil’s Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST) has repeatedly declared itself in solidarity with Palestinian anti-colonial struggle.

The social movement, which has been at the helm of the fight for land reform and social equality, has protested against Israel colonial atrocities - be it the brutality unleashed during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, or the methodical torture of administrative detention. The MST has also expressed itself against Dayan’s diplomatic appointment since August 2015, portraying an internationalist anti-colonial stance which Palestine necessitates in order to gather the support necessary for its struggle towards land reclamation.

Brazil’s refusal to accept Dayan’s appointment is both in line with its stance regarding settlement expansion, as well as a result of intensive lobbying by social movements. However, its dependence upon Israel’s technology - a factor that is common to several countries in the region professing support for Palestine - may prove to be a contentious issue. In 2014, Brazil relied upon Israeli surveillance technology during its hosting of the World Cup, portraying the extent of international complicity in sustaining the colonisation of Palestine - in this case, a collaboration between Israel, Brazil and FIFA.

Diplomatic promotion of colonial expansion

Born in Argentina, Dayan, himself a settler, has promoted settler-colonialism relentlessly, particularly since his appointment as head of the Council of Jewish Communities from 2007 until 2013.

Given Netanyahu’s interest in strengthening relations with South American countries, Dayan’s appointment was perceived as an opportunity to further economic ties with Brazil and, in turn, garner support for settlement expansion. Former ambassadors to Brazil have declared that Dayan’s tenure would “give international legitimacy to the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria.”

Dayan’s primary concern is that Brazil’s resistance over his appointment “could create a precedent barring settlers from representing Israel abroad.” The issue of legitimising settler-colonialism has been of paramount importance for Dayan, despite the fact that his thesis rests upon the fabricated hegemonic Zionist narrative, rather than international law. In Dayan’s rhetoric, colonisation since 1967 has been rebranded as liberation.

Defence of settlement expansion stands upon flimsy foundations such as “Our communities stand on solid, moral ground.” The early premise of the barren land features in Dayan’s discourse, which also eliminates any hypothesis of coexistence by advocating that settlements are “an integral part of any future solution.”

Perhaps the most revealing admissions were penned in a 2013 blog published in the Times in Israel, in which Dayan claimed that settlements are “legal, legitimate and necessary for peace.” Following the usual distorted historical narrative, Dayan claims that “Peace is not achieved through ethnic separation. Reconciliation is not achieved by the disappearance of your adversary but by your learning to co-exist with him.” A brief recapitulation of the infamous Plan Dalet, studied within the current context, clearly shows that the disappearance of Palestine is a prerequisite to the Zionist ideology of “Greater Israel”.

In light of the recent news that Israel plans to build over 55,000 illegal settlement units - plans that had been temporarily halted by Netanyahu in 2013 - Dayan’s appointment is an even more blatant move on behalf of the Israeli government to garner support for its practical manifestation of ideology.

The planned settlements which will further isolate Palestinian enclaves in the West Bank, have been denounced by the PLO as being of detriment to any possibility of a Palestinian state.

However it is equally damaging for Palestinians to have official representation adhering to the dissociative tactics utilised by Israel and the international community when dealing with colonial expansion. While Israel justifies settlement expansion as a necessity and deflects criticism of international law violations, the international community relies upon the tactic of novelty in order to criticise each violation in isolation, rather than consider the historical context.

Palestinian leaders, in particular, need a heightened consciousness that enables political rhetoric to reflect the needs of Palestinians, rather than regurgitate statements that serve Israeli interests of revolving around the stale topic of compromise and negotiations.

Ramona Wadi is an independent researcher, freelance journalist, book reviewer and blogger specialising in the struggle for memory in Chile and Palestine, colonial violence and the manipulation of international law.

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.