Outside the Sodastream factory flutter the flags of eight states – but no symbol of the national identity of the workers who make Sodastream’s profits – the Palestinian workers.
A Merip Report
“it is abundantly clear, including to IDF generals, that Israel is not facing an existential threat at this time” writes Ben Caspit. So clear that they have reconfigured their armed forces and order of battle. Today the army relies on a large infantry (for policing the oPt ) and elite units for special ops. Its intel work is up to scratch; its understanding of Palestinian aspirations remains at zero.
Easter – which this year happens to have coincided with Passover – has traditionally been a time to focus on the state of Christian worship in its birthplace, Palestine. Despite the marriage of convenience between the right-wing forces among American evangelical protestants and Israeli Jews, Palestinian Christians (of the foreign, i.e. indigenous sort) share the persecution that Israelis and fundamentalist Islamists show their enemies, not the comradeship of shared religion or nationality.
Tamed by neoliberalism, every one. An organic intellectual in Marxist Antonio Gramsci’s work is the person who thinks politically, strategically about whatever work she/he is doing, whether a factory worker or a professor. Once, says Faris Giacaman, Palestinians in academia did this. But the end of class-struggle revolutionary politics has ended that role.
Anthony Alessandrini of Jadaliyya responds to Faris Giacaman’s article (above) with an argument that political engagement and thought is still present in the work of Palestinian intellectuals and artists. Unlike their forebears, they have to take on not just overt colonial oppression but the complex issue of the subjugating force of national liberation elites. They are also part of a tradition which includes formally Jewish and Christian analysts of post-colonialism.
What is the collective noun for Palestinians? Terrorist threat. As thousands tried to make their way to Christian churches in Jerusalem in particular, they found their way barred by police. Foreign pilgrims were caught up in what looked like a ‘kettling’ operation. But so normal is this impediment to free movement that when the UN’s special envoy found himself blocked, the police dismissed his complaint as a ‘micro-incident. They do not not know what normal freedom is.
Here are two shocking stories combined in one. Shin Bet arrests an Arab Israeli journalist who visits Lebanon;. It then imposes a gagging order which Israeli – and some US – media obey. Richard Silverstein broke the story-and order (it does not apply to non-Israelis) – to bring the story to a wider public. For some reason, Ali Abuminah, a brave, antiracist and sophisticated journalist, has been unable in his account to acknowledge this though he has not been known as a supporter of the No Normalisation campaign.
Whistleblowers are the heroes of the secret and dangerously malfunctioning business or state . Their reward is penury, persecution, prison (Vanunu) or exile (Edward Snowden). Lest we forget – a letter from Paul Ostreicher and article from Duncan Campbell. Although Vanunu was abducted in London whither he came to reveal Israel’s nuclear facilities, there has been scant effort in the UK to support or honour his courage -tho Paul Ostreicher sticks with CND. Petition to sign for Vanunu.
Uri Avnery looks back on the Oslo accords and what was achieved – not least Arafat’s recognition of Israel and his letting-go of most of the Palestinians’ claim to once Palestinian land. For from celebrating the size of this achievement for Israel – with scant reward for Palestine – the Israeli right is busy rewriting history – including omitting the critical fact of Israel reneging on its recent promised prisoner release.
Palestinians are not commodities to be bought and sold on the market, whose bodies and labour power are the possession of the owners. But, like slaves, they are born in dishonour, do not possess the civil rights through which they can defend themselves and have no free movement; like the Americans, the ‘white’ population of Jews is itself bitterly split on the issue of the freedom of the oppressed people. A powerful essay from Eva Illouz which, like Faysal Mikdadi, responds to the film 12 Years a Slave.
In his dreams Faysal Mikdadi, exiled from his Palestinian homeland since 1948, remembers running freely beside the Mediterranean sea. Cruelly awake, he marvels at how politicians – Miliband, Netanyahu, Arab and Palestinian leaders – can carry on as though a whole people has not been displaced and lost all they had. Will we weep for them one day as now we weep for the slaves of yesteryear?
The unremitting conflict for control of the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria has driven out many of its penniless Palestinian residents, the bulk of whom have been taken in by Jordan and Lebanon at huge cost to their budgets and amenities. Those left behind are subject to cynical denial of food. Many agencies and charities are trying to help them – and Syrian people themselves left devastated by the years of war.
The absence of any realistic ‘peace process’ may be a vacuum which pulls in any moving body, such as John Kerry. Or Kerry may be ‘addicted’ to the process, as Foreign Policy’s Aaron David Miller suggests. Or the Peace Process is emptied of all meaning because for Israelis the only peace is unconditional Palestinian surrender as Zeev Sternhell argues. Israeli supremacy will rule.
Violent resistance to Israeli oppression will always invite hostility, whatever the provocation. But Israeli security forces consistently imprison Palestinians who act through politics. The Israeli security junta will find some link between any Palestinian and a security risk – and shut them up. Ben White reports on the latest arrests.
Regular readers of this website do not need to to be told of the deprivations visited on all people in the Gaza Strip by Israel Security – and the Egyptian government. On his first visit, the new head of UNWRA is shocked and says the siege must be ended. 50 UN agencies made the same call 2 years ago. An entire people is locked into an enclave without basic resources. Say ‘security’ and care dies.
Israel was created, expanded and is sustained by military force. It is not democracy Israelis admire but the IDF. It is the one firm and protective father for whom Israelis yearn – and whose cruelties and errors they pretend not to notice. Yossi Sarid on Israel’s cult of the soldier-hero.
The most recent report from the Foundation for Middle East Peace is devoted to the question of Israeli settlements. As it has become clear that there is going to be no effective international action to prevent – let alone reduce – settlement building Israelis have become more aggressively confident while Palestinians consider how best to protect themselves.
The British Jewish group Yachad (Hebrew for ‘together’) was founded in 2011 as a pro-Israel pro-peace group. Taking people on visits to Israel has been made more difficult by the places that have to avoided, or somehow explained. Hebron’s devastated Shuhada Street is one such place – but it’s not so different from the rest of the West Bank writes Yachad founder Hannah Weisfeld.
The plan to build a 7-storey visitors’ centre in Silwan just below the Temple Mount, first passed 2 years ago, has been formally approved by Jerusalem city council. It has been pushed ahead by groups bent on getting Jewish control of the area and angrily condemned by Israeli archaeologists and those opposed to Judaisation of E. Jerusalem.
As Richard Silverstein notes, ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’ has been holding a young Israeli journalist since April 12, initially in secret – a gagging order was imposed on the press and denied access to lawyers. The gagging order is lifted but he is still confined in a cell with no bed or window. His supposed crime? He travelled to Lebanon, and he’s an Arab/Palestinian citizen.