From isolated protests over several years at Israel’s participation in FIFA, which is a constitutionally anti-racist body, the protests have gained momentum and publicity. Red Card Israeli Racism has launched a petition to FIFA for the Israel Football Association to be suspended from membership. The issue is linked to the many obstacles Israel places in the way of Palestinians playing football.
It was just the news that Bibi wanted; The day after he roused AIPAC with his speech about the existential threat from Iran (which stupid Obama does not recognise) an Iranian ship loaded with weapons, obviously for anti-Israel terrorists hiding behind Israel/Egypt’s impenetrable borders of Gaza, was captured by the Israeli navy. Richard Silverstein casts his usual sceptical and other-informed eye over the story.
An angry Uri Misgav writes in Haaretz about ‘why I no longer want to live in the most racist state in the free world.’ The state has developed a racist hierarchy of groups. The rankings and exclusions are ‘like the Nuremberg Laws, only in reverse’. For Jews who do not wish to be claimed as members by The Jewish State, One Democracy has launched a petition to make this public.
Europe is the most important destination of Israel’s exports and Europe is the place where demands for boycott are strongest. The German publication, DW, reports on the impact of the boycott on business dependent on trade relations with European companies; Time magazine reports on Palestinian support for boycott as the path to peace, but does not give new detail of who among the Palestinians supports boycott.
There are places – Afghanistan, Palestine – where NGOs appear to have taken over the functions of the state and the people – NGOisation as Islah Jad memorably named the phenomenon. It can also seem to usurp national popular movements for change. Here, Fateh Azzam argues that NGOs and popular movements in Palestine should not be seen as two alternative models or realities. A really important discussion.
A 57-year-old mentally ill woman wanders over to Israel’s security fence enclosing Gaza – and is killed; she may have bled to death. This horrible scenario sounds as though the IDF regard shooting at Palestinians as a sport – or are so gripped by security paranoia they can’t see straight. In the last three months, four other Gazans who were near the fence – an area they use for real sport – were shot dead and 55 injured B’Tselem reports.
A Palestinian who called Jerusalem’s mayor, Israel’s wealthiest politician, the “mayor of Occupation” on his Facebook page has been pulled in for interrogation by Shabak, Israel’s security agency – the remark was treated as an indicator of terrorism. Meanwhile, far-right – terrorist – Israeli hate groups fill their Facebook pages with no interference from any state agency. There is no principle at stake here, only the ‘security’ drive against mouthy Palestinians.
As well as its shortages of food and fresh water, Gaza now has no cement. Israel has banned its export to the Strip and the military government of Egypt has closed the tunnels through which building materials were once carried. No cement means nothing can be repaired or built; it means no work for the lorry drivers who transported it. It means unemployment has risen even higher to 45%.
At the annual Israel-US love-in, the AIPAC conference, speakers politely refrain from uttering a critical word about Israel’s policies, preferring to reassure Americans, Israelis, that the country’s security is Americans ‘first concern’ (Kerry). Bibi has no restraint, delighting his audience with a no-holds-barred attack on BDS supporters as antisemites, bigots and in the tradition of those who used the blood libel. Robert Cohen and Ali Abuminah comment.
Activists in Tarabut movement call for an end to ‘an endless process that makes it possible to preserve American support and good relations with the international community, while shoring up the major settlement blocs and allowing various corporations to continue to enjoy enormous profits from the ongoing occupation and from the total dependency of the Palestinian economy on the Israeli economy.’
President Obama has given this interview to Jeffrey Goldberg knowing it will show Americans and Israelis that he takes Middle East peace very seriously, that he and the Israeli PM have sharply different assessments of the players and factors, especially in Iran and Palestine, and that such are the changing times Netanyahu must act to break the stalemate – and only he can do that.
Netanyahu is in the US for the AIPAC annual conference and its injection of adulation. On the way, he dropped in on President Obama whose recent interview with Jeffrey Goldberg made clear the sharp political differences between the two leaders on Palestine and Iran (see post above). Here, responses to the interview from Israeli journalists and a report of the Obama/Bibi meeting.
The crisis between Russia and Ukraine has provoked much talk of antisemitism. But whether or not antisemitism is thought to be a factor splits along left/right lines. Thus Jewish agencies who are usually quick to cry ‘antisemitism’ dismiss the charge, while leftists, who remember the eager collaboration of Ukraine with the Nazis see antisemitism as a key to the conflict. Is this just a Jew-centric view of history or is antisemitism a live force in Ukraine?
The number of housing starts in West Bank settlements was at a ten-year high in 2013. As far as the Israeli government was concerned it, and the PA, had agreed to peace talks so it had nothing to lose. An Al Jazeera article points out that the buildings that are flung up in the West Bank – cheap because of subsidy and mass construction – are largely occupied by Mizrahi Jews who cannot find a place, socially or economically, in Israel itself.
In a case of ‘the enemy’s enemy is my friend’, Israeli intelligence services are paying Syrians from rebel factions for information about al-Qaeda. Wounded Syrians are also being treated in Israeli hospitals. So for the rebel Syrians too the enemy (Israel) of their primary enemy (the Assad regime) has become their friend. However, the Israeli security chiefs still prefer Assad’s stable, anti-jihadist regime to the Free Syrian Army.
Netanyahu’s late demand that Palestinians recognise Israel as ‘the Jewish state’ has raised many questions and begged one in particular – what does ‘Jewish’ mean to people who so define themselves? It can define ethnicity, religion, cultural heritage; different groups have different rules on who is Jewish; the distinction between Hebrew as a polite word for the language and people (though not religion) has been lost to the all-encompassing, and thus confusing, term Jewish. The contradictory demands that Israel be accepted as any other nation state, and as the unique ‘state of all the Jews’ apart from all others, entrenches the confusion. Three writers from Haaretz give different views on what the terms mean to them.
“The combined effect of the measures designed to ensure security for Israeli citizens, to facilitate and expand settlements, and, it would appear, to annex land, is ‘hafrada’, discrimination and systematic oppression of, and domination over, the Palestinian people.” This is Special Rapporteur Richard Falk’s final judgment on human rights in the oPt in which he also indicts corporate complicity. It is a closely argued and documented report, based on the body of international law.
They make a big pile, the corpses of the 45 Palestinians – unarmed, mostly young – killed by Israeli forces in the last three years, 22 of them last year. Amnesty has been counting and has released its grim report on the “unnecessary, arbitrary and brutal force against Palestinians”. The words callous, reckless, trigger-happy, impunity, illegal also occur. The protesters are unarmed – in many cases as a conscious policy of non-violence. The arms trade with Israel should be stopped; Israel’s buying and selling is based on putting down Palestinian resistance.
An Israeli woman returning from the holiday resort of Eilat with her party of students does not have a high profile as a potential terrorist. Yet at both Ben Gurion and Eilat airports she was picked out for extra checks. This tourist is an Arab. At Eilat her body was felt all over and she was forced to take off all clothes except her pants. The aim? Humiliation. News report and angry editorial from Haaretz on ‘the religion of security’.
The bombing is carried out by Syria’s national airforce; the lack of food and water in the Yarmouk camp near Damascus is in part due to indifference – in Syria’s cruel civil war, Palestinian refugees are expendable – and in part due to Palestinian factional fighting in Yarmouk; aid convoys and deliveries are treated as legitimate targets in the struggle to control the camp. Coverage so far has largely come from Arab media. Here a report from Harriet Sherwood in the Guardian.