Netanyahu made his success by defining Israel’s primary need as ‘security’ and its primary threat as ‘Palestinian terrorists’ says Ramzy Baroud. Hence a war which no Israelis believe Israel ‘won’, but was not ‘won’, in a conventional sense, by Palestinians in Gaza either. They celebrated not victory but their ability to survive and resist.
Michael Kustow, who has died aged 71, led a life steeped in the arts and politics, both influencing the other. He was adventurous in television, film, theatre and the visual and other performing arts; he was a thoughtful and ‘dissident’ Jew, exploring his Jewishness and also becoming an early signatory of JfJfP. We honour his work and courage.
Steven Salaita is an American academic, a specialist in American and Arab literature and an activist in academic politics. Last October he was offered a job at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, subject to trustees’ approval. Then came Israel’s war on Gaza which prompted some furious tweets from Salaita. The job offer was then withdrawn on the grounds of ‘incivility’. As tweeting is not known for its polite elegance the trustees’ decision is seen as a political rejection of Salaita’s pro-Palestinian views.
The response to offensive speech should be to ask the offender to explain his or her position says Jerry Haber, not to dismiss the offender as rudely as Steven Salaita was. In two short posts he argues Salaita’s crude tweets should be judged in proportion to the enormity of Israel’s devastating attack on Gaza.
It’s worth knowing how the Israeli exceptionalism argument runs and Elliot Abrams sets it out; little Israel is surrounded by Arab states and Iran bent on its extermination but has survived by maintaining the status quo. It could crush Hamas but doesn’t; its one virtue is survival against a hostile world – although Palestinians no longer enjoy the support of Arab states. The hostility is pure antisemitism.
The letter from 43 reservists (see post below) refusing to serve again in anti-Palestinian actions has inevitably created a storm of in Israel, mostly of abuse. Rather than considering whether they might be telling a vital truth to Israelis about what their special ops involve, most Israelis have accused them of cowardice, treachery and being the tools of leftwing extremism.
‘We learned that gathering information is part of the system of military control over Palestinians, that assassinations kill more than the target person, that we get private information for the purposes of blackmail’. Such intelligence is gained by elite unit 8200. Its use has so disturbed many soldiers that 43 have written a public letter saying they will not do reserve duty – and that many more agree with them in private.
This is a hostile account from the pro-Israel Christian David Brog of a significant development in American evangelical politics. It had become a truism that Israel’s strongest supporters abroad were Christian evangelicals. That support is declining, especially among younger Christians who see the outlawing of Palestinians as incompatible with their faith (Brog thinks they are gullible fools).
“West Bank settlements have for decades been receiving vastly preferential treatment” reports Ynet. It doesn’t ask why the government made this decision. The obvious conclusion is that this extra money is needed to persuade Israelis to move into the West Bank. A poll shows that Israeli support for settlements has been in steady decline.
The EU is the biggest donor to the oPt and the PNA. But the IDF destroys much of the infrastructure European taxpayers have funded and there has been no movement towards the establishment of a Palestinian state – the point of the aid. Now senior EU officials are questioning whether there is any point in continuing this funding.
However many pictures you have seen, however many stories you have read of Israel’s war on Gaza, this speech from Dr. Mustafa Barghouti on how thorough and unsparing the attack was is still chilling. Every number you read is made up of individual persons, homes, places of worship, sanitation facilities… He urges resistance.
As civil rights in Israel become more limited and precarious, so the number of civil rights organisations increases writes Naomi Shepherd. The orthodox religious have been trying to establish their hegemony in civil and military life; immigrants who do not pass their test (Russians, Africans as well as native Arabs) are excluded, making a mockery of Israel’s claim to be ‘the only democracy’ in the Middle East.
The IDF has announced that it will itself investigate whether or not it committed any breaches of international law during its onslaught on Gaza. The announcement has provoked near-universal cynicism by all those who have commented, including B’Tselem, Yesh Din and Human Rights Watch. Fear that Israel may be taken to the ICC may encourage the IDF to identify a little wrong-doing.
The Islamic world has long been in a state of civil war, with different groups vying to become the ‘leader’ by demonstrating a more-or-less barbaric capacity to frighten the enemy (the USA and its ‘caliphate’ of clients) and unify followers behind them. The competition is fought through visual displays of extreme violence. It answers the US search for a purpose, whew. Tom Engelhardt recounts the steps taken towards today’s horror.
To define as a ‘strategy’ Netanyahu’s long-standing approach of embanking divisions between Palestinians and stalling at every possible hurdle that must be jumped to get serious negotiations going is a calumny against that serious notion. Under more threat from his own right wing than he is from all Palestinians has pulled a jewel out of his-near empty bag of gains from his Gaza war – a big chunk of Palestinians’ land . With the infrastructure it will bring (water, electricity, roads for settlers) it shows he has no strategy, merely grabbing things here and there to keep the right quiet. Quiet for quiet as he famously explained the war on Gaza.
Under no possible interpretation of ‘careful targetting Hamas rockets’ , or maintaining quiet in the West Bank, is the careful targetting of water and sanitation facilities excusable. No community can live without potable water. No community can survive without effective sewage disposal. The destruction of these is deliberate and illegal IDF policy. Al Shabaka policy brief.
And in the process of learning from its mistakes, Avi Shlaim argues 2) Israel should stop labelling Hamas as terrorist – it’s an elected government, now working under the PA aegis and has nothing in common with ISIL; 3) recognise this unity government as a negotiating partner and negotiate. And stop flouting international law.
Here is a form of BDS. Pro-Palestinian protesters in Oakland, California have again prevented an Israeli cargo ship , the Zim Piraeus, docking and unloading. The Block the Boat initiative involves finding out from port authorities the dates of arrival and the nature of cargo aboard. The Zim ship went elsewhere.
JfJfP’s executive committee has issued a statement on antisemitism to clarify the distinction between antisemitism, which exists and is always abhorrent, between the state of Israel and Jewish people round the world, and criticisms of the Israeli state. Jewish leaders who equate Jews with Israel do not help.
A disturbing article by Uri Avnery about our times when men take leave of their senses. Religious fundamentalism – Islamic, Christian, Judaic – is the last resort of people who have lost belief in politics but still want to change the world. You can’t argue with them because God is on their side. With its enlightenment heritage, Israel should seize the chance to fix the peace with the Palestinians before it’s too late.