This week’s

May 14, 2017
Sarah Benton


This week, May 8th-14th, 2017 two issues have been dominant: the Nation-State bill and the Palestinian political prisoners’ strike. This latter might have dropped out of the news had Gilad Erdan, strategic affairs minister (General for crushing all enemies of his government), not chosen to ensure the widest possible broadcast of a video of Marwan Barghouti possibly eating something. In his narrow mind he assumed that supporters of the hunger strikers would immediately feel horrified and jettison the prisoners to their miserable fate. The video and the decision to broadcast it as widely as possible is mocked relentlessly by comedian Assaf Harel:
Comedian Harel’s derisive riff on ‘Marwan eats’ video

The strenuous efforts of Erdan et al to belittle Barghouti and tell him ‘You’re no Nelson Mandela’ are not having the wanted effect. As Peter Beinart points out, Mandela’s early life as a ‘terrorist’ and supporter of armed resistance, is no Nelson Mandela either:
From terrorist to statesman

In the Israeli government’s desperation to sever Palestinians’ identification with the prisoners on hunger strike they have put out a call for foreign doctors to come and forcefeed the men. Israeli doctors have refused and, as Physicians for Human Rights-Israel have pointed out, all doctors are bound by the medical ethic forbidding forced treatment:
Desperate for doctors to force-feed prisoners

Avi Dichter, sponsor of the nation-state bill, has said Israelis need the legislation to consolidate the identity of the state and of themselves. This convinces no one. In a clear case of projection Dichter says ‘“The Palestinian aspiration to eliminate the Jewish people’s nation-state is no longer secret”. In an insulting gesture the new addition to Basic Law no longer includes Arabic as the second official language:
Arabic not spoken here

For Jonathan Cook the bill is a revealing fantasy of expunging the Palestinians from Israel and the oPt. The bill is a ‘launching pad’ for other means of dispossessing Palestinians including the annexation of the West Bank:
Hey presto! Palestinians disappear

Joint List MK Masud Ganaim asked the obvious question: why do you need this bill? Netanyahu’s answer was that it “was a crushing answer to anyone who tries to deny the deep connection between the people of Israel and its land” (West Bank included). Borrowing from Louis XIV the Sun King, his motto is ‘la terre c’est nous’:
Bill confirms Jews’ roots in Israel

The full text of the proposed law is here:
Purpose of Basic Law is to defend the character of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people

The bill, also called the Nationality Bill, serves as a new foundation for the Jewish people’s ‘right to self-determination’. Of course it begs the question of which people have such a ‘right’. Clearly not the Palestinians says a lawyer from Adalah:
Only Jews will have right to self-determination

Mitchell Plitnick puts forward an interesting rebuff of the efforts of Western leaders to bring ‘peace’ to the MidEast. Israel’s interest is served by anything that looks like peace. But Palestinians want freedom, a demand that does not invoke peace.
Road to peace does not lead to freedom

The Israeli Right is frantically opposed to BDS because it thinks (quite rightly) that Israel will be labelled ‘an apartheid state’ and how does that go down in ‘the home of the Jewish people’? Israelis should read Richard Kuper to find out that very since its foundation Israeli leaders, analysts , commentators have all used the word apartheid, firstly as a warning then as critique:
Calling apartheid by its name in Israel

In what now seems to be typical from Mrs May-Our-Will-be-Done, she alone took the decision to ‘adopt’ the definition of antisemitism proposed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Association (IHRA). Former court of appeal judge Stephen Sedley delivers a withering judgment on the laxity of the ‘definition’ which would allow all sorts of speech to be defined as antisemitic (the definition covers words, not deeds). It has no legal weight but that may not stop admin bodies from using it to threaten free speech:
Edging towards censorship

Many persons and bodies seem to be quite happy to prevent free speech if the subject is Israel. On a tour to promote his latest book, Palestine’s Horizon: Toward a Just Peace, Richard Falk has had university admins cancelling his meetings and Israel-fans acting so rowdily that his speech cannot be heard.
The harassment of Richard Falk

The election of Gaza’s former prime minister to the post of head of Hamas’ political bureau has been widely welcomed. He is more pragmatic than the previous doctrinaire chief Khaled Mesha’al and is known by and popular with Palestinians in Gaza. The drive by Hamas to become more democratic is hampered by the Egypt/Israel siege which has prevented Gazan people outside the territory from taking part. Commentary from New Arab and Al Monitor:
New strategy for Hamas?

If Israel really wanted a peaceful neighbour in Gaza it would stop attacking it. The industries in which most Palestinians are engaged are farming and fishing. The farmers’ land is laid waste by Israeli planes spraying herbicide on their crops; the fishermen are constantly shot at by the Israeli navy. This is a policy of aggressive destruction, not of searching for peace:
Gaza’s fishermen and farmers attacked from sea and air

The life of people in Gaza is not just threatened by Israel. The split Palestinian leadership – Hamas/Fatah – has an impact too. Fuel for Gaza comes via the Fatah-controlled PNA, which taxes it. Hamas says it can’t pay the tax. No fuel. A subvention from Qatar and Turkey had held a off a crisis for a time. Now Gaza is in virtual shut-down with serious effects on health and education:
Gaza healthcare in melt-down as fuel runs out

The situation of Palestinians in Israel and the oPt is commonly seen as a result of Israeli racism. Perhaps more telling is the Israeli state’s treatment of asylum seekers who pose no threat. They are simply not Jewish. A new book by Mya Guarnieri Jaradat examines their life in Israel:

Israel’s unchosen: dirt to be swept away

© Copyright JFJFP 2017