‘The story of the Jews’ was a five part TV series made by British historian Simon Schama and first broadcast on BBC2 from September 2013. It was generally well received – except for its last part which suggested the settling of Palestine by Jews and the creation of Israel was the culmination of ‘the’ Jewish story. Interview with him by Poppy Sebag-Montefiore on the series and his new book .
Prof. Zeev Sternhell, an authority of the rise of fascism in France, defines fascism as a rejection of, an assault on, enlightenment values. In the regime’s treatment of the Palestinians and of Jewish dissidents, in the submission of intellectuals to government orders and the blind following of the masses, Prof. Sternhell sees signs of fascism, and certainly the end of Zionism as he understood it.
As a means of denying Palestinian statehood and the Oslo Accords , the strategy of keeping Gaza as a locked-in enclave, separate from the West Bank has had partial success. Longer-term it is unsustainable as the proportion of unemployed, angry young men increases. The economic warnings are being ignored by Israel’s security chiefs; their interests would be best served by the very thing they are trying to destroy – a unity government whose writ runs throughout Palestine.
Jonathan Freedland is well-known and admired in the UK left for his sharp commentary on all matters except Israel says Ben White in a sharp critique . Freedland likens the Jews settling in Israel as ‘the right of the drowning man’. The drowning have no ‘rights’, only needs which others may – or may not – be obligated to respond to. Plus some powerful photos from UNWRA archive.
I want the majority of the land with the minimum of Palestinians on it says Danny Danon. Government policies are moving in the right direction – but not fast or completely enough. With the failure of the peace-talks, the brakes are off. It’s straight out of the South African playbook
Zochrot – “Remembering” – is an Israeli organisation, whose activists include Jews and Palestinians. It is dedicated to educating Israeli Jews about their history i.e. the Palestinian dispossession on which the state is founded. Next week it launches an I-Nakba phone app which will allow users to locate any Arab village that was abandoned during the 1948 war on an interactive map, learn about its history (including, in many cases, the Jewish presence that replaced it), and add photos, comments and data.
Ian Black reports for the Guardian
The one who bestows names on people, property, land, processes is the one with the power. So Israel renames the western part of Palestine as ‘Judea and Samaria’, bureaucrats rename the quest for peace as the work of finding a ‘political settlement’ and Putin renames the Ukraine as ‘Russia’. Uri Avnery on the seized power of naming.
There was a leftist Jewish story of the creation of Israel – that American/UN support for the new state would liberate Palestine by driving out British imperialism. The debate on John Judis’s book about Truman’s role in making Israel is vitriolic – but some take up his question of why Jews, known for their liberalism, should so utterly have dismissed the Palestinians. Zionism or tribalism?
Israel is an anachronism. By the time the newly-entitled Jewish immigrants had worked out how to run their new state- a Law of Return and a Citizenship law – to ensure Jewish privilege, settler colonialism was being abandoned elsewhere as unworkable and unjust. In her highly-praised new history Shira Robinson argues that these laws perpetuate Jews’ settler status – it’s what gives them their privileges. Philip Weiss interviews her.
Tony Benn was the most English of men. His involvement in foreign politics was an extension of his domestic politics – a fervour for true democracy and against the silencing of injustice. In 2009 as Operation Cast Lead came to its gruesome end the Disasters Emergency Committee ran an appeal, as it does, for those whose lives had been shattered. The BBC management uniquely decided not to run it. In an interview on the BBC, Benn twice reads out the address for the appeal, making clear his outrage at the BBC decision. We salute him.
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?
This section of a longer article by Nu’man Abd al-Wahid on British imperialism, examines the UK’s role in preventing the formation of powerful Arab states (it failed in Egypt). That hasn’t stopped the Arab dictators from accruing huge wealth much of which has been funnelled into Britain. Preventing the development of Arab democracy is a costly business.
The support of the United States, under the leadership of President Truman, for the creation of Israel is often cited as the decisive factor in what was a very contentious issue. What is less well-known is that Truman was adamantly opposed to the creation of ‘a Jewish state’ as being fundamentally unAmerican. He also complained about the intensive lobbying by Jewish organisations he was subject to – but, as author John Judis says – the lobbying was successful and set a precedent that has continued ever since.
Historian Avi Shlaim rebukes Michel Gove for attacking unpatriotic accounts of World War 1. Gove is presumably happy with the patriotic myth we still live inside of Britain alone standing against, and defeating, the Nazi terror. Israel’s patriotic myth of standing alone against an organised mass of Arabs trying to destroy it is the foundation of the delusion that Israeli leaders always want to make peace but Arab leaders have always refused.
Khaled Diab questions the value of BDS as a tool for dismantling the machinery of Israeli colonialism, or of any state oppression. It can have the result in making the target more innovative he argues. He does not, however, make a clear distinction between sanctions imposed by states (eg US against Cuba and Iran) and popular movements which encourage the oppressed people and their supporters – see the subversive wall graffiti.
Only in Israel was Ariel Sharon a really divisive figure. In other countries he did win respect in hindsight for his pragmatism – compared to the ideologues of today. However, Sharon’s legacy outside Israel and the USA is primarily one of his reliance on force to get what he wanted, the violence in Lebanon and the consolidation of settlements in the West Bank over which he presided.
Haidar Eid argues the crisis of Palestinian leadership is widely recognised and neither Fatah and Hamas has any hope of becoming political leaders of a Palestinian national movement. In his harsh judgment they are disqualified by their acceptance of the two-state solution and Oslo accords. Hope does lie in the non-party movements against the Prawer plan and for BDS and the young people who reject the existing set-up.
Before Israel, Palestine was part of the Ottoman empire, then the League of Nations gave Britain a mandate to govern the territory from the Mediterranean to Iraq (north) Saudi Arabia (south). Both Ottoman and British officials recorded land ownership claims in order to raise taxes and prevent land disputes. These show that the Negev, far from being an empty desert, had many Bedouin villages in which people owned land and engaged in agriculture and animal husbandry. Can this Israeli myth hit the dust before the Bedouin are forcibly moved to a ‘town’?
Ilan Pappe’s next book is on the history of production of knowledge in Israel, and in this interview/conversation the question of why people know what they think they know often comes up. The beliefs that mask lack of knowledge, or curiosity, become the myths that keep things as they are in Israel – as elsewhere. Interview conducted by Frank and Florent Barat.
The decision endorsed by the American Studies Association to boycott Israeli academic institutions was not wrong because of ‘double standards’ argues Peter Beinart. As others have said before, the focus of the West’s Left has long been on the wrong-doing of the agencies within the west’s capitalist network, because this is ours. Israel is part of it too. The problem he says lies in the implied denial of Israel’s right to decide its own immigration policy and thus preserve its nature as a state for Jews.