oD. Stefano Bellin’s essay in the oD series begins with philosopher and musician Edward Said and ends with philosopher and musician Theodor Adorno. The musical structure of counterpoint is key to Bellin’s analysis of the Israel / Palestine conflict with its mutual responses, repetitions and definitions. There is a discord between being a pariah and an exile and in the contrast between Jews as cosmopolitan intellectuals and today’s turn rightward and inward.
oD. Annabelle Sreberny examines these elements of identity: a reinvigorated Israeli anti-Arabism and its contradictions; Jewish antisemitism and the need to historicise socio-cultural categories; and a possible political recuperation of the ‘Semites’.
The military leaders of Egypt and Israel have long enjoyed good relations, having in common the priority of keeping Palestinians down. This is quite out of step with Arab citizens – Egypt is the most populous Arab country – who, a new poll reveals, have support for Palestinians and hostility to oppressor Israel in common.
Amjad Iraqi argues that “the only permanent cure to Jerusalem’s sickness lies not just in ending the occupation (the foremost and most urgent step), but in ending the nationalist-religious mantras of ownership of the city in both Israeli and Palestinian social and political thought.”
In his usual iconoclastic fashion, Uri Avnery argues that from the 1950s Zionism “became a cynical slogan, to be used by anyone to push his or her agenda. Mainly it became an instrument of the Israeli leadership to subjugate world Jewry and mobilize it for their national, partisan or personal aims.” Instead, we must return to A. B. Yehoshua’s distinction between nationalism and Zionism, two different entities in constant conflict with each other. It is time, not for separation, but for recognition that, whatever their “natural bonds”, Israel’s future lies in peace with its citizens and neighbours and the future of Jews throughout the world within their own nations.
The demonstration against PM Netanyahu on September 9th when he visited his friend David Cameron produced many complaints that the demonstrators were antisemitic. Some were, using, as Brian Klug said, ‘the figure of the Jew’ (Netanyahu) to stand for many forms of depravity. There is a particular sensitivity here; President Assad has been portrayed as a child-killer as have other despots. But they have not been persecuted by Christians for centuries for child-killing as the mythical impulse for genocide. PSC makes a strong stand against the antisemitism.
On the books, settlements come under the authority of the World Zionist Organisation, Settlements Division. In practice, they are far too costly and WZO is too decrepit to get the money. So the Israeli state has quietly taken them over and finds that it is owed millions of shekels which it has little chance of ever getting back.
This is a response to Michael Walzer’s essay in Dissent by the Lebanese-American scholar As’ad AbuKhalil. In all the contributions to this debate there seems more heat than light, more fear and anger than curiosity about the other. But if they encourage thought about the replacement of secular politics by religion or by how religion or religious conflicts have shaped our civilisations, all to the good.
Why is this not an international disaster? People in Gaza have no reliable supply of potable water. Houses, hospitals lie in ruins. It is the conflict with Israel which frightens international donors – and development agencies.
More evidence that younger Palestinians in the West Bank, expressing themselves via social media, are entirely alienated from the corrupt croneyism of Pres. Abbas and his Fatah faction. His attempts to revive Fatah’s relevance may be too late.
A history of Zionism in Britain has much useful information but this particular history, published by CounterPunch, seems to have come from the school of Zionist conspiracies. Evan Jones does not distinguish between how ‘Zionist’ is used today – one who believes Jews alone are destined to rule a greater Israel – and how it was used pre-Israel: one with an aspiration for a Jewish homeland. He also sees Zionists at work in the UK without any evidence, defined purpose or names (or footnotes). Read with discrimination.
A snobbish discrimination against Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews by the Ashkenazi elite has, from the beginning, been a driving force in Israeli politics. While the Mizrahim in particular might have made common cause with Palestinians most chose instead to prove a pure Jewishness. Fascinating two-part article by Ran Greenstein.
Netanyahu’s belief that he is leading a world-wide crusade to make Iran an impotent pariah state has crumbled. Not only have the USA and EU turned in the opposite direction, his belief that he could recruit the Gulf states – no friends of Iran – is baseless. They will do no public deal with Israel unless and until there is a negotiated settlement with Palestine.
Revisiting the Magnes Zionist’s 2007 contribution on the forced exile of the Jews after the failure of their revolts against the Romans in 70 and 135CE.
To this day, writes Jeremiah Haber, most lay people, Jews and non-Jews, accept the myth of the exile, whereas no historian, Jew or non-Jew, takes it seriously. Drawing on the work of Prof Yisrael Yuval, Haber looks at “the disconnect between popular and scholarly belief and tr[ies] to examine the origin of the myth several centuries after the event occurred”.
Happy holiday reading!
Ghada Karmi’s extraordinary new account of exile and the impossibility of finding home, Return: A Palestinian Memoir, is sympathetically reviewed by Avi Shlaim.
Karmi describes her return to work with the Palestinian Authority and the disappointment and disillusionment she experienced: “The journey filled me with bitterness and grief. I remember looking down on a nighttime Tel Aviv from the windows of a place taking me back to London and thinking hopelessly, ‘flotsam and jetsam, that’s what we’ve become, scattered and divided. There’s no room for us or our memories here. And it won’t be reversed.’”
Pressure is on Israeli security forces to do what they have long promised to do: identify and charge the youth who fire-bomb Palestinians. There is disagreement here over whether this violence has been long-coming or whether it’s sprouted from a new, anti-Israel, fanatical sect.
As Amira Hass and Nasser Nawaja point out, Susya is unique only in the international support it has attracted, becoming the symbol for the precarious status of Palestinian villages. But documents obtained by Haaretz may stay the hand of the demolishers; they prove the Palestinians’ claim to the land.
‘When Europe dares raise its head against the occupation, history and hysterics have always been on Israel’s side’ writes Akiva Eldar, quoting Netanyahu’s view that the French resolution on ending the Israel/Palestine conflict is antisemitic, as is ANY European move. That is predictable. If the Holocaust is the benchmark, France comes second to Germany in dispatching Jews to their death. Ali Abuminah, however, damns the resolution as a denial of Palestinian rights. Will the US use its veto on the UN Security Council to dispatch the French attempt to make a difference?
Uri Avnery, an early formulator of the 2-state solution, asks how one state for Jews and Arabs would actually work. As Israel is the only country which ensures Jewish supremacy, wealthy Israeli Jews would leave a country with an Arab majority, leaving the poor and ill-educated behind. And one state would not make people love each other, or the country.
The drive of pro-Israel propaganda has become the claim that critics want to ‘delegitimise’ Israel. When this meant refusing to accept Israel’s existence as a state this had little meaning. But, argues John Whitbeck, it now has a truth if ‘Israel’ is understood to be a system of ethnic and religious supremacy which depends on the total conquest of Palestinians.