Nothing excuses mass – or individual – killings in the name of Islam, and this post is not intended to. But as regular readers know, the most provocative acts carried out in Israel are the acts of Jewish youth – ‘price-tag graffiti’ and desecration of mosques. In the USA, the usual killers of young white people are other young white people. What ideology is to blame? And, says Gideon Levy, it was not a Muslim who sent him a chilling (and pompous) death threat.
The dwindling of the ‘Israel right or wrong’ position that was once dominant in the US has received much comment in recent years. Ben White charts the shift by examining a variety of opinion polls discovering that human rights is a greater concern than Israel’s security.
Political thinker Michael Walzer and Fathom editor Alan Johnson discuss The Jewish Political Tradition – an exploration of the political ideas of Jews, excluded from government, scattered throughout European ghettoes.
‘Clean Break’ was a report addressed to new PM Netanyahu 1996 by a group of policy wonks – academics and ‘opinion formers’ on how to rejuvenate Israel’s economy and take control of the region. There is no academic objectivity in it. It is a blueprint for Israeli supremacy – justified by romantic mythology about The Jews.
This is an article from The Nation in 2002 about the hard-line groups organising for a more hawkish US foreign policy – and their ascent to power. Their enemies were Russia and all Arab states. It’s of more than historical interest as those policies became embedded in the US’s political institutions.
The Jews who were the first citizens of Israel were choosing a civic identity. They hoped to leave behind religious separatism for a state where their Jewishness was not an issue. The embrace of the Basic Law, says Kai Bird, is an attack on secular equality in Israel and outside it.
Or rather, the particular form of Zionism that faithfully followed US foreign policy from the 1960s was an aberration for progressive Jews in the US argue two writers from JVP; now the young generation can’t accept that their politics makes an exception of Israel.
For Jews in Europe and the USA, Israel no longer stands as either the sacred and redemptive destination or the only safe homeland. Outside Israel, argues Alan Wolfe, Jews can better continue their tradition as bearers of universal values and enlightened religion.
Uri Avnery asks us not to despair at the thought that the next election will bring a further shift to the right in Israel. The government is now pushing such right-wing legislation through the Knesset that it’s increasing the chances of creating a centre-left coalition. If not, it’s ‘A racist Israel of inequality, engaged in an endless war and increasingly subject to the rule of fundamentalist rabbis.’
The great rememberer, Uri Avnery, looks back on the history of Jerusalem, supposedly the holiest of cities and treated with universal reverence; in practice, rarely at peace or a sanctuary.
Yasser Arafat, PLO president and Fatah leader, died 10 years ago, on November 11 2004. In this essay, Hussein Agha and Ahmad Samih Khalidi examine why such an unprepossessing man exercised an authority that has not been replicated.
Once upon a time, says Allison Kaplan Sommer, Israel was the adored new baby of the entire Jewish family (apart from a few wicked aunts and uncles whom she doesn’t mention). Jews were brought together in their desire to see the baby grow and flourish. And what has the spoiled child become? An adult country which is as likely to divide Jews and set them against each other as to bring them together.
Daniel Barenboim’s argument for Germany to come out of hiding and take an open role in pressing Israel is not based on a position that the Nazi holocaust gives Germany a special responsibility, but rather that the disunity within the EU makes it ineffectual, Germany’s commitment to Israel’s security demands that Israel reaches a genuine peace agreement with the Palestinians.
‘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.