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.
While both Palestinians and Israelis, Arabs and Jews, have consistently tried to produce a single clear argument about Israel’s founding and the Palestinian Nakba, what actually happened in 1947 and why is much less clear-cut says Uri Avnery, who was there.
When Netanyahu lost the election after his first premiership, crowds exulted. It had been a ‘total catastrophe’. Now he has perfected his salesman’s patter (different products for home and US audiences) and displayed his affinity with the far right, today’s Israel can’t get enough of him. Uri Avnery looks at how Netanyahu became what he is. Or perhaps isn’t.
Mahmoud Abbas has chosen now to write a succinct Op-Ed on why now is the time. For Palestinians it’s now because of the referral to the International Criminal Court. By enclosing the Palestinian demand for statehood tightly within a framework of international law he hopes, at the least, to wrong-foot those who oppose the demand. Gershon Baskin comments on Abbas’ argument. He believes that disputed issues can be resolved, if the negotiations are conducted in secret.
When it comes to elections in ‘the only democracy in the Middle East’ Israel is more like Africa than like any of its European parents. Analysis of results showed that it is not a melting-pot nor indeed that Jews have more in common with each other than with any other. Most voted on tribal lines, Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Mizrahi. The latter two make up more than half of Israel’s population and the left in particular lost out because of its contempt for the greater religiosity and tribal adherence of the poor under-classes.
Arthur Goodman, JfJfP’s diplomatic liaison officer, grew up as a conventional, Israel right-Arabs wrong, Jew. Then came the startling and courageous rebellion of the 1st intifada and the re-telling of Israel’s story by Israel’s new historians. After that, it was JfJfP and his work as an incessant campaigning diplomat in the EU and parliament.
This is a fascinating article from 1967 extolling the role of the UK in supporting the establishment and development of Israel and the need for British Jews (most of whom did not want to move to Israel) to support their brethren who did. Palestinians and the ’67 occupation are not mentioned. It is such a different world, when all events took place in the context of the Cold War and the UK still fancied itself as a Great Power.
Regardless of how much land it seizes, how many Palestinians it imprisons, settlements it builds, international laws it breaks – there are no costs for Israel, hence its drift towards extremism. Whatever Palestinians do to assert and protect themselves, Israel will punish them and tensions will rise. This, says Ghassan Khatib, is inevitable. Only outside pressure might have an effect.
Declarations of deadly intent towards, and from, each other constitutes the public relationship of Iran and Israel. In this latest round, Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi is reported by Israeli TV (so far no other news publication has bothered to translate it) to have said yet again that Israel will disappear from the map though whether through its own inherent instability or military force is unclear. Nonetheless PM Netanyahu has lapped it up eagerly as proof that the nuclear talks with Iran should not be happening. Self-publicising Shmuley Boteach uses the speech to liken those in talks with Iran to Chamberlain appeasing Hitler, momentarily forgetting that the mouthy Brig. Gen runs a volunteer militia, not a country. And is pro-Palestinian Saudi Arabia, bombing Iranian allies in Yemen, now Israel’s friend?
In a quick overview of Jews in Britain Tablet magazine harangues the left for pushing policies against the existence of Israel. In fact, Labour is true to the Balfour declaration (see post) which specified that ‘nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious’ rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country’. Those who appeal to the Balfour declaration appear not to have read it. To criticise the idealised Israel is not to wish for its extermination. Obviously.
Here there is a long jeremiad by Jeffrey Goldberg convincing himself that European Jews are all doomed and had better move to Israel (where more Jews were killed in 2014 than in all Europe). He squeezes a few facts to get the juicy points he wants and ignores the rest. He never mentions the history of French colonialism in N. Africa which left a strong legacy of Arab hostility to the French state. Antony Lerman delivers a sharp, and informed, rebuke.
Only the Palestinian people, who are politically impotent, have a profound interest in ending the rift between Fatah and Hamas. To the Israelis in particular, and most other actors, the rift is a Godsend. As long as Fatah and Hamas are at war, they need do nothing. Here Daoud Kuttab gives his usual intelligent strategic ideas of the way forward for the PA. In the same issue of Al Monitor is an account of the bitter rivalry with Hamas, where the military wing has gained the upper hand. The Ramallah leaders are not the innocent victim of this – if they had authorised elections, movement might have taken place.