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.
The designation Salafist (eg at Charlie Hebdo) has come to mean a particularly ruthless form of violence against the West – and fellow Muslims. As in all fundamentalist groups, the greatest enemies are brothers who become heretics not Israel or the West. Several people explore the phenomenon.
Anshel Pfeffer welcomes the place the holocaust has gained in common knowledge. But the corollary of its being publicised as a human tragedy is that it has become a phenomenon that Jews can no longer hug to themselves as their own peculiar history.
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.