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.
The death of Nelson Mandela brought to the forefront the Palestinians’ identification with him and his identity as the leader of a battle against an apartheid state. Despite many protestations, and differences, that label is going to stick.
Lest we forget – in the first part of a two-story column Veteran reporter Robert Fisk remembers the appalling treatment Israeli forces meted out to their prisoners in Ansar prison camp- a sort of ‘hot Guantanamo’ – the heroic efforts made to bring this maltreatment to the notice of the UN, and the US vetoing of UN resolutions about it. 2nd, Fisk takes issue with Mustafa Barghouti’s Ireland-Palestine analogy.
In Britain, lobbying for Israel has increasingly become the preserve of a wealthy Jewish elite who between them run a number of Jewish organisations. This article by four researchers at Bath University doesn’t look so much at what lobbying work goes on or to what effect, as to when and why the left stopped admiring Israel as an ‘emancipatory’ project leaving its support to people who are older, more right-wing and richer than the average Briton.
Canadian activist Suzanne Weiss, whose mother died in Auschwitz, links her childhood experience of being protected against the German occupiers by French villagers with the imperative to cross the borders (of ethnicity and nation) to show solidarity today with Palestinians and other indigenous people. Their home environment is always wrecked by colonising settlers.
President Obama is the new Chamberlain and President Rouhani the new Hitler: America’s political commentators are serving their readers badly when they can only interpret today’s relationship with Iran by using analogies from Europe’s attempt to delay war against fascist Germany in 1938. The sacrifice of Czechoslovakia to Hitler has no analogy to the interim deal in Geneva – except for those who believe Israel has been sacrificed.
In a thoughtful and descriptive piece, Eva Illouz moves from her Jewishness in her birth country of secular France to the state-enforced Judaism of her new country, Israel. In the transition, what had been a creative and protective separateness from other people, an ‘almost invincible shield of identity’, has become a racist protection of ethnic purity and a denial of the ethic of a secular universalism.
We don’t need to argue about Balfour or show title deeds to prove we exist. We simply need to show the historical maps of Palestine says historian Salman Abu Sitta, who has made this his life’s work. He has had no help or interest from the Palestinian leadership, about which he is scathing. “In the absence of true representation of Palestinians, the Israeli regime has gone wild. It removed every mask from its face. It became openly racist”.
Adam Shatz has written this extensive account of the life and legend of theatre director Juliano Mer-Khamis who was assassinated by masked gunmen in Jenin in 2011. His killers have never been identified. He was unstintingly against the Israeli Occupation and for Palestinian resistance and described himself as Palestinian and Jewish. But to some Palestinians he was just Israeli and he was distrusted by some on both sides.
75 years ago Jews were the primary target of those who hated immigrants and ‘aliens’. That was dramatically demonstrated in Germany/Austria in ‘kristallnacht’. Today in much of the world, gypsies and Roma, Muslims, Pakistanis and gays, Africans and asylum seekers are the likely targets. It is time for Jews to stand with these vulnerable groups and speak out against the ‘toxic sentiments’ behind the attacks.
Doublethink was George Orwell’s term, in 1984, for “the acceptance of contrary opinions or beliefs at the same time, especially as a result of political indoctrination”. A new paper reported by MERIP contrasts the arguments Israel used to gain admission to the UN in 1948-49 (essential for the peace process) with the arguments used by the US/Israel against Palestine gaining even UN Observer status in 2012 (it would harm the peace process.) Hat tip to G. Orwell.