Most French and Belgian Jews are still in their home countries. But according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) they should all be hot-footing it to Israel before they are engulfed by a rising tide of antisemitism. Yes, there are serious antisemitic attacks in both countries and pro-Palestinian politics can veer into antisemitism. But, unmentioned by the JTA, France in particular fought a bitter war against the independence movements in N. Africa during which ‘Islam’ gained its political identity. The French Dieudonné is exploiting this in his antisemitic entertainments.
The settler youth who assaulted Rabbi Ascherman of Rabbis for Human Rights told Channel 10 it would not be legal to kill human rights activists but “We need to deter them. They need to be made fearful. They need to receive a blow.” Surprisingly he has been remanded to house arrest. But then he has far-right, Honenu member Itamar Ben Gvir to plead his case.
Tony Blair, on his one-man MEPP mission, has plucked the Arab Peace Initiative (API), 2002, from what Israelis hoped was the dustbin of history. Saudi Arabia, which initiated it, has now dumped it in the same dustbin due to their joint opposition with Israel to Iran. But the API still has traction with many others..
In a long phone interview with Barak Ravid, Ben Rhodes, Pres. Obama’s chief aide and adviser on the MidEast, recounts the points at which an agreement to talk might have been reached. Despite intense US efforts, and insistence that Israel’s security would be enhanced by an agreement, neither leader could shift off his sticking point. A valuable insight.
It’s an ancient debate; does change come when those in power act or when the powerless take things into their own hands (the two are related)? Ben Caspit reports this debate at a cabinet security briefing and pursues it in an interview about the baby boomers with right-wing immigration minister Ze’ev Elkin.
A UN official visits Hebron, the current centre of the violent hostility between young Palestinians and Israeli armed forces and settlers. He reports ‘a complete generation has lost hope in peace’. More than 25 of about 75 Palestinians shot dead have come from Hebron. Palestine’s biggest city has been flooded by Israel’s soldiers, weaponry and checkpoints. The residents live in a state of fear.
The Al Aqsa/Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif compound has long been the centre of violent conflict, overtly between Israeli forces and Palestinians, more covertly between different Palestinian factions and Jordan. Akiva Eldar says that Raed Salah, leader of the Islamic Movement’s northern branch, is now manoeuvring for it to become the dominant Palestinian faction in charge of the holy site. There are few rational voices in this dispute.
The photo of PM Netanyahu staring at Gaza through binoculars with the lids still on is the epitome for David Grossman of Israel’s leadership. Sealed inside its own world, unable to see anything beyond it, feeding instead on the mind’s images of the Holocaust and immanent threats to Israel.
The ‘security’ situation in Palestine/Israel has been kicked into a crisis by the ‘knife intifada’. All international agencies fear a new MidEast crisis. Significantly, they have not blamed Palestinians for this latest emergency. “Security measures can be counterproductive if they are applied without special efforts to defuse situations before people lose their lives. If the use of force is not properly calibrated, it may breed the very frustrations and anxieties, from which violence tends to erupt” said the UN.
This is a long posting with articles from many sources. They do differ of course in their information and comments, but the point of posting a dozen pieces is to demonstrate the scale of the reaction to Netanyahu’s claim about the Grand Mufti. And as they say of comment sections, you know they’ve lost the plot when they start bringing Hitler into it.
We have become used to Netanyahu abusing the history of the Holocaust for his own purposes. But this one loses all touch with reality. The idea that Hitler would not have embarked on a policy of judeocide had it not been for the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem is a comment only on the desperation and deep racism of Israel’s Prime Minister.
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.