There was a leftist Jewish story of the creation of Israel – that American/UN support for the new state would liberate Palestine by driving out British imperialism. The debate on John Judis’s book about Truman’s role in making Israel is vitriolic – but some take up his question of why Jews, known for their liberalism, should so utterly have dismissed the Palestinians. Zionism or tribalism?
Israel is an anachronism. By the time the newly-entitled Jewish immigrants had worked out how to run their new state- a Law of Return and a Citizenship law – to ensure Jewish privilege, settler colonialism was being abandoned elsewhere as unworkable and unjust. In her highly-praised new history Shira Robinson argues that these laws perpetuate Jews’ settler status – it’s what gives them their privileges. Philip Weiss interviews her.
Tony Benn was the most English of men. His involvement in foreign politics was an extension of his domestic politics – a fervour for true democracy and against the silencing of injustice. In 2009 as Operation Cast Lead came to its gruesome end the Disasters Emergency Committee ran an appeal, as it does, for those whose lives had been shattered. The BBC management uniquely decided not to run it. In an interview on the BBC, Benn twice reads out the address for the appeal, making clear his outrage at the BBC decision. We salute him.
Israel has fired into Gaza killing 3 members of Islamic Jihad, in response the IDF says to 30 rockets fired into Israel (no-one killed). Familiar – but alliances of the region are changing, creating a de-facto partnership between Israel and Egypt, the PA coming into the Egypt/Saudi camp and Hamas stuck between Iran and the new power of Qatar. These alliances are fighting for dominance of an area the US has vacated.
It was just the news that Bibi wanted; The day after he roused AIPAC with his speech about the existential threat from Iran (which stupid Obama does not recognise) an Iranian ship loaded with weapons, obviously for anti-Israel terrorists hiding behind Israel/Egypt’s impenetrable borders of Gaza, was captured by the Israeli navy. Richard Silverstein casts his usual sceptical and other-informed eye over the story.
There are places – Afghanistan, Palestine – where NGOs appear to have taken over the functions of the state and the people – NGOisation as Islah Jad memorably named the phenomenon. It can also seem to usurp national popular movements for change. Here, Fateh Azzam argues that NGOs and popular movements in Palestine should not be seen as two alternative models or realities. A really important discussion.
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.
A moving and thoughtful article about five American Jews whose religious beliefs are at odds with their communities’ support for Israel.
“I love being Jewish. I just don’t love the state of Israel,” says Corey Robin, a Conservative Jew from Brooklyn who supports the BDS movement. Prof Charles Manekin (the Magnes Zionist) believes that his Orthodox faith calls him to take stands against Israel. Professor Stefan Krieger, who also supports BDS, will not rise in synagogue for the traditional prayer for the state of Israel. Alissa Wise, a Reconstructionist rabbi, works for Jewish Voice for Peace. Prof Daniel Boyarin is still observant, but he has dropped out of synagogue life: “I have been so disturbed by the political discourse,” he said, “that I felt that I couldn’t participate.”
A discussion of water discrimination in Israel-Palestine. Both the New York Times and Ha’aretz carried reports on the Palestinian water problem. Guess which one was impartial? And in case of doubt, we also reproduce B’tselem’s latest factsheet which asks: Is there discrimination in terms of the quantity of water available to Israelis and Palestinians? The answer is yes. Are there gaps in water consumption between Israelis and Palestinians? Absolutely.
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’?
Israeli control over the Jordan valley has long been an Israeli sticking point in any talks about talks. Why? Netanyahu says ‘security’ but he would wouldn’t he. The small number of settlers like the cheap agricultural land and labour, but they wouldn’t die for it. Its population is largely Palestinian though the IDF – there for practice and as as a policing agent rather than defence force – keep them under constant check and harassment. Yariv Oppenheimer says the aim is to keep the area safe for settlers but it might as well be to ensure Palestinians get no benefit from it.
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.
Oren Yiftachel takes issue with the argument of Eva Illouz – that state-enforced religion has corrupted Israel. Rather he says it is Jewish colonialism, in which settlers and state are ceaselessly acting to Judaise the whole land, from the Jordan to the sea. Judaisation primarily damages Palestinians but it also shunts those who are not Jewish, or not Jewish-enough to the margins – Ethiopians, Russians, Mizrahim and Sephardim.