It is said so often that antisemitism is rising in Europe that it seems to have become the new commonsense – of course it’s going up, look at all those Jew-hating Muslims. And ‘Palestinianism’ has become dominant making anti-Israelism the new antisemitism said Prof. Wistrich. Yet a careful analysis of the data by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research shows this is not so, though there some anomalies. High antisemitism in Poland, Russia and Spain, more antisemitic attacks recorded in the UK than in France, with its much larger Jewish population. It is clear that current methods of recording and evaluating antisemitism leaves much to be desired say the authors. Meanwhile some Jewish bodies act on the assumption of rising antisemitism with no base of evidence.
An Italian and an Israeli analyst look at where the EU and Israel have incompatible policies (on MEPP – Middle East Peace Process) but where there is room for rapprochement and diplomacy. The EU should be more pragmatic, Israel should get out of its immobilising hole and both need more courage and practical, realistic action.
Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper is well-known as an Israeli groupie. Even Israelis will be surprised at his desire to introduce a law making boycott of Israeli goods an antisemitic hate crime. Robert Fisk asks if he would prefer critics of Israeli policies not to use such a peaceful means of protest and advocacy for Palestinian rights.
… who are Israeli settlers in the West Bank, and another law for the landless workers, who are Palestinian. An analytic report from ACRI (Association for Civil Rights in Israel) examines one of the most disturbing characteristics of the Israeli military rule in the West Bank – the creation and development of a regime of two separate legal systems, on an ethnic-national basis.
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.
In a detailed article, Hassan Hassan asks why ISIL has again entered Yarmouk camp and identifies the shifting alliances and rifts amongst the many factions which are defending or trying to gain territory in the region. Hamas has joined in to repel ISIL, Ynet interviews Palestinians trapped in the camp.
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 Jenin when the Israeli election results were announced, Naomi Wayne did not share the indifference displayed by many of her Palestinan friends. Even if Likud’s win ‘only’ means more of the same, that can only mean freedom and living space for Palestinians will be further squeezed. But it will be seen by the right to give them licence to speed up their exclusion of Palestinians from living space and human rights. There was, though, the success of the Joint List to bring a little light in the gloom.
US-Israel relations are at an all time low, kicked into a pit by Bibi’s declaration that there would be no Palestinian state. Up till now, he had kept up the pretence to the US that he was serious about a peace deal. And because US strategy for the MidEast depended on believing this, they were kidding themselves – as John Kerry must have finally realised.
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.
Israeli fears about scary neighbours (and enemies within) won Bibi his victory, which did not surprise Antony Lerman. Now, with the Israeli right-wing behind him and the international community distracted he can focus on denying Palestinian statehood and expanding Israel’s borders. But there was an expectation of change which will suck in other forces.
Two of the three articles here have ‘new’ in their headlines. A new generation of PCIs (Palestinian Citizens of Israel) displaying a new activism. The third, from the Communist Party of Israel is more wooden but as it’s joined the new Joint List – the source of the hope – it must feel something new in its bones. And new in this election is their emphasis on ending racism and occupation. Perhaps the ebbing tide of left-wing activism and hope has indeed changed.
The Israeli government is giving up on its costly efforts to persuade people in the EU and US that it is a nation of sweetness and light and the West’s main defence against Islamist violence. It is now being carried by its defence industry into the weapons-hungry arms of India and China – traditional supporters of the Palestinians.