The Pro-Israel lobby appears to have agreed that the BDS movement now shares equal place with Iran as the foremost enemies who wish to annihilate Israel – if not physically, by lies, slander and delegitimisation. US Congress has passed a bill outlawing trade with any European body which condones BDS, Yair Lapid speechifies that BDSers were responsible for 9/11, Sheldon Adelson is sending out his Maccabees, Netanyahu is fulminating. Happily, the ADL says BDS is having no effect at all.
The conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people has become one of the biggest, most totemic conflicts of our time. Yet the man who heads the Palestinian side, Mahmoud Abbas, acts more like a small-town mayor says Hussein Ibish. And at 80 years old, he has done nothing to ensure a democratic succession but rather has actively connived in ridding himself of impressive candidates such as Salam Fayyad.
“It is not us women who created the division; it was created by a patriarchal system” said Hanan Ashrawi at the “Women’s Call: One Country, One People, One Flag” conference organised by MIFTAH and a group of civil society organizations. National unity is our priority they said. They are backed by the UN Development Programme but it’s hard to tell what influence they have given the absence of media coverage by local publications.
Uri Avnery, an early formulator of the 2-state solution, asks how one state for Jews and Arabs would actually work. As Israel is the only country which ensures Jewish supremacy, wealthy Israeli Jews would leave a country with an Arab majority, leaving the poor and ill-educated behind. And one state would not make people love each other, or the country.
Bizarrely, Netanyahu has attributed the critical (of both Hamas and Israel) UN report to an Arab majority on the UN Human Rights Council. This doesn’t exist. But the Israeli reaction to the UN report has been almost universally one of affront and self-pity – why are they picking on us? What about Syria, Korea, Libya…entirely missing the point that the report is not about internal democracy but about the onslaught on another people.
Right-wing Zionists are affronted by Muslim and Christian places of worship because they, like Islamic State, want to expunge all evidence of other religions pre-dating or usurping their place in Israel. Despite advice by successive heads of Shin Bet that such men should be classified as terrorists, PM Netanyahu has refused. His American friends won’t be happy about the most recent attack on a Christian church in Galilee.
It is a universal truth that you never see yourself as others see you. It can be useful and quite interesting to know what that view is. Here the founder of a Zionist institute explains how the Left has sustained its hegemony over Israeli politics, not allowing the Right to get a word in edge-ways, for decades – during which it has retreated to ‘civil society elites’ to continue their dominance.
In this unchallenging interview with Al Monitor, the PLO’s Hanan Ashrawi sees little hope of change, and little to hope for from any of the PA’s recent initiatives. But she does think the recent UN report on Israeli attacks on Palestinians in 2014 (and the forthcoming UNHRC report) are acts that for the first time hold Israel accountable and dismiss its excuse of exceptional security needs.
Miri Regev has opened a new front in the government’s war against the left – as unwelcome and contemptible to the Israeli right as Palestinians, if better off and protected, by declaring that she will dispense state arts funding depending on the national (government) loyalty of their productions. It is galvanising organised protest among the artists.
Born into a Zionist, Jewish family in Dublin, signatory Brian Robinson here looks back on ready-made political identities such as support for Sinn Fein or Israel, the discomfort they cause and their conflict with the requirement on us for civil behaviour. To his surprise, he finds himself supporting BDS which he once thought antisemitic.
The Herzliya conference is supposed to showcase the brightest and best opinion-formers in Israel, to launch new strategies and political analyses. But, decided the journalists, Israel’s political class seems exhausted and divided, repeating the same dogmas that have already cut them out of the ‘international conversation’. Only those with the most outrageous suggestions – settle the Golan Heights with diaspora Jews who will outbreed the Palestinians – sounded lively.
The drive of pro-Israel propaganda has become the claim that critics want to ‘delegitimise’ Israel. When this meant refusing to accept Israel’s existence as a state this had little meaning. But, argues John Whitbeck, it now has a truth if ‘Israel’ is understood to be a system of ethnic and religious supremacy which depends on the total conquest of Palestinians.
While both Palestinians and Israelis, Arabs and Jews, have consistently tried to produce a single clear argument about Israel’s founding and the Palestinian Nakba, what actually happened in 1947 and why is much less clear-cut says Uri Avnery, who was there.
This is a posting to keep for future use if you want to slip a quick quote into an essay or argument. Quotes on Palestinian statehood by Ministers in the new Israeli government have been compiled by the Foundation for Middle East Peace with a few more added by JfJfP postings.
The Executive Committee of Britain’s students’ union, the NUS, has backed up earlier conference decisions with its decision to back the BDS movement. Some will interpret this as a boycott of all things Israeli, others as a shunning of all settlement products and investments. Angry responses make the point that the NUS refused to condemn ISIL – which seems like a small-minded and over-defensive gesture by the NUS.
Taylor Can, a protester in Germany who attended an anti-Israel demonstration in Essen last summer during Operation Protective Edge, maintains that his chants were ‘purely political. An appeals court has ruled otherwise. Germany’s history is obviously very sensitive when it comes to possible antisemitism, however a court case there highlights a larger debate about when anti-Israel or anti-Zionist sentiments become anti-Jewish .
Despite the dramatic events on the eve of FIFA’s Zurich Congress, the agenda will be followed at the Congress and the Palestine Football Association will put their resolution. But this may not have the impact they hoped for given the media’s focus on the arrests of nine FIFA offficials. They are angry, Israel is relieved. Await the conspiracy stories.
Like male Palestinian journalists, women – who make up a third of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate – are subject to assaults by Israeli army and police who don’t want their actions recorded. Such assaults leapt in number last year. Palestinian authorities are no more welcoming of critical reporters, but under their aegis women journalists are subject to sexist abuse and threats, which remain beyond the law.
Uri Avnery casts a despairing, but ever keen, eye over Netanyahu’s new government. He had not expected it to produce peace with Palestinians but he had hoped it would treasure democracy. There is little hope of that.
On the momentous festival of Shavout, when God handed down the 10 commandments to Moses, Robert Cohen asks why and when the state of Israel replaced God as the centre of Jewish identity and loyalty. His own critique of Israeli (unJudaic) oppression of another tribe has drawn huge hostility and accusations of treachery. Nationalism has swamped religion and ethics reducing Jewish identity to loyalty to a state.