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.
In this new era of undiplomatic hostility between the US and Israeli governments, the President’s Chief of Staff tells the J Street conference that the occupation – yes, he used the word – must end and that negotiating with Iran was the best and proper way to contain Iran’s supposed ambitions.
Netanyahu’s whole premiership and successful election campaign were based on tales of an imminent threat from Iran. He is now furious, not so much at the P5 talks with Iran but that Israel’s security is not the defining issue in those talks. WSJ reveals the extent of the snooping.
The US-Israel relationship was poor before the election, made worse by Netanyahu’s visit to Congress and plunged after he promised there would never be a Palestinian state. Barak Ravid explores the growing chasm.
For the first time ever, the US may not back Israel. The Obama/ Netanyahu conflict makes the prospect of UN recognition of a Palestinian most unclear. It was assumed the US would block it at the UN. But such is the hostility between Obama and Netanyahu, this may not happen. What will the rest of the world do without US leadership?
Jonathan Freedland may or may not be accurately described as a Liberal Zionist. but here his distress at Netanyahu’s victory is visceral. Jonathan Freedland says Bibi won, in part, by invoking popular fear of The Arab and rejection of a Palestinian state. Thus he pulled in the right-wing vote for Likud. That put him beyond reach of western powers who want to find a way to reconciliation – but will popular opinion respond?
If the Israeli election has produced a deluge of articles from the commentariat it has produced few responses from UK citizens. Here are two: Tony Klug argues that Bibi pulled the religious right into his camp to his, and Joint List’s, gain. Simon Kovar says the combined votes produced a higher proportion of votes for a peace settlement than against it.
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.
In this last posting before the Israeli election results are known, we put forward the assessment by Barak Ravid that, whatever the results, the momentum of the 2011 social protest movement means the cry of ‘security’ is not going to win an election.
Recent decisions – or failure to make them – by the Israeli government have needlessly pushed the conflict into violence. The failure of the Kerry talks – attributed to Israeli bull-headedness and reliance on the IDF – has produced all the results which, in theory Bibi’s regime deplores: lone wolf attacks, anarchy in Jerusalem, a Palestinian turning from negotiations. Well, he asked for it.
From an assured win to a likely loss, the fortune of Binyamin Netanyahu has been assiduously charted by opinion polls in which he is lagging behind Zionist Camp who will have to form a coalition to rule. Herzog’s position on the oPt is not clear. While Bibi focused on security, Herzog and Livni concentrated on economc issues. Ironically, Bibi’s dash to the US to warn them about Iran has backfired. Why does Bibi not focus on the dire standard of living in Israel rather than grandstanding on the anti-war Obama?
Astonishingly, Bibi’s speech to the US Congress is still garnering comment, again, all of it hostile. ‘A tremendous own goal’ says one, ‘It was just an exercise to paint a straw man and knock it down’ said a senator and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. And as the anti-Bibi rally showed, the effects are leeching into the election campaign, in exactly the opposite way of his intention. How did he get it so wrong?
As most political jouralists seem to have wanted to comment on Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, we’ve made a selection – though it’s been hard to find one that is appreciative. Most support seems to have come from Arab dictatorships who are opposed to Iranian hegemony as Israel.
The US divided in the usual way over Netanyahu’s speech; the right melted into rapturous applause, the critics’ verdicts were harsh: Bibi had claimed Americans did not know what was going on in Iran. This was was arrogant, insulting – and pointless.
By the time you read this PM Netanyahu will have delivered his speech to Congress, firming his alliance with Republicans and the fearful/belligerent in Israel. But it’s not over – there will be pages of analysis of what he said. A few drops from the torrent of pre-commentary, including the public opposition from all the security services, from Shin Bet to IDF.
Netanyahu’s hectic attempt to make the international headlines are souring his relations with many national leaders. He has broken the bi-partisan support for Israel in the US by accepting a Republican invitation to speak to Congress – but upset many by his rudeness to Americans’ President. He is insulting leaders of European nations by suggesting they cannot protect their Jewish citizens and indeed suggesting Europe should be ethnically cleansed of all Jews – in their own interest of course. He is banking on all this pleasing Israeli voters.
In 2015, seven Jews (2 at Charlie Hebdo, 4 at the Hyper-Cacher supermarket, 1 in Copenhagen) were killed by Islamists. The number of non-Jews killed in the same attacks was far higher. In Israel, the number of Jews killed in 2014 by Palestinians was 46. Uri Avnery, doubting the claimed rise in antisemitism, asks why Bibi is making hay out of Jew-killing in Europe and insisting that Israel is their only safe haven.
Palestinians are the forgotten issue of politics – unmentioned in the Israeli election campaigns, let drop by the US and, though European parliaments have been enthusiastic about a Palestinian state, the EU appears to lack the clout to do anything about it. So can Palestinians themselves use diplomacy to press their cause?
Robert Cohen shares the sentiment of our earlier posting on Rev. Stephen Sizer – that he acted foolishly and it was right that we was brought to account. But that’s only half the story. If high ethical standards are applied to the Board of Deputies, who made the complaint, they have many questions to answer on their condoning or turning a blind eye to the wrongs that are carried out by the Israeli state.