Yaron Kaplan joins a long line of young Israelis who have refused to do military service for reasons of conscience. Most end up in prison which Yaron is expecting. He is unusual because his refusal came mid-way through his service, after his experience of the extreme violence embedded in the IDF’s training and the impossibility of asking Palestinians to co-operate when he was imposing a military regime on them.
The Hamas/Fatah rift which is devastating the possibility of Palestinian political leadership cannot be said to be a political split. From this interview with Hanan Ashrawi, we learn it’s more to do with each group defending its own interests. She tells it like it is.
Jerusalem runs increasingly separate bus-lines. Egged carries the Jews. Palestinians, who comprise most of the drivers on all lines, travel on buses run by the (Arab) East Jerusalem Transport Association. Israeli Jews boarding from settler and Haredi areas routinely insult the drivers. Disturbing interview with 3 drivers.
Political thinker Michael Walzer and Fathom editor Alan Johnson discuss The Jewish Political Tradition – an exploration of the political ideas of Jews, excluded from government, scattered throughout European ghettoes.
As US-Israel relations have worsened, the superpower’s relations with the PA have become stronger. These two shifts may not be connected, but it is clear to analysts that a strong PA is essential if violence or anarchy are not to subsume the moderate authority. Interview with Mustafa Barghouti on US/Palestinian relations.
In this interview with Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN’s veteran diplomat utters some frank and hard-hitting judgments on the US’s role in the Middle East: it has been naive, without strategic thinking and unable to distinguish between different Arab nations.
‘The story of the Jews’ was a five part TV series made by British historian Simon Schama and first broadcast on BBC2 from September 2013. It was generally well received – except for its last part which suggested the settling of Palestine by Jews and the creation of Israel was the culmination of ‘the’ Jewish story. Interview with him by Poppy Sebag-Montefiore on the series and his new book .
Prof. Zeev Sternhell, an authority of the rise of fascism in France, defines fascism as a rejection of, an assault on, enlightenment values. In the regime’s treatment of the Palestinians and of Jewish dissidents, in the submission of intellectuals to government orders and the blind following of the masses, Prof. Sternhell sees signs of fascism, and certainly the end of Zionism as he understood it.
A letter signed by 56 Israeli reservists stating why they refuse to serve their country in its current military operation is published this week in the Washington Post. Their fundamental objection, the two initiators tell Democracy Now, is the power the hierarchical IDF exercises over Palestinians and Israelis. We learn on the way that most Americans have never heard of the siege of Gaza but think Israel is under siege by Hamas.
There are many small reasons why the peace talks initiated by the Obama administration and conducted by John Kerry failed. But there is one big reason: the Israeli government did not engage. If it can continue to deny all political rights to Palestinians, it will. As the blame game/accountancy continues, the PA turns to the international arena.
The latest development in the story of Israel’s scandalous treatment of African Asylum seekers was revealed last week. After denying to even examine most of the refugees’ asylum claims, deporting, and imprisoning those who stayed, Israeli authorities are now coercing them to sign on to so-called “voluntary” return as part of Israel’s arms and trade deals with several sub-Saharan African nations.
Transcript of a Real News programme with Lia Tarachansky
One of Palestin’e most incisive political thinkers, Rashid Khalidi, talks to Philip Weiss of what options the Palestinians now have. He is less hopeful of NVDA (see posting above), has no hopes of the USA but does believe that institutions like the EU and ICC will have an open door for Palestinians to walk through – if they get on their feet.
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.
President Obama has given this interview to Jeffrey Goldberg knowing it will show Americans and Israelis that he takes Middle East peace very seriously, that he and the Israeli PM have sharply different assessments of the players and factors, especially in Iran and Palestine, and that such are the changing times Netanyahu must act to break the stalemate – and only he can do that.
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.
Eritrea is a military dictatorship; all young men are conscripted into a very harshly-run army. Those who can escape do, mostly to Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya. A few put themselves in the hands of people smugglers in order to travel north to wealthier countries such as Israel. One such asylum-seeker recounts his journey – which involved imprisonment in Israel. He now lives in fear of being incarcerated in Saharonim.
The Latin motto “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” – who guards the guards themselves – applies to these articles from Jonathan Cook and Guy Rolnick. They are about the huge power wielded in Israel by the network of security chiefs who appropriate a huge amount of the public budget for their ‘security’ wants, few questions asked, and have a stake in continued conflict with Palestine. With the merchants of security equipment they have effectively become a security junta, justifying their power by continuously inflating the risks to Israel’s existence.
Norman Finkelstein, in an interview with New Left Project, gives a very bleak assessment of the current Kerry-created negotiations. He echoes the judgment made frequently in the last few months – that neither Hamas nor Fatah/the PA can provide national leadership for an independent state, that Palestine has lost salience in the Arab world as their own national states take pre-eminence.
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.