Shlomo Sand, again kicking up controversy, says no. He sees nothing identifiably Jewish in such icons of Jewish culture as Einstein, Marx and Freud – and nor can the governors of Israel define what being a ‘Jewish state’ means outside religious terms. Except that it means not being an Arab. And does Jewish (i.e. Slavic Yiddish) humour raise a laugh among Iraqi Jews? All the customs which may connect Jews are based on Judaic religious practices, the only distinct definition of Jewishness which he thinks is legitimate.
Amira Hass, described in one of these TV interviews as “one of the greatest truth-seekers of them all” defends in the interviews her view that Palestinians have a right to throw stones to resist the occupation. “The main thing” she says “is to concentrate on the violence of the ruler”. Introduction and links to these interviews, plus an article from the settlers’ paper Israel Haayom about the Yesha Council’s (settlers) decision to sue Ha’aretz and Amira Hass.
Last February Khaled Meshaal, political leader of Hamas left Syria to live – via his first, brief, visit to Gaza – in Doha. There, in the Qatari capital, he is interviewed by Foreign Policy magazine. He gives brief explanations on why Hamas left Syria, and his opposition to making any concessions until Israel shows itself ready to end the occupation. It is less revealing than other interviews he has given but is, perhaps, a message to an American audience that he is a human being who believes in democracy and human rights – but is unflinching about the priority of ending the occupation.
This is a harsh judgment on the Palestinian leadership, while acknowledging the power of the occupation. Roger Cohen describes the PA’s paralysis and Fatah as ‘a revolutionary party that has exhausted itself; ossified and murky’ with an appetite only for ‘sweet deals’; Salam Fayyad, whom Cohen is interviewing, describes Fatah’s leaders as casual, lacking seriousness or strategy, hostage to their own rhetoric. That rhetoric is all that engages the Palestinian people.
The long-known history of Jewish emigration to, and rule of, the Khazari kingdom, and the mass conversion to Judaism of its Turkic people, is just one item restored to prominence by Shlomo Sands (below). The Zionist message of Jews’ unshaken biological line to Israel is not true. Other evidence of 8thC Jewish converts is given.
In this interview , historian Shlomo Sand describes the discoveries he made which contradict, or are omitted from, the new mythology of Jewish attachment to the land of Palestine – from the myth of Jewish exodus to that of return. The clearest origin of Zionism is with British Christians and imperialists, for their own reasons..
The Palestinian town of Nazareth is, in terms of amenities and facilities, ‘a village with work camps’ says Sami Abu Shehadeh. The Israeli districts in which Palestinians live are sharply marked off from Jewish ones by poorer amenities, services and infrastructure. But Palestinians in Israel do not get the outside attention of those in the oPt.
The port town of Jaffa has one of the oldest and most cosmopolitan histories on the Mediterranean, home to Arab and European Christians, Muslims, Sephardi Jews. In 1948 it was attacked by both the Stern gang and Irgun and most Arabs fled. The Palestinian population is now on the edges, with few amenities and unable to get permits to build new homes. It is popular with Israel’s wealthy elite.
From this interview with Haneen Zoabi: On the hysterical hatred of her: “I am fighting for equality between the country’s Jewish and Arab citizens according to the letter of the law, and that infuriates many people.” Obliterating the heritage of MidEast Jews: “That is the Zionist project, which was out to create a new artificial Jew”. On Palestinians: “We are a passive society…We are among the most quiescent minorities in the world.” Read on…
This is the 2nd part of the interview with Khaled Meshaal, Hamas leader, in which he speaks about the organisation, factional struggles, taking part in politics and the independence of local acts of resistance. It takes place 9 months before the launching of Operation Cast Lead which he clearly did not anticipate.
MK Hanan Zoabi surprises Israelis who have swallowed the denunciations of her as a terrorist and of her party, Balad, as a ‘hostile minority’ – which a member of Yisrael Beitenu is trying to get banned. Zoabi has been campaigning to get Arabs to vote in January; a ban would confirm their exclusion from any political process.
To coincide with Meshaal’s brief visit to Gaza, we post the first part of an interview he gave to Mouin Rabbani in 2008. He gives an account of his upbringing and the formation of Hamas. It is an idealised version from a deeply religious man who has not lived in Gaza or with the worst aspects of Hamas – the intolerance, antisemitism , lack of due process and reliance on violence over politics. But it is a valuable counterweight to the view that Hamas is nothing but those worst aspects and rules only by terror. Part 2 next week.
Robert Fisk interviews Uri Avnery, founder of Gush Shalom (whose blogs are often posted here). Avnery retains hope but warns that the dominant Israeli right want conquest, not peace. 2nd, in his latest column he points out that blocking the PA’s peaceful strategy for UN membership, confirms Hamas’ hero status.
Gershon Baskin’s long experience as an unofficial negotiator with the Palestinians has enabled him to see a new pragmatism in Hamas leaders. From this came the plan of Israel-Hamas co-operation in preventing outbreaks of violence from Gaza. An interview with the Huffington Post.
Benny Morris was a ‘new historian’ who rejected the Zionist foundation narrative with his account of the forced expulsion of Palestinians. Since then, he has re-positioned himself within the camp which sees all Palestinians as being, like the Israeli right, determined to take over the whole land. Interviews LA Times, YUP.
Matthew Graber interviews Jeff Halper, founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions about his views on one state. In the excerpt here, Halper draws a clear distinction between the early desire of Jews to settle safely in Palestine and what then became the ethnocratic system in full denial of Palestinians. It is not colonial, he says, because colonists, unlike Israeli Jews, had a ‘home’ they could and did return to.
Avi Shlaim, Oxford professor of international relations, distinguished ‘new historian’ of Israel, and JfJfP signatory tells MEMO that Netanyahu has to deny Palestinians a political existence in order to insist he has no partner for peace. He also says the UK has an Israel lobby but it’s more hidden than in the USA and British Jews are more divided over speaking out against Israeli policies.
Despite its origin as a secular state, modern Israel has increasingly relied on fervent religious Jews to expand its boundaries and justify their seizure of land. Palestinians have lost the most but Israeli women also find their boundaries have shrunk as orthodox Jews venture into the public realm to lay down the rules on how women should behave and dress. Nira Yuval-Davis talks to Deniz Kandiyoti.
Redoubtable intellectual Antony Lerman has written a book on the long journey he has made to understand both himself as an engaged political Jew, the country of Israel and the ideology of Zionism which once held him and he has now rejected. We post here an exclusive extract from the Afterword of The Making and Unmaking of a Zionist, interspersed with quotations from the preceding section. An interview with him by Anshel Pfeffer follows. Details of how to order the book are at the end of the extract.
Robert Cohen interviews Rabbi David J. Goldberg, author of ‘This is Not the Way – Jews, Judaism and Israel’. The rabbi is, says Cohen, an important and fearless voice, alert to the failure of Christian-Jewish dialogue to hold an honest debate on what is done in the name of the ‘Jewish and Democratic’ state.