It is impossible to sum up briefly the achievements of Professor Noam Chomsky, one of the best-known public intellectuals of our age. Here we post his Edward Said memorial lecture, given from his long history of critiques of modern imperialism. Its theme is the contempt shown by the powerful – as in the ignoring of Palestinian rights in the Oslo Accords – the deliberate policies of humiliation and how the insistence on dignity is the hall mark of those who resist.
Wherever ancient land ownership is disputed, archaeology is a highly contentious issue, and nowhere is this more true than in Israel/Palestine. Alerted by Noam Chomsky’s reference to the Mamilla cemetery (above) we have posted some of the pieces written about this in recent years. Presumably, if anyone had known the location of the Greyfriars church containing the tomb of the last Plantagenet king, Richard lll, it would have been regarded as sacrilege to have built a car park over it.
For every dunam of West Bank land allotted to Palestinians by the Israeli civil administration, 38 dunams have been allotted to Israeli settlers. Nearly all land in Israel has been owned by the state in order to ensure all parts of the country have been populated by Jews. This has been extended to the West Bank where settlers and state try to ensure land is classified as uncultivated by bulldozing Palestinian fields or measuring the land between olive trees.
The legend of Palm Sunday is that Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey – signifier of peace as opposed to the horse, and in apparent fulfilment of the prophecy of Zechariah (9:9) – where he was welcomed by the people laying palm branches on the road before him. While foreign visitors are also welcomed to Jerusalem at Easter, Palestinian Christians are largely unable to get the permits they need from the civil administration that controls their movements.
AMP was formed in 2005 to “educate Americans about Palestine”. It has grown from a small group of volunteers to “a national organization with several staff and over a dozen chapters in several states”. Now they have raised the money to run an ad campaign at the stations of the Metro-North commuter and inner-city rail services. The ads call for an end to Israeli apartheid and American financial support for Israel.
The World Social Forum mets this week in Tunis, the first time the annual gathering of civil society activists has met in an Arab country. They debate the issues which determine the lives of the poor and otherwise powerless people they work with. Palestine is on the agenda as a central theme of this year’s meeting. The theme is ‘dignity’.
Putting hope in the Israeli people, as President Obama did in his Jerusalem speech, is a waste of hope. The Israeli public is, says columnist Zev Lenchner, “indifferent, conservative, not daring, and excels in passing the time somehow with minimum disorder”. And so they will continue until they are shocked out of their passive complacency. Like human beings everywhere?
Pressure is mounting for Hamas to rescind the death penalty handed out to an accused collaborator with Israel this week. Given its tiny size, Gaza’s use of the death penalty for ‘collaboration’ as well as murder is proportionally one of the highest in the world. Amnesty, B’Tselem and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights have all condemned the lack of due process in the military court and the outdated laws on which death sentences are handed out.
Writer Susan Abulhawa travels to Durban’s Time of the Writer literature festival, leaving the disturbing Palestinian book ‘Time of the White Horses’ on her bedside table to listen to disturbing thinker/preacher of black consciousness, Andile Mngxitama . Shaking off the demands for irony, politeness and nuance, she asks if Mngxitama’s uncompromising rage is the more truthful response to colonialism. And muses on why its victims so often become victimisers.
The decision, when it came, was harsh and thorough. College lecturer Ronnie Fraser has long been pursuing the University and College Union (UCU) for antisemitism on the grounds of his hurt feelings and dislike of union resolutions on Israel. The Employment Tribunal judges delivered their judgment this week. The hearing was ‘excessive and disproportionate’ to the complaint, Fraser’s witnesses were arrogant, glib and gave false evidence. In terms of case law and evidence, the case should not have been brought and was dismissed. Fraser et al seem to have locked themselves in a room where they can only hear their own persecution and rightness.
The Iron Dome interceptor system, developed by Rafael together with Israel’s Ministry of Defence, has had the best PR any innovation in warfare could have had. It’s proof of Israel’s claimed unique talent for innovation. Its advocates claim it is so effective that it has changed the game, especially in relation to Iran. Now three different weapons experts have all reached the same conclusion: the heavily susbsidised system is nothing like as effective as it’s cracked up to be. Will American tax-payers want their money back?
Something stinks in the state of Israel says Israeli citizen Ilene Prusher. That something is racism, both the assaults on non-Jews by Jews and the wider refusal to give such racism its proper name. The irony of Israel, whose existence as an ethnic state has been justified as a defence against racism, should have spawned new generations of young racist gangs is lost on no-one – except for those who refuse to know that it’s there, and active, and violent.
Just over 10 years ago, on March 16 2003, a young woman from Olympia, Washington state, was crushed to death by an armoured Caterpillar bulldozer driven by a soldier who was trying to demolish the home of Palestinian Samir Nasralla. Rachel was working with International Solidarity Movement, using non-violent action to protect Palestinians’ homes. She is remembered with deep respect by many Palestinians and her parents have established the Rachel Corrie foundation to commemorate and continue her work.
Eighty young Palestinians from across the world have been coming together once or twice a year to form the Palestine Youth Orchestra – one of the many creations of the Edward Said National Conservatory. . After 10 days of intensive rehearsal with a professional conductor – most recently Britain’s Sian Edwards – they go on tour. Their playing counters the isolation and the scattering of Palestinians at home and abroad.
Since they set up the E1 camp again, called Younes’ Grandchildren, young Palestinians have been tweeting their progress. We pick them up shortly after midnight on Sunday and shortly after President Obama has boarded his plane to fly home. By the time day dawns, the arrests by the police are well under way. First, a news report from Al Jazeera.
President Obama visited Israel and Palestine with a simple message: ‘No we can’t’. We can’t stop Israel building settlements, we can’t stop Hamas firing rockets, we can’t deliver sovereignty to the Palestinians. And we leaders can’t get too far ahead of our people. But you Israelis and Palestinians can if you give up old habits, compromise, and start talking. My Secretary of State John Kerry will fill in the gaps. Here is the transcript of his press conference with President Abbas, (‘shit’ said a Fatah official), AFP report of a ‘soaring address’, transcript of speech, and many comments.
Those interested in the Israel/Palestine conflict are convinced the BBC is biased — but towards whom and in what ways? A problem identified by ‘More Bad News’ is that the Israeli state and the Palestinian people are very different entities; the stateless Palestinians are only in the news as terrorists or, rarely, as victims. A second problem is that BBC journalism is exempt from Freedom of Information inquiries. Two articles and links to the arguments.
From a trailer at Ben Gurion airport and a mobile phone, President Obama effected an unheralded reconciliation between the Turkish and Israeli governments, who had not been on speaking terms since the lethal IDF raid on the Turkish boat Mavi Marmara in 2010. Given the importance of Turkey’s status with Mediterranean Muslim governments, the renewed contact confers benefits on the Israeli and American governments; PM Erdogan clarified his hostile remarks on zionism a few days earlier so restoring his status with western governments.
Israeli leaders had just one question when the popular revolt broke out in Egypt, their southern neighbour – will it damage our security? Young Israelis were inspired by the open and articulate protest of young Arabs and copied their slogans and idioms – only to be rebuffed by Egyptians who could only see their oppressive Israeli-ness. Palestinians were the first to make distinctions between uprisings although, as Lisa Goldman reports, the key distinction was that they felt part of the Arab nation, not of Israel.
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.