While there has been a noisy campaign to abolish UNRWA, the agency which cares for 1948 Palestinian refugees, the number of such refugees has shot up because their once place of safety, Syria, has forced them to abandon what little they had and look for refuge in Lebanon. Jordan is accepting no more refugees. Israel, by definition, accepts no Palestinian refugees.
This headline is not borne out by any of the news stories about the Breaking the Impasse Initiative which John Kerry announced at the World Economic Forum last weekend. Perhaps it’s only of interest to UK readers, perhaps linking the initiative with the leader of the Quartet would damn it before it gets off the ground. The hope is that investment and businessmen can change things which politicians cannot.
Two companion articles in Mondoweiss raise properly disturbing questions about Jews who engage in solidarity work for Palestinian causes. Heike Schotten asks if it’s really a way for Jews to manage their connection with zionism, thus accepting the dominance of zionism in Jewish discourse. Sandra Tamari asks Jews to hold back, recognise that this struggle must be led by Palestinians and Jews would help by opening up spaces for Palestinians to do this.
Attacks of arson and graffiti and graffiti-spraying were carried out at the same time in a number of Palestinian centres on May 29, seemingly as a punishment for the stabbing of an Israeli settler by a Palestinian who was arrested at the spot of the murder. The attacks have been dubbed ‘price-tag’, though the term usually applies to attacks on Palestinians and/or the IDF in protest at government restrictions on settlements.
One of the oddest groups to have come to life in recent years is the ICCA – the Inter-parliamentary Coalition for Combating Antisemitism. Little-known outside the world of Commonwealth parliaments (mainly Canada and Australia) and the Israeli foreign ministry, it seems to do little, and that little is to slap down criticisms of Israeli policy as the ‘new antisemitism’. Its Declaration has been signed by the Labour, LibDem and Conservative party leaders.
Groups that retreat behind walls to stop the modern world getting in and the women getting out, to make their own religious belief dominant and the only authority to which they will submit, are much the same. Fundamentalist Christians, Muslims and Jews are, paradoxically, a new phenomenon as they react against modernity. In NY the numbers of very Orthodox Jews are growing not least because of large families and control over those inside the walls.
Some careful work with maps shows Chaim Levison that there has been a creeping increase in the amount of land given to settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. While both the EU and the US have chastised the Israeli government for its settlement policies, it is the IDF’s Central Command which has the authority over land use in the oPt. Zionism, the system where government and army have but one mind.
City dwellers need an income, home, amenities in order to survive. Local and national government controlling East Jerusalem provide house demolitions and high taxes instead, in the hope that fewer and fewer Palestinians will want to live there – including the present population. Jillian Kestler D’Amours describes the degradation enforced by the massive separation wall isolating East Jerusalem.
There is every reason why the Obama administration should be deeply concerned about the image of the US among Muslims and Arabs; it doesn’t need professional surveys to tell it the US is widely distrusted by the majority in the Middle East and North Africa. So, argues Michael Omer-Man, whether Kerry’s mission produces results or not, Obama et al need to be seen to be engaged in a peace process.
On his Facebook page, PM Netanyahu has spewed hatred about Muslims and vaunted the civilised superiority of Jews through the ages. Like any charlatan, he makes up stuff to sell his product (Israeli ultra-nationalism) while knowing nothing about the tradition which he pretends provides him with the evidence for his patter. Richard Silverstein is outraged at this abuse of his religion and tradition.
Many external groups have a stake in who holds power in Syria – although notably the Hamas leadership abandoned their former protector six months ago. Hezbollah’s claim that it is fighting for Assad on behalf of Palestinians and ‘the resistance to Israel’ is winning no respect — once again the transnational Palestinian cause is being used to bolster a nationalist power struggle in which the rivals are deeply divided.
Five years on from the “celebration” of Israel’s 60th birthday, there will be a “Closer to Israel” parade down Piccadilly and a rally in Trafalgar Square to “celebrate” Israel’s 65th birthday on June 2 . JfJfP is organising a silent vigil from 12.30 to 5pm outside South Africa House. We will be holding placards and handing out leaflets. It is intended as a Jewish vigil, but of course everyone is welcome to come and to bring their own placards (no gratuitously offensive ones, please). Click headline for map and info on Closer to Israel.
Foreign Secretary William Hague has repeated his criticism of settlements, this time in a speech in Jerusalem. He is more direct than his American counterparts, but talking from the same speech-sheet. What made the headlines was his warning of Israel’s loss of reputation in the UK and internationally. Israeli commentary attributes this British hostility to NGOs in the UK – or long-standing British antipathy to the very existence of Israel.
A proposed new law defines Israel as ‘the nation-state of the Jewish people’, at a stroke defining those of us who live elsewhere as expats, or perhaps outposts of the great colonising enterprise that is the Israeli state. Uri Avnery marvels at the cheek – and more seriously wonders about the future of the non-Jews in Israel and whether history is shaping the future of Israel-Palestine as part of a regional common market.
A measure of how deeply Professor Hawking hurt Israel’s self-esteem when he decided not to attend the Presidential Conference in Israel is the range of accusations and denunciations hurled at him, largely by Israeli and pro-Israeli persons and bodies. Leading the hue and cry was a legal centre director and winner of The Moskowitz Prize for Zionism but less illustrious persons were quick to put the boot in.
If the South African model is followed and the distinct qualities of Israeli apartheid not recognised, Palestinians will not develop effective means of gaining their freedom says Samer Abdelnour. He cites such defining issues as Israel’s massive military production, subsidies from the US, the fact it does not depend on Palestinian labour, the sophisticated physical and bureaucratic paraphernalia of occupation and its foreign lobbies.
Professor Rashid Khalid is not afraid of making enemies – which is fortunate as he has a lot, especially in the US. In this wide ranging interview he speaks sharply of the Palestinians, Saudis, Qataris, the vast settlement-industrial complex and his old friend Obama. And why a peace process based on Begin’s idea of autonomy can’t work. Recorded 18 months ago, it is remarkably fresh – except that then he only fears a civil war in Syria might begin.
In a disturbing development for any online newspaper hoping to operate in the USA, Al Jazeera removed an article by provocative intellectual Joseph Massad. Ali Abuminah speculates this follows from the ‘cozy’ relationship between an Al Jazeera director and Chicago’s pro-Israeli mayor, Rahm Emanuel. Glenn Greenwald deplores this self-censorship and fear of causing offence as he hunts for the missing article. (He should have checked our website where it has been since it was first posted on Al Jazeera. It has now been restored by Al Jazeera.)
The killing of a terrified 12 year old boy, Mohammed al Dura, as he sheltered behind his father, was filmed by Palestinian cameraman Talal Abou Rahmeh with reporting by French Israeli journalist Charles Enderlin for France’s Channel 2, which then broadcast it. The worldwide audience was so shocked that it began the shift in public opinion against the careless violence of Israel’s ‘defence’ force. A report commissioned by Netanyahu exonerates the IDF and accompanying Israeli commentary suggests the film is a fraud and a ‘blood libel’.That’ll shut them up.
John Kerry, US Secretary of State, finds out for himself that Israel cannot be a partner for peace because whatever issues may have allowed Netanyahu’ to pull a governing coalition into being, the issue of Palestine causes it to fall apart. Compounding Israel’s intransigence at this moment, the government has decided to ‘legalise’ four outposts, prompting a rare American complaint to Israel’s US Ambassador Oren,