Michael Sfard co-founded the human rights organisation Yesh Din in 2005. What drives him, he says, is anger that the tradition of Jewish values is being abused and that a dual legal system has been created in Israel with the express purpose of exercising dominion over Palestinians. He fears that there will be an increase in Israeli offences against human rights during the attention-taking peace talks.
The distribution of water – a natural resource without which there can be no life – was covered by the Oslo Accords. That did not produce equitable distribution; Israeli access to and consumption of water is enormously higher than that of Palestinians. Posted here, reports from the Center for Economic and Social Rights, Amnesty International on the governing military orders and, on Israel’s water company Mekorot, Stop the Wall. Will these talks do better? An information resource.
It is possible that the generally dismal views of the Palestine/Israel talks in Washington are just what the parties want; any concession or compromise in such an ambience will seem an achievement. Report of Monday’s beginnings and of the low expectations of special envoy Martin Indyk.
The announcement of new negotiations in Washington is excellent news for President Obama & John Kerry. It doesn’t seem like good news for the Palestinians who, having dropped the precondition of ’67 borders, are now forced to follow Israel’s agenda – which means entrenching the occupation, just when boycott and UN status seemed to moving things Palestine’s way. +972 analysis.UPDATE: security bodies have always negotiated – Abdul Sattar Qassem, Asmaa al-Ghoul, Moshe Machover – same old no-change.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has ordered the IDF’s civil administration to end all cooperation with EU officials in retaliation for the EU clarifying its existing rules on funding Israeli projects in the oPt (the EC guidelines). Much of the EU humanitarian aid is in funding and supporting the provision of medical services and water supplies to Palestinians in response to the destruction of amenities by settlers or Israeli forces.
The University of California has appointed the first Muslim to be a student regent (the 26 regents are the governing body). Sadia Saifuddin, who enjoys a high reputation for engagement and openness, is a supporter of divesting the university’s funds from any company connected with the Israeli military. This was the reason given for opposing her appointment by several Jewish bodies including, predictably, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and David Horowitz. Simone Zimmerman is shocked at the hateful propaganda.
Negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian representatives are expected to start soon in Washington. David Makovsky assesses the pressure on the two sides to have meaningful talks. These include Netahyahu’s express fear that Israel’s Jewishness is in jeopardy if Palestinians don’t have their own state, the fear of both sides that the US will blame them if they don’t talk. Against that is the intransigent hostility of the Israeli right and Hamas to any sort of compromise.PLUS Natan Sachs, Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
The status of Jerusalem as a demilitarized city under the aegis of the United Nations Trusteeship Council was an integral element of the UN’s 1947 partition. The IDF gained control of western Jerusalem in the ensuing war, and seized control of East Jerusalem in 1967. Neither act changed the international status of Jerusalem. Now a federal court has upheld the right of the President to affirm the neutrality of Jerusalem. This means Americans born in Jerusalem can no longer go on declaring themselves to be Israeli-born.
The assault on the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish ship carrying passengers and aid to Gaza, in which the IDF killed nine people and got off scot-free remains an infamous incident, combining illegal and needless violence with total impunity for the aggressors. While on board the IDF looted possessions worth $millions. For which one soldier has been selected to take the punishment– 200 days in prison. Richard SIlverstein’s concluding remarks apply to many of our posts, such as the one below this.
In this interview with International Solidarity Movement, psychologist Wael Dawabsheh describes the forms of torture used in Israel, the purposes of the torture and the effects. Israel is a signatory to the UN Convention against Torture and forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Each instance of this comitted by agents of the Israeli state is quite clearly illegal. How do they get away with it?
The centrality to Israel of all things military is not news. From its origin Israel has depended politically on military might and economically on military production. One tenth of Israeli households, reports Jonathan Cook, depend on the weapons industry. In an alarming insight into modern governments, it is Israel’s experience of using their array of military control systems which wins over other governments.
To outsiders, ACRI is one of Israel’s most impressive NGOs, producing meticulously researched reports and advocating for people who do not have the power or money to assert themselves. But unless ACRI can extend its support,executive director Hagai El-Ad fears that the majority will get the undemocratic and unjust laws that they want. +972′ s Matt Surrusco interviews El-Ad in the first of a series on difference-makers.
Netanyahu has proposed that a referendum be held on any Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories. Aeyal Gross argues this is upside-down; the people who should be asked are the people whose future is being determined – the Palestinians. But Carlo Strenger says there is one good reason for an Israeli referendum – to prevent a repeat of the Likud-led hostility to any ‘concessions’ which led to the 1995 murder of Rabin.
Judith Butler is revered for her original political thinking and scorned for her activist criticism of Israel. On the publication of her new book, ‘Parting Ways, Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism’ Ray Filar questions her about her commitment to Jewish/Palestinian cohabitation; it may seem impossible but it’s the only ethical and necessary path to take. In a review, Joseph Finlay asks why purism has superseded her usual playfulness.
The Shuni Amphitheater, Binyamina, Israel was just one stop in the international tour for ageing rock star Eric Burdon of the Animals. Now he has cancelled it following either threats or pressure depending on what you read. As Israel is good at, if nothing else, security, it is unlikely his management feared his life would be in danger in Binyamina, where the Roman amphitheatre has been restored by the Jewish National Fund.
This is probably a non-story although it has been triumphantly flourished as evidence of conspiratorial dealings by the Quartet’s Envoy Tony Blair. It is centred on the six-month contract given by Tony Blair Associates to a woman who was an IDF officer for three years and worked in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office. TBA says she was employed on economic development. What the truth is, only those involved know.
In a richly argued essay, Natasha Gill asks why the Palestinians said No to giving up even half their homeland to a Jewish state – and why, lacking any knowledge of or curiosity about the native inhabitants, pro-Israelis from Balfour through Israelis to Obama, have refused to know that Palestinians have their own narrative to tell. Instead, they have invented Palestinian attitudes to suit their own narrative.
Despite attempts to brand Israel as the progressive, liberal youthful start-up nation, no brand-maker can blot out the more powerful image of Israel’s primary identity – retrograde military occupation. Nor, writes Daniella Peled, can the IDF quell or dispel the symbolic allure of the non-violent, civilian campaigns like those for boycott and divestment.
While the US press hoorays its secretary of state, John Kerry, for getting an agreement for talks between Palestinians and Israelis, only the Arab League seems to share his hope that such talks can change the course of politics over the last decades. Here is a selection of articles – and cartoons – in which the writers try to work out whether or not something of real significance has been effected.
The Alternative Information Centre’s regular bulletin, The Economy of the Occupation, has devoted an issue to a thorough, and invaluable, investigation of the right-wing NGOs which operate in Israel: who they are, what they do who funds them. Unsurprisingly, the donors are largely wealthy American individuals and bodies, both Jewish and Christian. The Israeli government increasingly relies on them to sell Israel’s case – hasbara. Given the results, one might wonder if they’re getting enough bang for their bucks. (Foreign income for human rights NGOs is far smaller.)