Jillian Kestler D’Amours begins with the Begin plan and goes back through the Prawer plan to Sharon’s Individual Settlement plan, all of which scheme to rid the Negev of its historic Bedouin residents and land-users and replace them (with dubious legality) with true, i.e. Jewish, Israeli citizens.
Gas masks have been issued, air, sea and and land forces have been readied, Israel’s leaders have had nothing to say about Syria except ‘it’s not our affair’ but its actions have told the Israeli public and Hezbollah and Iran that the country is ready for war.
The old axiom has it that the first casualty of war is truth. There is one news story here – about Palestinian casualties of, they say, chemical attack by the Syrian regime, and several photos with captions. The point of these is not to contest the belief that Assad’s regime has committed massacres with poison gas. Rather it is to say that when war fever grips against a defined bad man, normal standards of journalistic accuracy and authentication disappear. Taken together, they amount to a very dodgy dossier.
The high reputation enjoyed by Israel’s secret agencies Mossad and Shin Bet, is largely based on their ability to track and kidnap or assassinate individuals. Other secret operations depend on the scale and interpretation of the intelligence gathering. Those are often flawed and always skewed by Israel’s own fear of and hostility towards all its neighbours. Is this a good basis for a military attack on Syria?
Greenbelt is one of the summer festivals for people of a religious/spiritual frame of mind. This year, Christians at the festival took up ‘Kairos Palestine’ , a plea for the Christians of Palestine, and issued their own document challenging Christians to recognise the issues of justice, love and religious belief that are so out of reach for Palestinians.
Since its formation, Israel has exempted non-Jewish citizens from military service. Now beset by problems of exemption, Netanyahu set up a forum to consider recruiting Christians. Fr. Nadaf leads the lobby to bring Christians into the IDF to exemplify their loyalty to the Israeli state (rather than to, for instance, Pax Christi or to Kairos Palestine). One effect is to demonize even further Israel’s Palestinian/Arab citizens who are critical of Israel’s militarism.
In this invigorating interview about her new book, Karima Bennoune argues that all those opposed to imperialism are not, by that fact, supporters of universal human rights, especially of women. In fact, Islamists – and the west’s distinctions between fundamentalist sorts and others don’t make sense – are often backed by colonial interests for their value in opposing radicals.
President Obama’s attempt to reverse US policy and institute normal relations with moderate Muslim leaders, such as PM Erdogan of Turkey have, according to the Wall Street Journal failed abysmally. Walter Russell Mead, for some time a critic of the gap between Obama’s rhetoric and his abillity to follow through, chastises the president for neglecting its most important allies: Israel and the Egyptian military. Don’t try to change the status quo.
IDF raids on Jenin and Qalandiya to arrest suspects have been met with resistance. In Qalandiya, young Palestinians hurled stones at the soldiers,injuring no-one. The IDF fired back killing three, including an employee of UNRWA who was on his way to work. The Israeli authorities are jittery among reports of a ‘reawakening’ amongst young West Bank Palestinians who do not believe the Israelis are serious about peace talks.
A group of young men in Gaza calling themselves Tamarod (rebellion, as in Egypt) has posted a defiant video declaring their opposition to Hamas as an oppressive and unjust regime. Hamas has arrested several of them and is, according to a report here, in a state of panic as the military get a grip in Egypt, strengthen security ties with Israel and close the smuggling tunnels. Hamas is left without allies in the region.
“Egypt has fallen into the hands of a brutal, merciless military dictatorship, pure and simple. Not on the way to democracy. Not a temporary transition regime. Like the locusts of old, the military officers have fallen upon the land. They are not likely ever to give it up voluntarily.” Uri Avnery is appalled by events in Egypt. The happy anarchism of the social media is no match for the economic-military complex which governs Israel, the USA, Egypt and elsewhere.
As B’Tselem says in its latest report, the right not to be subjected to physical or mental torture is regarded as absolute. And that’s for adults. Over the last few years, the Israeli human rights organisation has received multiple reports from minors of horrible threats and serious violence at Gush Etzion police station. It makes sickening reading. B’Tselem has pressed for a proper response from the authorities but received none.Gush Etzion is a bloc of 22 illegal settlements and particularly likely to use violence to intimidate Palestinian children.
Israel’s co-authorship of the Stuxnet internet worm which targeted industrial facilities in Iran is well-known. Less well-known is the revelation in the NSA papers that the British security establishment has a costly and capacious base in the Middle East (not in Israel). Snowden denies he is the source. The Independent journalists do not say he is but from the papers he obtained. Sections of the material they wanted to publish were removed on the demand of HMG.
As no official statement has emerged from the Palestinian-Israeli talks in Jerusalem, leaks, rumours and suspicion are the meat of the street in the West Bank. (In Gaza, people protest at the fact of any talks; no good can come of them). In Israel, people are more calm and confident – which increases Palestinian suspicions.
Amidst the international anxiety about instability in the Middle East, French foreign minister Laurent Fabius looks to Israel and Palestine to reach an agreement which will provide stability for the Middle East. Fabius is on a two day visit to Palestine/Israel to stress the importance of the talks succeeding and to discuss the region’s danger points.
Palestinian buildings, including water cisterns, are frequently destroyed on the grounds they lack the necessary permits. But Israel’s housing ministry has built homes and pavements and upgraded the water/sewage system without permits at the (also illegal) settlement of Negohot. This has been done under the authority of the World Zionist Organization which functions as the settlements arm of the Israeli state.
As in Egypt, there are many people in the USA who feel strongly about the supremacy of democracy. Thus there is pressure in the US to withhold the significant amount of money the US gives to the Egyptian army. Israel has no such scruples. Whether openly or tacitly Israel’s ruling elite, at least, has welcomed the rule of the army in its neighbour, especially as they share a common enemy in Islamism. Democracy is conditional.
The initial target of the Egyptian clamp-down on crossings and tunnels appeared to be Hamas and terrorist groups, but now seems to have developed into a wider anti-Palestinian – especially in Gaza – drive. Palestinians in Egypt report a high level of hostility towards them and a complete disregard for the effects of denying access to Egypt. Hamas protests its innocence but seems to tolerate the Sinai jihadists.
‘The Proms is not an appropriate place to foster political statements’ opines Baroness Deech. But, as a reviewer wrote, “politics is foisted upon every aspect” of the young Palestinian musicians’ lives. The BBC has said it will excise Kennedy’s established view that “equality and getting rid of apartheid gives a beautiful chance for amazing things to happen.” Reports on those who disagree with Deech/BBC, and a petition to sign.
Two men who sat on the roof of G4S’s HQ in Horley, W.Sussex, have been not guilty of aggravated trespass and public order offences. They attracted attention to their protest against the huge private security firm G4S but did not disrupt its business. The campaigners were disappointed that magistrates would not hear their evidence of the unawfulness of G4S’s business in ‘securing’ Palestinians.