EU countries have taken the high ground about Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories. But their remit seems to stop short of European companies which continue to accept Israeli contracts for demolishing Palestinian homes (Volvo, JCB), imprisoning Palestinians (G4S), importing goods from the settlements (Tesco, Waitrose) and servicing the settlements (Veolia). Such companies ease the functioning of settlements despite the formal position of their home countries.
The only outsiders who seem to be keeping an eye on Gaza are the Israelis, whose UAVs drone constantly over the rooftops of Gaza. The horrible sound does people’s heads in. Is that the point? Jonathan Cook reports. Otherwise there is only UNRWA to raise its voice about what is obvious to anyone who looks – a growing catastrophe caused by lack of fuel and clean water.
According to Edward Said, serious discussion about Israel in the US was ‘the last taboo.’ Now that has been well and truly broken. This week the association of university professors held an open meeting (packed) to discuss BDS action against Israeli institutions complicit with the occupation. The large majority favoured such actions though this has not materialised in a decision – unlike the Association for Asian American Studies which did pass a resolution for boycotting Israeli academic institutions. Many attribute this great shift to student activism on campuses.
‘We did it through diplomacy’ said John Kerry to Congress in an appeal for their support for the Iran deal. There is significant opposition to the deal in Israel and the US – but how can they oppose it? Why, by calling Lady Ashton ‘ugly ‘ – nuff said. In the US, war-weariness has muted opposition to the negotiations. In Israel, the EU is the convenient bad entity forcing Netanyahu to acknowledge settlements in order to be eligible for Horizon 2020 grants – a programme for which Lady Ashton is also a lead negotiator.
The Palestinian right of return is an absolute slogan for most Palestinians and Israelis – an idealised dream for one and an image of terrifying loss and revenge for the other. Behind the absolutes, Zochrot and academics have been exploring what it might mean in practice.To begin with, suggests Danny Rabinowitz, it should be the freedom to return – implying choice – rather than right.
The growth of Salafism causes horror in both Palestine and Israel. This Islamist tendency is now seen as associated with violence and intolerance. It is also understood as a response to the failure of both Hamas and the peaceful PA to secure a Palestinian state. Salafism has no association with nationalism and is against democracy and for a Muslim emirate, not a Palestinian nation.Who Salafi are is a cause of dispute among Muslims.
The British-born director of Sydney’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies is being threatened with a prosecution for racial discrimination. His offence was to have refused to sponsor an application for a fellowship from an Israeli academic at the Hebrew University. As a supporter of BDS he did not believe there should be support for an institution that was implicated in the occupation. The complaint has been made by a strange Israeli law centre and taken up as an instance of antisemitism by The Australian, amongst others who like life to be simple.
A short article in the Economist explores the politics of hard-liners – shoring up a position (Hamas), provoking war (George Bush and Iraq) or holding a delusional position. The implication is that Benjamin Netanyahu, who is threatening the safety of Israel, American interests in the Middle East and Israel’s historic special relationship with the US, is delusional.
The jewel in the crown of the grants in the EC’s gift is the technological Horizon 2020 programme from which Israel desperately wants to benefit. After behind-the-scenes negotiations it emerged this week that the EC is standing firm on the conditions Israel must meet to be eligible – explicitly stating that no entity may be in the occupied territories. While Israel’s hardliners want to walk away from the EU rather than compromise, some are still looking for wiggle room.
An Israeli senior security official warns of ‘a looming catastrophe’ in Gaza which will be left without drinking water – already reduced to a mere trickle from taps in summer – in a few years. Many Palestinians resort to digging illegal wells at night. There are plans for costly desalination plants – but without a large injection of funds they will not be built. Thirsting for Justice has organised a petition to go to the EU asking for action.
Last month, 113 American Jews holding office in synagogues signed a public statement calling on the American and Iranians to show repentance for past hostilities and to take steps towards mutual welcome, peace and justice. The public atmosphere into which this statement is delivered is described by M.J.Rosenberg – a bellicosity that is almost entirely being whipped up by AIPAC and their servile Congressmen – and which tramples on American interests. A survey by the American Jewish Committee shows Jewish support for a strike against Iran has fallen to just over half.
Against all predictions, the foreign ministers of the EU and the P5+1 group brokered a deal with Iran’s foreign minister which, say both sides, will limit the capacity of Iran to create nuclear weapons while accepting that Iran will continue its development of nuclear power. The headline is from Ian Traynor’s assessment of Lady Ashton’s role in leading the P5+1 and the general interpretation of Netanyahu’s response.
In a thoughtful and descriptive piece, Eva Illouz moves from her Jewishness in her birth country of secular France to the state-enforced Judaism of her new country, Israel. In the transition, what had been a creative and protective separateness from other people, an ‘almost invincible shield of identity’, has become a racist protection of ethnic purity and a denial of the ethic of a secular universalism.
The standing offence of Israel’s separation wall – which runs on the Palestinian side of the Green Line, separating Palestinians from each other and their land and not in fact, neatly separating Israel from the Palestinian West Bank – was assaulted with vigour on November 15. Climbed over, cut through, holed. Of course the wall is still there – but the young people showed they are stronger than it is. Photos and Ma’an report.UPDATE the Breaking of the wall continues in Jerusalem.
We are witnessing the testing of two theories of the American-Israeli relationship writes Uri Avnery. One is Chomsky’s, that Israel is a pawn in the US imperium, the dog’s tail, the other is the Walt-Mearsheimer theory that the ‘Israel lobby’ shapes American foreign policy. Netanyahu is gambling on the latter – but, so compulsive is his obsession about attacking Iran that he may wreck the US’s only true special relationship, the one with Israel.
There’s a humanitarian disaster going on in Gaza but it doesn’t seem to be attracting much international attention let alone effort. There is such a shortage of fuel that power plants, lighting, sewage processing and small private or corporate pumps and generators cannot function. The effort to keep life going is exhausting and the threat of the diseases borne by polluted water is very high. Israel, General Sisi, the PA and Hamas are all blamed by people in Gaza. They also say – what have we done to deserve this?
In this time of global response to the destruction of typhoon Hainan it seems useful to look at overseas charitable aid. The biggest donors in terms of proportion of national income are the countries of north west Europe. The meanest giver is Israel and the country most likely to tie its aid to propaganda for its military and nation is also Israel. The head of Israel’s philanthropy centre suggests this is because Israelis think they should be the beneficiaries of aid – despite their insistence they have a first world prosperous economy.
AIPAC basks in the image of being the most powerful lobby in the USA. It possibly has more Christian members than Jews who are, in the USA, a largely pro-peace body. It is lobbying against any diplomatic rapprochement with Iran. It has come up against the growing view that, in the Middle East, the US must pursue its own interests – which may not coincide with Israel’s (which may not be to bomb Iran). MJ Rosenberg in Tikkun.
The issuing of the EC guidelines on funding for Israeli entities seemed to herald a new approach – at last the EC, and other EU bodies, might be turning their millions of words against settlements, for a two-state solution, into a few definite actions. But it hasn’t followed that up with any restrictions or sanctions on Israel for its continued flouting of international law or EU resolutions or even IDF destruction of EU-funded projects.
In this view from Alon Ben-Meir, the settlements on Palestinian land are an ‘albatross’ round Netanyahu’s neck as he seeks to engage in direct negotiations with Palestinians. This is an odd interpretation (by HuffPost) given Bibi’s enthusiasm for colonising the West Bank – in the name of ‘security’ (King Abdullah ll is about to launch an assault on Israel?). It is true that every new house on Palestinian land is an assault on ‘peace hopes’ – but this would not be a curse if Netanyahu actually wanted to arrive at a just arrangement.