They make a big pile, the corpses of the 45 Palestinians – unarmed, mostly young – killed by Israeli forces in the last three years, 22 of them last year. Amnesty has been counting and has released its grim report on the “unnecessary, arbitrary and brutal force against Palestinians”. The words callous, reckless, trigger-happy, impunity, illegal also occur. The protesters are unarmed – in many cases as a conscious policy of non-violence. The arms trade with Israel should be stopped; Israel’s buying and selling is based on putting down Palestinian resistance.
An Israeli woman returning from the holiday resort of Eilat with her party of students does not have a high profile as a potential terrorist. Yet at both Ben Gurion and Eilat airports she was picked out for extra checks. This tourist is an Arab. At Eilat her body was felt all over and she was forced to take off all clothes except her pants. The aim? Humiliation. News report and angry editorial from Haaretz on ‘the religion of security’.
The bombing is carried out by Syria’s national airforce; the lack of food and water in the Yarmouk camp near Damascus is in part due to indifference – in Syria’s cruel civil war, Palestinian refugees are expendable – and in part due to Palestinian factional fighting in Yarmouk; aid convoys and deliveries are treated as legitimate targets in the struggle to control the camp. Coverage so far has largely come from Arab media. Here a report from Harriet Sherwood in the Guardian.
‘The greatest challenge facing the Palestinian national movement is how to bring home the reality of the conflict to Israel’s mainstream majority that lives far from the occupied territories’ says Hussein Ibish. The solidarity movement must make the point that it’s settlements which are illegal, not Israel itself. Otherwise, BDS gives ammunition to the horde crying ‘delegitimisation’ and ‘why pick on Israel’, adding to Israeli closed minds.
The reason for posting several different reports of IDF airstrikes against targets in Lebanon/Syria is that there is no consensus on what the targets were, and why. One suggestion – also made last May – is that Israel wants to find out if any force in those countries has the ability to strike back (no, it seems). Another is that Hezbollah has to be prevented from receiving modern weapons, yet it is also said that because Hezbollah is committed to keeping President Assad in power it has no capacity for opening a new front with Israel. It’s the fog of war – or stormy weather. Perhaps it’s just IDF target practice.
Angela Merkel on one of her frequent visits to Israel arrived this time with almost her entire government – to a backdrop of rioting in Jerusalem and aircraft roaring overhead on their way to bomb Syria. She pledged Germany’s everlasting friendship with Israel and its security needs – and her everlasting opposition to the Israeli government’s continuous expansion into Palestinian living space.
The organization of Presbyterian churches in the US, the PCUSA, has produced a study guide on zionism for all its congregants, and others. (It is not available to download but reviews praise its breadth of information). Predictably it has been attacked by the Simon Wiesenthal Center and other Israel lobby groups; more surprisingly JStreet has joined in the attack – but since JStreet set out to rival AIPAC in its Congressional influence its status as a progressive group has become more and more dubious. Christian critics of Christian Zionism support the pamphlet.
To adapt the words of the Johnny Cash song, ‘Because you’re mine, we draw the line'; that is, like many younger free-thinking Jews, the Sign on the Green Line campaigners argue that showing the Green Line demarcating the Palestinian West Bank makes Israel politically and morally more defensible – as well as hauling the British Jewish establishment out of the dishonesty of pretending so such line exists.
It’s not that difficult to cobble together several discrete groups into an an anti-Islamic horde. By focussing on the most repressive Muslim groups, the Israel lobby can present itself as the defender of gays (outside ultra-Orthodox centres) and Christians (unless they are Palestinian). Richard Silverstein on the lobby’s unlikely recruits, its effort to repress freedom of speech for Judith Butler and abuse of free speech against Israel’s critics.
After Scarlett Johannson’s straw-sucking plug for Sodastream created mass free publicity for the opposition to illegal settlements, Sodastream’s share price plunged. Share-buyers may invest in all sorts of tacky enterprises as long as no-one makes a fuss. Its reputation may be a company’s most precious asset which is tarnished by a fuss. Targetting the shareholders may be the BDS’s movement most effective tactic.
The total control of Israeli agents over Palestinians is not an illusion, nor is Palestinian vulnerability and humiliation. But in this second Oscar-nominated film from Hany Abu-Assad we see how this inhumane control permeates all aspects of Palestinian life but diminishes the victims’ humanity less than it does that of their Israeli controllers, trapped in their state of denial.
Those who complacently assumed eternal and unstinting support for the Israeli state, whatever it does, cannot have been more shocked if the sky had fallen in. After the withdrawal of one attempt to impose state sanctions on American academics who supported the boycott of Israeli institutions, another is being prepared for the NY senate. Meanwhile, former Israeli ambassador Michael Oren has described the President of the ASA as ‘antisemitic’ – an accusation that would be libellous had not such as Oren drained the term of all meaning.
From the beginning, the IDF has been lauded as Israel’s greatest creation – not just an effective fighting force but symbol of an egalitarian willingness to fight and die in the service of country. No more. An attempt to conscript the burgeoning population of the Ultra-Orthodox has been diluted because they are also seen as the protector of Israel’s religious soul. To the secular, it is now the Ultra-Orthodox who provide ‘the existential threat’ to Israel.
Recognising the Green Line demarcating Palestinian occupied territory is the very least sign of recognition that Palestinians actually live in the territory bordered by the sea, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. This line is not included in Israeli maps. Nor does its absence seems to cause any concern to British establishment Jewish groups. A new group, Sign on the Line, has set out to change that.
Shuhada Street was a main thoroughfare in Hebron, lined by Palestinian shops, leading to the market square. Ten years ago, a far-right American Jewish settler, Baruch Goldstein, shot dead 29 Palestinians in the Ibrahimi mosque. He was beaten to death by survivors. In response, the IDF closed Shuhada Street to all Palestinians, turning the area into a ghost town dotted with Jewish settlements and Israeli checkpoints. For the last few years on the anniversary of the massacre Palestinians have demonstrated for the opening of Shuhada Street to them.
Avigdor Lieberman has come up with another wonderful wheeze – persuade diaspora Jews to move to Israel (populating the West Bank presumably) on the grounds that outside Israel Jews are faced with annihilation by assimilation. Perhaps he would like a revival of the persecution that once made Jews such an inturned and protective community; freedom has made that sort of Jewishness redundant without special measures to ensure separateness – such as Jewish free schools.
‘It’s like drugs, this anti-Semitism stuff. You start with something small, like avoiding herbs from Gush Etzion, and before you know it you’re foaming at the mouth and mainlining Mein Kampf’. Jewish Israeli Roy Isacowitz discovers, to his surprise, that he’s an antisemite – according to his Leader (PM Netanyahu) that is. According to aforesaid PM, support for BDS is antisemitic. ‘The only democracy in the Middle East’ + proper home for all Jews, classifies all critics as antisemites.
This is the second piece in two weeks to claim that the BDS has a hidden agenda – to destroy Israel through letting it be overrun by Arabs. (How this would come about is in the mind of the fantasists, such as BDS supporter John Spritzler). After all, if BDS achieved its primary aim – of getting Israel to abide by international law – it would surely strengthen Israel and improve its own now very tarnished reputation for decent governance.
Roger Cohen’s article (above) will not have caused too much discomfiture to the Israeli government. Despite his ‘liberal’ stance he argues himself into condemning BDS for supporting the Palestinian right of return. What might upset Netanyahu et al is this flood of letters in response to the article and the NY TImes’ decision to publish 15 of these, almost all of which support BDS as a tactic to secure recognition of Palestinian rights.
This section of a longer article by Nu’man Abd al-Wahid on British imperialism, examines the UK’s role in preventing the formation of powerful Arab states (it failed in Egypt). That hasn’t stopped the Arab dictators from accruing huge wealth much of which has been funnelled into Britain. Preventing the development of Arab democracy is a costly business.