In this interview with Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN’s veteran diplomat utters some frank and hard-hitting judgments on the US’s role in the Middle East: it has been naive, without strategic thinking and unable to distinguish between different Arab nations.
‘The story of the Jews’ was a five part TV series made by British historian Simon Schama and first broadcast on BBC2 from September 2013. It was generally well received – except for its last part which suggested the settling of Palestine by Jews and the creation of Israel was the culmination of ‘the’ Jewish story. Interview with him by Poppy Sebag-Montefiore on the series and his new book .
This is a more sceptical view on whether or not the Palestinian Unity Government, led by President Abbas, will actually be able to exercise control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. But the writers in this WSJ article point to the pressure Palestinians are putting on Hamas for evidence, including reconstruction, of achievement in the resistance to Israel.
Less publicised than the war on Gaza was the Operation Protective Edge campaign of mass searches and arrests in the West Bank. Professors, students, intellectuals as well as politicians were included in the sweep. Although they feel harassed, Palestinian cadres think new, younger people will take over the leadership.
Freedom for all religions (unlike those intolerant Muslim regimes) has been one of Israel’s main claims to be the leading light in the Middle East. In fact, as with everything in Israel, freedom of worship in Israel and the oPt is significantly curtailed in the name of security (Israel’s). Orly Noy speaks her mind.
The postings this week are topped and tailed by commentaries on the revelation that so very Jewish is the Jewish state that the most popular name in Israel (Mohammed) has been written out of the statistics lest anyone register the fact of the large non-Jewish / Arab population living in the country. This one by Dr. Hatim Kanaaneh.
Robert Cohen in light-hearted mode brings us a grumpy, censorious Jonah who is imprisoned, not in the stomach of a whale, but an inability to imagine Palestinians as fellow human-beings. Instead, he holds to the frivolous belief that Hamas and ISIL are two sides of the same coin.
Many attributed Israel’s war on Gaza not to the kidnapping of the Israeli boys but to the formation of a Palestinian Unity Gov’t which Netanyahu wanted to scupper. Now the attack has produced the very result it was meant to destroy – the reinforcement of the unity government’s control over Gaza as well as the West Bank in order to facilitate the reconstruction of Gaza.
Amir Hetsroni accepted a post as professor of communications at the settlers’ university, Ariel, in the West Bank (which has no Palestinian students). He has been summarily sacked for saying publicly Ariel does not allow academic freedom, giving examples. His own views appear right-wing on some issues but his crime seems to be being an atheist, anti-Zionist critic of the occupation.
We return to the subject of the Hannibal directive because, after days on insisting Lieut. Golding had been captured and/or killed by Hamas, several officers have talked openly to Ynet about their ‘Hannibal operation’. Golding’s death was better than the fear Hamas exercised over the Israeli public by holding Gilad Shalit a prisoner for many years. Richard Silverstein continues the revelation.
It is not surprising that the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, in a special emergency session, found Israel guilty of a variety of war crimes in its attack on Gaza. What is impressive is the amount and detail of evidence they scrutinised. What is disappointing, if also not surprising, is that most of the Palestinian witnesses could not get permits to leave Gaza to give evidence.
President Abbas is to address the UN on September 26 with a plan to end the occupation of his country by Israel. The first step, one of his advisers says, is for Israel to draw its definite borders – something all Israeli regimes have refused to do, and for international law to be enforced. It is expected the Security Council will veto the proposals.
What life is there for people in Gaza now that much of what little they had has been destroyed by Israeli shelling? Many try to escape to Europe in journeys organised by ruthless people traffickers. On Sept. 6th, in the “worst shipwreck in years”, hundreds drowned when their ship was rammed by a rival smuggling group. Having done so little to stop the siege and bombardment of Gaza, it is time the EU took responsibility for allowing legitimate movement by such desperate people.
In a poignant piece, Noam Sheizaf describes how being the one leftist, the one who opposes Occupation, brings together an otherwise disparate family in the common enterprise of finding him wrong. Answer: leave as soon as possible.
According to the Prime Minister of Israel, the aim of the attack on Gaza was to ‘restore calm’. This aspect of Operation Protective Edge may have succeeded – at tremendous cost to Palestinians. Less remarked has been the impact of the operation in the West Bank – where many Palestinians believe the kidnapping of the Israeli boys was just an excuse to extend Israeli military control – which is causing anything but calm.
The UK’s former Consul-General in Jerusalem, Sir Vincent Fean, argues here that, though there is little to be done to improve Palestinian-Israeli relations, the little Britain could do is recognise Palestine as a state. Amongst other gains, this would confirm the Palestinian non-violent path and have an impact in the EU.
Hamas has claimed a victory of resistance in the recent Israeli attack; now it insists its priority is to maintain the ceasefire so that rebuilding can begin before winter. Donors’ conferences are scheduled but despite reports of money already having been given for reconstruction there is confusion over where these funds are.
Rosh Hashanah, the celebration for the Jewish new year, begins at sundown on Wednesday September 24th and concludes at sundown on Friday September 26th. As this statement from JfJfP executive says, it is a time for reflection especially on what might pressure we might bring to lessen the turmoil in the Middle East and on Israel’s role in that.
On the eve of Rosh Hashanah, JfJfP’s executive has written a letter to the Board of Deputies of British Jews proposing that it engages more openly and constructively with the issue of dispossessed Palestinians, the Israeli occupation and the widespread opposition to it in Britain.
Popular racism is one thing. Official racism another. Haaretz reveals that, although Mohammed was the most popular name for boys in Israel in 2013 the official list of the 10 most popular boys’ names does not include it. What does such censorship serve? Note: Mohammed was also the most popular name for boys in England and Wales – which is omitted from some lists.