Two international stories in which Israel / Palestine play a major, but often overlooked part, head this week’s postings this week, May 25th-31st 2015. The first is the profoundly important issue of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a secretive deal between the USA and EU which threatens Europe’s regulations on labour and safety […]
International trade treaties are often ignored by all except policy wonks and campaigners on international economic fairness. The TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, between the USA and EU, is slowly gaining attention wider attention as the implications of a law that would, amongst other things, inititiate a slump to the bottom in regulatory standards for labour, safety standards and health and open up bodies like the NHS to compulsory competitive privatisation. And it would prohibit trade with bodies that advocate BDS. The negotiations are secretive, and we have no say. An issue for UKIP – and the rest of us – surely. Petition to sign.
Despite the dramatic events on the eve of FIFA’s Zurich Congress, the agenda will be followed at the Congress and the Palestine Football Association will put their resolution. But this may not have the impact they hoped for given the media’s focus on the arrests of nine FIFA offficials. They are angry, Israel is relieved. Await the conspiracy stories.
The UN’s envoy for children and armed conflict has included Israel in a list of states which harm children. So far, the UN has accepted her list but is under heavy pressure from Israel and the US not to. The Israeli foreign ministry says “This is a heinous and hypocritical attempt to besmirch the image of Israel and it is doomed to fail.”
Thousands of Palestinians have been evicted from their homes in Jerusalem under Israel’s 1950 Absentee Property Law – which happily defines ‘absent’ in a fantastical way. Someone who was a Jordanian citizen, or away on the day in 1947 when Israel accepted the UN partition plan, for instance, is defined as an absentee. And any Palestinians who do not have formal deeds of ownership to their home are of course absentees. Hence the magical ability to evict a family who isn’t there in order for settlers, who are, to claim the house.
A group which has gone to some lengths to hide all details by which its founders and funders might be identified has published on a website as many personal details as it can uncover about Americans, especially students, who have any involvement with pro-Palestinian activity. Daniel Pipes defends the website on the grounds that students should understand their criticism of Israel could harm their future careers.
Jerusalem Day – May 17th this year – continues to attract thousands of young men in a belligerent assertion of their power to take over a city. These are the new young nationalists of such concern to an older generation. The irony has been much noted: in their celebration of the ‘unification’ of Jerusalem they display how entrenched are the divisions of ethnicity, age, gender, politics.
Palestinians have always known many were forced out of their homes in 1948 and that those who had fled in fear were prevented from returning. Jewish and non-Jewish Zionists believed they had been ordered to leave by Arab leaders but since the work of Israeli new historians they have had to revise their version. Now a new letter has been found showing that Ben-Gurion, contrary to Golda Meir’s account, ordered that Arabs should not be allowed to return to Haifa.
Another victory for free-wheeling Bibi might not suggest disaster for any progressive position. But as he has chosen to bring in pro-settler and ultra-Orthodox parties to shore him up – it has. It will not win him any friends abroad. His shift to hardline right-wing policies is at odds with those he wants to admire and support Israel. And he’s changed the law to protect his government’s endurance.
Like male Palestinian journalists, women – who make up a third of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate – are subject to assaults by Israeli army and police who don’t want their actions recorded. Such assaults leapt in number last year. Palestinian authorities are no more welcoming of critical reporters, but under their aegis women journalists are subject to sexist abuse and threats, which remain beyond the law.
Amnesty International has followed up its critical reports on Israel’s conduct during Operation Protective Edge with two on Hamas. The first, published in March, identified a number of war crimes committed by Hamas including firing from and at civilian buildings, The 2nd details the violent methods used to control people in Gaza and eliminate critics.
Rela Mazali and Ghada Ageel respond to the wide coverage given to the recent record of testimonies by Breaking the Silence. They question the ‘privileged status’ given to this report when multiple testimonies by Palestinians are so often ignored. Their valid and important critique, however, does not acknowledge the importance of the soldiers’ revelations of what orders they were given.
So far two American states have passed resolutions opposing any boycott against any product from Israel or its settlements and one state, Illinois, has passed an amendment prohibiting state agencies from entering into a contract with any agency that boycotts Israel (settlements included). This would prohibit trade with the EU if it continues with its policy of not trading with settlements.
Uri Avnery casts a despairing, but ever keen, eye over Netanyahu’s new government. He had not expected it to produce peace with Palestinians but he had hoped it would treasure democracy. There is little hope of that.
When Israel was created it did not have, could not have had, a national culture. One had to be created by, amongst other means, adopting existing cultures. Many of the elements of Israel’s infant culture were taken from Palestinians. Nothing wrong with that. Ben White’s objection is that this appropriation is not acknowledged by Israelis. One has launched ‘International Hummus Day’ so that people will associate Israel with this dish.
Slowly moving into the front line comes the EU, author of many resolutions deploring the illegal occuption and warning that Israel’s trade with Europe – Israel’s largest export market – will be restricted if serious negotiations for two states do not start. But officials seem satisfied with a finely honed form of words. Two analysts […]
On the momentous festival of Shavout, when God handed down the 10 commandments to Moses, Robert Cohen asks why and when the state of Israel replaced God as the centre of Jewish identity and loyalty. His own critique of Israeli (unJudaic) oppression of another tribe has drawn huge hostility and accusations of treachery. Nationalism has swamped religion and ethics reducing Jewish identity to loyalty to a state.
It is said so often that antisemitism is rising in Europe that it seems to have become the new commonsense – of course it’s going up, look at all those Jew-hating Muslims. And ‘Palestinianism’ has become dominant making anti-Israelism the new antisemitism said Prof. Wistrich. Yet a careful analysis of the data by the Institute for Jewish Policy Research shows this is not so, though there some anomalies. High antisemitism in Poland, Russia and Spain, more antisemitic attacks recorded in the UK than in France, with its much larger Jewish population. It is clear that current methods of recording and evaluating antisemitism leaves much to be desired say the authors. Meanwhile some Jewish bodies act on the assumption of rising antisemitism with no base of evidence.
An Italian and an Israeli analyst look at where the EU and Israel have incompatible policies (on MEPP – Middle East Peace Process) but where there is room for rapprochement and diplomacy. The EU should be more pragmatic, Israel should get out of its immobilising hole and both need more courage and practical, realistic action.
No body takes responsibility for the essential infrastructure and amenities of East Jerusalem. And then there is shock when the youth rebel. A report from ACRI, updated from 2013, reads like a blueprint for deprivation, distress, disaffection. Why the Jerusalem municipality is so unconcerned that its neglect of one area is breeding violence as well as poverty is not explained.