The week in brief 24th April-2nd May – a summary of recent postings
The worst news is that the rightward drift in Israel continues apace with a bill before the Knesset to outlaw NGOs that provide evidence of human-rights violations. But there is the hope that protest about the Sheikh Jarrar evictions might see the emergence of a new Israeli left. (See also Bradley Burston‘s moving analysis of the situation.) Ten Israel Prize laureates and more than 50 academics and intellectuals wrote to the Israeli Defence Minister protesting against Israel’s sweeping ban on Palestinian students from Gaza studying in the West Bank. And Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland reports on the differences in access to central Jerusalem for residents of the illegal settlements and Palestinians from Shuafat and Beit Hanina.
In Europe there is a liberal Zionist move to launch a new Jewish peace movement under the name of J Call on 3rd May in Brussels.
On the Palestinian side: Rachel Shabi assesses the attempt of the Palestinian Authority to reinvent itself as a popular movement but suggests it is skin-deep; there is a new International Crisis Group report on the changing strategy of the PLO; and the fifth Bil’in International Conference on the Popular Struggle committed itself to establishing legal accountability, promoting a BDS strategy and building an international network in support of Palestinian popular non-violent resistance.
In the US the most high-profile campaign yet to organise divestment from companies profiting from the occupation has been temporarily halted at Berkeley. But there is no doubt that the divesters won both the argument and majority support, and the issue will no doubt return to the agenda soon. (See also the essay by refusenik Joathan Ben Artzi on taking sides.) In the States, too, Elie Wiesel’s call for Jerusalem to be taken out of current political discussions did not receive the response he wanted from the Obama government.
In South Africa in the barred-mitzah-gate saga, Justice Richard Goldstone, author of the UN report on Gaza, was effectively barred from attending his grandson’s forthcoming barmitzvah by the Zionist and Orthodox Jewish establishment. Howls of outrage have forced a reversal…
Some other interesting essays and analytical pieces that appeared this week: Stephen Maher on the Israel lobby thesis that “does little to explain US foreign policy in the Middle East”; Noam Chomsky provides an overview of recent history of Gaza, of the settlements and of Washington’s changing responses to Israel; and a special issue of the Badil Resource Centre journal al-Majdal devoted to the Jewish National Fund was published.