The week in brief, 28th June – 4th July – a summary of recent postings
In Israel: Gush Shalom secured a partial victory in its appeal to the Supreme Court to dismantle the Turkel Committee of Inquiry into the Gaza flotilla disaster when Netanyahu was forced to agree to enlarge the powers of the commission, so that it will be able to summon witnesses. Not enough, but Uri Avnery argues that “a small victory is better than a defeat”. Foreign Minister Avigdor is on the war path again with a neo-fascist “blueprint for a resolution to the conflict” with the Palestinians that demands most of the country’s large Palestinian minority be stripped of citizenship and relocated outside Israel’s future borders. Globes magazine comes to the rescue of beleaguered Israeli businessmen who are finding an “incessant media onslaught against Israel” with useful advice as to how to turn a crisis into a business opportunity! Israeli reporter Ilana Hammerman recently confessed in dramatic detail to a crime she had methodically planned and committed: she took 3 Palestinian children from the West bank to an Israeli beach so they could enjoy themselves… A new “anti-boycott bill”, the third in a series of proposed laws that aim to curtail the ability of civil society to criticise Israeli government policy, will punish Israelis or foreign nationals who initiate or promote a boycott of Israel…” Under the proposed legislation, even the EU will qualify as a ‘promoter of boycott’.
Meanwhile, in the occupied territories: since Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1967, ultra-nationalist settler communities have been infiltrating the heart of Palestinian neighbourhoods like Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah with the intention of creating an “undivided Jewish city”; the Ongoing water crisis in Gaza is getting even worse with 90 percent of water for domestic supply now below the minimum World Health Organisation (WHO) standard for drinking water because the blockade prevents repair to the collapsing sewerage treatment system; the Israeli NGO, Hamoked – the Centre for the Defence of the Individual, has just launched a new website, including a quiz on What do you know about the occupation?; international lawyer Sharon Weill provides an overview of the limited follow-up to the Goldstone Fact‐Finding Mission report to date; and in Eight days on the West Bank Bernard Davies gives a personal account of a trip last year by a group of ten people, five of them from Leamington, in which he attempts, among other things, to capture as far as possible “the ‘everyday-ness’ of the Palestinians’ oppression. The Wall Street Journal reports, most interestingly, on Hamas coming to appreciate the importance of international support for its legitimacy as a representative of the Palestinian people and its fight against Israeli occupation… “Hamas used to believe [international support] was just empty words”, says Salah Bardawil, a Hamas lawmaker in Gaza City. “Today it is very interested in international delegations … and in bringing Israeli officials to justice through legal proceedings.” […]
Despite heavy pressure not to do so, the Methodist Church Conference in the UK overwhelmingly adopted a working group report on ‘Justice for Palestine and Israel’ which includes strong condemnation of the occupation, the settlements, the wall and the Gaza blockade. The “Jewish community” is furious, or so the elders of the community claim. And Deputy PM Clegg while underlining the “need for a full, credible, impartial and independent investigation” welcomed Israel’s Turkel inquiry just days before even Netanyahu realised it was too wishy-washy to get away with!
US political support for Israel remains extraordinarily strong in both Congress and the Senate, even as the Israeli ambassador to the US, Michael Oren talks of a these relations being rocked by a ‘tectonic rift’.
On a wider canvass Ben White looks back over the last ten years since the Camp David negotiations under Bill Clinton’s guidance; Gilbert Achcar sees the writing on the wall for Israel’s occupation: Mene, Mene, Tekel u-Pharsin: the days of your kingdom are numbered; you have been weighed and found wanting; your kingdom will be divided and lost…”. Brian Klug expounds a Jewish vision of justice, rooted in the Torah, in which human rights – basic rights that accrue to each and every one of us purely and simply in virtue of being human – are a fundamental element. The Magnes Zionist writes on the binational state with a strong critique of an op-ed by Alexander Yacobson in Ha’aretz, whose “two-state differs little from the consensus Israeli position, which is one state plus (Israel) and one state minus (Palestine)…”