Under attack by Israel and the USA for recognising the Palestinian state, Sweden’s foreign minister Margot Wallström said “it’s not the United States that decides our politics”. Three cheers for Sweden. The Swedish decision has effectively dismissed the argument that the State of Palestine must be born through negotiations writes Daoud Kuttab who gives the history to this decision.
In the early days, theere was not, for most, a conflict between being a liberal and being a zionist. Hopes that a Jewish home could be created that was run on the principles of democracy and universal human rights were high. That hope has long since gone. The zionism triumphed, forcing out the liberal and making liberal zionism an oxymoron. Ran Greenstein traces the history.
Or rather, as the Telegraph’s Peter Oborne argues in this cogent piece, the alternative is Israel leaving the community of civilised nations as it struggles to maintain control over a mass of angry Palestinians through a military-controlled system of apartheid. Surely even the Conservative Friends of Israel, the largest organisation in Europe dedicated to the cause of Israel, cannot wish for this.
Most nations have a founding date of national consciousness. ‘In popular descriptions among Palestinians, Israel’s military assaults have often been compared to the Mongol wars, or the Tatars, where all destruction is permissible, and nothing is sacred.’ But that 13th C moment is true of all Arabs, and Palestinians are insisting on their unique role in resisting invasive destruction against the complacency of other MidEast nations.
Aliyah is a hallowed term for ‘going up’ to Israel. Yerida is the derogatory term for emigrating from Israel. Without the mass immigration from Russia and former Soviet Republics it’s hard to know which would have been larger. The cost of living, parochialism – in place of the (double-edged) virtue of cosmopolitanism – and oppression by right-wing dogma are amongst the reasons cited by Israelis, and the band Shmemel, for moving to more open societies in the USA and Europe.
It took new laws and supreme court rulings to make segregation in buying or renting property in the USA illegal. That state action against local racism is presumably an American value which Obama is expressing when he rebukes Netanyahu for Jews-only settlements. Richard Silverstein is aghast that Bibi should claim that that view is ‘unAmerican’, and details some of the practices that ensure Jewish/Arab segregation.
Not for the first time, the US administration has condemned Israeli plans to build new homes on Palestinian land. Netanyahu’s response, that this rebuke is ‘unAmerican’ shows his normal cheek – and a new carelessness about US-Israel relations. He appears to be asserting that Israel has a free market in which there are no ethnic considerations governing property ownership.
The determined ethnic cleansing of E. Jerusalem continues, spearheaded by Elad, the Ir David Foundation. It wants Jewish families to move into Palestinian properties and, to keep them empty until such families can be found, have invited settlers to move in as armed guards for the payment of $136 a day.
A debate will take place in the House of Commons on Monday October 13th, 2014 to debate the motion put by Gerald Kaufman MP and Grahame Morris MP. The PSC and JfJfP are urging supporters to lobby their MPs in favour of the motion, plus there is a 38 degrees petition. The right-wing ‘JMA’ is trying to organise a counter-lobby.
Sweden has become the first of the older EU members to declare that it will recognise a Palestinian state. This has drawn Israel’s ire with foreign minister Lieberman playing the Syrian gambit (you cannot move there because you should be talking about Syria). Sweden has a new centre-left government.
The essays of Moshe Machover, JfJfP signatory, are reviewed by Moshe Behar in a short and dense piece (to which a lengthy quote from an essay has been added.) Both home in on Machover’s argument that Israel is a proper nation, defined by its exclusive Hebrew language and culture, with its own capitalist formation, but not the nation of all Jews. Though it has a Marxist basis, the definitions of what makes a nation are Machover’s own.
The leaders of Palestine and Israel addressed the UN General Assembly in September. Uri Avnery, like other Israeli commentators, has no time for Abbas’ solemn accusation of genocide; he is more dismissive of the Netanyahu’s salesman’s pitch at an international (American) audience, homing in on his ISIS=Hamas claim and other such false equations.
The religious right now dominates both Israel and Gaza (in the form of Hamas); both adopt an uncompromising, racist and maximalist position – all the land from the Jordan to the sea. Meanwhile, Israel has entrenched, with military force, its own one state solution (i.e. occupation). Meredith Tax believes there is still hope for two states, which the majority of Israelis, Palestinians, Americans (and Europeans) still support.
If you’re reading this website, especially if you are a JfJfP signatory, you are not a PEP: Progressive Except on Palestine. Comedian and film-maker Katie Halper doesn’t know who invented the term but she has picked it up and run with it including devising a test for American Jews to find out if they suffer from this break-down in their liberal conscience.
For a long time, Israel’s ‘us’ was set against the Palestinian ‘them’. Now, as Israelis politically turn in on themselves, the enemies of the dominant culture are the critics and leftists, says Mairav Zonszein in a NY Times opinion piece. The aim is to silence the questioners and critics – and abolish freedom of speech.
President Abbas addressed the UN General Assembly on September 26th. He needn’t have bothered because no-one listened. While Netanyahu’s speech received widespread coverage, only one word of Abbas’s speech was heard – genocide. Which meant the commentators have not been listening to the wider discussion about whether Israel’s policy towards Palestinians is genocidal.
PM Netanyahu addressed the UN General Assembly on September 29th. He said he would refute the slanders against Israel – and did so by deploying the metaphors of Islamic terrorism and the extinction of Israel to account for his government’s relation with Palestinians. In his view, there are no actual Palestinian people.
In an original analysis, William I. Robinson argues that Israeli racism – all Palestinians are terrorists and should be got rid of – plus globalisation (in which the Israeli military-security complex plays a key part) – has created a genocidal society. Within global labour trends this amounts to a 21st century form of fascism.
Oliver Miles, retired British ambassador, adds his voice to the proposal that the UK government should recognise Palestine as a state, ‘cashing in’ the goodwill the UK has earned with the US, and bringing along ‘the few remaining EU refuseniks’.
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.