To Israel loyalists, there is no problem; the huge number of Palestinians in Israeli prisons is simply evidence of their terrorism, including women and boys (Israelis are easily terrified). But as we know, there is often no evidence as they are held under ‘administrative detention’- just the say-so of a military tribunal. Amahl Bishara looks at who becomes a prisoner under Israel’s arbitrary military rule.
The American Studies Association vote to boycott Israeli institutions has had extraordinary repercussions in American politics. The most recent state assembly to present a counter-law penalising any American institution which permits boycott is Maryland. Despite heavy pressure to label BDS as racist and ‘delegitimising’ the state delegates would only support a more anodyne motion.
As cynicism about politics grows, the chances of government by an engaged, well-informed citizenry, shrinks. Into the space pours big money. There are few more powerful users of money to get the political result he wants than American Sheldon Adelson, especially in another people’s country, Israel. Not that Israel does not have its own money corrupters. Ehud Olmert for one.
Two pieces by Mike Marqusee explaining to a friend why there are campaigns in the USA, Europe and even Israel to impose boycotts and sanctions against Israel. To begin with, the Palestinians themselves have asked for it (unlike other oppressed people) and Israel is picked out for special favours by the USA and EU. Israelis feel betrayed because they are ‘people like us’ but our empathy is not with them.
In this April issue of B’Tselem’s newsletter, director Jessica Montell answers questions on International Women’s Day via Facebook – to which her basic answer is that human rights trump all issues. We can infer that the weaker you are, the harder they are to enforce – see B’Tselem’s report on the killing of Yusef a-Shawamreh, the boy who was gathering herbs on the wrong side of the fence.
Unless you’re a policy wonk, this posting on the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) is valuable for its glancing look at their rarefied world. An examination of their 58 person executive committee reveals a tranche of highly wealthy Jews, characterising Republican men of property rather than any Jewish values or practices. Their ‘rules’ include no reference to the oPt and no criticism of Israel.
It has been endlessly reiterated – the US is the only power which can compel Israel to move over and allow the Palestinians to govern their own land. But this is not what Secretary of State Kerry has been doing. The US wants Israel to stop being an international problem – not to see a viable Palestinian state. The US cannot have one without the other. An FT report.
For Palestinians to have the freedom to to play Israelis have to lift their barriers to free movement. The highly alarming (to Israelis) JPost headline on April 1st that FIFA was going to expel the IFA unless Israelis stopped harming Palestinian efforts to play football could have been an April Fool. FIFA has made no such threat. It was not reported in InsideWorldFootball on March 31. It was reported on March 19 that the PFA would call for the expulsion of the Israeli FA if Israel had not cleaned up its act by the time of FIFA’s June Congress.
A stop to settlement building was the first demand of the PA in the current negotiations with the Israelis who responded with an announcement of 1400 new tenders for housing in the West Bank . Netanyahu linked it to the release of Palestinian prisoners which he has failed to deliver. Abbas now has little choice but to make that release his final stand.
Diaspora Jews, in our familiar European and American homelands, have always been subject to costly efforts to turn us into something else. The latest comes from Israel where anxiety about the shrinking of Israel as THE mark of Jewish identity (above custom and religion) has been growing for several years. Large sums have now been allocated, as the Prime Minister’s Initiative, into reversing this trend. It’s not about saving us, as the ‘diaspora’ but about saving israel as The Homeland.
Some Palestinians remained hopeful that Kerry’s efforts would force Israel to be serious. But the failure to release prisoners, as promised, and the announcement of new settlements, show they are not – despite Kerry’s last minute offer of Jonathan Pollard. The PA is now preparing to apply to join up to 15 UN bodies, despite US and Israeli pressure not to, in a demonstration of their statehood.
This is a sombre and depressing account of what hopes Palestinians now have for achieving independence. As many have done recently, Norman Finkelstein marks the inertia of Palestinians themselves- the only ones who can shift the status quo. But they are isolated. Obama/Kerry have intervened because of ‘vainglory’ and BDS supporters are living in a fantasy world about their power.
It’s hard to know what to think of Yuval Diskin, a former head of Shin Bet who has been showering Israeli politicians with scorn since he left office. Is this the familiar contempt for politics of the manly soldier – or the vision of a man who has lived outside their world and seen a need for pragmatic government to earn the stature of a ‘moral, enlightened and developed’ nation.
European far-right parties have ditched (most of) their tradition of antisemitism in favour of anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-EU positions. They are thus in harmony with Israel’s right wing which, in particular, deeply resents the critical resolutions about settlements and occupation coming out of various EU bodies. In this new constellation, Israel is the brightest star in the ‘civilised’ firmament.
Military Court Watch – which does what it says in the name – has published a follow-up report to UNICEF’s Children in Israeli Military Custody, which set the standard for all following inquiries. There have been some small reforms – worth noting – but essentially Palestinian teenagers are stripped of their rights as soon as they cross the IDF. Maltreatment of teenage boys is common but no EU country allows such complete flouting of legal procedure.
March 30th is the annual Land Day commemoration, marked by demonstrations in the West Bank, Gaza and, notably, in several Arab-Israeli towns. Confronted with the Prawer-Begin plan to clear Bedouin Arabs from the Negev and unchecked settlement building in the West Bank which the PA seems powerless to block, it is no surprise that Palestinians have lost trust in any agency that could hold on to their land.
This is business reporting at its worst – competition from other companies is the only reason why a company may be afflicted by tumbling share prices which have afflicted Sodastream in the last quarter. Normally ‘reputation’ is highly rated by business analysts and following the coverage occasioned by Scarlett Johansson’s endorsement, Sodastream’s image has never been worse. If anything, the advertisement spurred boycotters to focus on Sodastream.
The IDF claim last month that it had intercepted a ship carrying weapons for Hamas, or another terrorist group in Gaza, received wide publicity – and some scepticism. Now military analysts suspect the destination was more likely to have been a jihadist group in Sinai, which the IDF knew at the time. Hamas has been a force for stability in the region – but it is losing income, allies and power.
It is a testament to the growth of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions campaign (BDS) that – if we leave aside the claim that it is by nature antisemitic – the arguments about the aims of the campaign have become more precise. Here we post a critique by Ran Greenstein and speeches by 2 JfJfP signatories for and against academic boycott. Jonathan Rosenhead checks off the objections, Bob Fine introduces nationalism into the mix.
The vote by the RIBA council to call for the suspension of the Israeli architects’ association from the international body has rightly created much discussion. Only the Jewish Chronicle has interpreted the vote as evidence of antisemitism. As Richard Kuper points out for JfJfP, to misuse this grave charge is to undermine serious work against antisemitism. Letters, editorials, news. And are there no non-Jewish architects in Israel? If so, why not?