This week’s

July 16, 2017
Sarah Benton


It’s tempting to think Israel is most like the West in its party politics. Tempting but wrong. There is no party in Europe or the USA which has to have a policy towards running another country through military procedures and personnel. Perhaps that’s ‘should have’ a policy. The relation of the Israeli state to Palestinians is not a priority for any of the main parties. This, for some Israelis, is the problem with Israel’s Labour Party which has just elected a new leader. The Occupation played no part; Israel’s ethnic hierarchy and social welfare for Israelis did:
Finding a majority for left of Likud bloc

Although a businessman and ‘self-made’ millionaire, the winner, Avi Gabbay is an ‘outsider’. That is, he’s a Mizrahi Jew, the child of Moroccan Jewish immigrants. He is also new to politics, a sign of how much the Labour party needs to be shaken out of its political paralysis:
Another outsider wins party leadership

From the local to the international the website MEMO posts an analysis by historian Lorenzo Kamel interpreting the signs of the future in the Middle East. It’s a complex argument but it points to domination of the entire region by Israel and its new friend Saudi Arabia which will maintain control by entrenching religious and ethnic divisions. One result will be the Balkanisation of the other countries which lack a powerful state and military:
New world order will entrench rifts in the Mid-East

Nothing hopeful in Gaza. Dedevelopment continues its destructive course. In order to destroy Hamas all in Gaza must suffer. Lack of electricity harms most modern human activity, most acutely the most vulnerable. Although the Israeli government says it is nothing to do with them, it’s an internal Palestinian dispute, Israel’s Electric Corporation has gone along with the restriction of electric power. Nir Gontarz asks its chief why:
I’m just doing my job – cutting power to Gaza hospitals

Naomi Zeveloff, writing for The National, looks at the consequences of this decision for children in Gaza’s hospitals. Apart from the heat (no air conditioning) the lives of babies needing incubation and of anyone needing dialysis are in immediate danger. Hospital directors find their job is to get powerful generators – as long as they can get the fuel:
There is no plan D

In the same posting is a second article by Naomi Zeveloff, this one on solar panels. This seems the answer for sunshine-rich Gaza – but it’s expensive. Wealthier people can buy them. Nobody else can – though surely Hamas could divert some money into such life-saving equipment?

The principal news for the week is not Gaza’s lack of electricity but the killing of two Israeli police officers by three Israeli Palestinians at the Al Aqsa/Temple Mount compound. Only Gideon Levy focused on the fact that these killings were of Israelis by Israelis who were Druze – a taboo because it would have highlighted the fact that any notion of Israel as a melting-pot is a delusion:
Breaking taboos at the holy sanctuary

In the same posting Amos Harel, also of Haaretz, writes of the taboo that is violence in a holy sanctuary.

In a very unusual response, Pres. Abbas phoned PM Netanyahu to express his regret. The long-term consequences of the attack will emerge. The immediate punitive response – closing access to Haram Al-Sharif, arresting the Grand Mufti – are condemned:
Closing Al Aqsa a ‘collective punishment’

Many were shocked by the decision of the arbiter of all things antisemitic, viz. PM Netanyahu, to condone the vilification of fellow Jew George Soros by Hungarian strong-man and anti-Semite Viktor Orban whom he is meeting this coming week. Here Bibi’s right-wing politics outweigh everything. Soros’ Open Society Foundation funds many liberal and humanitarian causes including NGOs in Israel which the PM regards as traitors:
Bibi chooses Hungarian anti-Semite over benevolent Hungarian Jew

A perceptive comment by Al Monitor’s Mazal Mualem notes that the Israeli PM needs the racist Hard Right as part of his dance with the USA. He can tell the US State dept. that he can’t do much about settlements because he is being so hard-pressed by the settler right wing:
Why Bibi needs the Hard Right

It was, is and will forever be impossible to talk honestly of the ‘Jewish community’ in Britain (anywhere?) as though it were a coherent, unified body. Editors of the American Jewish journal Tablet are viscerally hostile to the Left especially when exemplified by Jeremy Corbyn. American Jerry Haber found another reason to question the publication’s integrity. The Tablet attacked Jewish Voice for Peace and ‘left-wing antisemitism’ providing many links as evidence – not one of which connected to any evidence whatsoever. Moral – if something seems unlikely check the links:
False claims by Know-Nothings

Israelis right-wingers are highly touchy about any criticism of state policy either genuinely seeing it as antisemitic or simply being hyper-nationalists who cannot tolerate divergent views. They make ‘Israel’, as a singular entity, seem trapped in a neurotic state of fearing harm from all sides. This seems to be borne out by the ban on visits by anyone who has expressed any support for BDS. An editorial in the LA Times decries this reaction:
Hypochondriacal Israel

For some reason, yet to be discovered, Glasgow police charged Scottish PSC members with racial aggravation claiming they had committed the “Jewish blood libel” by speaking about Israeli mass murder of Palestinians. Do they have any idea of what ‘the blood libel’ is? The Scottish Procurator Fiscal dismissed the case:
Scottish court refutes charge of antisemitism

False charges of antisemitism also hit the San Francisco branch of the General Union of Palestinian Students. The charge was brought by the local branch of Hillel who tried to get GUPS prosecuted. Any support for Palestinians is seen, by its nature, as antisemitic:
Small war at SF university

The decision by UNESCO to award World Heritage Status to the ancient Cave of the Patriarchs/al-Ibrahimi mosque has infuriate Netanyahu who sees it as an example of the UN’s anti-Israel bias. This is because UNESCO recognises that the site in Hebron is in Palestine so it’s a Palestinian world heritage site – a matter of geography:
Don’t say ‘Palestine’ – it’s an antisemitic word


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