The week in brief, 11th-17th October – a summary of recent postings

October 17, 2010
Richard Kuper

jfjfpA week ago the Israeli cabinet approved a discriminatory loyalty oath requiring non-Jews seeking naturalization to swear a loyalty oath to ‘the Jewish state’. It is undoubtedly the most important milestone is the Israeli government’s increasing desire to define itself in racist terms.

JNews reported on the significance of this development in relation to pressure on Palestinian Israelis who quite rightly recognize themselves as its target. The Ynet news report Government approves loyalty oath bill discusses the politics of those who voted for and against the proposal. In The Jewish Republic of Israel Gideon Levy describes it as “the day Israel change[d] its character… From now on, we will be living in a new, officially approved, ethnocratic, theocratic, nationalistic and racist country.” Many Israelis singed a Declaration of Independence from Fascism, stating that: “A state which forcibly invades the hallowed realm of the individual citizen’s conscience, and which imposes punishment on those whose opinions and beliefs do not fit the authorities’ opinions and the prescribed “character” of the state, stops being a democracy and embarks on becoming a fascist state.” Uri Avnery writes incisively as ever about the bill in The State of Bla-Bla-Bla, teasing out its contraditions: “No Israeli law has defined what the “Jewish people” is. A religious community? An ethnic group? A race? All these together? Does it include all those professing the Jewish religion? Everybody who has a Jewish mother? Does it include a non-Jew married to someone with one Jewish grandparent, who today enjoys the automatic right to come to Israel and become a citizen? If 100 thousand Arabs were to convert to Judaism tomorrow, would the state belong to them, too?”

Jonathan Cook, married to an Israeli Palestinian and applying for naturalisation writes about the hypocrisy and the racism of what is being asked of him in Forced to take the apartheid oath.

A further manifestation of the same obsession is revealed in the Netanyahu’s demands that Abbas recognize Israel as a state of the Jewish people, as Akiva Eldar explains in Sell the right of return for a 2-month settlement freeze…

As is the frenzy to expel the Bedouin in the Negev in order to Judaise it. An Open Letter to the JNF opposing its role in this development has been signed by a big tent of 36 ideologically diverse Israeli and American Jewish organizations – 28 NGOs, human rights organizations and social movements from the Negev and Israel and 8 American Jewish organizations There is also a petition to the JNF which we urge all to sign.

To understand the mindset of mainstream Zionism today it is worth looking at the Birthright Israel project as it takes young Jews from the diaspora and tries to convert them into ambassadors for Israel. We link to a short film about it, made by an Israeli high-school student.

The BDS movement has chalked up a notable success with Veolia finally signing a principled agreement to sell its shares in the Jerusalem Light Rail project. But it still has many other interests in the occupation

There has been a return to the discussion of the merits or not of an academic boycott of Israel, occasioned by the University of Johannesburg’s ruling body discussing a proposal from the boycott campaign that it should sever its research links with Ben Gurion University. Two contributions to the debate, by Ran Greenstein and Robert Fine, are particularly clear and level-headed and respectful of each other’s arguments.

Christopher Hayes the Nation’s Washington, DC editor sends a moving “postcard from Palestine“, saying of his trip to Hebron that: ” To see it in person is to understand viscerally that the status quo in the West Bank cannot hold. To see it is to understand just what occupation requires…”

Oxfam published an informative report on Olive Farming in the West Bank, saying that “We believe that if the Palestinian Authority, Israel, the international community, donors and NGOs address the issues outlined in this report the future for Palestinian olive farmers looks bright.” Of course, it all does rather depend on a change of heart by Israel, as Oxfam is acutely aware…

Finally, returning the to Irene, we carry a video interview with Glyn Secker, the captain, and a text interview with passenger and refugee from Nazi Germany, Lilian Rosengarten.

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