The week in brief, 13th-19th September – a summary of recent postings

September 19, 2010
Richard Kuper

jfjfpMuhammad Ali Khalidi argues that the new “ethical code” designed for the Israeli army to take into account the “fight against terror”… contains two innovations: it includes acts aimed exclusively at military targets in its definition of “terrorism,” and it contains a principle of distinction that prioritizes the lives of citizen combatants over those of noncitizen noncombatants, contrary to centuries of theorizing about the morality of war as well as international humanitarian law…

Time magazine’s Karl Vick published an article observing that solving the conflict with the Palestinians is very low on the agenda of most Israelis today. It wasn’t long before the Abe Foxman of the ADL accused Time magazine of being antisemitic!

Marlin Dick assesses “Hizballah’s Domestic Growing Pains,” and argues that as “time passes, and occasional rhetoric aside, the party behaves more and more like a Chicago political machine than a branch of the Revolutionary Guard…”

Within Israel, ACRI warns of  “an alarming trend taking shape in the current Knesset, which flourished during the last session: the use of democratic processes by the majority, specifically legislation, to hinder freedom of expression, to harm our system of checks and balances, and to violate the rights of minority groups in Israel…”

Joel Beinen analyses the emergence of a new protest generation in Israel, opposing the Judaization of East Jerusalem.

The second international session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine takes place in London, in November. It will examine international corporate complicity in “Israel’s Violations of International Human Rights Law, International Humanitarian Law, and War Crime”.

Keith Kahn-Harris and Ben Gidley, are the authors of Turbulent Times: The British-Jewish Community Today which explores how the Jewish community, which has experienced an explosion of cultural activity as Britain has changed from a mono-cultural to a multicultural society, has sometimes needed to navigate between this cultural renaissance and fears of a new antisemitism as the tense politics of Israel have made being British and Jewish uncomfortable for many… There are two meetings in London in October to explore these themes.

Under the occupation there are currently about 7,000 Palestinians are political prisoners in Israeli goals. They are often subject to cruel and degrading treatment which includes being held in cramped and confined spaces, served poor quality food, deprived of family visits and arbitrarily beaten, tear gassed or placed in solitary confinement…

A year after the Goldstone report concluded that both Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups committed war crimes, possible crimes against humanity and other grave violations of international law during the 2008-09 conflict in Gaza and southern Israel, Amnesty International condemned the continuing absence of accountability and warned that the victims’ hopes for justice now hang in the balance –  a warning that JfJfP endorsed.

Another step towards normalising the occupation was taken when Israel’s leading theatre companies agreed to perform at a new cultural centre in Ariel, in the heart of the occupied West Bank. Several important Israeli actors and directors refused to go along with this. JfJfP wrote to signatories we knew as writers, actors and theatre directors to draw their attention to this protest and asked them to circulate widely to others in the field. A major campaign of support was coordinated by Jewish Voice for Peace in the States. But Pacbi (the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel) was highly critical of the Israelis for not having spoken out on other issues. Veteran Israeli peace activist Reuven Kaminer, in his turn, argues that Pacbi’s criticism was misguided. B’tselem’s recent factsheet on Ariel provides helpful background.

Finally, at its annual congress in Manchester the British TUC voted unanimously to back sanctions against companies which profit from illegal Israeli occupation and settlements. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber expressed the support of the general council for the motion, demanding that the “siege of Gaza must end.” And, for good measure, the Netherlands cancelled a tour of the country by a forum of Israeli mayors because their group included representatives of West Bank settlements…

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