The week in brief, 16th-22nd August – a summary of recent postings

August 22, 2010
Richard Kuper


The most moral army in the world” is proving less than perfect. IDF soldiers stand accused of pilfering goods – laptops, credit cards and the like – off the Mazi Marmara and other boats in the Freedom Flotilla. The Israeli authorities are reportedly “shocked”. And Eden Abergil, who completed her military service last year, posted images of herself on Facebook posing next to blindfolded Palestinian prisoners and cannot understand what the fuss is about.

The threat to academic freedom in Israel’s universities, as Chaim Gans shows, is coming from those who use their financial donations to censor what universities are allowed to teach and think. And Yossi Sarid, a former Education Minister is appalled by the Zionism of Im Tirtzu and the current Education Minister’s flirtation with it: If the face of Zionism resembles that of Im Tirzu and its funders, he writes, we should consider a face transplant.

In Discrimination against Israel’s Palestinian citizens George Bisharat & Nimer Sultany bring home the discriminatory nature of Israeli society in which more than 35 Israeli laws explicitly privilege Jews over non-Jews. And while other Israeli laws appear neutral, they are applied in discriminatory fashion…

The occupation is hardening. An Ocha/World Food Program report Between the Fence and a Hard Place – an Ocha/Wfp report shows Israeli encroachment on farmland on Gaza’s side of the green line; Israeli land seizures, house demolitions and ethnic cleansing are increasingly affecting the Jordan valley; and settlers feel able to attack international peace observers with impunity.

The propaganda effort to defend the indefensible continues. Rachel Shabi and Jemima Kiss report that two Israeli groups, are seeking to gain the upper hand in the online debate, by launching a course in “Zionist editing” for Wikipedia. And Jane Corbin’s Panorama report Death in the Med screened on 16 August was widely regarded by human rights and solidarity activists as highly contentious. The posting carries strong critiques of the film by PSC and Jamie Stern-Weiner.

What is the Jewish state that hasbara propagandists are so keen to defend? Shelley Berlowitz and Jochi Weil, two of the original Swiss signatories to the “Worldwide appeal by concerned Jewish men and women to the Israeli government”, launched in March, clarify their views, saying that “Israel can only be called a true democracy if it perceives itself to be the State of the Israeli people, meaning: the state of all its citizens.”

So, too, Uri Avnery: in a recent article philosopher Shlomo Avineri that Israel is a Jewish state “as Poland is a Polish state and Greece is a Greek state”. Wrong affirms Uri Avnery as he incisively cuts through the many confusions that have grown up about the notion of “the Jewish state”.

In Israeli words and Israeli deeds Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions reviews Israeli policy towards the Palestinians both within the occupied territories and in Israel itself. He looks at the gap between words and deeds as he chronicles “the destruction Israel wreaks daily on the Palestinian population”.

In the US, meanwhile, the proposal to build a mosque near Ground Zero has unleashed a storm of racism and Islamophobia. Why, asks Peter Beinart, are some Jewish organisations “so thrilled to be in lockstep with the heirs of Pat Robertson?”. The Magnes Zionist/Jeremiah Haber in Islamophobia – the New Antisemitism develops the ideas advanced by Daniel Luban in his article in the Jewish Tablet “The New Anti-Semitism: Recent attacks on Islam in the United States echo old slurs against Jews”. Haber comments :”Why, then, are so many Jews hemming and hawing about the Cordoba Center? Take it from me – it’s all about Israel…”

In Montgomery county, Maryland, local activists who tried to enquire about their state legislature candidates’ attitudes on a range of policy issues, found themselves accused of antisemitism because they deigned to explore the possible use of sanctions to enforce international law…

But resistances continue. Here are two examples.

In May Ilana Hammerman broke the law by taking a few young Palestinians from the West Bank to the sea and announcing she had done it. A group of a dozen Israeli and a dozen Palestinian women have now repeated the act of civil disobedience.

Open Shuhada Street, a South African based group, has launched a well-thought through and targeted ‘smart’ intervention against a Cape Town-based retailer of wellness products and services which stocks Ahava products. Others can follow suit…

Finally JfJfP has written in protest to the OECD for holding its conference on “Industry and Policy Approaches to Foster Green Growth in Tourism” in Jerusalem in October…”

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