The week in brief, 20-27 February 2011 – a summary of recent postings


February 27, 2011
richardmichaelkuper

jfjfpEvents are taking place too quickly and in too many countries for anyone to have a comprehensive, informed overview of developments. We introduced a rolling update on the Middle-East upheaval(s) and added articles to it as the week went by. These were both individual country assessments and attempts at making generalisations about the processes we are witnessing across North Africa and the Middle East. The latter include As’ad AbuKhalil’s 300-word Rejuvenation of Arab nationalism and/or identity, as well as Paul Rogers, The Arab rebellion: perspectives of power, Issandr El Amrani, An end to this soft bigotry against the Arab world,Harry Hagopian, Struggling for the Arab Soul? and EA World View’s assessment, From Tunisia/Egypt to Libya/Iran: Notes of Caution on Sudden Change.

Assessments posted that focus  more narrowly on individual countries posted were the International Crisis Group, Popular Protest in North Africa and the Middle East (I): Egypt Victorious?, Cortni Kerr and Toby C. Jones, A Revolution Paused in Bahrain, and Nicolas Pelham, Jordan’s Balancing Act. Mary Abdelmassih’s article, Egyptian Armed Forces Demolish Fences Guarding Coptic Monasteries stands in as a general warning that many bad things are likely to happen in the coming months as well as good ones…

Uri Avnery looks at the implications of recent developments for Palestinians and Israelis. He advises politicians to look at Libya and asks: “What will happen if hundreds of thousands of Palestinians march one day to the Separation Wall and pull it down? What if a quarter of a million Palestinian refugees in Lebanon gather on our Northern border? What if masses of people assemble in Manara Square in Ramallah and Town Hall Square in Nablus and confront the Israeli troops? All this before the cameras of Aljazeera, accompanied by Facebook and Twitter, with the entire world looking on with bated breath?”

Larry Derfner, too, is predicting the end of the occupation. He writes that no good way of ending it was presenting itself: “And then came Tunisia. And Egypt. And Iran, and Yemen, and Bahrain, and Libya, and no one knows where this is going to stop. And it became pretty clear to me that this is how Israeli rule in the West Bank is going to end – through Palestinian people power. Masses of Palestinians, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, marching to IDF checkpoints and outposts, marching to Israeli-only roads, to settlements, to the security fence – to the nearest Israeli presence and screaming, “Out! Out!””

Asad Geffen displays a wry sense of humour, as he writes in Yetnews that What Israelis really want is a Middle East ruled by generals

Illustrating the role of the new media in recent developments is the posting Dating site used to organise for freedom. To avoid detection by Libyan secret police, who monitor Facebook and Twitter, Mahmoudi, the leader of the Ekhtalef (”Difference”) Movement, used what’s considered the Match.com of the Middle East to send coded love letters to rally the revolution. It was “for the freedom, not for the marriage,” he told ABC News… Uri Avnery’s A crazy prophet, already linked to, has a vibrant assessment of the role of Al Jazeera of which he says: “During the last decade, it has changed the Arab world beyond recognition. In the last few weeks, it has wrought miracles.”

On Israel and the occupation it is, for now, business as normal. Author Mike Marqusee writes of a recent visit to East Jerusalem and Sheikh Jarrar, where Zionism is a “thin cover for a naked land grab.” Subscribers to the haaretz.com newsletter have been offered a chance to go on  “The Ultimate Mission to Israel”: during a week in May you will be briefed by Mossad and Shin Bet officials, observe ‘a trial of Hamas terrorists in an IDH military court’, go ‘jeeping’ on the Syrian Golan Heights and even tour the airforce unit that carries out “targeted killings” (assassinations, to you and me). Too good to pass up!

In the UK, Labour Friends of Israel is set to reinvent itself becoming a two-state enthusiast in order to try to stem the tide of criticism and “the erosion in Israel’s diplomatic status”.

In the face of the US veto at the Security Council last week, Jeff Halper argues that “the United States simply cannot deliver on a just peace in Israel/Palestine”, that even if Obama, Petraeus and the rest “understand that Israel’s occupation is unsustainable and only isolates the US in the international community”, they cannot deliver – because of the overwhelming support for Israel in both Houses. He believes that the US should no longer be “seen as the sole and ultimate arbitrator of the conflict”: instead we and the Palestinians should be looking for ways of “Working around America” – with Latin America, Turkey, South Africa, Russia, all of which are making interesting noises about the conflict…

Critics of Israel are increasingly accused of delegitimising Israel and encouraging antisemitism. This creates a climate of suspicion in which the onus is on critics to somehow demonstrate they are not antisemitic. In this JNews post, Richard Kuper looks at how the EUMC ‘working definition of antisemitism’ functions to delegitimise criticism of Israel.

“Because of the Holocaust and Germany’s responsibility for World War II, solidarity with the Jewish state founded in 1948 is a fundamental tenet of German policy. Israel’s security is “part of my country’s raison d’être,” Merkel said in a speech to the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, in 2008.” This interesting report Rift in German-Israeli Association in Der Spiegel Online shows quite how difficult it is for German politicians to make even the slightest criticism of Israeli policy.

The US Boat to Gaza campaign gives an update following the recent Madrid meeting of the international flotilla with representatives from 22 countries at the meeting. Current plans are for the flotilla to sail in the second half of May…

Finally, the Conservatives are proposing to undermine the implementation of universal jurisdiction in the UK and you are urged to lobby you MP to support Ann Clywd’s amendment on this topic.

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