The week in brief, 20th-26th September – a summary of recent postings

September 26, 2010

jfjfpAs this posting goes up today news has come in that the Jewish boat to Gaza is finally on the high seas heading towards its destination. You can follow its progress on the its own website as well as, we hope, on national and international news. We have worked hard over many months for this and want to thank everyone concerned for all the help, support and encouragement you have given along the way.

Meanwhile two separate reports were tabled at the United Nations Human Rights Council about the situation in Gaza, one dealing with the follow-up to the Goldstone Report, the other about the assault on the Gaza flotilla at the end of May. The former has concluded that the domestic investigations by both Israelis and Palestinians into the events of Operation Cast Lead “remain incomplete in some cases or fall significantly short of meeting international standards in others.” These events cry out for further investigation, hopefully by referring the matter to the United Nations General Assembly for further action.

The report on Israel’s handling of the flotilla at the end of May is devastatingly critical and the members of the Mission who investigated the events were clearly quite shocked by the brutality they encountered. The report said, for example: “The conduct of the Israeli military and other personnel towards the flotilla passengers was not only disproportionate to the occasion but demonstrated levels of totally unnecessary and incredible violence. It betrayed an unacceptable level of brutality. Such conduct cannot be justified or condoned on security or any other grounds. It constituted grave violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law.”

Gisha’s Gaza Gateway provides information about the reality of the situation in Gaza, in answer to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ claim that the economic situation there is improving rapidly…

On 10 September we posted Jeffrey Goldberg’s long insider analysis of US and Israeli attitudes to Iran without comment, under the heading “Iran and Israel – will it be war?” A number of writers have said that “rather than constituting neutral journalism” Goldberg’s article was “a piece of advocacy, if not outright propaganda”. Joe Klein rose to its defence. In this posting Jerome Slater evaluates the argument, and supports Goldberg’s critics.

In Israel itself eight leftist activists who established the Facebook group “Im Tirzu – a fascist movement” are being sued. They have filed their defence which is to say that say Im Tirzu is indeed fascist and chauvinist…

Rachel Shabi investigates Israeli government involvement in the construction of settlements on occupied Palestinian land. “In Jerusalem – just as in the rest of Israel – decades of state planning has priced people out of the city and into settlements in Palestinian East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Meanwhile, ideologically-motivated budgeting has resulted in enticements and benefits for Israelis who live on occupied Palestinian land… Peace Now estimates that settlements cost Israel $556m (around £355m) a year – and it is clear that this cost is keenly felt by those living within Israel, since the state seems to prioritise settlements at their expense.”

Obama delivered a speech at the United Nations which was generally very disappointing to those who were looking for even-handedness form the US President. Phyllis Bennis reports: “[Obama] called on the Palestinians to “reconcile with a secure Israel” and waxed eloquent on the illegality of killing Israeli civilians. He called on the Palestinians’ friends to implement the Arab Peace Plan’s proposed normalization with Israel without ever mentioning the plan’s clear understanding that ending Israel’s 1967 occupation must come first. And he called on Israel to – talk nicely.”

Finally, David Shulman reports movingly on the non-violent protest movement at Sheikh Jarrar in East Jerusalem: “It may sound unlikely, but we’re in ‘Uthman ibn ‘Affan Street in Sheikh Jarrah and, together with Salah and other Palestinian friends from the neighbourhood, we’re building a sukkah…” It didn’t take the police long before demolishing it, and then demolishing it again after a second construction…

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