The week in brief, 23rd-29th August – a summary of recent postings


August 29, 2010
Richard Kuper

jfjfpThe new B’tselem report on Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, covering the period from 1 January 2009 to 30 April 2010, is complemented by the story of Noor H, who three times a week goes for dialysis at an East Jerusalem hospital. Chronically ill and barely able to walk, she has to cross an Israeli checkpoint on foot. Most of the time she is meticulously searched. No one from her family can accompany her… And the Gaza Mall, a 10-shop complex, opened a month ago,  provides ammunition to Zionist zealots, as any sign that Gaza is not completely broken is used against it…

Non-violent resistance continues and is brutally suppressed by Israel. Now Abdallah Abu Rahmah, the coordinator of the Bil’in Popular Committee, has been convicted of incitement and organizing illegal marches by an Israeli military court – do join the call for his immediate release. As the Magnes Zionist points out, occupation law in effect bans all Palestinian protest. Israel sees the whole world as against it as Channel 10 screens a film entitled Who is Organizing the World-wide Hatred of Israel Movement?. Uri Avneri comments pithily on it.

Hagai El-Ad, executive director of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, comments – in the Jewish Chronicle – on Israel’s sad slide from democracy, while a Yediot Acharonot round up shows how sanctions are biting against Israeli companies involved in the occupation. Israeli theatre groups are, for the first time, to perform in the settlements; some actors are refusing to go…

Peace talks are due to open soon. Between whom, one may ask as Hamas is excluded and Abu Mazen fears to consult the Palestinians he is supposed to represent. Paul Rogers sees little prospect of progress in the forthcoming peace talks, while Didi Remez of Coteret publishes a translation of a Yedioth Ahronoth scoop – minutes of a White House negotiations briefing for Jewish-American leadership. Phyllis Bennis reports on the growing grassroots boycott, divestment and sanctions movement in the United States; and Robert Malley & Peter Harling’s “Beyond Moderates and militants” provides what the Magnes Zionist describes as “simply one of the best policy diagnoses and prescriptions ever. It’s a long read, but worth the time spent.”

In a long, two-part analysis Ran Greenstein casts a refreshing eye over the whole debate about Israel and apartheid and makes careful distinctions. He argues that the “notion of apartheid may be applicable in different ways to different components of the system. While Israel clearly is different from South African historical apartheid, in crucial respects it has affinities with apartheid in its generic sense.”

Finally, in The Lotus Eaters, Moris Farhi MBE, a vice-president of International PEN, gives a lyrical account of being Jewish, of his love for Israel and his alarm at what it has become: “I am a Turkish Jew, born in Ankara in 1935. My mother’s family, from Salonika, Greece, perished in Auschwitz… Israel’s birth became the mainstay of my existence. I embraced her as my spiritual country. And her survival has been – still is – my life’s primary concern… However, for many years now I have deplored the politics of her governments. Today, as Israel veers toward ultra-nationalism and religious extremism, I fear for her future.”

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