The week in brief, 26 July – 1st August – a summary of recent postings

August 1, 2010
Richard Kuper

jfjfpThe Zionist glacier is melting, as both Ofri Ilani’s discussion of Peter Beinart’s explosive article, “The Failure of the American Jewish Establishment” and Tony Lerman’s review of the Institute of Jewish Public Policy survey of Jewish opinion in Britain attest. As Beinart said earlier this month: “Many American Jews feel unhappy, uncomfortable with some of what they see Israel doing. They feel very upset about it, and they want the opportunity to express that. And they want to be able to do it without being told that they’re anti-Israel or self-hating Jews, or whatever. I think, particularly, for younger American Jews, that’s the case.’…”

The occupation continues as B’tselem’s new interactive review of human rights, 2009-2010 shows  dramatically. Under the rubric ‘Life under Occupation’ we’ll be taking a closer look at some of the human realities of occupation . Two stories are posted this week in that category: David Shulman’s evocative account of life in the South Hebron hills; and Oxfam’s report on the Israeli army demolition of 79 structures in the village of Al Farisiya in the West Bank. We also report on developments in Bil’in and link to the Bil’in website.

The situation within Israel continue to deteriorate. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (Acri) reports on the Top 14 Anti-Democratic Knesset Bills , while JNews reports that the Bedouin in the Negev under attack once more: “The demolition of more than 40 houses in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Araqib in the Negev desert on Tuesday has triggered fears for the future of other Bedouin communities, who see Araqib as a test case in the long-standing struggle against Israeli government attempts to ‘judaise’ the Negev…”. In Displacing people to plant trees – to ensure Jewish control Gadi Algazi provides further background and a critique of the philosophy of ethnic cleansing which underpins this new assault. And Max Blumenthal reports on a visit to the destroyed village, highlighting the use of high school student volunteers in what has been called ‘a summer camp of destruction’.

The Coalition government is giving out mixed messages. Cameron was the darling of the Jewish establishment last week when he promised to change the law on universal jurisdiction (to make it harder to prosecute alleged war criminals in Britain) – a letter opposing this move signed by by Daniel Machover, Geoffrey Bindman and others, including Diana Neslen on behalf of JfJfP, was published in the Guardian. But within days Cameron has blotted his copybook, causing consternation at the Board of Deputies and among Conservative friends of Israel by comparing the besieged Gaza Strip to “a prison camp” and urging Israel to end its three-year blockade. Despite this Cameron’s photo still graces the homepage on the Board of Deputies’ website – an oversight, or do they know something we don’t?

Plans for the Jewish boat continue as news comes in that an Indian vessel named ‘The Audacity of Hope’ is to join a new international campaign to press for an end to the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Mike Marqusee reviews Against the Wall: The Art of Resistance in Palestine with William Parry’s wonderful Wall photos, forthcoming in the next issue of Red Pepper.

A few years ago almost any criticism of Israel faced the danger of being accused of being ‘antisemitic’. The melody remains the same but there is now a new lyric, consisting of but a single word: “delegitimisation”. We’ve carried postings about it before, but here’s another good one from Allan C. Brownfeld in the States. The charge, he writes, “is simply a well-coordinated campaign to avoid a real discussion of the Israeli policies which have led to a rift with the U.S. and are contrary to any movement toward real peace.”

The other charge made in Israeli hasbara (‘public diplomacy’ – or propaganda) is that Israel is singled out unfairly all the time. Adam Keller, Gush Shalom activist and editor of The Other Israel, looks at the charge and concludes that yes, Israel is singled out, but that is a singling out which is easy to justify: “It is but a quite fair demand upon Israel to pay at least part of a long-overdue debt, and keep their part of a contract which Israel’s Founding Fathers solemnly signed.”

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