The week in brief, 29th November–5 December – a summary of recent postings

December 5, 2010


What a week! The fires raging in the Galilee on the slopes of Mount Carmel, are not simply a natural disaster. They reveal a startling lack of preparation as neo-liberal governments have ignored the fire services’warning of impending catastrophe for years on end. But never fear: racism is having a field day and those who want a scapegoat for the disaster have as ever been busy targeting the “Jews” – who, in this case, are the Palestinian Israelis, accused of being enemies of the state and therefore obviously responsible for the fires…

An impressive international coalition of over 25 development, human-rights and peace-building organisations has just published a new report on the situation in case following the ‘easing of the blockade in June. It is called simply “Dashed Hopes”. We reproduce its conclusions here. Meanwhile, in Gaza, Defence of Children International, has recorded the fifteenth and sixteenth shooting of Palestinian children this year for the ‘crime’ of collecting building gravel inside the Gaza Strip but unfortunately also within the rifle sights of Israeli soldiers. And the Palestinian General Delegation has published its regular update of recent assaults and attacks on Palestinians under occupation. The latest incidents include a seven-year old being brutally beaten; a Jordan valley village bulldozed; destruction of agricultural facilities, of a mosque, of family housing, of a road. And much more…

The Conservative-Liberal-democratic coalition is finally completing the capitulation to Israeli pressure, initiated but unfulfilled by Labour, to ‘reform’ the law on universal jurisdiction. It’s  a naked politicisation of the law and will make it much harder to prosecute war criminals wherever they come from. There is no doubt that the reason for the proposed change is to appease Israel and “the Jewish community” in Britain. Not this section of the Jewish community – not in our name! There is still time to urge your MP to oppose the change.

The Tel Aviv-based Reut Institute has been arguing for a while that the UK has become the centre of a systematic assault on Israel’s right to exist that unites Middle East resistance networks with allies on the liberal-left in Europe, in what it calls a red-green alliance. It has just followed up its February report “The Delegitimization Challenge: Creating a Political Firewall” with a call on supporters of Israel to build this “firewall”. Writing in the Jewish Chronicle Martin Bright explains why this won’t be easy for, he says: “The other side has a far better product to sell to liberals: decades of discrimination, a nationless people facing a colonising military power.” Amen to that.

On the plus side, it would appear that liberal Jewish critics of Israeli policies in Britain have the wind in their sails. David Landau, former editor of Ha’aretz writes: “What a warm feeling of Zionist solidarity awaits me in London next week. To stand before UK Jewish groups and cry: “Gevalt! Israel is becoming an apartheid state”- and know this warning is no longer repressed heresy but mainstream discourse within Anglo-Jewry.” But Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to the UK, struck back at UJIA chairman Mick Davis over his outspoken comments on Israel, accusing him of using language “straight from our opponents’ lexicon”…

Last week we posted an article by Jeremiah Haber which asked “Do you have to love Israel as a Jewish state to be part of the Jewish community?” This week we have his wider reflections on whether there can be a progressive Zionism and why “when push comes to shove, many progressive Zionists I know will let their Zionism trump their progressiveness”.

Richard Falk, outgoing UN United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, has urged the United Nations and the international community to draft a new protocol of international humanitarian law to address the situation of prolonged occupation and refugee status imposed upon the Palestinian people for over 43 years of Israeli occupation. He argues it should be treated as a new type of crime against humanity.

Not too much about Israel in the Wikileaks to date. But of what there is, Audrey Farber writes: “In the WikiLeaked cables, the Israeli government constantly highlights three threats: “Iran’s nuclear program, the build-up of rockets and missiles in Lebanon, Syria and Gaza, and the Goldstone Report.” In defense against each of these threats, and in other arenas, the Israelis seem adept at coercing the US into doing their bidding.”

Finally, we wish all our readers a happy Chanukah.

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