The week in brief, 7-13 March 2011 – a summary of recent postings

March 13, 2011
Richard Kuper

jfjfpLet’s start with Khirbet Khizeh. Jacqueline Rose writes in the Guardian: “Near the beginning of the extraordinary 1949 novella by S Yizhar, the narrator describes the dangers, to a soldier, of thinking: “we knew that when the thoughts came, troubles began; better not to start thinking.” Khirbet Khizeh is a tribute to the power of critical thought to register the injustices of history. It is published by Granta this month in its first full English translation, first issued by Adina Hoffman for Ibis editions in Jerusalem in 2008. Khirbet Khizeh tells the story of the expulsion of Palestinian villagers from their home and land during the 1948 war that immediately followed the founding of the Israeli state…” The book is short, beautifully written, and utterly gripping…

Five members of the Fogel family were stabbed to death in their home in the Itamar settlement, on the northern West Bank and home to some of the most fervent settlers, in a suspected terrorist attack. Netanyahu immediately put responsibility onto the Palestinian Authority ; the government then approved the building of a further 500 new homes in the settlements – as a direct response. Anshel Pfeffer and Yaniv Kubovich tell what is known so far; and Richard Silverstein looks at the way the Israeli government and the right-wing are exploiting what he condemns as a “heinous, savage crime” to fan the flames of hatred further.
The Magnes Zionist is unequivocal: “The murders at Itamar are just that — murders. All decent people condemn them, or should condemn them. They are not to be condemned because Jews were murdered, or because settlers were murdered, but because human beings were murdered.

Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters explains why he has come to support BDS against Israel: “Where governments refuse to act people must, with whatever peaceful means are at their disposal. For me this means declaring an intention to stand in solidarity, not only with the people of Palestine but also with the many thousands of Israelis who disagree with their government’s policies, by joining the campaign of Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions against Israel… Artists were right to refuse to play in South Africa’s Sun City resort until apartheid fell and white people and black people enjoyed equal rights. And we are right to refuse to play in Israel until the day comes – and it surely will come – when the wall of occupation falls and Palestinians live alongside Israelis in the peace, freedom, justice and dignity that they all deserve. “

Fences are not just against Palestinians. One has just been built on a West Jerusalem playground to keep children from a secular nursery school from playing with peers at an ultra-Orthodox one. All paid for by the municipality.

Anyway, fences are only for (i.e. against) Palestinians. Israelis cross them with impunity. As the Israeli government endorses school trips to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including Hebron, Israelis protest against the arrest of four hikers who killed a Palestinian during a similar tour. Lia Tarachansky blogs on JNews about the tours organised by David and Ahikam Tours under the motto, “Where the Jewish traveler passes, the Jewish border shall pass”. Meanwhile B’tselem reports on the continued lockdown of Hebron’s city centre, still in place 17 years after Baruch Goldstein’s murder of 29 Palestinian worshippers in the Ibrahimi Mosque…

Israeli diplomats are unhappy at the policies they have to sell abroad. Barak Ravid reports: “The diplomatic policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman are harming Israel’s international standing, a senior Israeli diplomat said in his retiring letter on Tuesday, adding that he felt Israel’s declared stance regarding regional peace attempts was aiding in its own delegitimization.” But, he’s the exception to the rule. Gideon Levy finds Israel’s diplomatic corps today “comprised primarily of spineless propagandists void of values or a conscience“.

The situation in Gaza should be referred to the International Criminal Court, Amnesty International said as it called on the Human Rights Council to pass a resolution that would pave the way for the UN Security Council to make such a referral. The UN Security Council’s swift action to refer the situation in Libya to the ICC Prosecutor contrasts markedly with its unwillingness so far to address the situation of the Gaza conflict, said Amnesty.

Pressure mounts (slowly) on Israel as Foreign Secretary William Hague announced that the UK would join many other countries in upgrading the Palestinian Delegation to London to the level of a Mission.

In another look at the the new Israeli protest movement , two writers and activists tell the story of its emergence in the joint struggle of Palestinians with Israelis against the wall at Budrus, Bil’in, Nil’in – and now with Solidarity Sheikh Jarrar, against the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem, and against the expulsion of Bedouin from their villages in the Negev.

Does Haaretz have a future? Haaretz is a venerable institution within Israeli society and on the wider left, part of a much older tradition of protest and dissent. David Remnick has written a wonderful essay on the paper and its tensions and contradictions, based on extensive interviews with and discussions about its owners and leading journalists, past and present: Amos Schocken and the Schocken family, Dov Alfon, Haaretz’s editor-in-chief, Gideon Levy, Amira Hass, Anshel Pfeffer, Amos Elon, David Landau, Aluf Benn and more…

As antisemitic outbursts from John Galliano, Charlie Sheen and Julian Assange make the headlines, Antony Lerman questions some of the easy conclusions that have been drawn, arguing that “Antisemitism is a hot issue which demands cool and rational differentiated analysis”.

“Only a few years ago, many of Europe’s far-right politicians were openly anti-Semitic. Now some of the same populist parties are embracing Israel to unite against what they perceive to be a common threat.” A disturbing account by Stefan Theil of how some members of the extreme far right in Europe are cosying up to Israel

Divisions in the US Jewish community have surfaced at Brandei university. Hillel provides a home for Jewish student groups without consideration of their denomination, but not, it would appear, independently of their politics on Israel. At Brandeis  the Jewish Voice for Peace chapter was rejected for admission to Hillel. “The board effectively said to JVP, ‘Even though we recognize that you express your Judaism politically, and even though we admit other Jewish political groups here, your vision of Judaism and your political vision of Israel has no place in Hillel. Unless you say the magic words ,’Jewish and democratic’ and mean by them what we say you should mean, your organization is treif.’”

Finally Vijay Prashad surveys the Long Arab Revolution:
“Over the past twenty years we’ve seen two types of revolts. The first, those in Eastern Europe for instance, were revolts against the suffocation of the late Soviet-era State. Indifferent to the tarnished promises of such socialism, the people sought refuge in the glamour of the market economy. It was a revolt for the market. Two decades later, the East European dreams have become a horrid nightmare.
The second, those in the Arab world today, but also the people’s revolt in the Philippines against Marcos and the people’s revolt in Indonesia against Suharto, were revolts against the market. These were revolts by masses of people who wanted an expansion of the social wage. They began with revolts against long-standing autocrats (Ben Ali, Mubarak, Marcos, Suharto) and cascaded into demands for a different social and economic order.”

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