This week’s

January 8, 2017
Sarah Benton


In this first full week of the new year, January 2nd-8th, 2017, there is no good in feeling relieved that the awfulness of 2016 is over. That was just the beginning of an ascendant and iconoclastic Right Wing, anti-intellectual, anti-‘expert’, anti-foreigner era. They began as they mean to carry on.

However, the week did end with the surprising scandal brought to us by Al Jazeera. It seems that Israeli political agents – they go under various diplomatic titles – have been hard at work identifying British threats to Israel. That includes supporters of BDS and Palestinian rights of course, but there they rely on local politicians to do the work. Bringing down politicians who are sympathetic to Palestinians or critical of Israeli policies is best left to the masters. The aim is disgrace, the work is to find something disgraceful in the person’s past:
Israel’s plot against UK critics

The big issue last week was the UNSC decision to pass a resolution condemning Israeli settlements (and various other things as well). Netanyahu doesn’t hear the word ‘settlement’ or the logic of condemning these illegal constructions. All he can hear – or pretends to hear – of the historic vote by the Security Council (UNSC) against settlements is betrayal and worldwide hostility to Israel because of antisemitism. It’s quite likely he doesn’t believe this but uses this rhetoric to quash the more credulous. Whatever, the UNSC had to be punished for its anti-Israel move and the Israeli PM immediately announced Israel would cut its UN funding by $6m:
Israel punishes UN with $6m cut in funding

The dominant story in Israel has been the verdict on Elor Azaria, baby-faced killer, and the splitting of Israel largely between those who support the IDF Chiefs’ line – we must be seen to be working within the law – and those who say ‘Elor is our son, we must protect him, he is a hero-martyr’. A smaller third group ask why are not all soldiers who kill put on trial? Why is the IDF’s role in securing the submission of Palestinians and enforcing the occupation not on trial? Neve Gordon has a particularly good article on this last:
Azaria verdict fractures Israel beyond repair

and, a sign of the fracturing:
Far-right turns against military

Repression of Palestinian journalists is increasing. The charge is usually ‘incitement’, sometimes consorting with the enemy (ie, talking to Hamas). The state just says ‘security’. For this the journalists get administrative detention. As Israel boasts of its ‘free speech’ the inability of the regime to deal with certain reported facts or opinions is revealing:
Wave of arrests of Palestinian journalists

In a sign of the new era not only are the Far Right in Europe admirers of Israel as the great machine against their mutual enemy – Islam –  but, says Glenn Greenwald, Israel is as happy to accept their accolades as it is to accept the almighty Trump:
Far-Right are greatest fans of Israel

We have two postings from two very different people which make a similar argument: Trump will bring clarity to the US-Israel relationship. Trump is all-out for Israel – Palestinians may as well go into hibernation for four years. This will reveal to others that behind the speeches and actions to support Palestinian statehood (sincerely meant by Kerry and Obama) American policy to Israel didn’t change – the $billions flowed in, unconditionally. As Trump is against a Palestinian state this has the virtue of clarity and might swing some of the prevaricators:
Welcome Trump and the end of pretence

Ramzy Baroud, Palestinian activist and author, shares this view and goes further. He hopes the Trump effect will be to produce a united Palestinian resistance:
Trump will open Palestinian eyes

The Media Line reports, though no-one else does, that the IDF has come up with a new pacification policy (qv Jeff Halper). IDF envoys are approaching Palestinian village leaders to press them to regain their old authority and take responsibility for law and order in the West Bank. Good luck with that one.
Army tries to restore Palestinian traditional authority

Here’s another Trump effect: his positioning himself in an all-white tent, with his train of white supremacists, has created a quandary for American Jews as shown in a debate Forward carried out December-January. Because in all Jewish communities some marry local gentiles, Mizrahi Jews in particular may have a darker skin colour than the Ashkenazi Jews of Northern Europe who hoped they passed as ‘White’. Now they don’t know. Even if they have the palest of skins they are foreign. This means allying with the unAmerican, anti-Trump crowd.
Are Jews white?

Kerry’s speech continues to reverberate. It gets a perceptive, and unforgiving, reading from Richard Silverstein. Kerry failed to recognise “There is no two-state solution. It is dead. Israel has killed it.” Diplomacy – the carrot has failed. Now the stick, from activists if not governments:
If Israel won’t eat the carrot it will have to face the stick of BDS

A bit like Richard Silverstein [above] Ynet’s columnist Nahum Barnea wonders why it was John Kerry, not Barack Obama, who delivered the final, this is how it is, speech. In his view Kerry was so stripped of authority he lacked the authority to change anything:
Sending Kerry, naked, into the chamber

It’s tough when two honourable Israeli opponents of the occupation fall out. The writer AB Yehoshua advanced a proposal that Israel should grant Palestinians in Area C Israeli rights as a temporary easement. The redoubtable Amira Hass won’t have any of it. The great writer doesn’t actually know the facts of Israeli control over Gaza and the West Bank and his proposal for Palestinians in Area C simply adds another destructive division amongst Palestinians:
Amira Hass: face the facts Yehoshua

Culture minister Miri Regev seems a very silly person. She invents a history of continuous Jewish habitation in Israel which is THE history of the Jews – and then invents a ‘fact’ that :
‘Only Israeli Jews feel strongly connected to their land’

Where to start? Russians, Chinese, French, Brits……  It’s another sign of the isolated bubble in which some Israelis live.

We do have a posting on the latest financial scandal to hit Netanyahu:
Another money scandal for Israeli PM

There has been lots more in Israeli papers but let’s wait and see to find out if this recurring story reaches a different end.

© Copyright JFJFP 2017