This week’s

March 12, 2017
Sarah Benton


This week, March 6th to 12th, 2017, there was one, very dominant, issue: the new law to prevent the entry into Israel of any person who had supported boycotting anything Israeli. As we have said before, although PM Netanyahu has been quick to say the BDS movement has had a negligible effect, even that BDS had been beaten (July 2016) he has also declared it to be Israel’s biggest strategic threat [Iran?] and has appointed a minister to work full-time on combatting the has-no-effect BDS movement – Gilad Erdan who is minister of public security, strategic affairs and public diplomacy.

In reality, BDS has had little economic effect, as Asher Schechter wrote in Ha’aretz:

Economically, it has had zero effect so far on Israel’s economy (no, SodaStream doesn’t count). Politically, it has scarcely lived up to its goal to effect change in Israeli politics by ramping up the economic pressure. Even on its home turf, university campuses, BDS has been far less successful than it purports to be.

But there has been damage; it hurts Israel’s image, it hurts Israelis’ pride and it provides a form of non-violent activism for those who are critical of Israel’s policies towards Palestinians.

It is certainly felt as an unjustified rebuke delivered by strangers who may know nothing at all about Israel (except that it holds Palestinians in a form of captivity). So the decision by Jewish Home MKs to push a law through the Knesset barring entry into Israel of all BDS supporters may be satisfying to them – as well as counter-productive as many media outlets have said:
Israel slams door on critical visitors

As many Jews – critical or not – have friends and relatives in Israel, Ha’aretz provides a useful guide on what to do and not to do if you want to visit:
Guide for those who want to visit Israel

Michael Lesher follows Robert Cohen (last week) in being dismayed that Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks should, in retirement, have devoted his once-admired intellect to a video attacking BDS. He has produced ‘vulgar Israeli propaganda’ with a Trumpian disregard for facts:
Where is your morality Lord Sacks?

International Women’s Day (IWD) is on March 8th. Interestingly this is often flamboyantly celebrated in countries where women only have the slightest presence in public life or where sexual violence against women is so common it is barely remarked upon. IPV – intimate personal violence as some researchers call it – ranges from belittling remarks to ‘honour killings’ – which neither Palestinian president nor legislative council has yet passed any measures to reduce the number – between 11 and 26 every year in the oPt –  or punish the perpetrators appropriately. It is a submerged issue throughout the MidEast:
Rape more common than cancer in Israel

A study by Nibal Thawabteh stated that the percentage of women in Arab parliaments stood at 4.6%, compared to 12% in African parliaments and 16% in Europe and the Americas. Palestine is the best of the Arab countries with 13% of members of the Palestinian Legislative Council being made up of women. But it is a socially conservative place and women’s access to public life and their freedom of movement – curtailed by Israel – make it hard for women to get the respect, the paid work and the income they deserve:
Palestinian women praised but restricted

It is alarming that far-right, violent, racist views which would once have seemed beyond the pale are now becoming mainstream not least because of the apparent charisma of the man who has done much to propagate such views:
Making extremism popular

Online comments have also done much to swell extremist speech and make it seem ‘common sense’. Jonathan Cook reports on:
‘Terrifying levels of hate speech online from Israeli Jews’

There have been articles discussing the the causes, and effects, of the decline of the Israeli left, especially the once-dominant Labour Party. Here are two, one from last week, one from 2015:
Labour shrinks as left fragments

For many years the Israeli Labour Party remade itself as the party for peace. As support for that cause has dwindled so has Labour. Another sign of Israeli civilians’ growing acceptance of their dependence on IDF violence is, as Amira Hass points out, the adoption into common parlance of the fearsome euphemisms, proportionate killing, collateral damage and ‘target bank’ – place where there are many targets for extra-judicial killings. She concludes that these terms ‘set the criteria for defining us, Israelis, as “collateral damage” in the eyes of those humiliated by our multifaceted violence.’
How the IDF justifies its mass killing

The IDF, through its unit COGAT, effectively rules the oPt by martial law meaning Palestinian civilians are arrested tried and sentenced by the military. Rotherham Labour MP Sarah Champion is horrified by what she sees of how such courts dispense ‘justice’ to Palestinian minors:
MP stunned by military trials of children

It’s a truism that Palestinian political weakness is a result of the split between Fatah and Hamas. Asmaa al-Ghoul speculates on whether culture can create a common Palestinian identity where politics has failed. Although at first sight Palestinians have a wealth of cultural activities, especially in music and film, al-Ghoul thinks these have given way to ‘political and human rights seminars’:
Culture can succeed where politics fails

At one time when military rule over Palestinians was seen as temporary the Israeli state used to pay compensation when the IDF wounded Palestinians. Now military rule is seen as (virtually) permanent and so wounding Palestinians is seen as permanent ‘collateral damage’, qv, the compensation must be phased out. B’Tselem has produced a report which, says Research Director Yael Stein, shows it is a cost-free occupation:
The no-cost occupation

Bernie Sanders, Vermont senator, Jew and socialist has found a space in the political market where he can say (though it may be the bleeding obvious) things which Americans never say unconditionally, the condition being that you precede the remark by pledging undying support for Israel and its military desires:
Bernie Sanders, Occupation must end

In Britain the drive to extirpate organised support for Palestinians proceeds helped by two bureaucratic dictats (no parliamentary debate), IHRA and Prevent (the government programme to weaken ‘extremism’ – in this case, support for Palestinians. Criticising Israel is increasingly being cast as seditious:
Universities censor free speech on Israel

2017 is the centenary of the Balfour declaration. There is no consensus on what the effect these few words had. So we use the term ‘Balfouring’ to mean maintaining dominance by lying while making promises on which the British government was unable to deliver and concealing an instrumental favouring of Jews over Arabs. Here Robert Fisk gives his interpretation:
Balfouring the Middle East

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