This week’s

April 9, 2017
Sarah Benton


Censorship in politics and the arts is an inescapable issue this week, April 3rd-9th 2017. The list of things that can’t be said, done, read, seen in Israel is growing under the stewardship of the culture by Culture minister Miri Regev and Education minister Naftali Bennett, both MKs from Jewish Home.

Ms. Regev’s criterion for any cultural product is – is it loyal to Israel?
Israel’s culture dictator

The novel, All the Rivers, by Israeli Dorit Rabanyan, has been removed from the national curriculum because it describes a love affair between a Palestinian man and a Jewish Israeli woman – thus jeopardising Israeli identity [!]:
Don’t imagine love between Jew and Arab

The ‘war’ against BDS is run from a unit in the strategic affairs dept. Minister Gilad Erdan appears to have no strategy at all. Instead he orders the compilation of secret lists of all BDS supporters inside Israel and out:
Secret war against BDS supporters

Jonathan Cook asks the necessary question – why is the Israeli government devoting so much effort to subduing the BDS movement? Simple he says – it fears that the movement will lead to Israel being defined as an apartheid state. In another metaphor, that horse has already bolted out of their control:
The apartheid genie is out of the bottle

In fact, writes Mehdi Hasan, Israelis have been aware from the start that the status of Palestinians in Israel would produce an apartheid state. In the Intercept he traces the anxiety and the reality:
Law, roads, housing, buses are all separate; it’s called apartheid

Ami Ayalon and Carmi Gillon, two former heads of Shin Bet, made the headlines last week by warning that Israel is ‘sunk in incremental tyranny’ because there is no democratic way of suppressing Palestinians and NGOs like Breaking the Silence:
‘Israel is being driven by this occupation towards disaster’

It’s the sort of direct statement Israelis might want from the Labour Party (if the citizens weren’t ‘sunk in incremental apathy’, ibid.) Israel’s Labour party might lack courage but, says Mazal Mualem, they are treated as the enemy within because there isn’t a brick wall between them and Palestinians – though there might be between them and the working class supporters of Likud:
Israel’s Left seen as too ‘dangerous’

Noam Sheizaf, known to many for his writing in +972, is interviewed by Roland Nikles and explains why maintaining the occupation/status quo, despite the heavy costs, is the best deal going for Israelis. They get the assets, the political rights, the privileges of their dominance which no other arrangement will deliver and Palestinians are kept out of sight and, they hope, out of mind:
Status quo is least worst option for Israel

Israeli politicians and military frequently point out that they withdrew voluntarily from Gaza in 2005 and so bear no responsibility for the Strip. As they have effectively walled in Gaza on three sides, leaving the southern border to Egypt to control, and exercise close control over what persons and goods can cross the border, Gaza has famously become the open-air prison which would not have been possible if Jewish settlers still lived there. Information about the condition of Gaza and its people is hard to come by. The fact that this is how the IDF wants it was made evident by the fact that no-one from Human Rights Watch – or any human rights body – has been allowed in:
IDF stops human rights workers getting into Gaza

Someone who did get into Gaza is Pres. Trump’s MidEast envoy, Jason Greenblatt. He visited, he looked and smelt and listened to residents. According to Haaretz writers he has since raised Gaza’s condition at every opportunity. His background, described in Mondoweiss as that of an anti-Palestinian settler, makes him an unlikely advocate for Gaza. We’ll see what happens:
Trump’s man in Israel

The PNA offers a poor model of Palestinian dignity and self-government. The killing of Basil al-Araj by Israeli police after he had been released from a PNA prison stank of collusion with Israeli authorities sparking a wider protest about the governing body. Then the fact that many protesters got beaten up by Palestinian police spread and intensified the anger felt toward their satrap government:
Palestinians have no trust in their leaders

In its most infamous out-of-sight out-of-mind act Israeli forces drove Palestinians out of their homes (the Nakba) and either destroyed their villages or took over for themselves any good quality houses. There is one exception – the village of Lifta. Though most of it has been destroyed about 50 handsome stone houses have been left, and left uninhabited. There are moves to get the village declared a world heritage site, but Palestinians fear that this will put control of it into Israeli hands and deprive them of their heritage:
Preserving memories of life before Nakba

The NGO Gisha, and the Palestinian press, are demanding an inquiry into the frequency of crop-sprayers, pumping out herbicide, over their land on the Israel-Gaza border. It could be just wanton damage, it could be to clear the land of vegetation the better for watching and shooting:
Soaking Gaza’s land in herbicide

We’ll finish with a fine example of chutzpah. PM Netanyahu has claimed that closing settlements would be ‘ethnic cleansing’ (of Jews) and has miraculously been able to drag back the Jewish victim narrative from the dustbin of history:
The value of victimhood


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