This week’s

April 16, 2017
Sarah Benton


This year Passover 2017 began in the evening of Monday, April 10th and lasts until next Tuesday evening, April 18th. Robert A.H. Cohen, JfJfP’s most dissident of Jews, thinks this most popular of Jewish festivals should be abandoned. When Jews recite the litany of liberation, free movement, redemption, if they are against the liberation of Palestinians they are guilty of ‘communal hypocrisy’:
Passover has lost its meaning

The biggest communal event organised by Palestinians in Israel is the annual March of Return. It is another vital step in the Palestinian programme of remembering. This year, says Jonathan Cook, Israeli police have banned the march for the first time, claiming they lack the officers to police it:
Israeli police ban annual March of Return

Palestinians have a variety of histories they tell and of explanations of their status they give. A thoughtful analytic essay by Nadia Hijab and Ingrid Jaradat Gassner argues that focusing on the end political settlement – 1 or 2 states – sidesteps the vital ‘process of decolonisation’ which Palestinians must undergo to take charge of their own destiny:
What do Palestinians want?

Without a strategy for liberation that engages the people, Palestinians as a whole are at the mercy of individual acts of defiant violence. The ‘knife intifada’ has engaged more women, who use scissors to attack Israeli soldiers. They have killed no-one. Many of them have been shot dead in extra-judicial killings although, for a body of soldiers, disarming a woman wielding a pair of scissors is a perfectly feasible defence:
Scissor women

Wherever there are Jews there are dissidents, meaning here those who reject the establishment idea that Jews’ first loyalty should be to Israel and to national bodies such as AIPAC. Peter Beinart thinks the 2014 group, IfNotNow, is the ‘exemplary group of our age’. The group itself rejects this argument pointing to the leadership of groups who fight against their own oppression. Both arguments here:
IfNotNow leads the way for Jewish critics

IfNotNow puts on spectacular disruptions and events. Most dissidents express their view through support of BDS. In a controversial argument Ahmed Rizk argues, in +972, that instead of shunning Zionism, BDS supporters should try to involve Zionists whose presence would make the BDS argument more weighty and would help squeeze out the antisemitism that the cause can attract:
Include the Zionists

Zionists can be of any religion or none. Spare a thought for those who think Zionism is a quite proper expression of Jewish self-determination. The ZOA (Zionist Organisation of America) has helped give Zionism a dirty name by acting in a secretive and manipulative way. Their behind-the-scenes objections to any academic course which takes the lives and culture of Palestinians seriously clearly intimidates people usually committed to free speech. One such is Nicholas Dirks, chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley, who has bent to ZOA pressure as have many other bodies in the USA:
Fear eats free speech on Israel

This international effort to silence Palestinians begins in Israel where Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour is being prosecuted for ‘incitement’. Simply speaking or writing about Palestinian suffering or rights is treated by Israeli authorities as illegal ‘incitement’. She needs support:
Poet pursued as criminal inciter

D. Trump is quite right when he thinks the ‘liberal elite’ is acting, if not conspiring, against him. But he keeps feeding that educated group with the careless ignorance of himself and his team. The balls-up by his press secretary Sean Spicer – unlike Assad, Hitler never used chemical weapons against his own people – might well be believed by his admirers, entrenching a dangerous, if not lethal, ignorance. Facts are pointed out:
Poisonous ignorance

Why the ‘international community’ is so concerned to protect Israel is the matter of many analyses. This bias, in international law, is made evident in the different reactions of the EU to Russia – sanctions for annexing Crimea – and to Israel, a mild request for clearer labelling of products:
The duty of non-recognition

Looking at the state of open political discourse in Arab countries, it is clear that Hamas is by far the most open to debate. This is the result of a period of intense introspection and re-evaluation consequent on the decision to revive the Hamas charter. The old charter declared ‘Jews’ to be the enemy and implied armed resistance was the only option. That’s gone in the new charter. Let’s hope they and their antagonists can find a form of dialogue and bargaining that shifts the stalemate:
What role for the new Hamas?

The significance of the Palestinian plight rises and falls in Arab states though Arab people are more consistent.

An Arab League conference on Palestine produced no new or strategic thinking; the rulers were content with ritual denunciations of Israel:
Platitudes on Palestine

More problematic is the Assad regime in Syria, as upsetting to Arabs as to anyone else. But this regime has kept out western interference and influence for which it commands respect:
Arab silence on Assad’s massacres
And more besides

© Copyright JFJFP 2017