This week’s

August 27, 2017
Sarah Benton


Danny Danon was made Israel’s ambassador to the UN in October 2015. For years he had been a right-wing agitator, scolding the PM for being too soft on Palestinians. He had to go. He’s probably happy being in NYC, mixing with the most right-wing elements of Congress. And clearly not doing his UN homework.

Last Monday he launched a tirade against the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and its High Commissioner for Human Rights – Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. This was his knee-jerk response to the announcement by the High Commissioner that, following the decision in March, the list of companies doing business in the settlement would be published.

Instead of justifying settlements under international law, or even exceptional need, Danon resorted to insults.

“Instead of focusing on the terrible humanitarian problems plaguing the globe, the Human Rights Commissioner is seeking to harm Israel, and in doing so has become the world’s most senior BDS activist,” Danon said

And more like that. We post the speech by the High Commissioner so you can find out for yourself how the High Commissioner is obsessed with Israel, ignores human rights and indulges in antisemitism:
The brazen absence of shame

That phrase is from Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein in relation to thuggish rulers who do not respect human rights law (and he didn’t mean Israel). But it could also apply to Danon’s lie.

Israel had done some heavy lobbying to get publication of the list stopped. And, as above, not one of the diplomats or lobbyers put forward an ethical reason for why the world at large should not outlaw business with settlement companies:
Insults not arguments

The almost continuous arrival of Jews in Israel, making aliyah, is a foundation stone of Israeli confidence in their nation-state. The latest influx has been from Russia and France. Now, for the first time, more Jews are leaving Israel than entering it as would-be citizens. The leavers include many of the recent arrivals. One of many suggestions why is that they had no idea how isolated Israel had become in the community of nations:
More Jews leaving than arriving in Israel

It has been a truism, post Oslo accords, that the Palestine/Israel conflict can only be ended with the full-hearted engagement of the two peoples. Norrin Ripsman is a Distinguished Professor of International Relations, and other high-ranking positions. He has contributed a short essay to the Washington Post (sadly now behind a paywall) enumerating the many truces or final peace settlements which have been made in secret by top level diplomats and politicians. He does say that if it’s controversial the people must be engaged or the settlement will unravel:
Must peace come from the people?

Tony Klug, the distinguished authority on Israel and its relations with Palestinians remarks on the irony that an aim of Zionism was to ‘normalise’ Jews’ relations with the rest of the world but the reverse has happened. By setting itself up as a special people with a destiny to rule all Palestinians and their land Israel has, since 1967, made its state and its people the object of antagonism round the world. Today, Arab-Jewish relations – which have been harmonious at many points in history are as bad as they have ever been with a distinct rise in antisemitism in Arab and Muslim countries:
Arab-Jew hatred is founded on the Occupation

The veteran journalist Uri Avnery has a different perspective. He thinks the antagonism goes back to 1882, the year of the first mass immigration into Israel – resented from the start by Palestinians. He brings to the forefront the possibility of a federation or confederation for the two peoples – something which has been suggested many times before and is ripe for its fifth outing:
A Palestine-Israel federation:5.0

It has been an assumption that though you might plan peace without involving the people, you can’t without involving an American President. Jimmy Carter was the first to take up this mission following the visit to Israel by Egypt’s Pres. Anwar Sadat in 1977. This filled many with hope at the readiness of parties involved to reach a peace agreement and Jimmy Carter, president 1977-81, invited Menachem Begin (Israeli PM) and Anwar Sadat to hold secret talks at Camp David.
They appeared to have settled many issues but did not talk with or involve Palestinians. Qv Norrin Ripsman above.

Robert Springborg, a Visiting Professor in the Department of War Studies, King’s College, London, has a more emphatic and startling argument: the age of American imperialism is ended, there is no reason or justification for intervention in the MidEast. Either Russia or China is now likely take on the role of benign outsider:
US leaves MidEast to itself – or to China

Palestinians with determination for national liberation were once the driving force for events in Israel/Palestine. That nationalism has dissipated with defeat after disappointment after defeat. Neither the Palestinian formal leadership nor the Israeli government has anything to say, other than repeating dogmatic assertions. Noam Sheizaf of +972 warns those celebrating the demise of effective Palestinian political leaders that without them there will be chaos.
The abandoned masses

If we thought we could get through a week without once having to mention Pres. Trump, we have been disappointed – but with good reason. The acclaimed authors of Kingdom of Olives and Ash: Writers Confront the Occupation, Ayelet Waldman and Michael Chabon, have written an open letter to any American, Jews especially, working for the Trump administration. They say, as others have, that Trump’s speech after Charlottesville was so wrong in every way that it was a defining moment. If you’re not with him you have to be against him:
To our fellow Jews: which side are you on?

Two essays by Emma Green in the Atlantic take up this question of Jewish identity. She assumes that Jews have a uniform identity and beliefs though seems to be writing about the Jews who have ‘made it’ in the American hierarchy, discarding their once radical past. She remarks on the dissonance within the elite, between its secure and wealthy position and its self-image as persecuted and excluded:
The Establishment’s Outsider Group

In Britain it has seemed in the last decade that Palestinian rights have become the cause célèbre de nos jours. Looking back to a YouGov opinion poll taken during OPE – summer 2014 – the pollsters found support for Palestinians was highest in Britain. Elsewhere there were a lot of ‘don’t knows and both to blame’ and in the US, of course, it was Israel right.
Brits the most pro-Palestinian

The pro-Israel control of policy towards Palestine/Israel exercised by Labour’s right wing is being challenged by a new Labour party group, Jewish Voice for Labour (which will not attack Corbyn or BDS). Many Labour members were appalled at the role played by the Jewish Labour Movement in internal and external politics:
New Jewish voice for Labour

Having said the energy has gone out of movements for Palestinian liberation, it’s clear that the PLO, the internationally recognised representative of Palestinians, is in dire straits. The organisation urgently needs new people and new ideas. The possibility for this depends on the PLO summoning a meeting of the Palestine National Council. Could that be Abbas’ final act?
PLO wants new life

It’s a truism to say that Palestinians have been ill-served by their formal leaders. Both Fatah and Hamas have responded to this growing political crisis by enforcing restrictions on all forms of knowledge sharing. Amnesty International and Addameer have condemned the censorship. The PA has even rushed through a new ‘Electronic Crimes’ law allowing state censors/police to eliminate any website which threatens ‘national unity or social peace’. This is extremely serious:
Fatah, Hamas go for total knowledge control

However, what Hamas will be able to do is in doubt. Egypt no longer supports the group or its regime. Nor does Qatar, out of necessity. It needs a new patron but as no patron will join Hamas in its pariah status it’s not clear that any Arab state will be willing – unless Dahlan steps in with his millions
Hamas in urgent need of new patron

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