This week’s

September 3, 2017
Sarah Benton


There are two leading stories this week, August 28th to September 3rd 2017: one, the response of Hamas to the dire state of Gaza and two, the need felt by the Israeli Diaspora Affairs department to change radically the definition of being Jewish.

Gaza first. The strip was visited last week by UN general Secretary Antonio Guterres. He had nothing new to say – open the gates slammed and locked by both Israel and Egypt; Palestinian factions unite because they are damaging their cause. Accepting the PA’s rule throughout Palestine would be the first step to change; now Gaza was suffering “one of the most dramatic humanitarian crises” he had ever seen:
UN head – something can be done about Gaza

All parties know that, without significant intervention, the 4000 years of a populated Gaza Strip are over.
Apart from small well-off enclaves most Palestinians are surviving without enough of the basic necessities – water, waste disposal, shelter, electricity… Residents are complaining about the ruling party’s military expenditure and effort and its neglect of basic needs for a civilised life:
Ungoverned Gaza

Ironically, there is a Hamas plan – though it’s wrapped in secrecy – to let the Strip become even more ungoverned – i.e. to let it lapse into a state of chaos with just the paramilitary groups having the job of ‘security’. The idea is to force international intervention, though a more likely outcome would be international support (See UN chief above) for lifting the siege and for either Egypt or the PA to exercise control:
Chaos as a war strategy

‘Normal’ life does not exist in Gaza. In interviews with teenage girls who like to make music together one of them says “we can’t figure out what normal feels like anymore”. Adding to their peculiar exclusion from ‘normal’ teenage stuff – dancing, forming bands, mooching about, dressing up, these girls are rigorously policed outside the home by the men who think it’s their job to ensure girls’ bodies are hidden:
Double jeopardy traps girls of Gaza

It’s become a truism, if not an antisemitic cliché, that Jews are clubbish and excluding; if your Jewish mother does not provide you with a kosher birth certificate it’s harder to be recognised as Jewish than it is for a camel to get though the eye of a needle. Which means Israel and Diaspora Jews, Ashkenazi in particular, have a self-limiting Jewish population by Orthodox rules. New plan: Israel, with its growing Palestinian population, will fight the demographic war by scouring the world for people with a Jewish connection and award them some special recognition:
Millions to be given special Israeli status

This first step could link hundreds of thousands of people to Israel, possibly lead to their immigration (so out-birthing Palestinians) and undermine the authority of Rabbis on who can be accepted as Jewish. Jonathan Cook definitely thinks it’s an anti-Palestinian measure:
Change the rules to ensure Jews are majority

Philip Weiss, founder and editor of Mondoweiss is delighted to read an article by Naomi Dann in Forward equating Zionism with racism. This is a post-Charlottesville perception – the far-right Richard Spencer calls himself a ‘White Zionist” because, like Jews, he wants the best for ‘his people’ – viz other white nationalists:
When a Jew equates Zionism with racism

What embedded Charlottesville as a defining moment for American Jews especially was that it was not only Pres. Trump who refused to cast the neo-Nazis into outer darkness; just as placid was the Defender of All Jews and Chief Indicter of all Anti-Semites Pres. Netanyahu. In the same posting (above) an angry Chemi Shalev scorns the Israeli PM who puts friendship with the American President before supporting the American Jews who were appalled a Trump’s response.

But PM Netanyahu is busy finding new friends – all brothers in ethno-nationalism. In a careful analysis of Netanyahu’s new links Daniel Levy in the conservative National Interest thinks he has made some deft moves – but not giving a thought to his most pressing problem, the Palestinians. He has made it much harder for any successor to have meaningful negotiations with Palestinians:
Netanyahu will leave bitter legacy

No-one in his government cares a jot about Palestinian well-being. While Israel prides itself on being the only country in the MidEast to be bound by the rule of law, that is true only if Military Orders are regarded as bona fide democratic laws – as opposed to plugging loopholes in the existing martial law under which Palestinians in the oPt live.

The human rights NGO Addameer details the human rights (recognised in international law) which are abrogated by Military Orders allowing police and IDF to arrest any Palestinian for almost anything:
If he moves, lock him up

Nowhere is this crude military dictatorship more active than in Hebron/ al-Khalil. To safeguard the small group of Jewish settlers (about 86 families) the old part of town is flooded with soldiers and checkpoints. Every tool of the Occupation is in place here. There is no such thing as free movement for Palestinians. A surprisingly open article from JPost:
Hebron, epitome of the Occupation

It’s fitting that after all these references to constricted movement we hear that Gisha, the Israeli NGO that monitors and promotes free movement for Palestinians in the oPt, is one of the ten nominees for the Dutch Tulip prize which is awarded to “courageous individuals or organisations around the world that seek to promote human rights in an innovative way”. You can vote today:
Right to move freely is honoured

2017 is the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. Prof. Avi Shlaim reviews the causes and effects – the clearest one being the Palestinians’ loss. The Liberal government’s 1917 decision was made at the height of Britain’s imperial power, despite being in the middle of a world war. The intense Christianity of the government at the time meant no-one bothered about the right of the ‘infidels’ promised in the Declaration. The results yielded nothing good for Britain either – despite the chirruping of a poorly-informed PM May:
Christian imperialists saw Palestinians as worthless infidels

American Rabbi Sharon Brous says, in relation to Charlottesville:
White supremacy is our country’s original sin

Which might be applied to British imperialism too, though as a later sin. In this posting the comment by Guardian columnist Hadley Freeman is included another American Jew for whom Charlottesville was a defining moment – here meaning a newly critical view of Israel’s leadership.

In a chapter in the new book, Israel and Palestine, Alternative Perspective on Statehood, Richard Silverstein documents the many ways in which the Israel lobby keeps Americans in the dark about what is actually happening in Israel:
The stuff on Israel which Americans may not see

And lastly, a demand by Manchester students for Freedom of Information about Manchester University’s links with Israel. Some problematic and anachronistic material in this hence extra NOTES and LINKS:
Manchester students demand info on Israel links

© Copyright JFJFP 2017