The cruelty and temerity of the people in Gaza once more reached new heights Saturday: dozens of rockets on Israel before the week of its Independence Day, just after its Holocaust Remembrance Day, and worst of all, two weeks before its Eurovision. How dare you Gaza, how dare you. Israel still hasn’t recovered from the Holocaust, is preening itself for its Independence Day, the musicians are starting to arrive at Ben-Gurion Airport, and you’re firing Qassam rockets. How will we be able to celebrate? News reports give the impression that Israel is under siege; Gaza is threatening to destroy it. Twitter has already suggested “Eva’s Story on the Gaza Border” – a play on the social media campaign about the Holocaust. Pundits explain that it’s all because of Hamas’ greed. Ramadan is beginning and “they’re under crazy pressure for cash.” Or, “It’s all because of the weak security policy that has gotten the terror groups used to Israel; we only strike buildings.” And so they shoot, those villains. Hamas wants money, Israel’s too soft on them, they are terror, we are peace; they were born to kill. On Friday the army killed four protesters by the Gaza border fence, but who’s counting. In Israel a teenage boy tripped while running for a shelter. “When a lack of policy and continuity yields to blackmail,” a voice of wisdom mumbled, and nobody could figure out what he was proposing. Benny Gantz, the alternative. This is what we have an opposition for.
Tag Archives: Palestine and Israel
Israel’s legislative elections on 9 April were a tribute to Binyamin Netanyahu’s transformation of the political landscape. At no point were they discussed in terms of which candidates might be persuaded by (non-existent) American pressure, or the ‘international community’, to end the occupation. This time the question was which party leader could be trusted by Israeli Jews – Palestinian citizens of Israel are now officially second-class – to manage the occupation, and to expedite the various tasks the Jewish state has mastered: killing Gazans, bulldozing homes, combating the scourge of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS), and conflating anti-Zionism with antisemitism. With his promise to annex the West Bank, Netanyahu had won even before the election was held. It wasn’t simply Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights that sped the incumbent on his way; it was the nature of the conversation – and the fact that the leader of the opposition was Benny Gantz, the IDF commander who presided over the 2014 Operation Protective Edge, in which more than two thousand Gazans were killed.
No more excuses – Israeli voters have chosen a country that will mirror the brutal regimes of its Arab neighbours
So now I guess we’ve all run out of excuses. Bibi Netanyahu’s Israel will not be a new and more right-wing Israel. It’s been that for a long time. It’s the propaganda that’s going to fall to bits. The only democracy in the Middle East? Give me a break.
I think Israel now looks much more like its Arab neighbours. It dominates its own Arab minority, and its new prime minister has promised to annex much of the territory legally belonging to their fellow Palestinian Arabs – the very colonies built on lands which have already been stolen for the majority Jewish population in Israel.
Including Jerusalem, that comes to around 5,700 square kilometres, just a third the size of Kuwait – for which we all went to war when Saddam Hussein annexed the emirate in 1990. And that’s what Israel is beginning to resemble: just another Middle East nation.
Benjamin Netanyahu is an early version of the nationalist populist leaders that have come to power in country after country in recent decades. He has an acute sense of who holds – and does not hold – power and how to manipulate it. No wonder he gets on well with Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.
His political approach has not varied much since he first came to prominence as an Israeli diplomat in Washington during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 when he showed his skills as a propagandist in defending the Israeli war record, particularly during the bombing of Beirut. Speaking good American English, he knew exactly what to say on US television channels and his skills in dealing with American politics and the media have never deserted him.
Today, tens of thousands of Palestinians have headed towards the Israeli fence in Gaza to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Great March of Return.
At the time of publication, two Palestinians had been killed, and many more wounded by Israeli fire.
March 30 also marks Palestinian Land Day, which commemorates a 1976 decision by the Israeli government to expropriate thousands of hectares of Arab-owned land in the Galilee region north of Israel.
One year ago, Palestinians in Gaza launched a series of weekly protests along the Israeli border, in which thousands of demonstrators have gathered every Friday to call for their rights, and an end to a grinding blockade imposed on the territory since 2007. However, after 52 weeks of regular protests, the situation in Gaza seems to have only worsened.
The Great March of Return was initially thought up by young Gazans with a vision to shift the dynamics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The idea was to gather hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, who would cross into Israel in a non-violent march, demanding their right of return to their ancestors’ homes and the right to live side by side with Israelis.
It’s Time to Tell the Truth: Israeli Journalist Gideon Levy Supports Ilhan Omar’s Critique of Israel
The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a resolution Thursday condemning anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim discrimination, white supremacy and other forms of hate, following a week of debate among congressional Democrats. The controversy began after some lawmakers accused Democratic Congressmember Ilhan Omar of invoking anti-Semitic tropes while questioning U.S. foreign policy on Israel. The House leadership initially drafted a resolution condemning anti-Semitism in what was seen as a direct rebuke of Omar. But many progressive Democrats said Omar, one of the first two Muslim Congresswoman in U.S. history, was unfairly being singled out. The split within the Democratic Party forced the leadership to withdraw its initial resolution and then present a much broader one. Congressmember Ilhan Omar voted for and praised the new resolution in a joint statement with fellow Muslim lawmakers Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and André Carson of Indiana. We speak with Gideon Levy, Haaretz columnist and member of the newspaper’s editorial board. His latest piece is headlined “Keep It Up, Ilhan Omar.”
Trump is trying to pay his way to an annihilation of Palestinian statehood, and an erasure of Israel’s crimes
“Palestine” has been compared to many things. The world’s longest colonial war, a “hell-disaster” – Churchill’s memorable epithet – and the site of Israel’s “war on terror”, a conflict in which we are supposed to believe that the Palestinians are playing the role of al-Qaeda or Isis or any other outfit which the west and its allies have helped into existence, and which Israel is going to fight on our behalf.
But there are times when Palestine turns out to have been located in the Bermuda Triangle. The Palestinians disappear. They cease to exist. They are forgotten, irrelevant, outside the landscape of fear, pain, injustice and occupation that we once heard about so often. No one can imagine what has happened to these Palestinians. Like the aircraft and boats which strayed into the mythical triangle, they shouldn’t have been there in the first place. Sad to see them go. But it’s a mystery.
Here’s what I found out when I spent the day with Israel’s most controversial journalist, Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy is a bit of a philosopher king although, sitting in his postage stamp garden in a suburb of Tel Aviv, straw hat shading mischievous dark eyes, there’s a touch of a Graham Greene character about Haaretz’s most provocative and infamous writer. Brave, subversive, sorrowful – in a harsh, uncompromising way – he’s the kind of journalist you either worship or loathe. Philosopher kings of the Plato kind are necessary for our moral health, perhaps, but not good for our blood pressure. So Levy’s life has been threatened by his fellow Israelis for telling the truth; and that’s the best journalism award one can get.
He loves journalism but is appalled by its decline. His English is flawless but it sometimes breaks up in fury. Here’s an angry Levy on the effect of newspaper stories: “In the year of ’86, I wrote about a Palestinian Bedouin woman who lost her baby after giving birth at a checkpoint. She tried at three different [Israeli] checkpoints, she couldn’t make it and she gave birth in the car. They [the Israelis] didn’t let her bring the baby to the hospital. She carried him by foot two kilometres to the Augusta Victoria [Hospital in east Jerusalem]. The baby died. When I published this story – I don’t want to say that Israel ‘held its breath’, but it was a huge scandal, the cabinet was dealing with it, two officers were brought to court…”
Chaim Silberstein insists on showing me Jacob’s Stone. It lies in Beit El – “The House of God” – which is the name of the colony of 7,000 Jews just outside Ramallah. Right here was where the ancient Jewish patriarch lay down on his stone, so it is written, and dreamed of the ladder to heaven upon which angels ascended and descended. It was the 25th anniversary of the broken Oslo agreement, a strange day upon which to remember all those winged creatures – rather earlier in history – plodding up and down. But I have to admit that God’s message to Jacob all those thousands of years ago was a bit less prosaic and certainly more long term. “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants.”
So much for Oslo, then, and all those withdrawal agreements and the Palestinian State-that-isn’t, although, not far from a 1,000-year-old wormwood tree, Silberstein becomes a little lyrical – ever so cautiously, mind you – about the modern-day descendants of Jacob and the Americans who are trying to make God’s dream come true. It’s odd to hear the name of Trump up here, within the walls of Beit El and guarded by the guns of Israel’s settlers. Silberstein carries a hefty firearm himself, although I suspect his ambitions are a good deal more powerful than bullets.
Confronted on a warm, soft Jerusalem evening by one of Israel’s venerable Holocaust scholars – and a psychologist to boot – a visitor to Israel Charny’s retirement home should perhaps keep a certain silence, especially if the new arrival is a journalist.
Charny, author of the monumental Encyclopedia of Genocide – and much hated by the Turks who are outraged by his conviction that the 1915 Armenian genocide was a reality – speaks with the low, rather pondering voice of a US east coast academic. Not unlike the great Noam Chomsky, I note injudiciously. The American linguist and philosopher is a hero of mine, but a rather less prestigious figure in Charny’s eyes. “God forbid!” announces the 87-year-old head of Israel’s Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in Jerusalem. “You don’t know this – but I lived at the Chomsky house, as an undergraduate.”
He flourishes his most recent book, The Genocide Contagion, which asked readers to reflect on their own reaction to a future genocide in their own lives. It makes uncomfortable reading.