We got some changes to the format that we’re working on here at HQ. Until those roll out, however, enjoy my top picks from last week:
- It’s off our beat a bit, but this Al Jazeera op-ed that places the mass media’s discussions of Chechnya over the past week in the broader history of attempts to manage whiteness in the U.S. “The Wrong Kind of Caucasian” is definitely worth the read.
- A Knesset member from Yesh Atid decided to visit a friend in Ramallah. She was shocked by what she saw and posted this long, if still somewhat racist, Facebook status explaining her shock at the ways Palestinians are treated. Honestly, it doesn’t even sound like she saw any of the more exceptional forms of violence that characterize daily life in the West Bank: she talks about the Qalandia checkpoint and the daily harassment of the Israeli army. Is it possible that the average Israeli is truly this ignorant of what its government does in the West Bank?
- An op-ed from Haaretz argues that the most recent extension of Israel’s Citizenship Law makes Israel and apartheid state.
[W]e do not need to replicate exactly the characteristics of South African apartheid within discriminatory practices in civil rights in Israel in order to call Israel an apartheid state. The amendment to the Citizenship Law is exactly such a practice, and it is best that we not try to evade the truth: Its existence in our law books turns Israel into an apartheid state.
- Noam Sheizaf also takes up the citizenship law, focusing on the importance of paying attention to the 1 in 4 Israeli citizens who are not Jewish:
Palestinian citizens have many rights in Israel – especially compared with Palestinians under occupation – but they are not equal citizens. Even if Israel is forced to end the occupation, only by removing all discriminatory elements from its legal system and adopting a “state of all its citizens” model can it move toward becoming a truly democratic state, rather than a democracy of racial profiling.
Er…Sorry I’m a bit late on putting this one out. Things have been a bit crazy over at HQ. We got some good stuff coming at you this week, including our second Movie Monday, an analysis of that Blue and White Poll that I mentioned on Wednesday, and all the regular features. In the meantime, here are some of my top picks from last week, including the United Nations at its worst, an incredible new map, :
The Australian reports on a bizarre press conference that took place in Jerusalem about the findings of UNICEF’s report. The press conference was greeted enthusiastically by journalists but the manner in which it was conducted indicates a fix was on to stifle the truth of the report. Unfortunately, it appears at least some of those engaged in this subterfuge were members of UNICEF, including Anthony Lake, executive director of the agency, and UNICEF’s Jerusalem chief Jean Gough.
Maki [The Israeli Communist Party], however, was not alone. Ever since, most of the Zionist leftist movements have regarded Mizrahim as unnecessary surplus, lacking the sophistication or modernity to accept the Left’s lofty ideas.
- Yitzhak Laor has an important op-ed in Haaretz, noting the ever-increasing levels of racism against Arabs in Israel today.
This is the real content of the State of Israel: in all fields, including in academia, where the faculty aren’t as callous as the community leaders of Upper Nazareth. But they also enjoy keeping the pie to themselves; the pleasures of silence suit them well in a liberal context. This is the “Jewish State,” and, consequently, Arab children receive less education and the mortality rate of their babies is higher. Therefore, their villages are continually becoming more crowded and the poverty in their community trebles.
- The Israeli NGO Zochrot has released an incredible new map, for the first time recording all of the documented villages destroyed in the course of the Nakba. A high-quality version of the map together with a detailed explanation can be downloaded here. For more on the organization, The Economist has a great review of their recently published guidebook, Once Upon a Land. Unfortunately, when activists from the organization attempted to hand out the map on the streets, this happened:
Creative Solutions All refugees in the world have the right to return to their homes. This is a granted right that all Palestinians have. It cannot be given or taken. However, Return does not necessarily mean turning back the clock to the eve of 1948. The vast majority of villages no longer exist; others have new towns built on the land while Jewish families occupy whatever houses remain in tact. In some instances the villages can be re-built, in others residents can join existing municipalities and in other cases people might choose to live in different cities than those they came from. The right to choose one’s place of residence is as important as the right to return home. Local mapping and planning done by organizations such as Badil and Zochrot can help further exploring and realizing return in creative ways.
- Mondoweiss profiles South Tel Aviv’s “Red House,” a Palestinian mansion which is one of the last remnants of the four villages that once stood in the area. The home has recently been acquired by the municipality, which could mean its preservation as a historical site or its destruction as part of the ongoing Nakba.
I’m working on a piece on a particularly anti-Semitic grounding of Zionism, which will probably come out tomorrow or Sunday. In the meantime, here are my picks from the best and most interesting pieces I read this past week.
- Chemi Shalev has an important rejoinder to my analysis of Gallup’s Israel poll (part 1, part 2) earlier this month, arguing that recent Pew polling indicates falling support for Israel among U.S. citizens.
Thus, while Israel’s continues to enjoy substantial overall support in the American public, its weakest links are to be found among the groups that are now on the ascendant on most domestic and social issues of the day. Generational gaps and demographic trends have combined to produce a significant shift in American public opinion, as the National Journal wrote this week: “The culture wars now favor the Democrats. The wind is in their backs.”
- Anshel Pfeffer has an interesting op-ed in Haaretz in which he argues that Jews in Europe are doing a terrible job responding to anti-Semitism. Despite his highly offensive conflation of criticizing Israel with anti-Semitism, I find his broader point rather compelling:
Jews in Europe seem increasingly unwilling to engage with anti-Semitism – real, suspected or imagined – in open and free debate. They prefer to use legal means or public pressure to shut down any conversation in which offensive and hateful remarks or accusations may be addressed toward Jews. This campaign that is being waged with, on the whole, the best of intentions, is proceeding full steam without anyone to my knowledge considering a fundamental question. Is it at all in our interest to try to create a climate where any anti-Jewish discourse is forbidden by law or so socially reprehensible as to be publicly unutterable?
- Electronic Intifada responds to allegations that BDS hurts the Palestinian employees who work in Jewish-owned factories located in the Occupied West Bank.
- Don Futterman over at Haaretz traces out the problematic ideological heritage of the date chosen for Yom HaShoah, which this year fell on April 7-8. Yom HaShoah is the day to commemorate the 6 million Jewish victims of the Nazi Holocaust. (International Holocaust remembrance day, in which all 12 million victims are commemorated is celebrated annually on 27 January.)
Instead of commemorating loss, death and destruction, the young state’s socialist leaders wanted Holocaust Remembrance Day to focus on the courageous and self reliant New Jew that the Zionist enterprise was meant to create and embody. The day was an opportunity for education, or indoctrination, and the government chose to highlight Jewish armed resistance against the Nazis. The focus on wartime Jewish resistance was a rebuttal to the passivity of Jews who had been murdered across Europe for centuries, and the lesson that Jews should be comfortable taking up arms was no less important. If the easily-victimized ghetto Jew associated weapons with non-Jews, with goyim, who were seen as essentially violent and misguided, then in the new state, every Jew would engage in armed self-defense.
If Israel continues to occupy conquered territory for an extended period, say two to three years, it will find it increasingly difficult to relinquish control. Domestic pressures to establish paramilitary settlements in occupied areas would grow, and it would be harder to turn back to the Arabs land which contained such settlements.
I admit it. I’ve been a bit slow on the production front these past few weeks. But I got some good stuff in the works, so next week should be seeing some substantive analysis and opinion pieces. In the meantime, here are the best articles on Palestine and Israel I read this past week.
- National Democratic Assembly (Balad) secretary-general Awad Abdel Fattah chronicles his interactions with Israeli authorities in Ben Gurion airport. It is very much worth a read, as Mr. Fattah does a fantastic job responding to the standard tropes of Zionists. For example:
He [Shin Bet official] answered: “I am not racist. I am leftist.”
I asked skeptically: “Can you tell me what you mean by left? You are Zionist left. The left, as I know it, is against racism and is identified with universal values of equality between all human beings and with social justice. The Zionist left doesn’t uphold those values.”
- While I find the apartheid analogy both useful and accurate, it is always good to be mindful of the similarities and differences between Palestine and Israel. Al-Shabaka has an interesting policy profile from Samer Abdeinour in which “he reveals Israeli apartheid to be far more sophisticated than that of South Africa and suggests directions for thinking and action to overcome Israel apartheid.” Not sure how useful the language of “more or less” evil is useful here, but the piece is still worth a look.
- For those who want a less academic, shorter, or just different but aso very good discussion of the apartheid analogy, +972mag has an explanation for why using the term is essential when talking about Israeli policies.
- The New York Times once again features an op-ed about Israel’s ever increasing distance from true democracy, this time from Avraham Berg. While I am skeptical fo the narrative that Israel today is the result of secular socialist Zionists’ having been replaced with their religious Zionist brethren the increasingly critical tone of the New York Times Op-Ed page may be a harbinger of changing elite public opinion in the United States.
- Electronic Intifada highlights a fascinating upcoming conference at Boston University on how to practically implement the Right of Return. These sorts of conferences are esential for moving beyond talking points towards policy.
- Finally, Israel Social Media highlights the ongoing high-apartheid regime that characterizes Hebron, something we have repeatedly emphasized ourselves, including in my favorite Meme for Palestine thus far.
It’s been a relatively slow news week, in Palestine and Israel. So the articles we are highlighting this week are a bit more big-picture pieces than current events. But they are well worth your time this weekend. If you think we missed an important article, leave a comment below.
- Starting things off on a positive note today, Sami Michael, President of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, has a fabulous op-ed in Ynet arguing against the epidemic of racism spreading throughout his country.
- Khaled Elgindy of the Brookings Institute criticizes U.S. politicians and media personalities for failing to take notice of internal Palestinian politics when talking about the Middle East.
[T]he United States continues to operate as though Abbas’ West Bank leadership has no political opposition or public opinion to answer to. For too long, American policymakers have treated Palestinian politics as something that can be avoided, suppressed or, if need be, reshaped. Indeed, if an accommodation is to be made, it is usually Palestinian politics that must bend to the perceived needs of the peace process rather than the other way around.
After reading Khalidi’s revelations, a Western liberal in favour of the Two State solution, as envisaged in the Oslo Accords, might well feel as though he has been sitting at the children’s table at a wedding for the past 20 years oblivious to the fact that the adults have been busy entrenching a system of Israeli occupation on the West Bank, which makes a Palestinian state a near impossibility.
- And finally, the Alternative Information Center captures these incredible images from Palm Sunday processions protesting against restrictions to the practice of religion throughout Palestine.
Now that Obama’s pointless visit to Palestine and Israel is over (complete with a sandstorm that forced President Obama to actually see a checkpoint), we can look forward to things getting back to normal. We’re off preparing next weeks’ posts; and I use the first person plural because Monday will see Jeremiah’s Laments very first first guest blogger! So check back in next week for all of our regular features, plus Movie Monday, part 2 of our Gallup poll analysis, and (if I’m productive) a post about one state vs. two-state solutions.
In the meantime, here are my picks for this week’s must-read articles about Palestine and Israel:
- A few weeks ago, I argued that a central fallacy of U.S. discourse on Palestine and Israel was that it treated the conflict as one between two sovereign states. This week, Mya Guarnieri illustrates this argument perfectly, through an incredibly detailed look at how a seemingly internal matter of a University shutdown in Abu Dis, East Jerusalem is the product of Israel’s Occupation.
- Joseph Dana has a very interesting report on the fate of books confiscated by the Israeli state in the aftermath of the Nakba.
- Ben Ehrenreich has an excellent op-ed in the LA Times, focusing on Jewish anti-Zionist traditions to argue against the idea of a Jewish-only state.
- Al Shabaka published a policy brief by Osamah Khalil arguing for the need to do away with the PLO in favor of a more representative body. It makes for very interesting reading. For those not inclined to read through the dense policy paper, Electronic Intifada has a good cliff notes version here.
- Last week’s Phoning it in Phriday featured a story from IRIN Middle East about the planned E-1 settlement-colony being built just east of Jerusalem. This week, IRIN runs part 2 of that story, focusing on other settlement construction in East Jerusalem which, though just as dangerous and problematic as E-1, received hardly any media or international attention.
- Haggai Matar, despite an odd first paragraph, has a good report on teaching the U.S. Civil Rights struggle in Hebron, in advance of President Obama’s visit to the region. The resulting protests, including the violent response by the Israeli army and settler-colonists, can be read about here.
- Haaretz has a hilarious imagining of President Obama’s security check at Ben Gurion airport.
- Finally, this past Saturday marked the tenth anniversary of Rachel Corrie‘s death at the hand of the Israeli army in Gaza. the Institute for Middle Eastern Understanding has a great fact sheet on Ms. Corrie, for those less familiar with her life and tragic death. Here is a message from her parents.
You can find out more about the Rachel Corrie Foundation at their website.
Every Friday this blog links to some our favorite reads from the past week.
We’ve got quite the bog entry coming up on Sunday afternoon (hint: it features Ron Swanson), so be sure to check back here for more original content. For now though, it’s time to get ready for the weekend. Here are a few good reads for you to catch up on this weekend.
- Joseph Levine’s take on Israel’s “right to exist” in the New York Times is recommended, more for the fact of its appearance in the New York Times than anything else. In my estimation, it is a very good argument for why the very idea of a Jewish State is itself problematic, though I disagree on some relatively minor points on how it relates to the phrase “right to exist.” Regardless, everyone is talking about it this week and for good reason, so read it if you want to be part of the conversation.
- Jerry Haber (Charles Manekin), himself a liberal Zionist, takes Peter Beinart to task over his opposition to the BDS campaign. Taking Beinart to task seems to be all the rage these days. Here is the money quote, though the whole article is worth a read:
I am afraid that this is what many liberal Zionists miss. The real dispute is not between the one-staters and the two-staters, but between those who hold that the collective right of a settler people to self-determination trumps the human and civil rights of the indigenous natives, and those who do not.
There are two facts Mr. Obama would do well to keep in mind. The overwhelming dominance of Israel over the Palestinians means that the conflict is not one that demands reciprocal concessions from two equal parties. In addition, peace has to be made between Palestinians and Israelis, not between Mr. Obama and his critics in the Republican Party, the Israel lobby and Israel’s right-wing parties.
When an Arab attacks a Jew, he’s a terrorist, he’s with the movement, he’s been taught to hate. When a Jew attacks an Arab, he’s just a loner, an oddball, a bad egg. But we’ve seen so many bad eggs at this point that something here has begun to stink – and can no longer be explained away as a phenomenon on the fringes.
- Finally, let’s end things this week on an optimistic note, with Omar Baddar’s video on how U.S. public discourse has shifted on Palestine/Israel over the past few years