Palestine Update 424
Would malice define the political character of Israel’s rulers?
There have been despots and tyrants throughout history. Barbarity has been one of their common characteristics. None of them ever believed in authentic democracy. They might have organized an election or two. But they always won landslide victories. If only, democracy had then to be placed under the scanner, it would have failed to reveal anything positive about the internal functioning of the systems under which they ruled. This political theory applies aptly to modern Israeli history. Israel exhibits a façade of democracy. Periodic elections conclude with predictable results. Racist-colonialist ideologies prevail, the gist of which is anti-Arabism.
It is hard to assign any single period in Israel history post 1948 when Israel adopted fair and civilizational standards to the Palestinian peoples in particular, and to their Arab neighbours in general. The Muslim was, to Israel, an object of hate. Islamophobia is the essence of Israel’s political diet. The strange thing about Israeli democracy is that you are not permitted to disagree with how it works. Critiques are quickly called anti-Semites. It is as if criticism of an awfully oppressive system is also a critique of the Semitic character of the Israeli people. The defense of Israel’s erratic counter attacks against even legitimate criticism of its incongruous political methods is devoid of rationale and logic. The expression anti-Semitism is a sheer convenient tool to label critiques as enemies.
Daily readings of news from Israel and Palestine shows up Israel as one of the world’s harshest rogue states. To kill, obliterate homes and lands, bulldoze agricultural fields, kill innocent children in cold blood, imprisoning people for their only fault of exercising democracy, or for resistance against a stubborn occupation, denying people essential rights, rejecting the rightful claim for the right to return after having been refugees for decades after decades, the crafty stealth of cultural and heritage sites with an eye of profit and a false narration of history, and the beastly Gaza wars, are, but examples of Israel’s dogged illogical maliciousness. Yes, as we pointed in the opening sentence, there have been despots and tyrants throughout history. Israel; now is in the running for a place at the top of the list. And what really shocks most is that the Jewish people faced the worst possible atrocities under Hitler’s Nazi rule. Today, tragically, their current rulers can hardly claim to be any different from the many varieties of barbaric governance. Hitler was a chilling despot with little doubt. How much lesser has any of Israel’s rulers been?
Long before we conclude the debate on what constitutes anti-Semitism, we must urgently categorize Israel’s political methods and degrees of tyranny. Anti-Semitism may just be a pretext to adopt the cruelest ways to rule what Israel deems as a people to ethnically cleanse.
UN agencies call for a gentler occupation
A coalition of UN agencies and international aid groups are calling on Israel to protect the Palestinian olive harvest which, as it does every year, has come under attack by West Bank settlers. But their toothless demands on Israel ignore the reality of the occupation. Twenty-five Palestinians have been injured so far during this year’s harvest, which began in early October. More than 1,000 olive trees have been damaged and large amounts of produce have been stolen from Palestinians by settlers. The coalition demands that Israeli occupation forces – which they euphemistically refer to as “Israeli Security Forces” – protect Palestinians from settlers. This ignores the vanguard role played by settlers in Israel’s conquest of Palestinian land, which is then enforced by the state.
The failure of international bodies to call for measures that would compel Israel to end the occupation only ensures its endurance and all the violence it entails. The failure of international bodies to call for measures that would compel Israel to end the occupation only ensures its endurance and all the violence it entails.
The UN does not serve its ostensible aim of preventing violence against Palestinian farmers by overlooking this partnership between Israeli settlers and the military. Some people working within the UN system are admittedly willing to speak frankly. Michael Lynk, the UN’s special rapporteur on Palestine, is one of them. Israel’s occupation, imposed for more than 50 years, “has crossed a red line into illegality.” A state of permanent occupation that shows no sign of ending, in which Israel is treating the occupied territory as its own, must trigger international legal processes, according to Lynk.
A permanent settlement of the Israel-Palestine conflict may not be a lost cause, but for many Arab governments it seems to be less important than ever. With other Arab states likely to follow the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in normalizing relations with Israel, do the Palestinians still have a viable path to an independent state of their own? In this Big Picture, Majdi Khaldi, a senior diplomatic adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, argues that Israel’s refusal to accept the 1967 border and an independent Palestine is a rejection of the simple principle of Palestinian rights. For that reason, Joe Biden should pledge to ensure that Israel immediately halts settlement construction in the occupied territories. Pan-Arab support for Palestinian statehood has increasingly given way to regional divisions over the perceived threat from Iran, the rise of political Islam, and the spread of regional terrorism. Likewise, former Israeli foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami says the high probability that more Arab countries will normalize ties with Israel suggests that Palestine has become a disposable cause.
Antithesis of peace’: Palestine advocates decry settlers’ visit to UAE
Palestinian rights advocates condemned a visit by Israeli settlers to the United Arab Emirates, which they said confirmed concerns that Abu Dhabi’s normalisation deal with the Israeli government strengthens the occupation and dispossession of Palestinian land. The trip, led by outspoken annexation advocate Yossi Dagan, who heads a council for illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, concluded earlier this week. Dagan revealed in a Facebook post on Tuesday that direct trade between settlements and the UAE will start soon. He said settlement representatives held a “marathon” of business meetings in Dubai.
“There’s no better word to describe it other than the Yiddish word ‘chutzpah’,” Jahshan told MEE, referring to a term that can be translated as shameless audacity. “Now you have Arab partners to Israel seeking to legitimize that illegal aspect of Israeli policy.”
The visit proved that the recent deals between Israel and Arab countries were meant to normalise Israeli “excesses”, not Israel’s existence as a state in the region. “There’s no better word to describe it other than the Yiddish word ‘chutzpah’,” Jahshan told MEE, referring to a term that can be translated as shameless audacity. “Now you have Arab partners to Israel seeking to legitimise that illegal aspect of Israeli policy.” The settlements are the “antithesis of peace”. The UAE and Israel signed a normalisation agreement touted as a “peace deal” vowing to increase economic and security cooperation and establish diplomatic relations for the first time.
Why does the US want to label charities and NGOs anti-Semitic?
The US is set to launch a crackdown on human rights groups and charities over their criticism of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. Despite the Trump administration’s loss in the November 3rd presidential election, it is nevertheless proceeding with the controversial measure that critics say amounts to suppression of free speech. While no organisations have been named, when reports first emerged of the plans in October they centered on Amnesty International, Oxfam, and Human Rights Watch (HRW), the last of which was co-founded by Aryeh Neier, a German Jew who fled Nazi Germany. All three organisations reject accusations of anti-Semitism and responding to the initial reports in October, Amnesty said: “The administration is spreading misinformation and working to undermine those who are working to protect human rights.” A number of officials fear the move could open the US government up to legal challenges.
Zoom censors events about Zoom censorship
Facilitating the agendas of Israel lobby groups, videoconferencing platform Zoom once again censored events in the US and UK featuring the Palestinian resistance icon Leila Khaled. This week, the president of New York University acceded to Zoom’s actions by smearing one of the panels, organized by NYU faculty and students and featuring an address by Khaled, as “terrorist violence” that conflicts with academic freedom. But academics, students and civil rights defenders are fighting back. The Israeli government and anti-Palestinian groups – including the Anti-Defamation League, StandWithUs and the Lawfare Project – had pressured the company for weeks over that event.
They claimed that hosting Khaled would constitute “material support” to US-designated “terrorists,” even though she was not being compensated for her involvement in the webinar and has not been involved in any armed resistance activities in decades. After Zoom canceled the September event, and Facebook blocked it, it went ahead via YouTube. But shortly after it began, the company cut off the video stream, replacing it with a notice that said “This video has been removed for violating YouTube’s Terms of Service.” In protest at these cancellations, the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (USACBI) called on universities and academic groups to hold Zoom-hosted webinars on 23 October – exactly a month later – as a day of action “against the criminalization and censorship of campus speech.” The events would include a pre-recorded message from Leila Khaled.
Normalize Palestine, Not the Occupation
Aotearoa-New Zealand and Palestine each have populations of five million people. With the exception of several Pacific Islands, we, New Zealanders, are the most distant people from Israel-Palestine. What can a few dozen New Zealanders of Muslim, Jewish, Christian, secular and other identities do from a small country at the bottom of the world?
We – members of Wellington-Palestine and Alternative Jewish Voices – work together because we see in the Palestinian people other human beings whose equal human rights are being crushed in a disastrous and illegitimate occupation. We seek solutions that begin with the restoration of rights and equal standing, as preconditions (not rewards) for a political solution. As an occupied people, Palestinians are entitled to protection, but protection is not a dynamic of change. So much time and energy have been expended in the past few years to slow the losses of the Trump-Netanyahu embrace. In those efforts, Palestinians have been too often reduced to being the object of our protection. Protection is no substitute for recognizing Palestinians as political actors and as agents of resistance and change. Here in Aotearoa-New Zealand, we believe we can capitalize on a moment of national change to reframe the issue. NZ recently elected a center-left government with an historic majority, led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. She has a rare ability to make waves with good, basic, principled statements. However, since our diplomatic initiative on UN Resolution 2334, our government has fallen decidedly quiet about Palestine.
Palestine Media Watch: A Trumpet for Zionist Propaganda
The more Israel is internationally criticized for its repressive and brutal practices against Palestinians, the more it creates circumvented malicious methods and means to cover and justify its behavior and continue achieving its dreams. It shamelessly fabricates lies and spreads them as facts in order to defame and demonize Palestinians, tarnish their image, and portray their rejection of the repugnant Israeli occupation as terrorism. Of course, one of these means is Palestine Media Watch.