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NGOs slam ‘disarmament for development’ as Gaza lies in ruins

Leading NGOs have heavily criticised attempts to link the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip with its demilitarisation, ahead of a debate about the issue in Westminster today.

Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) will this afternoon urge “disarmament for development”, as the Israel lobby group launches a new campaign focusing on the Gaza Strip and Hamas.

In their supporters’ briefing, LFI claims: “Reconstruction, lifting the ‘blockade’ of Gaza by Israel and Egypt and demilitarisation are intimately linked: the first two are dependent on the last.” Read more

Boycott until Israel’s apartheid is dismantled

On Saturday February 14, a letter was published in The Guardian announcing a boycott of Israel by more than 700 British artists and cultural workers (disclaimer: I am a signatory). The signatories came from the worlds of literature, art, film, stage, and music. They all pledged “to accept neither professional invitations to Israel, nor funding, from any institutions linked to its government until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.”

The initiative immediately attracted international attention – and a predictable response from Israel’s allies. A Conservative minister described the boycott pledge as “reprehensible” and “unspeakably vile”. The vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews called the letter “totally racist”.   Read more

Obama’s ‘Crusaders’ analogy veils the West’s modern crimes

Like many children, 13-year-old Mohammed Tuaiman suffered from nightmares. In his dreams, he would see flying “death machines” that turned family and friends into burning charcoal. No one could stop them, and they struck any place, at any time.

Unlike most children, Mohammed’s nightmares killed him. Read more

The truth about West Bank demolitions

British newspaper the Daily Mail last week published an “exclusive” on claims that the EU is “funding illegal West Bank building projects”, a reference to Palestinian structures built without a permit from Israeli occupation authorities.

The Oslo Accords, which Israel has systematically and repeatedly violated, were intended to manage a “transitional period” ending in 1999. Under the terms of the Accords, about 60 percent of the West Bank, so-called “Area C”, remains under Israeli authority today.

The article contends that in helping Palestinians build structures “unauthorised” by Israel, the EU is “acting illegally”. This argument, however, is ignorant of international law, obfuscates the reality on the ground today, and serves to advance a disturbing agenda. Read more

BDS and Israel’s war on Palestinian higher education

A report by UNESCO has documented the “material, human and educational damage” sustained by Gaza’s higher education institutions (HEIs) during Israel’s assault last summer. The UN agency’s conclusion: that “higher education institutions were directly targeted during the hostilities.”

Israel’s “failure to treat learning environments as safe spaces and protect universities from attack”, UNESCO states, constituted “a serious violation of the right to education and is prohibited under international law.” Read more

Wars abroad, witch-hunts at home: responding to Panorama and John Ware

Last week, BBC’s Panorama broadcast a documentary on “The Battle for British Islam” by John Ware, a journalist and film-maker. Ware followed this up with an extended op-ed in this weekend’s Independent on Sunday, covering much of the same ground. Together, they provide an insight into the disturbing assumptions and consequences of current, official ‘anti-extremism’ policies. Read more

Internal inquiry must not whitewash Israeli war crimes in Rafah

Over the last couple of weeks in Israel, in what has been called an “exceptionally widespread attack”, politicians, op-ed writers, and reservists have urged the IDF Military Advocate General (MAG) Danny Efroni to end investigations into a number of incidents that occurred during the recent assault on the Gaza Strip (so-called ‘Operation Protective Edge’)

Out of dozens of alleged incidents of wrongdoing, Efroni has in fact so far ordered the opening ofjust 13 criminal investigations (a number of which are for cases of looting). Yet even this is too much for those who, like Naftali Bennett, believe Israel’s “brave warriors” are being unfairly attacked. Read more

Business as usual at the UN – but US public opinion on Israel is shifting

Speaking to the Security Council on Tuesday shortly after voting against the doomedPalestinian-drafted resolution on statehood, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power referred three times to an “unsustainable status quo” between Israel and the Palestinians.

It is of course Washington itself that bears most responsibility for this status quo, through its diplomatic, military, and economic support for the occupier, and leadership of a decades-long ‘peace process’ that has given Israel the cover to de facto annex its way to a permanent occupation. Read more

In the fight against apartheid, Christian Palestinians defy Israel’s propaganda

In 2012, then-Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren penned an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal in which he claimed that “Christians in [Gaza and the West Bank] suffer the same plight as their co-religionists throughout the region.”

While the diplomat was looking to capitalise on more recent developments in the Middle East – like Netanyahu did at the UN, with his “Hamas is ISIS” mantra – Oren’s claim that Christian Palestinians are being driven out by Muslims is a familiar one. Read more

Israel’s strategy: between mowing the grass or uprooting it

“Heard about the guy who fell off a skyscraper? On his way down past each floor, he kept saying to reassure himself: So far so good…so far so good…so far so good…” La Haine (1995)

Writing in the Journal of Strategic Studies at the beginning of this year, Bar-Ilan University-based academics Efraim Inbar and Eitan Shamir discussed the Israeli military’s concept of ‘mowing the grass’, a “new term” that “reflects the assumption that Israel finds itself in protracted intractable conflict with extremely hostile non-state entities.” Read more

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