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Beyond the ballot box: how Israel’s “Arab voters” are second-class citizens

On Monday, newly re-elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed regretfor his now notorious remarks on polling day last week, when he warned that Israel’s Palestinian citizens were coming out to vote “in droves.”

Netanyahu did not actually say sorry; he merely noted that what he had said “hurt some Israeli citizens”, and added that he sees himself as the prime minister of “each and every one of you…without differentiating between religions, races and sex.”

In the words of one journalist, Bibi’s comments were “like publishing a one-column-inch apology on the obituary page for deliberately libelling a person on Page 1.” The Joint List also rejected the non-apology, noting the prospect of further “racist and marginalising legislation” in the next Knesset. Read more

The moral bankruptcy of liberal Zionism

On the day of the Israeli elections, PM Benjamin Netanyahu sounded a warning. Palestinian citizens – “Arab voters” – were “heading to the polling stations in droves”, he announced, before urging Jewish citizens to do their bit and protect the right-wing government.

The Likud leader’s naked racist incitement, particularly in the context of an election, prompted widespread international condemnation, including from politicians and pundits supportive of Israel. Bibi is an easy villain – even some of Israel’s strongest supporters will condemn him. Read more

Israel lobby’s attack on academic freedom

For years, Israel lobby groups have slammed the Palestinians’ call for a boycott of Israeli universities as an attack on “academic freedom”. Now the mask has well and truly slipped.

Next month, the University of Southampton in the UK will hold a conference on Israel and international law to bring together “scholars from law, politics, philosophy, theology, anthropology, cultural studies history and other connected disciplines”.

However, in an unashamed attack on free speech, the university has come under increasing pressure to cancel the gathering. Read more

Amongst frustrated allies, patience has run out with Israel

The British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond didn’t mince his words. Israel, he said, was guilty of “what looks and feels like a deliberate attempt to sabotage the two-state-solution.”

The diplomat went on, claiming that the “window” for a two-state agreement is “closing”, and that this was down to Israeli “settlement patterns” in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

And all this even before Netanyahu’s re-election as prime minister had been confirmed. Read more

10 facts about Israel’s elections and the Palestinian vote

On 17 March, Israelis will go to the polls to elect a new government. Here are 10 facts about the Knesset elections and the Palestinian vote. Read more

The Zionist Union’s plan for a Palestinian Bantustan

When Israelis go to the polls next week, PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s only serious challenger will be Labour’s Isaac Herzog. The latter heads up the Zionist Union joint-ticket, an alliance with Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah party.

Since 2009, Netanyahu and his allies in the Knesset have frustrated the efforts of the U.S. and international community to advance the official peace process. Just two days ago, Netanyahu clarified that should he win re-election, there will be “no concessions and no withdrawals [from the Occupied Palestinian Territory].”

But what of Herzog and Livni? What if, when the dust settles, the Zionist Union is invited to head the next Israeli government? What is the alliance’s position on the Palestinians and the peace process? Well now we know. Read more

Israel is losing the debate – in more ways than one

Last night, I participated in a debate at the Cambridge Union on ‘This House Believes Israel is a Rogue State.’ Speaking alongside Ghada Karmi and Norman Finkelstein for the proposition, the motion was carried by 51 percent to 19 percent – with a 7 percent swing from the pre-debate vote.

The debating chamber was packed, and the atmosphere charged. At the end of the debate, cries of ‘Free, Free Palestine’ rang out. But my main takeaway from the proceedings was the sheer weakness of the opposition’s arguments – a microcosm of pro-Israel propaganda that simply no longer works. Read more

What about the rockets?

During the last couple of weeks, Westminster lobby group Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) has been pushing its new publication on Gaza, the key message of which is that the reconstruction of the fenced-in enclave should be contingent on its demilitarisation.

My intention here is not to set out the clear, legal and moral, arguments against LFI’s ‘disarmament for development’ approach – indeed, leading NGOs have already done so. Rather, I would like to make a different point with regards to Israel advocacy in Western capitals. Read more

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

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