This week marks the 66th anniversary of the ethnic cleansing of Miska, a Palestinian village whose roughly 1,000-strong population was expelled in April 1948 by Haganah forces. Located around 10 miles from Qalqilya, Miska boasted 100-200 houses, an elementary school for boys, and a mosque.
The community was targeted and destroyed by pre-Israel Defense Forces (IDF) militias, as part of a policy of “clearing out [the area's] Arab inhabitants“. The expulsion of the villagers,according to historian Benny Morris, was carried out “with Haganah/IDF General Staff and/or cabinet-level sanction”. Everything was destroyed except the school and the mosque. Read more
Last week, Palestinian activist Muhammad Kanaaneh was due to address Tel Aviv University students at an event marking Land Day, a commemoration of the bloody state repression of anti-land expropriation protests in 1976. However, following pressure by right-wing Zionist activists, university authorities stepped in to ban Kanaanehfrom delivering his speech on campus.
The opposition to Kanaaneh’s lecture, including from Members of the Knesset, was on the basis that he was a so-called “convicted terrorist”, apparently jailed for “involvement with” or “passing on information to” Hezbolllah. But few bothered to examine the claims being made about Kanaaneh, or look beyond the shouts of ‘terrorist’. To do so would be to reveal another side to this affair, beyond the repression of Palestinian political activism at Israeli academic institutions. Read more
Last month at the University of Leeds, a debate was held on the boycott of Israel. The specific motion read: “This house believes that UK academics should boycott Israeli academic institutions until Israel ends the occupation and abides by international law”.
Arguing for the motion were Jonathan Rosenhead and Sue Blackwell, both active members of British Committee for the Universities of Palestine (BRICUP). Against them were Robert Fine and Hugh Hubbard, the former an active campaigner against the boycott of Israel. In the pre-debate vote, the motion was backed 53-37. By the end of the debate, that had shifted to 68-23 in favour of academic boycott, a clear majority. Read more
In recent years, Israeli leaders and advocates have repeatedly warned of the threat posed by so-called “delegitimisation”. Yosef Kuperwasser, the current director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, has claimed it is the country’s most important challenge.
“Delegitimisation” is frequently used to variously describe Palestine solidarity activism, boycott and divestment campaigns, and opposition to Israel’s definition as a Jewish state. The term is intended to rally the faithful, and place the targeted critics beyond the pale. To describe Israeli policies in terms of apartheid is also considered a form of “delegitimisation”. Read more
This week has seen the promotion of yet more anti-democratic legislation in Israel. A new law that received final approval by the Knesset gives, for the first time, separate representation to Muslim and Christian Palestinian citizens on a national employment commission. The bill’s sponsor, Likud MK Yariv Levin, was clear about his motivation: “[the Christians are] our natural allies, a counterweight to the Muslims who want to destroy the country from within.” An editorial in Israeli newspaper Haaretz described it as “racist legislation” by “nationalist zealots”. Read more
Since its release in 2009 Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide has become an essential primer for undergraduate students and activists getting to grips with the Palestine/Israel conflict for the first time. Ben White skilfully distills the work of academics and experts into a highly accessible introduction.
This new updated and expanded edition includes information on the Israeli blockade and attacks on the Gaza Strip since 2008, new policies targeting Palestinian citizens of Israel and the growth of the global Boycott Divestment Sanctions campaign. Read more
Last week, EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen warned on Israeli television that the country would face “increasing isolation” if the peace process collapsed, echoing remarks he made in January about a “price to pay” in terms of boycott and divestment initiatives by European companies. Yet last week also saw the official launch of Israel’s participation in the EU’s Horizon 2020 research programme, making it “eligible to compete for €77 billion worth of industrial research grants over seven years”. This juxtaposition is a useful picture of current EU-Israel relations, with close cooperation continuing even as strains have emerged in the context of a troubled peace process and civil society pressure. Read more
As the US-led Israeli-Palestinians peace process heads towards the buffers, one of the core aims and assumptions of the two decade-long negotiations – preserving a Jewish state in the majority of Mandate Palestine – has been forced into the spotlight.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand that Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas recognises Israel as a “Jewish state”, a call taken up by other Israeli politicians and lobby groups internationally, has garnered a lot of attention. But ultimately, it is the explicit expression of what has been the implicit assumption of talks since the Oslo process began. Read more
Earlier this month, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman declared in a high profile speech that “he would not support any peace agreement that does not include the exchange of Israeli Arab land and population”. Calling it a “basic condition”, the Yisrael Beiteinu leader said that “the border will move” so as to put “the Little Triangle and Wadi Ara” in the proposed Palestinian state.
Lieberman has suggested this before. In a Newsweek interview in 2010, he affirmed that he envisaged “drawing a line” so that “at least half” of all Palestinian citizens would “no longer be part of Israel”. Read more
At the end of 2013 came a shocking update from Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus – at least 15 Palestinians had died of hunger since September. The grim news was shared by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), whose spokesperson Chris Gunness told French news agency AFP that the conditions in the besieged camp were deteriorating. UNRWA, he said, “have been unable to enter the area to deliver desperately needed relief supplies” since September.
Meanwhile, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, anger at job cuts and budgetary problems has manifested itself in the form of industrial action, hunger strikes and marches by refugee camp popular committees. Read more