Long marginalised in Israel by an ascendant nationalist right, the so-called “Zionist Left” has retained significant moral and intellectual influence abroad. Author Amos Oz, who died aged 79 on 28 December, was perhaps the best-known embodiment of this political current and was widely revered internationally – as The New Yorker put it in 2004 – as “the godfather of Israeli peaceniks”.
Yet this image of the liberal artist or prophet, aided in no small part by political shifts in Israel that mean even mild critics are now denounced as “traitors,” is in stark contrast to Oz’s views on events past and present, and in particular on what Zionism has meant for the Palestinians. Read more
For those who always saw a so-called two-state solution as a means of preserving Israel as a ‘Jewish and democratic’ ethno-state, goodbye is the hardest word to say.
As the Israeli government consolidates a de facto, single state that all its predecessors since 1967 helped forge, those urging ‘separation’ from the Palestinians are sounding desperate – especially in their attacks on calls for a single democratic state, to replace today’s apartheid status quo. Read more
Israel’s ongoing military occupation of the West Bank and enforced siege on Gaza Strip, with its illegal policies from land colonization and settlements to blockade and collective punishment, has led to mounting frustration with the country’s conduct in political circles internationally. At the level of civil society in particular, this anger has found expression in a growing boycott.
The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) campaign has been taken up globally and attracts new sympathizers every day. A key sticking point, however, between the movement’s supporters, and those among its opponents who acknowledge Israel’s human rights abuses, concerns BDS’ impact. According to critics, isolation strengthens the Israeli right and alienates an embattled Israeli left. Read more
Speaking in Washington DC last week, US Secretary of State John Kerry described “the current situation” between Israel and the Palestinians as “simply not sustainable”.
The senior diplomat reaffirmed that his government sees a “two-state solution” as “the only viable alternative” to the status quo. “Anybody who thinks otherwise,” he added, “can measure what unitary looks like by just looking at what’s been occurring over the past few weeks.” Read more
In his speech to AIPAC last year, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu referred 18 times to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. A year on, and it is clear that for Bibi, BDS is the new public enemy number one. Denounced as an antisemitic “strategic threat,” the Palestinian-led, global campaign to pressure Israel into ending systematic rights violations is now very much in Tel Aviv’s cross-hairs.
Ironically, it is during Netanyahu’s time in office that BDS has made considerable headway. His ambiguity over Palestinian statehood (in public, veering between rejection and unreliable endorsement) is exacerbated by the unambiguous views of his hard-right ministers and coalition partners. Then there was the unprecedented bombardment of Gaza, also under Bibi’s watch, and a slew of anti-democratic, hyper-nationalist legislative initiatives. Read more
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