Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat likes to present himself to a Western audience as the head of an open, pluralistic city, a place at ease with its ethnic and religious diversity, despite complex “security” challenges. The reality is somewhat different.
As reported in Haaretz (with thanks to Ofer Neiman for translation), while speaking recently with Likud party members, Barkat boasted of inflicting collective punishment on Palestinian neighbourhoods of Occupied East Jerusalem. Read more
Israel’s “security needs” are routinely cited by officials in Tel Aviv and western capitals as a justification for everything from the continued occupation of the West Bank to the bombardment of the Gaza Strip.
Back in June, Israel’s parliament voted to extend for another year a law that “allows the government to avoid granting Israeli citizenship or residency status to Palestinians married to Israelis”.
In the words of Haifa-based legal advocacy group Adalah, the law “bans family unification where one spouse is an Israeli citizen [in practice almost all of whom are Palestinian citizens] and the other a resident of the [West Bank and Gaza Strip]” – though, of course, this excludes Jewish settlers. Read more
Israeli embassy spokesperson Yiftah Curiel accuses the British media of “callousness towards innocent Israelis’ lives.” As ever, when it comes to claims of “anti-Israel” bias in the media, the evidence is flimsy, consisting mainly of supposedly inaccurate headlines.
I welcome Curiel’s focus on “clear and simple [facts]”, and so here is a (partial) summary of significant acts of violence, violations of international law and human rights abuses conducted this month not by private individuals, but by the Israeli government and its armed forces. Read more
Israeli leaders have a long history of levelling the accusation of ‘incitement’ against Palestinian officials. In recent weeks, barely a day has gone by without Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or members of his cabinet claiming that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is encouraging or instigating the recent youth-driven rebellion.
It has reached ridiculous levels. On Sunday, Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz claimed “the level and intensity of the incitement and the level of anti-Semitism” from Abbas “is the same level as [Adolf] Hitler.” Two days later, Netanyahu declared that it was the Mufti of Jerusalem who convinced Hitler to exterminate the Jews.
The Israeli government repeats accusations of ‘incitement’ ad nauseam, but on the ground its policies are guaranteed to provoke yet further Palestinian anger and resistance. This toolbox of repression, familiar but intensified, is intended to crush an anti-colonial revolt through collective punishment, discrimination, and violence. Read more
Wednesday marked one year since the ceasefire that ended Israel’s unprecedented seven-week assault on the Gaza Strip. On the occasion of this week’s anniversary, an international coalition of 35 NGOs issued a new call for the end of Israel’s blockade.
“For a whole year the Israeli government has restricted basic and essential construction materials from entering Gaza,” stated the aid groups, who noted that “not one of the 19,000 homes that were bombed and destroyed has been fully rebuilt”.
A petition launched by the NGOs on the Avaaz online community – “World Leaders: Lift the Gaza Blockade” – had, at the time of writing, already attracted 538,000 signatures. Read more
Writing in Israeli newspaper Haaretz this week, regular columnist Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie bemoaned the difficult task facing Israel’s supporters internationally, in the aftermath of the devastating, murderous assault on the Gaza Strip.
With the war in Gaza just concluded, Israel’s friends in the West are now immersed in the task of making Israel’s case to a skeptical public…ours is a media age, and the pictures of destruction in Gaza are hard to overcome.
This already tricky PR challenge has now been compounded, Yoffie wrote, by the Netanyahu’s government’s decision to declare a chunk of the West Bank as ‘state land’, a step taken prior to the construction of new settlement housing. Read more
This week marks three years since Israel launched Operation Cast Lead, the unprecedented attack on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip that killed hundreds of civilians and devastated the besieged territory in 22 days of airstrikes and ground assaults. Disturbingly, the Israeli military is marking the anniversary with praise for the massacre, and threats of a new one. Read more