Israel’s Ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev, places a premium on speaking at university campuses. The context? Israel’s uphill struggle to assuage a growing sense of frustration and anger at a Benjamin Netanyahu-led government seen as a serial violator of international law and human rights.
In October, Regev addressed Cambridge University students at its famous Debating Union. The event was recently uploaded onto YouTube, and of particular interest is the Q&A (beginning 27 minutes in). The questions are predominantly critical, or sceptical, and Regev has to shoot from the hip.
So here are three claims that the Israeli ambassador made in response to students’ questions – and an analysis of their accuracy. Read more
On February 17, British Cabinet Minister Matthew Hancock stood alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, and announced the publication of “new guidance” for local authorities concerning procurement. The move was trailed – and presented by the government – as designed to ‘ban’ boycotts of Israeli goods and services by councils.
But did the procurement guidance really criminalise boycotts – and what about additional, pending moves by the British government to restrict how local authorities choose to invest pension funds? What is really going on behind this attack on local democracy, in the name of shielding the Israeli state, its institutions, and complicit corporations from a growing global boycott campaign? Read more
“These people have gone too far…”
MK Nissan Slomiansky, February 10, 2016
Many Palestinian citizens of Israel “take their rights too far.”
Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin, May 13, 2008
On February 2, Members of Knesset met with the families of Palestinian assailants whose bodies are being withheld by Israel authorities. The visit by Haneen Zoabi, Basel Ghattas, and Jamal Zahalka, all from Balad and part of the Joint List, was part of “a campaign being conducted by the families and legal aid and human rights groups seeking the return of the bodies of their family members.” 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
There was outrage last week when the University of Southampton cancelled a forthcoming conference on Israel and international law, ostensibly on the grounds of “health and safety”.
The university had been under pressure from pro-Israel advocacy groups, and organisers have begun legal efforts against what they see as a concession to outside interference and bullying. The story of the campaign to shut down the conference should not, however, distract from why Israel’s supporters found the topics scheduled for discussion so objectionable. Read more
Given the insistence by its leaders that Israel be “recognised” as a Jewish state, some people might be surprised to know that there is considerable disagreement among Jewish Israelis about exactly what that means.
Enter the justice minister, Tzipi Livni, who in addition to her key role in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority seems set on making a contribution to one of the most contentious issues in Israeli politics: the state’s Jewish identity. Read more
The recent anti-African mob violence in Tel Aviv was, sadly, no surprise. Only a few days previously, Prime Minister Netanyahu warned “illegal infiltrators” could threaten the country’s existence “as a Jewish and democratic state”, with Interior Minister Eli Yishai saying that “the migrants are giving birth to hundreds of thousands, and the Zionist dream is dying”. Read more
Adalah defends Palestinian rights. The European Jewish Congress attack on it reflects a wider pattern of bullying.
Last week, the president of the European Jewish Congress (EJC) launched an extraordinary attack on an Israeli human rights organisation, Adalah, comparing the NGO to the far-right French National Front and British National party. Read more
Recently the Israeli cabinet approved a major plan for the Negev that seeks to “relocate” an estimated 30,000 Bedouin Palestinian citizens to government-approved townships.
The details that have emerged about the government’s ‘solution’ for Bedouin Palestinians show a continuation of the colonial logic that has shaped Israeli policy in the Negev since 1948. Reports suggest that the state will reject half of the Bedouins’ land claims. For the tens of thousands of Bedouin Palestinians in ‘unrecognised villages’, there is now uncertainty about exactly which communities will be ‘legalised’ – and which will be demolished, their residents forcibly transferred. Read more