Gaza burns while the international community sits quietly, doing nothing about it. Israel has bombarded the territory for two weeks, killing more than 700 Palestinians and wounding well over 3,000. As I write this, I am aware that the death toll will only increase.
A massacre appals, disgusts, leaves one short of breath. It is a time for mourning, protest, but also education. Without an understanding of what is taking place in Palestine, we cannot put an end to this horror. Read more
After six Jewish Israelis were arrested on suspicion of the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, a 17-year-old Palestinian kidnapped and burnt to death on July 2, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned those responsible and stated that his government does not distinguish between Palestinian and Jewish “terror”.
Let’s leave aside for now the fact that there are no bulldozers heading to the homes of the Jewish suspects; or the fact that the Israeli soldiers who shoot dead Palestinian teenagers in West Bank towns and refugee camps – including in just the last few weeks – are applauded for their “courageous” actions. 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
Today marks the 65th anniversary of the historic ethnic cleansing of Palestine by the Zionist movement, and the establishment of the State of Israel on the rubble of hundreds of emptied, destroyed villages.
Nakba Day continues to grow in prominence as a time for remembrance and protest, an alternative history to the narrative of Israeli ‘independence’, and a reminder that the ‘miracle’ of a Jewish state was actually realised through the historically familiar methods of expulsion and colonial erasure. But this is more than just an anniversary or commemoration. In three important ways, the Nakba is not simply confined to the history books.
First, the Nakba is a defining event. Many potted histories or summaries of the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict” cover 1948 with a sentence like this: ‘The State of Israel declares independence and is immediately attacked by its Arab neighbours’. The Palestinian refugees emerge in the narrative as if by magic, or as a vague consequence of war.
Yet the ethnic cleansing of 1948 is the heart and soul of the Palestinian people’s struggle. This is how a landscape was obliterated and communities destroyed; homes, schools and mosques disappearing under rolling explosions, citrus groves and fields of crops separated from their owners. Palestinian lives are shaped by the Nakba, from refugee camps and fragmented families to destroyed livelihoods and murdered loved ones. Read more
With the results of Israel’s election in (though the exact final breakdown is still unknown), one message has dominated: ‘Dead heat!’ The Knesset is being presented as split down the middle between ‘right-wing’ and ‘centre-left’ blocs, as discussions take place about how a coalition government will be formed.
But there is another way of looking at it: for Palestinians, the Israeli electorate has returned a parliament that is 90-10 in favour of ethnocracy. 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
The Britain Israel Communications and Research Centre (BICOM) is one of the key Israel advocacy groups in the UK. In the last week BICOM has published a series of essays on ‘Israel’s democratic futures’ (if that’s a question, the answer is ‘here’s hoping’). BICOM’s worry, as its chief Lorna Fitzsimons wrote in her introduction, is that “a notion is spreading in the West that Israel is fast becoming an illiberal ethno-democracy”. Read more