Last night, I participated in a debate at the Cambridge Union on ‘This House Believes Israel is a Rogue State.’ Speaking alongside Ghada Karmi and Norman Finkelstein for the proposition, the motion was carried by 51 percent to 19 percent – with a 7 percent swing from the pre-debate vote.
The debating chamber was packed, and the atmosphere charged. At the end of the debate, cries of ‘Free, Free Palestine’ rang out. But my main takeaway from the proceedings was the sheer weakness of the opposition’s arguments – a microcosm of pro-Israel propaganda that simply no longer works. Read more
On Saturday February 14, a letter was published in The Guardian announcing a boycott of Israel by more than 700 British artists and cultural workers (disclaimer: I am a signatory). The signatories came from the worlds of literature, art, film, stage, and music. They all pledged “to accept neither professional invitations to Israel, nor funding, from any institutions linked to its government until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.”
The initiative immediately attracted international attention – and a predictable response from Israel’s allies. A Conservative minister described the boycott pledge as “reprehensible” and “unspeakably vile”. The vice-president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews called the letter “totally racist”. Read more
British newspaper the Daily Mail last week published an “exclusive” on claims that the EU is “funding illegal West Bank building projects”, a reference to Palestinian structures built without a permit from Israeli occupation authorities.
The Oslo Accords, which Israel has systematically and repeatedly violated, were intended to manage a “transitional period” ending in 1999. Under the terms of the Accords, about 60 percent of the West Bank, so-called “Area C”, remains under Israeli authority today.
The article contends that in helping Palestinians build structures “unauthorised” by Israel, the EU is “acting illegally”. This argument, however, is ignorant of international law, obfuscates the reality on the ground today, and serves to advance a disturbing agenda. Read more
Speaking to the Security Council on Tuesday shortly after voting against the doomedPalestinian-drafted resolution on statehood, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power referred three times to an “unsustainable status quo” between Israel and the Palestinians.
It is of course Washington itself that bears most responsibility for this status quo, through its diplomatic, military, and economic support for the occupier, and leadership of a decades-long ‘peace process’ that has given Israel the cover to de facto annex its way to a permanent occupation. Read more
In 2012, then-Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren penned an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal in which he claimed that “Christians in [Gaza and the West Bank] suffer the same plight as their co-religionists throughout the region.”
While the diplomat was looking to capitalise on more recent developments in the Middle East – like Netanyahu did at the UN, with his “Hamas is ISIS” mantra – Oren’s claim that Christian Palestinians are being driven out by Muslims is a familiar one. Read more
Over 50 days in July-August, the Israeli army subjected the 1.8 million residents of the fenced-in, blockaded Gaza Strip to an unprecedented assault. 2,131 Palestinians were killed, including 501 children. At least 142 families lost three or more family members in the same incident. Israel’s attacks left 11,231 injured, including 3,436 children – many now have permanent disabilities. 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
“Carnage” in Gaza – “the killing of children and the slaughter of civilians”. Not the words of a Palestinian spokesperson but rather French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. Australia’s FM Julie Bishop condemned what she called “shocking” and “indefensible” incidents, with “hundreds of innocent people” killed.
Just two examples of how Israel’s strongest allies have criticised the conduct of ‘Operation Protective Edge’ in unprecedentedly harsh terms. In the UK specifically, there has been an undeniable sea-change in the way that self-declared ‘friends’ of Israel have drawn a red line – adding their voices of criticism to more vociferous condemnation heard at numerous, large-scale demonstrations. Read more
As the Pope visits the ‘Holy Land’, much media coverage has focused on the current problems facing Christian Palestinians, and in particular, the so-called ‘price tag’ attacks being perpetrated by right-wing Jewish extremists. Ahead of the Papal visit, Israeli police even issued restraining orders against known activists. Read more