Last year, I experienced at first hand Israel’s new-look occupation. Intending to cross into Israel from the northern West Bank, I arrived at the Jalama checkpoint expecting the usual token passport check. Instead, I was told that it was forbidden for me to use this particular crossing point. For six hours I sat under the watchful eye of two soldiers, making calls to the British consulate, which, in turn, called various Israeli military officials.
During my extended visit, I had plenty of time to observe my surroundings. One of the new “terminals” that Israel has built, Jalama is on the “Green Line”, but there are others that lie well inside the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). These new checkpoints are built like international borders, with metal detectors, turnstiles, winding passages and the disembodied voices of security personnel. Read more
In the UK, the Boycott campaign was launched by PSC six years ago. However, it has been attempts at a boycott of Israeli academic institutions that has really raised the profile of Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) — and also provoked a fierce counter-movement.
Various bodies, like BICOM (Britain and Israel Communications & Research
Centre: http://www.stoptheboycott.org) and Engage (engageonline.org.uk), have
set up issue-specific websites; while the former may have deeper pockets,
Engage has proved to be more of a rallying point for the anti-boycotters. Their website includes voluminous attacks on the boycott and plenty of articles condemning what they perceive as an anti-Semitic singling-out of Israel. Read more
At the core of much of the discussions scheduled to take place in Annapolis later this month will be ‘rights’: human rights, refugee rights, the right to access holy sites, the right to live in peace and security. But when it comes to negotiating peace in Palestine/Israel there is a significant problem with the framework embraced by the majority of statesmen and analysts.
From the United Nations to the UK government, from the EU to Washington, everyone is agreed that some rights are not just sacrosanct in theory, but also in practice. While lip service is paid to Palestinian ‘rights’ of self-determination, three core Israeli rights are always assumed. Read more
Towards the end of April, the Associated Press filed a story reproduced by, amongst others, Ha’aretz, Guardian Unlimited, and CNN, reporting that “Israel will name a forest in northern Galilee after Coretta Scott King”, part of a wider campaign to replant “thousands of trees destroyed during last year’s war with Hezbollah”. At least 10,000 trees will be designated as a “living memorial to King’s legacy of peace and justice”, according to US Israeli ambassador Sallai Meridor. Although it was a small story that merited a few paragraphs of a news agency feed, unpacking this publicity stunt can be instructive in understanding just how successful Zionist propaganda has been in tapping into US popular culture, appropriating symbols for Israel’s benefit. Read more
An oft-repeated pattern was made visible once again this week, as acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert spoke of his plans for Israel’s future borders in interviews with the Israeli press. Settlements that began as outposts, colonies that started life as military bases, are now to be annexed by the Separation Barrier as irreversible ‘realities’.
It has been a central tenet of the Zionist movement throughout its history; establish ‘facts on the ground’ through power disparity, facts which then form the new minimum position or status quo for any potential negotiations. This principle was evident when Palestinian refugees did not return after their expulsion in 1948, when settlement construction began after the 1967 war in the newly conquered territory, and with the ongoing erection of the Separation Barrier. Read more