Long marginalised in Israel by an ascendant nationalist right, the so-called “Zionist Left” has retained significant moral and intellectual influence abroad. Author Amos Oz, who died aged 79 on 28 December, was perhaps the best-known embodiment of this political current and was widely revered internationally – as The New Yorker put it in 2004 – as “the godfather of Israeli peaceniks”.
Yet this image of the liberal artist or prophet, aided in no small part by political shifts in Israel that mean even mild critics are now denounced as “traitors,” is in stark contrast to Oz’s views on events past and present, and in particular on what Zionism has meant for the Palestinians. Read more
The frenzied debate over the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)’s definition of anti-Semitism – or more precisely, definition and illustrative examples – has centred on whether the document restricts criticism of the state of Israel and delegitimises solidarity with the Palestinians. Read more
This time last year, I carried out an informal survey of how The Guardian was covering the issue of Palestine and Israel in its comment pages. The results were not good.
Out of 138 op-eds on the topic published by the newspaper in its ‘Comment is free’ section from October 2013 to November 2015 (including both print and online-only articles, as well as content from The Observer), just 20 were written by Palestinians – 15 per cent of the total. Read more
“If there are other inhabitants there, they must be transferred to some other place. We must take over the land. We have a greater and nobler ideal than preserving several hundred thousands of Arab fellahin.”
Menahem Ussishkin, chair of Jewish National Fund, 1930.
There is a lot of discussion about Zionism at the moment: how to define it, what it means to be anti-Zionist and whether that equates to antisemitism, and so on. But there has been a notable, and instructive, absence in these debates: an understanding of what Zionism has meant for Palestinians. 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
The Nakba, Arabic for ‘Catastrophe’, was the ethnic cleansing by pre-state Jewish forces and the Israeli military of up to 90 percent of all Palestinians inside the newly-established State of Israel. It is marked annually on 15 May, the date in 1948 when Israel was born in a process of conquest, expulsion and settlement, dating broadly 1947-’49. An estimated 400-500 Palestinian villages were destroyed; refugees attempting to return were shot dead.
For those who self-identify on the left, who support liberal causes and advocate social-democratic politics, this should be an open and shut case. This is as clear a case of ethnic cleansing as you could wish to see. Read more
As the US-led Israeli-Palestinians peace process heads towards the buffers, one of the core aims and assumptions of the two decade-long negotiations – preserving a Jewish state in the majority of Mandate Palestine – has been forced into the spotlight.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand that Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas recognises Israel as a “Jewish state”, a call taken up by other Israeli politicians and lobby groups internationally, has garnered a lot of attention. But ultimately, it is the explicit expression of what has been the implicit assumption of talks since the Oslo process began. Read more