As the one year anniversary of Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip is marked, it is vital to re-examine Operation Cast Lead within the wider context of Israel’s approach to both Gaza and the Palestinians.
There is a danger that the scale of the devastation and the international protests which followed the war can deflect attention from the broader Israeli policies of collective punishment and deliberately-engineered socio-economic collapse.
The first important part of this context for both before – and since – Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip is the crippling blockade. Read more
The Bishop of Manchester recently warned of an increase in anti-Semitism as a result of a “backlash from Gaza”, in remarks reported in this paper. The week before, Paul Richardson had also written (Jan 23) of how Israel’s attack on Gaza led to attacks on synagogues in Britain and Europe”.
Unfortunately, these and other articles that have appeared in CEN since Israel launched its operation at the end of December have not helped to either clarify the link between Gaza and anti-Semitism at home, nor to foster a serious understanding about events in Israel/Palestine and the Western church’s role. Read more
Mothers with prams mixed with old men leaning on sticks, and groups of teenagers sang boisterously alongside those walking in silence. All along the stony path, the sun’s rays shone through the tree tops to illuminate the flags and placards. Not every afternoon woodland stroll is labelled a “subversive challenge” to the state, but the Palestinian citizens of Israel were well aware of the significance of their alternative ‘Independence Day’ event, as they gathered on the ruins of Safuriyya, one of the hundreds of villages destroyed by Israel in 1948. Read more
As Israel celebrates 60 years of statehood this month, Palestinians are taking the opportunity to remember the catastrophic shattering of their society in 1948. It is not simply a question of recalling the past; they continue to struggle for self-determination and to have their rights recognized under international law.
Yet it is a mistake to consider the past 60 years as simply a story of unmitigated disaster for the Palestinian people. There have also been significant successes and achievements – and it is a story worth telling. This is all the more remarkable, given the extent to which the society was devastated in 1948: Israel destroyed some 400 villages as 85 percent of Palestinians in what became Israel were dispossessed. Read more
This week US President George W. Bush embarks on a tour of some of the US’ Middle East allies, including his first visit while in office to Israel. The trip has been presaged by a lot of media guesswork about what exactly Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will discuss, and one of the likely topics will apparently be the so-called “illegal outposts.” 
The New York Times last Saturday reported remarks made by Bush in an interview with Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot about the need for Israel to dismantle these outposts and the apparent “awkward” nature of the issue for both US and Israeli governments.  However, the issue of outposts — framed as Bush forcing a reticent Israeli administration to compromise for the sake of peace — risks clouding far more crucial issues that go to the heart of the conflict. Read more