Gantz, Netanyahu, Bennett and Israeli politics in a stalemate

Workers hang a Blue and White Party billboard showing its leader Benny Gantz and Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, as part of the party’s campaign on February 17, 2020 in Tel Aviv, Israel. (photo: Amir Levy, Getty Images)
Israelis live in the illusion that another hero will show up, another general with the dust of a recent war still in his hair, and who will see the folly of war and the wisdom of making peace.

By Miko Peled | Politics Today | Jan 25, 2021

…the most liberal Zionist will never concede on the issue of land and will always blame the Palestinians for any failure to reach an agreement.

he upcoming Israeli elections – the fourth in two years – bring little promise of change. These elections bring to mind the famous saying that trying to do something over and over again while expecting different results is a sign of madness. Anyone who expects that the existing Zionist political spectrum will give rise to a progressive or even a slightly liberal coalition lives in a fantasy world. Even Israelis realize that the possibility of change does not exist. The only purpose for calling for elections at this point is to allow Benyamin Netanyahu to remain in office.

When Netanyahu signed the current coalition agreement, which allowed him to remain prime minister, it was obvious that he had no intentions of keeping his word and that at the first opportunity he would break the coalition agreements and dissolve the coalition. New elections mean his coalition partner, former Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Chief General Benny Gatnz, will never take his place as prime minister.

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A rudimentary weapon of desperation

Young men prepare incendiary balloons before launching them in 2018. (photo: Osama Baba / APA images)
The use of incendiary balloons and kites from Gaza are used as a response to Israel’s use of massive and deadly force against unarmed protesters.

By Hamza Abu Eltarabesh |  The Electronic Intifada |  Jan 15, 2021

Militarily at an enormous disadvantage, people – unaffiliated individuals or members of the main resistance groups operating in Gaza, Hamas and Islamic Jihad – have thus turned to other means to show their anger, to inflict some damage back or simply to call attention to their plight.

It was a quiet night in early August.

At a signal, five men emerged silently from the cover of some trees to an agreed meeting point.

I was there, all dry mouth and notebook, observing. I’d been specially invited. Above us, only the sound of Israeli drones could be heard, patrolling the skies, electronic eyes on the ground, watching for prey.

Prey like us.

Focused and silent the men worked for an hour under the instructions of Abu Karam, the leader of this small group who is identified only by his nom de guerre. Filling condoms with helium gas, they took until just after five in the morning before they were ready.

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We are Israel’s largest human rights group – and we are calling this apartheid

‘The future must be radically different.’ Israel’s controversial separation barrier at the Qalandia crossing between the Palestinian city of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem, December 2020. (photo: Abbas Momani / AFP / Getty Images)
The systematic promotion of the supremacy of one group of people over another is deeply immoral and must end.

By Hagai El-Ad | The Guardian  | Jan 12, 2021

Although there is demographic parity between the two peoples living here, life is managed so that only one half enjoy the vast majority of political power, land resources, rights, freedoms and protections.

One cannot live a single day in Israel-Palestine without the sense that this place is constantly being engineered to privilege one people, and one people only: the Jewish people. Yet half of those living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea are Palestinian. The chasm between these lived realities fills the air, bleeds, is everywhere on this land.

I am not simply referring to official statements spelling this out – and there are plenty, such as prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s assertion in 2019 that “Israel is not a state of all its citizens”, or the “nation state” basic law enshrining “the development of Jewish settlement as a national value”. What I am trying to get at is a deeper sense of people as desirable or undesirable, and an understanding about my country that I have been gradually exposed to since the day I was born in Haifa. Now, it is a realization that can no longer be avoided.

Continue reading “We are Israel’s largest human rights group – and we are calling this apartheid”

US votes against UN Resolution condemning Nazis, labels it “Russian Disinformation”

Volunteers of the ultra far-right Azov Battalion at a rally marking Fatherland Defender Day in Kiev, Ukraine, Oct. 14, 2016. (photo: Efrem Lukatsky | AP)
The US has voted against similar resolutions every year since 2014, dismissing them as Russian attempts to delegitimize the Ukrainian government.

By Alex McLeod  |  MintPress News  | Dec 18, 2020

While this could be seen as another example of Donald Trump refusing to condemn the far-right, it is highly doubtful that the incoming Biden administration would have voted any differently.

The United States and Ukraine were the only two nations to vote against a United Nations resolution Wednesday on, “Combating glorification of Nazism, neo-Nazism and other practices that contribute to fuelling contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.” The resolution passed 130-2.

The resolution featured 70 fairly bland statements condemning the crimes of Adolf Hitler, while also expressing concern at the rise of contemporary Neo-Nazi groups.

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Colum McCann gives voice to grieving fathers, one Israeli and one Palestinian

Chloe Cushman
A book review of Colum McCann’s novel about the complex Middle East conflict which gives insight into what seems to be an implacable problem.

By Julie Orringer |  The New York Times  |  Feb 24, 2020

‘Once I thought we could never solve our conflict, we would continue hating each other forever, but it is not written anywhere that we have to go on killing each other. The hero makes a friend of his enemy. … When they killed my daughter they killed my fear. I have no fear. I can do anything now.’
— Colum McCann, Apeirogon

By Colum McCann

On Sept. 4, 1997, 13-year-old Smadar Elhanan — dressed in a Blondie T-shirt, her hair cut short, her Walkman playing Sinead O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2U” — was walking down Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem when three young Palestinian men detonated suicide belts, killing themselves, Smadar and four others. A decade later, and less than three miles away, 10-year-old Abir Aramin, wearing her school uniform and holding a candy bracelet she’d just bought, was shot in the back of the head by an 18-year-old Israeli soldier as his jeep sped around a corner. The local Palestinian clinic where Abir was treated had little working equipment, so doctors decided to transfer her to a better-equipped hospital on the other side of the wall. Her ambulance was delayed for hours at a border checkpoint, and she died two days later at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, the same hospital where Smadar was born.

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Obama and the Israel lobby

Israel Palestinians
US President Barack Obama (L) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talk during the funeral of former Israeli president and prime minister Shimon Perse at the Mount Herzl national cemetery in Jerusalem on September 30, 2016.  (photo: AFP / POOL / Menahem Kahana)
In his new memoir, Obama subtly reveals how AIPAC stymied his administration.

By Peter Beinart | Jewish Currents  |  Nov 25, 2020

‘. . .[t]here wasn’t much Abbas could give the Israelis that the Israelis couldn’t already take on their own . . . I thought it was reasonable to ask the stronger party to take a bigger first step in the direction of peace.’
— Barack Obama, former President of the United States

Israel/Palestine isn’t an easy subject for Washington autobiographers. Samantha Power’s criticism of the Jewish state became a central issue in her 2013 confirmation hearings to become US ambassador to the United Nations. Yet in the index of Power’s 2019 memoir, The Education of an Idealist, the word “Israel” does not appear. It probably seemed safest to omit the subject altogether.

In his new autobiography, A Promised Land, her former boss, Barack Obama, tries a different tack. He gives the reader enough information to glimpse what Washington policymaking on Israel/Palestine is really like. He details the political realities that constrained his ability to challenge Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, and will likely constrain Joe Biden’s, too. But he doesn’t spell out the implications of his narrative, perhaps because it so closely resembles the argument of one of the most incendiary foreign policy books of the last two decades: Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer’s The Israel Lobby.

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Israel’s pick to head Holocaust Memorial stirs international uproar

The Hall of Names, bearing names and pictures of Jewish Holocaust victims, at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum in Jerusalem.  (photo: Menahem Kahana / Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)
Critics are protesting the nomination of Effie Eitam, a retired general and far-right politician, to lead Yad Vashem, a hallowed Israeli institution.

By Isabel Kershner  | The New York Times  |  Nov 28, 2020

‘An institute headed by a person with such extreme opinions and controversial human values will never be taken seriously within the global academic community,’
— Israel Bartal, professor of modern Jewish history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

JERUSALEM — For years, his name was synonymous with intolerance and right-wing extremism.

So when Israel’s conservative-led government nominated Effie Eitam to be chairman of Yad Vashem, the country’s official Holocaust memorial and one its most hallowed institutions, it prompted an uproar.

Mr. Eitam, a 68-year-old retired brigadier general and former minister, has spent the last decade in the private sector. But his provocative statements from the early 2000s advocating the mass expulsion of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and barring Israel’s Arab citizens from politics linger on the public record.

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Gaza declares COVID-19 disaster with health system near collapse

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Medical workers in Gaza face a serious shortage of equipment to battle the quickly spreading COVID-19 outbreak. (photo: Walid Mahmoud / Al Jazeera)
With a lack of ventilators, PPE, and medicine, officials say Israel’s siege is a ‘death sentence’ for Gaza’s coronavirus patients.

By Walid Mahmoud  | Al Jazeera  |  Nov 23, 2020

Early hopes that Gaza’s isolation would spare it from the pandemic were dashed as the densely populated coastal region came under severe threat with a dilapidated healthcare system that is unable to handle the onslaught of patients.

Gaza City – A rapid rise in coronavirus infections in the Gaza Strip has reached a “catastrophic stage”, with the blockaded Palestinian enclave’s medical system likely to collapse soon, health officials warn.

COVID is spreading exponentially in Gaza – one of the most crowded places on Earth – especially in refugee camps, and the health ministry has warned of “disastrous” implications.

Dr. Fathi Abuwarda, adviser to the minister of health, told Al Jazeera the recent spike in infections could soon become uncontrollable, with hundreds of people contracting the virus each day and nowhere to treat them.

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Israeli Weapons Fuel Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict and Grease Palms of Corrupt Elite

An LAR-160 series Israeli-made rocket fired by Azerbaijan on the Nagorno-Karabakh capital.  (photo: Human Rights Watch)
Israeli drone and arms manufacturers weapons are likely being used against Armenians.

By Richard Silverstein  |  Tikun Olam  |  Oct 28, 2020

Israel has been selling advanced weapons systems to the Azeris for years. And the deals haven’t stopped at weapons systems.

It’s common knowledge that Israel is one of the world’s largest arms exporters. As I reported in Jacobin Magazine, it exports to the most genocidal regimes on the planet, and fuels ethnic conflicts from South Sudan to the Phillipines.

Less known is the role Israel is playing the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. In fact, the latter’s largest cargo planes are landing several times a week at an Israeli military air base, loading up on Israeli weapons and ferrying them back to Azerbaijan, sometimes with stops along the way in Turkey, another Azeri military ally. Nor is this a recent development. Israel has been selling advanced weapons systems to the Azeris for years. And the deals haven’t stopped at weapons systems. Because of Azerbaijan strategic location sharing a long border with Iran, it becomes a major intelligence asset for Israel as it seeks ways to surveil its arch-enemy Iran and understand its military capabilities.

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In pre-election rush, Trump OKs U.S. funding of science projects in illegal Israeli settlements

David Friedman and Benjamin Netanyahu sign new accords allowing American funds to support science research in illegal Israeli settlements. (photo: Israeli Government Press Office Oct 27, 2020)
The new amendments will allow US taxpayer money to be spent in Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law.

By Yumna Patel  |  Mondoweiss  | Oct 28, 2020

“Extending US funding to the occupied West Bank, including illegal Israeli settlements, is a clear recognition of Israel´s annexation of Palestinian territory…this upgrades the Trump administration’s involvement in Israeli war crimes to active and willful participation.’
— Hanan Ashrawi, PLO Executive Committee member 

In a move that has further legitimized Israel’s illegal settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory, the US and Israel have expanded a number of existing scientific cooperation agreements to now include Israeli institutions in the occupied West Bank and the Golan Heights.

The new agreement, signed on Wednesday between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, amended three existing scientific cooperation agreements between the two countries.

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