Posts tagged nationalism

Settling Palestine: The ‘latest colonizing adventure’

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The following is an excerpt from a documentary detailing the tactics employed by Jewish settlers in Palestine:

“When a new settlement is established, it must withstand attack from the very first day of occupation. A system of defense has been evolved, in which these experienced settlers play an important part.

“When the proposed site has been marked out, members of the established settlements in the vicinity move off to congregate in the village nearest the scene of the latest colonizing adventure. From all around they come. Men, who have themselves recently made pioneering history, by cars, lorries and wagons, they all move to the (more…)

Honest, ugly discourse: Gilad Sharon and John Stewart Mill

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One of the responsibilities of the news media is to set the parameters of acceptable discourse in society. But while media outlets have the unique ability to demarcate what is and isn’t acceptable to print, in doing so, they walk a fine line and risk masking the ugliest – but real – faces of society.

Last week, in the midst of the latest round of deadly violence between Israel and Gaza, The Jerusalem Post printed an op-ed penned by Gilad Sharon, a man who has pushed himself into the public eye solely by virtue of the name and legacy of his father, former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon.

In a hyper-nationalist tone, Sharon advocated escalating the limited military operation into what would be the 21st century’s first instance of genocide:

“We need to flatten entire neighborhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too.”

There is no need to delve into the plethora of reasons Sharon’s words and ideas are appalling. If he were a man of any influence, his writings might be considered criminal under the Genocide Convention; a cursory reading (more…)

One state, two state, three state, four – Part I

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More than two decades since the start of the peace process, the two-state solution has become the only acceptable path for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in contemporary discourse. But while the two-state solution may be the only one currently sitting on the table, many others continue to linger around it, waiting for someone to pick them up. The most recent such attempt was the One State Conference held at Harvard University earlier this month, promoting the idea of one liberal state for both Israelis and Palestinians.

The conference was derided by all colors of Israelis and American Zionists as “delegitimizing” Israel. Discussing a one-state solution, some said, “is a euphemism for ending the existence of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.”

The likes of World Jewish Congress Secretary-General Dan Diker, along with various Israeli and world Jewish leaders, dismissed the conference as “anti-Semitic theater.” Jerusalem Post columnist (more…)

MKs reveal the true purpose of Israel’s Citizenship Law

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Israel’s High Court on Thursday upheld a law that specifically excludes Palestinians from applying for permanent residency or Israeli citizenship by virtue of marriage to an Israeli. The Citizenship and Entry Law, originally passed nine years ago as a temporary order to prevent what is commonly referred to as “family reunification,” has been renewed and expanded ever since and regularly challenged on the grounds that it is discriminatory.

The most recent petition that the court rejected this week, argued the law should be struck down because it almost exclusively harms Palestinian citizens of Israel. Israeli-Arabs are inherently targeted by the law, the petition argued, because they are the group most likely to marry Palestinians on the other side of the Green Line due to their historic and continuous ethnic, religious, familial, social and provincial ties to one another.

In its defense of and justification for the law, the state cited its fear that Palestinian terrorists will exploit the possibility of marrying Israeli citizens in order to more easily carry out attacks against it. But the praise politicians showered on the court Thursday for upholding the law reveals its true purpose: to safeguard Israel’s delicate demographic balance by preventing any increase in the number of Palestinians living within its borders.

The High Court ruling, MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima) said, “articulates the rationale of separation (more…)

Israel tries out ‘Occupy’: Fleeting notions of (social) justice

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Israel’s social justice movement, which was retaking city squares in the name of the average citizen months before Occupy Wall Street came along, attempted a comeback last week with its first mass protest after a two-month hiatus. Keeping to its “apolitical” social platform, the protest movement continues to carefully quarantine its definition of social justice, keeping it safe in the comfortable confines of the 1967 Green Line that shields the majority of Israelis from Palestinians. One mainstream Israeli politician, however, shattered that concept last week in a barely noticed and subsequently buried outburst in the Knesset.

The now-famous public faces of the Israeli social protest movement, first amongst them folk hero Dafni Leef, were present for the opening session of the Knesset’s winter session last week. As cameras panned to the social activists during the plenum’s widely-televised opening debate, politicians fulfilled expectations by vowing (more…)

The not-so-revolutionary spirit of Israel’s housing protests

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Something special is happening in Israel. There’s a revolutionary spirit in the air; people are fed up, and they’re realizing that others are fed up too. Furthermore, they’re not afraid to take to the streets to voice their ambiguous yet understandable demands: “The people want social justice!”

But while the spirit hanging in the agonizing mid-summer humidity of Tel Aviv may be revolutionary, don’t be fooled; there’s no revolution here.

Cautious references to and comparisons with the Arab Spring are being made by young Israelis inspired by the Egyptian revolution earlier this year. Signs at the protest epicenter on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Blvd. designate the protest camp “Tahrir.” Signs at a recent mass march that drew over 200,000 people read: “Mubarak, Assad, Netanyahu.”

Indeed, there are similarities between the two Facebook-organized protests of regular young people who are fed up with the hopeless realities of their countries. But it doesn’t need to be said, and Israelis don’t need to be reminded that their own hopelessness of economic success and social mobility doesn’t compare to (more…)

Another day in the conflicted land

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Like most, today was a paradoxical day in Israel’s news cycle. Here are a few of the highlights:

• The largest left-wing demonstration Israel has seen in recent years took place the night before and the media was full of speculation as to whether the Left is experiencing a rebirth of sorts. Yet the issue that has driven the Left for decades – ending the occupation and making peace with the Palestinians – wasn’t on the agenda.

• The world was congratulating the Tunisian people for the potential freedoms gained by overthrowing a dictatorship that has ruled their country for decades. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu joined the likes of Libyan ruler Colonel Muammar Qaddafi in warning that the turn of events represents regional instability and is a threat to peace.

• Israeli opposition leader Tzipi Livni once again attacked the “moral failure” of Netanyahu for allowing Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s enquiry into human rights organizations. However, she made her stand from the moral high ground of Gush Etzion, the home of some of the settlement enterprise’s more extreme elements.

• Finally, The Quartet announced it will meet early next month to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. Meanwhile in Jerusalem, 1,400 housing units were put up for discussion to be constructed east of the Green Line and in Ramallah the Palestinian Authority announced it will approach the UN Security Council for a resolution declaring that Israel’s settlements are illegal.

Today was nothing out of the ordinary. Nobody expects anything less than contradiction in the Middle East. After all, it is the conflicted land.

What Lieberman doesn’t understand about human rights NGOs

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Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Israel Beiteinu (Israel Our Home) party this week initiated a parliamentary enquiry into many of Israel’s civil and human rights organizations. Speaking to his party after the vote, Lieberman said: “It is clear that we are talking here of organizations which are pure accomplices to terror.” He added, “Their entire aim is to weaken [the Israeli military] and to weaken its resolve to defend citizens of the state of Israel.”

Likud MK Danny Danon argued for the necessity of the investigative committee in a Jerusalem Post op-ed on Monday, accusing what he calls “extreme left-wing organizations” of working “nonstop to weaken the very state they live and work in.” The MKs are especially perturbed by the idea that foreign governments (in Europe) are funding the NGOs. The Right in Israel truly believes that the Left’s goal is to weaken and eventually destroy the State of Israel. Here lies the problem.

There is a fundamental misunderstanding among the Right about these organizations. Regardless of where their funding comes from, they do not want to destroy Israel. The organizations (more…)

Israeli-Palestinian peace through an EU lens

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As regular readers of this blog might have figured out, I have a soft spot for outside-the-box thinking on a resolution to the long-running Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Without rejecting or admitting defeat of the two-state solution, I am a strong advocate of the power of creativity in moving forward a difficult and stalled process. When the same process can’t seem to move forward, it is sometimes necessary to look at the problem from a different angle in order to find the best path to reach your goal. In this case, the goal is sovereign homelands for the Jewish and Palestinian peoples that reflect and protect their national identities.

Yuval Ben-Ami wrote a piece for +972 Magazine Sunday with a creative, albeit impracticable, vision of a resolution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To reach the goals I mentioned above, he draws on the success of the European Union.

In some ways (don’t laugh), Israel and Palestine already resemble many aspects of the EU. We already form an economic and monetary union, and conduct significant trade with one another (albeit extremely lopsidedly). Of course, you’re saying to yourself that the EU has the European Court of Human Rights and (more…)

Israel’s loyalty oath: What’s the controversy and why is it wrong?

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The “loyalty oath” approved this week by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s cabinet has quickly – and for good reason – become extremely controversial. Most western and liberal states require those seeking citizenship to take an oath of loyalty upon becoming naturalized citizens. Israel already has a loyalty oath on the books that one must take when naturalizing. So what’s the big deal?

The United States requires that naturalized citizens declare [by oath] to “support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” It further requires them to pledge to bear arms and serve in the armed forces if required by law.

The United Kingdom requires new citizens to swear their “allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth,” to “respect its rights and freedoms,” to “uphold its democratic values,” and to fulfill their “duties and (more…)

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