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Links 1 through 10 of 128 by Shaun Green tagged israel

Writing in 2003, at a time of high Euro-optimism, Tony Judt described Israel as a ‘characteristically late 19th-century separatist project’ in ‘a world that has moved on, a world of individual rights, open frontiers and international law … Israel, in short, is an anachronism.’ Today, it is Judt’s cheerfully Hegelian description of ‘a world that has moved on’ that seems out of step with the neo-tribal spirit of the times. Israel does not seem like such an outlier in a world reshaped by the drive towards ethnic and religious separatism, the militarised policing of frontiers, and the emergence of authoritarian populist governments. For a country of its size, it has made a handsome contribution to the creation of this world, through its occupation and its wars – and through its high-profile involvement in the arms trade and the ‘security’ industry.

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It was a remarkable admission of the state’s historic wrongs. But it was never going to change the minds of the authorities. Like Israel’s military control in the Occupied Territories, police violence and discrimination against the Palestinian minority has always been designed to deliver a clear political message: Palestinians will always be viewed as suspects, enemies who don’t belong, regardless of their citizenship or where they were born. Even if they have the same fears, do the same jobs and live in the same cities, Palestinian citizens will be expected to suspend their rights in order to make Jewish citizens feel safer. Any opposition to that hierarchy – whether expressed on the streets, in the Knesset, or on social media – is viewed as a subversive act, which will be dealt with by intimidation, collective punishment, even summary execution.

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Israel is now confronted by the greatest unrest it has faced since the second intifada ended more than ten years ago. Palestinian protests and clashes with Israeli forces have spread from East Jerusalem to the rest of the West Bank, as well as to Gaza and Palestinian towns inside Israel. In the first three weeks of October, ten Israelis were killed and more than a hundred injured in stabbings and shootings, and by drivers ramming cars into pedestrians. Over the same period, Israeli forces killed 53 Palestinians and injured around two thousand. Compared to the second intifada, the protests this month have been smaller, the influence of Palestinian political factions weaker, and the attacks far less lethal. But they have been coming more frequently, with several of them, unco-ordinated, on most days.

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A satirical website has accidentally broken a real news story – by revealing that America offered Israel “a nice, big shipment” of weapons to try and salve its anger at the Iran nuclear deal.

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If being a Jew isn’t just about kvetching and chicken soup, if it means living with the ambivalence of otherness and the hope for Utopian justice, then Israel is not a Jewish state. The idea of a Jewish state is, once stated, already contradictory and meaningless. In practice, it’s a monster. A state that tries to erase Jewish history, Jewish subjectivity, and Jewish life is not something that has anything to do with any Judaism I recognise. There’s a word for this kind of behaviour. It’s antisemitism.

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The Israeli group Breaking the Silence issued a report this morning containing testimony from Israeli soldiers about the savagery and criminality committed by the Israeli military during the attack on Gaza last summer. The Independent has a good article describing the report’s findings: “The Israeli military deliberately pounded civilian areas in the Gaza Strip with incessant fire of inaccurate ordinance” and “was at best indifferent about casualties among the Palestinian population.”

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Almost half of all Americans want to support Israel even if its interests diverge from the interests of their own country. Only a minority of Americans (47 percent) say that their country should pursue their own interests over supporting Israel’s when the two choices collide. It’s the ultimate violation of George Washington’s 1796 Farewell Address warning that “nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded. … The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave.”

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What else can be said about a country whose electoral options run from bad to worse, from xenophobia to all-out racism? There are, I believe, three main blocs. The first wishes to maintain the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians in its current form, preferably with no negotiations, in a liminal situation between cold and open war. The second wishes to dance with the conflict – to negotiate and negotiate as if there were no tomorrow. For the third bloc, there is no conflict at all: the elections are about VAT, the middle class and ‘what it means to be Israeli’.

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The United States Agency for International Development provided funds for many years to the committees named in the indictment, while itself scrupulously avoiding contact with Hamas. This funding continued after the government closed the HLF in 2001, until at least 2004, when the indictments against the HLF five were laid. The prosecution was unable to prove that the money raised by the HLF actually went to Hamas: it asked the jury to infer it, on the basis of other evidence. Shukri Abu Baker’s attorney, Nancy Hollander, says that ‘the government traced every penny from the Holy Land Foundation directly to charity. No guns, no suicide belts, no explosives. Yet, because this charity went to families in Palestine, it was a crime.’

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What the government of Israel calls its eternal, undivided capital is among the most precarious, divided cities in the world. When it conquered the eastern part of Jerusalem and the West Bank – both administered by Jordan – in 1967, Israel expanded the city’s municipal boundaries threefold. As a result, approximately 37 per cent of Jerusalem’s current residents are Palestinian. They have separate buses, schools, health facilities, commercial centres, and speak a different language. In their neighbourhoods, Israeli settlers and border police are frequently pelted with stones, while Palestinians have on several occasions recently been beaten by Jewish nationalist youths in the western half of the city. Balloons equipped with cameras hover above East Jerusalem, maintaining surveillance over the Palestinian population. Most Israelis have never visited and don’t even know the names of the Palestinian areas their government insists on calling its own. Municipal workers come to these neighbourhoods with police escorts.

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