In the early 2000s, at the dawn of the social media revolution, Israelis used to dismiss filmed evidence of brutality by their soldiers as fakery. It was what they called “Pallywood” – a conflation of Palestinian and Hollywood. In truth, however, it was the Israeli military, not the Palestinians, that needed to manufacture a more convenient version of reality.
For the first time in living memory, Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre slammed shut its doors to worshippers and tourists. But the protest was only tangentially concerned with the fate of Palestinian Christians. It was really about protecting the churches’ profits from real-estate and investment deals.
The legal noose has tightened sharply around the neck of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as dramatic developments on two fronts last week left him more exposed than ever. He is due to be questioned by police in two new corruption probes before he leaves for the United States on Thursday.
The recommendation by police to charge Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu with two counts of bribery – there are more cases looming – marks a dangerous moment for Israel and the region. To bolster his position, Netanyahu is already provoking a damaging confrontation at home with legal authorities and might yet engineer a regional crisis.
Thousands of Israeli families who have been searching in vain for answers since their babies mysteriously disappeared in the early 1950s have been thrown a lifeline. The mystery of the missing children has plagued Israel for decades, with evidence mounting that at least some of the babies were trafficked by hospitals and orphanages – possibly with the connivance of Israeli officials.
How did a 14-year-old Palestinian girl who has never set foot in the open-air prison of Gaza find herself being dumped there by Israeli officials – alone, at night and without her parents being informed? The terrifying ordeal – a child realising she had not been taken home but discarded in a place where she knew no one – is hard to contemplate for any parent.
For the first time in its history, an interrogator from Israel’s secret police agency, the Shin Bet, is to face a criminal investigation over allegations of torture. It will be the first probe of the Shin Bet since Israel’s supreme court issued a landmark ruling nearly two decades ago prohibiting, except in extraordinary circumstances, the use of what it termed “special methods” of interrogation.
In the current outpouring of moral concern for the welfare of 40,000 African asylum seekers, it looks suspiciously like liberal Israelis are prepared to stand in solidarity with refugees from Sudan and Eritrea only because it is a relatively easy generosity. It is an act of humanitarianism they dare not extend to Palestinians.
For the first time last week Israeli military officials echoed what the United Nations has been saying for some time: that Gaza’s economy and infrastructure stand on the brink of collapse. After a decade of this horrifying experiment in human endurance, the Israeli army finally appears to be concerned about whether Gaza can cope much longer.
Ahed Tamimi, 16, may not be what Israelis had in mind when, over many years, they criticised Palestinians for not producing a Gandhi or Nelson Mandela. Eventually, colonised peoples bring to the fore a figure best suited to challenge the rotten values at the core of the society oppressing them. Ahed is well qualified for the task.
In Bethlehem, there may soon be few Palestinian Christians left to protect its holy sites, preserve its rituals and liturgy or conduct the nativity celebration itself. And irony of ironies, it will have been fellow Christians who helped to harry this community to extinction.
After decades of flagrant US bias towards Israel, Trump has confirmed to Palestinians only what they already knew. Some even grudgingly welcomed his candour. They hope he has finally silenced US claims to being an “honest broker” in an interminable “peace process” that has simply bought time for Israel to entrench the occupation.
Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, overturning seven decades of US policy in the region and effectively ending hopes of a two-state solution, has provoked dire warnings. But the focus by commentators on Palestinian reactions, rather than the effect on the Israeli public and leadership, might have underestimated the longer-term fallout from Trump’s move, analysts say.
For decades most American Jews have claimed an “Israel exemption”: resolutely progressive on domestic issues, they are hawks about Israel. Racism they would vigorously oppose in the US is welcomed in a Jewish state. But Netanyahu’s government has now created a gaping chasm with American Jews by expanding its assault on civil rights from Palestinians to the remnants of liberal Jewish society in Israel.
The story of Israel’s efforts to ban the lowly black goat, herded by Palestinian farmers for generations, is not simply one of unintended consequences. It serves as a parable for the delusions and self-destructiveness of a Zionism bent on erasing Palestinians and creating a slice of Europe in the Middle East.
Israel is putting in place the final pieces of a Greater Jewish Jerusalem that will require “ethnically cleansing” tens of thousands of Palestinians from a city their families have lived and worked in for generations, human rights groups have warned. The pace of physical and demographic changes in the city has accelerated dramatically, they say, and now Israel is preparing to cement these changes in law.
The long wait appears to be coming to an end on Trump’s “ultimate deal”, one supposedly capable of unlocking the impasse between Israel and the Palestinians. The US peace initiative may be unveiled as soon as January, but neither Benjamin Netanyahu nor Mahmoud Abbas appear keen to enter another round of fruitless dialogue.
The BBC’s political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, took to Twitter to relay a damning comment from an unnamed “senior” member of Priti Patel’s Conservative party. In a clear reference to Israel, the source observed: “The entire apparatus has turned a blind eye to a corrupt relationship that allows a country to buy access”. A short time later, presumably under pressure, Kuenssberg deleted the tweet.
Israel has instructed its overseas embassies to lobby their respective host countries in support of Saudi Arabia and its apparent efforts to destabilise Lebanon, a recently leaked diplomatic cable shows. The cable appears to be the first formal confirmation of rumours that Israel and Saudi Arabia are colluding to stoke tensions in the region.
A British government minister was apparently so dedicated to her work that she spent a “family holiday” in Israel conducting 12 undisclosed meetings with Israeli officials, including prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and ventured into the occupied Golan with the Israeli army. Those covert meetings brought about the downfall of Priti Patel this week for breaching ministerial protocol. But is political naivety all Patel is guilty of?