Under British patronage, the Zionists began building the institutions of a state. That lesson was not lost on subsequent generations. Israel’s success has depended on its close alliances with superpower patrons, persuading them that Israel can usefully advance their interests – or that its opposition could prove too damaging.
There was more than a little irony in Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to attend a “celebration” dinner in London, marking the centenary of the Balfour Declaration. Palestinian objections to the document are well-known. Britain had no right to promise a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, on the land of another people. But Israelis have been taught a different history in which they, not the Palestinians, were betrayed.
Netanyahu’s efforts to fast-track a new Basic law faces stiff resistance from Israel’s centre-left – not because they disagree with its provisions, but because it risks dragging Israel’s ugliest secret into the light: that the Israeli state belongs not to its citizens, as is the case in a liberal democracy, but to all Jews around the world, including those with no connection to Israel.
Did Britain and the US allow apartheid South Africa to advertise job opportunities to white Britons and Americans that were unavailable to those countries’ black citizens? And could it have held “employment recruitment” sessions for whites-only in British and American cities, in an effort to bolster its white population? Well, Israel is doing precisely the same for Jews, and there has been not a peep of protest.
Human rights activists are stepping up efforts to expose Israel’s long and covert history of supplying weapons and military training to regimes while they actively commit massacres, ethnic cleansing and genocide. The issue of Israel’s trade with rogue regimes has been thrust into the spotlight after revelations that it is sending weapons to Myanmar, in defiance of a US and European arms embargo.
At first glance, the decision by the Trump administration to quit the United Nation’s cultural agency seems strange. Why penalise a body that promotes clean water, literacy, heritage preservation and women’s rights? Washington’s claim that the Unesco is biased against Israel obscures the real crimes the agency has committed in US eyes.
The announcement of an Egypt-brokered reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas raised hopes that a decade of bitter feuding between the rival Palestinian factions may finally come to an end. The early conclusion of the talks in Cairo hinted at how much pressure both sides were under to make progress.
When the Palestinians gain a little visibility in the west, it is chiefly because of grassroots activities like Israel Apartheid Week and the BDS movement. When the Jewish Labour Movement and the Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland reject such initiatives as evidence of anti-semitism, they choose to speak in the loud voice of Jewish privilege, not the quieter voice of Jewish victimhood.
At last week’s Labour party conference, when members wanted to celebrate Jeremy Corbyn’s successes, media headlines were once again dominated by a supposed “anti-semitism crisis” in the party. But the real crisis is that Labour’s pro-Israel old guard is now under fierce challenge from a new grassroots movement.
Israel’s support for the Kurdish independence referendum was not surprising. The unravelling of Britain and France’s century-old map of the region would lead to chaos of the kind that a strong, nuclear-armed Israel could richly exploit. Not least, yet more bedlam would push the Palestinian cause even further down the international community’s list of priorities.
Renewed moves towards reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah are being hailed by PA officials as a victory for Abbas after he imposed harsh sanctions on Gaza over the summer to punish Hamas. But experts argue that the drive for unity puts Hamas – not Abbas – in the driving seat, by helping it find a way out of regional isolation.
Israel has quietly revoked the citizenship of thousands of members of its large Palestinian minority in recent years, highlighting that decades of demographic war against Palestinians are far from over. According to government data, some 2,600 Bedouins are likely to have had their Israeli citizenship voided. Officials, however, have conceded that the figure may be much higher.
The Greek Orthodox Church has been plunged into a renewed crisis in the Holy Land as its leaders are accused of selling off land to extremist Jewish settlers in prime locations in Jerusalem’s Old City. Hundreds of Palestinians rallied in the city to call for the removal of Patriarch Theophilos III, claiming that he had colluded with a settler organisation.
The eldest son of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has found himself an unlikely poster boy for David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, and neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer. These cheerleaders for Jewish hatred described 27-year-old Yair Netanyahu as “awesome” for posting a grossly anti-Semitic image on social media.
The threat of criminal indictment that has hung for months over Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, loomed much larger this weekend as it was announced that his wife, Sara, faced potential criminal charges. Israel’s attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit, said he intended to indict Sara Netanyahu with fraudulently diverting some $100,000 from public funds.
Having killed off the chances for Palestinian statehood, Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is preparing the one settler-state solution in its stead. That requires opening Israel’s doors to millions of “Jewish” non-Jews – crypto-Jews, lost tribes, and “emerging communities” – to help in the demographic fight against the Palestinians.
In a leak to Israeli TV, Netanyahu’s office said he had proposed to the Trump administration ridding Israel of a region known as the Little Triangle, which includes some 300,000 Palestinians citizens. In effect, he was making public his adoption of the highly controversial plan of his far-right defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman.
An obvious question arises: why have we not heard about Jodi Rudoren’s incendiary view that Israel is practising apartheid in the pages of the New York Times? In her four years as Jerusalem bureau chief, she never wrote an op-ed or analysis expressing that view, or gave a voice to experts in Israel and abroad who have reached a similar conclusion.
Palestinians have been pondering the significance of recent secret meetings between Egypt, Hamas and Mohammed Dahlan, an exiled Fatah leader. Are they paving the way to a permanent solution for Gaza? One possibility – known to be much-favoured by Israel – would be to engineer the creation of a Palestinian state in Gaza and then pressure Egypt to allow it to expand into the neighbouring territory of northern Sinai.
Israel has taken collective punishment to new extremes, stretching the notion to realms once imaginable only in a dystopian fable like George Orwell’s 1984. These ever-more sadistic reprisals against Palestinians are not designed to deter attacks, but to shore up Israel’s sense of victimhood.