Jacqueline Rose on Radio Scotland

Professor Jacqueline Rose was Colin Mackay’s guest on this week’s edition of A Life in Question, in which she discussed her interest in Zionism, psychoanalysis and feminism.

Identifying with the dissenting tradition within Zionism, exemplified by intellectuals such as Ahad Ha’am, Martin Buber and Hannah Arendt, she argues that their alternative vision of Zionism holds out the possiblity for Israel to transform itself.

Listen to the Programme
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B’Tselem report on the siege of Gaza

According to a new report published by B’Tselem and HaMoked, Israel’s policy of “strangulation” has effectively cut the Gaza Strip off from the rest of the world.

The report, which documents the grave and prolonged violation of human rights resulting from Israel’s control of the movement of people and goods between Gaza and the rest of the world, concludes that:

As a result of the economic siege on Gaza, more than 77 percent of Gazans (1,033,500 people) now live below the poverty line – almost double the number before the intifada. Some 23 percent of Gazans (over 323,000 people) are in “deep poverty,” meaning that they do not reach the subsistence poverty line even after receiving aid from international agencies.

Almost all the restrictions on movement are imposed on entire categories of people, based on sweeping criteria, without checking if the individual poses a security risk, and without weighing the harm the person will suffer, or if less harmful alternatives are available. In most cases, where Israel denies a permit and human rights organizations intervene, Israel reverses its decision to avoid an embarrassing legal challenge.

Most components of the policy of strangulation are illegal under international and Israeli law.

“One Big Prison: Freedom of Movement to and from the Gaza Strip on the Eve of the Disengagement Plan”
(Full Report, DOC); (Full Report, PDF)

Gush Shalom on the Route of the Wall

Gush Shalom ad published in Ha’aretz, April 1 , 2005:

As if…

Sharon seems to obey the Supreme Court of Israel. The path of the Separation Wall seems to have been moved to the vicinity of the Green Line.

But now it becomes clear that he is building more walls, under the guise of “protecting the settlers’ roads”. One wall will be built along route 443 (the Modi’in-Jerusalem road in the occupied territories), another in the south Hebron area, along route 317 (between the Susita-Karmel settlements).

These roads cut the West Bank into pieces, in order to imprison the Palestinians in isolated pockets. Exactly as the original path of the Separation Wall, which was vetoed by the Supreme Court, was intended to do.


Hamas integrating into PLO

The news from Palestine this week seems to be all about Hamas and what is sometimes described as “the decision by Mahmoud Abbas to integrate Hamas into Palestinian politics” and sometimes as “Hamas’s historic compromise”. Which is it, and does it matter?

Hamas’s stated objective is to establish an Islamic state in historic Palestine. It doesn’t sound as thought there’s much possibility of compromise there. But in practice their actions vary a great deal. They have indeed used extreme violence on many occasions, but they have also been capable of much subtler responses in the context of the many ceasefires they have participated in. And they certainly can’t be ignored — they have great and growing support, especially in Gaza.

The security-first view of this situation is to say, first, that the apparent flexibility is just a front, their intentions never change, and they must be militarily destroyed. Since the IDF couldn’t do that even with its virtually unlimited firepower and ruthlessness (look at these statistics), Israel has handed the job over to Mahmoud Abbas, demanding that he “disarm” (i.e. defeat) Hamas in order to prove his good intentions. Note that Israel is demanding that the PA must succeed where she failed in this, and it must do it with a security apparatus that the IDF itself virtually destroyed in the various incursions. That’s chutzpah.

The second response to Hamas’s success is that its popularity shows that “the Arabs” support the demand to drive Israel into the sea. A lot of Hamas’s popularity is due to its welfare work and its perceived lack of corruption, but it is true that many Palestinians do see the conflict as a win-lose situation. Either we beat them, or they beat us — just as the Israel’s-security-first view has it. The problem in trying to convince them differently is that Israel offers no reward for peace: the settlement activity, the demolitions, the land confiscations associated with the Wall — all continue, and together give a very clear message that the project of appropriating and controlling the West Bank is steaming ahead. It must be pretty hard to be preaching coexistence to Palestinians just now — and indeed if a former head of Israeli military intelligence can see a new intifada coming without big changes in Israel’s attitude, it can’t be that hard to foresee.

These two responses — Hamas must be destroyed, and the Palestinians must be taught not to support it — will only take Israel further down the endless road of bloody confrontation. Hamas has to be recognised as a fact of life, encouraged in the first place by Israel as a counterweight to the PLO, and now becoming a serious political rival to PLO/Fatah. The support it gets for violence is proportionate to the hopelessness of the people. To UK observers, the parallel with the Provisional IRA is irresistible. And look at the results of the politicisation of the Republican movement in the Northern Ireland: the political crisis is far from resolved and criminal activity is still a huge problem, but massive sectarian discrimination and the resulting bloody conflict are gone forever. Israel and the Palestinians could take the same road.

But for now Israel is going the opposite way, with results that are all too easy to predict.

Abu Mazen and Hamas, from Ha’aretz
Bitter Lemons on the Transformation of Hamas – four analyses from Palestine and Israel

Gush Shalom on the disengagement crisis

Gush Shalom ad published in Ha’aretz, April 1 , 2005:

Great show

The Gush Katif settlers who are willing to leave are unable to do so. Why?

Because as of now – 115 days before the date set for the withdrawal – there is yet no one to decide upon their compensations, and no one to pay them.

On the other hand, everything is done to enable the opponents of the withdrawal to gather their forces and increase their threats.

It seems that Sharon is interested in creating as menacing an atmosphere as possible. Why?

In order to “prove” to the Americans that it is impossible to dismantle the outposts and freeze the settlements in the West Bank, as he promised President Bush.


I would add: Gush says this is a show for “the Americans”. Which Americans, exactly? For the American government, whose word is law to Sharon? Or for American public opinion, which must somehow be brought around to accept the fate — decided long ago — of the West Bank?

E-1: The end of a viable Palestinian state

In this clear and concise piece in The Electronic Intifada, Jeff Halper (you know how highly I rate him) explains the significance of last week’s announcement of the settlement of E-1, the corridor connecting Jerusalem to the West Bank settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim: “it seals the fate of the Palestinian state”. The settlements to the east of Jerusalem are to be joined up into a bloc which cuts the Palestinian area in two and prevents access to Arab East Jerusalem. If (or rather when) it goes ahead, the Palestinian state can be nothing more than “a set of non-viable Indian reservations”. The map explains everything – as the maps usually do.

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