I’ve managed to lapse out of the habit of updating this site with my newest articles, but I’m going to get back into it now. You can also look back on the MEMO website for the last few months of my columns.
Over the summer I did twofeatures for Al-Akhbar too, about the response to the war in the West.
And, as always, my stories for The Electronic Intifada are syndicated in the RSS feed you see on the right (or click here).
In 1897, the same year as the first Zionist congress, Israel Belkind (“the first practical Zionist”) drew a map: “ ‘The Jordan splits the Land of Israel in two different sections,’ asserted Belkind, whose assessment was subsequently adopted by most [Zionist] settlers of the period” (216).
For the future first prime minister of Israel David Ben Gurion, these borders “were too expansive and untenable, while the borders of the Talmudic commandment were too narrow.” In 1918 he gave his own take: “In the north — the Litani River, between Tyre and Sidon [in Lebanon] … In the east — the Syrian Desert. The eastern border of the Land of Israel should not be precisely demarcated … the Land’s eastern borders will be diverted eastwards, and the area of the Land of Israel will expand” (217).
Not for nothing were the borders of the new state unmentioned in its declaration of independence (233).
The second article in my series about the Zionist legal campaign against the UCU for discussing academic boycott — and against the BDS movement in general. Extract:
Antony Julius had taken on Fraser’s case pro bono, he said in a phone call.
Julius defended the readiness of his case, and what he said was an “ironic” comment about his chaotic references: “look at the written submissions and the range of witnesses that were deployed to see how ludicrous it is to say we were not prepared.”
He denied the case was receiving any support from the Israeli government: “I’m sorry to disappoint your fantasy of a conspiracy, but no it isn’t … Why would you assume it’s being supported by the Israeli government? … The question itself can only come from a person who is in thrall to such a fantasy.”
But one of Julius’s own witnesses was boasting to the Israeli press earlier this year about just such a “fantasy.”
Part one is here, but both articles work independent of each other.
The first in my new series of articles looking into the Zionist legal campaign against the UCU for discussing academic boycott — and against the BDS movement in general. Part two likely to follow soon after Christmas. An extract:
The director of Academic Friends of Israel is suing his own union in an employment tribunal. Ronnie Fraser accuses the 120,000-member-strong University and College Union of “institutional anti-Semitism” after its congress passed motions calling for members to discuss the Palestinian call to boycott Israeli universities.
But according to one court document seen by The Electronic Intifada, Fraser follows a definition of anti-Semitism that seems to include any criticism of Israel. It says he considers “anti-Semitism” to include comments “targeting specifically the State of Israel which was conceived as a Jewish state.”
Here is my new arts feature about al-Zaytouna dabke group. Their show is this weekend, don’t miss it!
One of Shakespeare’s more famous plays, Henry V is known for the famous speech in which the eponymous king urges on his warriors: “we happy few, we band of brothers.”
Try picturing it, then, re-imagined through the medium of dance theater, and amalgamated with the story of the Palestinian struggle against Israel. It sounds like an unlikely combination, but it’s exactly what UK dance troupe al-Zaytouna have set out to do with their innovative new production Unto the Breach, which debuts this month.
Anyone visiting the demonstrations against Israel’s wall in the West Bank village of Bilin over the last six years will have likely seen Emad Burnat and his camera, filming everything — anytime he was not in prison or in the hospital, at least.
Five Broken Cameras is the product of years’ worth of Burnat’s footage from these demonstrations. Co-directed by Israeli filmmaker Guy Davidi, the film takes the viewer through five years of the life of the village as the popular resistance against the wall begins.
The boldly titled feature-length documentary How We Can Solve The Palestinian Israeli Problem (which can be viewed online) is the work of Sami Moukaddem, a multi-talented Lebanese psychologist and musician living in Ireland.
Early on, Moukaddem speaks to the camera and says he has no experience as a filmmaker, and that he just wanted to make a film to explain the basic issues: “I simply got tired of western mainstream media presenting the Palestinian-Israeli issue as being complex,” he says. He then narrates from a first-person perspective throughout.
But a recent Israeli court document describes Hamdan as once claiming to have had a position “in the ministry of defense.” The Israeli media has described him as “a proud collaborator,” reported that he and his family are legally armed and noted accusations in his hometown that he works for the Shabak (Israel’s secret police, also known as Shin Bet).
A great read and most interesting (and incidentally nice to see Pluto put out an affordable hardback edition). This positive review by me for EI will likely be grist to his enemies’ mill, but Tony doesn’t seem too worried about that any more. An extract:
What happens when a mainstream public figure within the Jewish community develops doubts about Israel and Zionism? Can the head of an important Jewish think tank who has come to reject his Zionist convictions sustain his position as a critical insider?
These questions are addressed in The Making and Unmaking of a Zionist, a new memoir by Antony Lerman.
Born to moderate orthodox parents in Golders Green (3), London, Lerman joined the Habonim labor Zionist youth movement in his teens. Along with its youth centers, Habonim owned a remote East Sussex farm known as the hachshara (“training”) where it prepared members for life in the kibbutzim, Israel’s collective agricultural colonies (31).
He eventually went on to become leader of the movement in the UK. Although after 1967 Habonim activists still saw themselves “as guardians of moderate and liberal socialist Zionism … the vast majority of us slipped so easily into a way of thinking that legitimized the occupation” of the West Bank, Gaza and the Syrian Golan Heights (34-5).
At the root of such problems is Harms’ fundamental approach, which he spells out in the preface: “I have sought to present the history of the conflict in a balanced and actual light” (xv). The aim of imposing the prism of “balance” on the fundamentally imbalanced situation of a settler movement’s ongoing colonization of an occupied land is doomed to failure. This lies at the heart of much of what is wrong with the book.