Palestine Update 624
Israel’s insecurities are rooted in their injustices
The very founding of Israel was politically flawed. It has remained an artificial construct ever since. Predicting its future has been equally difficult. Gideon Levy has observed “A society cannot go far with its head buried in the sand, and will certainly be unable to cope with the real challenges confronting it”. He adds: “If there is one thing completely missing from the public agenda in Israel, it is the long-term view. Israel does not look ahead, not even by half a generation… There is not a single Israeli, not one, who knows where his country is headed. Ask any ordinary Israeli or any politician, any journalist or scientist, from the political centre or the right or the left: where are you going? How will your country look in another 20 years? Or 50? They can’t even describe what 10 years from now might be like. Few Israelis could even say where they would like their country to be going, apart from empty slogans about peace and security and prosperity”.
In a political commentary in Palestine Chronicle, a team of writers conclude from their studies how “according to Israeli statistics, two months after the start of the war in Ukraine, about 1,800 Russian Jews out of the 5,600 who benefited from the ‘Law of Return’ – actually returned to Moscow with their Israeli passports. This means that a third of the Russian Jews who arrived in Israel rushed to leave the country”. The team further observes that in the aftermath of the November elections, which resulted in the formation of the most extremist government in Israel’s history, the number of Israeli citizens who sought European citizenship significantly increased. Israelis applying for French citizenship increased by 13 percent; Portuguese authorities recorded a 68% increase in citizenship applications from Israelis, and the Polish and German authorities recorded a 10% increase in the same applications over the past two months. The departure of Jewish immigrants from Israel is not a new phenomenon.
Gideon Levy in his article “For Israelis, the future is impossible to see” he notes: the Israeli habit of burying their heads in the sand about the future of their country disguises a deep-seated, and possibly very realistic, fear about what the future may hold. Israelis are afraid of the future of their country. They brag about their country’s power and ability, a righteous nation, a chosen people, a light unto the nations; they are exceedingly boastful about their army, about their skills, while at the same time a primordial fear gnaws at their innards”.
It is impossible to foresee an Israel that will survive its colonial-racist ways. Israel may like to think it is pure and religious and destined to eternity. They know deep inside that “God’s eternal promise to Israel” is a political façade created by right wing theologians and Christian Zionists, and nobody has a hint what tomorrow will resemble. They are fleeing what promised to be a wonderland, the only democracy in the region, a civilization in the midst of the uncivilized with an alacrity that astonishes. But, no.! They were wrong and now they’re running scared. .
Levy puts it aptly: “History has taught us that a people fighting to be free generally win and rotten regimes, like the military occupation of the Palestinian people by Israel, collapse of their own accord, crumbling internally from the decay that always pervades them. But as the Israeli occupation drags on and its future continually recedes, doubts have risen that something will surely happen soon to bring down the occupation, like a tree that looks robust but has rotted from within”.
Please always read the news items in Palestine Updates from the perspective of people like Gideon Levy and the Palestine Chronicle Team. They inform us about the how and why of Israel’s colonialist cruelties. Such awareness can strengthen and give substance to our advocacy and solidarity.
On behalf of MLN Palestine Updates
Curse of ‘Yordim’: Why Israeli Jews Are Leaving the Country
The departure of Jewish immigrants from Israel is not a new phenomenon.
By Palestine Chronicle Staff
Following the start of the war between Russia and Ukraine on February 24, a large number of Jews decided to immigrate to Israel under the so-called Israeli Law of Return, which allows every Jewish person in the world to immigrate to Israel and acquire citizenship. At the end of 2022, the Jewish Agency published data regarding the number of new immigrants who arrived in Israel, boasting that the country welcomed around 70,000 new immigrants, the largest number of immigrants in 23 years. Expectedly, most of these newcomers arrived from Ukraine and Russia.
The problem for Israel, however, is not with new immigrants, but rather with the phenomenon known in Hebrew as ‘Yordim’ – ‘Yerida’ means ‘descent’ – a term used to describe Jews who leave the Jewish state. According to Israeli statistics, two months after the start of the war in Ukraine, about 1,800 Russian Jews out of the 5,600 who benefited from the ‘Law of Return’ – actually returned to Moscow with their Israeli passports. This means that a third of the Russian Jews who arrived in Israel rushed to leave the country. Following the November elections, which resulted in the formation of the most extremist government in Israel’s history, the number of Israeli citizens who sought European citizenship significantly increased. For example, Israelis applying for French citizenship increased by 13 percent; Portuguese authorities recorded a 68% increase in citizenship applications from Israelis, and the Polish and German authorities recorded a 10% increase in the same applications over the past two months. The departure of Jewish immigrants from Israel is not a new phenomenon.
Between 1948 and1950 10% of Jewish immigrants promptly left the newly established state. To slow down the reversed immigration, the Israeli government enacted tough measures often denying exit visas to Israeli applicants. Despite the restrictions, by 1967 more than 180,000 Israelis had immigrated. During the 1970s, fears of war, economic stagnation, and strong Palestinian Resistance, a sharp decline in immigration to Israel was recorded, forcing the Jewish Agency to close three immigration centers in the United States alone.
The sin of neutrality: Why Churches must unapologetically take the side of Palestine
Last Sunday I attended a live talk online featuring Palestinian human rights lawyer and activist, Jonathan Kuttab. The talk, entitled “What is required of our church to be in solidarity with Palestine?”, was hosted by the Middle East Working Group—comprised of the Toronto-based Bathurst, Bloor Street and Trinity-St. Paul’s congregations, part of the United Church of Canada (UCC). Kuttab discussed a lot about what’s been happening in Palestine, present and historically and certainly did not shy away from addressing Israel’s oppressive role therein such as the expansion of illegal, Jewish-only settlements in the West Bank that have displaced and disposed of countless Palestinians.
What really stuck out for me is what Kuttab shared from the very outset of the talk. That is, his understandable and justifiable frustration over the UCC’s failure to—in any substantive sense—commit itself to Palestinian justice. Articulating this Kuttab stated: “Very briefly I want to communicate that Sabeel [Palestinian Christian group] in Jerusalem and Palestinians generally were very upset by what happened at the convention where a number of initiatives by UCC churches [strongly opposed to Israeli apartheid] were totally sidelined and the whole issue was pushed off [by influential UCC members]. …This is actually the fight. The fight is a spiritual fight that’s taking place. And it’s taking place in the churches, as well as the community at large. “
Kuttab’s observation has since left me thinking about what a “church”, let alone a Christian one like the UCC, is in essence. Often people think of it physically, namely a building or structure where people go to worship.
Read more in Palestine Chronicle
Palestinians call PA not to return to security coordination with Israel
Factions in Gaza call on Arab states to stop normalising ties with the occupation
Palestinian factions today called on the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah not to backtrack on its decision to stop security coordination with the Israeli occupation. This came in an event held in rejection of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The factions said the US administration will not impose any punishment on the Israeli occupation and called for the formation of a unified national leadership to confront the fascist Israeli government. Arab countries, they added, must stop normalising ties with the Israeli occupation.
Blinken Wraps Up Mideast Visit with No Breakthrough in Efforts to End Violence
As he completed a two-day visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah there were no signs he was making progress on even the modest goal of halting the latest wave of violence, much less of addressing the broader issues surrounding potential peace talks. Abbas placed all of the blame for the spike in violence on Israel and berated the international community for not doing more to put pressure on Israeli authorities.
Blinken criticized Israel for its actions that Washington believes create barriers to the two-state solution. In particular, he highlighted “settlement expansion, the legalization of (settlement) outposts, demolitions and evictions, disruptions to the historic status of the holy sites and, of course, incitement and acquiescence to the violence.” After the meeting with Abbas, Blinken said the US would provide an additional $50 million for the UN’s agency for Palestinians and announced that he had reached an agreement with the Israeli government to provide 4G telecoms services for the Palestinian people. Abbas called for “the complete cessation of unilateral Israeli actions, which violate the signed agreements and international law.” He reiterated the longstanding demand by Palestinians for Israel to end its occupation of their territory.
Jewish Artist Targeted in Germany over Pro-Palestine Stance
Hamburg’s Antisemitism Commissioner disparaged photographer Adam Broomberg for his support of the BDS movement.
Hamburg’s first antisemitism commissioner Stefan Hensel, who was appointed in July 2021 for a three-year term, has repeatedly criticized artist Adam Broomberg over his involvement in what he calls the “antisemitic” Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. Broomberg, a Jewish photographer who was raised in South Africa and now lives in Berlin, has frequently denounced what he characterizes as Israeli’s apartheid system in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In statements made to Jüdische Allgemeine, Zeit Online and in a post on Hensel’s Facebook account (among other platforms), Hensel described Broomberg as someone who “repeatedly defames [Israel] as an apartheid state and advocates a boycott against Israel,” “seems to hate Israel,” and “does not shy away from legitimizing terror against Jews.”
In an interview with Hyperallergic, Broomberg said that Hensel’s comments come from an “extremely right-wing and Zionist, and racist, perspective…For a commissioner of antisemitism, for his first and most vehement and powerful attack to be on a Jew and to put a Jew’s life and profession at risk, is totally ironic,” he said.
Arrest of Jewish anti-Zionist activist ‘reminiscent of how Palestinians are treated’
Today, an Israeli Magistrate Court judge decided to extend the detention of left-wing anti-Zionist activist Jonathan Pollak until February 7, after police decided to file charges yesterday, alleging he assaulted a Border Police officer based on the testimonies of three Border Police officers — testimonies which apparently fail to even match one another and are not accompanied by evidence. Pollak was arrested on Friday, January 27, at the weekly protest in the Palestinian village of Beita, after being confronted by an Israeli Border Police officer. Israeli Police have requested he remain in detention until the end of legal proceedings, and a decision to grant their request or release him will be made on February 7. Furthermore, despite Pollak’s lawyer demanding from three different judges that he be given adequate food, as of the time of writing, he has been given almost no food that conforms with his dietary needs, as Pollak suffers from diabetes and celiac disease and is also vegan.
Pollak frequently participates in the weekly protests in Beita, which have been held every Friday since May 2021, when Israeli settlers established the outpost of Evyatar on Palestinian lands belonging to residents of Beita. Pollak has long been a target of both right-wing groups and the Israeli Police for decades due to his outspoken anti-Zionist activism and support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. He was one of the founders of Anarchists Against the Wall in the early 2000’s, a grassroots group that stood weekly alongside Palestinians to protest against Israel’s construction of the apartheid wall on Palestinian lands. Since then, he has remained active in standing with Palestinians in their continued struggle against Israeli colonialism and apartheid. Soon after Pollak’s arrest, an Israeli settler opened fire on the protesters at the entrance to Beita, and three were hospitalized.
Read more in Mondoweiss
Palestinian landowner says he faces threats by illegal Israeli settlers: ‘I want to live in peace’
Israeli settlement expansion is illegal under international law and opposed by the US, UK, EU and the UN.
View video in Sky.com
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1 February 2023