…it’s not that I don’t have the usual litany of links I could cram into this…I do & if time permits I’ll get around to them…but there’s one particular set of intractable misery I’ve been finding hard not to spend too much time reading about over the last few days…& much as I know it’s kind of a minefield to try to talk about I figure I might at least try?
The surge of violence and attacks between Israelis and Palestinians threatens to expand on both sides even as the United States and other nations look for ways to broker peace. The roots of the conflict and mistrust are deep and complex, often predating the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. The past seven decades have witnessed war, uprisings and, at times, glimmers of hope for compromise.https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/05/13/israel-palestinians-timeline-conflict/
…now, I know there’s a whole paywall deal in the way of WaPo stuff & I don’t want to wind up copying that whole timeline…but I think there’s an important bit of context that is routinely depressingly close to being turned into a statistical footnote
December 2008: Israel begins three weeks of attacks on Gaza after rocket barrages into Israel by Palestinian militants, who are supplied by tunnels from Egypt. More than 1,110 Palestinians and at least 13 Israelis are killed.
November 2012: Israel kills Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari, touching off more than a week of rocket fire from Gaza and Israeli airstrikes. At least 150 Palestinians and six Israelis are killed.
Summer 2014: Hamas militants kill three Israeli teenagers kidnapped near a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, prompting an Israeli military response. Hamas answers with rocket attacks from Gaza. A seven-week conflict leaves more than 2,200 Palestinians dead in Gaza. In Israel, 67 soldiers and six civilians are killed.ibid
…that’s a pretty stark disparity in terms of the casualty rates…& there’s a pretty stark reason for that when all is said & done
The headlines speak mainly of “clashes”, “conflict”, and “casualties on both sides”. The politicians recite bromides about Israel’s “right to defend itself”– a right that Palestinians seemingly do not have. The US government calls for “all parties to deescalate”, with no acknowledgment that it is US funds – $3.8bn a year – that, in part, make Israel’s bombardment of Gaza possible. This is the familiar American routine when Israel goes to war.
It was not a coincidence that the uprising began in Jerusalem. Occupied East Jerusalem exemplifies in miniature the Israeli government’s endeavor to secure “maximum territory, minimum Arabs”, as David Ben-Gurion saw the goals of the Zionist movement. Israel has pursued this goal in East Jerusalem – which it occupied in 1967 and formally annexed in 1980 – by making it nearly impossible for Palestinians to obtain permits to build homes, leaving thousands of people vulnerable to displacement and their homes slated for demolition. East Jerusalemites, who are not citizens of Israel but legal residents, face stringent residency requirements that make their legal status precarious. The Israeli government has also empowered Jewish settlers to seize properties inside Palestinian neighborhoods such as Silwan, Abu Dis, a-Tur, and Sheikh Jarrah – part of an explicit strategy to “Judaize” the eastern part of the city.
Israeli officials are increasingly bold about telegraphing these goals to the global public. “This is a Jewish country,” said Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, British-born deputy mayor of Jerusalem, to the New York Times, “[o]f course there are laws that some people may consider as favoring Jews – it’s a Jewish state.” But if Israeli officials are open about the discriminatory logic at Zionism’s core, most US politicians continue to deny it.
Indeed, that discriminatory logic is on full display especially in Sheikh Jarrah, the East Jerusalem neighborhood where Israeli settlers are trying to evict several Palestinian families from their houses. These eight families, who fled their original homes during the war of 1948, have lived in the neighborhood for more than half a century. Now, Israeli settler organizations – funded significantly by American Jewish donors – are claiming that because such homes were once owned by Jewish groups, the Palestinian families must be forced out. Yet no reciprocal right exists for Palestinians seeking restitution for properties they left behind during the Nakba, when roughly 700,000 Palestinians were expelled or fled their homes during the 1948 war. Under Israel’s Absentee Property Law, the property of Palestinian refugees is controlled by the Israeli state.https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/may/13/us-funds-make-israels-bombardment-of-gaza-possible-when-will-they-be-halted
…now…I’m not trying to say I understand all this so well that I think I know what ought to happen…let alone how to make it so…& I do think that the creation of a jewish state as a response to the genocidal devastation of the holocaust was a not unreasonable step…but…well
Close to 1.9 million Arabs live in Israel, comprising roughly 20 percent of the population. Most are the descendants of Palestinians who remained in Israel after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war and automatically became citizens of Israel.
Many Arab Israelis self-identify as Palestinian. However, since the term “Palestinian” is used to refer to people who live in Palestinian territories such as the Gaza Strip or West Bank, news outlets often prefer to use the term “Arab Israelis” to refer to those who hold Israeli citizenship.
Israel’s Arab population also includes residents of East Jerusalem who declined to become Israeli citizens after Israel seized control of the area in 1967. Most are considered permanent residents, though that status can be revoked if they move abroad for extended periods.
Most Arab Israelis are concentrated in a handful of Arab-majority cities that are among the poorest in the country, while those who live in mixed communities tend to reside in predominantly Arab neighborhoods. Israel’s schools are typically divided along similar lines, with separate educational systems for Arabic speakers and Hebrew speakers. For decades, critics have voiced concerns that Arab schools receive less funding and that the wide gulf between Arabs and Jews keeps Arab Israelis mired in poverty.
“We’re talking about young people who have no horizon, no dreams, who are unemployed and live in a very difficult reality,” Nasreen Haddad Haj-Yahya, the director of the Arab-Jewish-relations program at the Israel Democracy Institute, told the Associated Press.
Because support for the Palestinian cause is widespread within the Arab Israeli community, Arab Israelis often report encountering hostility and suspicion from police, politicians and others who view them as a security threat. A 2016 Pew Research Center poll found that nearly half of Israeli Jews supported expelling Arabs from the country or transferring them elsewhere.
While Israel has several political parties that have historically represented Arab citizens’ interests, none have ever been asked to join a governing coalition. Before the recent outbreak of violence, however, Arabs appeared to be gaining more political clout.
The increasingly fractured state of Israeli politics has led mainstream parties to realize that they need support from Arab voters to maintain their hold on power, and the head of the tiny United Arab List party was expected to play a decisive role in forming a coalition that could remove Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from office. However, those talks have been temporarily put on hold because of the escalating violence, the AP reports.https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/05/13/arab-israeli-faq/
…wherever it is that the line ought to be drawn between a reasonable desire to defend itself against those who would prefer it be wiped off the map & the bizarre role reversal that sees some elements of the jewish state adopting the kind of far-right ethno-nationalist stance that begs comparison to the very forces of fascism that murdered so many of their kindred in the past
For more than a decade, when analysts described the strategy utilized by Israel against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, they’ve used a metaphor: With their displays of overwhelming military strength, Israeli forces were “mowing the grass.”
The phrase implies the Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip and their supply of crude but effective homemade weapons are like weeds that need to be cut back.
Zehava Galon, a former lawmaker with the leftist Meretz party, wrote for Haaretz that the strategy results in “perpetual war” that forgets “human beings are also able to talk, not only to carry a club.”
“Just like mowing your front lawn, this is constant, hard work,” David M. Weinberg of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security wrote for the Jerusalem Post this week. “If you fail to do so, weeds grow wild and snakes begin to slither around in the brush.”
Gaza, a 140-square-mile strip of coastal land along the border with Egypt, came under Israeli control in 1967 following the Six Day War with Arab states. Though some Israeli settlers moved into the land, among some politicians there was little enthusiasm for control of the land.
“I would like Gaza to sink into the sea, but that won’t happen, and a solution must be found,” Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was reported to have said in 1992.
After the Oslo accords in 1993, most of the strip came under the control of the newly formed Palestinian Authority. But the area saw widespread violence after the second intifada began in 2000 and Israeli forces began building barriers between Gaza and Israel, as well as the border with Egypt.
In 2005, under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Israel unilaterally decided to “disengage” from Gaza, removing not only its military force within the area but also upward of 8,000 Israelis who had been living in settlement camps in the area.
Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza soon after Hamas took control, while the military wing of the group, known as the Qassam Brigades, fired crude rockets into Israeli territory. In the decade and a half since, violence has flared up periodically between the two sides.
While previous military actions involving Israel — such as those with Arab states in 1948, 1967 or 1973 — have been full fledged conflicts, Israeli military tactics were often designed to set back the enemy rather than conclusively defeat it. The same strategic goal has been used in dealing with Hamas.https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/05/14/israel-gaza-history/
Israeli officials have justified the airstrikes and invasions with the need to destroy rocket stockpiles used by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, a smaller militia in the strip. In 2011 Israel also unveiled its short-range defense system, known as Iron Dome, which it claims to have a 90 percent success rate at intercepting rockets and artillery from Gaza.
But such actions come at a cost: After the six-week conflict in 2014, the United Nations said that 2,104 Palestinian had died; 1,462 civilians were included that number, of whom 495 were children. Sixty-six Israeli military personnel also died, along with six Israeli civilians.
…it seems to me as though the situation has passed it by?
We were supposed to believe Gaza could suffer quietly under blockade. The conflict, if not over, was under control. We would make peace with far-off oil kingdoms, without giving anything up or seeing the people living next to us.
The police could crush protests angrily, as if protesting were primarily a rude insult to the police themselves. They could neglect the daily violence of despair in Arab towns in Israel, and yet turn violent at protests against their neglect. Their anger came out again at the weekly protests at Netanyahu’s residence and at recent protests at Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem against expelling Palestinian families.
Europe would go on helping pay the bills for the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and Qatar would continue sending cash to Gaza. The occupation was a bargain, the people there living 10 miles away from us and yet beyond mountains of darkness, settlements could grow, and we could skip reading those stories. It was elsewhere; it had gone on so long it could clearly go on longer.
I remember the first time I saw a pool of blood after a terrorist bombing in my neighborhood, and the first time I saw torn pieces of what had been a person on a downtown storefront. Bombs did not liberate anyone. If you have looked on these things, and you now hear of the rockets hitting Israel and buildings bombed in Gaza, then it is impossible to bear hearing people far away talk with certainty about which missiles are evil and which are necessary.
Weep, damn it, weep for us. Weep for this place in the season of wildflowers when it should be beautiful, weep for the dead and the living, weep for God who can’t get us to stop, weep for humanity.
Somehow this will stop. May it happen now, as you read this. We will see each other’s faces, each other’s pain. We will realize this cannot go on. We will find each other. It is what can come after anger and grief, what must come. I have to believe.
These words are what I have left after all the explanations and counterfeit certainties. I have tears for two peoples, tangled together, and hope that we’ll finally see that this can’t go on. We can’t let it.Israelis and Palestinians can’t go on like this. Weep for us. [WaPo]
On the Palestinian side, health officials say more than 100 people in the Gaza Strip, including more than 30 children, have been killed in Israeli military operations, including airstrikes and shelling. Israel has counted less than a dozen fatalities so far amid rocket attacks from Gaza.
Gaza City is more densely populated than Tel Aviv and other major world cities like London and Shanghai, and much more so than the areas of Israel that surround it. That means that even targeted airstrikes in Gaza have a high likelihood of hitting civilians.
Children are also frequently harmed in attacks because they make up an unusually high percentage of the population: UNICEF estimates that there are roughly 1 million children living in the Gaza Strip, meaning that a little under half of all 2.1 million people in Gaza are children.
Living conditions in Gaza are bleak: 95 percent of the population does not have access to clean water, according to UNRWA, and electricity shortages periodically bring life to a halt. The territory has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, World Bank statistics show, and the United Nations estimates that roughly 80 percent of the population relies on international aid to survive and access basic services.
In an area as dense as Gaza, Chupryna said, airstrikes run the risk of having secondary effects, hitting already weak infrastructure and leaving civilians without power or water.
Israel restricts travel outside the Gaza Strip and also maintains a blockade by air, land and sea that it says is necessary to prevent Hamas from obtaining supplies that could be used for terrorism. But the blockade also tightly limits Palestinians’ access to basic supplies and food staples, and the U.N. estimates that it has cost the territory’s economy as much as $16.7 billion over 11 years.https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/05/14/gaza-strip-history-geography/
…but it’s all happening somewhere far away…& it can be hard to know what to believe or who to listen to
On Monday, an apocalyptic video from Jerusalem began to circulate on social media. In the background, it showed a large fire raging on the site Muslims call al-Aqsa or al-Haram al-Sharif, and Jews call the Temple Mount. A tree was ablaze next to al-Aqsa mosque (some blamed Israeli police stun grenades, others blamed Palestinians shooting fireworks, perhaps aiming at Jewish worshippers). Below, the large plaza of the Western Wall was full with young Jewish Israelis, identified with the religious Zionist right, celebrating “Jerusalem Day” (marking the occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967). They were cheering at the sight of the fire, singing an anthem of vengeance popular in extreme-right circles. The lyrics are the words of Samson, just before he pulled down the pillars of the Temple in Gaza: “O God, that I may with one blow take vengeance on the Philistines for my two eyes!” The Israeli teenagers, visibly ecstatic, jumped up and down and shouted: “May their name be effaced!”
This is not the first time that the holy sites have been ground zero for a major violent escalation in the conflict, and it is therefore tempting to interpret this vengeful frenzy as merely the latest eruption of an atavistic devotion to ancient stones, one bound to spiral out of control. But this is a misleading story: the political significance of these places – and their very meaning – has changed dramatically over the past century, particularly for Jewish Israelis.
Judaism, as it developed in antiquity and the middle ages, is a religion shaped by the absence of the Temple – destroyed by the Romans in 70CE. And while Jewish prayers speak about yearning for its reestablishment, the biblical practices associated with the Temple (such as animal sacrifice) are antithetical to the praxis and spirit of Judaism. The Western Wall (part of the supporting wall of Herod’s Temple) is sacred as a remnant – a symbol of the destruction that shaped Judaism. The current site has been venerated by Jews since the 16th century. By the 19th century, it was the most important Jewish site of pilgrimage and worship, but for the Zionist movement, it represented an ideological conundrum.
This ambivalence was noticeable in early Zionist attitudes. The wall was largely absent from early Zionist iconography, and appeared (if at all) as a metaphor for destruction, contrasted with symbols of Zionist revival such as the agricultural colonies. The Labour-dominated Zionist movement sought to harness Jewish religious symbols in favour of secular nationalism, but was strongly opposed to ideas of the reconstruction of the Temple. So much that, as historian Hillel Cohen revealed, in 1931 the Zionist Hagana militia murdered a Jew who planned to blow up the Islamic sites of the Haram.
After the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, Israeli officials were in direct control of the holy sites. They pledged to maintain the status quo on the Haram, which remained under effective Palestinian Muslim control. When it came to the Western Wall, the desire to make the site into a national Jewish monument was finally achieved. Within days, the Mughrabi Quarter, a medieval neighbourhood that stood next to the wall, was entirely depopulated and razed to the ground to make room for a huge plaza. From a hidden wall, seen only from close proximity, it became a monumental stage, used not only for prayer but also for state and military ceremonies.https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/may/13/violence-jerusalem-holy-sites-israeli-right-temple-mount
After 1967, the secular Labour movement lost its position as the Zionist vanguard. Religious settlers claimed the language of Zionism as they spearheaded the colonisation of the occupied territories. The secular-Zionist project of “normalisation” – making Jews a territorial nation “like any other” – was overtaken from within by those who continued the colonising mission, but interpreted the biblical promise of the land literally as manifest destiny. In that context, the holy sites – now under Israeli control – assumed a new meaning, and became a new frontier. Some religious Zionists were no longer content with the Western Wall, given that the Temple Mount was within reach.
In the last few years, Jewish supremacism has emerged as a hegemonic ideology that legitimises Israeli control over the entire country, from the river to the sea. For the Israeli radical right, Israel’s inability or unwillingness to take complete control over the Haram is a symptom of “weak sovereignty”. This frustration accentuates the theological insufficiency of the Wall – as the site of permanent ruin and absence – and turns the attention to the Temple Mount.
The Haram al-Sharif thus represents a symbolic challenge to Jewish-Israeli hegemony that is far more significant than the weakened Palestinian Authority or Hamas’s rockets. This may explain the violence of the Israeli police in storming the mosque, and the high number of injuries among Muslim worshippers this week – just as it explains the crowd of young Israelis singing genocidal songs of vengeance as fires burn on the Haram al-Sharif. But what has gone largely unremarked is the extent to which these events signal the emergence of a version of Judaism that fetishises rock and soil – and pursues a fantasy of redemption in the physical takeover of the Temple’s site. For now, such an apocalyptic scenario is still unlikely. But already the events of this week – with the country engulfed by an unprecedented wave of vigilante violence that threatens to explode into civil war – are a demonstration of how dangerous this trend has already become.
…& when it comes to dangerous things trending…as ever these days social media can’t be far behind
Misinformation has flourished on Twitter, TikTok, Facebook and other social media about the violence between Israelis and Palestinians.
In a 28-second video, which was posted to Twitter this week by a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip appeared to launch rocket attacks at Israelis from densely populated civilian areas.
At least that is what Mr. Netanyahu’s spokesman, Ofir Gendelman, said the video portrayed. But his tweet with the footage, which was shared hundreds of times as the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis escalated, was not from Gaza. It was not even from this week.
Instead, the video that he shared, which can be found on many YouTube channels and other video-hosting sites, was from 2018. And according to captions on older versions of the video, it showed militants firing rockets not from Gaza but from Syria or Libya.
The video was just one piece of misinformation that has circulated on Twitter, TikTok, Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media this week about the rising violence between Israelis and Palestinians, as Israeli military ground forces attacked Gaza early on Friday. The false information has included videos, photos and clips of text purported to be from government officials in the region, with posts baselessly claiming early this week that Israeli soldiers had invaded Gaza, or that Palestinian mobs were about to rampage through sleepy Israeli suburbs.
There is a long history of misinformation being shared among Israeli and Palestinian groups, with false claims and conspiracies spiking during moments of heightened violence in the region.
The grainy video that Mr. Gendelman shared on Twitter on Wednesday, which purportedly showed Palestinian militants launching rocket attacks at Israelis, was removed on Thursday after Twitter labeled it “misleading content.” Mr. Gendelman’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Gendelman appears to have mischaracterized the contents of other videos as well. On Tuesday, he posted a video on Twitter showing three adult men being instructed to lie down on the floor, with their bodies being arranged by a crowd nearby. Mr. Gendelman said the video showed Palestinians staging bodies for a photo opportunity.
Mr. Kovler, who traced the video back to its source, said the video had been posted in March to TikTok. Its accompanying text said the footage showed people practicing for a bomb drill.https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/14/technology/israel-palestine-misinformation-lies-social-media.html
…so…I guess take the next bits with an appropriate grain of salt given that they come from the dubious territory of twitter
…although…they do all seem to be making claims that are corroborated elsewhere
…& at the risk of getting repetitive
…so…yeah…I’d make with the not-about-the-middle-east links & all…but I kind of feel like I’ve done more than enough to spoil your day as it is…so…well…here are some tunes…sorry about all that