Category Archives:
Middle East

Theresa May adopts a definition of anti-Semitism that demonizes Israel’s critics

Jonathan Ofir on

British Prime Minister Theresa May announced that the UK is formally adopting a definition of anti-Semitism agreed to earlier this year by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Many of the definitions would bar criticisms of Israel that even Jewish Israeli critics have made, like likening Israeli conduct to that of Nazis.

‘Love thy neighbor as thyself’ — Really?

Jonathan Ofir on

The Torah command, “Love thy neighbor as thyself” is thought to be a Jewish gift to civilization. In fact, there are so many requirements for who your neighbor is as to render the teaching meaningless in a tribal society.

Palestinians in Lebanon remember Palestine

Celia Peterson on

Palestinians have lived in the refugee camps around Lebanon since the Nakba in 1948 when they were forcibly ejected from their homeland by Israel. Most of these Palestinians have never set foot in Palestine and are prevented from doing so by Israel. Only the oldest have any memory of their homeland. Celia Peterson interviewed Palestinians of various ages in Bourj El Barajneh camp in Beirut to see how they keep the memory of their homeland alive.

Aleppo chef recreates his restaurant in Gaza after fleeing Syria

Ahmad Kabariti on

“If death is my fate, I will die even in Copenhagen. Gaza is relatively safe and a more simple place to live,” says Aleppo chef Anas Qatarji, who fled war-torn Syria for the besieged Gaza Strip and moved his destroyed restaurant with him.

Trump is forcing us to redefine the idea of ‘Home’

Liz Rose on

The day after Donald Trump won the presidential election, I received an email from one of my undocumented students in my Junior English class. “I’m scared. I don’t have anything to return to in my home country, and the U.S. has become my home.” Liz Rose meditates on the shifting meaning of home during a crisis of leadership.

Arafat started the fires!

Hatim Kanaaneh on

Israelis believe without evidence that Palestinians started recent fires near Haifa. Secret Police officials have confirmed that they suspect Arabs and have taken thirty of them into custody. One had toilet paper on his person! Hatim Kanaaneh writes, “Arafat must have started all those fires in our country. Or was it Haj Amine Al-Husseini? After all, we all know the Mufti was the one who convinced Hitler to go after the Jews in Europe. Or could it be Mahmoud Abbas since we can slap him at will?”

When Sanders changed political reality. And hasbara culture slapped him down.

Yakov Hirsch on

One of Bernie Sanders’s greatest foes in the presidential primary was hasbara culture, an aggressive and proselytizing construction of reality from a minority of the Jewish community that Sanders threatened with statements that changed the political discourse on Israel. Hasbara culture helped to undermine the insurgent senator.

Saving the daughters of Israel from the annihilation of intermarriage

Jonathan Ofir on

Opposition to intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews in Israel is not confined to the far right. State funds support a shelter to “rescue” Jewish women who are married to “Arabs,” and the idea of conversion is linked to annihilation and betrayal in Hebrew tradition.

We are in an era of conservative counter-revolution

Philip Weiss on

Trump’s election is most reminiscent of the Egyptian counter-revolution. Maybe history is not progressive. Maybe cultural advances and economic fairness are not the end point. Maybe history is actually deeply conservative, and majoritarian reactions are going to last a long time in an era of shortages, climate crises and mass migrations.

Challenging anti-Semitism and the Trump presidency

Max Ajl on

President-elect Donald Trump’s selection of Stephen Bannon to be his chief strategist has brought to the surface the antisemitic undercurrent of Trump’s reactionary populism. How we go about explaining the phenomenon goes some way towards guiding us as to how to mobilize against it. Max Ajl says it’s essential to understand that “Trumpism” is the product of a US social and political order that was neither reformable nor defensible, and it offers an opportunity to join a more inclusive movement – “one big enough for all of us, except for those who insist that others pay the price for their safety.”

Before Trump’s revolution, there was Sanders’

Philip Weiss on

Before Trump surprised Clinton in Michigan, Bernie Sanders led a revolution that included some of the same political materials but had a universalist, non-racist message. That revolution is more alive than ever, and in the next generation’s hands.

‘A revolt against the future’: Quick reflections on the November 2016 Election

Bill Fletcher Jr. on

Bill Fletcher Jr. offers some initial takeaways from the U.S. presidential election. He says it was a referendum on globalization and demographics and represents the consolidation of a misogynistic white united front in U.S. politics and society. Still, he sees reasons for hope including the fact that the results were incredibly close even without the ideal candidate to represent the new majority emerging in the country.

Western leaders grow deaf to Israeli abuses

Jonathan Cook on

European governments – fearful of upsetting Israel’s patron in Washington – have been trying to hold in check popular anger at a belligerent and unrepentant Israel.

The frozen Chosen: In Chabon’s ‘Yiddish Policemen’s Union’ a Jewish state in Alaska (still) results in the burning of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem

Sam Bahour on

Sam Bahour says Michael Chabon’s “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” should come with a warning label READ WITH CAUTION IF YOU ACTUALLY LIVE UNDER A JEWISH ISRAELI MILITARY OCCUPATION because “between the seriousness of the political premise, the gut-wrenching humor, the community involved, the concept of a collective return of land as even being imaginable, the real, day to day stories—love, death, addiction, work, relationships, etc.—interspersed, and the burning of the Dome of Rock, which already happened once in reality and is being threatened again these days, it’s just too much for a person living under an actual Jewish (or so believed)-inspired military occupation to handle.”

In Tel Rumeida, you can be arrested for laughing

Lori Rudolph on

“We live under a totalitarian system of occupation,” Feryal, a Palestinian mother in Hebron’s Tel Rumeida section explains. She was once detained for five hours for laughing in front of an Israeli soldier.

What if the Syria no-fly zone won’t fly?

(((James North))) on

The foreign policy elite in Washington seems to be united on imposing a no-fly zone over Syria. But two veterans with hundreds of combat missions between them contend that Assad’s anti-aircraft capabilities are far too robust to permit such an intervention without significant losses and billions in expenditures.

Calling someone a ‘Zionist’ is anti-Semitic and abusive, say British lawmakers

Allison Deger on

British lawmakers have said the word “Zionist” as a pejorative “has no place in a civilised society” and recommend considering a victim’s feelings when deciding if a criminal investigation into anti-Semitism should be launched, said an annual report on anti-Semitism published last week by a cross-party group in Parliament.

B’Tselem calls on world to ‘intervene’ to stop ‘more perfect occupation,’ and Netanyahu goes ballistic

Philip Weiss on

Hagai El-Ad, the head of the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, urged the United Nations Security Council to take action at last against the occupation because, “The reality will not change if the world does not intervene. I suspect that our arrogant government also knows this, so it’s busy fearmongering against such an intervention.” Netanyahu has responded in outrage.