Seventh Fatah Conference Underscores Profound Disconnect Between Abbas and his People

On November 29th, the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Fatah, held its seventh congress. The congress had been presented by some as an opportunity to shake up the entrenched and out of touch leadership of the party and renew the Palestinian national struggle.

Such a shakeup is desperately needed. Palestinians in the occupied territories have been denied a democratic voice since the 2006 legislative elections and Fatah party chairman Mahmoud Abbas has overstayed his term as PA president by eight years. Abbas has faced mounting criticism over his continued pursuit of a failed negotiations strategy and increasingly autocratic style of governance. However, on the first day of the congress, delegates unanimously reappointed Abbas as chairman of Fatah for another five-year term.   Continue reading “Seventh Fatah Conference Underscores Profound Disconnect Between Abbas and his People”

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Israeli Leaders Blame Palestinians for Fires Without a Shred of Evidence

Fires raged across Israel and the occupied West Bank last month, causing serious damage to property and destroying thousands of acres of natural forests. Immediately, Israeli government officials and members of the Israeli media began blaming Palestinians for setting the fires, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu describing them as an “arson intifada” and the police positing that they were lit on “nationalistic grounds.” Education Minister Naftali Bennett took the fires as an opportunity to deny Palestinian claims to their homeland, stating that “only those to whom this land does not belong could burn it.” Continue reading “Israeli Leaders Blame Palestinians for Fires Without a Shred of Evidence”

A Pro-Israel Anti-Semite? Not as Strange as you Might Think

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President-Elect Donald Trump

While President-elect Donald Trump has made lots of news this week as he begins his transition to the White House, one appointment has stood above the rest. Trump has appointed Steve Bannon, his campaign CEO and executive chairman of the white nationalist and anti-Semitic website Breitbart News, to the position of “chief strategist.” Steve Bannon is an idol of the white nationalist right and holds deeply anti-Semitic views. In addition to dealing in common anti-Semitic tropes on Breitbart News, Bannon reportedly refused to enroll his daughter in a school because of “the number of Jews that attend.” Upon news of his appointment, the head of the Anti-Defamation League immediately and strongly opposed his appointment on the grounds of his virulently racist views. Even the staunchly pro-Israel and right wing AIPAC was “apoplectic” about his appointment. However, the news website Bannon runs  was conceived in Israel, is avowedly pro-Israel (featuring a particularly right-wing Zionist narrative) and even has a Jerusalem bureau. Continue reading “A Pro-Israel Anti-Semite? Not as Strange as you Might Think”

Anti-Democratic Energy: Jordan’s Recent Gas Deal with Israel.

Image: “The enemy’s gas is occupation” [via Jordan BDS

Recently, Jordan’s government-owned National Electric Power Company (NEPCO) signed a 15 year, $10 billion deal to import Israeli-extracted liquid natural gas. In the eyes of the appointed government of the Hashemite Kingdom, the deal is a boon. Jordan is a notoriously resource poor country, having to import 96% of its energy needs from other countries. In previous decades, Saddam Hussain’s Iraq and Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt provided subsidized fuel to fill the country’s energy needs. However, according to the Jordanian government, the loss of these providers and the damage to gas pipelines due to recent unrest in the Sinai have caused NEPCO to rack up billions of dollars in debt. At the same time, energy prices have steadily risen for Jordanians. The government claims that this deal will lower energy costs and save NEPCO $600 million a year.

Despite these supposed benefits, the deal has caused widespread and unified protests of a scale unseen in Jordan since the start of the Arab Spring. Continue reading “Anti-Democratic Energy: Jordan’s Recent Gas Deal with Israel.”

Playing Identity Politics: Israel’s Targeting of Palestinian Christians

Around one fifth of the population of the Jewish state of Israel is not actually Jewish. Most of these around two million people are the descendants of the Palestinians who remained after the 1947-1949 ethnic cleansing that resulted in the founding of Israel. Because they are not Jewish, these Palestinian citizens of Israel are treated as second-class citizens and subject to dozens of discriminatory laws. However, even within this minority, the laws and policies of the state distinguish and discriminate based on religious and ethnic identity. Most recently, attempts have been made to drive a wedge between Christian and Muslim Palestinians within Israel and the occupied West Bank. Continue reading “Playing Identity Politics: Israel’s Targeting of Palestinian Christians”

Netanyahu and Ethnic Cleansing

This week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a video in which he stated that those opposed to Israeli settlements in the West Bank are in fact advocating “ethnic cleansing” of Jews. In the video, Netanyahu attempts to contrast this nefarious goal with the supposed liberal pluralism of Israel by referencing Israel’s two million strong Palestinian population. The two-minute video earned an “unusually forceful” rebuke from the U.S. State Department with a spokesperson calling Netanyahu’s terminology “inappropriate and unhelpful.”

It is duplicitous for Netanyahu to use such terminology given the fact that Israel was founded as a result of an ethnic cleansing perpetrated by Zionist forces in 1948 which caused the expulsion of more than 750,000 Palestinians from their homes. The subsequent barring of reentry of these Palestinians, the destruction of more than 400 villages, and the setting of booby-traps and posting of border patrols to further discourage Palestinian return cemented this ethnic cleansing and the Jewish majority in Israel. Continue reading “Netanyahu and Ethnic Cleansing”