Palestine coverage through 10 August

August 12, 2008

This week’s selection begins with coverage of carnage of Palestinian civilians at the hands of armed Israelis. As included in last week’s summary, not only did Israeli forces shoot live ammunition at the head of a 10-year old child at point-blank range during an anti-Wall protest in the village of Nilin, they also shot an 18-year old in the head during the first boy’s funeral. That second victim died at the beginning of this week according to the BBC in the first piece below. The second completes the gruesome pair by noting the extent to which Israel makes miserable the lives of Gazans. Here the Guardian offers an account of the Israeli refusal to allow disabled and chronically ill Gazans access to medical care unless they agree to serve as collaborators with the occupation.

Sadly, the selection of articles below also includes the painful news of Mahmoud Darwish’s untimely death. The eloquent voice of Palestinian dispossession, Darwish’s poetry has been a beacon of the Palestinian struggle for independence, peace and dignity. Other links to obituaries for Darwish have been posted elsewhere on this blog, but this selection concludes with the simple, sad news of his death.

In between, the selection covers the major items of the week including U.S. pressure on donors to funnel money to America’s chosen faction in Palestine and the final revocation of Fulbright grants to three Gazans after Israel refused to allow them to travel to be interviewed by the U.S. for visas and the U.S. acquiesced in Israel’s “security determinations” about these scholars. Electioneering was in full-swing in Israel this week — it is in this context that one should read Ehud Barak’s promise of new raids in Gaza and Shaul Mofaz’s pledge to keep all of Jerusalem. Gideon Levy’s article (#18 below) mocking the Israeli media’s penchant for treating Netanyahu as the only bogeyman on the Israeli political spectrum is spot-on, especially in light of the nature of the war-mongering-as-electoral-politics being undertaken by Livni, Barak and Mofaz with the blithe acceptance of the Israeli (and indeed world) public. There are a couple of articles covering new announcements of settlement activity (#9 and #16), a reflection by Israeli novelist Avraham Yehoshua on the adverse effects of occupation on Israel’s democracy.

Perhaps the most curious piece from this week’s media coverage of Israel-Palestine is Tanya Gold’s story in the Guardian (#6) following the lives of “Nazi-descended Jews living in Israel,” as it is captioned in the paper. The story reports on relatives of Waffen-SS men and even of Hitler who converted to Judaism and now live in Israel. Also included is coverage of Hebron settlers’ attack on a convoy of British diplomats. Finally, the Israelis have introduced a new tactic following fatalities from the use of live ammunition to disperse Palestinian crowds on the West Bank. They are calling the device the “skunk” — the description from Ynet (#19) is another monument to Israeli ingenuity in evolving more and more sophisticated weapons to dehumanize and pacify Palestinians. Read the rest of this entry »

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Palestine coverage through 3 August 08

August 4, 2008

The most momentous development of the week — at least according to the English-language press — in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the announcement by Olmert that he plans to step down after the Kadima party selects a new leader. In reality, the more important events may have taken place in Palestine — whether in the explosion last Friday (7/25) in Gaza that killed Hamas personnel and a 6-year old child and set off the worst intra-Palestinian fighting in a year (pushing factional talks of national unity back to square one), or in the escalation of violence by the IDF attempting to force nonviolent Palestinian protesters in Bilin and Nilin to a tipping point that will trigger the collapse of nonviolent protest.

The nonviolent protests of Palestinians, at any rate, generally receive no coverage unless the Israelis shoot and kill children at them. So it is that Nilin made the news this week when the IDF shot live ammunition at an 10-year old boy, killing him with a head wound. The Israeli response to this atrocity was to also fire live ammunition at his funeral and then to barricade the village itself. Also today, in an unexceptional parallel, Haaretz is reporting that Israeli settlers hurled a brick injuring a 7-year old Palestinian girl.

The selection of press coverage below reflects more comment on the Olmert resignation and its implications for the “peace process” than anything else, since the only significant commentary in English on the situation this week had that focus. There are also pieces giving an overview of the pretenders to Olmert’s throne — Shaul Mofaz and Tzipi Livni — neither of whom is the least bit desirable as the articles below make clear. Still, it remains a telling characterization of the PA leadership that they appear to be the only ones willing to mourn Olmert’s passing from the Israeli political scene (according to one piece below, the PA negotiators see Olmert’s departure as a “heavy blow”).

Finally, in a week when Obama — fresh from his rock-star reception abroad — has engaged in further back-pedaling on his positions of “principle” (some offshore drilling is acceptable; the military option against Iran must remain on the table, etc.), the selection closes with a fitting analysis from Al-Ahram Weekly that the Candidate of Change represents nothing but the status quo. Read the rest of this entry »