Voices critical of Israel’s role in the Middle East sometimes argue that its occupation of the West Bank, much of the Golan Heights and the Gaza Strip is imperialist in nature. Such criticism draws a parallel with 19th and 20th century European imperialism, casting the Palestinians as the indigenous inhabitants of the region and the Israelis as a hostile ‘foreign’ power. Another implication of this characterization, however, is that the occupation is economically motivated, or is best understood in economic terms. Today, to complement our discussion of ‘Economics, Politics and War’ last week, we examine some aspects of the political economy of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Specifically (and with the help of Miriam Qamar’s recent essay “Thoughts on the Dialectics of Revolution and Palestinian Nationalism”), we do so through a Marxist lens. » More
Following the breakdown of direct peace talks last autumn, the Palestinian Authority (PA) ruling the West Bank has now come to adopt a new diplomatic strategy: its aim is securing United Nations’ recognition of a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. And chances are that this plan will succeed.
Israel and the United States both oppose such a move, arguing a real solution can only be reached through negotiations. However, if no changes are made between now and September 2011, the UN is almost certain to declare a Palestinian state. And if a state of Palestine is declared, Israel will inevitably be put into the uncomfortable position of being considered an occupier of another UN-member country.
Hardly surprising, therefore, the Palestinian march towards statehood is unnerving both Israel and the United States. As a result they have come out with new peace plans to act as counterweights: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is to travel to Washington next month, where he will present his initiative, has not yet spelled out the content of his plan. However, it is said to include a repositioning of Israeli occupation forces in parts of the West Bank, as well as some improvements of Palestinian daily life. Furthermore, Israel is said to transfer some of the territories classified as Area B and Area C to Palestinian control. But not a single Jewish settlement will be dismantled. » More
On Sunday, 5 December 2010, Pope Benedict XVI called on the world to pray for “the victims of traffickers and criminals, such as the drama of the hostages, Eritreans and of other nationalities, in the Sinai desert”. By doing so, he lifted the lid on years of international indifference to the plight of the refugees fleeing from the East African chaos northwards towards safety. Shortly thereafter, the Israeli NGO Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) bolstered the papal call with a well-researched report showing that African refugees in Sinai are habitually tortured, assaulted, raped and held for ransom by smugglers hired to bring them through Egypt’s desert.
As a consequence of a number of ongoing human-rights crises in the Horn of Africa, the Sinai has turned into a major center for people trafficking. On their search for safety, the refugees become easy prey to agents of Bedouin traffickers who promise access to Israel via Egypt. Since 2007, the Sinai Bedouins have thus developed a well-established, sizable, and highly organized trafficking network. However, in addition to smuggling people across borders for money, the Bedouins in the Sinai habitually abuse the migrants under their control and hold them for ransom.
The traffickers hold the asylum seekers hostage in various locations across the Egyptian peninsula for weeks or months until their relatives pay thousands of dollars to secure their release. In order to exact those payments the traffickers hold the refugees in steel containers, depriving them of food and water. The defenseless Africans are tortured with hot irons, electric shocks, or whippings. Women are separated from the men, detained in secluded rooms, and subjected to repeated sexual abuse and rape at the hands of their captors. According to the PHR report, many migrants were abused in one or more of these ways every two to three days – sometimes for months – until the demanded money arrived.
In our latest Special Report we explored the heterogeneity and complexity of Israeli society- now you can put your knowledge to the test!
The heterogeneity and complexity of Israeli society is often ignored in the mainstream media, which focuses almost exclusively on Israeli foreign policy and the Arab-Israeli conflict. This week the ISN takes a closer look at the dynamics of Israeli society today, revealing a broad range of political viewpoints and visions of what the state of Israel is all about.
This week’s Special Report contains the following content, easily navigated along the tab structure above:
- An Analysis by Dominic Moran on the divides between secular and religious Jews and within Jewish religious communities.
- A Podcast interview with Haim Watzman, discussing the state of Israeli democracy and his political activism.
- Security Watch articles on the Arab-Israeli conflict and Israeli foreign policy issues.
- Publications housed in our Digital Library, including reports on Israel’s Gaza blockade.
- Primary Resources, including historical documents on the founding of the state of Israel.
- Links to relevant websites and articles on Israel.
- Our IR Directory, featuring a broad range of Jewish NGOs, such as the Yitzhak Rabin Center.