Friday, July 8, 2011

Israel - Recent International Acquisitions

1 Government (Greek)
1 Coast Guard (Greek)
2 Airlines (Malev, Suiss) (information coming in about others)
1 Educational system (French)
A en croire une dépêche de l'Agence France Presse (AFP) datée du 4 juillet, « des passages de nouveaux manuels d'histoire contemporaine à destination des classes de première générale, contestés par des associations juives, vont être “modifiés” à l'occasion de l'impression des versions définitives, a


  1. Hagit,
    I believe you, perhaps unlike other activists, really are interested in a peaceful resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I don't see, however, how these provocative actions bring a resolution any closer. I think it's both the Israeli and Palestinian public we have to convince of the need to compromise, and both societies seem more open to do so than their leaders. Strengthening the siege mentality which the Israelis have and Bibi manipulates is not helpful in this regard.

  2. Dear Anonymous,

    How does a boat whose passengers consist of a bunch of tree hugging women and men, whose content has been checked, and which is entering non-Israeli water, strengthen the siege mentality?


  3. There are a number of ways in which the flotilla strengthens the siege mentality. First, though the activists this time seemed to be committed to non-violence, this was clearly not the case last year. Second, regardless of their actions, the words many of the activists use unambiguously question the existence of Israel. Israeli Jews will obviously feel threatened when someone uses language that does not recognize their rights, even within the 1967 lines. Third, the organizers refused now and in the past to have the content checked by Israel; even if there is good reason to think these particular ships contain no weapons, by letting them get to Gaza without inspection Israel would be allowing a precedent. The next ship could very well carry missiles.

  4. Lest we confuse siege-mentality with siege, I hope we can agree that the former is a type of disorder. One can only hope that with enough recurrence, the danger which Israeli Jews perceive in boatfuls of aged women and in peace activists landing in Ben Gurion Airport would collapse under the weight of its own absurdity. And if I were Netanyahu, I would be very worried indeed about the day in which it finally does. As to what would bring the solution 'closer', I am certainly open to helpful suggestions. In my rather limited experience of almost 4 decades, the boat initiative is one of the most successful ones, insofar as it has generated more publicity, more concern, and more concessions from Israel than anything else I can think of, and with relatively few, non-violent means.

    The organizers have agreed to have the content inspected by respectable international bodies - indeed, they have requested such an inspection. Insofar as the aim of the flotilla is to challenge the Israeli control of Gaza, agreeing to the boat being inspected by Israel defies the purpose. It is Israel who has refused to abide by any inspection other than Israeli one, for precisely the same reason that we refuse to allow it - it is not about aid or missles. It is about control which we challenge and which Israel is not about to relinquish.

    And finally, on the issue of words, the passengers of the flotilla vary hugely on their approach to Israel, in any borders, and as far as I can tell, not a single one of them questions the rights of Israeli Jews, something which you somehow take for granted without any evidence. While some of them may challenge the legal right of Israel to discriminate against its non Jewish citizens, or to continue to define its borders daily as it pleases, I have yet to come across any passenger, on the American boats or otherwise, who challenges the rights of Israeli Jews as individuals or as a collective. The point has been made repeatedly, but let me make it again nonetheless. Individuals have rights, and should have the right to exist, and to exist with freedom. Collectives, insofar as they are a valid expression of the individuals within them have rights. However, asserting the rights of institutions, political or otherwise, to exist is simply incoherent. Insofar as they exist, they have a legal status. But Israel, which undoubtedly exists, does not have a 'right' to exist any more than the Chase Manhattan Bank or the Roman Empire, and certainly not beyond being an institutional translation of the collective and individual rights of its citizens.

  5. The siege mentality is a mindset of fear and isolation, with some grounding in history and reality (see the 1948 Siege of Jerusalem, the Arab boycott, etc.) but obviously greatly amplified by politicians and the press. The activists also exacerbate this mindset; for example, by raising a sign that reads "Welcome to Palestine" at Ben-Gurion Airport. What does this achieve? Why not "Welcome to Israel and Palestine"? Does it not bolster the Israeli hardliners, who claim that any settlement based on the 1967 lines is only a Palestinian ploy towards one state in all of historical Palestine? Insofar as the overwhelming majority of Israeli Jews would not accept such a solution, I can see why they would feel threatened.

    I'm very skeptical that the siege mentality will "collapse" by virtue of actions like the flotilla. Instead, I think a better way to combat it and other obstacles to a peaceful resolution is through exposure and education; i.e. humanizing both sides. And there's some evidence that this works:

    Along the same lines, I'd suggest checking out The Givat Haviva Institute:

    "Founded in 1949 by the Kibbutz Artzi Movement, a federation of 83 kibbutzim throughout Israel, Givat Haviva Institute has been educating for peace, democracy, coexistence and social solidarity for half a century. Givat Haviva conducts a broad range of formal and informal programs that resist all forms of racism and discrimination, bridge the gaps in the fields of Jewish-Arab relations and promote greater understanding between different groups in Israeli society. Only in this manner can the moral foundation for achieving peace with the Palestinians and the Arab states be achieved."