Israeli Journalist Amira Hass: Israeli Elections and Palestinian Refugees
Last week during Israeli elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that as long as he leads the country, there will be no Palestinian state, according to the Times of Israel. How can an Israeli government afford to ignore the humanitarian crisis in Gaza while Palestinian leadership advances international legal diplomatic action against Israel? How will these recent elections affect the future of the Palestinian state, Palestinian refugees and the right of return.
- I kept saying the right wing bloc is very strong and it won’t change beyond maybe some minor reconfiguration within the bloc. There won’t be a real shift even into the center.
- Netanyahu keeps saying, the left wing, the left wing, and he means the Zionist camp or Labor. Let’s make it clear, it’s at best center-right.
- The Labor Party paved the way for where we are today. The Labor Party are the real experts in the colonial enterprise. All these peacekeepers–Peres, Rabin, Begin–arranged a situation that leads nowhere, a status quo in favor of colonialism.
- The Palestinians gave us and gave Labor a golden opportunity in 1993 when they signed the Oslo Accords.
- The status quo keeps changing to favor the colonialist Israel.
- The Palestinians accepted Israeli society; it has its faults but also its things to like. They knew Israelis, they met them either at work or in prison, and they accepted Israeli society. They saw it. They knew it exists. It is there, you cannot make it disappear.
- Without the 12 years of Nazi rule, most of the Jews would not have chosen to immigrate to Palestine.
- Within the Oslo Accords, from the Palestinian side there was a potential of including these two historiographies that include the state of Israel.
- Palestinians are not a minority in the region. Indigenous Americans were made a minority very quickly with white immigration.
- The Palestinians are a majority in the region.
- Also, the Israeli policies, we have to be very strict about this, are not genocidal policies.
- The essence of Israeli oppression and colonialism is not about the elimination of the people, thankfully.
- It’s almost 70 years since the state of Israel and the Palestinians as a people, they grow. They were about 2-3 millions, and now they are about 13 million. So, we’re not talking about genocide.
- What Israel did very artfully–and this again is credited to the main colonialist philosophy of the Labor Party–it concentrated Palestinians into their areas. You look at the map and you see the Palestinian enclaves. Before Oslo, the map that everyone had in his or her mind – the map of the West Bank was Israeli settlements scattered like spots in the West Bank, which was considered Palestinian.
- There were all kinds of Palestinian villages and Palestinians had more freedom of movement.
- When you look at the geography of Palestinians in Israel, they are encircled in enclaves. They are deprived of their land.
- Israelis will not change the situation. That is true about any privileged group in the world.
- The good thing that these elections brought us is the Joint List of Arab-dominated parties.
Guest – Amira Hass is the only Israeli journalist to have spent several years living in and reporting from Gaza and the West Bank. Amira Hass writes a regular column in Ha’aretz newspaper, and is the author of Drinking the Sea at Gaza: Days and Nights in a Land Under Siege, and Reporting from Ramallah: An Israeli Journalist in an Occupied Land, and provided the forward and afterward for her mother Hanna Levy-Hass’s Diary of Bergen Belsen.
Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine
As the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement gains traction on college campuses, anti-Arab sentiment rears its head in many forms. For example, since the University of California Student Association passed a resolution recommending divestment, posters with violent images, calling Palestine solidarity activists anti-Semites and terrorists have appeared at multiple college campuses, including Drake University, DePaul, UMass Amherst, University of California, Irvine and the University of California, Los Angeles. We talk about that and also in another show of solidarity with Palestinians, the annual Jewish Voice for Peace national gathering, which had record attendance. Last summer’s assault on Gaza lead to a boom in JVP membership and donations, and a shift to the left among some liberal Zionists who decided to join JVP.
- Jewish Voice for Peace will continue to grow as the situation gets worse in Israel. That’s the productive tension from this conference.
- The Netanyahu win that you referenced is a gift to Jewish Voice for Peace and Students for Justice in Palestine and the larger Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement.
- There’s one stream of thought that as things get worse, as Netanyahu stays in office that it exposes the true face of Israel to the world.
- Since 2005, when hundreds of organizations within Palestinian society called for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions targeting Israel, the campus solidarity movement has grown exponentially.
- You have dozens of new Students for Justice in Palestine chapters cropping up, even Jewish Voice for Peace chapters on campus. They’re broadening the discourse on campus. They’re bringing up the issue of Palestinian human rights and they’re pushing for divestment resolutions.
- Most of the resolutions are symbolic because they can’t force the universities to divest but it does lead to a push in media coverage and an increase in solidarity with Palestine.
- The opposition has come out strongly. The opposition ranges from well-funded right-wing pro-Israel groups to even the Israeli government.
- It’s really remarkable; you have the Israeli consulate getting involved with campus politics in the U.S.
- It’s very easy for university presidents to come out against these incredibly hateful anti-Muslim posters. On the other hand, the same university presidents are part of this larger crackdown on Palestine solidarity on campus.
- Last year at Northeastern in Boston, they suspended their Students for Justice in Palestine chapter.
- Benjamin Netanyahu is the greatest gift to the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement.
- The tensions between Obama and Netanyahu and the disrespect that Netanyahu has shown to the U.S. president has created some space on the left for them to get their message out that the U.S. should not be funding Israel to the tune of $3.1 billion a year.
- The U.S. doesn’t care whether the Palestinians have a state or not. I don’t think this is a huge core issue of the Obama administration.
Guest – Alex Kane is a freelance journalist writing for Mondoweiss and a graduate student in Near East Studies at New York University.