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Newsletter 5-14-2021

Colin Powers
Colin Powers

Hi everyone. Thanks for subscribing. If you have the means, please consider becoming a paying member. If you have the inclination, please pass this newsletter around to others who might enjoy the read. Now onto this week's edition of No Craic, Mad Craic, and Great Craic.

No Craic

Prompted by a sitting Prime Minister desperate to retain his office (and with it, his immunity from legal prosecution), a coalition of Israeli state forces and seconded irregulars have mobilized to terrorize the Palestinian people. At the time of writing, brown shirts are lynching Palestinian citizens of Israel from Accre, Ramlah and Jaffa to Haifa with the blessing and assistance of Israel's domestic security services while the Israeli Defense Forces subject residents of Gaza to yet another campaign of collective punishment and makes noise of a coming land invasion. The government of Joe Biden, for its part, is actively providing diplomatic coverage for its Israeli partners at the United Nations, and the Foreign Ministries of Europe have shown themselves to be either effete or directly complicit in this sinful madness as well. As for Israel's new Arab allies--who had attempted to sell publics on their their historic capitulation by promising that they would be able to restrain Israel from the inside--they too have quickly fallen in line, deftly reading from the hymnal through which Israel's ongoing settler colonial project has long been legitimated.      

Where this goes from here is difficult to say. Large parts of the Israeli populace have demonstrated a thirst for a cleansing of the internal other (i.e. Palestinian citizens of Israel), while the Israeli government has expectantly demonstrated it has little interest in controlling the very mob it has spent decades whipping into a collective psychosis. Seen in conjunction with the fact that individuals close to Benjamin Netanyahu are making allusions toward conducting another "1948*" lest these internal others, currently protesting against repression with a boldness not seen in a very long time, simmer down, an intensification of (state-sanctioned) communal violence inside the greenline looks likely. Compounding whatever pogroms may follow, many Palestinian communities within Israel are also now to be subjected to a militarized system of surveillance, policing, and administrative detention not dissimilar to the one that Israel has subjected the Palestinians of the West Bank to since 1967, at least temporarily. As of Thursday, Netanyahu had dispatched the military to Lydda, and empowered it to use all the means referenced above in order to "restore order." The gerrymandered, ethnically-ascribed partitions of civil and military rule that undergird Israeli apartheid in the West Bank may be coming home at last.

(*1948 refers to the ethnic cleansing of 700,000 Palestinians that marked the birth of the Israeli nation state. The Israeli state and its many apologists in the media and academy have, of course, taken aggressive measures to erase, mystify, or distort this history, as its recognition disproves the country's founding myth--a land without a people for a people without a land--and renders efforts to morally legitimize the national project increasingly precarious. That a Netanyahu ally now leverages this history so to threaten a new nakba upon the Palestinian people only reveals the cruel cynicism that is basic to this and all other forms of settler colonialism.)

Outside 1948 Israel, one-time hope of the liberal American media Benny Gantz, serving as Defense Minister in Netanyahu's government, is pledging that the Israeli military will not cease its bombardment of Gaza until total quiet prevails. Airstrikes on Tuesday and Wednesday targeted mixed residential/commercial towers and health clinics, amongst other things, and by the time you read this, the death total will likely exceed 100.

That this show of force was ever intended to bring Hamas to heel is invalidated by Netanyahu's government having already rejected a ceasefire offered it by Haniyeh's lot. As for why Hamas responded to Netanyahu's provocations in the precise manner he desired, beyond their penchant for masturbatory displays of bravado, Hamas, like Fatah, cannot but have observed the brave popular mobilizations of non-partisan Palestinian youth over the past few weeks as a threat to their own standing as leader of the national movement. As was the case when Arafat et al attempted to co-opt the First Intifada, then, cometh the moment, cometh the geriatric authoritarians seeking to preserve their power. All of which of course redounds in Netanyahu's favor, who now looks set to use the backdrop of war in order to form a national unity government.

That this should ultimately culminate with Israeli troops patrolling the streets of Gaza seems improbable. Netanyahu's traditional risk intolerance when it comes placing his own soldiers in harms' way suggests his government may prefer to stick to the antiseptic combination of aerial bombardment and siege. That said, the Israeli demos' accelerating drift into fascistic sensibilities--a drift that has made tribalist outbidding a highly competitive electoral strategy for the political classes--may suffice to overcome Bibi's conservative instincts.        

In the occupied West Bank, Abu Mazen's Palestinian Authority has thus far continued to honor its Transkei arrangements with Israel. Steadfastly fulfilling the role of security subcontractor that has been bestowed upon it by the international community and the IDF, to date, the PA's security forces are succeeding in keeping the streets relatively quiet despite the horrific scenes at Al-Aqsa Mosque, the intensifying repression unfolding across 1948 Israel, and Gaza's enduring plight. That said, having disposed of whatever fragments of legitimacy his government still retained with the decision to delay elections last month, one cannot but wonder how long either Abbas himself or his men-in-arms can carry on in this way. If the events of the past weeks have shown the nature of the Israeli state in the plainest terms possible, the weeks to come are likely to cast the nature of the PA quasi-state into the starkest of reliefs as well. The bell may not yet toll for this decadent and calcified regime, though its survival is by no means inevitable.        

As for occupied Jerusalem, while an Israeli court has delayed making an official ruling on a settler movement's attempt at stealing Palestinian homes in Sheikh Jarrah, it is difficult to imagine this will prove to be anything more than a temporary abeyance. This being the case, continued popular resistance and the exertion of external pressure on Israel--principally from the United States--are the only hope these communities have of not being dispossessed and displaced. (For those less familiar with things, one should note that Sheikh Jarrah is located in East Jerusalem, territory illegally occupied by Israel since 1967, and territory where Israeli courts have no standing under international law. Notions that what is happening in Sheikh Jarrah is some kind of municipal real estate dispute is prima facie absurd. It is a land grab that is part of a long-running campaign aiming to fully colonize East Jerusalem, as one of the leaders of the settler's movement, Yonatan Yosef, expressly laid out back in 2009.)    

An age of subtlety ours is not. Nevertheless, images of Israelis carrying out their own kristallnacht against a long repressed minority is still shocking enough to take your breath away.

If you want more resources on any of these issues, please check out Jadaliyya's catalogue here.


Colin Powers

Colin received his PhD from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in 2020. He is a two-time Fulbright Fellow.