REBEL KITES

by Sarah Edgcumbe

“We are fighting for freedom. We are fighting for our smiles. We don’t care what the occupation thinks about us or what they will do. This is an act of defiance.”

The certainty of retribution implied within the above statement seems exaggerative for merely flying kites, but this is the reality in Burin, a village that holds fast among beautiful rolling hills in the countryside of the northern West Bank, and which is also surrounded by three illegal Israeli settlements. Centuries old, with a population of nearly three thousand, the villagers of Burin have long cared for this land. They’ve raised their families here for generations, celebrated births and marriages, supported each other, grown and harvested ancient olive trees, with roots that symbolize the hundreds of years of Palestinian toil that connect the people to this land. This land that Israel wants so badly but will never have. Continue Reading

PALESTINE SOLIDARITY: COMPULSORY DEFENCE OF HUMAN RIGHTS, NOT ANTI-SEMITISM

by Sarah Edgcumbe

CW: torture

May 2017 saw Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli detention uniting to take part in a hunger strike. Every Friday during the strike, street protests were held in solidarity and various other events took place under the motto ‘salt and water’. Some of my friends from Nablus, viewing horses as inextricable from ‘non-horsey’ aspects of life (their lives are absorbed by riding horses; taking selfies with horses; racing horses; breeding horses; bathing horses…) demonstrated solidarity non-violently by riding their horses into Nablus city centre, carrying Palestinian flags and calling for solidarity with the prisoners.Continue Reading

RUSSIA AND THE SYRIAN PROBLEM

by Gunnar Eigener

Content warning: mentions drone attacks, conflict, and terrorism.

While the US President, Donald Trump, has made it clear that the US presence in Syria was to carry out the extermination of Daesh, Russia’s intentions have always been to support their ally, Bashar al-Assad. Last September the Russian President, Vladimir Putin, made a surprise visit to Syria to announce that Russia had succeeded in its mission. While both might be correct, it is Putin who is in a more difficult position and the risk that Russia will be dragged further in has become ever more likely.

Syria was an opportunity for Putin’s Russia to flex its muscles on the international stage again after creating trouble in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea. Having already interfered in the election in the US and potentially in other elections in Europe, Russia remains largely unchallenged. Sanctions brought about by the US Congress do little to curb the ambitious plans of a nation seeking to relive past glories. Russia continues to forge relations with former satellite states and the lack of US involvement in NATO does nothing to deter the risk of another cold war breaking out in Eastern Europe. Yet, as with so many Western states, Russia has found itself stuck in the political and religious quagmire that is the Middle East.Continue Reading

DIGGING FOR PALESTINE IN THE AGE OF TRUMP

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by Jonathan Lee

Last week President Trump, with a push of his tiny thumb, attacked Palestinian leadership via Twitter and threatened to cut all US funding to Palestinian recipients. His angry tweets were in response to unrest across the occupied territories following his December recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, “that the Jewish people established in ancient times”. Despite the fact this came from Donald Trump, he does pose an interesting point. How accurate is this claim? How far back do the State of Israel’s ties to the land really go?Continue Reading

WHITENESS, PALESTINE AND ‘THE JEWISH STATE’

by Scott McLaughlan

Israel’s population is 74.7% Jewish, 20.8% Arab and 4.5% “other”. According to the latest population statistics, “those of European and American ancestry make up about 2.2 million (36%) of the Jewish population, while Africans fill out another 14.5% and Asians are 11.2%.”

That being said, there are also currently around 50,000 African Migrants in Israel, most of whom are from Eritrea or Sudan. Under the UN Refugee Convention (signed by Israel in 1954) no migrant can be forcibly returned to their country of origin. Israel currently abides by this convention, but systematically refuses to grant asylum to refugees, irrespective of their status and the potential danger and persecution they have fled.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Emmanuel Nahshon, recently spewed out the reason for the impasse: Asylum seekers threaten Israel’s identity. The Israeli cabinet has now approved the morally repugnant Holot migrant detention centre, in Israel’s Negev desert, for closure. As a result, two options were laid on the table: step up deportations or jail those who refuse to leave Israel.Continue Reading

TRUMP PLAYS HONEST BROKER: ‘FACTS ON THE GROUND’ & THE RECOGNITION OF JERSUSALEM

by Scott Mclaughlan

The latest disaster in US foreign policy since Donald Trump’s notoriously tiny hands grabbed hold of the levers of US power is the uni-lateral decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Trump’s decision and his failure to gain significant backing for the move at the United Nations, have dominated recent international coverage of Israeli politics and current affairs. Conveniently for the Israeli government, it has overshadowed the corruption investigations currently engulfing the Israeli Prime Minister and resident waxwork, Benjamin Netanyahu.Continue Reading

A PROMISE OF EVERYTHING AND NOTHING: THE BALFOUR DECLARATION 100 YEARS ON

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by Justin Reynolds

The Balfour Declaration carries the same incendiary charge as when it was first published a century ago this week.

For most Israelis, the short letter expressing British sympathy for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine continues to be venerated as the first formal recognition from one of the world’s great powers of the legitimacy of the Zionist enterprise.

For the Palestinians it still stands condemned as an act of imperialist chauvinism according to which, in the withering assessment of the (Jewish) writer Arthur Koestler, ‘one nation solemnly promised to a second nation the country of a third.’

The Declaration, so the conventional narrative goes, ignited a slow-burning process of settlement that had been edging forwards since the late 19th century.Continue Reading