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Ed Webb

The Deportation of Omar Shakir: The Israeli Supreme Court and the BDS Movement - Lawfare - 0 views

  • Two judgments handed down just days apart—one by the Israeli Supreme Court and the other by the European Court of Justice—highlight a growing jurisprudential divide between Israeli and international courts on the status of Israeli settlements in the West Bank
  • On Nov. 12, the European Court of Justice ruled that Israeli food products from the West Bank and Golan Heights must be explicitly labeled as coming from “Israeli settlements,” rather than from Israel itself. The ruling, which cited European Union regulations designed to allow consumers to make informed choices about their food purchases, held that since international humanitarian law limits Israeli jurisdiction in these territories to that of an “occupying power,” it would be misleading to represent such products as being “from Israel.”
  • stakes of the long-anticipated Israeli Supreme Court judgment in Human Rights Watch v. Interior Minister, handed down just a week earlier. In its judgment, the court upheld a government decision to expel Human Rights Watch’s (HRW’s) Israel and Palestine director, Omar Shakir, from the country, based on a law barring entry by foreigners who promote boycotts of Israel or its West Bank settlements. The case marked the first time the court was called upon to rule on the law’s application to boycott-related activities directed primarily at the settlements, rather than at Israel itself.
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  • In 2015, in Avneri v. The Knesset, a divided court upheld most of the 2011 law, striking down a provision providing for punitive damages in civil tort cases and construing the law narrowly in order to limit liability to instances where there is a proven causal link to concrete damage. (For more on Avneri, see here and here.) Most significantly for our purposes, a majority of justices in Avneri upheld the law’s contentious provision (which applies equally to the 2017 amendment), equating settlement boycotts to boycotts against Israel as a whole.
  • A boycott directed at an individual company due to its specific behavior, by contrast (for example, because it engaged in discrimination or in some other problematic activity), would not risk running afoul of the law.
  • If actively promoting HRW’s stance on settlements is enough to demonstrate ongoing promotion of boycotts, any new employee could face similar consequences. Israeli employees of HRW, too, could face civil or administrative ramifications simply for implementing HRW’s stated policy of calling on businesses “to stop operating in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank as part of their duty to avoid complicity in human rights abuses.”
  • Back in 2016, when HRW first requested a foreign expert visa for Shakir, an American citizen, the Foreign Ministry objected on the grounds that HRW itself was biased against Israel, “falsely waving the flag of human rights” in the service of “Palestinian propaganda.” Shortly thereafter, the ministry withdrew its objection, citing political and diplomatic considerations, and the Interior Ministry granted Shakir his visa. An administrative petition by the right-leaning organization Shurat HaDin, among others, led to an additional reversal, and the visa was revoked. The new decision was based on a memorandum issued by the Strategic Affairs Ministry (charged in Israel with heading up the fight against BDS), which argued that the problem was Shakir himself—who had called in the past for boycotts of Israel and the settlements—rather than HRW
  • The appellants, for their part, challenged the constitutionality of the 2017 amendment, arguing that even though foreigners don’t have a right to enter the country, they should not be denied a visa or fear deportation for expressing unpopular views. Mainly, they claimed, the law violates the free speech and equality rights of Israelis (and Palestinians), whose ability to engage freely with foreigners the government doesn’t agree with is limited by the law. They also argued that Shakir’s activities—particularly those undertaken on behalf of HRW—shouldn’t be considered boycott activities, since they were motivated by a desire to combat specific human rights violations and to encourage private corporations to respect their human rights obligations under international law
  • While once again acknowledging that the law doesn’t apply to boycotts targeting specific behaviors, the court stated: An individual who negates the very legitimacy of the State of Israel or its control of the Area, and seeks to undermine it through a boycott, is [included in the law], even if he disguises his position with the rhetoric of human rights or international law. The test is a substantive one, and the words the de-legitimization campaign wraps itself in do not grant it immunity.
  • Several amici from both sides of the political spectrum, including NGO Monitor, Shurat HaDin and Amnesty International, submitted briefs to the court. A group of former foreign service officials also joined the proceedings as amici, arguing that removing Shakir would cause substantial and lasting damage to Israel’s image as an open and democratic society.
  • In Human Rights Watch, the court clarified that what is at stake is also, potentially, the “delegitimization of Israel and of its policy” (emphasis added).
  • the boycott laws, coupled with the court’s continued acquiescence to the law’s conflation of Israel with Israeli settlements, threaten to impair the ability of citizens and noncitizens alike to engage in free discourse on one of the most difficult issues facing the country. They risk undermining the ability of human rights groups to defend human rights and promote respect for international law when their positions and interpretations of the law do not align with those of the Israeli government. They also threaten to further erode the all-important distinction in a democracy between delegitimization of the country itself and criticism of government policy
  • a growing disconnect between the discourse on settlements in Israel (and now, perhaps, the United States) and abroad
Ed Webb

The problems with an increasingly dominant definition of anti-Semitism (opinion) - 0 views

  • The problem, of course, is that when a state’s actions and its government’s policies cannot be critiqued, then the pursuit of knowledge and academic freedom are threatened. If successful, Israel’s use of the anti-Semitism charge to silence serious and well-grounded criticism could very well become the template for other countries, including the United States government, and powerful corporations to mobilize different kinds of hate-speech accusations to protect rights-abusive behavior.
  • the examples marginalize the kinds of anti-Jewish attacks in recent years -- from Pittsburgh to Halle, Germany -- that have resulted in mass casualties or the broader rise of fascism in the United States with its deeply ingrained anti-Semitism, as evidenced by the Jan. 6 riots at the Capitol.
  • not surprising that concern about the IHRA definition has been growing. Professional associations, such as the British Society for Middle East Studies, student groups and more than 100 Palestinian and Arab academics and intellectuals have argued that the IHRA definition is being used to stifle not just criticism of Israel but also, and more widely, support for Palestinian rights. Roughly 200 international scholars working in anti-Semitism studies and related fields -- including Jewish, Holocaust, Israel, Palestine and Middle East studies -- just drafted the Jerusalem Declaration on Anti-Semitism, a new definition that responds to the IHRA one and is inspired by the 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the 1969 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Their aim is twofold: 1) to strengthen the fight against anti-Semitism by clarifying what it is and how it is manifested and 2) to protect a space for an open debate about the vexed question of the future of Israel/Palestine. Meanwhile, 40 Jewish organizations including the fastest growing -- and explicitly anti-Zionist -- Jewish organization in the United States, Jewish Voice for Peace, have “unequivocally opposed” the IHRA definition, precisely because its focus on Israel gives the definition a “strong potential for misuse.”
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  • the fact that the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance drafted the definition creates an immediate association with the Holocaust. That makes it exceedingly difficult to question the definition’s accuracy or motives.
  • Considering that most universities have robust guidelines that prohibit racist or anti-Semitic utterances, the adoption of the IHRA definition does not add substantive content that might help reduce hate speech on campuses. Moreover, antiracist working groups within universities that we have spoken to are all vehemently against adopting the IHRA definition. Even the primary author of the definition himself, Kenneth Stern, has declared that “right-wing Jews are weaponizing it,” nowhere more so than on college campuses. As he put it, the widespread use of the definition on campuses “will harm not only pro-Palestinian advocates but also Jewish students and faculty, and the academy itself.”
  • all of Israel’s governments, from 1948 until the present, have equated Israel with the Jewish people. The equation is based, however, on an empirical fallacy, since more than half of the worldwide Jewish population does not live in Israel, more than 20 percent of the country’s citizens are not Jews, and an additional five million stateless Palestinians live within the area that Israel controls
  • authorities have charged people who have criticized Israel with being anti-Semitic at several institutions in the United States where local jurisdictions have adopted the IHRA definition. There are currently ongoing investigations at Rutgers University, Duke University and the University of North Carolina, with another pending investigation at New York University. These attacks appear to be the harbinger of things to come. They are destructive not only for academic freedom but also for antiracist struggles on campuses.
  • institutionalized Jewish life in the diaspora has, for over half a century, focused on supporting Israel. Thus, the IHRA definition serves the purposes of mainstream Jewish organizations quite well, especially when it comes to policing speech in the media and in cultural spheres as well as on college campuses
  • while the IHRA document casts the definition as legally “nonbinding,” and therefore not capable of stifling free speech and academic freedom, it is packaged as especially relevant for law enforcement agencies and for “training police officials.” The impact of the document is thus clear: its “nonbinding” designation frames the definition as benign and distracts us from how it is being used to surveil and even criminalize critical speech about Israel.
  • it allows conservative and even moderate political forces to discipline, silence and marginalize progressive voices against racism, poverty, the climate crisis, war and predatory capitalism. Palestinians have managed to globalize their struggle for self-determination, and progressives of different stripes has championed their cause over the years. Yet now if Black Lives Matter, climate, Indigenous or feminist activists voice support for the Palestinian cause while criticizing Israel, they can be branded anti-Semitic, which can, in effect, delegitimize the other progressive issues such activists support.
  • “The official stance of Hillel against any collaboration with anti-Zionist or BDS-supporting (which is considered anti-Semitic according to the IHRA) groups on or off campus prevents Jewish students from working with other social and racial justice and interfaith groups, including progressive Jewish groups. We can't work to unite against white supremacy or engage with Black-Palestinian solidarity groups because these groups support BDS, even though many Jewish students support BDS as well.”
  • it also allows Israel to create alliances with anti-Semites
  • this kind of devil's bargain will not end up benefiting Jews, particularly those in the diaspora. Only the most honest and robust debate about Israel and Zionism, on campus as well as more broadly, will ensure Jewish students and the wider Jewish community are truly protected from anti-Semitism and can participate most fully in the struggles for social, racial, economic and climate justice that have finally been foregrounded today.
Ed Webb

Pompeo expected to announce process for U.S. to label groups anti-Semitic - POLITICO - 0 views

  • In recent weeks, as first reported by POLITICO, Pompeo had been weighing whether to label Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Oxfam as anti-Semitic because of their alleged actions toward the Israeli government. Had Pompeo named the groups, the plan was to say the U.S. would not support the organizations and to urge other governments also not to support such groups, financially or otherwise. That proposal, however, drew fierce internal pushback from some State Department staffers, as well as external condemnation from lawmakers and other critics.
  • The three groups receive either no or relatively little funding from the U.S. government or any government, depending on which of their branches is being considered. Still, supporters of the organizations said that by targeting them, Pompeo would send a major signal to dictators and other leaders overseas that it’s acceptable to crack down on these and similar organizations.
  • uncertain that any process Pompeo establishes to designate groups as anti-Semitic would be retained by the next administration.
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  • expected to rely in part on the working definition of the term anti-Semitism as established by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, a group of nations that includes the United States. Some interpretations of the IHRA definition argue that groups that support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement should be declared anti-Semitic.
  • Supporters of designating Oxfam, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International as anti-Semitic allege that they back the BDS movement. But Oxfam representatives say their organization does not support the movement, while Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International say they do not take a position on it.
  • Some also argue that, while the three rights organizations on paper may not support the BDS movement, they do so in practice, by issuing reports critical of certain Israeli actions.
Ed Webb

Deterrence, Mass Atrocity, and Samantha Power's "The Education of an Idealist" - 0 views

  • In Power’s Pulitzer Prize-winning A Problem from Hell, American force is one of many foreign policy tools that can and should be bent toward civilian protection and atrocity prevention globally; for many of her critics from the left, American force is to be dismantled; for many of her critics from the right, American force should serve core national security interests and nothing more.
  • In A Problem from Hell, Power argues that US policymakers did not act to stop genocide because they did not want to; in her memoir, she relates how a room full of civil servants whose thinking had been shaped by her first book found themselves in a years-long limbo over complex human disasters in Syria and Libya. Together, these cases constitute a real-time test of the “toolbox” of interventions Power first proposed at the end of A Problem from Hell; together, they reveal both the problem at the heart of her theory of foreign policy, and the still all-too-slender slate of effective policy alternatives to force across the political spectrum.
  • Libya and Syria serve as parallel cases through which questions about the US’s role in the world are refracted. The standard narrative is as follows: the US intervened in Libya under the guise of preventing mass atrocities, this intervention ended first in regime change and then in a failed state, and Libyans now live in enduring danger; the US did not intervene to protect civilians during the Syrian Civil War, war snarled the full region into conflict, and today Syrian civilians continue to die in unspeakable ways and uncounted numbers. At each stage, the narrative is in fact more complicated, particularly if we begin by asking whether the US did in fact prevent mass atrocity in Libya and end by noting the U.S. did in fact intervene in Syria in multiple ways, but the broad lines are still instructive for understanding public debate. Would Libyans have been better off in the absence of an American-led intervention, or would they have been worse off? Would Syrians have been better off for U.S. intervention, or would they have been worse off for it?
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  • the implicit promise of force underlies each alternative set of policies Power proposes. Actors who are willing to abandon mass atrocity campaigns voluntarily may be easily deterred — but actors committed to a mass atrocity campaign could find themselves diplomatically isolated, operating under economic sanction, or threatened by prosecution, and still continue to wage campaigns of death. “Stop this or else” undergirds threats when a powerful actor makes them. The toolbox’s logic is ultimately escalatory as a result: force is a tool of last resort, but no other tool works without the latent presence of American military force.
  • confronting ongoing or imminent atrocities can require quickly shifting perpetrators’ incentives. In the immediate aftermath of the Libyan protests, for instance, Power argues rapid, joint Security Council and American action “was probably the best example in history of governments hastily using a vast array of “tools in the toolbox” to try to deter atrocities.” But this proved insufficient: “The pressures that the United States and other countries were imposing on Qaddafi’s regime would take months to reach their full effect, and we had run out of further nonmilitary steps to take to try to affect the Libyan leader’s near-term calculus.”
  • “While administration officials could say they had imposed consequences on Assad’s regime for crossing the red line, they could not specific the nature of these consequences in any detail,” she writes. “Since even Assad didn’t know the particulars of the cost he would be bearing, he seemed unlikely to be deterred from carrying out further attacks.”
  • American military force underwrites other dimensions of statecraft, and mobilizes when other deterrent measures have failed. But the problem, then, is not simply, as her critics allege, that Samantha Power is a hawk, or that she doesn’t understand which conflicts constitute core American interests — the problem is that all deterrent models of atrocity prevention rest on the threat of force.
  • UN peacekeepers are the largest deployed force in conflict zones today; UN peacekeeping constitutes an enormous part of the Security Council’s agenda; the UN peacekeeping budget is separate from and larger than the UN’s operational budget; and a heated debate on the use of force by UN peacekeepers has now been running over twenty years. Peacekeeping is an effective tool that works best when it is all carrots and few sticks — but peacekeepers today are usually charged with protecting civilians under threat of imminent violence, as well. They rarely use force, and while they seem to protect civilians from rebels well, they struggle more to protect civilians from government forces.
  • Historically, when deterrence fails, the UN Security Council has outsourced this work — instead of sending in the Marines, for example, the UN instead turns to the French, as they did in the Central African Republic, or British Special forces, as they did in Sierra Leone, or — yes — NATO, as they did in the former Yugoslavia and then Libya.
  • discussions about US restraint are nearly entirely divorced from these extremely active debates about the use of force in UN peacekeeping — and considering the two together is instructive
  • a military with stunningly excess capability demands we continually interrogate its purpose; people who live under imminent threat of violence are not marginal to US foreign policy interests unless we define them that way; and the US outsources most conflict management to the UN system, which then relies on the military might of its member states to wield force in the places most dangerous for civilians
  • If unwilling actors cannot be swayed save by the use of force, and we are reluctant to use force for practical or ethical reasons, then we are left with two options: we can address the root causes of conflict, and we can help those refugees and internally displaced people who manage to escape violence. The first set of options requires reimagining the fundamental structures of foreign policy; the second set of options is currently so politically unpopular that it is remaking domestic politics across refugee-receiving countries
Ed Webb

A New History for a New Turkey: What a 12th-grade textbook has to say about Turkey's future - Nicholas Danforth : ΕΛΙΑΜΕΠ - 0 views

  • Rather than simply serving as crude propaganda for Erdoğan’s regime, Contemporary Turkish and World History aspires to do something more ambitious: embed Turkey’s dominant ideology in a whole new nationalist narrative. Taken in its entirety, the book synthesizes diverse strands of Turkish anti-imperialism to offer an all-too-coherent, which is not to say accurate, account of the last hundred years. It celebrates Atatürk and Erdoğan, a century apart, for their struggles against Western hegemony. It praises Cemal Gürsel and Necmettin Erbakan, on abutting pages, for their efforts to promote Turkish industrial independence. And it explains what the works of both John Steinbeck [Con Şıtaynbek] and 50 Cent [Fifti Sent] have to say about the shortcomings of American society.
  • Turkey has long had competing strains of anti-Western, anti-Imperialist and anti-American thought. In the foreign policy realm, Erdogan’s embrace of the Mavi Vatan doctrine showed how his right-wing religious nationalism could make common cause with the left-wing Ulusalcı variety.[5] This book represents a similar alliance in the historiographic realm, demonstrating how the 20th century can be rewritten as a consistent quest for a fully independent Turkey.
  • Ankara is currently being praised for sending indigenously developed drones to Ukraine and simultaneously criticized for holding up Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership. Contemporary Turkish and World History sheds light on the intellectual origins of both these policies
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  • Among the 1930s cultural and intellectual figures given place of pride are Albert Einstein, Pablo Picasso and John Steinbeck. Guernica is reproduced in an inset about Picasso, illustrating the artist’s hatred of war. (47) A lengthy excerpt from the Grapes of Wrath concludes with Steinbeck’s denunciation of depression-era America: “And money that might have gone to wages went for gas, for guns, for agents and spies, for blacklists, for drilling. On the highways the people moved like ants and searched for work, for food. And the anger began to ferment.”
  • The book places added emphasis on the harsh terms imposed on Germany at Versailles. Prefiguring the later treatment of Al Qaeda terrorism, the intention appears not so much to justify Nazism, but rather to present injustice as the causal force behind violence and cruelty in world politics.
  • the Holocaust instead appears here as one among several examples of Western barbarity
  • The foundation of the UN is immediately followed by a discussion of Israel under the heading “Imperial Powers in the Remaking of the Middle East.” (80-81) The Palestine problem, students learn, is the principal cause of conflict in the region. It began when the Ottoman Empire, “the biggest obstacle to the foundation of a Jewish state,” grew weak, leading to the creation of Israel.
  • Next comes a discussion of the post-war financial order and the International Monetary Fund. Students learn that “the IMF’s standard formula, which recommends austerity policies for countries in economic crises, generally results in failure, chaos and social unrest.” (81-83) An excerpt, which students are then asked to discuss, explains how the IMF prescribes different policies for developed and developing countries.
  • only in the context of the Cold War origins of the EU does the book engage in any explicitly religious clash-of-civilizations style rhetoric. The idea of European unity is traced back to the Crusades, while a quote about the centrality of Christianity to European identity appears under a dramatic picture of Pope Francis standing with European leaders. (112) The next page states that the EU’s treatment of Turkey’s candidacy, coupled with the fact that “all the countries within it were Christian” had “raised questions” about the EU’s identity.
  • Early Cold War era decolonization also provides an opportunity to celebrate Atatürk’s role as an anti-imperialist hero for Muslims and the entire Third World. (122-123) “Turkey’s national struggle against imperialism in Anatolia struck the first great blow against imperialism in the 20th century,” the authors write. “Mustafa Kemal, with his role in the War of Independence and his political, economic, social and cultural revolutions after it, served as an example for underdeveloped and colonized nations.” Atatürk himself is quoted as saying, in 1922, that “what we are defending is the cause of all Eastern nations, of all oppressed nations.” Thus, the book explains that “the success of the national struggle brought joy to the entire colonized Islamic world, and served as a source of inspiration to members of other faiths.” The section ends with quotes from leaders such as Jawaharlal Nehru, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and Habib Bourguiba about how Atatürk inspired them in their own anti-imperial struggles or was simply, in Nehru’s words, “my hero.” An accompanying graphic shows Atatürk’s image superimposed over a map with arrows pointing to all the countries, from Algeria to Indonesia, whose revolutions were supposedly influenced by Turkey’s War of Independence.
  • Amidst the polarization of the Erdoğan era, what is striking in this book is the authors’ efforts to weave together the conflicting strands of Turkish political history into a coherent narrative. Illustrating Ernst Renan’s argument about the role of forgetting in nation-building, this account glosses over the depth of the divisions and hostility between rival historical actors, presenting them as all working side by side toward a common national goal
  • Selçuk Bayraktar, the architect of Turkey’s drone program, said that as a student “I was obsessed with Noam Chomsky.” [16] During the 1980s and 90s, America sold Ankara F-16 jets and Sikorsky helicopters that were used to wage a brutal counterinsurgency campaign in southeast Anatolia. No one was more critical of this than left-wing scholars like Chomsky.[17] Now, Ankara is selling Bayraktar drones to Ethiopia, where they are being used to kill civilians and destroy schools in another violent civil war.
  • The narrative of national independence also helps smooth over Turkey’s Cold War domestic divides. Students are introduced to the ‘68 Generation and left-wing leaders likes Deniz Gezmiş as anti-imperialists protesting against the U.S. Sixth Fleet in support of a fully independent Turkey. (185-186)[9] In this context, Baskin Oran’s work is again cited, this time quoting Uğur Mumcu on the role of “dark forces,” presumably the CIA, in laying the groundwork for Turkey’s 1971 coup.
  • The book also offers a relatively neutral treatment of political activism during the ensuing decade, suggesting that rival ideological movements were all good faith responses to the country’s challenges. On this, the authors quote Kemal Karpat: “Both right and left wing ideologies sought to develop an explanation for social phenomena and a perspective on the future. A person’s choice of one of these ideologies was generally the result of chance or circumstance.” (202) Thus the authors imply that while foreign powers provoked or exploited these movements, the individual citizens who participated in them can be given the benefit of the doubt. Interestingly, the book takes a similar approach in discussing the 2013 Gezi protests: “If various financial interests and foreign intelligence agencies had a role in the Gezi Park events, a majority of the activists were unaware of it and joined these protests of their own will.”
  • Turkey’s real struggle in the 21st century, as in the 20th, is against dependence on foreign technology
  • a book which begins with a portrait of Atatürk ends with a photo of the Bayraktar TB2.
  • the book’s biases are less in the realm of wild distortion and more reminiscent of those that plague ideologically infused nationalistic history education in all too many countries
  • its exaggerated critique of European imperialism may be no more misleading than the whitewashing still found in some European textbooks
  • At moments, Contemporary Turkish and World History is better aligned with recent left-leaning scholarship than the patriotic accounts many Americans grew up reading as well
  • Throughout the 20th century, America defined itself as the world’s premier anti-imperialist power, all while gradually reproducing many of the elements that had defined previous empires.[11] Today, it often seems that Turkey’s aspirations for great power status reflect the facets of 20th century American power it has condemned most vigorously
  • Turkey’s marriage of power projection and anti-colonial critique have been particularly visible – and effective – in Africa. Ankara has presented itself as an “emancipatory actor,” while providing humanitarian aid, establishing military bases, selling weapons across the continent.[13] In doing so, Turkish leaders have faced some of the same contradictions as previous emancipatory actors. In August 2020, for example, members of Mali’s military overthrew a president with whom Erdoğan enjoyed good relations. Ankara expressed its “sorrow” and “deep concern.”[14] Then, a month later, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu became the first foreign official to meet with the country’s new military leaders. “Like a brother,” he “sincerely shared” his hopes for a smooth “transition process” back to democracy
  • The authors also offer a balanced treatment of the fraught domestic politics during the period from 1945 to 1960 when Turkey held its first democratic election and experienced its first coup. (138-142, 144-146) They focus their criticism on the negative impact of U.S. aid, arguing that Washington intentionally sought to make Turkey economically and politically dependent, then sponsored a coup when these efforts were threatened.
  • certain themes dominate Contemporary Turkish and World History. At the center of its narrative is the struggle for global hegemony, in military, economic, technological and artistic terms
Ed Webb

Jadaliyya - 0 views

  • in exchange for a slew of Palestinian strategic concessions, Israel magnanimously agreed to negotiate the PLO’s terms of surrender.
  • The Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, as the Oslo Accord is formally called, is only a few pages long and largely free of technical jargon, and well worth reading for those who haven’t done so. It contains not a single reference to “occupation”, “self-determination”, “statehood”, or anything of the sort. Rather, Palestinians were to exercise limited autonomy, within limited areas of the occupied territories (excluding East Jerusalem), from which Israeli forces would “redeploy” rather than withdraw
  • the issues that had the greatest impact were the effective abandonment of the refugees, who constitute the majority of the Palestinian people, by the leadership; the political-institutional fragmentation of the Palestinian people; the indefinite suspension of the national agenda in exchange for economic reconstruction that was unlikely to materialize (as it stands the Palestinian economy is today but a shadow of what it was in 1993); and the transformation of the national movement into a local authority
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  • Things have turned out very much worse than Oslo’s bitterest critics could have imagined, particularly in the Gaza Strip and Jordan Valley
  • The second enabling policy was Israel’s relentless campaign of mass violence throughout the occupied territories, and the Gaza Strip in particular, to crush the 1987-1993 uprising. It didn’t succeed, but as Graham Usher perceptively noted at the time, it did lay the basis for widespread Palestinian acquiescence, and quite a bit of enthusiasm, in these territories for the false promises of Oslo. 
  • Colonization of course commenced immediately after Israel occupied and initiated the “creeping annexation” of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in June 1967, but Oslo was nevertheless a critical turning point. Although the settlement enterprise constitutes a grave breach of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention and a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (which is the primary reason Israel refused to ratify it), the Oslo Accords as a matter of design make no reference to international law. Further, the sponsor of the Oslo process, the United States, has spared no effort to ensure that international law is not applied to Israeli conduct towards the Palestinians beyond the confines of Oslo, that it is not held accountable for its actions, and that it can continue to act with unrestricted impunity. In other words, the United States ensured that Oslo was implemented beyond the purview of the norms and rules established to govern international conduct. 
  • Israel’s response to the 1994 Hebron Ibrahimi Mosque massacre by a fanatic Israeli-American settler, which it instrumentalized to further entrench its control over Hebron and the mosque rather than confront the settlers, provided an early, definitive indication in this regard. It bears recalling that this response was led by Rabin, his fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shimon Peres, and their military commander Ehud Barak, not Binyamin Netanyahu or Itamar Ben-Gvir.
  • Every time Israel engaged in a new act of colonization, such as the construction of the Har Homa settlement on Jabal Abu Ghnaim in 1997, it was tolerated on the pretext of keeping the process alive
  • If, for the sake of argument, we take claims that Oslo was supposed to conclude with Palestinian statehood seriously, ignoring reality on the ground on the pretext of preserving the diplomatic process helped ensure its failure.
  • A second key Israeli policy enabled by Oslo is Palestinian fragmentation
  • Israel succeeded in making Oslo’s transitional phase a permanent arrangement, in the process transforming the Palestinian Authority (PA) into a local subsidiary of the Israeli state
  • if a Palestinian from the West Bank or Gaza Strip seeks to pursue a claim against Israel for an act committed between 1967 and 1995, let’s say against the Israeli military for unlawful use of force in 1976 or during the 1987-1993 uprising that rendered the claimant quadriplegic, the PA is under an obligation to ensure that the claimant brings the case before a Palestinian rather than Israeli court, and that any financial judgement by that court in the claimant’s favor is paid out by the PA rather than Israel. If the claimant despite the above brings the case before an Israeli court, and an Israeli judge rules in the claimant’s favor, on account of unlawful actions by the Israeli military years before the PA even existed, the PA is required to immediately reimburse Israel the full amount of compensation awarded to the Palestinian by the Israeli court. Article XX perfectly encapsulates the thoroughly lopsided nature of Oslo, the imbalance of power it codified, Israel’s insistence upon achieving retroactive impunity, and its determination to hold its victims responsible for its crimes against them. In my view nothing better demonstrates that this is a conflict between occupier and occupied and nothing else.
  • the enormous economic windfall Israel derived from the Oslo Accords and its integration into the global economy. Most importantly it led the Arab League to renounce its boycott of Israel and – crucially – of companies that do business with Israel. For all its shortcomings this boycott was exponentially more effective than the current Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, and for example kept major Japanese and South Korean firms out of Israel and quite a few Western ones out of the Arab world. It is often forgotten that during the 1970s and 1980s Israel was something of an international pariah, but in the wake of the 1991 Madrid Middle East diplomatic conference and thereafter Oslo was able to normalize relations with much of Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia
  • While Oslo promised Palestinian economic development in exchange for political paralysis, growth materialized only temporarily from the desultory baseline where it stood in 1993 at the conclusion of a prolonged uprising. A sharp reversal in fact commenced in the years leading up to the 2000 eruption of the Al-Aqsa Intifada on account of Israeli policy, and this deterioration has continued at an accelerated pace ever since. What Oslo did achieve was to catapult Israel into the ranks of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), of which it has since 2010 been a full member. It is virtually inconceivable Israel would have acquired this status without Oslo.
  • Palestinians, whether within the West Bank and Gaza Strip, within Israel, in its prison system, or in the diaspora, have been organizing and resisting in myriad ways. Most importantly, they have despite massive and systematic state violence and repression, and betrayal by their own leaders and Arab governments, refused to surrender – putting into practice “the power of refusal” advocated by Said. In doing so the Palestinians have retained the overwhelming support of the international community, and even in the West public opinion increasingly recognizes that Israel is a structurally racist, colonial state
  • when the succession commences Israel is likely to promote a model where different Palestinian population concentrations – Hebron-Bethlehem, Ramallah, Jericho, Nablus-Salfit-Jenin, Qalqilya-Tulkarm – are administered by a series of local chieftains
  • even this model, a regional version of the failed Village Leagues of the 1980s, may prove unpalatable to the lunatics currently running the Israeli asylum. These are forces agitating for wholesale, formal annexation and then some, and which thanks to the inexorable rightward shift of Israeli society, and international and regional support and acquiescence (not unrelated phenomena) are only gaining in strength and power.
Ed Webb

Turkey's "anti-colonial" pivot to Mali: French-Turkish competition and the role of the European Union in the Sahel - Ioannis N. Grigoriadis and Dawid A. Fusiek : ΕΛΙΑΜΕΠ - 0 views

  • Turkey uses anti-colonial discourse to exploit postcolonial sentiments with a view to challenging the political and economic power of Western actors, to portraying Turkey as a legitimate and “anti-colonial” ally and partner and, in the long run, to establishing a robust Turkish presence in Mali, the Sahel and beyond
  • Despite initially employing anti-colonial and anti-imperialist arguments to fan winds of solidarity (Zarakol, 2011, 125–135, 148), Mustafa Kemal subsequently championed the Westernization of Turkey with a view to transforming it into a modern, European, Western -rather than a “postcolonial”- country, a policy in which he diverged from other regional actors
  • The focus on postcolonial discourse intensified following the 2016 coup attempt, which was presented as an attempt by “Western colonialist forces” to topple Turkey’s legitimate government
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  • the AKP’s postcolonial discourse has served domestic revisionist policies. As Capan and Zarakol (2017) show, President Erdoğan has employed it both to justify Turkey’s democratic backsliding and to deflect Western criticism of Turkish foreign policies
  • In August 2020, Erdoğan portrayed the visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to Lebanon in the wake of the August 2020 Beirut explosion as an attempt to “restore colonial order” and as “chasing after photos or doing spectacles in front of cameras” (The Brussels Times, 2020). A similar discourse has been employed to criticize French-led security operations in the Sahel region. In this context, Mali has emerged as a focal point of French-Turkish rivalry
  • Its growing interest in Mali has brought Turkey into loggerheads with France, the leading European actor in the region. The two states have conflicting interests in regions extending from Transcaucasia, Libya and the Eastern Mediterranean to Western Africa. However, the growing French-Turkish competition in the Sahel has recently acquired increased resonance as the latter has sought to play a more significant role in a region traditionally within the French sphere of influence
  • The coup and anti-French protests presented an opportunity for Turkey to extend its influence in Mali, promote its ambitious African policy, and make use of anti-colonial discourse.
  • Ankara had given five million USD in 2018 to the G5 Sahel force, a regional coalition that had begun in that year to deploy troops from Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger to fight Islamist militants in the tri-border area conjoining Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. It had also been hosting Malian officers for training in Turkey and supplying Mali’s army with light weapons and ammunition
  • Ankara has sought to make use of the growing polarisation within the international system, African fears of dependency on China and Russia, and the troubled essence of relations between the West and Africa
  • Turkey has emphasized its shared historical, cultural and economic ties with African states. Already, in a speech delivered in 2015, Erdoğan placed the origins of the economic ties back in the sixteenth century, while also stating that “The goal of Turkey, which does not have the stain of colonialism in its history, is to improve its relations with Mali and all other African countries based on equal partnership”
  • that Mali has shared religious ties with Turkey, but not with France and other Western powers, is another key aspect of Turkey’s approach. The AKP administration has sought to employ religion as a diplomatic tool to sway the Malian government towards Turkey. The Turkish government had a mosque erected in an upscale neighbourhood of the capital for the High Islamic Council of Mali, the country’s most powerful religious association, and another restored in former President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta’s hometown (Hernández, 2020). Turkey has capitalized on its increasing popularity with Africa’s Muslim populations, particularly in the Horn of Africa, where communities have been more sympathetic to Erdoğan’s overtures. Indeed, Erdoğan has long been trying to position Turkey as a protecting power for Muslims across the entire world
  • While the EU’s interventions in Mali reinforce the idea of the European Union as a security actor, the limited character of these activities on the ground also strengthens the idea of it as both an interventionist and an ineffective actor
  • While the European Union remains Africa’s primary trading partner and source of foreign investment and development aid, it should take notice of the shifting geostrategic landscape and its declining credibility and influence in Western Africa
  • The European Union needs to promote and emphasize the positive aspects of EU-Africa cooperation. After all, it is the leading aid, trade and investment actor across the continent as well as the main importer of a wide range of African goods, from chemicals, petroleum products, minerals and metals to fishery and agricultural goods
  • needs to avoid attitudes that could be framed as “paternalistic.”
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