Comments on Lebanon, Bedouin village destruction, Judt, AJDS

Avnery on the border incident

To appreciate the magnitude of this achievement, one has to remember that only four years ago, Israel practically issued an ultimatum demanding that the Lebanese army be deployed on the border with Israel. It was one of Israel’s conditions for ending Lebanon War II. Only the Lebanese army, the master strategists in Jerusalem decreed, could ensure quiet on the border. They treated the UN force, UNIFIL, with thinly veiled contempt.This week, the Lebanese army opened fire on Israeli troops, killing a battalion commander. How could this happen? In several places there are tiny enclaves between the Israeli border fence and the recognized international border. As far as sovereignty is concerned, these enclaves belong to Israel. The land itself, however, is worked by Lebanese villagers. The Israeli army decided to “trim” the trees in these areas in order to facilitate observation.

The Lebanese announced in advance that they were opposed. UNIFIL asked Israel to wait for the return of its commander from abroad, so as to enable him to mediate. The Israeli army refused to wait and sent a bulldozer. When the arm of the monster reached over the fence, and after warning shouts, the Lebanese soldiers opened fire.

Haaretz editorialises on the destruction of the Bedouin village. Haaretz should be commended for this (and other principled editorials). But the destruction of an entire village is such a terrible outrage.

Twice last week employees of the Israel Lands Administration, with the help of a large police contingent, demolished the homes of around 300 residents in the unrecognized Bedouin village of Al-Arakib in the Negev. Most of them, citizens of the State of Israel, including many children, were left not only without homes, but humiliated, frustrated and shocked. Both times the police were brutal, and neither time did the state offer an alternative, compensation or assistance, either material or psychological, for the people whose village was demolished and world was destroyed. That’s how a country treats its citizens.

Jonathan Cook also wrote about this issue.

Tony Judt died. It’s sad. He was in some ways a very brave and accomplished intellectual. His stance on the Israel-Palestine conflict was brave. But his writings on Israel were usually not insightful, and marked by a reluctance to address the issues (or, I suspect, his friends). I think he devoted so much of his career to denouncing the left that he found himself reluctantly against rather mainstream scholars and pundits in the US. His support for Finkelstein was commendable. I did not appreciate his attack on EP Thompson, nor his sweeping comments about Thompson’s established worthlessness. I highly recommend his excellent book, Making of the English Working Class. Postwar, on the other hand, is one of the dullest books I’ve ever read. Completely devoid of insight, it’s just a long plodding history. He says in the introduction that he will take sides in arguments. Yes, sides like “Stalinism is bad”. How brave and intelligent. His contempt for the communist dictatorships, on the one hand, contrasts with his disinterest in certain European countries outside the Iron Curtain. Greece, Spain and Portugal are treated with disinterest, or even something approaching indulgence at times – a stupid dictatorship in Greece, not a terrible one.

Judt also had some discussions about the lobby and stuff like that you can see on youtube. He was always very thoughtful. A lot of what he wrote was simply boring though. However, he was intelligent, and could be very insightful. I think this was probably Judt at his best. He has a go at people like Michael Walzer and Leon Weiseltier over their support of the Israeli government and over their support for the war on Iraq.

And finally – because I always pick on them, I’ll give credit where its due – I want to praise AJDS for organising this debate. Their stance on boycotts seems to me almost mine – except they say they are willing to consider boycotts of the occupied territories (as opposed to general approval, with possible exceptions). They are also willing to consider a targetted academic boycott, which I’m not sure I’d support..


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