Weekend long read

1) At the Fathom journal, Jamie Palmer “explores the impact on the politics of the Left of desperately simplistic narratives of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”. 

“Some people do approach the conflict with fully formed antisemitic attitudes previously learned elsewhere. Stalinists, white supremacists, and Islamists all encourage distrust and dislike of Jews for ideological reasons of their own. But what of the majority of young writers and activists on university campuses who will go on to work in NGOs and write for the mainstream left-wing press? For the most part, such people take pride in their antipathy to racism, and do not come to the Arab-Israeli conflict with a pre-existing and irrational antipathy to Israel.

In cases where such attitudes subsequently develop and become manifest in antisemitic statements and tropes, it is usually as a means of explaining what otherwise seems incomprehensible. Motivated reasoning has led to the construction of conflict narratives designed to protect the Palestinians’ preordained status as righteous victims. But as the explanatory limitations of these narratives have encountered unfolding complexities on the ground, they have only produced new crises of understanding, and a requirement for ever more conspiratorial explanations of Israeli behaviour.”

2) The JCPA explains the background to a story touched upon by the BBC last month: “Why Israel Is Concerned About American-Russian Understandings on Syria“.

“The agreement reached during the G-20 meetings in Hamburg between U.S. President Trump and Russian President Putin on July 7, 2017, about establishing a de-escalation zone in southwestern Syria was accepted with mixed feelings in Israel.

Jerusalem, of course, welcomes stability in the southern part of Syria. But Prime Minister Netanyahu voiced concern about the agreement mainly because it focused on the de-escalation zone. It tacitly gave legitimacy to the prolonged presence of Iranian and Iranian-backed forces throughout the regions of Syria nominally controlled by the Assad regime.” 

3) Palestinian Media Watch reports on an increase in Palestinian Authority payments to terrorists and their families.

“The PA has publicized its budget for 2017, which includes how much it will be spending on salaries to terrorist prisoners and to families of terrorist “Martyrs.” Ignoring demands to stop rewarding terror by the United States, EU countries, Israel and many others, the PA in 2017 is actually increasing significantly these outlays.” 

4) At the Times of Israel, Amanda Borschel-Dan brings some background to a story the BBC reported last month.

“The Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby, which has in a settlement agreed to pay some $3 million in fines and to forfeit thousands of ancient artifacts from Iraq, is implicated by US prosecutors of — knowingly or not — participating in a smuggling scheme out of the Middle East. Among other ruses, antiquities dealers forged provenance and intentionally mislabeled imported looted items to the US as “tile samples.” […]

During Sunday’s operation, which involved the Israel Antiquities Authority, Israel Police and Israel Tax Authority, the East Jerusalem homes and businesses of five antiquities dealers were raided, garnering previously unreported antiquities including ancient parchment pieces written in Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek and Latin, as well as ancient weapons, sculpture from the Hellenistic and Roman periods, pottery and bronze, silver and gold coins.”

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