Residents of the Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Safafa will appeal next week to Israel's Supreme Court to halt construction of a highway that is to divide the district, community activists said at a press conference Feb. 18. Work on the six-lane artery, an extension of the north-south Begin Expressway, is sparking opposition in Beit Safafa, a quiet, middle-class Arab neighborhood that lies among Jewish areas in southern Jerusalem. Aluminum walls along the construction site are covered in graffiti against the expressway, with slogans such as "Don't run over Beit Safafa." Said Mohannad Gbara, a lawyer for residents: "The road in its current format cannot go ahead. It would be a disaster for Beit Safafa."
Preliminary results of Israel's election show Benjamin Netanyahu weakened but likely to serve a third term as prime minister, in a shift toward what mainstream accounts call "the center." Netanyahu's bloc made up of the right-wing Likud and far-right Yisrael Beitenu came out on top with 31 seats out of the 120 in the Knesset—down form 42. Coming in second, the new "centrist" Yesh Atid (There is a Future), led by ex-TV personality Yair Lapid took a projected 19 seats. The center-left Labor, once the mainstay of Iraeli politics, came in third with only an estimated 15 seats. Arab parties are projected to have won 12 seats. The biggest party in the last Knesset, the "center"-right Kadima, dropped from 28 seats to none. (Foreign Policy's Middle East Channel blog, JTA, Jan. 23) But an election-time controversy demonstrated the degree to which ultra-right positions have become mainstreamed in Israeli politics...
Palestinian Authority employees will strike again this week after receiving only part of their November salaries, union leaders announced Dec. 23. Palestinian government employees in the West Bank began a two-day general strike on Dec. 19 to protest against a delay in the payment of their wages because of Israeli economic sanctions. Israel is withholding some $100 million in monthly customs revenues it collects on the Palestinians' behalf as punishment for their successful bid at the UN General Assembly last month to gain de facto statehood recognition. Some 50,000 workers took part in the stoppage. West Bank security forces—a pillar of security and cooperation with Israel—did not participate, but most public services were shut down. Public schools were closed as teachers went on strike in protest of non-payment of their wages earlier in the week. "This strike is against Israel's piracy," said Bassam Zakarneh, head of the Union of Public Employees. (Maan News Agency, Dec. 23; Maan News Agency, Dec. 21; WAFA, Dec. 17)
Noam Chomksy is held in such God-like reverence by the leftoid legions we get a kick out of calling him out on the things he gets egregiously wrong. Now he has just visited the Gaza Strip, and his screed about it on In These Times, "Gaza, The World's Largest Open-Air Prison," is of course getting gobs of attention. And it would serve as a basic primer on Israel's official choking of Gaza—if it weren't for some sloppy corner-cutting where the facts are concerned. Chomsky sets the background for the discussion in his usual terms:
Well, well. Look who's getting "thrown under the bus," to use the current catchphrase. Advocates for a just peace with the Palestinians, and secularists. What a surprise. From the New York Times' The Caucus blog, Sept. 5:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — President Obama, seeking to quell a storm of criticism from Republicans and pro-Israel groups over his support for Israel, directed the Democratic Party to amend its platform to restore language declaring Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
Hamas spewed some predictable ugliness about a Palestinian official's visit to the site of the Auschwitz death camp in Poland—and the mainstream and Zionist press predictably plays it for all it is worth. Ziad al-Bandak, an adviser to President Mahmoud Abbas, made the visit this week, prompting Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum to say: "It was an unjustified and unhelpful visit that served only the Zionist occupation." He called the visit "a marketing of a false Zionist alleged tragedy....at the expense of a real Palestinian tragedy." The comments were picked up by Reuters and flaunted with open glee by the settler organ Arutz Sheva, which also offers more such gems from Hamas sympathizers.