Israel

At least 18 Palestinians have died in Gaza after Israeli forces opened fire on Friday, March 30 on a protest near the Gaza Strip’s eastern border with Israel. As many as 1700 Palestinians were wounded, with videos posted online showing unarmed Palestinians being shot in the back while taking part in a protest that day.

In the face of a campaign by supports of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel in protest against its apartheid policies, New Zealand superstar singer Lorde cancelled a planned Tel Aviv concert in December. The BDS call was first issued in 2005 by dozens of Palestinian civil society organisations, and has been heeded by many cultural figures, including musicians.

As Israeli troops violently suppress Palestinian protests, the road forward for the Palestinian struggle is again being seriously discussed.

An article in the December 8 New York Times with a headline “Two State Option, a Mideast Keystone, Is Sent Askew,” begins: “President Trump, in formally recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Wednesday, declared that the United States still supported a two-state solution to settle the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians, provided it was ‘agreed to by both sides.’

Donald Trump’s announcement that his adminstration would recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital will end decades of US policy that such recognition could come only after the status of the city is settled in negotiations.

Last month, US lawmakers held hearings to promote recognising Jerusalem and moving the embassy that only heard from members of the Israel lobby, and completely excluded Palestinians.

Ignoring a call from more than 170 Palestinian civil society organisations for a boycott of Israel over its policies of apartheid and occupation, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds played two sold-out gigs in Tel Aviv on November 19 and 20. 

Nick Cave and his band also ignored the example and calls by many other musicians organised in Artists for Palestine, such as Roger Walters and Brian Eno among the most prominent voices.

Palestinians and media groups have condemned Israel’s raid on of 11 Palestinian telecom and production companies in the occupied West Bank on October 18, which have since been shut down.

The next day, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called on authorities to stop their harassment of Palestinian media, as well as for Israeli forces to release the two journalists arrested in the raids in the West Bank.

A member of the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) for the ruling Likud party, Anat Berko has presented Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with plans to change the status of 300,000 Palestinians in Jerusalem.

If implemented, Jerusalem would be formally divided and a group, similar in number to that of Wollongong would suddenly find itself stripped of permanent residency within Israel’s formal borders, as well as associated rights. The 300,000 would instead be considered residents of the Occupied Palestinian Territory of the West Bank.

Sound System: The Political Power of Music
Dave Randall
Pluto Press Left Book Club, 2017
210 pp, $38.99

As a teenager, British writer and musician Dave Randall unwittingly attended a music festival in his home town where he heard the Special AKA sing “Free Nelson Mandela”. He experienced an epiphany.

“I had no idea who Nelson Mandela was,” he writes, “but I knew by the end of the first chorus I wanted him to be free.”

Australian surf life savers once used the beach in Gaza to put on an impressive display of their skills for soldiers serving in Palestine. Surviving British footage from about 75 years ago shows a pristine and spectacular setting which could be any beach, anywhere in the world.

But now Gaza, subjected to a near-total blockade by Israel since 2007, is best described as the world’s largest, open air prison.

The decade-old Israeli blockade on Gaza has dramatically undermined the coastal strip’s agriculture sector.

The electricity crisis has exacerbated this problem. With electricity available for only three to four hours a day, most productive sectors in Gaza are debilitated to the point of paralysis.

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