European printing presses have been running on full steam from mid-April onward. The Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks have been covered like a boxing match: John Kerry used the controversial “A” word like a jab – and quickly took it back. Abbas countered by saying the Holocaust is ”the most despicable crime in modern times” – and quickly formed an alliance with Hamas.
A political scientist professor at the Hebrew University was cited meticulously in articles throughout the continent, in which he denounced Netanyahu’s bolstering of the Israeli religious identity as an attempt to put a spanner in the works of the process.
So last week, one would have expected European media to cool down – but not entirely. Occurrences of Jewish “hate violence” against Muslims and Christians spawned a few articles. According to RFI, a major French radio station, seven minors were arrested for acts of vandalism against Arabs and Christians, something that the Vatican edition of Italy’s La Stampa highlighted; The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem reported “a wave of anti-Christian violence and acts of vandalism by religious Jews” in Galilee. The events took place on what the patriarchate described as a “very significant day for both the local and international Church.”
Furthermore, it was reported that Israeli police and military caught a group of Orthodox minors drawing racist graffiti. In an interview with Die Zeit a while ago, Carmi Gillon, former chief of the Internal General Security Service of Israel, stated that Israeli security forces are ill-prepared to handle Jewish “splinter groups” and hesitant to classify them as any other terrorist group.
A question that the writer in the German newspaper asked was whether the police and the military ought to call the new violence “terrorism.”
IN OTHER NEWS FROM EUROPE
NETANYAHU WANTS TO DRAFT A LAW TO DEFINE ISRAEL AS A ‘JEWISH STATE’
Liberation, France, May 5
The proposition by Netanyahu, put in motion after the peace negotiations reached a gridlock during the last few days, aims to further enhance Israel’s status as a “Jewish state.” “One of the major objectives during my time as prime minister has been to defend Israel as the national state of our people,” Netanyahu said in a speech. “In order to do this,” he continued, “I intend to draft a law in the Knesset which will establish a legislative anchor for Israel to obtain the status of the national state for the Jewish people.” During the negotiations, Netanyahu has put emphasis on the Arab rejection of Israel as a Jewish state rather than the occupation of Palestinian territories. Menachem Hoffnung, a professor in political science at the Hebrew University, believes this is an effort to put a halt to the peace talks.
ISRAEL SEEKS TO TAKE MEASURES AGAINST RACIST SETTLEMENT ATTACKS
Die Zeit, Germany, May 4
Attacks against Arabs occur in several places in Israel and the West Bank. The Israeli government is now responding to hate crime. A meeting is slated to be held in the Security Council in order to find counter measures.
One such incident occurred recently in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, where ultra-nationalists responded to a police house search by throwing stones. The police claim the residents tried to burn down a mosque in Umm el-Fahm in northern Israel.
Racist graffiti has been seen in Haifa, Acre, and in Bethlehem.
Tzipi Livni, the Israeli justice minister, called for an emergency meeting with the police, army, and intelligence and security forces to take measures against hate crime. Carmi Gillon, the previous chief of the Israeli intelligence unit, stated earlier that Israeli security forces are ill-prepared to handle Jewish “splinter groups” as any other terrorist group.
THE HOLOCAUST AND THE PALESTINIANS
El Pais, Spain, May 2
The long road to Palestinian statehood will continue, as the peace negotiations have bogged down again.
Abbas’s statement, however, was important regardless of any political motives. It is important because it highlights the international importance and particularity of the Shoah. The clear-cut condemnation of the Holocaust is unique in Arab history. The position of the current Israeli right-wing government is well attested: It rejects the notion of an independent Palestinian state due to an essential lack of trust, rather than pure security reasons. However, the current position does not discourage a continued settlement policy and its repercussions on the Palestinians. The United States seeks a state only as a superficial curtain, a Palestinian state under the supervision of the world. But they have not been successful in persuading the Israeli government.
Activists use bicycles in Negev to take a stand against the highspeed railway planned by Netanyahu
La Stampa, Italy, May 6
A group of young protesters will ride their bikes to highlight the “grave damage to the environment” which the planned railway between Ashdod and Eilat “will cause.” China seeks to establish an alternative route to the Suez Canal by building the high speed railway, which is planned to be 260 kilometers long. The group of 20 activists is alarmed by the damages that this will cause to “the only vast desert in Israel.” The protesters will begin to ride their bikes from Dimona and undertake a six-day journey through the desert.
“If we don’t stop this project right now, our children will think we have deliberately put ourselves on the tracks.” Environment Minister Amir Peretz has not yet been persuaded to change his mind on the matter.