This week in Israel: what goin’ on?

Well, it seems that not a lot of note is going on in Israel these days. That, at least, appears to be the tacit consensus of the Israeli blogosphere. In the absence of major events like elections, suicide bombings and important holidays, local bloggers are turning to more prosaic issues. There are many interesting posts to mention, but no one clear issue upon which various bloggers offer differing opinions.

Before launching into my roundup, I'd like to introduce – ta da! – the first site to aggregate Israeli blogs in both English and Hebrew. Click here to view. At the top you will find a tab that links to blogs in Hebrew, as well as a tab called “Our Neighbours,” which links to Toot, the site that aggregates Arab blogs in Arabic and English. The Israeli aggregate site was created by Hanan Cohen, an Israeli blogger and Internet columnist.


The only issue that elicited a comment from more than one blogger is the recent vote of NAFTHE, the British University & College Lecturer's Union, to boycott and blacklist Israeli universities and academics. More recently, the Ontario branch of CUPE, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, also voted to boycott Israel.

In response to the CUPE vote,Yonatan, a leftist Israeli academic, posts a list of technologies and medicines that were developed in Israel, ranging from VOIP and Instant Messaging to anti-cancer drugs, and comments:

As you see – and as the blinkered ‘idealists’ of the so-called Left in many western countries fail to notice – Israel did contribute a little more to humanity than only that damned occupation. For some reason I believe that the Jewish state has contributed and continues to contribute much, much more to mankind than all those regimes that will never have to fear a boycott by CUPE, NATFHE, and other organizations and individuals who claim to care for the wellbeing of the Palestinian people.

Yael, who teaches at an Israeli university, writes that she is “utterly disgusted” by the NAFTHE vote – but adds that her “…mantra today is ‘I will not rant, I will not rave.'” Instead, she posts the link to Engage, a site maintained by a variety of liberal British academics, journalists and bloggers who oppose the boycott.

In her post about the NAFTHE vote, titled “ Here they go again…“, Allison asks, “Don't British academics have anything better to do? Like maybe teach or conduct research…”

Potpourri of individual posts

Several Israeli bloggers joined the online campaign to free Alaa, the Egyptian blogger who has been detained for one month. A list of local bloggers who mention Alaa's detention is at the bottom of this post.

The Purple Parrot, a leftist blogger who works for a Palestinian NGO in East Jerusalem, accepts West Bank Mama‘s invitation to document the process of moving from her native England to Israel. In fact, this fascinating post, entitled “Why, indeed, am I here?“, documents what the Parrot describes as her transition from “young, idealistic firebrand Land-Of-Israel warrior to world-weary, cynical Human Rights activist.”

Treppenwitz writes about a Palestinian child from Hebron in the West Bank, or Palestine, who is undergoing treatment for leukemia at Schneider Children's Medical Center in Israel. The hospital and the Peres Center for Peace absorbed the cost of the bone marrow transplant, which is not available in the West Bank; part of the cost was supposed to be paid by the Palestinian Authority, writes Treppenwitz, but the Minister of Health, who is a member of Hamas, declined to pay because “…it would be seen as cooperating with the Zionist enemy.” Treppenwitz wonders why this story is not regarded as newsworthy by the Israeli and international press, and how it can be that politics is regarded as more important than saving a little girl's life.

Sharvul is an interesting blogger whom I've neglected to mention in previous posts. He is an Israeli businessman who is religiously observant, rather intellectual and politically leftist. Recently, he returned with his family to Israel after several years in Japan. His time abroad has caused him to see Israel differently, as he describes in this post about a recent business trip to Basel, Switzerland – the place where Theodore Herzl conceived modern Zionism at the First World Zionist Congress in 1897.

I put my elbows on the stone wall, leaned forward, looked thoughtfully at the other bank and tried to concentrate hard, to capture that unique “Zionist moment”. Conclusion: I have no clue what made Theodor yearn for the dusty landscape of Palestine while watching the beautiful Rhine river flowing vigorously a few feet below. He must have been smoking something. Or perhaps I should have waited longer, enough time to grow a beard.

Additional noteworthy posts from Sharvul include this one, about his abhorrence of “the total lack of basic manners…” he sees in Israel; and this one, a review of Man in the Shadows, the recently published memoirs of ex-Mossad chief Efraim Halevy.

David Brinn, who contributes to the group blog Israelity, links in this post to an article from Haaretz that explains why Israel is the best place to live on earth.

Karen Alkalay-Gut writes (scroll down to June 4 entry) that she has recently found “a hidden truth” in the most recent column written by Sayed Kashua, the bestselling Israeli-Arab author of Dancing Arabs, for Haaretz.

John blogs about a recently handed down court decision that obligates the Jerusalem municipality to fund the annual Gay Pride Parade. The mayor of Jerusalem, Uri Lupolianski, is ultra-Orthodox; last year, the Jerusalem Pride Parade was marred when a bystander stabbed and seriously wounded a participant.

Recently a Lebanese businessmen, whose nom de blog is The Perpetual Refugee, has been writing a series of long posts about his visits to Israel over the past few months. I also blogged about meeting him in Tel Aviv, here. His extraordinary ongoing series (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) has elicited a great deal of attention from Israeli bloggers, who have been responding in the comments and putting him on their blogroll. Several other Lebanese bloggers have been linking to and writing about Israeli bloggers; their links are in this post from my blog. This dialogue between so-called enemies has been attracting attention from mainstream Western media; I may have further news on that subject in the near future, so stay tuned.

1 comment

  • […] It’s for that reason that I think it’s critical to include voices like Tikun Olam. After all, my Israeli-Palestinian section is solely about Israel and its relations with its enemy-neighbor much like the blogs Lisa Goldman reviews for GVO (though to be fair, she does review blogs focussed on non-political issues). But I bring a slightly more independent, disinterested viewpoint to the conversation. If you look at Lisa Goldman’s roundups you’ll see that the politics of the blogs she covers are mostly (though not exclusively) right of center, sometimes far to the right. And when she does include progressive voices she’ll invariably use terms like “leftist” (as she’s done twice in her most recent report) to characterize the blog’s viewpoint. She doesn’t even realize the judgmental nature of the term (and certainly wasn’t intending to offend). But as someone whose views of this conflict have been disparaged numerous times by hardline pro-Israel readers, I know how the term is used and how it feels to have someone spit it at you (not that this was by any means Lisa’s intent). […]

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