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Neve Gordon

Neve Gordon teaches at the School of Law at Queen Mary University of London.

The ‘New Anti-Semitism’

Neve Gordon, 4 January 2018

Not long​ after the eruption of the Second Intifada in September 2000, I became active in a Jewish-Palestinian political movement called Ta’ayush, which conducts non-violent direct action against Israel’s military siege of the West Bank and Gaza. Its objective isn’t merely to protest against Israel’s violation of human rights but to join the Palestinian people in...

The Day After

Neve Gordon, 4 May 2015

Several​ months ago, a young woman working in Kibbutz Dorot’s carrot fields noticed a piece of paper lying on the ground with a short inscription in Arabic. It looked like a treasure map. She put it in her pocket. Some time later, she gave it to her friend Avihai, who works for Breaking the Silence, an organisation of military veterans who collect testimony from Israeli soldiers to...

In the Negev

Neve Gordon, 22 March 2012

At least seventy thousand Bedouin in the Negev live in villages currently classed as ‘unrecognised’ by the Israeli government. This means that it’s forbidden to connect the houses to the electricity grid or the water and sewage systems. Construction regulations are harshly enforced, and last year about a thousand Bedouin homes and animal pens – usually referred to by...

From The Blog
28 November 2018

On 19 November, Airbnb announced that it had removed from its website around 200 properties in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. The global travel agency explained that it had decided to 'act responsibly' after considering the settlements’ 'disputed' character and their contribution to 'human suffering'.

From The Blog
1 May 2018

The residents of the unrecognised Bedouin village Umm Al-Hiram, in the Israeli Negev, have finally accepted defeat. Within a couple of months, they will give up their land and move to a nearby Bedouin town. After their houses are demolished, West Bank settlers will establish a new Jewish-only village in their place. Several houses in Umm Al-Hiran have already been destroyed and a villager was killed by Israeli police during one demolition last year. So the inhabitants understood that the government meant business when it notified them in March that all of their houses would be razed to the ground if they did not relocate by the end of April. After a fifteen-year struggle, the residents grudgingly gave in and signed a relocation agreement similar to the one they had rejected for over a decade.

From The Blog
15 December 2016

Anti-Semitism is on the rise and needs to be challenged. But the working definition of anti-Semitism that was formally adopted this week by the British government is dangerous. It says that anyone who subjects Israel to 'double standards by requiring of it behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation' is an anti-Semite.

From The Blog
22 November 2016

In February, the Israeli prime minister praised the British government for introducing new guidelines prohibiting publicly funded bodies from boycotting Israeli products. ‘I want to commend the British government for refusing to discriminate against Israel and Israelis and I commend you for standing up for the one and only true democracy in the Middle East,’ Netanyahu said.

From The Blog
9 September 2015

On the first day of school last week, children in their first year at primary school in the small city of Ashkelon in southern Israel were excited to learn that Binyamin Netanyahu would be visiting their class. This is what the prime minister had to say to the six-year-olds: The first lesson in first grade is 'Shalom first grade' with the emphasis on shalom [peace]. We educate our children for peace. A few kilometres from here, Hamas teaches its children the opposite of peace and, from time to time, it tries to fire at us, at you. Our policy is clear – zero restraint, zero let-up, zero tolerance for terrorism. We respond to every hostile attack on our territory either by overt or covert action, and we are determined to foil terrorism at every turn, just as we did yesterday in Jenin. I wish a quick recovery to the soldier who was wounded.

From The Blog
17 August 2015

A few years ago, an Israeli F16 fighter pilot I know went on a training exercise for a possible attack on Iran's nuclear reactors. When he got back I asked him if such an operation could actually succeed. He said he thought Israel had the capacity to carry it out, but the military leadership was against it. When I asked him why, he explained that even if an airstrike were completely successful, the Iranians would be able to rebuild their reactors within two years. The operation, he said, would only work if sanctions were intensified immediately after the attack, and most sanctioning countries would be unlikely to agree to that.

From The Blog
6 April 2015

Unlawful and Deadly, Amnesty International's recent report on 'rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinian armed groups during the 2014 Gaza/Israel conflict', accuses Hamas and others of carrying out 'indiscriminate attacks' on Israel: 'When indiscriminate attacks kill or injure civilians, they constitute war crimes.' The report reiterates a formal symmetry between Israelis and Palestinians (previous reports have accused Israel of war crimes during Operation Protective Edge), asking both parties to take all precautions to respect civilian lives, and reminding them to 'choose appropriate means and methods of attack'.

From The Blog
21 January 2015

The decision by the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, to open 'a preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine' could have a concrete political impact in Israel/Palestine, but not because the ICC will end up charging officials for carrying out war crimes. The ICC has yet to address any violations carried out by Western liberal states. Simply put, the geography of the ICC's investigations – from Côte d'Ivoire to Uganda – both reflects and reproduces an old colonial frame of justice. Even within this blinkered framework, the court's success rate has not been particularly impressive: in its 12 years of existence, the ICC has carried out 21 investigations; only two people have been convicted. Given that record, why has Bensouda’s announcement provoked such outrage in the Israeli government?

From The Blog
15 May 2014

On 10 May, Amos Oz criticised the so-called 'price-tag attacks' carried out by Israeli settlers. The label is used by the culprits themselves to describe retaliatory violence against Palestinians: beatings and arson as well as racist graffiti sprayed on the walls of churches and mosques. Oz described the perpetrators as 'Hebrew neo-Nazi groups'. The next day, he said: The comparison that I made was to neo-Nazis and not to Nazis. Nazis build incinerators and gas chambers; neo-Nazis desecrate places of worship, cemeteries, beat innocent people and write racist slogans. That is what they do in Europe, and that is what they do here.

From The Blog
30 December 2013

Ten days ago some 200 asylum seekers from Sudan and Eritrea marched to Jerusalem to protest against their mistreatment by the Israeli government. They had left a new 'open' detention facility in the Negev desert, where they are obliged to spend the night and attend three role calls during the day. They walked for about six hours to the nearest city, Beer-Sheva, my hometown. After spending the night at the bus station, they marched on to Nachshon, a kibbutz that had agreed to put them up for the night. The following day, they continued to the Knesset by bus.

From The Blog
22 October 2013

'Omer Post Office – For Omer Residents Only!' says the headline in a pamphlet distributed by a party running in the local elections in the rich southern suburb near my hometown, Beer-Sheva.

From The Blog
23 January 2013

This is the way the results of the elections are being presented in the Israeli press: Centre Left Bloc Right Bloc Other, perhaps more accurate ways to present the election results:

From The Blog
19 November 2012

Why is Israel calling up 75,000 reserve soldiers, when during the last ground invasion of Gaza it called up only 10,000? Such a massive mobilisation is no minor matter, not least because its cost to the Israeli economy is enormous. There are four possible motivations: 1. The call-up of reservists is meant to deter the Palestinians. 2. Israel intends to invade Gaza; however, it needs to take into account the change of government in Egypt and deter its southern neighbour from joining the fray. 3. Israel is worried about developments in Jordan and will consider deploying forces to help King Abdullah if the protests there gain momentum. 4.

From The Blog
12 July 2012

A few weeks ago I told the story of my friend Hussein, who had to advertise his flat under the pseudonym Rami in order to rent it out. The other day, my neighbor Yifat, who owns two flats in our block – she lives in one with her two children and rents the other out – told me about her attempt to raise the rent from 4000 to 4500 shekels a month. The tenant, she said, tried to haggle, offering her 4100 shekels. Yifat was willing to come down to 4400, arguing that many military bases are being relocated to the Negev, which would surely lead to a steep increase in rents. Indeed, an air-force pilot had already contacted her and was willing to pay 4500. The tenant didn't yield. She said she was willing to meet halfway, but no more.

From The Blog
27 June 2012

Last year I gave the Israeli artist Amir Nave an old Hebrew copy of Immanuel Kant’s Perpetual Peace, which I teach every so often in my Introduction to Political Theory class. He took the book, flipped through it, ripped out the title page, turned it upside down, signed it and returned it to me. Nave, an Arab Jew of Iraqi descent, didn't say anything, but the gesture was eloquent enough: we are living in an era of perpetual war, and peace emerges, if at all, in the interregnum. Nave’s children go to the same school as mine. It’s called Hagar, after the biblical figure who wandered between different peoples and cultures in the desert not far from where I live. Hagar was founded by a group of Jewish and Palestinian parents who wanted to create a shared space for their children. It’s the only non-segregated school in the Negev region, which is home to about 700,000 Israelis, more than a quarter of whom are Palestinian Bedouin.

From The Blog
31 May 2012

My friend’s wife was accepted to a PhD program at McGill University in Montreal. They decided to move to Canada with their two children at about the same time that I was offered a fellowship at Princeton and decided to move with my family to New Jersey for a year. Hoping to rent out our apartments while we're away, we both posted ads on the most popular website in Israel. I received about five calls a day and found a tenant within a couple of weeks. My friend received only three calls in four weeks, and none of the people who called came to look at his flat. A few days ago he removed his ad from the website and posted a new one, only this time he changed his name from Hussein to Rami. Rami is an ethnically indeterminate name – it can be either Jewish or Palestinian – but there are no Jews called Hussein.

From The Blog
11 October 2011

Elie Wiesel is not known for his sympathy towards the Palestinian cause for self-determination. He was recently made the chairman of the board of the Elad Association, also known as the Ir David Foundation, an organisation that has been actively erasing the Palestinians’ cultural heritage and facilitating the confinement of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem. In 2002, the Israel Nature and Parks Authority hired Elad to run the City of David national park, in the densely populated Palestinian neighbourhood of Silwan. Elad has spent millions of dollars trying (unsuccessfully) to demonstrate King David's presence in that area.

From The Blog
15 November 2010

Imagine a sheriff offering the head of a criminal gang the following deal: ‘If you agree to stop stealing from your neighbours for three months, I’ll give you cutting edge weaponry and block any efforts by other law enforcement authorities to restrain your criminal activities.’ Sounds absurd? Then how about this: in return for a three-month freeze of illegal construction in the occupied West Bank (but not in occupied East Jerusalem, where it may continue), Barack Obama has promised to deliver 20 F-35 fighter jets to Israel, a deal worth $3 billion.

From The Blog
2 November 2010

Would Meryl Streep, Spike Lee, Tim Robbins or Susan Sarandon be willing to swear an oath of loyalty to the United States and its policies in order to receive public funding for feature films that they star in, direct or produce? In Israel, the far-right Knesset member Michael Ben Ari has proposed a bill that would require entire film crews to pledge allegiance to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and to declare loyalty to its laws and symbols, as a condition for receiving public funding. It’s just one of more than ten bills to be discussed during the Knesset’s winter session that several commentators in Ha’aretz have characterised as proto-fascist.

From The Blog
4 October 2010

Bar-Ilan University near Tel Aviv claims to be the largest university in Israel. Its official goal is to cultivate and combine ‘Jewish identity and tradition with modern technologies and research’. Fifteen years ago, after Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by one of its students, the university set out to temper its right-wing tendencies and become a more liberal institution guided by ostensibly neutral professional procedures and regulations. Bar-Ilan may have continued to provide accreditation for two colleges in illegal West Bank settlements, but it also developed an excellent gender studies programme and hired a number of left-wing academics.

From The Blog
17 June 2010

Last week, Israel permitted the transport of jam, halva and shaving razors into Gaza. Since September 2007, goods entering Gaza had been limited to a 'humanitarian minimum' of approximately 70 items of foodstuffs and medicines (4000 items were allowed in before the blockade). During a visit to Gaza in February 2009, John Kerry discovered that Israel had banned pasta but not rice, because the latter was considered a necessity while the former was a luxury.

From The Blog
4 June 2010

In Israel, almost all of the protests against the navy’s assault on the relief flotilla took place in Palestinian space. Palestinian citizens in almost every major town and city, from Nazareth to Sachnin and from Arabe to Shfaram, demonstrated against the assault that left nine people dead and many more wounded. The one-day general strike called for by the Palestinian leadership within Israel was, for the most part, adhered to only by Arab citizens. In Jewish space, by contrast, business continued as usual.

From The Blog
19 May 2010

Since the publication of his UN report charging Israel (and Hamas) with war crimes, Richard Goldstone has been subjected to a well-orchestrated delegitimisation campaign by Israel. Most recently, new 'revealing information’ was disseminated to the press, accusing the Jewish Zionist South African judge of sentencing 28 black South Africans to death during the apartheid years. 'The judge who sentenced black people to death,' said the speaker of the Knesset, Reuven Rivlin, ‘should not be allowed to lecture a democratic state defending itself against terrorists.'

The ongoing character assassination of Goldstone isn't an isolated case, but should be seen as part of a large-scale state-branding exercise by Israel. In 2004, the Foreign Ministry hired a number of international PR firms to improve Israel's global reputation. In the words of Ido Aharoni, the head of the ministry's brand management team:

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