The National – 26 January 2016 - Israel, it seems, has found a new weapon against Palestinian attacks – the humble cucumber seed.
Soldiers have been handing out seeds at checkpoints with advice to Palestinians – a nation of farmers until their lands were swallowed up by Jewish settlements – to stop their recent knife attacks on Israelis and invest in a peaceful future.
Palestinians were not fooled. The seeds, the packets revealed, were produced by the very settlements that corralled them into their urban enclaves.
Israel’s image-laundering is directed at western nations that have propped up the occupation – economically and diplomatically – for decades. As ever, Israel hopes to persuade outsiders that the occupation is benevolent.
The futility of its PR, however, is highlighted by the latest initiative of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.
New legislation is designed to intimidate and silence Israeli human rights organisations – the international community’s eyes and ears in the occupied territories. These groups are to be defined as “moles”, or agents of foreign governments. Justice minister Ayelet Shaked warned that such foreign intervention “endangers democracy”.
The problem is that the governments funding the human rights activity are not Israel’s enemies, but some of its staunchest supporters – European states.
Israel treats Europe’s support for human rights as malign interference, but it welcomes the vast sums channelled its way via the European Union’s special trade agreement and the billions in US military aid. It is this kind of foreign intervention that sustains the occupation.
The new legislation, however, risks leaving the EU and US exposed. Removing the minimal restraints imposed on the Israeli army by monitoring activity, the crimes of occupation – and western complicity in them – will be all the starker. More