Analysis News

Following wave of protests, Israel arrests scores of Arab activists, minors

Hundreds of Arab citizens of Israel have been detained in recent weeks, including dozens of minors. Abusive interrogations and preemptive arrests suggest that many of the tactics of occupation have crossed the Green Line.

By Hagar Sheizaf (Translated by Ofer Neiman)

The murder of Muhammed Abu Khdeir and the military onslaught in Gaza have brought about a wave of protest among Arab citizens of Israel. Reports on that wave should be supplemented by unprecedented data: more than 410 Arab citizens of Israel have been arrested on various grounds related to their participation in demonstrations since July 5, according to data provided by human rights NGO Adalah.

Protests in Arara following the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir in East Jerusalem earlier in the week. At least two people were arrested. July 5, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Protests in Arara following the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir in East Jerusalem. At least two people were arrested. July 5, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Moreover, police statistics reveal that a significant portion of the detainees in the past week are minors.  Fifty-four minors are reported to have been arrested in the past two weeks in Israel’s northern district alone, comprising one-third of all detainees in that district.

Policemen outside the door

“I have been active for 14 years and I have never seen such a wave of arrests of minors,” says Ward Yassin, 34, from Jdeideh el-Makr. “The feeling is that the police have no red lines.” Yassin himself was arrested on Monday, July 7, the day after a demo that took place in his town, attended by around 200 people who were protesting the murder of Abu Khdeir, as well as the assault on Gaza.

The arrest of political activists like Yassin represents the second prominent group in the recent wave of arrests, of protest organizers and well-known activists in Arab towns. Dozens of demonstrations have taken place, receiving little media coverage, if any. Some of them escalated into confrontations with the police, which including stone-throwing.

“The day after the protest my wife called me, saying there were 30 policemen outside the house as well as a few inside, and they’re turning the place upside-down and searching,” Yassin recounts. A few minutes later, the police arrived in Acre, where he was at the time, and took him in...

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For Palestinians in Jerusalem, to strike or not to strike?

A call for a general strike on both sides of the Green Line, in solidarity with Gaza, prompts a range of responses and dilemmas among Palestinian workers in Jerusalem.

By Corey Sherman

Heeding calls from Palestinian leaders on both sides of the Green Line, Palestinians across Israel and the West Bank observed both a general strike and day of mourning Monday, in solidarity with residents of the Gaza Strip.

The strike, which is to last three days in the West Bank and the Old City of Jerusalem, ground business to a halt and brought to the streets a diverse group of protesters in Ramallah. In Nazareth, a protest drew some 20,000 participants from around the country. In East and West Jerusalem, however, many Palestinian businesses remained open, with many workers arriving for work.

Throughout the city, Palestinians who chose not participate in the strike expressed a range of emotions on the efficacy and feasibility of such protests. Abdullah, a cab driver from Silwan, explained his decision to work Monday as resulting from steadfastness in the face of political turmoil, “Even during the Second Intifada, Palestinian cabbies still worked,” he proudly proclaimed.

Palestinian-owned stores in Jerusalem's Old City are shuttered in honor of a three-day strike across Jerusalem and the West Bank. (photo: Bilha Calderon)

Palestinian-owned stores in Jerusalem’s Old City are shuttered in honor of a three-day strike across Jerusalem and the West Bank. (photo: Bilha Calderon)

Amir, a receptionist for an ear doctor in Bab Al-Zahra in East Jerusalem criticized this approach, attributing them to a lack of nationalism. “In Jerusalem everyone stays open,” Amir, who lives Ramallah, told me. “Go to Ramallah, go to Bethlehem—everyone is closed there.”

Others working near the Old City explained that grocery stores, bakeries, pharmacies and doctors’ offices have to stay open to allow people to run last minute errands during Ramadan, or to provide those fasting with medical attention. If he didn’t work in the medical profession, Amir told me, he’d have stayed in Ramallah and gone to the protests that took place there.

As we were talking, a friend of his who works at a shoe store on Salah ad-Din Street popped in to say good morning.

“Where are you off to?” Amir asked his friend, winking at me. “To open up,” his friend replied. “You see?”

Abdullah dismissed such accusations...

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Palestinian human rights leader: 'Cast Lead was a joke compared to this'

LISTEN: Israeli human rights lawyer Michael Sfard speak to Raji Sourani, founder and director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, about the ongoing destruction in Shujaiyeh, the use of human shields and the fate of Gaza’s civilian population. 

By Michael Sfard and Raji Sourani

Raji Sourani: Hello

Michael Sfard: Raji? This is Michael. Can you speak now?

R: Yes, yes.

M: So, how was last night?

R: Well last night was difficult, the worst in the last two weeks. This is incredible evil. Ambulances weren’t able to reach the areas which were under heavy bombardment by tanks and F16s. And F22s were used too last night. And these kinds of bombs that we are not familiar making the houses last in an earthquake. You know, it just shakes for a few seconds.

M: There are no warnings before?

R: No no no. It just on the top of the people, on their heads. It is a war zone, not bombing. You see slain [people]. Six to eight bombed per minute. Not for 10 minutes, or one hour, all the east side of Gaza, Zeiton, Shujaiyeh, eastern Jabaliya, nothern area, eastern Khan Younis, eastern Rafah…

M: Israeli friends reported that the IDF, the Israeli army made notifications that the civilians could go to some areas. Are there any areas that are safe to be?

R: No, there is not safe place in Gaza. You can be in the street, in my office or home and you will be bombed and away from my house, sixty meters a house was bombed by an F16. This can anywhere, whether it a drone, F16, and tonight they used F22. Gaza, Michael, I’m telling you, 350 square kilometers, two million people are living in it. It is one of the most densely populated areas on earth. Anywhere you move. You can ask people from the northern or eastern areas to move but you are taking about 400,000. They ask eastern Khan Younis, where to go?

Relatives mourn on family members at the Al Shifa hospital as more bodies arrive from the Shejaiya area, July 20, 2014. (Basel Yazouri/Activestills.org)

Relatives mourn family members at the Shifa Hospital, July 20, 2014. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

So far there is 70,000-80,000 [civilians] that moved since mid-day yesterday...

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Gaza war diary: 'A second of silence, then the bombs go off'

Despite the danger, Walid Abuzaid couldn’t be separated from his home in Gaza for very long. And though coming home means facing possible death, he refuses to give in to hate. 

By Walid Abuzaid

Thursday, June 27

I was in Cyprus when it all started. When we heard about the kidnapped teens, we were thrilled by the possibility of another prisoner release. Hamas would be held responsible for the kidnapping, but we treat our prisoners well – at least the one prisoner we’ve ever had.

It’s my last night in Cyprus and one of so few in which I smile before I go to bed, for tomorrow I’m on my way home. I know it isn’t the smartest decision I’ve ever made, but I miss Gaza. I miss my life.

Two young men do acrobatic tricks on Gaza beach. (Basel Yazouri/Activestills.org)

Two young men do acrobatic tricks on Gaza beach. (Basel Yazouri/Activestills.org)

“I don’t want to fucking go to Cairo, I want to go to Gaza. How many times do I have to tell you? Do you want me to say it slower?!” I yell at the woman at the gate who takes my passport and makes me watch every passenger get on that fucking plane until the gate closes. “Wait here, please,” she says for the 10th time, before whining about Arabs in Turkish to the lady next to her, who lends me her seat while I wait. An airline employee official who speaks Arabic finally arrives. She hasn’t come for me, but rather for the Yemenite whose Saudi residency has expired. He isn’t allowed to go to Cairo either; nor does he want to.

For three days I’m being prevented from traveling to Cairo from the Istanbul Airport, since Rafah crossing isn’t open until Sunday. I try explaining that I do not want to enter Cairo, and that I agree to be held in that disgusting deportation hall in the Cairo airport until the border opens. Yet, nothing I say changes the officials’ minds. In Arabic, “How do you even know Rafah will be open?” the translator dares to ask me. I refuse to even glance at him and continue to scream in English at the cold officials. It’ll be three days of this.

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In search of teens, soldiers 'looted' Palestinian homes

Palestinians reported numerous incidents of looting by IDF soldiers during Operation Brother’s Keeper in the West Bank. Here’s the first case documented by Yesh Din.

By Yossi Gurvitz for Yesh Din

During Operation Brother’s Keeper, IDF soldiers invaded thousands of houses in the West Bank, under the pretext of looking for the three kidnapped teenagers. These raids give us brief glimpse at the differences between Palestinians living under Israeli control and Israeli citizens.

For instance, were someone to be kidnapped in Petah Tikva, no one would imagine placing the city under curfew, preventing its denizens from traveling abroad or carrying out “searches” in random apartments without the need to show a legal search warrant.

Yet that is precisely what happened to Wasafia Sadeq Othman Salah Khater, a senior citizen living in the village of Aqraba, on June 22. At around 2:30 a.m., about a dozen soldiers knocked on her door, entering without explanation nor a warrant. The soldiers found nothing, as there was nothing to be found; but for an hour they wreaked havoc on Khater’s house. Aside from her, the house was home to her pensioner husband and their eight sons.

An elderly Palestinian man argues with an Israeli soldier taking part in the search operation for three Israeli teenagers believed to have been kidnapped by Palestinian militants, on June 17, 2014 in the West Bank city of Hebron. Israel stepped up efforts against Hamas in the West Bank Tuesday as the hunt for three Israeli teenagers entered its fifth day. (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

An elderly Palestinian man argues with an Israeli soldier taking part in the search operation for three Israeli teenagers believed to have been kidnapped by Palestinian militants, on June 17, 2014 in the West Bank city of Hebron. Israel stepped up efforts against Hamas in the West Bank Tuesday as the hunt for three Israeli teenagers entered its fifth day. (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The soldiers were not satisfied with simply ripping off the covering of the sofas and spreading out their contents, nor with breaking a closet door: they did what the army will not speak of: they looted the house. At first, the soldiers stole an expensive wrist watch, worth approximately $200. Then, they looted an envelope that Khater held on her body – a very reasonable...

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On dual standards and the hypocrisy of peace

Israel has no problem asserting an inviolable right to self-defense, while repeatedly denying the same right to Palestinians. The same state that decries Palestinian violence has no qualms meeting non-violent protests with fully armed aggression.

By Nadia Naser-Najjab

The ongoing conflict in Gaza has led international actors to reassert Israel’s right to self-defense. Any objection that these same actors have repeatedly failed to recognize, much less support, a Palestinian right to self-defense is routinely rejected upon the basis that it is not the international community’s role to take sides. Needless to say, in a context of open oppression and subjugation, this self-sanctifying neutrality is a form of ‘taking sides.’

In the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, concepts such as balance have long assumed almost Orwellian overtones: in this context, balance has been equated with the imposition of a range of inequitable requirements on the Palestinians, without any similar requirements being placed upon their Israeli counterparts.

A man sits in a destroyed building which was attacked last night by Israeli airstrike, in Al Tuffah neighborhood, July 16, 2014. As of July 16th, 196 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip, and more than 1,400 have been injured.

A man sits in a destroyed building which was attacked last night by Israeli airstrike, in Al Tuffah neighborhood, July 16, 2014 (photo: Activestills)

Palestinians are occupied and they resist like any other nation in the same circumstances. As Israel intensified its measures over the years, Palestinians intensified their resistance. Israel sliced up the land and separated Palestinians into different categories: good Palestinians and bad Palestinians. But for the Israelis the good are not good enough. We are all suffocated and strangled by the occupation, yet Gaza suffers the most. The situation affects all Palestinians and Israelis, but the Palestinians are affected on a much larger scale and physically, not only psychologically. Furthermore, we never include all the Palestinians who have suffered extensive trauma from constant Israeli aggression and attacks.

At the same time that international actors insist upon an impossible balance, official Israeli rhetoric is predicated upon a set of binary distinctions: it is as if Israel can only define itself in Manichean terms: civilized versus barbaric, sanctity of life versus culture of death. At all times there is a sustained refusal to conceive of Palestinians as...

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Propaganda wars: Searching for a narrative in Operation Protective Edge

No amount of Tweeting, tagging, posting or liking will save Gazans from an Israeli ground invasion. So why bother?

By Corey Sherman

Recent political upheavals in the Middle East tend to have a social media subplot, whether it’s how savvy youth use it to subvert harsh authority, or how states manipulate access to it so as to stop such subversion.

There’s the story about how State-Department-Official-cum-Google-Ideas-Chief, Jared Cohen, requested that Twitter delay a scheduled maintenance of their network to enable Iranians to continue to use the platform to organize during the harsh crackdown on post-election protests in 2009. Or how Josh Koster, an American advertising executive, crashed the servers of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting Agency to stymie the flow of the Iranian government’s official pronouncements during that same time. And let’s not forget the so-called Twitter Revolutionaries of the so-called Arab Spring.

It may be flippant to attempt to search for the subplot in what the Israeli government calls Operation Protective Edge. The fact is that no amount of Tweeting, tagging, posting or liking will save Gazans from an Israeli ground invasion. So why bother?

Israeli tanks on the border with Gaza. (photo: Activestills)

Israeli tanks on the border with Gaza. (photo: Activestills)

At the same time, the number of people running from bombs in Gaza or into shelters across southern and central Israel pales in comparison to the number of people experiencing this conflict on their mobile phones, their tablets or their computer screens. For most humans, this conflict exists only in the images, sounds and texts that are coming out of Israel/Palestine. The mass mediation of this conflict, both in print and online, is part of its story. How states, media organizations and citizens choose to tell the story of this conflict helps explain how interested parties perceive this current flare-up – and what they believe is at stake.

A Reminder of Resistance

The war in the south is only part of the story here right now. Over the weekend, Gregg Carlstrom (Politico Magazine) and JJ Goldberg (The Forward) contextualized, correctly, the current hostilities into the larger social upheaval occurring here since the kidnappings and killings of Gilad Shaar, Eyal Yifrah, Naftali Fraenkel, and Muhammed Abu Khdeir. Let’s not forget the 63-day-long hunger strike of Palestinian administrative detainees in Israeli jails, which ended...

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COMIC: What if Mahmoud was named Jonah?

By Eli Valley

Eli.Valley.Gaza.Leaflets.Vertical

Eli Valley is a writer and artist whose work has been published in New York Magazine, The Daily Beast, Gawker, Saveur, Haaretz and elsewhere. He is currently finishing his first novel. Eli’s website is www.EVComics.com and he tweets at @elivalley.

More from Eli Valley:
Why even god can’t reach a two-state solution
The hater in the sky / By Eli Valley



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How an army of defense became an army of vengeance

I will never forget the evening my friends and I were sent to kill Palestinian police officers in a revenge attack. We went from soldiers sent to defend our families to murderers of innocent people.

By O.K.

A month has passed since we were informed of the kidnapping of Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel. Ever since, there has been unrest in the region. Along with their families, we all hoped for good news, and mourned with them when the teens’ bodies were found. However, over the past few weeks our computer screens and our streets have been filled not only with sorrow, but also with cries for revenge. Israeli citizens and leaders alike have openly called for avenging the deaths of the three boys.

“No more playing by the rules,” said MK Ayelet Shaked. The Secretary General of World Bnei Akiva youth movement called for bloody vengeance. These calls of action, among many others, led Israeli citizens to take to the streets and attack Palestinians indiscriminately. This air of revenge claimed the life of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, the Palestinian youth from Shuafat who was murdered by Jewish Israelis.

Right-wing Israeli settlers burn a Palestinian flag and shout racist slogans during an anti-Palestinian demonstration at [Gush] Etzion junction, a bloc of settlements next to the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, June 16, 2014. Three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped near the Etzion junction late last week. (Oren Ziv/Activestlls.org)

Right-wing Israeli settlers burn a Palestinian flag and shout racist slogans during an anti-Palestinian demonstration at [Gush] Etzion junction, a bloc of settlements next to the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, June 16, 2014. Three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped near the Etzion junction late last week. (Oren Ziv/Activestlls.org)

The cycle of violence didn’t end with the youth. The Israeli leadership responded to the demands for revenge by mobilizing the Israeli military as an army of vengeance, and Hamas responded in kind. The military operation that commenced in the West Bank as a result of the kidnapping included collective punishment of thousands of Palestinian civilians. Hamas returned to shooting rockets from the Gaza Strip at Israeli civilians in Israel, and the Israeli army launched a military operation against the Gaza Strip. Over 200 Palestinians, the vast majority of them civilians, and one Israeli citizen have been...

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I am the woman who translates the names of the dead

In these frenzied days, I look for routine and find it in the task of translating names. Not that anyone reads all of them, but here’s another child, and another, and a last name that gets repeated again and again. And then I realize that a whole family has been wiped out.

By Michal Rotem (Translated by Sol Salbe)

For several days now I’ve been translating the names of those killed in Gaza to Hebrew. It was not my idea, and I’m not an expert in literary Arabic, but I volunteered my meager translation skills to help John Brown, because it seemed the right thing for me to do, for some odd reason. Every day my capabilities seem to grow, and I freely scan though Palestinian news sites and the website of the Ministry of Health in Gaza, plucking out more and more names of the dead.

But I’m oblivious to it. Like a robot, I sit and translate more and more names of the deceased and I do not comprehend at all what this list really is. Every so often it hits me, when suddenly in the middle of the list, I encounter a series of names that are too similar, with too big an age range and from the same locality, and it dawns on me that these are the names of members of a family that was wiped out in a single moment. I press on with the list, which expands by the minute, unmindful of its various meanings. But then comes a familiar last name, and I realize I may know people in the Negev/Naqab from this family, and I come back to reality. The names that share first names with close friends of mine also make me sad, because I remember that ultimately these are human beings.

Bodies are carried from the morgue of Al Shifa Hosptial, Gaza City, July 13, 2014.

Bodies are carried from the morgue of Al Shifa Hosptial, Gaza City, July 13, 2014.

There’s something very anodyne about this list: name, place of residence, age. Some people have their details missing, some are updated in the days following. I’m not sufficiently versed in these matters to know who was a senior Hamas commander, who fired rockets and who is just trying to live their...

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The unfolding lie of Operation Protective Edge

An Israeli leadership truly interested in a peace agreement would not have driven its partner to the point of lacking any leadership authority among his people. But that is exactly the point. Israel is not really interested in peace or in a partner who can bring about peace.

By Idan Landau (Translated from Hebrew by Ofer Neiman)

A child inspects the ruins of a house destroyed by an Israeli air strike in the Al Sheikh Radwan neighborhood of Gaza City, July 11, 2014.

A child inspects the ruins of a house destroyed by an Israeli air strike in the Al Sheikh Radwan neighborhood of Gaza City, July 11, 2014.

In January 2011 the winds of the Arab Spring blew through Gaza and the West Bank, and the four-year rift between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas came to an end. Reconciliation talks took three months, and were boosted by mass demonstrations of Palestinians in Gaza and Ramallah in favor of a unity government. Abu Mazen declared his willingness to travel to Gaza and sign an agreement.

In other words, Bibi’s nightmare came true.

The day after Abu Mazen’s declaration, the IDF killed two Hamas activists in Gaza, in an action authorized by the highest levels – the minister of defense and the IDF chief of staff. The killing was portrayed as a response to the launching of a single Qassam rocket, which hit no one, but some, like Yedioth’s Alex Fishman, understood that this had been a “premeditated escalation” by Israel. The following day, March 17, Netanyahu came “full circle”, clarifying to those who had not yet understood: Palestinian unity is a red line, as far as Israel is concerned.

Israel’s array of diplomatic threats was retrieved from storage: economic sanctions against the Palestinian Authority, an end to security cooperation. Nothing was said about the escalation in the South being the immediate aftermath of that policy. The security pretext – “restore calm to the South” ­– was brittle and unconvincing. Astute observers noted that at the beginning of that month Israel had substantially decreased the flow of goods into Gaza – a move that precedes an Israeli strike more often than it is a response to a Palestinian strike.

The killing of Hamas activists was the first shot in yet another...

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Dispatch from Gaza: Why Palestinians should speak to Israeli media

When Hamas banned Palestinians in Gaza from working with Israeli media, I understood why, but could not stay silent. If we Gazans stay silent, a large part of the truth will be lost, and I don’t want the truth to be lost.

By Abeer Ayyoub

Since Operation Protective Edge started earlier last week, I haven’t stopped receiving calls from Israeli television and radios channels asking me to go on air to talk about the current situation in Gaza. I never thought twice about accepting all of these offers because I believe it’s my responsibility to speak up and reach the Israeli audience’s ears.

Yet in each of the interviews, the first question was : isn’t it dangerous for you to be speaking to Israeli media using your real name? Well, no one said it’s not. Contacting Israelis is always sensitive and even unacceptable in Gaza, even when it comes to the governmental side. Hamas has banned local journalists in Gaza from dealing with Israeli media for reasons that have to do with security, along with some other reasons.

I always understood this point of view, yet never adopted it. Why should I fear talking to the second side of the conflict about the first side of the conflict to which I belong ? Why would I be anonymous while I’m spreading word of the suffering 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza are facing? How can being silent and just boycotting the Israeli media be good for Palestinians anyway?

Read +972′s full coverage of the operation in Gaza

I understand it’s a bit risky, and very challenging. People in Gaza take issue with dealing with anyone who lives behind the Erez border terminal. Maybe before 2000, when the Second Intifada erupted and the two territories became totally isolated, were people able to understand the second part a bit more. But ever since, the two people in the two territories began thinking of each other as aliens.

I always take issue when people pointing fingers at me for engaging with the Israeli media, yet I never tire of defending what I believe in. Speaking with the Israeli media has nothing to do with my political views. On the contrary, I believe that the Palestinian voice cannot be excluded from the Israeli narrative; otherwise, a large part of the truth will be lost, and I don’t want the truth to be lost.

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There's still room for optimism: A letter to Sayed Kashua

‘You were supposed to be optimistic, you were supposed to give us hope. Instead you are only proposing despair.’ A letter to Israel’s best known Hebrew-language Palestinian author, columnist and entertainer, who after the racism and violence of recent weeks wrote that he’s lost hope in coexistence.

By Maisalon Dallashi

Palestinians from the West Bank enjoy the Mediterranean Sea on the last day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, Tel Aviv, August 11, 2013. The three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. The Israeli army generally issues entry permits to Palestinians during Ramadan, allowing many to visit the beach for the first time. (Activestills.org)

Palestinians from the West Bank enjoy the Mediterranean Sea on the last day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, Tel Aviv, August 11, 2013. (Activestills.org)

Dear Sayed,

You broke my heart when you cried out in your weekly Haaretz column. You’ve made the tears trickle down of their own accord. You made me want to escape out of my body and run. This is not how I imagined our first meeting. In my mind I saw a more optimistic encounter in which I described your great and scorching columns to you, those that left a spark of hope in me.

After I read your column I was not afraid to step out of my house. I relied upon my Ashkenazi appearance to finally be of good use. I escaped to where I always do when the world is too suffocating, to a viewpoint that looks over the sea from the old city of Jaffa.

On my way I passed through the alleys of the flea market, a place that has become into a major hit among the trendy middle-class people of Tel Aviv and the area. I saw a sign there greeting the Muslims for the month of the Ramadan. It was hung above one of the Arab coffee shops, perhaps the only Arab coffee shop there. Nice.

I searched for spelling or grammar typos in the greeting’s text and could not find any. Even more surprising and wonderful! I must have gotten used to embarrassing and neglectful mistakes in Arabic signs, like those where the dot is placed over the wrong alphabetical letter and the sign turns into a joke, and not to mention translations of street signs, which...

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+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

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