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When an Arab kid is arrested in the heart of Tel Aviv

The ugly Israeli is not the one who is filmed yelling at stewardesses or hotel receptionists. It is the one who lives in denial of an entire system that oppresses another people. The one who eats his ice cream as a Palestinian child is arrested right in front of him.

By Mei-Tal Nadler

A few weeks ago, just days before Israelis headed to the polls, an Arab teenager was arrested on Tel Aviv’s famed Rothschild Boulevard at around 6 p.m. I have no idea who he is, what he did before he was arrested, where he came from or where he is now. Perhaps he stole something, or perhaps he planned to steal or cause harm. He looked no older than 13, maybe 14. A teenager.

In this story, I am the local, a passerby who is walking her dog when she sees a strange sight: a young boy handcuffed to a policeman in civilian clothing, with a policewoman walking next to them. “Why are you trying to escape, huh? You thought we wouldn’t catch you?” asks to the policewoman. He looks frightened. I ask him how old is he, but he remains silent. I asked if the officers explained his rights to him, if anyone knows he has been arrested. “He’s a shabakhnik. [A Hebrew term for Palestinians who enter Israel illegally without a permit.] You want a shabakhnik on your street?” asks the policewoman. He is just a teenager, and to tell the truth, I don’t really care whether he is on my street.

I ask again whether he knows his rights, whether they are planning on notifying relative know that he was arrested. I know that the number of Palestinian minors who were arrested without notification went up this year. Children are arrested for six hours, 10 hours, sometimes entire days without their parents’ knowledge. Time passes, and no one knows where their child is. I read about this in a report published a few months ago by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) titled “One rule, two legal systems.” “I don’t owe you an explanation,” the policewoman told me, and continued walking down the street. From afar, one could mistake them for parents on an evening stroll with their son. Two police cars waited for them in the middle of the boulevard.

I walked over to a young couple sitting on a bench...

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Diaspora Jews, it's time to step up

For years there have been calls for on-the-ground opposition to the occupation. Now there are a growing number of Jewish platforms — and voices — seeking to make it happen.

By A. Daniel Roth

The way the world is talking about the Israeli occupation is changing. Alongside that change, opportunity is knocking for those of us standing in opposition: calls for diaspora Jews to be present on the ground in Israel and Palestine are increasing. An important shift is beginning to take place — right now.

The writing is on the wall. Since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was re-elected, U.S. President Obama and his staff have been speaking differently about the once-incontrovertible two-state solution. One campus Hillel changed its name instead of changing it’s programming to adhere to Hillel International’s rules. If Not Now stormed onto the scene last summer in response to the violence in Gaza. Boycotts and BDS campaigns are sprouting up on campuses and at supermarkets all over the world.

That was on display for anyone to see last week in Washington D.C. The J Street conference, which brought together over 3,000 people, saw a series of fired up conversations that put shone a spotlight on the American-Jewish relationship with Israel. During a panel on liberal Zionism, Israeli journalist (and +972 blogger) Noam Sheizaf made a clear plea for a collective refocusing from “state solutions” to the urgency of ending the inequality that exists for millions under occupation, who lack freedom of movement or access to civilian courts.

Peter Beinart also took a step forward on stage, calling on young Jews from North America and around the world to stand physically in Israel and Palestine, and to take part in Palestinian non-violent resistance to the occupation.

For years there have been calls for on-the-ground participation from a variety of communities. Recently, there has been a surge in Jewish platforms for those communities to take part in peace and justice work.

A Jerusalem-based volunteer program for young American Jews (which I co-founded) called Solidarity of Nations-Achvat Amim engages in human rights work and learning based on the core value of self-determination for all peoples. All That’s Left (of which I am a member) is a collective aimed at engaging the diaspora in anti-occupation learning, organizing, and on-the-ground actions. The new Center for...

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PHOTOS: When even holding signs is forbidden by Israeli Police

Dozens of Israeli, Palestinian and international activists protested in the Old City and Sheikh Jarrah against the Judaization of Jerusalem. The police, however, didn’t take kindly to their expressions of free speech.

By Natasha Roth, photos by Mareike Lauken, Keren Manor/

Israeli, Palestinian and international activists gathered at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City Friday afternoon, before marching to the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah in order to protest the Judaization of East Jerusalem.

The march came amid increased tensions over the attempt by Jewish settlers to take over property in Palestinian areas of the city, following the attempted eviction of the Sub Laban family from their home in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City. The most recent attempt on March 15 failed, thanks to the presence of Palestinian and Israeli activists who went to the Sub Labans’ home to try and prevent them from being forced out. The threat of eviction, however, remains.

The crowd, which included individuals from the Sheikh Jarrah Solidarity movement and Women in Black, began to move away from Damascus Gate, holding signs calling for the end to the occupation and settlements in East Jerusalem, while accompanied by drumming and chanting.

The police immediately approached and informed demonstrators that it was illegal for them to carry their signs (without explaining why), and as the march made its way up Nablus Road in the direction of Sheikh Jarrah, they began confiscating signs one by one. Those who attempted to hold onto their signs — including elderly women — were manhandled by the police. One Palestinian who passed by the demonstration even shouted at the police about freedom of expression and questioned what kind of a democracy engages in such behavior.

The march continued — with the majority of signs confiscated — escorted by two Border Police on horseback, Jerusalem Police on foot and a Border Police patrol car. After pausing briefly at the entrance to Sheikh Jarrah, where more police cars arrived, the procession descended into the neighborhood, where protesters met with several members of the Shamasneh and Sub Laban families, both of which face eviction. They explained their plight and thanked the demonstrators for their solidarity. One of the speakers pointed out that if the police wanted to confiscate signs, that was their problem — he would bring a thousand more.

The march carried on to the outskirts of Sheikh Jarrah, where the...

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License to Kill, part 3: Why did Colonel A. order the sniping of Ihab Islim?

Members of a family are standing on a balcony and chatting. The commander of IDF forces in the region orders snipers to open fire on them. One brother is killed, the other one loses an eye. The commander fails to account for the order in the investigation that ensues. The case is closed, and the commander is promoted. In the following months, other civilians in the region are killed in the exact same manner. No one is found guilty. The third installment of the License to Kill series. [Read part one and two.]

By Noam Rotem (translated from Hebrew by Ofer Neiman)

License to Kill, part 3.

In the first two installments of the License to Kill series, we surveyed two cases in which the need for a professional investigation was completely obvious and the failures of the Military Police and the Advocate General were glaring. However, in both cases the IDF insisted on arguing that people were shot because they had constituted a threat, despite the fact that the courts concluded otherwise. The following case is somewhat different: here the IDF has admitted that an innocent person had been shot, and that the targeted sniping of 17-year-old Ihab Islim in his head was carried out without him having committed a crime.

Yet the Military Police has failed to find the shooters; an IDF video clip that documents the shooting and the preceding events; or the operations logs that could have shed some light on the events that transpired in Nablus on June 25, 2004.

Similar failures have occurred in the investigation of the killings of other innocent civilians in the same region. Some of them will be surveyed here. These failures cast doubts on the claim that the shooting was an isolated case that resulted from an error, and may attest to an illegal open-fire policy. Despite testimonies that corroborate this version, the Military Police also failed to investigate the allegation.

The sniping of Ihab Islim

The end of June 2004 — the twilight of the Second Intifada. IDF forces are carrying out large-scale activities in the Nablus region, under the codename “Ishit Loheztet“ (Man2Man). Every night, the soldiers enter the city and the nearby refugees camps, arresting tens of Palestinian residents who are taken to a conversation with the Shin Bet security...

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WATCH: Palestinian hip hop group tackles patriarchy in new video

Acclaimed Palestinian hip hop group DAM adds a female member, releases new video which looks at patriarchy and feminism in Arab society.

By Rami Younis

Palestinian hip hop group DAM released a new video for their single “Who You Are?” Thursday in a joint project with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). The song tackles women’s rights and criticizes the patriarchal society in which the group grew up in.

This is DAM’s first project that was fully completed with its newest member, Maysa Daw. Daw joined the group, which is comprised of brothers Tamer and Suheil Nafar, and Mahmood Jreiri. “I’m excited,” she tells +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. “I’m very proud of both the song and the video. I think it is an honest attempt at criticizing our society. Men try to stereotype women all the time, and I just want to ask which stereotypes define men, if any?”

WATCH: DAM’s ‘Who You Are?’ (with English subtitles)

Tamer Nafar emphasizes their attempt at criticizing “feminist men,” who he believes should not be spared any critique. “We speak out against our own oppressive society, of course, but I believe it is just as important to criticize the hypocritical part of our society, which likes to play ‘make believe feminism’ from time to time.”

The video was directed by Scandar Qupti, who also directed the award-winning film “Ajami.” Nafar says working with Qupti exceeded his expectations. ”He was the first director we approached, and we were very happy when he said yes. The idea of the video is very creative, and it’s not just the fact that it was filmed in one shot. It is one of the projects I am personally most proud of.”

The group, which formed in 1999 and hails from the city Lyd, is considered the first Palestinian hip hop group. They have released two albums and star in the documentary film “Slingshot Hip Hop,” which takes a look at the nascent hip hop scene in Palestine.

The author is a Palestinian activist and writer. This article was first published on +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it in Hebrew here.

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Stop blaming Mizrahim for everything wrong in Israel

Despite what many commentators would have you think, Israeli elections were not decided by racism among Israel’s Mizrahi population.

By Leeor Ohayon

Benjamin Netanyahu’s re-election is largely credited to votes from the Mizrahi periphery, but to credit the Mizrahi periphery alone would be naïve. The Likud party, after all, is an Ashkenazi one at heart, with Ashkenazi supporters. The magnitude of Netanyahu’s win, as a result of his “gevalt campaign,” (a desperation blitz) actually came from the Ashkenazi Right — Jewish Home voters sacrificed their party to save Netanyahu.

In a recent article, Larry Derfner condemned “poor” Mizrahi Israelis for Netanyahu’s victory. Did “poor” refer to the working class? If so, does working class equate being “poor?” Is poor synonymous with being uneducated? Can one be educated and poor? When an Ashkenazi Israeli voted for Likud or Jewish Home, did that mean he was “poor” and thus uneducated? Or just uneducated? While Derfner sought to present a post-race, post-classist argument for ending the “infantilization” of the Mizrahi working class, it effectively perpetuated the very idea that the Ashkenazi Left is aloof and alienating.

Asserting that “the Mizrahi poor hate weakness, worse than the average Israeli,” is akin to the rightist statement that the “Arabs only understand dictatorships.” The idea that poor Mizrahi Jews worship fearless leaders is orientalist at its core; it plays on an age-old concept of oriental populations as an uncivilized, hot tempered and dangerous lot in need of iron-fisted rule. The idea that this hate is worse than that of the average Israeli, further implies that the poor Mizrahi is not really Israeli. For if hatred for the weak is an exclusively “poor Mizrahi” feature, where does that place Naftali Bennett and his election slogan of “not apologizing?”

Assigning Mizrahim collective features is dangerous, not least because stereotypes breed intolerance. It is dangerous because we are talking about an umbrella identity patched together by a 67-year-old shared narrative in Israel as the Jewish “ethnic other.” Mizrahim come from a geographically, culturally and linguistic diverse area that spans from Morocco to Iran.

The Ashkenazi Left’s wasted opportunity for new governance continues to snap at the Mizrahim of the geographic periphery, as the unruly apes that ruined the party for everyone in Tel Aviv. It is that exact historical psyche that guides the Ashkenazi Left in assuming the role of the “chosen” people for the chosen people,...

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Distorting the facts of Occupation: Regavim’s attacks on the EU

An Israeli settler NGO has accused the EU of illegal building in the West Bank. But the facts — and its understanding of international law — just don’t add up.

By Michel Waelbroeck and Willem Aldershoff

Reports started circulating before Israel’s elections that Prime Minister Netanyahu had ordered the destruction of mobile structures distributed by the EU in Area C of the West Bank. This harks back to a report in November 2014 by the Israeli NGO Regavim, which draws a shocking parallel between the EU’s humanitarian assistance to Palestinians in Area C and Israel’s building of settlements there.  Assuming that Israel’s settlements are legal under international law, Regavim accuses the EU of assisting the Palestinians in an illegal plan to take control of large parts of the West Bank.

This simply puts matters on their head. There is no doubt that Israel’s settlement policy violates international law whereas assistance to Palestinians building in their own country is in full conformity with the EU’s responsibilities under humanitarian law.

Regavim claims that Israel does not “occupy” the West Bank, since that area was not under the sovereignty of any state when it was taken over by Israel. That argument is specious: it was firmly rejected by the International Court of Justice in 2004 in the case concerning the construction of the Wall, and it is not accepted by any other member of the international community. Contrary to Regavim’s argument, Israel does not enjoy sovereign rights over any part of the West Bank, whether in East Jerusalem or in Area C ; Israel must respect the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which it is a party, and which prohibits an occupying power from transferring its  population into occupied territory.

In 1947, the UN General Assembly recommended splitting mandatory Palestine into two independent states – an Arab State (Palestine) and a Jewish State (Israel). Whereas Israel unilaterally proclaimed independence at the time, Palestine could not do so, being occupied by Jordan and, since 1967, by Israel. This does not mean that the West Bank and East Jerusalem are subject to Israeli sovereignty. Palestinians in the West Bank live in their own country.

The Regavim report acknowledges that the EU saves Israel a great deal of resources through its humanitarian activities, which, “in effect, carry out Israel’s obligations towards the Palestinians.” However, it complains that, when financing Palestinian construction in Area C of...

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How ICC membership could revive Palestinian statehood at the UN

Could a shift in U.S.-Israeli relations lay the groundwork for bolder legal and diplomatic moves in the international arena against Israel and the occupation?

By Lolita Brayman

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s election success is being portrayed by some as a victory for the international aspects of the Palestinian cause. For months, Palestinians have been trying to leverage Europe’s frustration with Israeli actions and now the United States might be having second thoughts about wielding its almighty UN Security Council veto.

There is a global consensus for a two-state solution today. So when Netanyahu publicly abandoned his commitment to negotiating the creation of a Palestinian state—the basis of more than 20 years of U.S. peace efforts—Washington began hinting that there might be a change of diplomatic course. On Monday, Obama’s Chief of Staff Denis McDonough told J-Street conference participants that, “an occupation that has lasted for almost 50 years must end. Israeli cannot maintain military control of another people indefinitely.” The terminology certainly signals a shift, but is harsher rhetoric really a sign that the U.S. is intentionally opening a breach in the U.S.-Israel relationship?

The Palestinians will officially join the International Criminal Court (ICC) on April 1, at which time they will be able to refer actions by Israel in the West Bank and Gaza to the ex-parte tribunal. Court Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda will then have the ability to decide whether there is cause to launch a full inquiry — a step beyond the preliminary investigation she announced on January 16 following the State of Palestine’s request to accede to the Rome Statute.

Alongside whatever proceedings may take place in the Hauge, the international response to Netanyahu’s fourth term may also play out in New York: the “lawfare” battle could be indefinitely delayed by the UN Security Council. Last week, a Foreign Policy report indicated that the U.S. “might be inclined to support a UN Security Council resolution backing a two-state solution as an alternative to the Palestinian effort to hold Israel accountable at the ICC.”

The ICC and international law as leverage

Article 16 of the Rome Statute gives the Security Council the power to defer any ICC investigation for up to a year, which can be renewed once a year. In order to exercise that authority, the UNSC would need to demonstrate that further ICC involvement would impede rather than facilitate diplomatic progress....

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WATCH: IDF fires tear gas canisters directly at protestors

Two Palestinian protesters have been killed from the practice in recent years despite it being illegal.

By Natasha Roth

In keeping with a recent upsurge in the illegal use of lethal force during weekly Friday demonstrations in Nabi Saleh, video footage emerged last week of an Israeli soldier firing tear gas canisters directly at protesters on March 13, 2015, filmed by local journalist Bilal Tamimi. Shooting tear gas canisters directly at humans can be deadly, due to the velocity at which the canisters are fired. Just over three years ago, Mustafa Tamimi was killed in the same spot after being hit in the face by a canister at close range. In 2009, Bassem Abu Rahmah was killed after being struck in the chest by a tear gas canister in Bil’in. According to Israeli military guidelines, firing tear gas at a direct trajectory toward people – is irregular use of the weapon, and illegal.

This joins the army’s increasing use of live fire in Nabi Saleh against unarmed protesters, also illegal except in situations of “mortal danger.” During the demonstration shown in the video, a Palestinian demonstrator was shot in the leg by a live bullet; the army released a statement saying that the use of live fire had been in response to a “violent riot of 200 Palestinians” and that a Molotov cocktail had been thrown.

Both these claims are untrue; the demonstration was, however, a particularly violent one due to the actions of the Israeli army and Border Police. Several women and children demonstrators were beaten by soldiers, and three women were arrested: two residents of Nabi Saleh, Bushra Tamimi and Shireen al-Araj, and one Israeli activist, Tali Shapiro. Border Police also used stun grenades in an irregular fashion during the demonstration, throwing them directly at protesters rather than rolling them along the ground [Heb] – also visible in the video (the black canisters are stun grenades).

As those not being beaten and arrested started to run away from the attacks that day, the head of the Border Police unit repeatedly screamed “go home!” as canisters continued to fly past people’s heads and skid next to their feet.

The West Bank military commander, Brig. Gen. Tamir Yadai, boasted recently that the army had taken a “tougher approach” in the area. In light of this, the customary...

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WATCH: Noam Sheizaf at J Street: Nobody is talking about Gaza

Speaking at the 2015 J Street Conference in Washington D.C. on Sunday, +972 co-founder and writer Noam Sheizaf participated in a plenary panel called “Does Liberal Zionism Have a Future?”

Sheizaf called out both the conference and liberal American Jewry for the lack of discussion about the latest Gaza war. (Watch the full panel here.)

Later in the discussion, Sheizaf explained the dichotomy between liberalism and Zionism as it manifests itself in Israel, concluding that talk of diplomatic solutions must be preceded by a real civil rights movement.

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It's time for a one-state solution

There is no use convincing the Jewish public to support the two-state solution, especially when over 500,000 settlers live beyond the Green Line and there is no guarantee that a Palestinian state will not be the source of terror against Israelis. The only way forward is to grant full equality to all.

By Yonatan Amir

Every time I say that the two-state solution is no longer realistic, and that we need to think about new approaches to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, center-left voters respond with anger, condescension and pity. They claim that this is a far-fetched idea, not to mention dangerous and cruel (!) — an idea that proves the desire to destroy the State of Israel, and is disconnected from the will of the “sane Jewish majority.”

Let’s start with a reminder: the new Knesset includes 107 members belonging to Jewish parties. Seventy-eight of them oppose the two-state solution, and are divided between those who have no qualms about their stances (Likud, Jewish Home, Kulanu, Shas, United Torah Judaism and Yisrael Beiteinu), and a minority that talks about a solution but creates obstacles to ever achieving one (Yesh Atid). On the other side we have the supporters of two states: five MKs from Meretz and 24 from the Zionist Camp. All in all, 29 versus 78.

These are the statistics. We aren’t talking about a difference of 2-3 seats that could make a difference in the future, not a “majority,” not “sane,” no “support” and no “solution.” The majority of Israelis oppose a two-state solution. Welcome to the negligible minority.

‘Everything will be okay’

Since the end of the 90s, there has been not a single election result that did not demand some form self-examination from the Israeli Left. But instead of formulating a new agenda, the Left deals, again and again, with the question of how to get new voters to support old ideas. This is a logical step when considering issues such as civil rights, gender equality and allocating the budget to different cultural groups. Not when we are dealing with concrete political solutions.

Let’s put aside the Left’s historical colorblindness toward Israel’s periphery, and focus on the Israeli-Palestinian story, in which it takes the correct position. It often feels like if only the leaders from the Israeli Left learn to speak to the people in a way that will allow to...

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The most important word missing from these elections

If the Left wants to win elections, it cannot continue to hide its true principles. It must speak clearly and openly about the most pressing issue facing Israel: the occupation.

By Amir Segal

Isaac Herzog will not be Israel’s next prime minister, and Benjamin Netanyahu overwhelmingly won this election. Now is the time when leftists most often express remorse, admit their mistakes and look for someone to blame for their defeat. The analysis on the loss ranges from long-winded explanations regarding Netanyahu’s success to listing every single failure of Herzog Zionist Camp.

It has become socially acceptable to blame the Left for being disconnected and unable to speak to the people, especially when it comes to Jewish identity. Some commentators see the Ashkenazi-secular identity of the Israeli Left as a reason for its loss. Ram Fruman even claimed that the Left has no chance of winning [Hebrew], and instead it should focus on helping itself.

They are wrong. This pseudo-sociological jargon is no more than an attempt at a clever analysis of a simple problem. More than that, it is pure condescension to think that more “Jewish” or “folksy” election messages will win the hearts and minds of the masses. The truth is that the Israeli Left, as well as the center, have stopped proposing a solution to the biggest, most important problem of Israeli reality — the occupation.

People are barely making it to the end of the month, and both the educational and health care system are in trouble. Many of us won’t be able to buy apartments. This is all true. But the most significant problem is the occupation. It defines our identity, it is the source of our problems in the international community and it will carve out the future of the state. But most of all, it is a perpetual injustice. Why should a politician who does not offer an appropriate response to this issue expect to win elections?

The last time Likud didn’t win an election was 2006, when Kadima received the most votes. It is easy to criticize Kadima and Olmert, but for the sake of historical accuracy, at least Olmert honestly believed that he would continue the “disengagement” (which began with Sharon in 2005) from the Palestinian territories, which would bring an end to the occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian state.

For those who viewed Olmert’s...

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'American Sniper': A film of love and ignorance

Some people have said American Sniper is racist, a piece of propaganda, a movie full of hatred. But if you squint and tilt your head, you will see that it is actually a movie full of love and ignorance.

By Paula Schmitt

While most critics of “American Sniper” are on the right side of issues, it is worth remembering that love and hatred, much like “right side,” are all subjective concepts. It takes intellectual courage to understand that Chris Kyle essentially represents the best – if most misguided – American values. If political analysts continue to ignore that it may well be love that motivates the individual soldier – love of family, nation, brotherhood, god – it will be harder to fight the militarism and false sense of honor instilled in the minds of American children from birth.

Before I continue, two caveats: First, I am not interested in how much the movie is or isn’t faithful to the book; I’m talking about the movie itself. Also, I am not judging its artistic merits, if for nothing else because my benchmarks in cinema are Sam Peckinpah and Stanley Kubrick – the former for the best movie treatises on morality and the volatility of good & evil, and the latter for what are probably the two greatest war movies ever made.* It would be awfully unfair of me to compare Eastwood to those men.

American Sniper poster. (Miztixdotcom/CC BY-SA 4.0)

In one of the most commendable critiques of “American Sniper,” credited by some with ruining its Oscars chances, Rania Khalek writes that the “immeasurable suffering” of the Iraqi people is “completely erased from the narrative presented in ‘American Sniper’.” She is right, of course, but that is not dishonest of Eastwood, on the contrary. “American Sniper” is valuable precisely because its lack of nuance is also the lack of nuance in real life, and the Iraqi suffering absent from the film is also absent from the minds of each aspiring Chris Kyle. The slit of truth shown in “American Sniper,” distressingly narrow as it is, will be the whole truth most Americans will ever get. As it happens, the first victims of American politics are born in the United States.

But you may have a hard time knowing Chris Kyle was a victim. For the film, he was a hero; for the critics, he was...

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