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Cops shoot Palestinian attacker, even after she no longer poses threat

The police claim Rahik Shagiya Muhammad Yousef approached them at a checkpoint with a knife. A new video reveals that the officers fired 12 bullets, killing her when she no longer posed a threat.

By John Brown*

On Wednesday morning Israeli Border Police officers shot Rahik Shagiya Muhammad Yousef at a checkpoint in the northern West Bank. Yousef, 19, from the village Asira A-Shamaliya near Nablus, was shot after she allegedly approached the officers at Tapuach checkpoint and pulled out a knife. According to the Police Spokesperson, the officers reportedly called on Yousef to stop and fired warning shots in the air before shooting her.

A video published by Israeli news site Walla!, however, reveals that the police statement left out a key piece of the story. According to the video, four Border Police officers continue to shoot at the young woman from close range as she lies on the ground and poses no threat.

Israeli police spokesperson Luba Al-Samri distributed a photo to reporters in which Yousef is clearly seen holding a knife. As opposed to the photography, the knife could hardly been in the video. And while the video is not high quality enough to prove a thing, it certainly raises serious questions.

This is not to deny the likelihood that Yousef was looking to stab the officers, or perhaps using the attack as a means to commit suicide — a motivation for a good number of attempted attacks over the past year. But there is no doubt that such a massive use of force, when Yousef was already lying on the ground with no way to harm the officers, merits serious investigation.

Israeli police issued the following response to the video:

The police further stated that the video shows that the police ceased shooting “immediately after she was neutralized.” A closer look at the clip, however, reveals precisely the opposite. The police added that the incident was under investigation.

Not an isolated case

These kinds of incidents have become common ever since the latest wave of violence broke out. On September 21, a 13-year-old Palestinian girl marched toward the checkpoint [Hebrew] adjacent to the Israeli settlement of Alfei Menashe. When she did not respond to calls to stop, she was shot. Despite duplicitous reports [Hebrew], the girl was not holding a knife and posed no threat to the shooters. The killers were never held responsible.

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An assault on storytelling: The other sides of Poland

A new law in Poland criminalizing Holocaust-related speech presents an offensive, distorted narrative about the nation’s wartime history and its coming-to-terms with the past. But that’s far from the whole story.

By David Sarna Galdi

The Polish cabinet last month approved a law that will punish (including imprisonment) anyone for claiming that Poles killed Jews during the Second World War or referring to concentration camps like Auschwitz, which were located in Nazi-occupied Poland, as “Polish.” The legislation was met with widespread criticism, most of which missed the point; what’s most egregiously offensive about this law is its assault on storytelling.

The current Polish government, led by the far-right, nationalist, anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ and Eurosceptic “Law and Justice Party,” has spent the year since its election sparking international condemnation for refusing to accept refugees, purging the ranks of the police and intelligence services, passing laws that inhibit the power of the judiciary, and dismissing inconvenient public broadcasting directors.

In February President Andrzej Duda announced his intention to revoke national honors bestowed on a Jan Tomasz Gross, a Polish historian who researched Polish complicity in the Holocaust. In July, Law and Justice’s education minister, Anna Zalewska, denied outright the well-documented participation of Polish citizens in Poland’s two most infamous pogroms against Jews.

Based on all of that anti-democratic flag-waving and previous attempts at repackaging Holocaust history, it’s fair to assume that the new law is designed to whitewash the story of wartime Poland and as a sword of Damocles hanging over free speech, “block attempts to reveal the truth about the murder of Jews by Poles during the Holocaust,” as Daniel Blatman wrote in Haaretz.

The Polish government is not alone; all communities and nations tell stories about themselves in order to create meaning. Indeed, all of history is a form of storytelling: “not a monument erected once and admired ever after,” as Rokhl Kafrissen wrote last month, “but an infrastructure tended” and “inevitably shaped by those who take it up.” Even renowned Holocaust historian Raul Hilberg, after writing his magnum opus, “The Destruction of the European Jews,” admitted that storytelling and poetry were tools to convey horrors that evaded normal language. I can express exactly why the Polish law is so offensive by telling my own story.

My grandfather, Joseph Sarna, one of six brothers, was born in 1921, to a simple, hardworking family in Dzialoszyce, a small town located...

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Gaza's women are being besieged on all sides

Between an endless siege that chokes the economy and a traditional society facing increased gender violence, Gaza’s women have few options for survival.

By Reem Amer and Tanya Rubinstein

Over the past few weeks the Israeli media has focused much of its time on the all-female flotilla to Gaza, which was stopped by the Israeli army on the way from Sicily to the Strip. As was made clear by the recent Channel 2 report, the women aboard the flotilla are working to raise global awareness over the situation in Gaza, and are trying to make a change.

But what the media tends to miss in its coverage is the situation in Gaza itself. Women living under occupation and siege suffer from specific crises, as opposed the rest of the population. They suffer from both the Israeli army’s violence as well as the violence of their own society. They suffer from restrictions to health care, hygiene, and basic necessities, along with difficulties in areas of employment. The struggle against Israel’s policies vis-a-vis Gaza compels us to stand alongside women as they struggle for rights in their own society.

An attack on agriculture

But before we get to the women, let’s talk about the economic situation in Gaza today. The siege, the severe restrictions on goods, Israel’s control of the economy and trade in the Strip, and repeated attacks that leave behind bodies and destroyed property have caused the situation in Gaza to greatly deteriorate over the past few years. This fact influences nearly every aspect of the lives of the population there.

Economic growth has stagnated since the siege was imposed in 2006; unemployment currently stands at 40 percent; according to the World Bank, the majority of Gaza’s economy is based today on international aid, and cannot sustain itself; four out of five Gaza residents are in need of humanitarian aid.

In the past agriculture formed Gaza’s economic base. Since the siege, and especially since the 2014 war, the number of agricultural workers has declined from 60,000 to between 25,000-35,000. Among the reasons for this dramatic decrease are Israel’s repeated bombing of agricultural areas, the restrictions on movement in the lethal no-go buffer zone along Gaza’s border with Israel, spraying agricultural lands adjacent to the border fence with herbicides, the lack of unpolluted water sources, the harsh restrictions on the kinds and amount of goods that are allowed into Gaza (including...

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Trapped 'from fence to fence' in Gaza

Not only are these borders artificially drawn, they highlight the utter insanity of fencing an entire population in the world’s largest open-air prison simply because of Israel’s need to maintain a Jewish demographic majority.

By Jehad Abu Salim

Summer days are long, but in Gaza, they are longer than one might think. They get even longer when the electricity and the internet are shut off, which is most of the time. This had been my daytime nightmare ever since Israel imposed its siege on the Gaza Strip in 2007. To escape it, you could read or visit a friend to talk to, but when the weather gets hot and humid, the energy to do any of these activities evaporates.

On one such hot and humid day, I went to the roof of my house out of boredom. Although this was not the first time I had looked at the landscape from my family’s rooftop in Deir Al-Balah, some thoughts and reflections made this day unforgettable. I looked east and there were the borders between the Gaza Strip and Israel, and I looked west and there was the sea. From that same spot, both borders were visible, and between them, the familiar scene of innumerable drab houses stretching towards both horizons.

At that moment, I recalled one of the famous common sayings used by Palestinians in Gaza to refer to the Strip: we’re trapped ‘min al-silik ila al-silik’ (from the fence to the fence). This simple phrase sums up Gaza’s current reality: a fenced place, surrounded by dead-ends and, within it, a caged human sea with almost no hope or future. Such thoughts never abandoned me. They chased me most of the time I spent in Gaza, where I observed how the Strip grew ever more overcrowded.

‘From fence to fence’ is a simple enough expression, and yet it reflects the geographic space Palestinians inhabit. For them, ‘the fence’ is the most pernicious manifestation of the Zionist conquest in 1948, and its continuity into the present. The fence is a physical barrier that was imposed by an external force, which divides what the Palestinians in Gaza consider as their historic land, and which prevents them from returning to their original towns and villages. The fence is a constant reminder of the rupture caused by the 1948 War, which pushed many Palestinians out of their towns and villages in what is today the State of Israel.

Even when some Gazans refer to the armistice line of 1949, few people refer to...

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'The occupation is sustainable because the world refuses to take action'

The following is a transcript of the prepared remarks B’Tselem executive director Hagai El-Ad delivered to UN Security Council members during a special ‘Arria-formula’ session on ‘Illegal Israeli Settlements: Obstacles to Peace and the Two-State Solution’ in New York on October 14, 2016.

By Hagai El-Ad

Members of the Security Council,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Before I begin, I would like to express my deep thanks for this unique opportunity of speaking at this distinguished forum and engaging with the members of the UN Security Council.

What I’m about to say is not meant to shock you. It is, however, meant to move you.

For the past 49 years – and counting – the injustice known as the occupation of Palestine, and Israeli control of Palestinian lives in Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem, has become part of the international order. The first half-century of this reality will soon be over. On behalf of B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, I implore you today to take action. Anything short of decisive international action will achieve nothing but ushering in the second half of the first century of the occupation.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

What does it mean, in practical terms, to spend 49 years, a lifetime, under military rule? When violence breaks out, or when particular incidents attract global attention, you get a glimpse into certain aspects of life under occupation. But what about the rest of the time? What about the many “ordinary” days of a 17,898-day-long occupation, which is still going strong? Living under military rule mostly means invisible, bureaucratic, daily, violence. It means living under an endless permit regime, which controls Palestinian life from cradle to grave: Israel controls the population registry; Israel controls work permits; Israel controls who can travel abroad – and who cannot; Israel controls who can visit from abroad – and who cannot; in some villages, Israel maintains lists of who can visit the village, or who is allowed to farm which fields. Permits can sometimes be denied; permits must always be renewed. Thus with every breath they take, Palestinians breathe in occupation. Make a wrong move, and you can lose your freedom of movement, your livelihood, or even the opportunity to marry and build a family with your beloved.

Meanwhile, ever present, are the settlements and the settlers. They are Israeli citizens living, ostensibly, in a first-world democracy, that somehow...

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Let’s talk about what UNESCO resolution does say instead of what it doesn’t

The absence of an affirmation of Judaism’s connection to the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif is being exploited to distract from Israeli violations of the status quo, and restrictions on Muslim-Palestinian access to the holy site.

By Tom Pessah

Anti-Semitism, for Netanyahu and much of the Israeli and Jewish press, is clickbait. Mention it and you can all but guarantee almost automatic outrage. Just like advertisers can avoid talking about why a car is expensive by using sexual imagery or even the word “sex” to sell it, the Israeli government can dodge difficult questions about its policy by “anti-Semitizing” those who raise these questions.

UNESCO passed a resolution regarding holy Muslim sites in Jerusalem on Thursday. After “affirming the importance of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls for the three monotheistic religions,” the resolution calls for the restoration of the previous status quo around “Al-Aqṣa Mosque/Al-Ḥaram Al-Sharif and its surroundings.”

The resolution notes that Israel is violating Muslims’ freedom of worship by hindering and preventing their access to the Aqsa Mosque; “deplores the continuous storming” of the mosque compound by Israeli right-wing extremists and uniformed forces; decries arrests and injuries of Muslim worshippers in the mosque; and “[r]egrets the damage caused by the Israeli forces, especially since 23 August 2015, to the historic gates and windows of the al-Qibli Mosque inside Al-Aqṣa Mosque/Al-Ḥaram Al-Sharif, and reaffirms, in this regard, the obligation of Israel to respect the integrity, authenticity and cultural heritage of Al-Aqṣa Mosque/Al-Ḥaram Al-Sharif, as reflected in the historic status quo, as a Muslim holy site of worship and as an integral part of a world cultural heritage site.”

In a parallel universe, the Israeli prime minister could have promised to do more to uphold Muslims’ freedom of worship and to reassure the Muslim world that Israel is not trying to damage the mosque. Those are real and important issues. Instead, Netanyahu’s reaction was: “to say that Israel has no connection to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall is like saying that China has no connection to the Great Wall of China and that Egypt has no connection to the pyramids.”

Nowhere in the UNESCO resolution is there any statement invalidating or denying Jews’ connection to Temple Mount: the Jewish connection isn’t discussed in any way, either positively or negatively. It is not mentioned because the resolution is about Israeli damage to a Muslim holy site – Al-Aqsa...

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How Obama can salvage his legacy on Israel-Palestine

Netanyahu knows there will be no price to be paid for bad behavior. But Obama still has a chance to take a harder line, to create consequences for the Israeli leadership’s self-destructive behavior.

By James J. Zogby

I was both understanding of and puzzled by the Obama administration’s reaction to Israel’s announcement of new settlement construction in occupied Palestinian lands last week.

It was just a few weeks ago that the White House signed a new 10-year agreement with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu committing a total of $38 billion in military assistance to Israel. In announcing the deal, President Obama noted that it was the most significant support package ever offered to Israel, demonstrating his unparalleled commitment to that state’s security. Shortly thereafter, Obama, speaking before the UN General Assembly, cautioned Israel that it “cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land.”

And so it was like a slap in the face when, when Netanyahu announced he was building new settlement units in colonies deep in the West Bank, along with ongoing plans to expand settlements in other sensitive areas of the occupied lands — in Arab areas of Jerusalem, in the heart of Hebron, and around Bethlehem. All of these are clear provocations and when seen in combination make clear Israel’s intention to maintain its control over the West Bank, making impossible the establishment of a viable Palestinian state. Adding insult to injury was the fact that Netanyahu’s the announcement came just two days before Obama was to travel to Israel to speak at the memorial service for Shimon Peres.

And so, I was not surprised when the reactions from the White House and the State Department were quite harsh. The White House spokesperson noted that every U.S. administration, since 1967, has opposed settlements in the occupied lands and reaffirmed their view that expanding settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem only served to further frustrate a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The White House went further by accusing Netanyahu of violating his commitment to the US that he would refrain from any further settlement expansion noting, caustically that “l guess, when we’re talking about how good friends treat one another, that’s a concern, as well”.

For its part, the State Department spokesperson “strongly condemned [the Israeli] plan that would create a significant new settlement deep in the West Bank”. He referred to the expansion as being yet “another step toward...

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Palestinian mothers teach life, not hate

How am I supposed to explain to my six-year-old son the heinous acts he witnesses Israel perpetrating against his people? How do you suggest I explain the violence of your occupation to my kid, Mr. Netanyahu?

By Dalal Erakat

In his address to the UN General Assembly last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had the audacity to insinuate that Palestinian mothers teach their children to hate. As a proud Palestinian mother, I must remind him of the life his country — through half a century of occupation and exile — has given our children. As a Palestinian mother, I demand an apology from Mr. Netanyahu, and I call on Israeli mothers to join me.

My oldest son, Sari, was born and raised in Canada until the age of six, at which point my husband and I decided he had the right to grow up in his own country and among his family. So we returned to our homeland. I always looked forward to the moment when I would get to see my parents on the weekends or watch my kids play with their cousins during recess at school.

Our return to Palestine, however, was not what I had expected. I quickly had to try and find explanations so Sari could comprehend what was going on around him.

Our arrival in June 2014 was untimely; it coincided with Mr. Netanyahu launching a military aggression against our people in Gaza. The images of the massive death and destruction were horrific. Sari was traumatized.

I never tried to impose any political beliefs on my family. I have always been supportive of cultural exchanges, of openness, and I never tried to prevent my children from seeing the world around them. In Montreal, my son would celebrate Hanukkah with his Jewish friends; we never told him it wasn’t his to celebrate or that it belonged to a religion different than his own. His Jewish friends adored him and they were buddies. Why would any mother, myself included, destroy a childhood over something they didn’t choose in the first place?

Like everyone else around him, Sari followed the outrageous Israeli onslaught on Gaza, only about 100 kilometers from where we live. Soon, my six-year-old told me he hates Israelis because they were destroying the lives of kids his age in Gaza — leaving them without parents, without schools, without playgrounds or any hope. I realized I had to start dealing with politics in my household.

When my son asked if the Israeli army would bomb our home as well,...

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Occupation denial is pushing me out of my Jewish community

I can no longer remain silent as many in the Jewish establishment continue to support the occupation, publicly reject the Movement for Black Lives, and remain silent on Trump.

By Jenn Pollan

Four years ago on a 100 degree day, I sat on the porch of a home in Bethlehem while a Palestinian man named Samer pointed to the Israeli settlements that surrounded his home. As he spoke Samer fiddled with a small cross necklace I previously failed to noticed he was wearing. When he saw I was looking at the necklace, he paused and said with an almost alarming casualness: “This is for the checkpoints. The soldiers treat you better if they know you’re Christian rather than Muslim.”

To bear witness to the stark reality of Israeli rule over the occupied territories — the home demolitions, the settler violence, the lack of access to water and anything resembling a fair trial — is to become confronted with just how deeply the American Jewish establishment has failed.

As a young Jew, an anti-occupation activist, and an active alumna of Habonim Dror, AVODAH, Young Judea, the Reform Movement, and the Pardes Institute, I often find myself in spaces with all the trappings of “progressive Jewish values” — where community members and leaders either remain silent about or actively support the occupation.

I have, until now, remained committed to engaging with Jewish spaces and organizations. But despite my deep love of Jewish ritual and tradition, this year I fear I may have to leave my synagogue and the Jewish institutions that raised me behind.

This past year has been one of profound injustice. We have seen people of color murdered by the police at alarming rates with impunity. We have seen a resurgence of white nationalist rhetoric and policy ideas so heinous that our grandparents call us from Florida to tell us “we’ve heard this before.” In a year of so much pain, I turned to my Jewish community for solace and found only silence — or worse — deliberate action to maintain the status quo. This year support for the occupation crossed a dangerous threshold: it is now keeping American Jews from supporting the most important civil rights movement of our time, Black Lives Matter.

Recently the Movement for Black Lives released a visionary platform full of innovative policy ideas for addressing centuries of racism. In the platform they used...

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The Israeli gov’t must stop threatening to defund media outlets

+972 Magazine stands in solidarity with our colleagues at Israel Social TV, who are being targeted for political reasons by two government ministries.

Israel’s Communications Ministry appears to have its crosshairs on “Israel Social TV,” one of a very small number of independent media outlets providing on-the-ground coverage of social and political struggles in Israel and Palestine.

Communications Ministry Director-General Shlomo Filber said he plans to cut public funding to Social TV, accusing it of “subverting the foundations of the state, and providing a platform for the delegitimization of IDF soldiers.” Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Uri Ariel followed with a threat of his own — to revoke four national service positions allotted to the organization.

According to several reports, the two government ministries took aim at Social TV following a campaign by a group of right-wing IDF reservists that accused it of providing favorable news coverage to nonviolent actions against the occupation, including the all-female flotilla intercepted by the Israeli Navy last week, conscientious objectors, and the BDS movement.

Israel Social TV was launched as an independent media outlet in 2006 and is largely sustained by support from private and public foundations (it is reportedly one of 27 non-profits in Israel that will be singled out by the new NGO law). Only 8 percent of the organization’s budget comes from the Israeli Communications Ministry. It is also one of fewer than 40 percent of outlets that broadcast on Channel 98 (“The Community Channel”) that meets the criteria for public funding.

Israel Social TV responded by saying that if the Communications Ministry believes it has broken any laws with its broadcasts, that it should take action through the appropriate legal channels. The director-general’s lack of enthusiasm for the content of their programming, however, does not form a basis to cut its funding.

These threats against Social TV must be seen as part of a sustained campaign by the government against the media in Israel, especially since the last elections. That campaign has included Prime Minister Netanyahu’s campaign to sabotage the nascent Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation, Defense Minister Liberman’s intervention in content broadcasted by Israel’s Army Radio, and the uptick in judicial gag orders and censorship by the IDF Censor.

The Palestinian media, on the other hand, has for years been subject to acts of physical and structural violence at the hands of Israeli authorities....

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Western democracies, it's on you to end the carnage in Syria

Only once Western democracies have committed their resources to ending the atrocities in Syria can they turn inward to rid their societies of the hate and bigotry that plagues them.

By Ilan Manor

Words matter. Words help us understand the world we inhabit and shape our response to events far and near. Some refer to the events unfolding in Syria with the words “civil war.” These words, carefully selected by policymakers and politicians aim to prevent us from crying out against the atrocities in Aleppo and Homs.

Civil wars are internal matters. So why should the UK or the U.S. or France intervene in an internal matter? Civil wars are also, by nature, violent and bloody. They see brother pitted against brother, father pitted against son and national leaders pitted against their own people. So what are we to expect but more bloodshed and more anguish? Lastly, civil wars can culminate in the re-birth of nations, as was the case in England and America. So why should we act to end civil wars when they are but transitional moments in a greater plot?

Carnage. Slaughter. These are words that more amply describe that which is occurring in Syria. A madman is throwing barrels of fire from the sky. A fanatical movement in enslaving women and beheading young men and an army devoid of reason is starving its own population by bombing aid conveys making their way to besieged cities.

And the enlightened world watches in apathy and boredom. Its leaders stand on the world stage and proclaim their commitment to end the carnage and slaughter. Yet only from the sky and only from high altitudes.

The problem with high altitudes is that from such heights all men seem like ants and all misery remains hidden.

By allowing this onslaught to continue for more than four years, Western democracies such as the UK, France and the U.S. have reached the final stop in what has been decade long journey — a journey that has seen these nations abandon their moral compass. Life, liberty, and equality are now but slogans carved in stone atop national assemblies or written on the back of bank notes.

It should not be surprising that these are the very countries that have witnessed the emergence of isolationism, populism, xenophobia and Trumpism, for nations that abandon their morals abroad will soon find these moral contested at home. The road to Brexit...

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Trump courts Adelson, flip-flops on Israel-Palestine

The candidate who claimed he was immune to influence from large donors has done a complete 180 on Israel-Palestine since securing the support of pro-Israel mega-donor Sheldon Adelson.

By Eli Clifton

Donald Trump has been accused of misogyny, racism, and Islamophobia as well as shifting his positions on key issues such as the Iraq War and abortion. But despite his slide to the right, he has stuck doggedly to many positions since announcing his candidacy. He still claims Mexico will pay for a wall on the U.S. border. He even continues to remind voters that he called Rosie O’Donnell “a fat pig,” even when simultaneously pushing back against Hillary Clinton’s accusation that he’s sexist and misogynistic.

But on a key issue, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Trump has made a 180-degree shift in his position. And, for a candidate who proudly boasts about self-funding and not being in the pocket of billionaires and special interests, his shift has coincided with a $25 million infusion of Super PAC funds from casino billionaire, and pro-Israel mega donor, Sheldon Adelson.

Over the course of the election cycle, Adelson and Trump haven’t always seen eye-to-eye. In fact, they got off to a rocky start.

In October of last year, Trump used Adelson’s name to accuse his primary opponent, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), of being a puppet of big donors. Trump tweeted:

In December, he spoke before the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), a group backed by GOP megadonors Paul Singer and Adelson, and embraced a series of crude and historically troubling characterizations of Jews. Trump quipped that the audience was full of people who enjoy renegotiating deals and then seemed to turn on the group, saying that while he’s “the best thing that could ever happen to Israel” the RJC won’t support him because he didn’t “want your money.”

In February, Trump also split with Adelson, who is a firm ally of right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, by saying that he would be “neutral” on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Parting ways with the rest of the GOP primary field, Trump said, “I think it serves no purposes generally to say there’s a good guy and...

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I love Miri Regev

I have never met Miri Regev, but it feels like I have known her my entire life. I grew up, like her, in a place where we were constantly reminded that some people are worth less than others.

By Alon Mizrahi

I don’t know Culture Minister Miri Regev. I have never met her. But I have been surrounded by women and girls like her my entire life. And I think I know exactly what she thinks and how she feels.

Like myself, millions of others don’t know Miri Regev in the slightest, and yet just the mere mention of her name brings up strong feelings, for better or for worse. And this is because Miri Regev fits perfectly into the Israeli category that is not political by nature: if this is a script — and it is a script, lest you have any doubts — Miri Regev is the Moroccan girl from the periphery to whom rich, condescending, Ashkenazim do not take kindly. The girl who, as she stands before the show-offs of Tel Aviv, is told: go back to where you come from.

And among Ashkenazim and in Tel Aviv this girl and her gang will always walk around with a tense nervousness camouflaged as overconfidence or outright grumbling: but in their hearts they feel that they are not good enough, and they are only waiting for someone, anyone, to confirm those feelings — to show them the door. They will curse him, they may even threaten him with violence — because in their hearts they will feel cursed themselves. Or worse: that there is something “right” in the hostility toward them. That they truly are dirty and unworthy.

People identify with Miri Regev because there are many women and men in Israel who grew up with that exact feeling. Miri is their powerful symbol, the same way singer Ninet was a symbol for Israeli girls from the periphery in the beginning of the 2000s. Girls born to families without much money or education, who grew up in housing projects. Those girls and their families viewed Ninet’s success as their own.

Much bad blood has spread through Israeli culture and politics since the beginning of that decade. Forces of hatred and division from all sides of the spectrum gained power. The Mizrahi story, which previously was championed by the Mizrahi Democratic Rainbow — which the establishment always viewed as the radical left — was adopted with glee by...

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