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Red-Dead pipeline is the wrong answer, politically and environmentally

Pumping Red Sea water into the Dead Sea to save it from drying up ignores environmental consequences, experts warn. Rights groups decry the plan as an ‘attempt to force the Palestinian population to consent to their own dispossession.’

By Keren Simons

Israel and Jordan last Thursday signed a historic agreement to cooperate over their shared bodies of water, in a move to protect the shrinking Dead Sea and to address the looming potable water crisis in the two countries. A pipeline from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea is proposed to refill water in the salt lake, and desalinization plants to be built in Jordan. The Palestinian Authority, a party to the Memorandum of Understanding on replenishing the Dead Sea in December 2013, was not a party to this agreement. The World Bank sponsored this long-awaited plan, hailed as an initiative to promote peace in the region through economic and environmental cooperation, on the understanding that environmental problems have no borders.

The Red-Dead conveyance, however, is far from a perfect plan. Environmental groups have argued that the World Bank environmental impact study does not adequately address serious concerns about the effect on ecosystems in both the Red and Dead seas, nor did it consider alternative proposed plans. Palestinian human rights groups have maintained that the plan is part of a continuum of violations of Palestinian rights to water. MK Silvan Shalom implied the plan was another element to realization of the Zionist dream, saying, “today we realize the vision of Binyamin Ze’ev [Theodore] Herzl, the visionary of the state, who already at the end of the 19th century understood the need to revive the Dead Sea.”

Palestinian rights groups state that the World Bank’s feasibility study and Environmental and Social Assessment study lack transparency, or a mandate given to them by a credible consultative and participatory process. They allege that key concerns brought up by Palestinians on Israeli violations of water rights were deliberately ignored.

The Dead Sea is not actually a sea, but a hypersaline lake, naturally replenished by water flowing into it from the Jordan River. The Jordan, however, has been overexploited, polluted, and diverted, with large parts of the lower river in serious danger of drying up. An estimated 98 percent of the trans-boundary Jordan River has been diverted by Israel, Jordan and Syria for public use before it can ever reach the Dead Sea.

Largely...

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'You killed my son': Cop who shot Bedouin man is back on the job

When Khaled al-Ja’ar called the police to report drug dealers in his neighborhood, he never thought they would kill his son. Now he is turning to Israel’s top court to demand that his son’s killer, who has since been released and put back on the job, be arrested and prosecuted.

By John Brown* and Michal Rotem
(translated from Hebrew by Ofer Neiman)

When Khaled al-Ja’ar alerted the police to drug activity taking place in the Negev city of Rahat, he never imagined the night would end with him being severely beaten, handcuffed and humiliated at a police station, several minutes after watching his son die in front of him. Now he is appealing to the Israeli High Court of Justice, demanding that the officer who shot his son be rearrested, and that the officers who assaulted him be interrogated.

On Wednesday, January 14, during a police raid in neighborhood No. 26 in Rahat, an officer from the Rahat police used his side arm to shoot to death Sami al-Jaar to death, a 22-year-old man on his way home from work. About a month later, on February 12, the officer admitted his involvement in the shooting and was arrested for the purpose of interrogation, but released to house arrest a short while later. Two weeks ago, Sami’s father, Khaled, petitioned the High Court of Justice asking for an order nisi, via Adv. Shmuel Zilberman. Khaled is demanding that the officer suspected of killing his son be rearrested until the end of legal proceedings, thereby cancelling his release. In addition, he is demanding that all the officers suspected of assaulting him be interrogated and/or arrested. The petition was filed with the High Court, but while hearings of this type are usually scheduled within a few days, a date for the hearing of this petition has yet to be set. Meanwhile, the officer who killed Sami is back on the job.

The killing of al-Ja’ar triggered a sequence of events from which Rahat is still reeling, but this is just one part of the horrifying story that follows, and has now been revealed in the petition and in our conversation with Khaled al-Ja’ar. Another part of the story involves the violent and racist abuse of Khaled, a former professional soldier in the IDF, whose family lost a son in the 1973 war. Khaled was severely beaten and...

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The road to Palestinian statehood runs through Gaza

Irrespective of who wins in Israel’s elections, Palestine will have to deal with the marginalization of its quest for statehood. That process must start by reintegrating Gaza into the Palestinian fold.

By Salam Fayyad

For Palestinians the quest for statehood begins with Gaza. But wait, is there still active regional or international interest in the cause of Palestinian statehood? I submit that whatever residual interest remains in the possibility of making yet another attempt at reviving the “peace process” finds expression these days largely in the phrase “let’s first see what March 17 brings,” a reference to the upcoming Israeli elections.

I also argue that, irrespective of the outcome of those elections, all concerned, but especially Palestinians, will find themselves having to first deal with what arguably is the worst state of marginalization, both regionally and internationally, to ever befall the quest for Palestinian statehood.

Two main reasons underlie this marginalization. The first relates to the broadening, in the aftermath of the failure of the most recent round of diplomacy, of the base of an already deep sense of skepticism regarding the capacity of the Oslo framework to deliver on its promise after more than two decades of futility. The second relates to the virtually complete regional and international preoccupation with the present and fast-mushrooming threat posed by ISIL and like-minded non-state actors in the region and way beyond it.

Even though the weaker of the two parties in the highly asymmetrical balance of power between the occupier and the occupied, the Palestinians still do have a shot at cracking the marginalization nut if they start from where it matters the most, namely, with Gaza. This happens to be the right choice, both because of the urgent need to deal with the catastrophic human conditions there, but also strategically, given the necessity of reintegrating Gaza into the Palestinian fold as a key requirement on the path to sovereignty.

This reintegration requires taking serious steps towards beginning to manage Palestinian pluralism effectively, with respect to the requirements of both national governance and international engagement. This, in turn, requires the immediate convening and activation of the Unified Leadership Framework (ULF), ensuring that the Palestinian government is fully empowered and representative of the entire political spectrum, and reconvening the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).

The ULF – a hitherto largely dormant forum – consists of leaders of all Palestinian factions, with membership in it not...

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Israelis, Iranians pay the same price for nuclear ambitions

The discussion surrounding Netanyahu’s Congress speech presumes that Iran does not have a right to nuclear weapons but that Israel does. Another way of looking at things is a nuclear-free Middle East, and an alliance between the oppressed citizens of Iran and Israel.

By Mati Shemoelof

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trip to the United States, which was ostensibly meant to address the danger of Iran’s nuclear program, has a hidden angle that goes unspoken in the Israeli media.

The discussion surrounding Iran deals mainly with whether the Islamic Republic has nuclear capabilities. This angle does not deal with Israel itself, or with nuclear proliferation of the entire Middle East. In light of the upcoming elections, it is especially important to note the exorbitant price that Israeli citizens pay (a quarter of whom live below the poverty line) for Israel’s choice to be a nuclear power, according to foreign sources. Those same sources claim Israel has Jericho missiles, tactical delivery systems, ballistic missile submarines and nuclear-armed fighter jets, as well as hundreds of nuclear bombs that continue to be developed.

Do nuclear weapons protect Israel? Is the investment worth it? These issues are never spoken about. Preventing the enemy from obtaining similar weapons is practically axiomatic in this country. According to the West, the Jews are allowed to have an unsupervised, unlimited nuclear arsenal with no environmental regulations. Think about the danger such an old nuclear reactor poses to the nearby city of Dimona. Is the reactor carcinogenic for its workers and the people who live in the area? Where does Israel bury its nuclear waste?

According to the West, Israel can have nuclear weapons because of the Holocaust, but the Iranians are dangerous because their previous leaders have called for the elimination of Israel. And here? Both the Right and the Left adopt this premise.

The West encourages Israel to arm itself with nuclear weapons; Germany sells us nuclear submarines; the United States sells us fighter jets. But are the Germans and the Americans aware that Israel’s arms industry, and the generals who control Israeli politics, are actually starving their citizens while they become rich? Are they even concerned by the sale such a dangerous weapon to a third world country such as Israel? Why is there no parity between Israel and Iran’s potential nuclear arsenal?

The Iranian people also suffer due to their leaders’ desire for the doomsday...

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The Joint List: The Israeli Left's last hope?

In light of the Joint List’s newfound strength, it might be high time for centrist and leftist parties to renegotiate their understanding of what it means to be Israeli.

By Louis Fishman

Much attention has been given to the Jewish-Arab Hadash party’s unification with the Arab parties, which are running in the current election under the name the “Joint List” (not the Arab Joint List, as much of the Israeli press is reporting). Even if this was done in order to ensure the parties pass the election threshold, it has turned into a major force on the Israeli political map, joining together communists, nationalists, Islamists, Arabs and Jews.

If polls are correct, the party could even come in third place, winning between 12 and 15 seats of the Israeli parliament’s 120 seats. While it is hard to imagine that the two expected winners of the elections, the Likud and the Zionist Camp (Labor), will enter in to a unity government, if they do, such a scenario could turn the Joint List into the main opposition party.

As opposed to the past, when most of the Israeli media brushed off the Arab parties as unworthy of election coverage, often even discarding Hadash as “Arab,” despite its Jewish constituency, the Joint List’s strength can no longer be ignored, leading to the obvious conclusion that Israeli Jews will also for the first time have to come to terms with the fact that the Palestinian minority constitutes almost 20 percent of the population.

Israel is a country made up of multiple sectors, divided along ethnic, religious and ideological lines, which leaves the winner of the Israeli election scrambling for the 60 seats needed to form a government. Despite the tough maneuvering to form a government, none of the major parties in Israeli history has ever invited anti-Zionist Jewish-Arab parties to be part of the government, making coalition-building even more difficult.

A chance for change

If this was not enough, in Israel, unlike most democracies where leftist parties adopt the struggle of the minority, the Labor Party also excludes the Arab constituencies. For example, by adopting the name the “Zionist Camp,” and attempting to disqualify MK Haneen Zoabi from running in the election, it made it clear that it does not differ from many in the Israeli Right.

Of course, there is the precedent from the 1990s when Labor leader Yitzhak...

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There's no nice way of building settlements in occupied territory

Those familiar with the system know that as long as settlement construction continues, the abuse and intimidation of the Palestinian civilian population will be maintained.

By Gerard Horton

UNICEF, the UN body tasked with providing humanitarian aid to children in developing countries, recently issued an update on the progress made regarding the treatment of minors held in Israeli military detention. In its 2013 report, Children in Israeli Military Detention, UNICEF reviewed over 400 sworn testimonies collected from minors who came in contact with Israel’s military system, and concluded that ill-treatment “appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized throughout the process,” and made 38 recommendations for improvement. Two years on, UNICEF is now warning that “reports of alleged ill-treatment of children during arrest, transfer, interrogation and detention have not significantly decreased in 2013 and 2014.”

Based on new evidence, UNICEF’s 2015 update found, among other things, that 91 percent of minors continue to report having their hands painfully tied; 82 percent report some form of physical violence; 78 percent are not adequately informed of their legal rights; 30 percent sign confessions in a foreign language; and 13 percent are held in solitary confinement while being interrogated.

But does any of this come as a surprise to those familiar with the system? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Last June marked 47 years since the Israeli military imposed martial law on the Palestinian civilian population in the West Bank. The UN estimates that, since then, over 750,000 Palestinian men, women and children have been detained — and in many cases prosecuted — in military courts that have jurisdiction over individuals as young as 12. The types of offenses prosecuted in these military courts range from acts of violence and membership in banned organizations to attending unauthorized protests — the latter of which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.

In order to understand how this system has remained in place for so long, one needs to consider the role it plays in maintaining control over the Palestinian civilian population in the West Bank, and why such control is so important to the military. The answer to this question must be considered in light of Israel’s continued settlement activity (the latest estimates indicate that the number of Israelis living in East Jerusalem and the West Bank is fast approaching 600,000). Whilst there is no serious dispute...

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The true colors of Netanyahu's audience

Protests during Netanyahu’s speech on Tuesday will make it clear that he doesn’t speak for all Jews, but rather for a dangerous alliance between extremist elements in Israel and the United States. 

By Avital Burg

Thousands of bikers, wearing leather jackets decorated with skull-shaped U.S. flags, eagles and guns, will ride tomorrow to Capitol Hill in Washington DC to support Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial speech in Congress.

On their Facebook event page, one of the organizers, Tina WhiteBacon Lane, wrote about the chosen location for their rally: “…that is where the Muslims will be…It will be the fuse being lit, the revolution to take back Christian America….we cannot let it continue or go backward.”

This alliance, between the Israeli Right and a group of militant Islamophobic Americans, reflects one of the more dangerous aspects of the “special” relationship between Israel and the United States – the alliance between right-wing extremists in both countries.

A recent report by Molad, a progressive Israeli think tank, shows that Netanyahu’s speech is an expression of this alliance, which includes evangelicals in the United States driven not by Zionism but by religious fundamentalism and partisan political interests. In one illustrative example of the concerns of this demographic, the report quotes a speech given last October during the annual conference of Evangelical conservatives in Jerusalem, which was sponsored by the Israeli government. Jürgen Buller, head of the International Christian Embassy in Israel, told the audience:

It is thus not surprising that the Americans who profess the most hateful beliefs would be loudly supportive of the Israeli prime minister, who has led the most racist government in decades.

But tomorrow’s speech has nothing to do with Armageddon, or even with Iran.

Coming just two weeks before Israel’s general elections, Netanyahu’s speech and the Americans supporting it could very well get him reelected, enabling him to put together a coalition even more extreme than the last one. This prospect frightens many Israelis, who are angry and ashamed at the Republicans who invited him, behind the back of their president, to speak, spread fear, do further harm to Israel’s international standing, and possibly even endanger the well-being of Jewish people and their communities around the world.

Netanyahu is not a problem only for us Israelis. Recently, he has repeatedly claimed, with arrogance and chutzpah, to speak in the name of the entire Jewish people. His speech today...

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Herzog must support the Joint List — and vice versa

Before the 1992 election, Rabin apologized for the discrimination against Palestinian citizens, thus paving the way for a ‘golden age’ in relations between the Arabs and the state. Twenty years later, the ‘Zionist Camp’ and the Joint List can stand to learn a thing or two.

By Ron Gerlitz and Nidal Othman (translated by Richard Flantz)

The Labor Party’s recommendation to disqualify the candidacy of Haneen Zoabi MK was cynical and illegitimate from a democratic perspective, and awful from a political perspective. This move was joined by the militaristic video released by Labor last week. The last thing Herzog needed to do was to delegitimize possible political cooperation with the Joint List. But even after these poor decisions, such cooperation is not only necessary but also totally possible. Such things have already happened in Israel’s history.

The first significant attempt to create meaningful political cooperation between the Labor Party and the joint Arab-Jewish Hadash party occurred even before the second Rabin government. In 1990, when Peres tried to form a government, he acted to gain the support of Hadash for his future government, and the two sides agreed to this in writing. The agreement between the pre-Labor Alignment Party and Hadash, which was made public in Haaretz on June 5, 1990, was the basis for the cooperation with the Rabin government in 1992. The agreement included general commitments to advancing peace, such as “giving a positive response to the U.S. Secretary of State’s questions,” concrete commitments regarding the advancement of equal status for Arab citizens, such as “the government will immediately reschedule the debts of the Arab local authorities” or “[the government] will immediately prepare a plan to finance and install sewage systems in Arab villages. NIS 40 million will be allocated for this purpose in the first year.”

The sky didn’t fall on the Arabs

Peres didn’t manage to form a government. Before the 1992 elections, Rabin went to a rally in Nazareth. With him in the car was Moshe Shahal, whom Rabin relied on in everything concerning Israel’s Arab population. At a meeting we held with him in 2015, Shahal told us that during that drive Rabin had asked him how the Arab vote for the Labor Party could be increased. Shahal, however, thought it would be impossible, telling Rabin that “promises are always made to them and they know that nothing happens. And you,...

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The three bullets that killed Israel's left-wing bloc

Without the Arab citizens there is no ‘left-wing bloc’ in Israeli politics. The only problem? The inclusion of Arabs was what led the Right to violently bring down the Left in the first place.

By Lev Grinberg

Since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, there have been no political blocs in Israel. No Left and no Right — only survival combinations. Therefore, all the talk of the “size of blocs” only distorts the depressing reality in Israeli politics, wherein the real issues are barely discussed.

The reason there have been no blocs since 1995 is simple: the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin was an attack on the very existence of a “left-wing bloc” consisting of Labor, Meretz and the Arab parties. The message was well understood, and no such cooperation exists any longer. Since the assassination, all the Jewish parties have had little problem sitting alongside one another in the coalition: Meretz sat with the National Religious Party in 1999; and the other coalitions included Yesh Atid, Kadima and Labor sitting with Likud, Liberman and the Jewish Home. Labor not only sat alongside Likud in Ariel Sharon’s government (in 2001 and in 2004), but also under Netanyahu’s in 2009. The truth is that Livni and Herzog sat in Netanyahu’s government until they were kicked out, Herzog by Ehud Barak, and Livni by Netanyahu himself. Instead of an ideological split between the Right and the Left, the main gaps today are between the parties that are willing to sit in any government.

The “right and left” blocs are the ones that, in the past, allowed for the biggest changes in Israeli politics, such as Likud’s ascension to power in 1977, or Labor’s victory in 1992. Likud and Labor continue to speak of blocs today in order to preserve their status as a “cartel” whose leaders are the only candidates to become prime minister. This, despite the fact that the two have been downgraded to “third party” status in recent years (in 2006, when Likud received 12 Knesset seats, and in 2009 and 2013 when Labor received 13 and 15, respectively).

In the absence of ideological blocs, no major changes should be expected. Rather, we should expect new “survival combinations.” Instead of changes in foreign or domestic policy, the new government will present a new facade for external consumption. Significant changes take place only in the wake of serious ideological shifts that define...

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Prisoners in our own homes: A look at life in occupied Hebron

Twenty-one years have passed since Baruch Goldstein entered Hebron’s Cave of the Patriarchs and massacred dozens of Muslim worshippers. Since then, Palestinians in the city have been placed under a harsh regime of separation and movement restriction. Some of us can’t even leave our own homes.

By Zleikha Muhtaseb

Imagine that you are in your home, sitting on your comfortable couch, making a cup of tea or perhaps looking at the view through your window. You are safe and calm — here no one can hurt you. Now imagine that the front door of your home has been locked by a foreign army that forbids you from walking on the main street where your house is located. Imagine that in order to leave your house you are forced to break through another part of your house so as to create an alternative exit. Imagine that your balcony is closed off by a fence that you built in order to protect yourself from rocks thrown at your house by your neighbors. Imagine that at any given moment, soldiers can burst into your home and act as they want.

This is more than just a thought experiment — this is what my life looks like, living on Shuhada Street in Hebron. As a result of an order given by the Israeli military, my front door, which faces the street, has been locked. The neighbors who throw rocks at my fenced-off balcony are settlers, Israeli citizens who slowly took over buildings and homes in the area over the past decades. The soldiers who can enter my home at will are Israeli soldiers who patrol the street at all hours of the day and night. But if I ask them for help when rocks are thrown at my home, they will never respond.

Visitors who have never been here might have a hard time imagining what Shuhada Street looked like years ago, when it was full of life and shops — the commercial center of the city. Today only soldiers and settlers are allowed to walk down the streets, while the shops are closed and their doors locked. Almost 80 percent of the stores in this part of the city were shut down in the last 20 years, many times due to military orders in the name of “security.”

According to some estimates, nearly half the residents of the area...

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On second thought, no: Gaza students denied exit permits

The ease with which Israel can give and take away, allow and deny, isn’t just disturbing and depressing, it’s also further proof, in case anyone needed any, that Israel’s control over daily life in Gaza is immense.

By Amir Rotem

Early last week, the Palestinian media reported that the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee had reached some new understandings in its talks with Gaza District Coordination Offices (DCO) officials and that, among other things, for the first time in 15 years, Gaza residents would be allowed to travel to the West Bank for academic studies. On Wednesday, the Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) posted (Hebrew) on its website that 50 students from Gaza would be permitted to study in the West Bank.

Only a few hours later, when the news caught the media’s attention, COGAT’s spokesperson said that the publication was the result of an error. A copy of the “Closure Permissions Status” document, a document that lists the restrictions imposed on the Palestinian public and is updated every few weeks, was removed from COGAT’s website and was reposted only the next day, after the section was deleted.

What went on behind the scenes in those lost hours between the publication and the decision to remove it? According to members of the Palestinian Civil Affairs Committee, the issue was agreed in advance and the Israeli publication merely confirmed it. It takes a large dose of suspension-of-disbelief to simply accept COGAT’s claim that this was a “clerical error,” as they called it.

And why should news that 50 students who might, perhaps, at some point, under some conditions, receive a permit to study cause such a stir? Mainly because it was supposed to show yet another crack to Israel’s insistence that its closure concept, i.e. that isolating the Gaza Strip and separating its residents from the other part of the Palestinian territory, is legitimate and necessary for political and security reasons. Without going into the nature of this “policy,” which, as stated by a cabinet member, the defense minister could only say was a result of “inertia,” it is possible to say that the Israel-Hamas ritual of violence, with the terrible price it exacts, is probably the strongest proof that the system has failed. Surprisingly, top security officials have acknowledged this and have changed their tune (Hebrew) since the last round of violence...

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Partial win: No jail for Palestinian activist who blocked bulldozer

Abdullah Abu Rahmah is levied a fine and a suspended sentence for standing in front of a bulldozer. ‘I will continue my struggle and my protest, because it is our right,’ he says. In his sentencing hearing, the military prosecution described Abu Rahmah’s nonviolent protest as an ideological crime.

By Yael Marom

The Israeli army’s Ofer Military Court in the West Bank handed down a four-month suspended sentence and a NIS 5,000 ($1,290)to Abdullah Abu Rahmah, a central organizer of Bil’in’s nonviolent protests.

Abu Rahmah, one of the central activists in the Palestinian popular struggle in the West Bank, was recognized by the European Union as a Human Rights Defender. He convicted last October of interfering with the work of a soldier for a incident in May 2012, when during a demonstration he stood in front of a bulldozer that was clearing land on which to build the separation barrier near Ramallah.

“The court’s decision is disappointing and unacceptable,” Abu Rahmah said in response to the sentencing. “The purpose of the punishment is to make us stop our struggle. But I will continue my struggle and my protest, because it is our right.”

“I call on others and supporters to join us on Friday for the large protest marking ten years of our struggle against the fence,” Abu Rahmah continued. “I plan on standing in the front row, and to continue defending the rights of my people anywhere and everywhere.”

Abu Rahmah has been imprisoned in the past for his involvement in the nonviolent popular struggle against the occupation. He was in prison for over a year for organizing protests, all of which are illegal under military law, and incitement, along with various other arrests.

In his decision, the military judge noted the fact that Abu Rahmah has been convicted in the past of interfering in the work of a soldier during demonstrations. The judge didn’t send him to prison as requested by the military prosecutor, the decision explained, because of the long period of time that has passed since the event in question, and due to the fact that no injuries and that the offense was not grave.

In the sentencing hearing, the military prosecutor described Abu Rahmah’s nonviolent protest as an ideological crime.

Abu Rahmah’s attorney, Gaby Lasky, argued during the sentencing hearing that the offense was committed during a protest, and that it’s not reasonable for one to...

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What Malcolm X taught me about my best friend's murder

Malcolm X’s descriptions of the black experience in the United States helped me understand that Amir’s death was not ‘normal,’ but rather a result of Israel’s policies toward its Palestinian minority.

By Rami Younis

I lost my best friend on the night between June 28-29th, 2000. Amir Qadri (Arafat) was killed by a stray bullet shot by armed men who came into his neighborhood in the city of Lyd (“Lod” in Hebrew) and began firing. He was only 15 when he died. The gunfire was a result of a conflict between the shooters and Amir’s neighbors. Amir was sitting on the balcony of his other neighbors’ home, watching television and eating sunflower seeds as he was preparing for the big semifinal match between France (with our favorite player, Zidane) and Portugal in the UEFA European Championship.

That same day we came back from the gym. We parted ways at 7:30 p.m. after Amir tried to convince me to come watch the game at his place. “We’ll sit outside, it won’t be too hot today. Don’t be a jerk,” he said. He even promised that we’ll be able to sneak a few puffs from the nargileh. “Forget it, I’ll watch the game at home. I’m tired of you, I’ve been around you all day,” I responded as we stood outside his house. “You jerk,” he responded, and turned to walk inside. These were the last words we ever exchanged.

The period following Amir’s death was the most difficult of my life. I only understood the significance of what had happened several months later, as the walls of denial came down, only to be replaced by a deep, painful sorrow.

It was around then that I first encountered Malcolm X. I learned his life story in reverse chronological order, from his assassination to his joining the Nation of Islam under Elijah Muhammad. I couldn’t get his biography story out of my head; twenty years before I was born, people close to Malcolm – from his own community – shot him, despite the fact that both the FBI and the CIA knew about the plan to assassinate him. My best friend, who was like a brother to me, was killed by members of his own community, and like in Malcolm’s case, the authorities knew that Amir’s killers were in Lyd and never acted. In Amir’s case, those responsible for the murder (like those...

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