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Qalandiya rashomon: Anatomy of an apparent murder in cold blood

Nobody knows what happened last week at Qalandiya checkpoint, where a pregnant Palestinian woman was killed together with her brother. And until police release the CCTV footage, nobody will.

By Alon-Lee Green

Last week, 23 year-old Maram Salih Hassan Abu Ismail and her 16-year-old brother, Ibrahim, were killed by Israeli forces while walking towards Qalandiya checkpoint, in the West Bank.

The wanton coverage the killing got in the Israeli media made it clear instantly that something wasn’t quite right – beyond the ongoing injustice of the occupation.

Following increasing pressure from MKs Zehava Galon (Meretz) and Dov Khenin and Ahmad Tibi (Joint List), as well as Local Call and Haaretz newspaper, the Ministry of Public Security was forced to admit that they were killed by outsourced security guards, employees of the security services company Civil Intelligence.

On Monday it was reported that following an internal investigation, the company vindicated the killers of any wrongdoing. However, one crucial detail was missing in the investigation: the CCTV footage that recorded the incident was never published, and never given to the company. It is still being withheld by police.

Regardless of the CCTV footage, the evidence adds up to paint a disconcerting picture. The police refusal to release the footage and the Civil Intelligence’s slapdash investigation points to one conclusion: That the brother and sister did not pose any danger.

Let’s unpack the facts as we know them:

The arrival at the checkpoint: Pregnant 23-year-old Maram, a mother of two, was walking with her 16-year-old brother Ibrahim towards the Qalandiya checkpoint. The family said that she was on her way to receive medical treatment, and that was the first time she received permission to pass through the checkpoint.

The shooting: There are two partly complementary, partly contradictory versions. Police say that at some point Maram and Ibrahim were told to halt, but she started walking backwards and hurled a knife at them from a 15-20-meter distance (Maram apparently had quite impressive aiming skills). According to Palestinian eyewitnesses, Maram and Ibrahim were marching on the road, rather than the pedestrian lane, and were told in Hebrew to stop.

Once she was told to stop, both versions concur, she was shot by the security guards. Her brother – who at no stage was suspected of attempting to attack them – bent over to help her and was shot as well. All in all, Maram and Ibrahim took 15...

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What the Left can learn about anti-Semitism from Ken Livingstone

Why would the senior Labour member allow himself to be dragged into a debate about the Holocaust while his party is bending over backwards to fend off accusations that it is teeming with anti-Semites?

By Gilad Halpern

Ken Livingstone may not realize it, but he has done the progressive left a great service.

Livingstone, a veteran UK Labour Party politician and former mayor of London, was suspended from his party on Thursday for saying in a radio interview that Hitler was a Zionist. For his party, still reeling from a series of mini-scandals involving unsavory statements about Israel and the Jews, it was one borderline anti-Semitic remark too many.

Livingstone’s handling of the scandal that now bears his name is a textbook example of everything that’s wrong with the radical European left today. Because if you look at his initial comment, it was perhaps simplistic and crass, but not entirely mistaken.

“Let’s remember when Hitler won his election in 1932,” he said, trying to defend fellow Labour MP Naz Shah who had herself been suspended for writing on Facebook that Israel should be relocated to the United States, “his policy then was that Jews should be moved to Israel. He was supporting Zionism – this was before he went mad and ended up killing six million Jews.”

This statement is riddled with inaccuracies: Hitler came to power in 1933, not 1932; Israel would not be established for another 16 years, and was then known as British-ruled Palestine; and most important, Hitler was already a murderous maniac in 1932. If he was ever sane, he went mad long before that.

But there’s an element of truth in what Livingstone said: although Hitler himself was most likely not a Zionist, the anti-Semitic European right of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including the Nazi regime in its early phase, saw eye to eye with Zionism on where Europe’s Jews belonged — not in Europe.

Edouard Drumont, the godfather of French anti-Semitism, congratulated Theodor Herzl in his 1891 book Jewish France and suggested that Jews should be “sent back to Palestine.” It became an instant bestseller. In 1933, the German government and the Zionist Organization signed an agreement that facilitated the immigration of 50,000 German Jews to Palestine. And in 1934, a delegation led by SS officer Leopold Von Mildenstein visited Palestine to assess the feasibility of resettling Germany’s Jews in it. The coordinator of...

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Hebron shooter called to 'kill everyone in Gaza'

Palestinian citizens are being incarcerated left and right for Facebook statuses. But IDF soldier Elor Azaria, indicted for manslaughter, wasn’t even taken in for questioning over tweets calling for massacres of Palestinians. On the double standards in Israeli law. 

By John Brown*

On the Facebook page belonging to the IDF soldier who shot and killed the wounded Palestinian assailant in Hebron, one can find calls to massacre everyone living in Gaza, and support for Jewish terrorist Meir Kahane. His father also expressed support for Kahane and for the call to “kill everyone.” His mother suggested killing women and children, first among them, Knesset Member Haneen Zoabi.

 

 

 

If a Palestinian wrote something similar, he or she would probably have been caught by the security services’ monitoring systems. For example, Suheib Zahda, 32, was arrested for a Facebook status expressing support for a boycott of Israel and called on Arabs not to enlist in the IDF. In October 2014, Sami Da’is uploaded to his Facebook page the logo of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a party democratically elected in Palestine, and added the words, “The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.” He got six likes and an indictment from the State of Israel.

Photograph Amir Abed Rabbo was interrogated after calling Nir Barkat “Mayor of the occupation” on Facebook. Mohammed Asila, who identifies as a Palestinian comedian, wrote: “I opened a tourism company for cars that run people over, every day I get a driver or two who go out to commit ramming attacks and come back.” And then later on: “Stay away from Al Aqsa and leave us alone, we’ll stop ramming…into the concrete blockades you positioned as a solution: We’ll switch from cars to motorcycles.” The honorable Justice Rivka Friedman-Feldman read the translation of his words, and agreed with the State that he posed a danger so severe that he could not remain under house arrest but must be jailed until the end of proceedings.

This month poet Dareen Tatour’s trial began. She was charged with incitement to violence for her poem “Qawem ya sha’abi, qawemhum,” “Resist my people, resist them.” The state prosecutor claims she incited to violence and terror and expressed support for a terror organization. Tatour spent over three months in jail and is now under tight house arrest.

But Israeli law is not...

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The road to ending occupation is incremental

Israel leftists should not sit around and wait for the international community to save Israel from itself. There are no quick fixes. The way to bring about a better future for Israelis and Palestinians is to gradually reduce the ails of occupation.

By Yariv Mohar

It seems like more and more of my leftist friends feel that the solution to the occupation won’t come from inside Israel, which is increasingly radicalizing, but as a result of something external, some kind of international pressure — a deus ex machina, a tremendous foreign power, a UN resolution, the boycott, isolation or a combination of them all. They hope that the good and merciful world will compel the Jewish State to end its discriminatory military regime in the West Bank and the mechanisms of control over the Gaza Strip.

Encouraging international pressure to end the oppressive regime is legitimate (even if I personally oppose some of its forms, such as a sweeping boycott of Israel). The problem is that the notion of external salvation takes the appeal of international pressure as one tool in the struggle to end occupation, and turns it into the only remaining hope. According to those who subscribe to the external salvation approach, support among Israelis for the peace process is diminishing, and you can no longer even bring up the issue of Palestine.

As such, the most one can do is yell out some furious prophecies that are technically geared towards Israelis but don’t actually make any effort to engage them. Part of the argument is that Israel’s legal and administrative institutions – including the Supreme Court – only serve the occupation so hopes cannot be pinned on them. Indeed, there is a lot of truth to that.

Those who advocate external salvation often express concerns and reservations about struggles and processes whose objective is to gradually reduce the levels of Israeli oppression in the territories – the traditional role of human rights organizations. If the objective is external pressure then any gradual steps of improvement undermine the central goal. This approach makes the absolute end to the occupation regime not only the shared, desired goal for all of us, but also the only relevant call to action. It confuses the end goal with other worthy objectives along the way.

Enlightened occupation

I believe that the incremental struggle to end oppression of Palestinians is the most effective model, and...

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The single worst way the EU could combat anti-Semitism

The newly appointed European Commission Coordinator on Combating Anti-Semitism spoke at a Jerusalem conference that was a thinly veiled platform for bashing pro-Palestinian activists. Above all, it sent an alarming message about how she perceives her own role. 

By Ben White

A senior European official spoke last week at an Israeli government-hosted conference in Jerusalem where human rights defenders were denigrated and smeared as anti-Semitic.

The International Conference on Online Anti-Semitism was organized by the pro-Israel group Israeli Students Combating Anti-Semitism (ISCA). The group’s director, Ido Daniel, is a veteran hasbara activist who believes in “exact[ing] an economic and personal cost” from Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) activists.

The conference participants included Katharina von Schnurbein, appearing in her official capacity as European Commission Coordinator on Combating Anti-Semitism, a role created last December.

The second panel of the day was on the topic of “How the left was lost: Durban, online left-wing anti-Zionism, the BDS movement and the perversion of human rights.” Speakers on the panel, moderated by an official from the UK’s Community Security Trust, included Gerald Steinberg of Israel advocacy group NGO Monitor and London-based anti-BDS campaigner David Hirsh.

In a video of his talk, Steinberg can be seen denigrating and smearing a host of Palestinian, Israeli, and international human rights defenders and NGOs. Those targeted included global anti-poverty charity Oxfam, Medical Aid for Palestinians, and Human Rights Watch, whose director Ken Roth was singled out for particular criticism.

The head of NGO Monitor also attacked Palestinian and Israeli groups such as Zochrot, Badil, and Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. Steinberg even lashed out at Jewish Voice for Peace, a group with more than 200,000 online members and 60 chapters across the U.S.

NGO Monitor’s role in the intensifying intimidation of human rights activists in Palestine/Israel is well-documented, including on this website. As Noam Sheizaf wrote last year, one of the goals of the group is “to attack what they see as the last political platform for anti-occupation activity inside Israeli society.” Steinberg himself has worked as a consultant to the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

When I contacted von Schnurbein about the attacks on human rights defenders made during the conference, her office refused to comment, simply saying that she “does not comment on Israelis politics” [sic].

Not only did the EU’s anti-Semitism envoy decline to condemn the...

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IN PICTURES: Life unraveled as Israel demolishes Palestinian home

Hassin Mohammed Hassin Abu Gosh, 17, stabbed an Israeli woman to death and was killed in the act. Last week, in retaliation, Israel demolished his home in the Qalandia refugee camp. The ruins are a silent testament to a once thriving life.

Text and photos by Tamar Fleishman

A demolished home is a testament to a once thriving life.

Last week, a large IDF contingent entered the Qalandia refugee camp in the West Bank and demolished the home of Hassin Mohammed Hassin Abu Gosh, a 17-year-old Palestinian who was killed in January after stabbing a settler to death.

The demolition of their third-floor apartment, on the night of April 20, went on for three hours, during which their downstairs and next-door neighbors listened with dread to the sounds of walls being shattered and household appliances smashed.

When the sun rose, it shone on the empty, dilapidated third floor that stood out like a severed limb of an otherwise functioning body.

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Nine people lived there: two adults, four girls and three boys. It wasn’t hard to guess, according to the colors of the walls, which rooms were the boys’ and which the girls’.

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The rooms were bereft of life, of content, of a homey ambiance.

The walls were decorated not with paintings, but with ugly black inscriptions, probably written by the troops as instructions to their comrades.

Between the broken pieces, between the nothingness and the lifelessness, through the shattered walls, one’s eyes are focused on a stove that stands in the middle of what used to be the kitchen.

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Like a character in the theater of the absurd, the stove stands in the middle of the scene, unscathed.

And life around the house goes on, because that’s what life does – go on. New laundry has been put out to dry in the floor below, and across the street people pass by, look up, and nod their heads in despair.

The front door through which one is invited into the scene barely hangs on its hinges. It was locked by a member of the family who shoved the key deep into its pocket, holding on to it like the only remnant of a life that once was. The key to the house, as generations of Palestinian...

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The making of a hasbara superstar, Israel's new ambassador to the UK

For the past decade Mark Regev has become Israel’s preeminent government mouthpiece. Now, as the world prepares to mark 50 years of occupation, Netanyahu appoints a hasbara heavyweight to represent him in the UK.

By Yoni Mendel

I’m not sure Mark Regev is a name Israelis are too familiar with. But around the world he seems to be one of the people most closely identified with this country, and certainly with its recent governments. A Google News search for “Mark Regev” produces only 180 results in Hebrew, but roughly 12,000 in English. Pretty bizarre for a man who worked so closely with Israeli governments over the last decade, yet not too surprising considering the focus of his work.

Regev began serving as a foreign media adviser to the prime minister in 2007 under Ehud Olmert. A year later he was already appearing all over international television. It was during Operation Cast Lead, which ended with 1,417 Palestinians and 13 Israelis killed, that Regev gave interview after interview to all the international media outlets, managing to rationalize the horrible death toll while emphasizing that Israel did not use excessive force.

Regev was in effect Israel’s chief “hasbarist,” its executive spokesman to the world. When it came to anything regarding hasbara, propaganda, spin, conveying messages and everything in between – it seemed there was no one else better for the job, certainly not in English. In his countless interviews to the international media, Regev always kept his cool and did – at least as far as he was concerned – a credible job.

Time after time in the last decade – during which Israel provided plenty of fodder for criticism (i.e. the siege on Gaza, the offensives against it, and excessive use of force; the Mavi Marmara incident; shooting Palestinians in the occupied territories; home demolitions, continued settlement building, encouraging Jews to pray on the Temple Mount and changing the status quo there, and on and on) – through all this, Regev has gone in front of the cameras and calmly relayed his message. I’m not sure Regev succeeded at convincing the foreign journalists who interviewed him, but he said what Israelis wanted to hear, and he consistently managed to turn criticism of Israel around on the Palestinians.

I’m not sure if Regev should be seen as the designer of Israel’s hasbara line of last decade — Israel always just “responds” to Palestinian...

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Hebron shooter's indictment is an exception that proves the rule

When Sgt. Elor Azaria was caught on camera finishing off a wounded Palestinian knifeman and indicted for manslaughter, the IDF said rogue soldiers would always be brought to justice. The case of Bassem Abu Rahme, an unarmed protester who was fatally shot by an unknown soldier in 2009, shows that when given an opportunity to be lenient, the army will seize it. 

By Yesh Din (written by Yossi Gurvitz)

 

On April 17th 2009, Bassem Abu Rahme was demonstrating against the separation wall in his West Bank village, Bil’in. After Israeli troops fired crowd-dispersal weapons and one demonstrator was hit, Abu Rahme shouted at the soldiers and Border Policemen that the person was wounded. Seconds later, a person in Israeli uniform (it is unclear whether he or she was an IDF soldier or a Border Police officer) fired a tear gas canister directly into Abu Rahme’s chest; the wound was fatal, and within hours Abu Rahme succumbed.

Until recently, these were uncontested facts. Even so, almost seven years after his death, no one has been held responsible for Abu Rahme’s death. Seven years of foot-dragging and investigation ducking (read more here and here.)

This is what happens when a member of the security forces shoots an unarmed man — who everyone agrees posed no danger — and the three cameras that documented the event are not aimed directly at the shooter.

We do not know who shot Abu Rahme and what unit he or she belonged to. We do, however, have forensic evidence pointing to where the shooter stood. The IDF carried out a ballistics examination that concluded that “the only possibility of this sort of armament hitting the target is only by direct fire and using a flat angle – no more than three or four degrees.” The examination effectively ruled out the possibility of Abu Rahme being hit by a canister shot according to the IDF’s regulations and hitting him by mistake; even if the canister ricocheted off a fence, it would still be fired directly, in defiance of the regulations.

In 2013, the head of the IDF’s Photo Reconnaissance Unit told the Military Police’s Criminal Investigations Division (MPCID) that direct fire of tear gas canisters is forbidden and that it should hold a lineup to determine where each of the shooters stood. The MPCID has yet to do so.

Last...

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Indignity, grief and mourning on the Gaza border

A woman from Gaza is told during a visit to Israel that she must terminate her advanced pregnancy. The Israeli army and courts effectively refuse to allow her to mourn with her husband by her side.

By Nomi Heger

Over the last two weeks, while everyone in Israel was talking about the segregation between Palestinian and Jewish women in post-natal care, we here at Gisha (an organization that promotes the freedom of movement of Gaza residents) provided legal assistance to one pregnant woman, who just happens to be Palestinian and could not care less who was lying next to her, where that woman was from or what sort of partying her hospital room mates would be doing. These privileges were the last thing on her mind. She wanted one thing and one thing only – which to us seems self-evident – she wanted to hold her spouse’s hand while the doctors induced her fetus’ demise.

The woman in question entered Israel from Gaza, with a permit, to visit family. She was in week 28 of her pregnancy. Because health care services in Israel are more advanced than in Gaza, she went to get a second opinion about her pregnancy while in the country – something any of us wold do when it comes to a major medical decision. The doctors recommended an abortion immediately due to fetal defects. An abortion this far into the pregnancy is, in fact, a birth, performed as a C-section, at the end of which the fetus is injected with a substance that stops its heart.

Due to the urgency, we contacted the Israeli military unit in charge of issuing permits to exit Gaza, the DCO, on that same day, a Wednesday, asking them to let the woman’s spouse enter Israel immediately, to be by her side during these difficult moments. We knew he was under some vague security exclusion, barring him from entering Israel but the details were never explained and he never had a chance to counter whatever it was. We thought that the situation was humanitarian enough that he would be allowed to enter.

We were wrong. The army had lots of time to consider the request, but they were in no hurry to answer, so on Sunday, we filed an urgent petition to the Beer Sheva District Court, which hears cases of Gaza residents wishing to enter Israel. We discovered, to our...

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The diaspora is an integral part of Hebrew literature

There is a ceaseless movement of Israeli culture — and the diaspora experience is just waking up and testing its global limits.

By Mati Shemoelof

BERLIN — There is no such thing as “Hebrew literature written outside Israel” because the definition of “outside Israel” cannot address art in general or literature in particular.

Literature is created in a space that is not a state or a country. The categorization of literature that is written outside or inside a country is problematic.

As such, we should understand that Hebrew literature from the get-go belongs to every country in which there are writers writing in Hebrew, or Israelis whose experience with the Hebrew language has shaped their memory, or citizens of the world who consume Israeli literature in one way or another.

So forgive me, but I will instead use the term “diasporic literature” — that which is written at times from a place of exile; sometimes from a small space that exists between our Jewish life and our life within the local culture written in the various different languages.

Diasporic literature detaches the Hebrew language, Judaism and Israeli identity from national boundaries, sharpens the weight of exposure to new cultures and transforms it from a majority language to a minority language.

Sapir Prize Winner Reuven Namdar, who writes in Hebrew in New York; or the Israeli author Ayelet Tsabari, who writes in Canadian English about her experience growing up in Petah Tikva, and whose first book made it to the New York Times Editor’s Choice list; or Hanno Haustein from Germany, who edits “Aviv,” a Hebrew-German journal; Yousef Sweid, who writes a column in Hebrew in the Berlin magazine Spitz; and of course Sayed Kashua, the Palestinian Israeli who writes in Hebrew from the U.S.

They are all part of this diasporic culture. You don’t have to be Jewish, Hebrew, or Israeli to be part of this diasporic culture. It is one’s consciousness, not one’s origin, that decides.

Diasporic literature certainly has its own language because it is created within a set of values and terms that is entirely distinct from Israeli culture, yet remains associated with it and with the local culture. For example, the third part of my first book of short stories, “Remnants of the Cursed Book,” published by Zmora Bitan, is certainly connected to Berlin culture and constitutes an integral...

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Israel's covert war against Palestinian media

Palestinian journalists are increasingly threatened, arrested and interrogated just for doing their jobs. And for the most part, Israeli journalists remain silent. 

By Noam Rotem

On a Tuesday night in the beginning of April, Israeli armed forces raided a house in the Silwan neighborhood of East Jerusalem. They woke up sleeping family and gave al-Hayat journalist Diala Jwehan a summons to appear for interrogation. Jwehan has been covering the uprising of recent months, primarily in East Jerusalem, and is one in a long list of Palestinian journalists who have been called in for questioning because of their media work – what the Palestinian Journalists Association calls an “Israeli offensive on Palestinian media.”

Free press? Depends where

Israelis love to boast the free press index published by Freedom House organization, which ranks Israel in a relatively good spot with a grade of 70 – although it is the lowest among the category of free countries, but still high. A small detail mentioned in the report, in fine print, is that the index does not include the situation in the West Bank or Gaza. There, the grade given for the same index is only 16 – one of the lowest in the world, and a clear indication of the total lack of free press.

According to a report recently published by the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms, in 2015 there were 407 attacks by Israeli forces against journalists, some of which were physical assaults (42 percent) and the rest range from preventing access to some places and prevention of coverage, arrests, damaging equipment, using journalists as human shields, and more. These are not sporadic, but part of the daily reality for Palestinian journalists.

Ahmad al-Bitawi, a Palestinian journalist, was convicted in an Israeli military court of incitement that was, allegedly part of his journalistic work. Other journalists, among them Mahmoud al-Qawasme and Mohhamad Qaddumi, are both imprisoned in Israeli jails awaiting trial for the same charge. These tactics are only used against Palestinians journalists, never against Jewish journalists, some of whom publish similar incendiary materials, like for example Amnon Lord, who published a front-page article for the Jewish religious newspaper Makor Rishon a few weeks ago that included the statement, “killing a terrorist without grounds of immediate self defense is a natural situation during war.”

During the month of February, a long list of Palestinian journalists from both Jerusalem...

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Hebron shooter indicts all of Israel

No need for a trial. Sergeant Elor Azaria is already innocent in the eyes of the Israeli public

By David Sarna Galdi

The trial of Sergeant Elor Azaria, a soldier indicted for the killing of an incapacitated Palestinian knife-attack suspect in Hebron last month will mostly likely begin soon, but it isn’t really necessary. If public opinion and legal precedent tell us anything, his fate has already been sealed and his future looks very bright indeed.

The soldier’s guilt was plainly evident from day one, shown in the video of the incident released by B’Tselem, which as Gideon Levy wrote, “incriminates as much as a thousand witnesses.” But somehow, within hours of the video’s release, the Israeli soldier seen executing a helpless, already “neutralized” Palestinian who posed no immediate danger, was being embraced as a national hero.

A poll published by Channel 2 News on the weekend after the shooting showed that 57 percent of the Israeli public disagreed with the army’s arrest and investigation into Sgt. Azaria, and 42 percent of those surveyed found his behavior “acceptable” and “responsible.” Within days, tens of thousands of Israelis signed an online petition calling for the soldier to be given a merit citation. Over 1,000 people rallied outside the military court. In a cabinet meeting Education Minister Naftali Bennett expressed what can only be interpreted as blanket tolerance for soldiers’ crimes (at least against Palestinians). Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outrageously breached the border between politics, judicial process and good taste by phoning the father of the murder suspect, in the middle of the investigation, to convey his empathy.

This week Azaria’s parents organized a rally calling for his release in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square. In attendance were several thousand people, a portion of whom waved banners featuring racist slogans and shouted offensive chants like, “Death to the Arabs” and “Hopefully all your villages will burn.”

It’s not hard to figure out which way the wind is blowing. Instead of being banished from the camp of public opinion, the soldier continues to be depicted as a victim and martyr, the Joseph Trumpeldor of the Snapchat generation.

One need only look at the lack of judicial follow-through in similar recent incidents to realize just how unprecedented it is that Sgt. Azaria’s case even made it as far as an indictment. Last September, soldiers in Hebron shot and killed a...

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Why Netanyahu is doubling down on the Golan Heights

In less than a week, the Israeli prime minister admitted to military action in Syria and declared to the world that Israel will never relinquish the Golan Heights, which it unilaterally annexed 35 years ago.

By Shemuel Meir

What led Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to wake up one fine day and declare, during a highly publicized but insignificant reserve duty exercise in the Golan Heights (and without the army Chief of Staff present, as is customary) that “we struck Syria dozens of times”? Was it a slip of the tongue stemming from the overconfidence that has become so typical lately? A desire to earn political points with other politicians who aren’t threatening his position of power? An effort to distract from other issues? Could it be that the prime minister wanted to send a deterrent message at a time when no special military developments have occurred in the area? All this happened at a time when Israel managed to maintain freedom of action in Syria thanks to its declarative ambiguity, clandestine military coordination with other powers and the setting of red lines with Iran, which haven’t caused any undesired complications.

Despite the military terminology and context of Netanyahu’s performance in the Golan, the answer to this riddle can be found on the diplomatic front. The discussion’s point of departure is a panic that has gripped Netanyahu following recent under-the-radar developments in the Syrian crisis that disrupted his previous plans. Something that caused him to hastily send President Reuven Rivlin to Moscow (while violating diplomatic protocol with our ally Australia) and arranging an urgent meeting for himself with Russian President Putin the night of the Passover seder. Something that led Netanyahu to tell U.S. Secretary of State Kerry over the phone a few days ago, “it won’t happen.”

So what went wrong? It appears Netanyahu was trying to take advantage of the civil war and disintegration of Syria in order to gain international recognition for redefining Israel’s borders. In March, just like the tragedy of Julius Caesar, things in Syria started getting complicated, albeit under the surface on the diplomatic front– but for Netanyahu, it demanded urgent action. That’s how we got to the riddle at the beginning of the article. Netanyahu kept a low profile and didn’t rail against the UN Security Council Resolution 2254 (December 2015) endorsing a road map for a peace...

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

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