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How Europe's Jews lost their humanity in Gaza

The racism that has swept across Israel is devastating to behold. It is also an abdication of what Jews have prized for centuries: A sense of common humanity.

By Gilad Isaacs

For centuries Jews knocked on the door of Eurasian civilization. As they stood precariously on the doorstep they understood that crossing the threshold – being enveloped by the warmth and light within – would signify acceptance, normalization and safety. Sometimes they begged, sometimes they yelled; often they declared: “I am a Jew,” and continued in the vein of:

Most Jews did not wish to become something they were not. They were happy to remain Jews, and simply sought for others to accept them as such. Some of these Jews became Zionists, whose dream was more than land. They proclaimed that Jews would be accepted as equals if they had a state of their own; if they, as Theodore Herzl proclaimed, entered the “family of nations.”

Fast forward to today. In Israel, the most devastating casualty of the ongoing occupation has been this cherished notion of common humanity.

Israeli soldiers arrest a Palestinian youth, who shows signs of being beaten, following a demonstration against the occupation and in support of Palestinian prisoners the West Bank city of Hebron, March 1, 2013. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

Israeli soldiers arrest a Palestinian youth, who shows signs of being beaten, following a demonstration against the occupation and in support of Palestinian prisoners the West Bank city of Hebron, March 1, 2013. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

The racism that has swept across Israel is devastating to behold. Israelis maraud through the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv yelling “Death to Arabs”; a renowned Israeli scholar argues that the sisters, mothers and wives of potential Palestinian terrorists should be raped as a method of deterrence; Knesset members call for a war against all Palestinian people and the forced expulsion of Palestinians out of Gaza and the West Bank; the deputy mayor of Haifa is beaten; a Palestinian teenager is burnt alive; and the list goes on. These are not the misdeeds of rogue anti-social elements: This is a wave of hatred and violence that is committed or supported by large swathes of the Israeli public. Most disquieting is the celebration of Palestinian death and suffering, whether it...

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Blaming Palestinians for their own deaths

‘All the targets hit by the IDF in Gaza were attacked morally; those killed are responsible for their own deaths. And Netanyahu – he just wants the Gazans to be safe.’

By Hagai El-Ad (translated by Keren Rubinstein)

It is moral because we told them to leave, and those who stayed did so at their own peril. It’s moral because Hamas encouraged them to stay, that’s why this is a self-inflicted genocide carried out by Hamas. The Palestinians who died in Shejaiya, in Khan Younis, actually everywhere and always, are to blame for their own deaths. Maybe it’s only the children who aren’t guilty of their own deaths – maybe it’s the parents who are to blame. As for the elderly people who died, that’s definitely Hamas’ fault. Whichever way you twist it, that blood was not spilled by our hands.

How deeply can you suppress the denial by Israelis? How can the prime minister – the prime minister of the army whose air force killed four nameless children on the beach in Gaza for the world’s cameras to see – look straight into the camera and tell the Palestinians of Gaza, “We want you to be safe”?

Paramedics and people run at the scene where four Palestinian children were killed by Israeli military shelling on the harbor and nearby beach of Gaza city, July 16, 2014. Four children; Ahed Bakr, 10, Zakaria Bakr, 10, Mohd Bakr, 11, and Ismail Bakr, 9.; were killed during the attack. As of 16 July 2014, more than 200 Palestinians have been killed since the start of the 2014 Israeli assault against the Gaza Strip, and more than 1,400 have been injured. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Paramedics and people run at the scene where four Palestinian children were killed by Israeli military shelling at the harbor and nearby beach of Gaza City, July 16, 2014. Four children; Ahed Bakr, 10, Zakaria Bakr, 10, Mohd Bakr, 11, and Ismail Bakr, 9.; were killed during the attack. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Anyone who has been listening to Palestinian voices in Gaza in recent weeks has heard one message repeated over and over through the thunder of Israeli bombardment: No place is safe in Gaza, a bomb can fall anywhere, anytime, on anyone. And there’s nowhere to run, because you can’t leave Gaza; while in it –...

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129 Palestinians, 3 Israeli soldiers killed; U.S. approves Israeli request for ammunition

Wednesday saw a particularly deadly day of violence in the Gaza Strip, while diplomatic efforts to reach a ceasefire continued with urgency. 

According to officials at the Palestinian Health Ministry, 129 people were killed and more than 200 wounded in Gaza throughout Wednesday. Israel’s Operation Protective Edge has killed a total of 1,400 Palestinians and wounded more than 7,500. The high death toll comes after a bloody day on Tuesday, which saw more than 120 people killed by Israeli airstrikes in the Strip.

The Israeli army announced that three of its soldiers were killed on Wednesday afternoon, pushing the military death toll to 56.

Dead horses lie in the street following the overnight Israeli shelling of an UNRWA school where some 3,300 Palestinians were seeking shelter, Jabalia, Gaza Strip, July 30, 2014. At least 20 people were killed in the attack, which injured more than 100. So far, at least 1,300 Palestinians have been killed in Israel's offensive. In addition, 56 Israeli soldiers have been killed, as well as three civilians in Israel (photo: Activestills)

Dead horses lie in the street following the overnight Israeli shelling of an UNRWA school where some 3,300 Palestinians were seeking shelter, Jabalia, Gaza Strip, July 30, 2014. At least 20 people were killed in the attack, which injured more than 100. So far, at least 1,400 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s offensive. In addition, 56 Israeli soldiers have been killed, as well as three civilians in Israel (photo: Activestills)

In one of two major attacks in Gaza Wednesday, a UN school in the Jabaliya refugee camp was struck overnight by what is believed to have been Israeli artillery. The attack killed at least 19 people. The school was attacked three times, UNWRA said, despite the fact that the agency had informed the army of its exact location a number of times. The White House condemned Israel’s shelling of the school.

“We have visited the site and gathered evidence. We have analyzed fragments, examined craters and other damage. Our initial assessment is that it was Israeli artillery that hit our school, in which 3,300 people had sought refuge,” said UNRWA spokesperson Christopher Gunness.

Just hours later, after the Israeli military unilaterally declared a partial humanitarian ceasefire, the second major attack of the day occurred. Ma’an News Agency reported that as thousands of Gazans took advantage of the temporary ceasefire...

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COMIC: Meanwhile...

By Eli Valley

Eli.Valley.Dershowitz.Goldstone

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

Previous work by Eli Valley on +972 Magazine:
Google Glass for the Gaza gaze
What if Mahmoud was named Jonah?
The hater in the sky




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Hope during wartime: A Palestinian return

The displaced former residents of Kafr Bir’im decided in the summer of 2013 to return to their village, and since then, they haven’t left. The author and his partner visited them one year later.

By Eitan Bronstein Aparicio (translated by Ami Asher)

We had to travel as far as Kafr Bir’em to find faith in these sad and desperate times, during the terrible war on Gaza. We spent an entire day with the Bir’em returnees. The last time we visited this community of internally displaced villagers was exactly one year ago, in their traditional summer camp, organized in order to educate the younger generation never to give up on their right to return to Bir’em (the village’s original residents were expelled during the 1948 War; they were promised the right to return, but were never granted permission by the military). There were scores of children, youth and adults there, singing and dancing in the open church’s court.

Far from a sultry and depressed Tel Aviv, we found determined people hanging on to hope and home against all odds. Ever since they decided to return, there wasn’t a single night they did not spend in the village – sometimes dozens of them, sometimes less – running various social activities and simply living there.

Kafr Bir'im summer camp. (photo: Eleonore Merza)

Kafr Bir’em summer camp. (photo: Eleonore Merza)

Northern Israel is relatively quiet these days, and the weather is pleasant, but the distance from the violent attack on Gaza is repeatedly erased when troubling news reaches us. “Thirty people were arrested in the antiwar demonstration in Haifa, including Saher Jeries from our village,” says my friend Nahida Zahra, one of the leading returnee activists, in a proud voice. Asil Abu-Warda shows me a picture of his arrest by an undercover policeman disguised as a Palestinian. “Is Asil also a girl’s name?” I ask and recall Asil ‘Asle, who was murdered during the October 2000 incidents while sitting and watching a Palestinian demonstration near Arabe, inside sovereign Israel. Abu-Warda seems to read my mind and tells me that ‘Asle was her classmate. “My mother would always argue with his mother on who chose the name first. I was born two months before him, so clearly my mother was first.”

We are having lunch in the shade of a tree,...

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'Unprecedented' violence stalks anti-war demos across Israel

The recent demonstrations in Tel Aviv and Haifa against the Gaza war have largely failed to reach the global media. And while the end of the bloodshed still seems far from sight, there is a different, violent confrontation being held inside Israel – one that targets Arab citizens and left-wing activists on the internet, and uses physical violence against anti-war demonstrators.

By Omer Raz

Tel Aviv, July 13

The second weekend of Operation Protective Edge saw the first bout of physical violence at Habima Square – the cultural heart of Tel Aviv. At around 8 p.m. a crowd of several hundred people gathered to protest against Operation Protective Edge, and called for a ceasefire. A second small group, comprised largely of teens and young adults draped in Israeli flags, began harassing the anti-war demonstrators, shouting slogans against their protest and accusing them of treason. The protest got tense as the right-wingers became physically violent.

A few minutes after 9 p.m., air raid sirens began blaring after Hamas shot multiple long-range rockets at Tel Aviv. The leftist protest scattered to find shelter, while the rightists chased them into dark alleys and cafes, where several leftists were beaten. Shortly after, +972’s Haggai Matar wrote the following: “When the sirens sounded into the night, only one thing was obvious to all of us: the fascists in front of us are more dangerous than the rockets on the way.”

Right-wing nationalists attacking left wing activists during a protest in center Tel Aviv against the Israeli attack on Gaza, July 12, 2014. The protest ended with the nationalists attacking a small group of left-wing activists with little police interference. Three activists injured and one right-wing person arrested. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Right-wing nationalists attacking left-wing activists during a protest in center Tel Aviv against the Israeli attack on Gaza, July 12, 2014. The protest ended with the nationalists attacking a small group of left-wing activists with little police interference. Three activists were injured and one right-wing person arrested. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The scene was later described by the new, self-ordained nationalist leader – a long forgotten ex-rapper who goes by the name of “The Shadow” (HaTzel). He wrote the following on his Facebook profile shortly after the protest:

We started with three people against their 800, and finished with 350 of ours and...

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Why did Israel reject Kerry's ceasefire proposal?

Is Israel willing to prolong the fighting and to intensify the killing and bereavement on both sides just so that its ally in Cairo gets the credit, rather than the Hamas-allied Turkey and Qatar? 

By Elizabeth Tsurkov

There is hardly any difference between the draft agreement presented by Kerry and the Egyptian proposal, apart from the question of who will be its sponsor: Cairo, or Turkey and Qatar?

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addresses reporters at the Presidential Palace in Cairo, Egypt, on July 22, 2014, amid a series of discussions with Egyptian leaders focused on creating a cease-fire for fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. (State Department photo/ Public Domain)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addresses reporters at the Presidential Palace in Cairo, Egypt, on July 22, 2014, amid a series of discussions with Egyptian leaders focused on creating a cease-fire for fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. (State Department photo/ Public Domain)

On Sunday morning, Haaretz’s excellent diplomatic correspondent, Barak Ravid, published a commentary on the new draft proposed by the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry:

At the end of his article Ravid added:

A report published in Haaretz reveals the text of the draft, compares it with the draft presented by Kerry last Thursday and discusses the negative aspects that appear in the draft. We do not have access to the full text of Thursday’s draft, but we do have the full text of the Egyptian draft of the ceasefire proposal, which Israel accepted and which was rejected by Hamas.

A close reading of the full version of Kerry’s “Hamas-inspired” draft and that of the Egyptians reveals insignificant differences between the two. The Egyptian draft, which was put together with Israel, while excluding the Hamas from the process, was formulated before the land invasion of Gaza and therefore does not address the question of Israel’s continual destruction of the underground tunnels.

           Click here for +972′s full coverage of the war in Gaza

According to Haaretz, the Thursday draft allowed Israel to continue destroying the tunnels for a period of one week following the beginning of the ceasefire, whereas the “Hamas-inspired” draft does not allow it. Effectively, the current draft states that immediately after the onset of the ceasefire ”both sides will refrain from carrying out military or...

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WATCH: Israeli teen refuses to serve in army, likely to face jail time

Dozens of supporters, including past refusers, hold demonstration outside Haifa draft board office in solidarity with 19-year-old Udi Segal.

By Moriel Rothman-Zecher and Yuval Orr

For the past month, the news in Israel/Palestine has been filled with reports of more and more people killed, the vast majority of them Palestinians. As much of Israeli society is swept up in the fever of the most recent war on Gaza, there are those voices that refuse to accept a present, or future, filled with violence, occupation, fear and hostility. One of those voices belongs to Udi Segal, a 19-year-old Israeli from Kibbutz Tuval, who was sent to jail on Monday for refusing to enlist in the Israeli military.

Watch this short video of Udi explaining his refusal to serve:

About 75 people – Jews and Palestinians – gathered in Haifa to stand with Udi. Among the crowd were Ruty and Yael Ferera, the mother and sister of Uriel Ferera, an Orthodox Jewish refusenik who has been in and out of military prison since April for refusing; Omar Saad, a young Druze refusenik who was recently released after over six months in prison; and a number of other past refusers and current signatories on the 2014 letter of conscientious objection.

Udi Segal walks in the direction of the Draft Center in Haifa, where he will refuse to enlist.

Udi Segal walks in the direction of the Draft Center in Haifa, where he will refuse to enlist.

Across the street was a small gathering of flag-draped counter-protestors. There had been calls to demonstrate against Udi’s refusal circulating on Facebook, but thanks to clever organizing (the Facebook event for Udi’s protest listed the start time at 11:00, at the Navy Museum, and then, surreptitiously, told actual supporters to meet at 12:00, near the Draft Office, five kilometers away, on the other side of Haifa), only a few showed up. Their chants touched on a number of now-familiar tropes (“Go to Gaza! You’re all traitors! Gaza is a cemetery! Go get f**ked in the a**!”) but also took on an uglier, more personal element, targeting Udi by name, branding the demonstration as his “gay coming out party,” calling him a “son of a whore” as he stood by his mother.


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Why the EU needs to rein in Israel's settlement policy

An Israeli academic makes the case for Europe to contain Israel’s settlement policy with greater determination and more concrete measures.

By Nurit Peled-Elhanan

Times are very tough for both Israeli and Palestinian families. The death toll in Gaza currently stands at more than 1,000, the majority of whom are civilians. The death toll in Israel stands at 43, three of whom are civilians. Three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered in the West Bank. A Palestinian youth from Jerusalem was burned alive by Jewish extremists. Dangerous and violent racism against Arab-Israeli citizens encouraged by Israeli ministers and parliament members has led to street riots, bred aggression and severe discrimination against Palestinians, along with a new aggression against peace activists.

Israel is currently suffering from an unprecedented social and economic crisis. The single source for this crisis is Israel’s destructive occupation. The occupation has raised two generations of Palestinians as prisoners, jailed between military checkpoints and walls. The two generations of Israelis who believe that they are the lords of the land are nurtured by the illusion that the oppression of 4.5 million Palestinians gives them security and peace, and that such an oppressive society is capable of raising compassionate children. Therefore, they are shocked when their boys become ruthless killers, as is revealed by current events.

Israel right-wing protesters attack left-wing activists after they protested in central Tel Aviv against the Israeli attack on Gaza, July 12, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israel right-wing protesters attack left-wing activists after they protested in central Tel Aviv against the Israeli attack on Gaza, July 12, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

One of the most dominant and disastrous expressions of the occupation is the settlement project in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, which is illegal under international law. The settlements allow Israel to take control of Palestinians’ natural resources ­– in violation of international law – to strengthen its presence in the territories and to make the occupation irreversible. Despite various agreements, international resolutions and Israeli promises, the settlements are expanding.

All the while, Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and so-called Area C (61% of the West Bank, under full Israeli control) are constantly destroyed. While water flows in the settlements without limitation, Palestinian villages live under a cruel water regime, as was recently pointed...

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Gaza war diary II: No one is safe, everyone is a target

Walid Abuzaid offers a look into the everyday reality of living in Gaza during the current violence. As the fighting worsens, he asks why Palestinians should settle when they haven’t got the rights they deserve.

By Walid Abuzaid

Thursday, July 17

It’s 10 p.m. when the power finally returns. The electricity has been down since 11 p.m. last night. The power company said the electricity lines were down during the bombardments and that there’ll only be six hours of electricity every day.

I turn on the water heater so I can finally shower in the morning, since Eimar is asleep at last and I don’t want to make any noise. As I brush my teeth, I’m reminded of the salty water I have to shower in. When I asked the tower guard, Abu-Zeyad, about it when I returned home at the beginning of July, he said the water pipes for the whole neighborhood were damaged a while ago and no one has repaired them. I remember Mohammed, my friend from Beit Lahia, complaining about it since moving here after the war began. The water they use back in their home is really sweet water coming from the wells.

People of Khan Younis gather at a water well to fill some plastic jugs of safe drinking water, Gaza Strip, July 21, 2014. Israeli attacks have killed 566 Palestinians in the current offensive, most of them civilians. (Basel Yazouri/Activestills.org)

People of Khan Younis gather at a water well to fill plastic jugs of safe drinking water, Gaza Strip, July 21, 2014. (Basel Yazouri/Activestills.org)

We gather around in the living room, the TV is on the news channel; we don’t follow any Ramadan series this year. Although Lamar forces us every once in a while to switch to MBC so she can watch the prank series with the sharks. We still check the news channels during every commercial. Nirmeen, my step-mom, tells us about her friend from university that has a Swedish passport. She and her family left in the morning and they’re now safe in Jordan. Lamar hears this and angrily asks my father, “When are you going to get us passports so we can travel whenever we want?” I’m speechless, so is my father. I wonder how many desperate fathers and mothers don’t have an answer to that...

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Still no ceasefire agreement as Israel rejects Kerry proposal

Amid intensive efforts to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the Israeli cabinet rejected the latest U.S. proposal, yet agreed to a 12-hour suspension of fighting.

Mourners carry the body of killed Palestinian Mohammed al-Araj during his funeral at the Qalandiya Palestinian refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah, on July 25, 2014, after he was shot and killed the night before during clashes with the Israeli army amid a massive protest in the West Bank against the Israeli attack on the Gaza strip. (photo: Activestills)

Mourners carry the body of killed Palestinian Mohammed al-Araj during his funeral at the Qalandiya Palestinian refugee camp near the West Bank city of Ramallah, on July 25, 2014, after he was shot and killed the night before during clashes with the Israeli army amid a massive protest in the West Bank against the Israeli attack on the Gaza strip. (photo: Activestills)

In a press conference in Cairo with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stated that further efforts were needed to get all parties to agree on the terms of a ceasefire agreement after Israel rejected the proposal. He added that he was confident an agreement would be reached, though more effort was needed to work through issues of terminology in the proposal.

Kerry did, however, get Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to agree to a 12-hour pause in its military operation in Gaza. Haaretz reported that Kerry was ”working towards a brief, seven-day humanitarian ceasefire to try to create a more durable, sustainable ceasefire.”

According to Reuters, France will host an international meeting on Saturday in order to rapidly work toward a ceasefire agreement. Representatives from the U.S., Britain, Germany, Italy, the EU, Turkey and Qatar are said to be attending the talks in Paris.

After 18 days of fighting, the bombardment of the Gaza Strip by Israeli forces continued throughout Friday. The Palestinian death toll approached 850 Friday evening, with the majority of casualties being civilians.

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COMIC: Google Glass for the Gaza gaze

By Eli Valley

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

More from Eli Valley:
What if Mahmoud was named Jonah?
A Passover lesson: ‘And then we were free’
Why even god can’t reach a two-state solution




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Israeli, Hamas war crimes becoming increasingly hard to distinguish

Both sides are guilty of violating international law but the source of an attack on a Gaza UN school could be a game changer.

By Lolita Brayman

An attack on a United Nations-run facility in northern Gaza sheltering displaced Palestinians left at least 15 civilians killed and many more wounded on Thursday morning, reports indicate. Israel and Hamas are pointing fingers and negating responsibility for the deadly incident, the circumstances of which remain unclear but are significant in light of the UN Human Rights Council’s recent launch of a commission of inquiry into alleged Israeli war crimes.

The Israeli army is investigating the source of the hit, while UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack and admitted in an official statement that the circumstances remain unclear. Israel denied intentionally targeting the school belonging to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which is located in the densely populated northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun, but did say that it fired mortars in the area after the army was shot at from a source nearby.

Both the Israeli army and UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness confirmed that Hamas rockets were being fired near the UNRWA school, and that sometimes Hamas rockets fall short of their intended Israeli targets. It is also confirmed that the exact location of the UNRWA shelter was known to the Israeli army and that several rockets fell in Beit Hanoun that same day. The army spokesperson also tweeted that the Red Cross was told to evacuate civilians from the UNRWA shelter between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., as they were planning on targeting nearby Hamas rocket launchers. Gunness confirmed via his Twitter account that the precise coordinates of the school were formally given to the army.

Chris Gunness tweet_UNRWA

IDF tweet_UNRWA

The source of the attack seems to be one of the following possible scenarios: 1) A Hamas rocket was launched from Beit Hanoun aimed at Israel and fell short of its target, landing on the UNRWA school; 2) the Israeli army targeted the Hamas rocket launchers in Beit Hanoun and accidentally hit the shelter; or 3) Israeli forces responding to Hamas militant fire shelled the school accidentally by targeting the source of the fire.

In a rather ambiguous tweet,...

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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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