Analysis News

Scarlett Johansson, West Bank workers need a Christmas miracle! [satire]

In the wake of SodaStream’s apparent capitulation to BDS, an open appeal to ScarJo to save yet another group of West Bank workers. (Satire)

Text by Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org

Dear ScarJo,

Can I call you ScarJo? It’s been a great year for you: you had a baby, you got married, you turned 30. But I know a painful anniversary is just around the corner. For it was almost a year ago that you put your good name on the line to defend the jobs of SodaStream’s West Bank Palestinian workers.

The controversy surrounding your Super Bowl ad raised much needed awareness of both home soft drink carbonation and also how the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement unfairly singles out Israeli settlements for violating international law when there are so many other Israeli violations of international law to consider.

A Norwegian activist in a Santa suit uses a sledge hammer to smash SodaStream appliances in front of the Norwegian Parliament building in Oslo, December 6, 2014. Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activists have targeted SodaStream, which makes home soft drink carbonation appliances, because one of their factories is located in the West Bank industrial settlement Mishor Adumim. All Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are illegal under international law. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

A Norwegian activist in a Santa suit uses a sledge hammer to smash SodaStream appliances in front of the Norwegian Parliament building in Oslo, December 6, 2014. Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activists have targeted SodaStream, which makes home soft drink carbonation appliances, because one of their factories is located in the West Bank industrial settlement Mishor Adumim. All Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are illegal under international law. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

As you said at the time (actual quote, not satire), “SodaStream is a company that is not only committed to the environment but to building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine, supporting neighbors working alongside each other, receiving equal pay, equal benefits and equal rights.”

Until your brave and accurate words, most people didn’t know that SodaStream’s Palestinian workers are welcome to carry assault rifles when they visit their Israeli neighbors. Or that if Palestinians decide to create a new outpost on any hilltop in the West Bank, it’s

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Palestinian family in Lydd faces home demolition

The Naqib family has been living on their land since before 1948. That, however, didn’t stop the municipality from serving them with an arbitrary demolition order. 

By Rami Younis

After a relative period of calm in which the local authorities have refrained from demolishing homes of Palestinian citizens of Israel, the Lydd (“Lod” in Hebrew, “Lydda” in English) Municipality has returned to threatening residents with demolition. The war in Gaza has ended, and now the authorities have returned to their day-to-day war against Arab citizens.

The aftermath of a home demolition in Lod, Israel, September 2, 2011. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The aftermath of a home demolition in Lydd, Israel, September 2, 2011. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The home belongs to the Naqib family and was built on land that they own, according to the state land registry. The demolition order, which stated that the house was built illegally, was served back in November. The city announced it would carry out the demolition on Sunday, when police arrived on the scene.

Attorney Qais Nasser submitted an urgent appeal to a district court on behalf of the family, along with a request to delay the demolition. The court rejected the request, but delayed the demolition until today (Sunday) at 1 p.m., in order to give the family time to submit an appeal to the Supreme Court. UPDATE (2:45 p.m.): The Supreme Court has delayed the demolition until Thursday.

The Naqib family lives on land near the Ganei Aviv neighborhood, which was expropriated from Palestinian families in a procedure whose legality has been in doubt ever since. The family has lived on the land since before 1948, and the local urban building plan gave a green light for building the new neighborhood years ago. The city, however, has yet to approve a master plan, and even destroyed a house in the 1990s.

According to a map of the urban building plan, one can see that the house was built on land slated for residential construction. Thus, the city’s decision regarding “illegal construction” seems especially arbitrary:

The Lod master plan. (photo: Said Abu Hamed)

The Lyd master plan. (photo: Said Abu Hamed)

Should the Supreme Court reject the request to delay the order, the city will be able to...

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How long must Palestinians pay for the Holocaust? [op-ed]

A man leading an occupying state, a racist state in which mixed marriages are protested, doesn’t get to teach lessons to others. Mr. Netanyahu, stop exploiting the Holocaust at every political opportunity; pick up a book and learn that we weren’t there in those darkest days of European and Jewish history.

By Samah Salaime Egbariya

On the eve of a historical day for the Palestinian people, when the international community has finally figured out that there is no point in waiting for Israelis to recognize their neighbors’ right to independence, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu chose to preach to the Europeans  – to teach them a lesson he himself has yet to learn.

And he is right. There really are people who have not learned a thing; not in Europe, but right here in Israel.

The time has come to put everything on the table and talk about the Palestinians and the Holocaust.

For years we have been keeping our heads down and avoided facing the issue. We were careful never to shout “Nazis” in protests against the occupation, against house demolitions, and on Land Day, when we speak up and resist the oppression and racism against Arabs in Israel. We are forbidden from even approaching that sensitive Jewish wound, the ultimate political trump card. We the Arabs were and still are vulnerable, weak, defeated, and yes – scared we would be blamed for taking part in or even for identifying with the horrors that took place in Europe.

But khalas. Enough. No more. I am no longer willing to carry the burden of the Great Sin on my shoulders. It is no longer possible to punish us in every way possible for nearly 70 years and then hide behind the black curtain of European Jewish history.

The prime minister of a state where rampant racism is raising its head in every corner —under the government’s patronage — has no right to preach to others. When in every city conquered in 1948 – Lydd, Acre, Jaffa – there is a neighborhood called “the ghetto,” meaning the old city where the Palestinian residents were kept and enclosed, you Mr. Prime Minister cannot speak of learning lessons.

In a state where every bill produced in your racist breeding ground reeks of hatred and fear mongering toward “the Arabs” – you don’t get to preach...

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With your support, we can do so much more in 2015

+972 bloggers
2014 was a bad year in Israel/Palestine.

Immediately after the collapse of peace talks came the kidnapping and murder of four teens – three Israelis and a Palestinian – followed by months of violence. Israel launched the third war on Gaza in six years, which took the lives of more than 2,000 people, the majority of them Palestinian civilians. Mosques, synagogues and schools were attacked. Relations between Jews and Palestinian citizens of Israel fell to an all-time low.

The media generally failed to grasp the nature of these developments, treating them as isolated events or “security” problems. They don’t get that violence and instability are the product of the political status quo. Peace won’t come without justice, freedom and equality.

Throughout this year, +972 Magazine presented a hard-hitting alternative to the dominant media narrative. We documented the effect of the violent escalation on the civilian population, critically examined the line touted by politicians, and highlighted the work of activists and grassroots leaders. We presented a critical view of the dominant discourse, placing a strong emphasis on human rights and democracy.

+972 Magazine was visited this year by millions of readers from all across the world. We launched a new Hebrew site, operated by a collective of Israeli and Palestinian contributors, in partnership with Just Vision and the photographers’ collective Activestills. Stories we broke were cited by local and international publications, such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Haaretz, and more.

With your support, we can do much more: break more stories, expand to more platforms, and reach more readers.

+972 Magazine is a non-profit, which depends completely on grants, donations, and on a community of volunteer bloggers, editors, and translators. We wouldn’t be able to accomplish a fraction of what we do without the support of our readers.

The New Israel Fund has kindly set up a page to make it easy for people like you to make tax-deductible donations to +972 Magazine through the NIF. Alternatively, you can also make a Paypal donation directly to +972 Magazine here.

Click here to make a tax-deductible donation (U.S only)

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Your feedback is just as important to us. Please contact me directly at noam@972mag.com with any...

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For Israeli media, even the memory of the Nakba poses a threat

A new study reveals that although Israeli newspapers present an array of views on the Nakba, the most common one sees it as nothing less than a threat that seeks to delegitimize Israel.

By Oren Persico / ‘The 7th Eye

An ultra-orthodox Jewish man walks in the depopulated Palestinian village of Lifta, located on the edge of West Jerusalem, Israel, March 4, 2014. During the Nakba, the residents of Lifta fled attacks by Zionist militias beginning in December 1947, resulting in the complete evacuation of the village by February 1948. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

An ultra-orthodox Jewish man walks in the depopulated Palestinian village of Lifta, located on the edge of West Jerusalem, Israel, March 4, 2014. During the Nakba, the residents of Lifta fled attacks by Zionist militias beginning in December 1947, resulting in the complete evacuation of the village by February 1948. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

A new study reveals that Israel’s mainstream media maintains the state’s official stance toward the Nakba, and “puts full responsibility on the tragedy that occurred in 1948 on the Palestinian leadership, thus purifying Israel from any responsibility for the outcome of the war on the Palestinian people.”

The study, conducted by Amal Jamal and Samah Basool and published earlier this year by the I’lam Media Center for Arab Palestinians in Israel, is based on the way Israel’s five main newspapers – Yedioth Ahronot, Ma’ariv, Israel Hayom, Haaretz and Hamodia – describe the Nakba (the Arabic word for “catastrophe,” which Palestinians use to describe the expulsion of over 750,000 Palestinians from their homes during the 1948 War). The researchers looked at how the newspaper articles refer to the Nakba during the period in which the term comes up most naturally – two weeks before Israel’s Independence Day, and two weeks after May 15, Nakba Day. The study took place between 2008-2012 in an attempt to understand the “patterns of perceptions of the Palestinian Nakba in the Israeli collective consciousness, as they are reflected in Israel’s media discourse.”

In their study, Jamal and Basool stress that the goal is not “to argue over the stances in the articles sampled, but rather to classify their contents according to parameters of attitudes.”

As one could probably guess, the newspaper that publishes the highest number of articles relating to the subject is...

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Israel’s marriage police: An aberration from Jewish tradition

From interrogations to blacklists to computerized databases, Israel’s rabbinical authorities have adopted a coercive system of oversight that punishes violators of Jewish law’s bans on ‘certain’ kinds of relationships.

By Akiva Miller

Everyone knows that Israel’s Jewish-Orthodox-controlled marriage system must change. But while activists, lawyers and politicians struggling to reform it have won some important battles in recent years, one of the most important factors behind the crisis — the rabbinical authorities’ system of databases, investigative methods, and coercive powers — has received too little attention.

This system is best understood as a marriage police, motivated by an unprecedented zealousness to detect, enforce and punish would-be violators of Jewish law’s ancient bans on certain kinds of relationships as if they were criminal offenses — most notably the prohibitions on intermarriage and the marriage of a mamzer, the offspring of illicit relations. While the Jewish prohibitions date back two millennia or more, Israel’s marriage police is a new phenomenon of recent decades. It is not rooted in law, but almost entirely built upon a patchwork of administrative regulations and decisions by Israel’s rabbinical courts.

The first and best-known process for policing marriage prohibitions is the pre-registration interview. This interview is at times more like an interrogation; witnesses and relatives of suspect couples are brought before the marriage registrar to give testimony, asked to bring evidence, and are carefully cross-examined on the couples’ Jewishness. This can be a humiliating process, and makes ordinary Israelis feel that the religious authorities of the Jewish state are calling their Jewish identity into question.

If an individual is suspected of being subject to a marriage prohibition, their case is brought before the rabbinical courts. Ordinarily, these cases involve only adults who have applied to marry and were turned away. In recent decades, however, rabbinical courts have adopted the view that they have the authority to initiate investigations into the marriage eligibility of minor children who were born under circumstances that may make their marriage prohibited – whether suspected mamzerim or children of suspected non-Jewish or convert parents. Once any person — adult or child — is caught up in the rabbinical courts, the ordeal can last for years and extracts a heavy financial and emotional toll.

The system of marriage police relies on modern information technologies. One such tool is the “blacklist,” a national database containing thousands of individuals suspected of being under marriage prohibition. A...

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'Activestills' photographers featured in 'Local Testimony' competition

Photojournalism exhibition opens in Tel Aviv. Works by Tali Mayer, Yotam Ronen and Oren Ziv of Activestills are among those being featured for their work in 2014.

Photographers from the Activestills collective, partners of +972 Magazine, Yotam Ronen, Tali Mayer and Oren Ziv are among the winners of the 2014 “Local Testimony” photojournalism competition.

The “Photograph of the Year” was taken by Yuval Chen of Yedioth Aharonoth, who documented the girlfriend of 20-year-old fallen IDF soldier Guy Algranati standing over his grave, surrounded by members of his army unit in the Kiryat Shaul cemetery. Daniel Tchetchik of Haaretz won the prize for “Series of the Year” for “Sunburn,” photos from around the country. Taking the prize in the “News” category was independent photographer Avishag Shaar-Yashuv.

Taking first place in the “Photographed Story” category was Dan Haimovich, who documented the homeless population of an encampment in Tel Aviv, parts of which were published in +972’s Hebrew-language sister publication, “Local Call.”

The competition is part of an exhibition that opened this week in the Land of Israel Museum in Tel Aviv, featuring photojournalism images from local and global photographers.

In the News category, Activestills’ Tali Mayer’s photographs were featured in the “Curator’s choice” selection:

The 2014 “Local Testimony” competition. (Activestills.org)

The 2014 “Local Testimony” competition. (Tali Mayer/Activestills.org)

Photos by Activestills’ Oren Ziv took second place in the same category for his series on the struggle of African asylum seekers in Israel:

Second place in the “Curator’s Choice” category. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Second place in the “Curator’s Choice” category. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Second place in the “Curator’s Choice” category. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Second place in the “Curator’s Choice” category. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Ziv’s photo from May 1 protests were also selected in the curator’s choice category for religion and community:

In a selection featuring photos of the violence this past summer, photos by Activestills’ Yotam Ronen were included:

Summer 2014 selection in “Local Testimony.” (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Summer 2014 selection in “Local Testimony.” (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Summer 2014 selection in “Local Testimony.” (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)
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WATCH: A heartbreaking portrait of life in Hebron, in 9 minutes

By Moriel Rothman-Zecher

What does life under occupation look like for a teenage Palestinian?

A new, powerful short film by filmmaker and activist Yuval Orr attempts to show exactly that, by following 15-year-old Awni Abu Shamsiya as he attempts to maintain some shred of normalcy in his hometown of Hebron.

Hebron, where the occupation is in many ways manifested in its rawest form, is the only Palestinian city inside which there is an Israeli settlement. It is a junction of direct and daily conflict between Palestinian civilians, Israeli soldiers and Jewish-Israeli settlers. It is a city where streets are segregated between Jews and Palestinians,and one of the places where freedom of movement is most restricted. It is the site of some of the worst civilian-led massacres, on both sides, since the beginning of Jewish-Arab conflict. No single work can summarize this city and its machinations, in nine minutes or nine days, but Yuval’s film, in zooming in on one day in Awni Abu Shamsiya’s life, gets as close as anything I’ve seen recently.

Maybe it’s the throat-clench of absurdity or the dull-throb of heartbreak, but “Khalil Helwa” (Hebron is Beautiful) is one of the most powerful films about life under occupation in Hebron that I’ve seen in years. The film leaves room for the viewer to come to her own conclusions, while maintaining a clear, humane and empathetic view of the gallingly unfair situation.

But forget what I have to say. The work speaks for itself, whether you’ve been to Hebron 50 times or only know the vaguest contours of its story.

Watch the full nine-minute film:

Moriel Rothman-Zecher is a writer and activist, based in Tel Aviv. He blogs independently at thelefternwall.com. Follow the filmmaker (@yuvalorr) and the author (@Moriel_RZ) on Twitter.

Related:
In Hebron, terror begets a reign of terror
This is what a military operation in Hebron looks like
Former Israeli AG: We should have evicted Hebron settlers




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A land without a people?: A visit to Russia's Jewish autonomous region

A visit to Birobidzhan, where Jewish autonomy hasn’t exactly worked out — and yet, the sign for Lenin Street is still written in Yiddish and public monuments commemorate Sholem Aleichem.

By Yakov Rabkin

Last summer, after three months of teaching in Japan, I decided to return home to Montreal via Birobidzhan, in Russia’s Far East. The Jewish Autonomous Region was getting ready to celebrate its 80th anniversary, and I easily found people to host me.

Built by Jewish enthusiasts from a dozen countries including Argentina, Canada, France, the United States and British Palestine, Birobidzhan is conceptually akin to Israel, which also considers Jews as a nationality rather than a confession. But unlike the State of Israel, Birobidzhan was built on a true “land without a people” and did not have to displace anyone to make the Communist Jewish dream come true. This is one of the reasons an earlier plan to create a Jewish autonomous region in the Crimea, populated for thousands of years, was abandoned in favor of the Far East. Of course, most settlers came from within the Soviet Union, particularly from the Ukraine and Belorussia, where millions of Jews had been living for centuries. They wanted to contribute to the edification of socialism explicitly as Jews.

Two local Jews, cousins Sasha and Igor, met me at the Khabarovsk airport, the closest to Birobidzhan. Igor had recently returned from Israel after 17 years, two of which he spent in the military.

A sign marks the entrance to Birobidjan. (Photo by Yakov Rabkin)

A sign marks the entrance to Birobidzhan. (Photo by Yakov Rabkin)

As we were approaching Birobidzhan, I noticed a white entrance arch with the name of the town spelled in Russian and Yiddish. Impressed by the appearance of Hebrew letters a few miles from the Russia-China border, I stopped the car to take pictures. It did not take me long to get accustomed to street signs in Yiddish, a menorah in front of the train station and a statue of a shofar-blowing Hasid in the middle of Lenin Street (also spelled in Yiddish).

The sign for Lenin Street, in Yiddish. (Photo by Yakov Rabkin)

The sign for Lenin Street, in Yiddish. (Photo by Yakov Rabkin)

Unlike most Soviet towns, Lenin street is not the main thoroughfare in Birobidzhan; instead, the...

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From Gaza to Salameh: A Palestinian refugee's journey home

A Palestinian refugee from Gaza journey’s to his family’s hometown in present-day Tel Aviv. Standing on what used to be the village cemetery, he feels the ghosts of the past as he must reckon with the currently reality.

By Eitan Bronstein Aparicio (translated by Charles Kamen)

On International Human Rights Day, he took advantage of his basic rights and returned to Salameh, which today is known as Kfar Shalem. It is the first time he has visited the place where his parents were born. His father was born in 1936 and was 12 when he, along with the rest of the residents of the town, was forced to leave his home and move to the Gaza Strip where they still live today. I won’t mention his name so as not to endanger him.

He’s excited as we make our way to Salameh, growing quiet for a long time as we go from the village mosque and the mukhtar’s house. He spends some time on the exercise equipment in a local playground while his four-year-old nephew plays on the slides. The playground was erected on Salameh’s cemetery, of which nothing remains.

The son of refugees from Salameh stands outside the village mosque. Today Salameh is known as 'Kfar Shalem' and is part of Tel Aviv. (photo: Eléonore Merza)

The son of refugees from Salameh stands outside the village mosque. Today Salameh is known as ‘Kfar Shalem’ and is part of Tel Aviv. (photo: Eléonore Merza)

When we arrive at the mosque he calls his father. Even before he tells him where is, his father asks whether he has already visited Salameh. He tells his father that although the village in which he was born has become a neighborhood in Tel Aviv, some of the original buildings and the winding village streets preserve its memory. His father doesn’t speak at length. “It must not be easy for him,” he says and asks me about the village school. His father, who had been a pupil there, asks whether it’s still standing. I take him to the school which today houses the offices of the National Insurance Institute. When the construction plans are complete and the remaining residents who currently live in Salameh’s buildings are evacuated, only the mosque will remain. Its dome was damaged by rioters in 2000 and has yet to...

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'Truth commission' uncovers the history of Bedouin dispossession

An informal ‘Public Truth Commission’ set out to find exactly what happened to the Negev Bedouin between 1948 and 1960. While Bedouin witnesses told stories of massacres, rape and expulsions, former Israeli soldiers said they were just following orders. 

By Tom Pessah

Negev Bedouin speak during Zochrot's Public Truth Commission, Be'er Sheva, December 10, 2014. (photo: Ahmad al-Bazz)

Negev Bedouin speak during Zochrot’s Public Truth Commission, Be’er Sheva, December 10, 2014. (photo: Ahmad al-Bazz)

I identify as straight, so I cannot claim to know how it feels to be in the closet. But I do have friends who identify as LGBTQ, and they have taught me a little about what it is like: to constantly evade the subject is exhausting. If you demand that people hide such central parts of their identities, you’ll never have close relationships with them. Likewise many people I know see themselves as “pro-peace” or “pro-Palestine,” but expect Palestinians to remain “in the closet” about their history, particularly that of 1948.

Zochrot, an Israeli NGO, is experimenting with ways to bring awareness about the Palestinian Nakba to the Jewish Israeli public. After two years of preparations, they convened an informal Public Truth Commission at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba last week, in order to examine the displacement of Palestinians in the Negev/Naqab by Israeli forces that took place from 1948 to 1960. Why until 1960? Most people are actually unaware of the fact the majority of local Bedouin tribes were driven off their lands into either Sinai, the West Bank, or an isolated reservation east of Beersheba (the “Sayag”) in the 1950s – long after the war ended.

But how can “nomads” be driven off “their lands?” Most people also do not know about the Bedouins’ semi-nomadic form of settlement, which included tilling plots of land in particular areas associated with each tribe. The Ottomans had noticed this practice in the 16th century, but Israeli state representatives have continued to deny this in court in order to justify the present-day eviction of entire communities.

The first to share details of these events were several Bedouin witnesses. Still residing within Israel, they recounted how the army had ordered them to leave their lands, promising that the move would only be temporary. Another witness spoke of an unknown massacre in al-Araqeeb, where 14 men were executed in 1948....

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The day that Mandela Square graces Jerusalem

Like Mandela, we in Israel have fought for our liberation from colonialism. But the world Mandela inspires is far from accepting Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

By Ilan Baruch

Bethlehem-area activists honor the memory of Nelson Mandela at a ceremony in Manger Square, West Bank, December 7, 2013. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

Bethlehem-area activists honor the memory of Nelson Mandela at a ceremony in Manger Square, West Bank, December 7, 2013. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

On December 5th, South Africa and the world commemorated the passing away of Neslon Mandela, one of the most illustrious men in the history of modern times. In the duration of my tenure as Ambassador of Israel to South Africa, Mandela was no longer playing a role in the political dynamics of the country, and ambassadorial courtesy visits to his office were nearly impossible. Thanks, however, to the extraordinary help of a prominent Jewish advocate in Johannesburg and his close confidant, such a meeting was afforded to my wife and I in May 2006. Needless to say we were overwhelmed when stepping into the offices of the most universally admired individual in our times. Upon entry, Zelda, his mythological Chief of Staff, responded to my whispered, diplomatic question: “Twenty-eight minutes, tight!”

The tall man received us in his usual batik and warm smile. Soon, the conversation flowed. Mandela opted for a conversation on Judaism, the Jewish nation and above all his sense of gratitude to the Jewish community in South Africa. He told us of his first employers, a Jewish Law firm in Johannesburg, where upon day one he was told “indoors we are all equal.” Then he told us of his bosses who suggested that he buys his daily lunch, for which they generously paid, in a certain eatery. When he asked about the bosses’ insistence, they answered: “the Jewish lady running it lost her husband recently and is in dire need of the income.” Reminiscing, Mandela said: “this kind of solidarity the Jews are entitled to be proud of and we need to learn from.” We felt very proud indeed.

Read: The most hypocritical Mandela eulogies by Israeli politicians

Mandela liked us, and kindly refused Zelda’s explicit hints to round our meeting up. He told us of his political conversations in the infamous Robben Island prison, particularly with the younger...

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U.S. torture report shows the danger of Israel's legal loopholes

In American discourse, torture is a dark stain on the country’s recent history. In Israel, there is no law against torture and the justification of its use is still mainstream.

By Nadeem Shehadeh and Amjad Iraqi

Illustrative photo of protests against Guantanamo (Photo by Lilac Mountain/Shutterstock.com)

Illustrative photo of protests against Guantanamo (Photo by Lilac Mountain/Shutterstock.com)

The United States Senate this week released its long-awaited report on the CIA’s use of torture during the so-called “War on Terror.” A significant revelation in the report was that the CIA relied upon an Israeli High Court decision on torture and other Israeli policies as legal justifications for its own torture practices. These include the vague concepts of “necessity” and “ticking bombs,” and the use of enhanced interrogation techniques defined misleadingly as “moderate physical pressure.”

Since the Israeli High Court handed down its decision on torture 15 years ago, the ruling has been lauded by many observers as “revolutionary” for its supposed regulation of the use of torture to obtain information from suspects for urgent security purposes. However, as demonstrated by the Senate report, and as Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations have long-argued, the High Court’s ruling is riddled with serious flaws – or more accurately, deliberate shortcomings – that merely grant the appearance of a progressive approach to the use of torture.

A chief problem is that torture is not a crime under Israeli law. From the outset, this violates provisions of international human rights covenants ratified by Israel, such as the Convention Against Torture, that forbid the use of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment (CIDT) in all their forms. Among other recommendations, international human rights bodies have consistently called on Israel to explicitly prohibit torture through legislation in line with these treaties; to this day, no such legislation exists.

In part because torture is not a crime, there are no criminal prosecutions of its perpetrators, and hence no legal remedies for victims. Israeli agencies that routinely use torture in their work – including the military, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), and prison authorities – enjoy extensive impunity. While the High Court’s ruling and various internal state bodies give the illusion of oversight and regulation, in reality these ‘torture agencies’ are essentially free to act without fear of punishment....

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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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