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When the state dictates reactions to the killing of Palestinian children

The Israeli Broadcast Authority and the Israeli Supreme Court knew in advance what the reaction would be to a radio advert reading out the names of children killed in Gaza, and that’s why they banned it. By doing so they’ve taken a bit of our freedom.

By Hagai El-Ad (translated by Hadas Leonov)

Palestinians prepare the body of a baby in Kamal Edwan Hospital's morgue after an attack on Beit Hanoun elementary school killed at least 17 people, Jabalyia, Gaza Strip, July 24. The school was being used as a shelter by 800 people at the time (photo: Anne Paq/Activestills)

Palestinians prepare the body of a baby in Kamal Edwan Hospital’s morgue after an attack on Beit Hanoun elementary school killed at least 17 people, Jabalyia, Gaza Strip, July 24. The school was being used as a shelter by 800 people at the time (photo: Anne Paq/Activestills)

Muhammad Malakeh, two years old; Siraj ‘Abd al-’Al, eight years old; Sarah al-’Eid, nine years old; Saher Abu Namus, four years old; Ahmad Mahdi, 15 years old.

Some facts should not be permitted to be broadcast in public. Merely hearing them is dangerous: It could cause people to have thoughts, doubts or compassion. If this danger comes to pass, what would become of us?

Safaa Malakeh, six years old; Muhammad ‘Arif, 10 years old; Nidal Nawasrah, four years old; Muhammad Nawasrah, two years old; Miriam al-’Arja, 10 years old.

What sort of thoughts would enter the minds of those who hear even a few names from that forbidden list? It’s difficult to estimate. As a matter of fact, it is a complete mystery as to how humans would respond upon hearing the names of foreign children, Palestinian children – more than 500 under the age of 15 – who were killed in Gaza in the past few weeks. This mystery is part of what makes us free. When that mystery is solved in advance by the government, a part of what allows the public to be free is taken away. It is no longer a mystery, it is propaganda.

Abdallah Abu Ghazal, five years old; Yasmin al-Mutawaq, four years old; Abd a-Rahman Khatab, five years old; Anas ‘Alaa al-Batsh, 10 years old; Amal al-Batsh, two years old.

Without being able to hear for ourselves, we have no choice but to...

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Now is the time for American Jews to speak up on Israel

As an Israeli in the U.S. I learned that criticizing Israel is not an option for many American Jews. But there is a legitimate way to criticize Israeli policy, and if you care about someone or something you won’t let it go astray.

By Abraham Gutman

Thousands protest the Gaza war in Tel Aviv, July 26, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

Thousands protest the Gaza war in Tel Aviv, July 26, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

We were sitting in front of a lagoon at the top of a volcano in Costa Rica. We were happy to get some rest after the three-hour hike, and took a short swim in the freezing water. With us was a group of tourists along with a local guide. There was a Dutch man, some Americans, a group of Canadians and two German women. After the swim we ate our lunch before the hike back down. As we chatted the guide asked me where I was from. “Israel,” I answered, and he immediately responded, “We have a lot of Israelis here, they are the worst clients.”

For the past couple of years I have been living in New York City, where I have learned that mocking Israelis or Israel is just not something that people do. Every conversation about Israel comes with baggage, be it historical, political or religious. Usually when people talk to me about Israel they chose their words very carefully, as every choice of word can change the tone, and changing the tone can transform the conversation. The Costa Rican guide laughed when he told me that Israelis are the worst customers. He was the only one laughing.

The guide and I then proceeded to get into a back-and-forth about Israelis. The truth is that he was dead on. The moment I started laughing at his precise observations, others began laughing as well; they saw my laughter as permission for them to laugh. It was the first time that someone outside of Israel was honest with me about Israelis. There was no underlying tone, no political context, no history – just a tour guide who found it funny that Israelis think nothing is difficult because they served in the army, or how we will always take the advice of another Israeli even over someone who clearly knows better (like a tour guide, for...

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New law would demote Arabic language in the name of 'social cohesion'

Members of Knesset say law builds a ‘collective identity’ that will preserve the ‘values of democracy.’

By Orly Noy

A group of MKs from Yisrael Beiteinu, Likud and Jewish Home recently submitted a bill that calls to rescind the status of Arabic as an official language in Israel.

On its own, the bill is neither out of the ordinary nor surprising, as it joins a long list of draft laws that were brought before the Knesset plenum over the past years, including the Citizenship Law, the Nakba Law, the Loyalty Law, the Basic Law that declares Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people, and so on. After several decades of dispossessing its Palestinian citizens from their lands, the state is now moving on to dispossess them of their culture, including their language, identity and sense of belonging.

Palestinian protesters march in Haifa against Operation Protective Edge. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinian protesters march in Haifa against Operation Protective Edge. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The identity of the lawmakers behind the bill is not surprising, nor are their party affiliations, which that have long ceased to be part of the right-wing margins and have reached deep into the heart of the ruling party. Let us not forget the benefactor of the bill, “The Lobby for the Strengthening of the Hebrew Language.” One of its members is Dr. Zvi Zameret, the former chairman of the Pedagogical Secretariat of Israel’s Education Ministry. He is the same man who was behind the widespread cuts in civics studies in favor of Jewish studies, as well as the “updating” of the contents of civics books in the spirit of Zionism.

What I find interesting about the current proposal is its wording:

I won’t waste my time writing about the so-called “values of democracy” that this bill seeks to promote. However, it is important to look closely at its other goals: social cohesion, building a collective identity and mutual trust in society. The authors of the draft law are actually saying, unanimously, that excluding Arabic – and thus the people who speak the language – is a condition for social cohesion in Israel, and that a collective Israeli identity does not include Arabic-speaking citizens.

It seems to me that in today’s political context, it is no coincidence that this is seen...

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WATCH: Children long for kites, not bombs, in Gaza skies

Musa, Widad and thousands of Palestinian children in Gaza had cried out for the world’s attention when they broke the Guinness World Record. Had we heeded their message, perhaps the sky over Gaza today would not be choked with plumes of smoke.

By Nitin Sawhney and Roger Hill

Four years ago we began making a documentary film focused on two charismatic teenagers in the Gaza Strip, whose passion for kites seemed unusually spirited in a place beset by years of blockade and deprivation. Along with thousands of other Palestinian children, they were determined to break the Guinness World Record for the most kites flown at once.

When we first met Musa in the village of Seifa, he was a confident 14-year-old who enthusiastically built large kites with great precision using newspaper, sticks and wheat-paste. Widad, his 12-year-old sister, competed with Musa to build her own colorful kites while teasing him with witty humor and sarcasm. They wanted to participate in the record-breaking event so that Gazans could finally be seen and heard – they wanted the world to notice them and the war-torn, besieged coastal strip of land that is their home.

WATCH: Gaza children break Guinness World Record in new documentary:

“I am expressing myself and writing a message to the entire world,” one kite-flying girl declared on the day of the record-breaking event. The message written on her kite?: I have the right to pride, to education, to justice, equality and life. Musa in his wisdom felt that kite flying had another crucial role to play. “It will help us forget the trauma of war,” he told us.

When we began filming in July 2010, Musa and Widad had already lived through the devastating 2008-2009 war in Gaza known as “Operation Cast Lead.” In November 2012, they would survive yet another violent campaign of aerial bombardment.

Musa and Widad are now enduring their third war; the harshest, most catastrophic assault yet. It was traumatic enough during Cast Lead, when the family huddled together in one room as the children screamed in fear from loud detonations surrounding them. On July 22, 2014, their home was destroyed altogether and the entire family displaced.

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'Pay the price for peace': Israelis demand ceasefire

Some 400 protesters gathered in Tel Aviv Saturday night to protest against the war in Gaza, calling for an end to the blockade of the Strip and the Israeli occupation in general. The protest was organized by the the Coalition of Women for Peace and the socialist Da’am Workers Party.

Israelis in Tel Aviv protest against Israel's assault on Gaza, calling for a ceasefire and an end to the blockade of the Strip, Tel Aviv, August 23, 2014. (Photo: Activestills)

Israelis in Tel Aviv protest against Israel’s assault on Gaza, calling for a ceasefire and an end to the blockade of the Strip, Tel Aviv, August 23, 2014. (Photo: Activestills)

The protest was set to take place in Habima Square in central Tel Aviv, however police prevented the demonstration from taking place there and moved it to a nearby street. During the protest a rocket was fired from Gaza toward Tel Aviv and intercepted by the Iron Dome.

The protesters chanted demands for a ceasefire, as well as slogans such as “Yes to welfare, no to war” and “Occupation is terrorism.” For the first time since anti-war demonstrations have taken place during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, there was no organized counter-protest of right-wingers; however, at the end of the demonstration an individual threw an egg at the protest organizers.

At the same time that the demonstration was taking place in Tel Aviv, residents of southern Israel gathered in Jerusalem to demand a political solution to the Gaza war, rather than a military one.

An Israeli protester holds a sign reading 'End the massacre in Gaza,' at a demonstration against Israel's assault on the Strip, Tel Aviv, August 23, 2014. (Photo: Activestills)

An Israeli protester holds a sign reading ‘End the massacre in Gaza,’ at a demonstration against Israel’s assault on the Strip, Tel Aviv, August 23, 2014. (Photo: Activestills)

Israelis in Tel Aviv protest against Israel's assault on Gaza, calling for a ceasefire and an end to the blockade of the Strip, Tel Aviv, August 23, 2014. (Photo: Activestills)

Israelis in Tel Aviv protest against Israel’s assault on Gaza, calling for a ceasefire and an end to the blockade of the Strip, Tel Aviv, August 23,...

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Israeli peace activism: Same slogans for a different reality

As a fundamental human desire and right, peace traverses time and context. However, if it is to be realized it must be adjusted to political and social realities.

By Nadia Naser-Najjab

In a period degraded by extremes of violence and dehumanization, the sight of 10,000 Israeli protestors taking to the streets of Tel Aviv last Saturday to protest against their own government’s actions in Gaza appeared as a welcome chink of light illuminating unremittingly bleak skies. Despite being smaller in scale, the demonstration recalled the early 1990s, when large numbers of Israelis demonstrated in favor of peace, and the possibility of a lasting peace seemed so much closer.

Israelis take part in a protest calling for peace negotiations between Israel and Palestinian, Tel Aviv, on August 16, 2014. Thousands of demonstrators gathered on Saturday for a pro-peace rally under the slogan: 'Changing Direction: Toward Peace, Away From War.' (photo: Activestills)

Israelis take part in a protest calling for peace negotiations between Israel and Palestinian, Tel Aviv, on August 16, 2014. Thousands of demonstrators gathered on Saturday for a pro-peace rally under the slogan: ‘Changing Direction: Toward Peace, Away From War.’ (photo: Activestills)

Watching images of the protests in Tel Aviv took me back to the First Intifada, a time when peace appeared as more than a fleeting abstraction or an illusionary delusion; a period when Women in Black attended silent vigils and commemorated Palestinian deaths across Israel; when B’Tselem first emerged to document the full range and scale of the Israeli state’s human rights abuses; when organizations as diverse and significant as Peace Now and Dai L’Kibush (End the Occupation) established the basis of a constituency for peace.

These groups brought Israelis and Palestinians together and proactively engaged in a whole range of solidarity actions. I personally worked alongside Israelis in establishing solidarity groups and organizing demonstrations, sit-ins, workshops, seminars and lectures. These actions were not confined to the occupied territories: They were deliberately aimed at the Israeli public, and were predicated upon a sincere belief that there was a body of public opinion that would be receptive and sympathetic to Palestinian concerns.

While our struggle against the occupation united Palestinians and Israelis it could not conceal deeper tensions, divisions and divergences. Insofar as ‘peace’ was invoked as a unifying abstraction, it was...

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How the IDF turned a Palestinian house into a military post

Shattered televisions, clothes and food scattered everywhere, clogged toilets, walls covered in drawings, stolen jewelry. These are the scenes that awaited Palestinians in Gaza upon returning to their homes that were used as IDF military posts.

By Alexandr Nabokov

The devastation is total. Furniture is overturned, clothes are torn out of the closets and scattered around. Though I try to avoid it, I trample on them as I walk over broken glass, food scraps and cartridge cases. The walls are scribbled with Hebrew writing; large maps of the surrounding houses, along with guard schedules. I am inside a house that seems to be the one from which Salem Shamaly was shot dead in Shejaiye, the young man who died a few meters in front of me when he tried to evacuate his relatives during what was supposed to be a humanitarian ceasefire.

Military plans scribbled on the wall of a Palestinian home used as a military post by Israeli soldiers during Operation Protective Edge, the Gaza Strip, August 2014. (photo: Alexandr Nabokov)

Military plans scribbled on the wall of a Palestinian home used as a military post by Israeli soldiers during Operation Protective Edge, the Gaza Strip, August 2014. (photo: Alexandr Nabokov)

A Star of David scribbled on the wall of a Palestinian home used as a military post by Israeli soldiers during Operation Protective Edge, the Gaza Strip, August 2014. (photo: Alexandr Nabokov)

A Star of David scribbled on the wall of a Palestinian home used as a military post by Israeli soldiers during Operation Protective Edge, the Gaza Strip, August 2014. (photo: Alexandr Nabokov)

It’s not the first time I’ve seen destruction inside a house like this. It is one of four houses I have walked through that was used by Israeli forces during Operation Protective Edge, and the destruction in them is similar. I guide a TV crew around the house, pointing at the ‘X’ spraypainted outside the windows; a signal to fellow soldiers not to attack. I show the the crew the sandbags in the windows, how the soldiers made ​​use of pillowcases belonging to the house’s inhabitants and filled them with sand; that is why the floor tiles are broken – to gain access to the sand beneath.

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Israeli child killed by mortar; Hamas executes 18 suspected collaborators

Update: The IDF has confirmed that the mortar shell that killed a 4-year-old Israeli child Friday evening was not fired from a UN-run shelter for Gazan refugees, as earlier reported by Haaretz.

On the 46th day of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge at least 113 projectiles were fired into Israel from Gaza. A mortar attack early Friday evening  killed four-year-old Israeli child Daniel Tregerman – the first child fatality on the Israel side since the start of hostilities more than six weeks ago. This was also the first Israeli fatality since a temporary ceasefire between Hamas and Israel broke down last Friday and fighting resumed.

Haaretz reported that, according to a military source, the mortar that killed Tregerman was fired from a school used by the UN to house Gazan refugees in Gaza City.

Israelis check the scene in which a rocket shot from the Gaza Strip has hit a street in the city of Beer Sheva, August 22, 2014. (photo: Activestills)

Israelis check the scene in which a rocket shot from the Gaza Strip has hit a street in the city of Beer Sheva, August 22, 2014. (photo: Activestills)

Meanwhile, Friday’s death toll in Gaza reached seven, a day after Israeli airstrikes killed 38 across the Strip. More than 65 Palestinians have been killed since Israel relaunched its assault on Gaza late Tuesday, bringing the total Palestinian death toll in the six-week assault to more than 2,090.

According to Ynetafter Israel killed several senior Hamas military chiefs on Wednesday, the group’s military wing executed 18 alleged collaborators on Friday. Seven were killed by Hamas militants in a central Gaza square in what were reportedly the first public executions in the Strip since the 1990s. Eleven other alleged collaborators were killed by firing squad at an abandoned police station.

Palestinian youth throw stones during a weekly protest against the Israeli occupation and a solidarity protest with Gaza, in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, August 22, 2014. (photo: Activestills)

Palestinian youth throw stones during a weekly protest against the Israeli occupation and a solidarity protest with Gaza, in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, August 22, 2014. (photo: Activestills)

While in the West Bank, hundreds protested all over in solidarity with Gaza, particularly...

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What would Israelis say to families of civilian casualties in Gaza?

The personal losses of Al Mezan’s team are a microcosm of what Israel’s military operation is doing to Gaza’s population. If Israelis met them face-to-face, would they tell them the same excuses for those civilian deaths as they tell themselves and the world? 

By Amjad Iraqi

On August 21, the father, step-mother and niece of Issam Younis, director-general of the Al Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza, were killed as a result of an Israeli air strike on a nearby house; five other family members, including a three-year old and two-month old, were wounded. The home of another Al Mezan staff member, Yousef Abu Slaimeh, was heavily damaged and 17 of his family members injured. The strike was allegedly targeting the home of militants, but the force and debris from the multiple missiles severely affected the surrounding households.

These are not the first terrible losses that Al Mezan’s dedicated human rights workers have suffered during Israel’s current military operation. Two weeks ago field researcher Anwar Al Zaaneen was killed by an Israeli missile as he met a maintenance crew to fix the water connection to his home. Other staff members have lost relatives and friends, while also fearing for themselves and their families during Israel’s heavy bombardment across the Strip. As international relations director Mahmoud Abu Rahma says, this is the third war that many of their children have had to experience, trapped in their homes and unable to sleep from the constant noise of jets and explosions.

A Palestinians child stands in front of a destroyed house in Beit Hanoun following bombardment by Israeli forces, northern Gaza Strip, August 11, 2014. According to OCHA, 16,800 homes in the Gaza Strip have been destroyed or severely damaged leaving 370,000 displaced. (photo: Activestills)

A Palestinians child stands in front of a destroyed house in Beit Hanoun following bombardment by Israeli forces, northern Gaza Strip, August 11, 2014. According to OCHA, 16,800 homes in the Gaza Strip have been destroyed or severely damaged, leaving 370,000 displaced. (photo: Activestills)

The Al Mezan team is a microcosm of what Israel’s military operation is doing to Gaza’s 1.8 million people. It has now killed over 2,000 people – the majority of them civilians – wounded many more, caused wanton destruction to neighborhoods and vital...

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Israel's other war: Silencing Palestinian citizens

Despite all my years of coexistence camps with Jewish Israelis, I’m starting to lose sight of peace. How can there be peace when Israel does nothing to stop the violent attacks against its Palestinian citizens?

By Shadan Jabareen

I had just finished my second year at Tel Aviv University and wanted to remain in the city for the summer to work, so I applied for a job at a bookshop in Ben Gurion Airport in late June; they needed employees. The operations coordinator was impressed with my fluency in Arabic, Hebrew and English, so we scheduled an interview. After explaining the requirements of the job, she told me: “First, we have to do a security check. You’re an Arab Muslim, so your check will probably take longer than usual.” This came as no surprise to me; after all, I have 21 years of experience living in Israel. A week later the Israeli offensive on Gaza erupted and I received an email from the coordinator telling me, “Sorry we have too many employees. We are not going to hire you for the moment; we will contact you in two weeks when there is a position available.” I never heard from her again.

I am a U.S.-born Palestinian Muslim living in Israel, my great-grandparents lived in the Palestinian village of Al-Lajjun that was depopulated in May 1948 by the Israeli army. They fled the village and settled in Umm El-Fahm, a town that became a symbol of political resistance for Palestinians living in Israel. I grew up in a Jewish town with my family before moving to Umm El-Fahem. I was two years old when my parents applied to live in the Jewish town of Katzir; they thought we would have more opportunities there and a calmer environment away from the noise of Umm El-Fahm’s ghettos. Their application was rejected; the committee had decided that no Arabs would live in their town.

Policemen detain a young, right-wing protester during Tuesday night's clashes in Jerusalem. (photo: Activestills)

Policemen detain a young, right-wing protester during clashes in Jerusalem that erupted following the discovery of the bodies of three teenaged settlers near Halhul, West Jerusalem, July 1, 2014. The riots broke out during the funerals of Eyal Yifrah, 19, Gilad Shaar, 16, and Naftali Fraenkel, 16, who were kidnapped and killed in the West Bank....

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Israel kills three top Hamas commanders in Gaza

At least 34 Palestinians were killed Thursday when the Israeli air force bombed Gaza for a second day after a temporary ceasefire broke down and negotiators failed to reach a ceasefire agreement.

While the fate of Hamas military chief Mohammed Deif remains unknown after Israel attempted to assassinate him, and consequently killed his wife and two young children, the Israeli military confirmed that it had killed three top Hamas commanders, Raed Attar, Mohammed Abu Shamaleh and Mohammed Barhoum, in Rafah. Attar and Abu Shamaleh are thought to both have been involved in the 2006 Gilad Shalit kidnapping. Israel’s Shin Bet also believes that the Rafah division, which Attar headed, was responsible for abducting Lt. Hadar Goldin, who was killed during Israel’s ground offensive in Gaza.

Meanwhile, heavy rocket fire from Gaza into Israel’s south continued throughout the day, with a mortar attack causing damage to a protected structure, and an earlier attack moderately to seriously injuring a 33-year-old Israeli man, both in the Eshkol region. The Iron Dome also intercepted a rocket over the Modi’in area Thursday evening.

Meanwhile, the Israeli cabinet approved the call-up of an additional 10,000 reserve soldiers. (photo: Activestills)

Meanwhile, the Israeli cabinet approved the call-up of an additional 10,000 reserve soldiers. (photo: Activestills)

Four Palestinians in Gaza City were killed in an Israeli airstrike that targeted a cemetery in the Sheikh al-Radwan district. Ma’an reported that the victims were burying relatives who had been killed overnight by Israeli airstrikes. Since the resumption of fighting the Palestinian death toll has climbed to 2,049, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

On the diplomatic front more details have come to light on the joint German-French-British effort to broker a UN Security Council resolution to end the fighting between Hamas and Israel. Key points in a document circulated among diplomats and obtained by Haaretz include Palestinian Authority control of Gaza, a ban of unauthorized weapons sales, reconstruction of Gaza under international supervision and restarting peace talks based on the 1967 borders.

In internal Hamas politics, Ma’an reported that the group had executed three alleged collaborators with Israel and arrested seven others, a Hamas-affiliated website said Thursday.

The Israeli cabinet approved the call-up of an additional 10,000 reserve soldiers.

Related:
Palestinian teen: I was used as a human shield in Gaza
Not even a ‘bump on the wing’...

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Palestinians continue to create life from death

Gaza’s injuries have provoked every Palestinian and created in us the desire for all Palestinians to live in unity in our lands occupied since 1948. 

By Badia Dweik

I was unable to recognize him from the photos I saw on social media sites. Neither could I recognize him from the hospital photos that showed him dead. I went to his funeral after Friday prayers, where thousands had gathered. Suddenly I saw a poster and on it the martyr’s name, Nader Mohamed Idriss. I was surprised, since I had seen him only a few days before in the exact place where he was killed.

Nader had been fatherless since the age of 12. He was an activist whom I got to know one year after the 1987 First Intifada, and he continued to be committed to the struggle until his last days. Nader was poor and peaceful during his life; he was employed in the shoe industry, which became unprofitable after Chinese goods began flooding the Palestinian markets.

Funeral procession of Nader Mohamed Idriss (photo: Imad Abu Shamseh)

Funeral procession of Nader Mohamed Idriss (photo: Imad Abu Shamseh)

Nader helped to transport and package donated goods for the people of Gaza from Hebron. His last photos were taken as he was volunteering. Some of the people who accompanied him said he had brought a bag of flour that he intended to use to bake goods for Gazans, since he lacked the money for a donation.

Nader was assassinated in cold blood by an Israeli army sniper who shot him in the heart; some activists in the Human Rights Defenders’ group filmed Israeli snipers using silencers on their weapons. Nader is gone and he has left his wife and seven children to face the dangers of life alone. He left us, saying: “Yes I’ve gone, but Palestine has not.”

Creating life from death

The concept of the afterlife appears in the creative work of Palestinian artist and activist Bushra Shanan. She has turned photos of death and destruction into living photos. Bushra, a founding member of Human Rights Defenders, felt psychologically affected by the extent of devastation and crimes committed in Gaza. She therefore decided to reflect this through graphic paintings like the one in which children killed in Israeli attacks are flying to heaven. In another she has painted Gaza...

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COMIC: Wiesel, weaponized

By Eli Valley

Nobel Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Eli Wiesel published a new ad campaign in major newspapers across the U.S., in which he claims that the war between Gaza and Israel is a battle between “those who celebrate life and those who champion death,” and refers to “child sacrifice” and “worshippers of death cults.”

Eli.Valley.Wiesel.Weaponized

Eli Valley is a writer and artist whose work has been published in The Nation, The Daily Beast, The Forward, 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:
Gaza exit interview
Consensus in the conference
Dershowitz preps for Goldstone II
Google Glass for the Gaza gaze







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