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Contradicting its own ruling, Israel’s Supreme Court legalizes segregated communities

The Israeli Supreme Court Wednesday dismissed various petitions against the Admissions Committees Law, which allows admissions committees in hundreds of communities in Israel to reject housing applicants based on their “social suitability.”

By Amjad Iraqi

March 8, 2000 marked a unique moment in Israeli history. In a major decision, the Supreme Court of Israel ruled that the town of Katzir, which was established on state land by the Jewish Agency, could not deny the right of the Arab Ka’adan family to live in the town simply on the basis that they were not Jewish. This was the first time that Palestinian citizens of Israel successfully challenged the legality of “Jewish-only” communities in the state, generating cautious optimism that it could set an important precedent for Palestinian rights in land and housing.

Fifteen years later, on September 17, 2014, these hopes came to an abrupt end. In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court dismissed various petitions filed by human rights groups against the Admissions Committees Law, enacted by the Knesset in 2011. The law allows admissions committees in 434 communities in the Negev and the Galilee (about 43 percent of all towns in Israel) to reject housing applicants based on their “social suitability” and the communities’ “social and cultural fabric.” In effect, these committees are now legally permitted to refuse residency based on any “undesired” identity, including Palestinian, Sephardic, African, gay, religious, secular and others.

The Admissions Committees Law is the Israeli right wing’s response to the Supreme Court ruling in the Ka’adan case. Realizing that marginalized groups were increasingly challenging the state’s discriminatory practices, the Knesset under the 2009-12 Netanyahu government sought to turn Israel’s historical policies against these groups into law. Many Knesset members openly declared that the purpose of these laws was to subdue the “threats” posed by Palestinian citizens to the Jewish character of the state. The authors of the Admissions Committees Law even stated that, though deliberately written in neutral language, its main aim was to prevent Arab citizens from living with Jews.

This objective of segregation is not a new phenomenon in Israel, and has in fact been a central, ongoing practice since the state’s establishment in 1948. Legislation ranging from the Absentees Property Law (1950) to the Negev Individual Settlements Law (2011), along with the policies of the Jewish National Fund, Israel Land Authority and the government itself, operate with...

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COMIC: Rome's finest progressives and the scourge of Masada

Stanislaus and Cecelia, progressive Romans living in Judea, wanted nothing more than peace — but the Masadans gave them no choice.

By Eli Valley

Eli.Valley.Masada

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.

More from Eli Valley:
What if Mahmoud was named Jonah?
COMIC: Consensus in the Conference
Why even god can’t reach a two-state solution




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PHOTOS: Anti-Zionists join rally against anti-Semitism in Berlin

Our joint Jewish-Palestinian-German protest confused participants at the rally against anti-Semitism, and definitely confused the German police. We wanted to chip away at the automatic linkage between Jews and the State of Israel.

Text by Inna Michaeli
Photos by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org

Demonstration against anti-Semitism and all racism in Berlin, September 14, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Demonstration against anti-Semitism and all racism in Berlin, September 14, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

BERLIN — By the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin on Sunday, some 3,000 people rallied against anti-Semitism, at the initiative of the Central Council of Jews in Germany. As promised, German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a speech. Many in the crowd were touched by her declaration of historical responsibility for the crimes of the past, and for ensuring that Jews are welcome in Germany.

We also came to the march — around 100 activists, a lot of Jews, Germans, Palestinians and others, and no small number of Israelis. We demonstrated with banners reading: “No to attacks on synagogues and mosques in Berlin and in Gaza”, “anti-Semitism ≠ anti-Zionism”, and some of the Israelis in the crowd carried a sign reading, “Merkel, give us German passports, not weapons.”

Israelis demand Merkel for German passports, September 14, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israelis demand Merkel for German passports, September 14, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at the demonstration against anti-Semitism, September 14, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks at the demonstration against anti-Semitism, September 14, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The goal of the non-Zionist bloc was to show that we exist as Jews and others, who oppose anti-Semitism and all racism, and who reject the automatic linkage between Jews and the State of Israel. Indeed, it was evident that the bloc’s presence sparked many discussions — not only between us and the other marchers, but also among the other groups. Along with hostile reactions, demands that we leave and those doubting the Jewishness of the Jews among us, many of us had open and positive discussions.

The police were pretty confused. They came and listened to our slogans through their walkie talkies and tried to understand whether we were for or against. The police officers stressed that they were in no...

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Returning to Gaza's devastation after summer peace camp

During Operation Protective Edge, dozens of Israeli and Palestinian children spent their days at a summer peace camp in the U.S. When one of those children returned to Gaza and found his family homes destroyed, he wrote a letter to the new Israeli friend he’d made at camp.

By Orly Noy

Just days before the start of the latest Gaza war I had the opportunity to speak with Noa, my daughter’s good friend, who told me excitedly about her upcoming trip to a camp run by Seeds of Peace, an a-political organization that works to introduce youths from conflict zones around the world in a neutral location – in this case, Maine.

Like her classmates in her bi-lingual school in Israel, Noa doesn’t really need well-intentioned Americans to introduce her to the “other side”; they have been some of her closest friends since age five. Nevertheless, the upcoming trip was exciting to her, partly out of the knowledge that a different setting could make her face a different discourse – her own and that of other participants. That was especially true in anticipation of meeting the “other” whom she hadn’t yet met, particularly young people from the West Bank and Gaza.

A Palestinian woman stands near laundry hanging over a destroyed quarter of the Shujayea neighborood, Gaza City, September 4, 2014. (Activestills.org)

A Palestinian woman stands near laundry hanging over a destroyed quarter of the Shujayea neighborood, Gaza City, September 4, 2014. (Activestills.org)

As her departure got closer and closer, and against the backdrop of the atrocities in Gaza and the terror in southern Israel, it became clearer that the camp was going to be much more sensitive and charged than she had imagined. I thought about her frequently while she was at the camp, but because they weren’t allowed to write or speak with the “outside world” I didn’t know what she and the other children were going through. So, I waited for Noa’s return.

Once she returned to Israel I understood that it had been a significant and moving experience for her. Noa came back with a skill that very few adults I know possess: the ability to listen, to really listen to another, and that’s what she did. Quite naturally, good friendships and strong connections were made, ones that now, upon the children’s return...

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In J'lem, thousands of Palestinian students have no classrooms

There is a shortage of 738 classrooms in East Jerusalem – only 38 percent of Palestinian children are registered in the municipal education system. The problem is not lack of funds, but a planning policy designed to prevent development in Palestinian neighborhoods of the city.

By Aviv Tatarsky

Palestinian children on a rooftop in East Jerusalem. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Palestinian children on a rooftop in East Jerusalem. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

As the Israeli school year begins, let’s do a little math. There is a shortage of 408 regular classrooms and 330 kindergarten classrooms in East Jerusalem. This does not include replacing the 681 classrooms currently not up to code. In addition, there is a shortage of 1,636 classrooms in the official, public municipal education system, forcing students to study in a parallel private, costly unofficial school system.

Over the past five years the Jerusalem Municipality has built an average of 36 new classrooms per year in the Palestinian neighborhoods of the city. At this rate, how many years would it take for the municipality to remedy the shortage and fulfill its basic obligation to provide free education to every child in “undivided and unified” Jerusalem?

This is not advanced mathematics. Still the calculation is worthwhile. It would take 21 years to build the 738 missing classrooms, 40 years if we also want to replace those classrooms not up to code. In the meantime, tens of thousands of students are forced to pay exorbitant fees for a costly education. Thousands more simply stay home; the exact number of such students is unknown but according to the municipality’s statistics the figure is somewhere above 8,000.

Truth is, it was a trick question. In practice, the current pace of building barely covers the population’s natural growth rate. The bottom line is that only 38 percent of Palestinian students in Jerusalem (42,792 out of 111,5000) study in the official municipal system, as detailed in the latest Ir Amim report.

The report outlines the legal proceedings on this issue since 2000, demonstrating the ongoing failure of the Jerusalem Municipality and Education Ministry to fulfill their obligations based on court rulings as well as their own promises to resolve the issue.

For example, in 2011 the High Court ordered the Jerusalem Municipality and Education Ministry to absorb every single student in East Jerusalem interested in pursuing an...

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It's time for a real joint struggle

Honesty is needed to wake Israelis from their delusions. Continuing to view Israel as a normal state will only prolong this bloody conflict and create yet more suffering for both sides.

By Awad Abdelfattah

Israel’s ruling elite continues to mislead Israeli society into believing that the Palestinians will one day submit to their enslavement. Israel’s colonization of the land and people is unceasing, suppressing and killing the indigenous Palestinian population in a quest for an illusionary individual and collective security.

The recent onslaught on Gaza – the third major offensive in seven years – and the continuing escalation in official racist policies and practices against Israel’s 1.3 million Palestinian citizens have failed to make Palestinians submit. Rather, this endless warfare has only bolstered their resilience and commitment to struggle for their legitimate rights.

Israelis assume that the lessons of other colonized peoples’ triumphant liberations do not hold true for them. In this view Israel represents a “chosen people” and is immune to historical processes that drive human beings to fight for a free and decent life. This belief is sustained both by an obsession among Israelis with their self-image as an enlightened and superior society, and by a classic colonial racist worldview.

Israel’s repeated brutal assaults on the Palestinian people, and its failure to subjugate a small number of Palestinian fighters incarcerated in the tiny besieged enclave of the Gaza Strip have generated further cracks in this self-image of superiority. It will be many years before these cracks widen and reach the point where the whole colonial edifice crumbles. But the fact that it will crumble is a realization that increasingly haunts Israelis.

A mosque minaret rises among the ruins of Al-Nada towers after they were destroyed by Israeli strikes in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip, August 4, 2014. The towers had 90 flats. So far, Israeli attacks have killed at least 1,870 Palestinians, and injured 9,470 since the beginning of the Israeli offensive (photo: Activestills)

A mosque minaret rises among the ruins of Al-Nada towers after they were destroyed by Israeli strikes in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza Strip, August 4, 2014. The towers had 90 flats. (photo: Activestills)

In the short and medium...

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WATCH: Israeli forces detain 7-year-old Palestinian boy in Hebron

Israeli Border Police detained two Palestinian boys aged seven and 12 in the West Bank city of Hebron Monday morning on suspicion of throwing stones.

Before school on Monday, a group of Palestinian youths allegedly threw stones at an Israeli Border Police checkpoint in Hebron. According to International Solidarity Movement (ISM) activists who witnessed and filmed the scene, it took some time before the officers came out of their protected position and began making arrests. The ISM activists said there was no certainty that the boys who were detained were in any way connected to the stone throwing.

The children were detained by Israeli soldiers at the checkpoint for around 40 minutes before releasing them. This is not the first time that Israeli soldiers or police have been filmed detaining Palestinian children in Hebron and its surroundings.

In the video, which was shot by ISM activists, the Israeli officers can be seen carrying the seven year old, who at times appears to be crying.

The age of criminal culpability under Israeli military law is 12.

Read +972′s special coverage: Children Under Occupation

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Trapped between Assad and 'IS': Inside the capital of the 'Islamic State'

Following a long period of quiet, the Syrian city of Raqqa is once again being shelled — this time by Assad’s forces. Residents have been forced to flee the shelling, along with IS’s extremist agenda. An interview with a resident of the ‘Islamic State.’

By Elizabeth Tsurkov

Raqqa, the capital of the “Islamic State” in northern Syria, for the past two months has been forced once again to deal with a devastating phenomenon — indiscriminate bombing by the Syrian Air Force. According to reports from the local coordinating committee, a Syrian air force bombing of a bakery on Saturday took the lives of some 50 people, 35 of them civilians.

Residents of Raqqa have found themselves trapped between the regime’s air strikes, which kill indiscriminately, especially civilians, and the Jihadi organization that is forcing upon them an alien lifestyle and an extremist ideology. In an exclusive interview with +972 Magazine, “Akram” (not his real name), a graduate of Aleppo University and a resident of Raqqa, estimates that between 80 and 90 percent of the city’s residents despise the organization and its actions.

When the regime started bombing them, Raqqa residents “started cursing and swearing at both sides,” Akram explains. “Honestly, people are fed up with all of the sides, even the [Free Syrian Army]. They only want the war to stop. Only a few people are still enthusiastic about the revolution.”

Islamic State (IS), for its part, has moved its commanders out of the city. Akram says that after the bombing of the bakery, he spoke with a Tunisian IS militant who concluded that the fact that only a minority of those killed were IS militants proves that god is on the Islamic State’s side and that the civilians killed were sinners being punished for their corruption.

Video: The aftermath of the bombing in Raqqa on September 6, 2014.

Revision of text books

In March of 2013 a coalition of Jihadi, Islamic and secular rebels took control of Raqqa, the first — and only — regional capital to fall into rebel hands. Throughout 2013 IS gradually took control over the city and its management. It suppressed civil society forces that rebelled against it and drove out a group of rebels that had been basing itself in the city. At the beginning of...

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Israel's very own tunnels of dread in Jerusalem

While everyone is preoccupied with the Hamas tunnels in Gaza, Israel continues to dig under Palestinian houses in Jerusalem. The excuses are questionable, residents are angry and fearful, and a religious conflagration appears imminent.

By Orly Noy

With the Hamas tunnels dominating the Israeli narrative for the past several weeks, their inherent danger horrifying the entire state and sometimes leading to apocalyptic visions, the state of Israel persistently continued digging its own underground tunnels – in Jerusalem.

These tunnels, like those of Hamas, are being dug under a heavy cloak of secrecy. As with the Hamas tunnels, they serve as a tool for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They are also being dug under the houses of uninvolved civilians, in this case Palestinians. However, while the Hamas tunnels are described as serving terrorist purposes, these tunnels have been authorized by the Supreme Court of Israel, and all the relevant arms of the state have been mobilized in their support.

What follows is a conversation with archaeologist Yonatan Mizrahi from Emek Shaveh, an organization that focuses on the role of archaeology in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, about what is going on underground in one of the world’s most volatile places, the historical heart of Jerusalem.

***

Bags of cement at the entrance to the tunnel on the main street of Silwan. (photo: Emek Shaveh)

Bags of cement at the entrance to the tunnel on the main street of Silwan. (photo: Emek Shaveh)

Is it correct to say that these underground excavations in Jerusalem, especially in the area of the Historic Basin, are not a new development?

Yes, that is correct. At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th centrury underground tunnels were dug as part of archaeological excavations. It was a method of excavation, for various reasons. Toward the beginning of the 20th century it became clear that this practice was very problematic as a research tool, and starting in the second decade of the 20th century the Silwan excavations reverted to an orderly method, from the top down, exposing strata, as we all know. Since that time archaeologists have no longer dug tunnels; it is no longer part of the modus operandi.

When was the digging of tunnels resumed?

After the state of Israel conquered the Old City of Jerusalem it introduced many...

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[op-ed] Israelis, stop swimming in our shit

A new report by Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network details the damage that consecutive Israeli military assaults have caused to Gaza’s water systems, whereby 95 percent of the water consumed in the Strip for decades has been unfit for human consumption.

By Sam Bahour

Tel Aviv beach (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Tel Aviv beach (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Palestinians in Gaza are starting to wake up from the shell-shock of Israel’s 51-day Ramadan Massacre, which left over 2,131 Palestinians killed (of which more than 500 were children), over 10,000 injured (more than half of whom are estimated to be permanently handicapped), and scores of homes and businesses demolished. Reality is bleaker than ever before. Nothing of the underlying reasons why Gaza exploded into a bloodbath has changed; Israeli and Egyptian closures of Gaza’s borders remain in place. However, one product is making its way freely across the border into Israel. Actually, this product flows undetected by the almighty Israeli military and rolls right up on to the shores of Tel Aviv. The product is Palestinian shit, or more accurately, to maintain the media bias of the times, Palestinian terrorist shit.

We Palestinians have no love affair with the Israelis relaxing on the shores of Tel Aviv. Many of these Israelis have no problem being high-tech professionals in the morning, throwing on their military uniform and participating in turning Gaza into a living hell on earth in the afternoon, then going for a relaxing swim with the family on the shores of Tel Aviv in the evening. However, we would advise Israelis, and all tourists to Israel for that matter, to please stop swimming in our shit. This practice is not only unhealthy for you and your children, but it is killing us, literally and figuratively.

In a new policy brief titled, “Drying Palestine: Israel’s Systemic Water War,” issued by Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network, Muna Dajani writes from Jerusalem of the damage that consecutive Israeli military aggressions have caused to Gaza’s water systems:

While the Israeli government continues to maintain a total closure on the Gaza Strip, there is no chance the electricity needed to run the water and wastewater networks will be operational anytime soon.

In her policy brief, Ms. Dajani also depicts the water war being waged in the West Bank. She notes:

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Why are Palestinian citizens expected to be loyal to Israel?

Israelis on the Left and Right alike expect Palestinian citizens of Israel to display loyalty to the state, yet they never acknowledge Israeli crimes against Palestinians. It’s high time they took a long look in the mirror.

By Rami Younis

“Is he also going to grow up to be an enemy of Israel like you?” A. asked as he played with Adi, my one-and-a-half-year-old nephew.

“Maybe, if god and Gideon Levy will it, he and a lot more like him will grow up to be a fifth column,” I answered as I put another Winnie the Pooh plate into the shopping cart — I’m babysitting the future demographic threat today, and I must do as it wishes.

“You know bro, out of everything you write, and you know I don’t agree with you, but you know what bothers me the most? It seems to me that the moment soldiers start dying, not even your balls could give a shit, and that’s not cool.”

Surprised by the attempt of A. – a Jewish childhood friend from Lyd, who I had ran into at the supermarket – to pretend to be an authority on my testicles’ areas of interest, I decided to get away and head to the cashier, before Adi bankrupted me but mostly because I was sick of these arguments.

A Palestinian youth living in Israel waves a Palestinian flag during protest against the attack on Gaza in the city of Lod, Israel, August 3, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

A Palestinian youth living in Israel waves a Palestinian flag during protest against the attack on Gaza in the city of Lyd, Israel, August 3, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The way that the majority of Israelis relate to us, Palestinian citizens of Israel, will continue in its duality forever, it seems. On one hand, most of the chosen people relate to us as Arabs – especially in order to turn us away from jobs, to come eat our hummus, and more recently, to attack us on city streets and in cyberspace. On the other hand, those same people will treat us like disloyal Israelis, at least when it comes to political arguments (the conclusions of which are generally predetermined). In our lighthearted conversation at the supermarket, A. saw me as someone who was anti-Israel, a not-nice Arab, an “enemy of...

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Homeless and widowed: One Gazan's tragic story

Rasha Abu Oda fled her Gaza home, took shelter in a UN school, was injured in an Israeli strike and then died while giving birth. The war in Gaza may have ended, but Gazans are just starting to pick up the pieces of their broken lives.

By Awni Farhat

The aggression of the Israeli army against the Palestinian people of the Gaza Strip ended last Tuesday evening, however the suffering and grief of those who lost their loved ones and their homes continues.

The story of Rasha Abu Oda is one of countless heartbreaking stories that I could write about. Rasha was 30 years old when she died while delivering her baby during the Israeli assault on Gaza.

The Abu Oda family gather at Rasha's grave site (photo: Awni Farhat)

The Abu Oda family gather at Rasha’s grave site (photo: Awni Farhat)

“We had left our home because of the Israeli incursion, and taken shelter in the UNRWA school in Beit Hanoun,” Rasha’s husband, Nidal Abu Oda, told me. “Then the school yard was hit by the Israelis – 15 people were murdered and dozens injured. So we were forced to move on again, and ended up at the Jabaliya [refugee] camp’s school, where I spent the last days with my wife.”

Abu Oda continued: ”On Sunday August 24, before sundown, they hit a house near the school where we were taking shelter. It was a huge explosion and my wife fell down and hurt herself, screaming in fear as she was expecting to have our baby at any moment. We called for an ambulance but it was delayed in reaching the school by the attacks. We couldn’t make it to Al-Shifa hospital because the road was too dangerous, so we went to a smaller one nearby.

“We ended up Al-Wada hospital, my mother and me waiting together for Rasha to have her baby. Explosions surrounded us, and later we heard an ambulance crew saying that a shell hit the Joda family’s yard, killing the mom with four of her children. We heard more ambulances arriving.”

Things then took a turn for the worse. “From the beginning of the attacks, my wife was living in fear and horror. She gave birth with explosions around us; they saved our baby with an operation but Rasha was bleeding inside and...

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Bringing the boycott back home: Palestinian stores drop Israeli goods

Amid the Gaza war this summer, Palestinian store owners in the West Bank began removing Israeli products from their shelves. The campaign also aims to educate Palestinian consumers to buy local.

By Yael Marom and Jessica Devaney

Stickers mark Israeli goods at a grocery store in Ramallah. (Photo by Jessica Devaney/Just Vision)

Stickers mark Israeli goods at a grocery store in Ramallah. (Photo by Jessica Devaney/Just Vision)

The call for boycotting Israeli products and services has been gaining momentum across the West Bank in recent weeks. Large sections of store shelves have been emptied of products supplied by Israeli companies. At least 70 stores have already joined the campaign since its launch in Jenin, and store owners in cities such as Hebron, Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem and other towns and villages throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem have responded to the call.

In the wake of the violence in Gaza this summer, public support for this nonviolent tactic is growing. Volunteers in cities and villages across the West Bank are working with grocery store owners to place stickers on Israeli products, declaring: “Buying this product supports the Israeli military.” Other stickers label products with “16%” noting the Israeli-regulated value added tax, which in many ways favors the Israeli economy.

A sticker urges Palestinians not to buy Israeli-made hummus. (Photo: 16% Kills Facebook page)

A sticker urges Palestinians not to buy Israeli-made hummus. (Photo: 16% Kills Facebook page)

The campaign, initiated by a coalition of organizations and activists, has a dual purpose: one is to exert pressure on the Israeli economy and Israeli business owners, who profit amply from the captive market of Palestinian buying power. The second declared objective is to strengthen the local Palestinian economy, including businesses, agriculture and factories and to create more jobs for Palestinians.

A website launched under the title “Alternative Palestinian Products,” enables shoppers to find Palestinian alternatives to the Israeli-made products they are used to buying.

Nasser, who runs two mid-sized grocery stores in Ramallah, says that customers are starting to avoid Israeli products – and not just those from settlements. Since the assault on Gaza reached such devastating proportions, he says, “many people feel the only thing they can do to support the Palestinians in Gaza is either donate or boycott...

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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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