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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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'Despite reforms, IDF still mistreating Palestinian children'

Nearly two years after Israel said it would work to improve its treatment of the Palestinian children it detains, there have been a few small positive developments. But ill-treatment of Palestinian minors still appears to be ‘widespread, systematic and institutionalized,’ a report by Military Court Watch says.

By Gerard Horton

Soldiers arresting youths in Nabi Saleh, 2013 (Yotam Ronen / Activestills)

Israeli soldiers arresting Palestinian youths in Nabi Saleh, 2013 (Yotam Ronen / Activestills)

In September 2011, a delegation of nine lawyers from the UK, including a former attorney general and Court of Appeal judge, visited Israel-Palestine to investigate the treatment of children in Israel’s military judicial system. The resulting report – Children in Military Custody – published in June 2012, found that Israel’s military detention of children violated at least six articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and two articles of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Eight months later, UNICEF came out with its own report – Children in Israeli Military Detention – which concluded that “the ill-treatment of children who come in contact with the military detention system appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized.” In response to these findings, Israel’s Foreign Ministry announced that it would “study the conclusions and work to implement them through on-going cooperation with UNICEF.”

Two years on, Military Court Watch (MCW) has published a report that reviews progress made in implementing the UK report’s 40 recommendations and finds that just 5 percent have been substantially implemented. While there have been a number of noteworthy developments during the past two years, including: a reduction in the time in which children must be brought before a military court judge for the first time; and the introduction of a pilot scheme to issue summonses in lieu of night-time arrests; children continue to report being ill-treated and denied basic legal rights. Following a review of developments and an analysis of 105 testimonies, MCW’s findings include:

1. More children than last year report being tied and blindfolded upon arrest;

2. More children than last year report being transported on the metal floor of vehicles; and

3. More children than last year report being subjected to physical violence.

While there has been a slight decrease in the number of children arrested at night following the introduction of the pilot scheme to issue...

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How freedom of speech was crushed during Protective Edge

One of the side effects of Operation Protective Edge has been a dramatic narrowing of the political conversation in Israel. The author aggregates all the major incidents during the Gaza War in which freedom of speech in Israel was curtailed, often violently.

By Orli Santo

An entire spectrum of formerly acceptable left-leaning opinions and sentiments – from defending Palestinians’ human rights to merely empathizing with their suffering – has become taboo. In the past two months people who publicly expressed such opinions were beaten on the streets, derogated in the media, threatened, boycotted, and fired from their jobs. Lawmakers who sided with the Palestinian cause were removed from the podium or suspended from the plenum, while the laws defending their democratic right to do so are now being redrawn to prevent and punish such actions in the future.

Below is a list of the significant violations ­– committed by populist movements, by employees, by government entities and by the Israeli parliament itself – against left-leaning individuals’ and organizations’ freedom of speech. Grouping theses incidents shows the alarming scope of this phenomenon. While it is impossible to gauge the lasting effects it will have on Israel’s integrity as a democracy, it’s safe to presume that it will be felt in the future.

Anti-war protesters

Violence in Tel Aviv

On July 12, four days into Israel’s military offensive in Gaza, Israeli anti-war demonstrators in Tel Aviv were beaten by violent nationalist counter-demonstrators.

+972 reported that a large peace rally in Tel Aviv was countered by a smaller pro-war protest, shouting “Death to Arabs” and “Death to Leftists.” Police forces initially separated the two groups, but a missile siren caused most policemen to desert the scene, leaving the pacifists to fend for themselves.

“One man had a chair broken over his head and was evacuated to the hospital, along with a man who was punched in the head and another punched in the eye. One had his video camera taken. Dozens were beaten, shoved to the ground or pelted with eggs. Some testified that they were sprayed with tear gas,” wrote +972’s Haggai Matar, who narrowly escaped the attack himself.

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...

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How Israeli media obscures Palestinian humanity

Israeli media insists on portraying the West Bank as the Wild West and its Palestinian inhabitants as savage stone-throwers, all the while masking the reality of armed settlers and a trigger-happy military.

By Talal Jabari

If I were to describe a movie equivalent of the West Bank in words, it would be part way between a scene from John Carpenter’s Escape from LA, mixed with a little of your favorite Spaghetti Western, with strong hints of Heart of Darkness – the book, not the movie.

Well at least that’s the impression I get from some of the Israeli press, which then filters down into the psyche of the people, who get an image of a savage territory with pockets of light built by the settlers.

I won’t mention that most of these settlers have formal military training as part of their conscription, nor that they are often heavily armed. No, that wouldn’t be right. I won’t bring up the fact that there are a number of settlements around the West Bank from which the residents often go on rampages against the nearby Palestinian villages, destroying trees and other crops. I won’t even point out that over the years “civilian” settlers have killed dozens of Palestinians. I’m not going to mention any of those points because that would distort the image.

A Jewish settler from the illegal settlement of Mitzpe Yair chases the flock and threatens the shepherds of Gwawis. He is holding an M16 rifle, issued to him by the Israeli army, as part of his paid job as a security coordinator. The law states that he is not allowed to take any action outside the settlements' borders, September 18, 2012. (photo: Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org)

A Jewish settler from the illegal settlement of Mitzpe Yair chases a flock of sheep and threatens their Palestinian shepherds from Gwawis. He is holding an M16 rifle, issued to him by the Israeli army, as part of his paid job as a security coordinator. The law states that he is not allowed to take any action outside the settlement’s borders, September 18, 2012. (photo: Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org)

No, the image presented by Israeli politicians and, by extension, the press is one of settlers attempting to coexist with bloodthirsty Palestinian savages. As Israeli politician and settler David Rotem once told me, and I paraphrase here:...

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What if Hamas fired rockets at Britain?

When Israeli spokesmen defend the IDF’s actions in Gaza by asking what you would do if rockets rained down on your home, the example of Northern Ireland can serve as one response. 

By John Jackson

Over the last weeks Israeli government spokesmen have provided cover across international TV and radio airspace for their military onslaught in Gaza. They’ve tried their best to respond proportionately, even when a small minority of irritating journalists insists on asking questions about the massacre of children.

However, there have been times when these spokesmen had no other choice but to wheel out the big gun, set piece question against the threatening fire of journalistic inquiry: “What would you do if rockets were being fired at you?” The question hits the target almost every time.

It’s a killer blow question when no journalist is armed with an answer. So, in the interest of promoting even greater proportionality in this ongoing war of words, I would like to offer the few brave anchormen and women out there a possible response.

Israelis check the scene in which a mortar shot from the Gaza Strip has directly hit a house, southern Israel, August 21, 2014. (photo: Activestills)

Israelis check the scene in which a mortar shot from the Gaza Strip had a direct hit a house, southern Israel, August 21, 2014. (photo: Activestills)

During the ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland, civilian deaths were caused by the British Army, the Loyalists and Republican paramilitaries. But for the purpose of answering the Israeli question it is useful to look at the major bombing campaigns by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) that took place across England. These campaigns were far more destructive than anything coming out of Gaza. There were approximately 10,000 bomb attacks during the conflict – about 16,000 if you include failed attempts. A significant proportion of them were on English soil.

A time bomb was detonated at Brighton’s Grand Hotel, where Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet were staying for the Conservative Party conference. Thatcher narrowly escaped death, five people were killed (including an MP) and 31 injured. The Queen’s cousin, Lord Louis Mountbatten, his grandson and three others were blown up while fishing off the coast of Ireland. In Manchester city center a 3,300-pound bomb caused £1.1 billion (today’s value) in damage and injured 212 people. The Bishopsgate bombing in...

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Israel needs a new strategy in Gaza

Ariel Sharon’s strategy in Gaza of “Divide and Rule” failed, and we are yet to see a successful military solution for the Strip. Is there anyone in the Israeli leadership with the courage and power to lead a political solution?

By Lev Grinberg

The Israeli government has drawn the IDF and the entire country into a deeply complex situation, one that the country has not experienced since the 2005 disengagement from Gaza. It is the result of a fundamental misunderstanding: The model of control in Gaza built by Ariel Sharon in 2004 has collapsed. That framework was based on land and sea blockades, and the closure of border crossings into the Strip, resulting in a network of smuggling tunnels. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi changed the rules of the game by shutting access to the tunnels as a part of his domestic struggle against the Muslim Brotherhood, pushing the Palestinians to politically realign in a national unity agreement between Hamas and Fatah. The question is how Israeli diplomacy will adapt to these new circumstances?

A soldier stands next to a Hamas-built tunnel outside Gaza. (photo: IDF Spokesperson/ CC BY-NC 2.0)

A soldier stands next to a Hamas-built tunnel outside Gaza. (photo: IDF Spokesperson/ CC BY-NC 2.0)

The model Sharon built led to relative stability between 2005-14, despite the heavy cost of rounds of violence every few years. The model was built on the colonial principle of “Divide and Rule.” It was a division between Gaza and the West Bank, and between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA). Sharon understood that the IDF would neither be able to stop the mortars and rockets, nor discover the smuggling tunnels. Moreover, the IDF was suffering unnecessary physical losses as a result of daily clashes with Gazan militants, as well as losses in international public opinion as it took violent action against a civilian population. From this point of view, the unilateral withdrawal of 2005 was thus a successful tactic aimed at cutting down the number of Israeli losses, and granting legitimacy to the use of force against Palestinian citizens, claiming that violence was used in self-defense.

However, the withdrawal from Gaza actually had a long-term diplomatic goal: Prevent international pressure to establish a Palestinian state, as promised by former U.S. President Bush’s road map....

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The victors of the Gaza war were also the losers

Who came out of the Gaza war the victors, and who were the losers – or, rather, who lost more and who lost less?

By Talal Jabari

Another ceasefire between Israel and Hamas-led Gaza ­– this time costing more in terms of life and property than the last time. It will probably cost less than the next time; 2016 if the trend stays constant.

At the end of any battle, it makes sense to step back and look at the bigger picture. You want to assess who won and who lost – or at least who lost more and who lost less.

I can’t help but think of the families of the more than 2,000 Palestinians who were killed, the thousands upon thousands injured, the hundreds of thousands without homes in Gaza. Children who will grow up without parents. Parents who did what no parent should have to do, and buried their children. And all the families that need to rebuild their lives. For them this was a very costly war and there is no doubt in my mind that the civilian population of Gaza suffered the greatest loss as a result of this battle.

The al-Nada towers in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza, had ninety apartments before they were destroyed in Israeli attacks. (Anne Paq / Activetills)

The al-Nada towers in Beit Hanoun, northern Gaza, had ninety apartments before they were destroyed in Israeli attacks. (Anne Paq / Activetills)

On a political level, Fatah in the West Bank has lost. The negative sentiment towards the Fatah leadership continues to swell and become more vocal. However, in the absence of elections and a heavy-handed security apparatus, that doesn’t mean much.

Let’s move on to the winners. At the top of the list is Hamas. Palestinians are celebrating the “victory” that Hamas delivered to its people. It’s stock on the Palestinian street is at a euphoric high, despite the tragedy on which it was built. And even more importantly, Qatar, Hamas’ main ally in the Arab world, and the host of the head of its politburo, Khaled Mashal, is now smiling down on the Islamic Resistance Movement – and that means money in the bank any day of the week.

The prolonged battle with Hamas has also strengthened right-wing extremism in Israel, which continues to manifest with impunity in acts...

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What was different about this war?

Beyond an unprecedented degree of destruction in Gaza, Israel’s latest offensive on the Strip brought with it unrivaled levels of racism and incitement back home.

By Elizabeth Tsurkov

The war between Israel and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza would appear as the latest round of fighting between Israel and Hamas; however, this war was different from previous rounds of fighting on both sides. The level of destruction in Gaza was unprecedented, while in Israel anti-democratic and racist forces gained much more prominence and influence compared to previous wars.

As in all other nations during times of war, the Israeli public rallies around the flag. Differences that once mattered – class, proximity to Gaza, and even opinions on the economy and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – disappear almost entirely.

The escalation between Israel and Hamas followed the kidnapping of three Israeli teens in the occupied West Bank. The teens were kidnapped, apparently by a Hamas cell from Hebron, and executed shortly after. The IDF launched Operation Brother’s Keeper, supposedly to track down the missing boys. Although the Israeli military and leadership knew fairly early on that the teens had probably been murdered, the Israeli public was not informed. The search for the teens turned into an operation to dismantle what was left of the civilian outreach infrastructure of Hamas in the West Bank.

Right-wing demonstrators protest in front of a demonstration against the Israeli attack on Gaza, in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, July 26, 2014. Right-wing activists protested nearby and attacked left-wing activists during and after the protest. One left-wing activists was hospitalized with a head injury. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Right-wing demonstrators protest in front of a demonstration against the Israeli attack on Gaza, in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, July 26, 2014. Right-wing activists protested nearby and attacked left-wing activists during and after the protest. One left-wing activists was hospitalized with a head injury. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Declaring war on all Palestinians

Following the murder of the teens, Israeli politicians, including the prime minister himself, called for “revenge.” Members of the religious nationalistic Jewish Home party, which had gained about 60% in approval ratings during the operation, called for “recouping the blood of the teens, an eye for an eye” and all-out war on the Palestinians. A far-right member of Netanyahu’s party, MK Moshe Feiglin, called to reoccupy Gaza

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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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+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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