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How the anti-Netanyahu daily actually brought him to power

Enhance a fear of Iran. Promote a privatization policy. Encourage the view that Israel has no peace partner. If you do all that, don’t expect the voters to reject the person who represents this very worldview.

Daniel Dor (translated by Sol Salbe)

I recently heard some people saying that we now have the proof that the media really does not have any sway over the voting public. Look how much effort it invested in the campaign against Netanyahu, and once again he won. A generation of media professionals will now be raised on this so-called insight. It fits the industry’s capitalist instincts like a glove: if it really doesn’t matter what we do, then why not continue selling some marketing content, regurgitate cliches and call it a day.

But this so-called insight is not only dangerous — it is also wrong. There is, of course, the minor matter of Israel Hayom: only those in-crowd of the media bubble think that everyone knows the paper belongs to Netanyahu. It is reasonable to assume that it carries as much weight in the broad community as the old established papers.

The main point, however, revolves around the very essence of the media’s impact: it works in the long term. Take Yedioth Ahronoth, which day after day markets to its readers a perspective that strengthens the fear of Arabs and Iranians. It is a perspective which ignores the occupation and its horrors and continually reiterates that there is no partner for peace and there is unlikely to be one any time soon. The paper’s viewpoint expresses open contempt and reasoned disdain for the social protest movement. It may be somewhat afraid of a quarrel with the U.S,, but is convinced that the whole world is against us because of its anti-Semitism. It visualizes economic reality from the perspective of a child’s version of capitalism (the newspaper itself, not its sister publication, Calcalist, devoted to financial matters), and so on. The list is long.

In this way, Yedioth creates the ideological basis upon which Bibi is perched. You can keep on calling it a “leftist” newspaper till the cows come home. The ideology it portrays is undoubtedly a right-wing one.

And then Yedioth Ahronoth suddenly decides to get rid of Bibi the individual, but not what he stands for. It embarks on a campaign to convince people to toss him out on the basis of...

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If Israelis want change, they'll have to let go of fear

These elections showed that Israelis are guided by their fears of another Holocaust, ISIS, Arab citizens or left-wing NGOs. Now is the time for it to move beyond the scars of the past and make real change, before it is too late.

By Samah Salaime

It’s all because of the Holocaust. Yes, these elections revealed the depth of the scar that still affects most Jews in Israel. Netanyahu turned out to be the good “shepherd” of the nation, who is well aware of the kind of herd he has been raising for the past 20 years. This is a frightened and discipline herd, which passes on the feeling of persecution and worldwide hatred of Jews from generation to generation.

This is a herd that is frightened of foreigners, and allows itself to do anything in the name of sacred survival and security: occupation, murder, arrests, home demolitions, control of people and land — everything is kosher. Even when members of the herd live in fancy, protected settlements, and even after building fences and walls with security cameras on every corner, they remain the same Holocaust survivors, victims of the great expulsion to Babylon, and they carry this with them their entire lives. The herd is controlled by the same establishment that forcefully perpetuates and exacerbates the story of a persecuted people: the people who established a tiny state in the Middle East, because God gave them the right to do so, and are only looking to live in peace and quiet.

This past election cycle only deepened the belief, which perhaps I was in denial of, that this complex may be unsolvable. I thought that all those who made fun of Netanyahu and his cartoon drawing of Iran’s nuclear weapon had already recovered, and who wanted to rid themselves of the feeling that “the entire world is against us,” or “everyone is anti-Semitic.” Turns out I was wrong.

On the contrary. The extreme right wing was able to improve and enhance the level of sensitivity of this complex, such that it would include the Islamic State, Hamas, Arab citizens, left-wing NGOs and more. The prime minister didn’t shy away from pressing all of these buttons, giving speech after speech on the Arabs coming in droves, armed with their ballots, ready to conquer...

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Zionist Camp celebration foiled by election results

The election tie between Likud and Herzog’s Zionist Camp came as a shock to supporters who had gathered in Tel Aviv. Almost defiantly, they followed what became the night’s mantra: Nothing is decided yet. We haven’t lost.

By Angela Gruber

First, there was a party. When the results of the exit polls kept rolling in, the supporters of the Zionist Union at the Convention Center in the north of Tel Aviv waved their flags, chanted slogans and started jumping.

For a moment, it seemed like the actual results didn’t matter that much. Then it started to sink in. There was no sweeping victory, not even a slight advantage, like they had all hoped. All they got was a tie. 27 seats for the Zionist Union’s Isaac Herzog. Exactly as many seats as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu got as well.

“I don’t know what the voters want,” a 20-something female attendee said, frustrated. “This is no change. I’m really disappointed by the result. I was hoping for a clear win.” Another one was more optimistic, saying that everything was still on the table. “Everything is still open with this result. We haven’t lost.”

“We hoped the Likud would get less votes than it did. I really don’t know what will happen. It’s an interesting tie,” said Aaron Benderski, who is working for the campaign and is a party member. “We woke up the left side of Israel which was dormant for many years,” he believes.

Almost defiantly, the organizers of the event turned up the music and started blasting uptempo songs out of the speakers. Some voters in their blue-and-white shirts formed circles, hugged each other and danced. It seemed like they didn’t know exactly what to be excited about, but any other behavior would have been a concession of failure in front of dozens of TV cameras and drooling journalists.

Around midnight, the venue seemed like the scene of a club night gone sour. Loud techno music but no one in the mood for dancing, standing around awkwardly and waiting for something to happen.

Eventually, it did. When Isaac Herzog entered the stage shortly after midnight, the remnants of the crowd gathered and cheered at their leader. Herzog thanked his team and praised the partnership with Tzipi Livni, who at that point wasn’t even on stage (she gave a short speech afterwards).

Perhaps Herzog’s most memorable words that...

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How the 'selfie campaign' failed Israeli voters

Digital media has dictated the agenda of this election campaign. The parties flooded the web with funny videos, hoping to go viral. Media strategists know how to make their audience laugh, but they failed to establish a meaningful discourse with the electorate.

By Angela Gruber

Noy Alooshe is a sought-after man these days. His Youtube remixes mash up short bits of politicians’ speeches with catchy beats, creating viral music videos that make sport of the featured candidates, crossing all party lines.

But instead of hating Alooshe for mocking them, he has politicians calling him up after their speeches, suggesting sound bites he could feature in his videos, he said. “A few years ago, no politician wanted anything to do with YouTube or Facebook. Now the candidates hope their speeches and appearances become a meme on the Internet. They sometimes even choose a certain wording in order to make things they say catchier, so I can mix it.”

Alooshe’s biggest competitors are the political parties themselves. This election campaign, the Net has been flooded with an unprecedented number of campaign videos. All parties are vying for their videos to become viral sensations and have been allocating huge chunks of their respective budgets on digital media strategies. The video roundelay has changed the nature of the campaign tremendously, says media adviser Ron Shelly.

“There is no doubt the new media is taking a front seat in the campaign and made the politicians change the form of the campaign,” said Shelly, who is not affiliated with any campaign. “The politicians in their online videos started playing the role of YouTube stars. This has forced a new paradigm of conversation upon the campaign.”

Instead of talking about issues, Shelly described a campaign that is all about personalization and putting the front-runners of the lists in the perfect spotlight. “That’s why I call these elections the ‘selfie elections’.”

And indeed, the lead up to the election have shown the voters a new, playful side to their politicians. We saw Naftali Bennett as a Tel Aviv hipster, heard a chesty-voiced Isaac Herzog and got to meet the Bibi-sitter, who kicked off this season of election videos. Few of the videos talked about the occupation, the high price of housing or education.

“The unique thing about these videos is that the politicians are actually acting as someone else,” said Tamir Sheafer,...

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A rare win for E. Jerusalem family facing settler takeover

Israel’s Supreme Court ‘recommends’ that settler organization Elad and the JNF withdraw their petition to take control of the property.

By Moriel Rothman-Zecher

In the context of the absurd reality of Israel’s occupation, last Thursday brought a glimmer of good news. Attorneys for the Jewish National Fund (JNF) and settler group Elad withdrew their petition seeking to expel the Ruweidi family from their East Jerusalem home. Elad’s lawyer, Eitan Peleg, withdrew the following a recommendation made by the Israeli Supreme Court, casting doubt on Elad’s and the JNF’s claims to the property.

Peace Now settlement watch director Hagit Ofran told +972 that that the house will now officially and formally recognized as belonging to the Ruweidi family, after 25 years of attempted confiscations by Elad and its allies in the NGO sector and government.

It is important to understand the absurdity of this situation. Firstly, the application of the Absentee Property Law (which allows the state to confiscate the property of Palestinian refugees from 1948 and 1967) in East Jerusalem is nothing more than a tool of expansionist and discriminatory takeover: it is used exclusively by Jews against Palestinians, never allowing Palestinians to reclaim their property that is now in Jewish hands. Secondly, Elad’s attempts to prove that the Ruweidi home was “absentee property” were based on nothing more than false testimony from a single Palestinian man who had no connection to the family whatsoever.

In the fall of 2011, the JNF’s role in facilitating the eviction of Palestinian families from their homes in Silwan was spotlighted by a campaign to prevent the eviction of the Sumarin family. The Sumarin family home is immediately adjacent to the City of David tourist site, which is operated by Elad under a contract with the State.

Moriel Rothman-Zecher is an American-Israeli writer and member of the All That’s Left anti-occupation collective. He is on Twitter at@Moriel_RZ and blogs at

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[VID] The Bibi circus rolls into town

‘Anyone who isn’t jumping is a leftie,’ chant the settler youths at a right-wing election rally in Tel Aviv, the site of a larger anti-Netanyahu rally a week earlier. Netanyahu the ringmaster is in control of his audience, and the rally itself has the quality of a victory parade.

Text by Natasha Roth
Video by Camilla Schick

They came, they saw, they cheered. Around Rabin Square Sunday evening, the streets of Tel Aviv were unrecognizable: thousands of settlers, hilltop youth and national-religious had come from across the country (and from over the Green Line) in order to attend a right-wing rally in a location usually reserved for gatherings of the Left. Originally intended as a public gathering, the decision of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to appear and speak turned it into a political electioneering event, as ruled by the Central Election Committee earlier in the day. Additional controversy was caused by the subsidizing of transportation from the West Bank to the rally using public funds: among the local government bodies helping fund the rally were Gush Etzion, Har Hebron and Binyamin — all in the West Bank.

I am in a taxi on the way to the rally when the driver switches on the radio to listen to the 7 o’clock news. The lead item is the Election Committee’s decision, and the fact that as a result of this ruling, musicians cannot take part in the event and it cannot be televised. My driver grunts and shakes his head in disgust. I lean forward to ask his thoughts on the matter, and then think better of it. Still haunted by the anti-Left violence that swelled during anti-war demonstrations last summer, I am busy deciding how honest I should be if anyone strikes up a conversation with me.

Ibn Gabriol Street, which leads to Rabin Square, is filled with evidence of the largesse of the aforementioned West Bank regional councils. Bus after bus lines the road, many with signs in the front window indicating where they are from. Huge Israeli flags are everywhere, as are posters of all the right-wing parties. Flyers imploring people to support the Right litter the streets and cafe tables. People push past me, saying, “Only Bibi, only Bibi” (in Hebrew). Balloons are everywhere, carrying both party names and calls to continue building in “Samaria.” Table stalls selling hardback...

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WATCH: Short doc looks for the Palestinians in Israeli elections

Why is Gaza not an issue in Israel’s elections? Filmmakers Tamar Glezerman and Arianna LaPenne speak with +972 bloggers to examine the mainstream media landscape, and its marginalization of the Palestinians, the occupation and the war in Gaza.

Shot during Operation Protective Edge, this short documentary follows independent writers and photojournalists as they cover one of the most intense periods the conflict has seen in years.

Click here for +972′s full coverage of Israeli elections.

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Interview: What Hamas' media thinks of Israeli elections

How is the Palestinian media covering Israeli elections? What do they think of the Joint List? A media survey covering Palestinian outlets in Israel proper, the West Bank, Gaza and beyond. And an interview with the editor of Hamas’ official newspaper.

By Rami Younis

According to the famous cliche, there is no better time for news than during wars and elections. When it comes to wars, both the Palestinian and the Israeli media would likely agree. When it comes to elections that will directly affect the lives of millions of people under occupation who have no right to vote, however, there is no point in comparing how interested Israelis are in in the elections with Palestinians in the West Bank or Gaza.

On the day the Knesset was dispersed, Palestinian news site Safa published the following headline: “Israel announces elections as a result of its failure in Gaza.” The site published a top story on the elections every day for a week, although the issue has become less prominent on the site ever since.

In most major Palestinian outlets, elections are covered in a mostly unbiased manner, since Palestinians see no point in differentiating between Netanyahu, Herzog or Livni. Instead, coverage focuses on updates, polls and analysis, while most of the headlines describe how some Israeli politicians choose to use Palestinian blood for the sake of their campaigns.

Over the past week, most of the media has focused on Avigdor Liberman, who said Israel should chop off the heads of disloyal Palestinian citizens. “The ISIS ideology long ago permeated into the Israeli elections,” wrote the news site Al-Aqsa, which belongs to the television channel of the same name, and which broadcasts from the West Bank. They didn’t forget, of course, to add a link to Likud’s campaign video, which compared the Israeli Left to the Islamic State.


Hamas: We respect the will of Palestinian citizens

My first interviewee may upset many Israelis. Last week I was able to secure an interview with Wisam Afifa, the editor-in-chief of Hamas’ official newspaper, Al-Risala, which is published in Gaza. Afifa was very pleasant, and happy to hear that the person on the other end of the phone is a Palestinian who writes in Hebrew.

I began our conversation with a question on how his newspaper covers the Israeli elections. “Since we heard about the elections, we have dedicated special...

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The only issue that matters in Israel's elections

I grew up in a settlement. I met more Palestinians that the average Israeli. But it was only during my military service in the West Bank that I realized our 47-year rule over the occupied territories must come to an end.

By Shay Davidovich

Elections have always fascinated me. As a child, I insisted on staying up late to hear the preliminary results and the party leaders’ initial responses – all happy to declare the dawn of a new era. The soldier’s votes were always counted late, but were never seemingly influential, at most one seat here or there. Interested in politics from a very young age — I was a strange child.

I grew up in the settlement of Ariel during the Second Intifada. As buses exploded in Tel Aviv, we weighed each and every potentially dangerous ride in and out of the settlement. Like many of my peers, this period shaped my political perception more than anything else. I must admit that I did not understand why it all was happening. What was perfectly clear, however, was that when I turned 18 it would be my turn to take up arms and protect my community — my country.

The first time I participated in the democratic process was in the occupied territories, in uniform. After basic training, we were sent to our first operation: guarding settlements in the South Hebron Hills. I didn’t really know where I was, but it didn’t matter very much. It was our turn to fight. Our commanders did their best to clarify that training was over and that now everything that happened from now on would be the real thing. My squad was assigned to Susiya, a settlement near a Palestinian village bearing the same name. I quickly understood that I was the only one who didn’t know where it was located. During our service in Susiya, our commander was also the settlement’s security officer — a settler. After a briefing we took our posts, and I volunteered for the first shift that observed the neighboring Palestinian village. To be honest, I was disappointed. All our preparation seemed meaningless in the stillness and beauty surrounding me.

A few hours into the shift, the settlement security officer drove up to my post in his car and told me to come quickly. An obedient soldier, I followed him into his car and we drove out...

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12 years a prisoner: A Gaza love story

Haya Asaad waited for more than a decade for her fiancé to get out of Israeli prison.

By Abeer Ayyoub

GAZA CITY — At a modest dressmaking shop in downtown Gaza City, the tailor makes the final touches on Haya Asaad’s classic tight wedding dress. But Asaad isn’t your typical bride: an Israeli court kept her wedding on hold for more than 12 years while her fiancé was behind bars.

The story began when Asaad, now 30, was studying business administration. Eyad was a teacher at the same school, and the young couple immediately fell in love. Eyad proposed after only two months; everything went well until the day the two were due to register their marriage at a religious court. Eyad had totally disappeared.

Not knowing her fiancé took part in operations against Israel, Asaad didn’t learn anything about Eyad’s whereabouts or condition for three months. He had allegedly been arrested by the Israelis, something she never believed until he called her confirming the rumors.

“I immediately hung up the phone. I couldn’t imagine myself talking to someone in an Israeli prison,” Asaad told this reporter on a stroll through Gaza City. “I thought this would put my family life in danger.”

Eyad never seemed like a fighter. “He was such a funny and fashionable man; he never talked about resistance or such issues,” Asaad says. “I remembered him always wanting his shirts to be ironed and his hair to be styled. It took me a while to absorb it.”

Eyad was arrested at Israel’s Abu Houli checkpoint in Gaza City, where he worked. He was trying to cross into the city of Khan Yunis, also in Gaza, where he lived. That was in 2002, three years before Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip.

A group of his colleagues from Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades had been arrested a few days earlier. He knew this would be his fate too, but of course he had never even told his beloved that he was a militant.

Eyad then spent two years trying to call Asaad from Israel’s Nafha prison to persuade her to wait for him. She considered it a fantasy she wanted no part of.

“No one guarantees Israeli decisions, and I can’t get too old in this society — this is how I thought,” she explains. “But after several attempts by him, I believed in him and believed our love...

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How many cars does it take for a Bedouin village to vote?

While the majority of Jewish Israelis will have no problem voting on election day, some Bedouin will be forced to travel up to 40 kilometers simply to participate in Israel’s democracy.

By Khalil Alamour and Amjad Iraqi

In the run-up to every election day in Israel, polling stations are set up in various locations in every city and town to ensure that residents have easy access to cast their votes. Most towns also have public transportation that takes residents to the stations, or to their original hometowns in other parts of the country where they are registered to vote.

This is not the case for the tens of thousands of Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel living in the unrecognized villages in the Naqab (Negev). On election day, voters from these villages have to travel between 10 to 40 kilometers in order to cast their ballots at their designated polling stations in villages other than their own. While buses operate throughout most towns in Israel – albeit far fewer in Arab towns – public transportation is completely absent from these villages. In fact, the villages do not even appear on Israel’s official maps, despite the fact many of them existed before the state’s establishment.

The burden thus falls on the Bedouin citizens themselves to cover the distance and cost to exercise their right to vote. However, due to high poverty and limited financial resources, many of these villagers do not own or cannot afford cars, and instead have to rely on relatives or friends who have cars to drive them to the polling stations. This requires volunteer drivers to make several trips back and forth in order to take as many people as they can, meaning that the process of taking a few dozen people to the polls amounts to several hours of travel and many shekels in gas at the drivers’ expense. In some villages, various political parties supply transportation as a way of attracting votes, which impedes on the citizens’ right to make their political choices based on independent will rather than favors provided.

This disorganized system of voting is not simply a matter of administrative neglect — it is a direct outcome of the state’s refusal since 1948 to grant legal status to the unrecognized Bedouin communities, in contrast to its support and recognition of Jewish towns in the Negev. This means that the establishment of polling...

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Doing God's work: A look at the Islamic Movement in Israel

It grew out of the Muslim Brotherhood, split into two branches over ideological differences, and is now joining forces with communists, feminists and Jews in the Joint List. This is the surprising story of the Islamic Movement in the Jewish state. 

By Dr. Nuhad Ali

Much has been said in the Israeli media about the union between the four Arab parties leading up to the March 17 election. But while the Jewish-Arab Hadash party, nationalist Balad and Ahmad Tibi’s Ta’al are well-known to most Israeli Jews, Ra’am (United Arab List) remains something of a mystery. And when we do hear about them? It’s usually in the context of “the Islamists” and how they’re stances on women, polygamy and the LGBTQ community affect the Joint Arab List.

Much less attention is paid to the decision by Ra’am — which forms the parliamentary framework for the southern branch of the Islamic Movement — to unite with Communists, secularists, feminists, Jews and others. The very decision of the southern branch to run for the Knesset is not self-evident, especially in such a framework.

The heads of the southern branch themselves have stated that the establishment of the Joint List does not mean there are no more ideological differences between the parties. On the contrary, they state that “this is a moment of political maturity, where we have learned to agree on the similarities between us, and disagree on the differences,” and clarify that “we are not imposing our opinions on our partners, and we will not allow them to impose theirs on us.” They view the Joint List as a protest by the Arab public, as well as an attempt to improve its status among the Israeli public.

But who is “The Islamic Movement in ‘48 Palestine,” as it is known by its members? What is its origins? What differentiates the southern branch, which is participating in the elections under the leadership of Masud Ganaim, from the northern one, led by Sheikh Raed Salah, which boycotts the elections? The answers to these questions can be found in the history of the movement’s growth throughout the 20th century, and the division that occurred between its two branches, which began with Ra’am’s participation in the 1996 elections.

Pre-state roots

Some claim that if the 20th century was known as the century of science, then the 21st century will...

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High Court to rule over fate of unrecognized Palestinian village

The village of Dahmash has been around since 1948, and its residents have the documents to prove it. The authorities, however, have been threatening the unrecognized village with demolition for years. Now residents are taking matters into their own hands and putting together a festival to bring attention to their cause.

By Rami Younis

On Monday, March 16 — a day before the national elections — Israel’s High Court of Justice will hear an appeal by the residents of the unrecognized village Dahmash. The village, located between Ramle and Lyd (“Lod” in Hebrew), is not recognized by any local council. The hearing could set an historic precedent — should the High Court rules in favor of the residents, it will force the state to try and recognize the village, which would prevent home demolitions in the near future. However, if the Court rules against the residents, the threat of demolition will loom larger than ever before.

The unrecognized village Dahmash is under the jurisdiction of the Emek Lod Regional Council, a mere 20 minute drive from Tel Aviv. The village has been around since 1948, and its residents even have proof of ownership in the Israel Land Registry. However, the State does not recognize their claim to the land, and does not provide the village with the necessary infrastructure or even the most basic services, such as sewage, roads, electricity, garbage collection or a post office.

As opposed to the moshavim (a type of cooperative agricultural community) whose agricultural lands have been cleared for construction, the only thing the residents of Dahmash can do with their land is grow tomatoes. Despite the efforts by the residents, which included demonstrations, a lengthy court battle and funding for a master plan — all construction is deemed illegal.

There are currently 16 home demolition orders in the village. The struggle to prevent the destruction has lasted for over a decade, and has been successful due to the support of dedicated activists who supported the villagers over the years. For instance, in 2010, in the wake of a public campaign that included major protests on the main road in Ramle, which included artists and activists, the district court delayed the demolition orders against 13 homes, and gave the residents the opportunity to try and push forward a solution to resolve the status of the village. In the spring of 2014, the state attorney toured...

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