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Deconstructing Netanyahu's spin about the Paris peace summit

The Prime Minister’s Office spared no time in declaring the multilateral conference on advancing Mideast peace a failure. He may have missed a few things.

By Shemuel Meir

It is difficult to ignore the unbridled joy that took over the Prime Minister’s Office as its spokespeople went out of their way to declare the Paris peace summit, which took place this past weekend, a failure. Their proof? A “shallow” final statement that included neither a defined time table (for further international involvement? For Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank?) and did not mention “1967 lines.”

The spokespeople patted themselves on the shoulder, hinting that what they viewed as a meager outcome of the Paris Summit stemmed from Israel’s global diplomatic efforts. A summit of 29 foreign ministers who discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was presented as another “photo op” and a PR stunt by France.

Israeli commentators and political correspondents tended to accept the PMO’s version as is, which was then reflected in their writing in the Israeli media. But a closer examination of the summit and the declarations made by leading foreign ministers who participated paints an entirely different picture. There is no factual basis for the PMO’s elation.

Even the Prime Minister’s Office’s attempt to portray the failure in Paris as a “historic mistake” by enlisting the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement looks baseless. The relevance of the comparison is unclear, as is the reasoning for using phrases such as “the Sykes-Picot diktat.” Perhaps it was an attempt to coin a new, catchy phrase, such as the “appeasing Munich Conference,” which starred in the government’s fear-mongering hasbara efforts vis-à-vis the Iranian nuclear issue.

I will try to separate the truth from the background noise, in order to lay out a framework for a public discussion based on facts, rather than metaphors.

The closing statement published at the end of the summit, which included U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, was short and straightforward. The text defined the summit’s main goal — the two-state solution — and established that the status quo was unsustainable. In doing so the participants rejected the prime minister’s conflict management doctrine. The foreign ministers were “alarmed by the actions on the ground,” in particular continued acts of violence and settlement activity. They did not accept the Israeli position that Palestinian terror and rejectionism is at the base of the conflict....

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Global protests target Airbnb over Israeli settlement rentals

Over 150,000 sign petition calling on Airbnb to pull out of Israeli settlements as part of the #StolenHomes campaign, which was launched by a consortium of organizations following an investigative report by +972 and Local Call.

By John Brown*

A coalition of international organizations organized protests in cities across the world Friday against Airbnb’s operations in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. In addition to the international actions, local popular committees of Palestinian villages and cities like Nabi Saleh, Bil’in, and Hebron also participated.

The protests were part of a global campaign, “Stolen Homes,” which was launched following an investigation published here on +972 and our Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call, which revealed that Airbnb allows Israeli settlers to rent out rooms and guesthouses to unsuspecting tourists without disclosing that they are located in illegal settlements in occupied territory. (All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law.)

Among the vacation properties available for rent on the site are a number in settlement outposts considered illegal even under Israeli law, some of which are situated on stolen, privately owned Palestinian land. The investigation also found that many property owners were discriminating by refusing to rent to prospective Arab guests, which violates company policy.

At Airbnb’s European headquarters in Dublin, campaigners boasted a petition signed by over 150,000 people, demanding that the company immediately stop listing vacation rentals in Israelis settlements. The campaign also targeted Fidelity Investment, a major investor in the company, demanding that it divest from it.

The campaign video:

The petition reads:

As people who care about human rights and international law, we ask Airbnb to immediately stop listing vacation rentals in Israeli settlements, all of which were built on stolen Palestinian land and deemed illegal under international law. Airbnb’s anti-discrimination policy states that they prohibit listings that promote racism, discrimination, or harm to individuals or groups, and require all users to comply with local laws.

Yet, listing vacation rentals in illegal settlements promotes structural discrimination, theft of Palestinians’ land, and direct violations of international law. Through earning fees from settlement vacation rentals, Airbnb is directly profiting from the continuing occupation and dispossession of Palestinians.

“Hand-delivering the petitions and organizing protests sends a clear message to [Airbnb CEO] Brian Chesky and Airbnb that we’re not going anywhere,” explained Stefanie Fox, deputy...

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The war of succession brewing in Palestine

The head of the Palestinian security services is counting on Israeli support. Mohammed Dahlan is trying to rally backers in Egypt. From prison, Marwan Barghouti is writing plans for a nonviolent struggle to will the Palestinian public worldwide. The struggle over Abbas’ succession signals a generational change among the Palestinian leadership.

By Menachem Klein

When Yassser Arafat’s health was slowly fading and the Israeli army put him under siege, there was no war of succession taking place around him. This is not because his rule was petrifying. On the contrary, there were always disagreements, and often his colleagues prevented him from implementing his own decisions.

When Arafat led Fatah, there was never a war over who would succeed him. The consensus around Arafat’s rule pushed Abu Nidal and Abu Musa, who sought to undermine him, out of Fatah and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Kicked out of the national movement, the two disappeared until the first was adopted by Iraq and the second by Syria. At home they simply had no public or institutional support.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is not under siege. He comes and goes from the Muqata’a without any hindrance from the Israeli authorities. He is, however, under political siege. While he insists on holding on to power, the rug is being pulled out from under his feet. According to polls published last year by Dr. Khalil Shikaki, two-thirds of the Palestinian public want Abbas step down. The war within Fatah over his succession began over the past two years and has been rapidly gaining traction ever since.

As Abbas’ political descent has accelerated, he has begun relying on his security forces. He uses them not only to suppress Hamas opposition through security coordination with Israel, but also against mass demonstrations by Palestinian civil society, as we witnessed several months ago when Palestinian teachers went on strike, or the protests against a new national insurance law.

In a political system where the lines between political and party involvement and public civil service are blurred, and where job security is predicated on membership in Fatah, the security and intelligence forces are the political player which Abbas uses to bolster his power. The head of the Palestinian Security Services, Majd Farj, enjoys Abbas’ trust; one can only assume that Farj and the PSS do not want to lose their political power on the day after Abbas, despite their...

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Finding home in a new memory: A journey to the Golan

Maintaining a boundary between support, solidarity and an acknowledgment of Israel’s wrongdoing toward Palestinians without appropriating the memory is an ongoing and constant effort. In Mansura, I found something different.

By Eitan Bronstein Aparicio

For years, I have been acting in the realm of the political memory, the construction of memory, deconstructing and erecting myths. I launched an organization dealing with memory. But somehow, I always remained external to the memories I touched upon: it was the Palestinian memory, which isn’t mine organically. I organized visits of Israelis to the Palestinian villages Israel destroyed during the Nakba and I initiated the practice of putting new signs in these villages, a practice deeply rooted in the colonial tradition. Those who were uprooted from them, adopted the new signs enthusiastically because they challenge the colonizer that originally came up with the practice. Since then they have been marking the places that Israel destroyed during the Nakba.

My position as someone active in the realm of a memory-that-is-not-mine created a constant tension between wanting to push forward new and important ideas and actions to challenge the foundations of the Israeli regime on the one hand, and caution necessary to not to appropriate the memory and take over its preservation on the other. I remember once being in the destroyed village of Miska on Israeli Independence Day, Jews and Arabs, commemorating the Nakba of the village. Something went wrong and immediately one of the Israelis began advising the Palestinians about how to act next. I felt very uncomfortable and had to tell him that. On the other hand, I could identify with him. We were both brought up as the masters of the land under whose authority the indigenous Palestinians should remain.

The Nakba is the history of anyone living on this land and/or anyone who cherishes it. It was constructed politically and culturally as a “what they see as a disaster”, as the collective memory of Palestinians only.[1] That’s why there’s a constant gap between the memory of the Nakba as a disaster for its Palestinian victims and others, such as Israelis, who at most can fight against the attempt to erase the Nakba of this place’s history. Pierre Nora, who made a distinction between history and memory, claims that the former “is an intellectual, secularizing act, inviting analysis and a critical discourse. The memory situates commemoration within the realm of the...

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Ahead of Tel Aviv Pride, queer activists bring the occupation home

LGBTQ activists hang banners and graffiti anti-occupation slogans across Tel Aviv in the run-up to the city’s annual pride parade. 180,000 people are expected to take part in the festivities, at least half of them tourists.

By Yael Marom

In the run up to Friday’s Tel Aviv Pride festivities, Israeli LGBTQ activists hung banners and spray-painted anti-occupation graffiti across the city. The signs, which read “Occupation: Israeli Pride” and “You cannot pinkwash the occupation” were hung from bridges at the main entrances to the city. Meanwhile activists graffitied slogans such as “You can’t pink wash occupation” in both Hebrew and English in dozens of locations.

The activists behind the action hope that the slogans catch the attention of at least some of the LGBTQ community and their supporters who are arriving in Tel Aviv to take part in the festivities.

The banners and graffiti are part of a week-long campaign by queer activists to raise awareness of the occupation, and the ways in which the Israeli government uses tolerance toward the LGBTQ community to divert attention from its human rights abuses.

Earlier last week queer activists published a response to this year’s official Pride music video, “Pink,” which was produced in tandem with the Tel Aviv municipality and includes the controversial artist “Shefita,” who does a Arabic-inflected cover version of the famous Aerosmith song. The women who dance alongside Shefita in the original video are replaced with images of home demolitions, aerial bombings, checkpoints, dead Palestinians, and the suppression of nonviolent demonstrations in the occupied territories.

WATCH: Anti-occupation activists respond to Shefita

According to the municipality’s website 180,000 people are expected to take part in the parade, at least half of them tourists.

Pride parades began taking place globally following the 1969 Stonewall riots in New York City, as an attempt at connecting different queer communities for a joint struggle for equal rights. In Tel Aviv, however, the parade has become a professional public relations campaign produced by the municipality and with the full cooperation of Israeli LGBTQ groups.

The truth is that the tourists who come to Tel Aviv won’t see images of Palestinians or the violence that has become part of our everyday life here on the posters put up by the Tourism Ministry. They won’t see the siege and destruction in Gaza, the thousands of Palestinian...

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Liberman's first task: End Gaza's suffering

If Liberman truly wants to keep Israelis safe, he will to do whatever he can to ensure that Gaza’s residents can lead normal lives.

By Noam Rabinovich

What will Avigdor Liberman’s first week as defense minister look like?

One might imagine he would begin by introducing himself to the staff, getting acquainted with the office, making some coffee (or tea, to each their own) and going over some emails. Then, one might assume and hope, he will get down to the business of security and managing the occupation. After all, the defense minister’s job description includes ensuring the well-being of the Palestinian population in the occupied territories.

No issue is more urgent than Gaza, which – as the United Nations’ Mideast peace envoy, Nickolay Mladenov, noted last week – remains “desperate and highly volatile.”

Liberman certainly has a few ideas of his own. This past April he threatened to assassinate Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh, an act that would undoubtedly have brought about another round of hostilities. During 2014’s Operation Protective Edge he advocated re-occupying the entire Gaza Strip. When he was deputy prime minister and strategic affairs minister in May 2007, Liberman presented his plan to isolate Gaza from the West Bank, a plan he doubled down on in August 2014 as the country’s foreign minister.

It is sometimes said that there are no bad ideas when brainstorming, but let’s dispense with that fiction here and now – these are bad ideas.

Another option – dare I say it, the better option – would be to defer to the expertise of the senior professional ranks of the military and security services. One hopes that a new minister – any minister — would start by consulting the people who are in charge of Israel’s security and inquire as to their opinions on the pressing issues at hand. Call it a professional courtesy.

Liberman might choose to begin by making a call to the IDF chief of staff.  If he does so, Gadi Eisenkot will likely repeat the statements he made to to the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in June 2015, when he said (Hebrew) that the military is trying to improve Gaza’s economy.

Or perhaps Eisenkot will tell Liberman the same thing he reportedly told Alex Fishman of Yedioth Aharonot: “The [chief of staff’s policy] relies on two principles: trying to hold...

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No room for Palestinians at Tel Aviv Pride Parade

Until the Israeli LGBTQ community truly begins caring about Palestinian oppression, Palestinian queers will have to keep checking our identity at the door.

Fady Khoury (translated by Tal Haran)

This past March I took part in a panel as part of Washington D.C.’s Independent Film Festival, where Jake Weisfeld’s new documentary, “Oriented,” was screened. The film, which was also screened this week as part of Tel Aviv’s LGBTQ film festival, TLVFest, tells the story of three gay Palestinian men living in Tel Aviv.

I assume that plenty has and will be said about the movie itself, but the point I wanted to focus on during the panel was the complete disregard by the creators from one of the central, recurring issues when it comes to LGBTQ rights in Israel: “pinkwashing,” namely the Israeli propaganda efforts to rebrand itself as a liberal democracy by focusing on LGBTQ rights in order to shift the international discussion away from the issue of occupation. One major theme in these propaganda efforts is branding Tel Aviv as a Gay Safe Haven.

I do not intend to write a film review of Oriented. I do, however, wish to deal with Friday’s pride parade in Tel Aviv vis-a-vis LGBTQ Palestinians. I also want to talk about the intersection of how Pride views Palestinians with major elements that simply do not exist in the film, which purports to present a “new generation of gay Palestinians” living in Tel Aviv, all while showing the complexities of the characters’ lives without seriously dealing with the wider political context in which Tel Aviv plays a central role.

Shelter for dogs, not for Gazans

Oriented was filmed over a period of three years, with some of the shooting taking place during the last attack on Gaza in 2014. In one of the scenes we see Khader Abu Seif, the protagonist, his partner David, and their dog Otis — who cannot stop crying — running to the stairwell of their building after an air raid siren sounds, in order to protect themselves from falling missiles. They sit while explosions are heard in the background, likely as a result of interceptions by Iron Dome. The scene is meant to be humane and evocative, in which the viewer feels empathy for Otis.

After the panel was over, we stepped off the stage and a few of the audience members approached us. Among...

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60% of people arrested by Israeli police are 'non-Jews'

The data, obtained for the years 2011-2015, paints an even more grim picture of discrimination, especially in the arrests of minors, for crimes like ‘incitement,’ and predictably, for ‘security offenses.’ Ayman Odeh: Data reveals deeply ingrained racism in the police.

By Noam Rotem

Non-Jews comprise a mere 25 percent of Israel’s population, yet 60 percent of all people arrested by Israeli police between the years of 2011 and 2015 were non-Jewish, according to data obtained by +972 and its Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. When it comes to the arrest of minors, the picture is even worse.

Police provided the data in response to a freedom of information request by the Movement for Freedom of Information and is being published here for the first time. It includes data about the total number of arrests, the number of those arrests which led to indictments, the suspected crime that prompted the arrests, the religion of the arrestees (Jew or non-Jew), and the age of the arrestees (adult or minor).

Israel Police arrested a total of 295,654 people over the five-year period, over 60 percent of whom were classified as non-Jewish.

According to data published by Israel’ Central Bureau of Statistics this month, 74.8 percent of the country’s population is classified as Jewish. In addition to the 20.8 percent Arab minority of Israeli citizens, however, “non-Jews” could also include tourists, foreign workers, Palestinians from the West Bank, and others. Israeli police are also involved in criminal arrests of Palestinians in the West Bank at times, and the distinction between Jews and non-Jews in the data police provided could include Palestinians.

The religious breakdown of the 30,013 minors who were arrested between 2011 and 2015 is similar: 56 percent were classified as non-Jews. The type of crimes they were arrested for, however, shows an even greater distinct disparity: 88 percent of minors arrested for “security offenses” were non-Jews; likewise, 86 percent of minors arrested for bodily crimes were classified as non-Jews. Likewise, 60 percent of arrests that resulted in indictments were of non-Jews.

When it comes to “security offenses,” however, non-Jews are far more likely to be indicted than Jews: only 38 percent of Jews arrested for security offenses were indicted, as opposed to 64 percent of non-Jews.

There are other types of crimes, such as “incitement,” for which non-Jews are far more likely to be arrested. Of the 490 people arrested for “incitement” between 2011 and...

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Settler violence aims to dispossess, and it works

When A saw Israeli civilians approach, he did the sensible thing and fled. This is what quiet terrorism looks like.

By Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurvitz

A. is a resident of the village Faratha in the West Bank. He declined to have his name published, as he has become a regular target for attacks by Israeli civilians. He owns two plots of land; the illegal settlement outpost of Havat Gilad is built next to one of them. The establishment of the outpost led to the familiar pattern of dispossession in the West Bank: in order to protect the safety of the Israeli civilians who illegally took over land and settled, the army only allows A. to work his land during the olive harvest season, and only after coordination in advance with Israeli security forces.

But the military commander refuses to allow him to work his land, arguing that the plot contains no olive trees and that coordination is reserved for olive growers alone. And so, seven dunams of land were taken from A.’s possession and practically turned over to Israeli squatters as a reward. Once settlers seize land, it is almost impossible to liberate it.

A., who is 80 years old, was left with another plot of land, closer to Faratha itself. But the proximity to the village was not enough to protect it: for years he grew wheat there, and year after year his crops were set ablaze. Out of desperation, A. decided that this year he would grow sesame. After all, it’s less flammable.

Several weeks ago, A. went to his plot of land with a donkey and began plowing and preparing it for planting. Suddenly, he noticed three young men coming from the direction of Havat Gilad. A. feared for his safety, and fled along with the donkey. He left behind some clothes, his shovel and the donkey’s blanket. His sense terror was not baseless: A. remembered that a year ago his neighbor was working his land when suddenly Israeli civilians appeared and beat him severely. “It was only with difficulty that he was evacuated to the hospital,” he recalls.

After some 90 minutes, A. returned to the land. He found the clothes and the blanket, but not the shovel. Perhaps someone took a shine to it; perhaps he simply lost it while fleeing. The following day A. went back working his plot, planting sesame....

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Israelis are no longer buying what Netanyahu is selling

Never has a prime minister appointed a defense minister so far beyond the consensus. For the first time in a decade, it feels like fewer people truly buy into Bibi’s lies and theatrics.

By Alon Mizrahi

Throughout his years in the public spotlight, Netanyahu and his advisors have been successful at doing one thing: to completely control the story of the State of Israel.

It does not matter whether they were able to do so because they are talented at doing so, or because they use deeply-entrenched Jewish and Israeli motifs: victimhood; persecution; siege mentality; the Arabs as a representation of the devil incarnate and the heirs to the Wermacht; Judaism as a supreme category whose fate, near-annihilation by anti-Semitism — is different than the rest of humanity (a fate prevented only due to aerial bombings and God).

We know all this, and yet the left-wing, liberal camp has been sitting by helplessly for an entire generation, perhaps even longer. The Left has never been successful — or has even tried — to challenge this story. The Jewish public simply does not want a different story. Israeli Jews want to feel special and in danger, and every political movement that builds on these fears succeeds at becoming a dominant force. Every step taken under the guise of these fears is justified: the occupation itself, of course, justified but so are other acts of cruelty against non-Jews, as well as the arrogance vis-a-vis non-Jews abroad. That’s the story. Am Israel Chai — the nation of Israel lives thanks to miracles and unregulated use of force.

But something in this story is now falling apart. We are hearing people in the heart of the Israeli Right saying: wait. There are things we mustn’t do. Maybe this story is so wrong that it actually justifies strange and reckless behavior. Such as appointing Avigdor Liberman defense minister, for example.

If we understand things as such, the resignation of Avi Gabai (along with that of Yisrael Beiteinu’s Orly Levy and former Defense Minister Minister Moshe Ya’alon) from the Netanyahu-Bennett-Liberman government, is significant. It is the earthquake happening under Netanyahu’s rule.

It’s not just a change in the people running the country. It’s not just the fact that people no longer want to work with him, including diehard rightists. It is the fundamental psychological change taking place here over the past few weeks,...

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What neoconservatives get wrong about U.S. Jews' relationship with Israel

As much as it chagrins the likes of Elliott Abrams, the increasing difficulty they are having with defending Israel’s policies is due to the policies they are working to defend. The longer the occupation continues, the less support it will find among Jews in the United States.

By Mitchell Plitnick

Over the past few years, there has been a good deal of consternation in Israel and in the American Jewish community about the relationship between the two. That concern has grown as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu consistently works to please his right flank with ever more controversial statements and actions amid a petrified peace process.

Neoconservative pundit Elliott Abrams reviewed two new books that document this phenomenon and try to explain it. Trouble in the Tribe: The American Jewish Conflict over Israel by Dov Waxman of Northeastern University and The Star and the Stripes: A History of the Foreign Policies of American Jews by Michael Barnett of George Washington University both look at shifts in Israeli policy over the years and examine the effects of those policy shifts on Jews in the United States. Abrams sees both books as blaming Israel for the growing divide with the U.S. Jewish community, and he feels compelled to respond by laying the blame instead on Jews in the United States.

Waxman’s book focuses on the divided reaction of Jews in the United States to Israel’s nearly 50-year old occupation and the Netanyahu government’s policies that entrench and maintain it. Barnett examines the tension between the more tribalistic and nationalistic Israeli Jewish society and the liberal, cosmopolitan U.S. one. In both cases, the authors make the case that the differences between the Israeli and American Jewish communities are driving a wedge between them and pushing Jews in the United States farther away from Israel, politically and communally.

Channeling Kristol

Abrams’ review carries loud echoes of the neoconservative icon, Irving Kristol. Like Kristol, Abrams believes strongly that Israel and the Diaspora Jewish communities are inextricably linked and that Jewish survival in the long term depends on those Diaspora communities, especially in the United States, supporting Israel absolutely. Kristol did not believe that Diaspora Jews had to back all of Israel’s policies blindly. Indeed, most of Kristol’s work was written at a time when Israeli political discourse was far more liberal than it is today. He believed, therefore, that it was “tremendously important to translate the classics of Western political...

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Labor must take the security narrative back from Netanyahu

The first step is to replace party leader Isaac Herzog, who has adopted the prime minister’s approach to the Palestinians and was willing to join his government.

By Nathan Hersh and Abe Silberstein

When Netanyahu abandoned the possibility of forming a coalition with Zionist Union by appointing Avigdor Liberman as defense minister, many on the Israeli center-left, including Labor chairman Isaac Herzog and liberal columnist Ari Shavit, were quick to self-flagellate. The truth is there was no missed opportunity, unless one is speaking of the chance to commit political suicide by linking up with a prime minister who had no intention of moderating his policies.

Herzog, whose days as head of the party are surely limited, will suffer the most from this turn of events. While his performance during the last election did much to bring the Labor party back to relevance, his leadership since then has backtracked on much of the progress made.

Since 2001, Labor party leaders have done little to confront the security narrative of the ruling Likud party and its partners. Indeed, as Edo Konrad wrote in these pages in February, it was Labor prime minister Ehud Barak’s team who, by pushing the dubious storyline of “no partner,” planted the seeds for the enfeebling of the peace camp. Subsequent Labor leaders have either offered unilateral alternatives to bilateral talks or attempted to shift the political agenda, always unsuccessfully, to kitchen table issues.

Still, Herzog’s January address to a Tel Aviv think tank — in which he adopted Benjamin Netanyahu’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying that peace is impossible at the moment, and calling for the completion of the security barrier around the settlement blocs — represented a particularly upsetting low.

If there was ever a time for the center-left to truly expose the Right’s absurd notion of security, it is now that one of the least experienced defense ministers in Israeli history assumes office. Liberman is taking the helm at the Defense Ministry just when the government’s rift with the defense establishment is at its widest, and his positions on some of the most divisive issues contributing to that rift will certainly not advance any reconciliation. Several former leaders in the defense establishment have been vocally critical of this government’s West Bank policies recently, and Netanyahu’s choice of Liberman can be read as a...

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When your own Jewish father calls you a Nazi

Once upon a time you could vote for Netanyahu or Meretz and move on with your life. Today even a conversation about the occupation can end relationships between loved ones.

By Su*

Like the very best of internet trolls, today my father banished me to Berlin with the non-Jewish son I never had. In the middle of Tel Aviv’s popular Azrieli Mall, on the second floor, at the cafe where the tables are placed too close to one another. Yarmulka-wearing Israelis sat behind us, while at the next table over two women with Zara shopping bags who ate salads tried their best to pretend they weren’t listening to what was happening at our table.

Once upon a time one was able to make a distinction between conversations about politics and conversations about life. Once, that was 10 years ago. Today the tension can be felt in the air. One can no longer make the distinction. Once upon a time you could vote for Netanyahu or Meretz, the left-wing party, to vote and go on with your life. Once upon a time you could live in the West Bank settlement Ariel and vote for Labor. Strange, perhaps, but it only seems strange today, looking back. Back then it was a matter of political opinion, life itself was what mattered, when one’s character wasn’t determined by the occupation.

What happened over the years that turn these definitions into rigid, violent, and influential? Maybe I just grew up and it was always like this? Maybe, but I look around, even at those older than me, and I just don’t think that’s it. A good friend of mine went on a date a few months ago, she said he was wonderful, funny, good looking. “But?” I asked. “But he votes for Liberman.” That summed up the conversation. There was no need to ask if they continued to meet.

Did Facebook, the press, and the media radicalize the people, or was it the opposite way around? What caused us to turn our political beliefs into unbending self-definitions? For years I told people, “I’m not a leftist, I am sane.”

More than that, even today I know it does not matter how we define ourselves — what side of the political spectrum we are on — everyone wants peace, everyone was quiet, no one wants to endanger more children.

But the fear. Today I saw it...

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