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There's still room for optimism: A letter to Sayed Kashua

‘You were supposed to be optimistic, you were supposed to give us hope. Instead you are only proposing despair.’ A letter to Israel’s best known Hebrew-language Palestinian author, columnist and entertainer, who after the racism and violence of recent weeks wrote that he’s lost hope in coexistence.

By Maisalon Dallashi

Palestinians from the West Bank enjoy the Mediterranean Sea on the last day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, Tel Aviv, August 11, 2013. The three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. The Israeli army generally issues entry permits to Palestinians during Ramadan, allowing many to visit the beach for the first time. (Activestills.org)

Palestinians from the West Bank enjoy the Mediterranean Sea on the last day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, Tel Aviv, August 11, 2013. (Activestills.org)

Dear Sayed,

You broke my heart when you cried out in your weekly Haaretz column. You’ve made the tears trickle down of their own accord. You made me want to escape out of my body and run. This is not how I imagined our first meeting. In my mind I saw a more optimistic encounter in which I described your great and scorching columns to you, those that left a spark of hope in me.

After I read your column I was not afraid to step out of my house. I relied upon my Ashkenazi appearance to finally be of good use. I escaped to where I always do when the world is too suffocating, to a viewpoint that looks over the sea from the old city of Jaffa.

On my way I passed through the alleys of the flea market, a place that has become into a major hit among the trendy middle-class people of Tel Aviv and the area. I saw a sign there greeting the Muslims for the month of the Ramadan. It was hung above one of the Arab coffee shops, perhaps the only Arab coffee shop there. Nice.

I searched for spelling or grammar typos in the greeting’s text and could not find any. Even more surprising and wonderful! I must have gotten used to embarrassing and neglectful mistakes in Arabic signs, like those where the dot is placed over the wrong alphabetical letter and the sign turns into a joke, and not to mention translations of street signs, which...

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Be'er Sheva, a city with no refuge from rockets

In Be’er Sheva, there are two kinds of people: those who sit protected in their shelters, calling for the occupation of Gaza, and the thousands of people who, living in buildings that crumble around them and with nowhere to run, just wait for the end. I live in such a building. Conversations with residents who have no refuge from the rockets.

By Daniel Beller (translated from Hebrew by Noam Shemtov)

An Israeli looks at damage to his home in a kibbutz near border with the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, July 9, 2014. (Photo by Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

An Israeli looks at damage to his home in a kibbutz near border with the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, July 9, 2014. (Photo by Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

The city of Be’er Sheva on Friday night got a reminder of why it needs a little less pride and lot more protection, especially for the weak: a rocket hit a house in a neighborhood of olim —Jewish immigrants to Israel — and almost completely destroyed it. Miraculously, the 80-year-old woman who was sitting in the living room at the time emerged from the building with only moderate injuries.

Many houses in Be’er Sheva are unprotected and it is no coincidence that these are precisely the buildings that Be’er Sheva’s sizable socioeconomically weaker population calls home. They are older housing units, neglected blocks of concrete built 50 or 60 years ago that are not part of the so-called, “new, high-end Be’er Sheva.”

When the alarm sounds, this community of underserved residents has nowhere to run. Its members take refuge standing against plaster walls, lying behind the couch or in the middle of the living room, standing and praying. These are people who make their livings from odd jobs, and a week of fighting – no work – could bring financial ruin upon them. If people don’t leave the house and give them a bit of business at a marketplace stall or kiosk, or if they hold only a part-time job because the city’s economy is forever stopping and starting up again — then they have no savings to speak of.

One of the most outrageous things about Be’er Sheva is to hear local politicians talking in front of microphones about the city’s fortitude, about its “strength,” its “solid front” and its people, “who unequivocally support the IDF’s strikes against...

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In Jerusalem, Jews and Palestinians pay the price for latest wave of violence

An inside look at the financial and psychological costs of the recent unrest in one of the country’s most segregated cities.

By Corey Sherman

As the rocket alert sirens rang out in Jerusalem Tuesday night, a group of friends passed around a pungent hashish cigarette on Yohanan Horkanus Street, an alleyway nestled between the commercial center of Jaffa Street and the Haredi neighborhood of Mea She’arim.

“Jews and Arabs needn’t be enemies!” joked Uri, repeating one of the Hebrew slogans a group of graying left-wing Israelis chanted last week in a tame, feel-good march against racism in the city center.  “All of us, together, without hatred or fear!” responded Noor in kind. (Both slogans rhyme in Hebrew.) After a shared laugh, the group returned to their hash and to discuss their plans for the night: where they would watch the World Cup, how late one of them would be working at a nearby bar.

No one ran for cover.  No one was afraid. Life went on. “Welcome to the Middle East,” Muhammad told me.

Palestinian youths brake the light-train station of Beit Hanina, during clashes that broke out in East Jerusalem following the suspected kidnapping and murder of a Palestinian teenager, East Jerusalem, July 2, 2014. Total of four journalists and a dozen protesters injured in the clashes. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinian youths brake the light-train station of Beit Hanina, during clashes that broke out in East Jerusalem following the suspected kidnapping and murder of a Palestinian teenager, East Jerusalem, July 2, 2014. Total of four journalists and a dozen protesters injured in the clashes. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

During periods of calm and unrest alike, some journalists appear keen to portray Israelis as steadfast consumers of the good life. Doing their part to enjoy themselves — la’asot chayyim — as others, typically out of sight, bear the brunt of rocket attacks, Molotov cocktails, rubber bullets, or stone throwing. Just ask these Tel Avivim.

Indeed, Uri and Noor’s cynicism is a luxury of Jerusalem being on the safe side of this exchange of rockets, which, according to UN reports, has claimed over 114 civilians in Gaza, 77% of whom are children. What differentiates their attitudes from those in Tel Aviv is that contentious politics in Jerusalem is du jour. The occupation is in full view...

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Not just escalation: A frightening new era of Jewish-Arab relations in Israel

Attacks by Jewish hooligans on Arabs, unprecedented incitement by right-wing politicians and clashes between Israeli Police and Arab youth. We’ve been here before, but never like this.

By Ron Gerlitz

This article is written at the height of an extensive, violent escalation in the Jewish-Arab conflict, both within Israel and between Israel and the Palestinians in the territories and the Gaza Strip.

Regarding the events inside Israel, it is important to note the dramatic difference between the events of October 2000 and those of the past week. In October 2000, it was Arab citizens of Israel confronting the police. In contrast, during the past week, Jewish and Arab civilians have faced off and attacked each other. The majority of these incidents involved assault and manifestations of racism by Jewish Israelis against Arab Israelis.

Palestinian youth throw rocks at Israeli security forces during clashes in Shuafat. The clashes erupted during the funeral for Muhammad Abu Khdeir, a 16-year-old Palestinian who was suspected of being murdered by Jewish nationalists in Jerusalem. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinian youth throw rocks at Israeli security forces during clashes in Shuafat. The clashes erupted during the funeral for Muhammad Abu Khdeir, a 16-year-old Palestinian who was suspected of being murdered by Jewish nationalists in Jerusalem. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Unfortunately, such attacks are not a new phenomenon, but their scope over the last week is unprecedented. This is not just an escalation – it is an entirely new reality. We have never been in a situation in which attacks against Arab civilians occurred daily and all over Israel. The following is a collection of statements I heard from a firsthand source in the last few days: “Death to Arabs” marches in the streets of Nazareth Illit night after night, gangs of Jewish hooligans roaming the Jerusalem streets and beating Arabs, violent attacks against Arabs on buses, and, in Pardes Hanna, dozens of young people entered a mall screaming “Death to Arabs.” Furthermore, there have been innumerable incidents of profanity against Arabs.

No one comes out unscathed

I didn’t comprehend the scope of this phenomenon from the media, but rather from the fact that every single Arab citizen I have met recently (and I meet many) has told me about an incident that happened to him or to his family. One...

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Dispatch from Gaza: You can never be emotionally ready

I have witnessed two wars and even more escalations, and yet I have never been ready for the trauma. 

By Abeer Ayoub

GAZA – It’s 2 a.m. and the electricity is off for the night. I can’t sleep because of the extremely hot weather and my two sisters are lying next to me checking the news on their cellphones. My sisters and I were discussing whether there will be another Israeli offensive again after the recent attacks between the two sides. We tried to dismiss the idea but everything taking place around us indicates it’s possible. We decided to sleep for an hour until the Sohoor meal (the meal Muslims have before dawn during Ramadan to prepare for a long day of fasting). We didn’t even make it through the hour; the many explosions were enough to wake us up.

“Switch on the radio,” I yelled at my sister as she tuned it to a local station.

It’s official now. Israel has launched a new military operation against Gaza called “Protective Edge.”

The atmosphere of these nights is not new to me. I have witnessed two wars and even more escalations, and yet I have never been ready for the trauma. That this escalation coincides with the holy month of Ramadan and a very complicated electricity crisis is very bad. Fasting for more than 14 hours a day, hearing bombings every single hour is the last thing the 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza want.

I woke up and began the regular routine for every escalation: set the radio to channels that report on every single bombing, then go on Twitter and Facebook to see what your friends are up to and call them when you know there was a bombardment close to their house. That was when I was supposed to have my Sohoor meal. I missed it this time.

Among the very difficult challenges we face every time these offensives happen is having to deal with the children we have at home. This is the first offensive that my two nieces who live in the same building have witnessed; they both are less than three years old, and there is nothing more we can do for them when they cry out of fear aside from hugging them and telling them it’s only fireworks.

Living with a very violent offensive is an experience that my family has learned to adjust...

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Live blog: Escalation in Gaza - July 2014

Following almost a month of Israeli air strikes and Palestinian rocket launches in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army declared that it had launched ‘Operation Protective Edge.’ The Israeli cabinet on Tuesday authorized the call-up of 40,000 reservist soldiers after a night in which the Israeli Air Force launched dozens of air strikes inside the Gaza Strip. The operation comes as tensions are already high in Israel and the West Bank following the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers and a Palestinian teenager from East Jerusalem.

Live updates below.Newsletter Banner 2 - 540

11:45 a.m., July 13
The death toll from an Israeli air strike on the Gaza Strip’s police chief last night went up to 21. The number of killed since the start of ‘Operation Protective Edge’ was more than 160.

An Israeli naval commando unit, Shayetet, infiltrated the northern Gaza Strip early Sunday morning to attack a long-range rocket launching facility. According to reports, two Hamas gunmen were killed and four Israeli commandos wounded in the exchange of fire that erupted. The following “Vine” video shot by CNN’s Jon Jenson shows explosions and the sound of heavy gunfire.

Hundreds of Gazans with foreign passports were allowed to leave the Strip through the Erez crossing Sunday morning. Journalist A. Daniel Roth tweeted the following photo:

 

Hundreds of Gazan families were reportedly fleeing the northern cities of Beit Lahia and Beit Hanoun after the IDF warned them to leave by noon today ahead of a “significant operation.

12:25 a.m., July 13
Protests break out in a number of East Jerusalem neighborhoods, and Palestinians clash with Israeli police.

10:47 p.m., July 12
Sirens sound in northern Israel. At least two rockets were fired from Lebanon. One of the rockets landed in an area town, Ynet reported, although no injuries were reported. The IDF shot artillery into Lebanon in response.

In Gaza, an Israeli air strike killed 15 people in recent minutes, bringing the death toll to 150. The commander of Hamas police in all of Gaza was killed. The air strike targeted his family home.

10:00 p.m., July 12
A senior IDF official told Ynet...



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Let's talk about Gaza, Sderot and the racist valuation of lives

A frank discussion about everything we don’t mention when talking about rockets and bombs and Gaza. Let’s talk about fear, about poverty, about angst and about racism.

By Lilach Ben David

Let’s talk about Gaza. Let’s talk about a small strip of land that god didn’t forget about, but about which we are certainly trying to forget. Let’s talk about one of the most crowded populations in the world; or to be more precise, it was made to be one of the most densely populated places in the word, because until 1948 most of its inhabitants lived in Yaffa, in Bir al-Saba’, and in hundreds of other small towns that have since disappeared and which have been forgotten. Let’s talk about what it’s like to live in the world’s largest open-air prison, let’s talk about a million and a half people who are ruled by a foreign government from their own air, sea and land — a foreign power that decides when they do and don’t get medicines, concrete, electricity and coriander. Let’s talk about people who our government wants us to believe we are not occupying yet reserves its right to control their borders, land, water and air, and to collectively punish them when its mood sours.

And let’s talk about Sderot. A transit camp, which is a nice word for a refugee camp, which turned into a “development town,” which is also a nice name for a neglected and deprived periphery town that became the “front line,” which is a nice name for throwing the Mizrahim into the frontier between the Ashkenazis and Arabs, a theoretical category between a Zionist nationality and a Middle Eastern ethnicity, which has turned into a physical divide between “us” and our “enemy” as well as an easy target for desperate attacks from the other side — serving the same role as Jerusalem’s Musrara decades ago. Let’s ask why 13 years of bombardment against citizens in Sderot didn’t push the government to act the same way that two rockets in Tel Aviv did.

A bomb shelter in Sderot (Photo by 'Jewbask')

A bomb shelter in Sderot (Photo by ‘Jewbask’)

Let’s talk about the racist valuation of blood. In the Zionist blood market, the cheapest blood is Arab. You can spill it like water, bomb it, shoot it, fence it in, choke it, or...

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Details of Palestinian deaths jeopardize a system of denial

The news says, ‘the IDF doesn’t kill children in vain.’ And everyone here nods with a serious ‘moral gaze.’

By Nir Baram

While mourning the horrific murder of the three Israeli boys by despicable murderers, yet again we hear the familiar calls of, “in times like these there is no Left and Right. We are all together.”

While there is “no Left and Right,” MK Yariv Levin calls to deal with Israeli Muslims and make them understand that “that which was – will no longer be”; Minister Israel Katz calls to shake the houses in Gaza; Bennett, as always, wants blood; inflamed mobs are chasing and beating Arabs (something that always happens in similar circumstances, even in 1980s Jerusalem); a Palestinian boy is brutally murdered, his cousin is severely beaten by Israeli policeman; Liberman says that MK Haneen Zoabi’s punishment should be the same as the kidnappers, and; in the settlements they are calling for more building as a reaction to the murders, and then actually building.

And this is just the beginning.

There is always Right and Left. There are those who scream and those who remain silent. The majority of the Israeli public that is convinced they are always the victims have created a branched denial mechanism which stands between them and reality – our kids are brutally murdered and every Palestinian kid who is killed comes with a ready justification, recited like a robotic recitation from the news on TV. But kids that have done nothing are being murdered by live fire of soldiers – like in Beitunia, like the bombing on a family home in Gaza, like many cases of shooting at innocent kids. In the eyes of Palestinians, and rightfully so, they are all kids who were murdered.

Funeral of Hamza Zayed Jaradat and Zayed Juma Jaradat, two 12-year-old Palestinian children killed by an unexploded mortar left behind by Israeli forces in the West Bank village of Sa'ir, near Hebron, March 7, 2012. (Photo by Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Funeral of Hamza Zayed Jaradat and Zayed Juma Jaradat, two 12-year-old Palestinian children killed by an unexploded mortar left behind by Israeli forces in the West Bank village of Sa’ir, near Hebron, March 7, 2012. (Photo by Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

The Israeli public doesn’t want to know anything — not about about the kids from Beitunia,...

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The Israeli nation collectively mourns - but why?

Paradoxically, the feeling that those who were killed could have been our children – feeling as though they are our children – is one of the mechanisms that convinces people to send their children to kill and to die.

By Inna Michaeli

Family and friends of Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel, three Israeli teenagers who were abducted over two weeks ago, take part in their funeral in the city of Modiin, Israel, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The public, along with the family and friends of Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel, three Israeli teenagers who were abducted over two weeks earlier, take part in their funeral in the city of Modiin, Israel, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

In the days following the announcement of the murder of the three abducted teenagers, many friends of mine – most of whom identify with the left – shared feelings of sorrow, pain, and loss. What’s been bothering me isn’t that their participation in this national mourning session is fake, but rather that it’s real. It’s the government, the press, and the public discourse that determine which tragedies become personal, and which ones don’t.

How do the deaths of people we don’t know become a personal event, penetrating us through our hearts and into our bellies? How do our internal organs become political sites, through which our inner (emotional) world and our outer (social and political) world are constructed?

27 other deaths

The emotional whirlwind that has consumed many of us is closely connected to the whirlwind in the streets and on social media, to the chaos in Israel that has sent us into an ongoing state of despair, helplessness, or cynicism, and has us looking for ways to emigrate. There are those who express national mourning through incitement and calls for revenge and violence against Arabs. There are those who call – also from a place of pain and grief – to act against incitement and against violence. There’s a third group, that calls for putting politics aside, and giving space to feelings of pain and compassion. To forget left and right, Arabs and Jews, and just leave space for humanity.

Na’ama Carmi, for example, wrote in her blog, in criticizing what she calls the “apologetics” of the...

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Checkpoints and blood drives: East Jerusalem hospitals cope with clashes

The director of one of East Jerusalem’s busiest hospitals explains the unique challenges in treating demonstrators under occupation. ’I don’t know what will happen, or when it will happen, but there will be trouble.’

By Corey Sherman

Palestinian medics evacuate a Palestinian protester during a protest following the suspected kidnapping and murder of a Palestinian teenager, East Jerusalem, July 2, 2014. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Palestinian medics evacuate a Palestinian protester during a protest following the suspected kidnapping and murder of a Palestinian teenager, East Jerusalem, July 2, 2014. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

As violent clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians in Shuafat surrounding the murder of Muhammad Abu Khadr began to let up early Thursday morning, the clashes were creating another serious problem just down the road: one East Jerusalem’s busiest hospitals was facing an empty blood bank.

Makassed Islamic Charitable Hospital in at-Tur received 42 patients from Shuafat on Wednesday. When clashes take place in East Jerusalem, Red Crescent paramedics must decide whether to send their patients to West or East Jerusalem hospitals. Those suffering tear gas inhalation are treated on the scene; more serious injuries are brought to Hadassah Ein Karem for emergency surgery; everything else is sent to Makassed, or the nearby Saint Joseph Hospital in Sheikh Jarrah.

During yesterday’s bind, faced with a dire blood shortage due to the influx of injured demonstrators, one hospital employee turned to a friend of his – a Palestinian studying at the Hebrew University. At 2 a.m. on Thursday the student posted a note in a Facebook group of other Arab students studying in Jerusalem that the hospital needed to fill its blood bank. An hour later Makassed’s hallways were filled with volunteers to donate blood.

The Facebook group isn’t political, one student told me, but rather a forum for organizing social outings. After the message was posted, throngs of students walked from Hebrew University’s campus in nearby French Hill to the hospital. Others shuttled back and forth in cars, picking up students in a loop. As of Thursday afternoon, the hospital’s blood bank was overstocked.

“There’s really nothing to say about how it happened,” the student, who requested anonymity out of security concerns, explained to me. “The hospital employee knew one of us and so he called. About 30 students showed up to give blood, and five medical and...

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From kidnapping to collapse: The beginning of the end?

In the end, the unsustainability of warehousing Palestinians will force the hand of the international community. The Israeli government, so strong it does not know when to stop, will lead us to that moment.

By Jeff Halper

The kidnapping and killing of the three Israeli youths in the West Bank has unleashed a military operation marking the end of the Israeli occupation. The term “occupation” designates a temporary military situation resolvable only through negotiations. If that is were case, then it could be argued that Israel’s occupation over the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza (not to mention the Golan Heights) lasted only a decade, during the dithering rule of Labor.

From 1977, when the Begin/Sharon government announced that “Judea and Samaria” would be considered integral parts of the Land/State of Israel, when it formally annexed East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights and began its campaign of systematically eliminating any two-state solution through massive settlement building, “occupation” gave way to something else. In fact, Israel denied it even had an occupation – that “something else” in Israeli parlance was merely the “administration” of a “disputed” territory.

Israeli army soldiers take part in the search operation for three kidnapped Israeli teenagers, on June 17, 2014 in the West Bank town of Hebron. [File photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israeli army soldiers take part in the search operation for three kidnapped Israeli teenagers, on June 17, 2014 in the West Bank town of Hebron. [File photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Hence the Fourth Geneva Convention did not apply, Israel had not violated any international laws forbidding Occupying Powers from unilaterally changing the status of Occupied Territories and the Palestinians, defined as Protected People for whose well-being Israel is accountable, were left unprotected. Indeed, after the death of Arafat in 2004, if not before, Israel ushered in yet another variation of occupation: joint Israeli-Palestinian occupation rooted in an American-trained Palestinian Authority militia acting as Israel’s policeman.

And so it is with the killing of the three that we are about to enter yet another new and terrible phase of post-occupation, warehousing, a step beyond apartheid. After their land has been expropriated and 96 percent of the Palestinians confined to dozens of tiny islands on less than 40 percent of the Occupied Territories – i.e., 40 percent of 22 percent of their homeland – after 30,000...

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Our problem with selective sympathy for young victims

When our sympathy only reaches out to the children of one nation alone, we have condemned all of them to this atrocious cycle of violence.

By Amjad Iraqi

The news spread in a flash. After 18 days of tense waiting, the three bodies of the abducted Israeli boys were finally discovered, with their families’ worst fears realized. Gilad Sha’ar, 16, Naftali Fraenkel, 16, and Eyal Yifrah, 19, were murdered in cold blood, not far from the site where they were snatched as they hiked home together.

There aren’t enough words to express the loss of a child. It is a language that only those families can understand and that writers can only attempt to describe. It is also one of the few pains that many Israeli and Palestinian families can mutually feel. Unfortunately, however, it is uncertain if both would fully recognize that same pain in the other. Many public responses from Israelis and Palestinians have been indifferent to the deaths of the others’ children. Even worse, many would blame those children and parents themselves for their own deaths – for resisting a raid on their home, for living in an illegal settlement, for being ruled by Hamas, for serving the military occupation.

The children of Hashem Al Azzeh look through a window in their house near the Israeli settlement of Tel Rumeida in the West Bank city of Hebron. Their home has been attacked by Israeli settlers on numerous occasions. (Activestills)

The children of Hashem Al Azzeh look through a window in their house near the Israeli settlement of Tel Rumeida in the West Bank city of Hebron. Their home has been attacked by Israeli settlers on numerous occasions. (Activestills)

The apathy toward the “other child’s” suffering is painful to watch, including in this latest saga. In the two to three weeks following the abduction of the three Israeli boys, at least eight Palestinians were killed during Israel’s military responses in both Gaza and the West Bank. Among them were 10-year-old Ali al-Awour, 15-year-old Mohammad Dudeen and 22-year-old Mustafa Hosni Aslan. Ali died of wounds from an Israeli missile strike in northern Gaza; Mohammad was killed by a single live bullet in the village of Dura; Mustafa was killed by live bullets in Qalandiya refugee camp during clashes with an Israeli military raid.

I...

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The first political murder in Jewish Palestine: Lessons of intolerance

The story of Jacob Israël de Haan, a Dutch author who was killed by Jews in Mandate Palestine for his anti-Zionist views, could teach Israelis an important lesson about tolerance, one that is not lost on those who remember him in Amsterdam.

By Ido Liven

One stone pillar standing in central Amsterdam is anything but a tourist attraction, certainly nothing like the Rembrandt House Museum just across the street. Rather, it is a memorial dedicated to Jacob Israël de Haan, who was murdered 90 years ago today.

The monument to Jacob Israel de Haan in Amsterdam. (Photo: Lukas Koster/CC)

The monument to Jacob Israel de Haan in Amsterdam. (Photo: Lukas Koster/CC)

I used to go past it almost daily when I was living in the city but it was a story I wrote about a neighborhood in a different part of Amsterdam that introduced me to de Haan.

I couldn’t help trying to situate this truly outstanding character from the early 20th century in today’s Israel. Things have changed dramatically in the nine decades since his death, but de Haan’s story offers a vivid illustration of how far modern day Israeli society still is from the inclusive character it so desperately needs.

Jacob Israel de Haan

Jacob Israel de Haan

Here’s a brief overview: De Haan was born to a Jewish family in the north of the Netherlands and worked as a journalist in Amsterdam. As an author he is probably best known for his book, Lines from De Pijp (“Pijpelijntjes”), which takes place in an Amsterdam neighborhood of the same name. Considered the first Dutch homo-erotic novel, the book managed to stir quite a controversy at the time, leading some to believe the protagonists mirror De Haan and his friend, Arnold Aletrino, to whom the books was originally dedicated.

A secular homosexual author who received a PhD in law at the age of 28, de Haan married a Christian woman who was a few years older than him. Later, however, he became ultra-Orthodox and immigrated to Palestine as a devout Zionist.

Several years after that de Haan had a change of heart, and he engaged in the opposition to the Zionist enterprise. On June 30, 1924, he became the victim of what Wikipedia now refers...

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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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