Analysis News

Inshallah, the Jews won’t stop

How the ‘worst video ever made’ can help clarify things for people who are yet undecided about Israeli policies.

What you’re about to watch is, as Heeb Magazine correctly points out, the worst video ever made. It was apparently produced by Orit Arfa, who lives in the mega settlement of Ariel.

I’m sorry you had to go through that.

But here’s some more anyway:

Orit also has a way with words. In an op-ed she wrote for the Jewish Journal on Jewishjournal.com, she criticized Jeffery Goldberg’s critique of Miley Cyrus and said that “He makes Miley’s famous tongue look really short from the way he wields his own up the behind of Obama and his officials.”

Inshallah, I hope Orit keeps making this crap.

Inshallah, I hope she continues to write drivel.

And inshallah, as Orit hopes, the Jews won’t stop. Because the more you do these things, the more the world sees what assholes live here.

Inshallah, Jews will continue to pole dance on land stolen from a Palestinian. Don’t stop!

Inshallah, Jews will continue to twerk on tractors that just uprooted hundred-year-old olive trees that a Palestinian farmer has harvested for years, that his father harvested for years, that his grandfather, and great grandfather harvested way before you were born in L.A. and came back easily because of the Law of Return, while his Palestinian relatives are probably dying generation after generation in a refugee camp in Jordan somewhere. Don’t stop!

Inshallah, Jews will continue to come to springs in the West Bank that used to irrigate Palestinian farmland but can’t be reached now because a settler wants to get wet and lick stones in her bathing suit because that’s just what people do. Don’t stop!

Inshallah more Jews from Brooklyn, from upstate NY, from Jersey, from LA and more will go on Birthright tours and feel the love for apartheid and the need to come practice it themselves cuz it just ain’t the same discriminating through AIPAC from afar, they want to feel the segregation on their skin while telling everybody back home how cool it is to live in Start-up Nation. Don’t stop!

Inshallah, Orit, keep it up. Because the world is finally waking up to what’s going on here....

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WATCH: What happens when a racist Jewish soccer fan meets an Arab player?

A new show on Channel 2, “The Newsroom,” aired a short segment this week called “To the extreme,” where it brings two people together from different ideological backgrounds. This first week brought a fan from Beitar Jerusalem and a player from Bnei Sakhnin, a club from the Arab town in the Galilee of the same name.

Dudi Mizrahi belongs to La Familia, an extreme fan club of Beitar Jerusalem, one of the capital’s soccer teams. I’ve written about La Familia before, and I’ve heard people like Mizrahi speak like this for years. Decades. But not on prime time TV, where many Israelis got to see the face of the typical Jewish supremacist – of which there are many more than they think.

(Subtitles: Ami Kaufman)


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The top five most hypocritical Mandela eulogies by Israeli politicians

Israeli politicians have begun updating their Facebook pages with eulogies for the late Nelson Mandela. What do statesmen of the Jewish state – one of the last western countries to support the South African apartheid state and which today practices apartheid-like policies between the river and the sea – have to say about the man who brought racism to its knees? Here’s your definitive list (which may expand – I’ll update as the day goes on)

1) Naftali Bennett – Leader of the Jewish Home settler party

“Nelson Mandela
**
With his willpower he changed the world.
May his memory be a blessing.”

———

2) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – Ruler of the land between the river and the sea

“Nelson Mandela was one of the most exemplary figures of our time. He was the father of his people, a visionary, a freedom fighter who opposed violence. He set a personal example to his people through the years he sat in jail. He never became haughty.

He worked to mend the tears in South African society and succeeded with his personality to prevent outbursts of hatred based on racism. He will be remembered as the father of the new South Africa and as a leading moral leader.”

——————

3) President Shimon Peres – Symbolic leader of the land between the river and the sea

—–

4) Justice Minister Tzipi Livni – Represents and works for “justice” between the river and the sea.

“Nelson Mandela is gone. The death of a great leader and true warrior for human rights against the racism...



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By all means, François Hollande, fill that Middle East void

With the U.S. once again failing to forge peace in Israel-Palestine, why not give someone else a shot?

French President François Hollande with Israeli PM Netanyahu in Jerusalem, November 17, 2013. (Photo: Kobi Gideon / GPO)

There’s been quite a bit of talk lately on how France and Russia are attempting to exert more influence in the Middle East. The claim is that the U.S. has shown weakness in the region, and there is a void that needs to be filled. The most recent example of this so called “weakness” was Washington’s hesitant and clumsy reaction to recent events in Syria.

French President François Hollande is just wrapping up a visit in Israel and the West Bank. During the visit, Netanyahu hugged the man so often, one would hope they would just quit and get a room already. Hollande, visiting on the heels of nuclear negotiations in which he took a staunch position against easing up on Iran, was hailed as a hero by Netanyahu and his government.

But, to be honest, if Hollande and France are going to fill any void, it should be the void of leadership concerning the occupation. Because let’s face it, the U.S. “leadership” hasn’t brought any results. Au contraire: military rule has deepened, the settlements have tripled in size, not to mention that there are now Israeli ministers telling CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that there’s no occupation to begin with(!).

(And can someone please tell me what the deal is with Naftali Bennett holding things in his hand as he speaks (minute 6:50)?)

So, maybe it would be a good thing if France and some other Europeans finally got off their tushes and did something. Wouldn’t that be a good thing? Especially after 20 years of failed talks, and with the latest round deemed by many a failure already?

I say in that case, François, by all means! Come and fill the void!

——————————

Rumor has it Netanyahu has a new single out with his band, the Bibi Boys, about his hatred for Iran. +972 got hold of the lyrics, which were apparently co-written with Beach Boy Brian Wilson. I kid...

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Israeli rapper: 'First burn all jails with Palestinians inside, then destroy Jenin!'

The Facebook status on Subliminal’s page

One of Israel’s most popular hip-hop artists, Subliminal, was pretty angry after a Palestinian teen murdered an IDF soldier in his sleep earlier this week.

Subliminal posted a photo of the Palestinian, who was bandaged after apparently being roughed up during his arrest, and had some harsh words for the lad. Here are just a few of his choice phrases:

“… Now he’ll go into a jail in Israel like a hero! Will study a few degrees and get connected to all the heads of Palestinian terror groups…

Damn all those savages, we should burn the jails with all of them inside! And a second later we should destroy Jenin whose inhabitants gloat that they are the stronghold of terror against Israel…

Another embarrassing moment for me to be an Israeli! The people of Israel – wake up!

And all the lefties who hate what I wrote here – kill yourselves already! I wish what happened yesterday would happen to a relative of yours and you’ll wake up from the zany dream you’re holding on to and splitting and weakening my people!”

Needless to say, the comments were very supportive. But I’ll spare you those…

Instead, I’ll leave you with some of his wonderful, inspiring “music.”

Read more:
Palestinian family targeted by arson in ‘revenge’ for murder of Israeli


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Congressman Keith Ellison to +972: ‘The U.S. may not be able to mediate this dispute’

Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) (photo: Ami Kaufman)

“It has occurred to me that maybe the U.S. is not capable of mediating this dispute,” Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) told +972 Magazine this week, in response to a question on the failure of Israelis and Palestinians to reach a comprehensive peace deal after 20 years of U.S. mediated talks.

“It’s hard to mediate something when you say you’re on the side of one of the participants. But the facts are we’re actually also on the Palestinian side,” added Ellison, the first Muslim to be elected to U.S. Congress. “I don’t believe that America is a neutral broker, but I think it’s the best we’ve got. The problem is that there aren’t too many countries that are willing to step up to the plate. If Britain, France, Germany want to get in this, they can. I don’t think anyone is pushing them out of helping them solve this problem… [Furthermore] this conflict has a lot of American interest, because there are many Israelis with family roots in America.”

As he sat on his desk next to an open Qur’an, Congressman Ellison told of the high hopes he has for the latest round of talks and for Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent efforts to negotiate a deal. “I think that this latest round is good for pragmatic reasons: they got both sides to agree that for nine months – ‘let’s go at it’. I think you’ll agree that it was a big deal for Israelis when those 104 prisoners were to be released. Because some of those people had killed folks. But for the Palestinians this was also a big deal. These are people who were willing to risk it all for the sake of a Palestinian state,” says Ellison.

When asked about the fact that even during peace talks Israel continues to build in the West Bank, Ellison maintains that even though America disagrees with this policy, there is nothing it can do about it. “Do we have the power to stop it? I don’t believe that we do. Israel is a sovereign country that does what it wants. I don’t believe that Israel is a client state of the United States. Israel does as it pleases even when America...

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Dan Rather to +972: U.S. reporting on conflict is Israel-centric

The former CBS news anchor met with me and the rest of my colleagues in the World Press Institute fellowship for a candid talk about life, news – and even the Middle East.

Dan Rather (photo: Ami Kaufman)

It’s kind of strange to see up close someone who has been a familiar television face for me for decades. So, when Dan Rather looked me straight in the eye, I had to look around to see if everybody else was as starstruck as I was. I think they were.

Rather met with us for a candid chat on his career and insights for us Young Turks (some of us not so young, and even more, not very Turkish). He told us about his departure from the network (“I was too hot to handle”), his interview with Saddam Hussein (“He kept trying to hold my hand”) and more.

As expected, I just had to get an Israel/Palestine question in the middle of it all:

How has the coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict changed over the years?

On several levels there have been tremendous changes. But in my personal opinion – which I must add is frequently wrong – the basic narrative is remarkably unchanged. This basic narrative, in my opinion, is that Israel, which is a country in which we have no small responsibility in helping to create — President Truman recognized Israel — is an island of democratic government and freedom. It’s not the mirror image of us, but the closest there is. It is constantly threatened by any number of combinations of its neighbors. And that’s the primary, basic narrative which has not changed.

Now, I would make the argument, and I think a lot of American journalists would, that it hasn’t changed because the facts haven’t changed. But I’m very aware that there are other people with different opinions about that.

But in other ways it has changed. For one thing, I’m old enough to remember that it was very difficult to report from just about any Arab country. Now, there are many more countries you can go in to.

The other difference, having said that I don’t think the spine of the narrative has changed, is that Iran has emerged as probably the...

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Tel Aviv to Lake Wobegon: My heart is in the East

Southwest Minnesota (photo: Ami Kaufman)

Today is one of those days where I remember a poem by the famous Jewish poet of medieval Spain, Rabbi Yehuda Halevi. The first line of Libi Ba’Mizrach, probably his most famous work of art, is: “My heart is in the East, and I am in the uttermost West.”

Rabbi Halevi, of course, was speaking then of his yearning for the Holy Land. I, on the other hand, yearn for my family in Bat Yam.

As I was driving alongside the never ending fields of corn in southwest Minnesota this morning, all I could think of were two things: in just a few hours my eldest daughter will be starting her first day of school in first grade. I’m going to miss that important milestone.

Luckily, I manage to videotape each of my fellowship colleagues wishing Emma “good luck” in their native languages for her first day of school.

They’re a good bunch, and I’m lucky to have met them.

Secondly, the tension in Syria seems to be reaching a peak that could turn into a regional war at any given moment. If the US indeed attacks Assad, and it seems it will, there is a chance (albeit low) he will retaliate against Israel. It doesn’t seem likely, but if the Mideast is anything, it is unpredictable.

The West is also unpredictable. It believes that it’s more moral. That’s why it will stop Bashar from gassing his own men, women and children. But butchering them with good ‘ole fashioned bombs for two years is fair game. That’s OK.

I’m riding in the front of the van with my colleague from Russia, Vera, and we’re trying to find some news on the situation on the radio. Nothing. Every once in a while Vera gets some wifi connection and we get snippets. The State Department is about to release a statement. Surely this will be broadcast live, somewhere on the radio. Nothing. You would think a country on the brink of war would talk about this nonstop, but all we get is Christian rock stations.

Sometimes we get through to Minnesota Public Radio, a voice of sanity...

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Tel Aviv to Lake Wobegon: 'Wined and dined' in the lion's den

It was only two years ago that I was on the streets protesting corporate capitalism, and here I am being hosted by one of the most powerful organizations in the world (photos: Ami Kaufman)

“Life is full of twists and turns” has to be one of the more cliché things one can say, but that’s pretty much the way I felt as my shoes were sinking in the thick carpets lining the corridors of Cargill’s headquarters, situated in a lush French-style chateau outside the Twin Cities. It was only two years ago when I was an active participant in the #J14 summer social protests in Israel, sweating profusely in the Tel Aviv humidity with hundreds of thousands of my brothers and sisters, protesting the evils of corporate capitalism. It was the summer of #occupywallstreet, of #M15 and the Indignants in Spain. It was a summer that gave me hope.

In the picture above I am overlooking the largest demonstration ever to take place in Israel. Over 300,000 people took to the streets in Tel Aviv on September 3, 2011, and a total of 500,000 all over Israel. Seven percent of the population — the largest #ows demo that summer, percentage-wise — were screaming their lungs out that day. How many people is 7 percent in your country?

And here I am today, being wined and dined by a corporation that is most probably the epitome of what made me go to the streets back then. I’m embarrassed to say that I honestly had no clue about Cargill, which deals mainly with agricultural commodities, before I came to Minnesota (disclaimer: Cargill is one of many supporters of the WPI fellowship). One reason, I suppose, is that they have no business in Israel (probably one of the only countries they haven’t “visited” – yet). Seeing as how it’s the world’s largest privately held company – this is shameful on my part. Another reason is that they seem to be quite a low-profile company that’s mainly B2B (business-to-Business). But probably every reader here has consumed something that Cargill produced.

So, although my gut instinct is to despise a company the size of Cargill – it...

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Tel Aviv to Lake Wobegon: Insights on ego

Where a Colombian reporter helps me get a picture with one of my favorite artists.

Downtown Minneapolis (photos: Ami Kaufman)

Well, the Twin Cities are turning out to be as charming as a metropolitan slab of concrete can get. The food’s not too bad (let’s face it, it ain’t New York), the people are the nicest I’ve met, ever (!) – and they’re simply two very handsome towns.

Oh, and I met Norah Jones.

Yup, the World Press Institute Fellowship ain’t just about discussing the First Amendment! Hell no! We meet celebrities, too!

After a long day taking care of logistical issues for the program, we all poured into the WPI van (which I like to call the “scoop-mobile”) and drove to downtown Minneapolis, in search of a… wait for it…. wait for it…: Target.

When we got out, Diane “Eagle-Eye” Duran from Colombia caught a glimpse of singer Norah Jones sitting in a bar with some friends. To say that Diana was “excited” of this sighting was an understatement. Having said that, I’m quite the fan myself. Not only that, when my wife-to-be and I had to chose which song would play as we walked down the aisle during our wedding, it was Norah’s “Come Away With Me”.

Diana and I told the group we’d join them later, and entered the bar. She was determined to get a photograph with Norah – and to be honest, I kinda wanted one, too. But I’m not as gutsy as Diana (ego issues?), who simply got out of her chair, and as I followed her lead proceeded towards Norah and asked her for a photo.

Norah Jones, Diana Duran and some dude from Bat Yam

To say that was Norah “wasn’t too happy” about this is also somewhat of an understatement. Even my little wedding anecdote managed to squeeze the smallest of smiles out of her. The Mona Lisa was more convincing. Was it ego? Was it because she was with another band who she was about to perform a few songs...

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Tel Aviv to Lake Wobegon: Getting settled in the Twin Cities

A series of posts where I’ll be updating readers on my trip to the U.S. as 2013 World Press Institute fellow.

The mighty Mississippi (photos: Ami Kaufman)

I haven’t really won many things in my life, so it was quite the pleasant surprise when I was awarded a 2013 World Press Institute Fellowship. I’ll be roaming all across America with nine other journalists from Australia, Bulgaria, China, Colombia, Finland, Ghana, Kuwait, the Philippines and Russia. We’ll be visiting some of the biggest newsrooms in the States, meet politicians and federal officials, examining press and media innovations and learning about social and cultural diversity. Following three weeks in the Twin Cities, based at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, we’ll travel to New York, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Miami, Texas and California, among other places, before returning to Minnesota for the final week of the program.

Actually, I’m pretty excited about seeing this part of the country. It’s a region I probably would have never set foot in if I wasn’t invited, like I was for this program. I don’t know much about Minnesota. The only things I do know are probably from joining my parents when they would listen to Garrison Keillor and the News from Lake Wobegon – and that place isn’t even real!

Turns out I’m the first Israeli in the program since 1999. Some other journalists who took part in the program in the past include Dov Gilhar, Rafi Reshef and Yaron Dekel. I hope to write as much as I can about the trip for +972, but this depends on the spare time I have and on the frequency and interest of new insights I hope to obtain.

Anyway, I just landed in the Twin Cities on Friday, and after a few hours got my first glimpse of the mighty Mississippi.

The Mississippi River, with downtown Minneapolis in the background

The campus of the University of St. Thomas is small yet beautiful. Very green and very well kept. And pretty empty – all the students are on summer vacation.

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A colonial addiction: The twisted logic of the Netanyahu government

Charlton Heston has been on my mind recently.

That famous call during the NRA conference in 2000 after Columbine, “From my cold dead hands,” has been swirling around my head lately.

Why? Because it reminds me of Benjamin Netanyahu. But in my head Bibi isn’t holding a rifle. He’s holding a hammer. A builder’s hammer. To keep on building. At any price.

Heston and the NRA couldn’t care less about the lost lives of innocent people. The right to bear arms is above all. Protecting it as will continue at any cost.

When Bibi promised his coalition partners from the right wing to continue building in the settlements so they wouldn’t go ballistic after releasing over 100 Palestinian prisoners, he proved his addiction to the colonial project. The colonial project is above all. Colonizing will continue at any cost.

I have my issues with this release. I can sympathize with relatives of the victims of these attackers. But I also agree with Avi Issacharof’s analysis in the Times of Israel, who says that “… keeping these people in jail while Israel is negotiating with those who sent them to carry out terrorist attacks perpetuates a distortion of justice. These terrorists, despite the terrible acts in which they played a central part, should have been released to their homes many years ago — from the moment that Israel’s governments decided to forgive their handlers.”

Releasing prisoners with “blood on their hands” is a difficult decision to make for any Israeli leader. And the fact is, that this time it was done for simply returning to the negotiating table.

I could think of a more simple confidence building measure – freezing the settlements. But apparently, that wasn’t even on the agenda [Hebrew]. Both the Americans and the Palestinians are expecting the building to go on in the West Bank during the “peace talks.” It’s just a given.

Because for this government and its leader, nothing is more sacred than the right to build.

Not keeping roadblocks. Not removing checkpoints. Not keeping prisoners with “blood on their hands” behind bars.

Nothing.

Trust me, that building hammer isn’t leaving anyone’s hands soon.

Related:
Report: Netanyahu promises thousands of new housing units in West Bank, East Jerusalem


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OECD catches Israeli Finance Minister Lapid in apparent lie

Finance Minister Yair Lapid raises taxes on alcohol, then claims it was because of a binding agreement with the OECD. Problem is, the OECD has no clue what he’s talking about.

Yair Lapid (photo: Yotam Ronen / Activestills.org)

After only a few months in office, local news and social media arenas seem to be catching Finance Minister Yair Lapid with a new faux pas almost daily. Be it wrong economic figures, misunderstandings, misquotes or others – Lapid just can’t seem to keep up the appearance of someone who actually knows what he’s doing.

But if until now his unfortunate mishaps were limited to the scrutiny of domestic critics, today he opened an overseas front. Calcalist, Israel’s largest financial daily, published a story [Heb] Monday concerning Lapid’s decision to raise taxes on alcohol. The move was greeted with an uproar in Israel because it almost doubled the price of cheap liquors consumed by the lower and middle classes (such as arak) and brought down taxes on beverages enjoyed by the wealthy, such as cognac. In early July, Lapid said that the decision to raise the tax was not his doing:

Calcalist turned to the OECD, and this is the response they got:

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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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