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'Despite reforms, IDF still mistreating Palestinian children'

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

By Gerard Horton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How freedom of speech was crushed during Protective Edge

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

By Orli Santo

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

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

Anti-war protesters

Violence in Tel Aviv

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

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

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

Israel right-wing protesters attack left-wing activists after they protested in central Tel Aviv against the Israeli attack on Gaza, July 12, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israel right-wing protesters attack left-wing activists after they protested in central Tel Aviv against the...

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How Israeli media obscures Palestinian humanity

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

By Talal Jabari

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What if Hamas fired rockets at Britain?

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

By John Jackson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Israel needs a new strategy in Gaza

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

By Lev Grinberg

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

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

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

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

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

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The victors of the Gaza war were also the losers

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

By Talal Jabari

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What was different about this war?

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

By Elizabeth Tsurkov

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

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

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

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

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

Declaring war on all Palestinians

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

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When the state dictates reactions to the killing of Palestinian children

The Israeli Broadcast Authority and the Israeli Supreme Court knew in advance what the reaction would be to a radio advert reading out the names of children killed in Gaza, and that’s why they banned it. By doing so they’ve taken a bit of our freedom.

By Hagai El-Ad (translated by Hadas Leonov)

Palestinians prepare the body of a baby in Kamal Edwan Hospital's morgue after an attack on Beit Hanoun elementary school killed at least 17 people, Jabalyia, Gaza Strip, July 24. The school was being used as a shelter by 800 people at the time (photo: Anne Paq/Activestills)

Palestinians prepare the body of a baby in Kamal Edwan Hospital’s morgue after an attack on Beit Hanoun elementary school killed at least 17 people, Jabalyia, Gaza Strip, July 24. The school was being used as a shelter by 800 people at the time (photo: Anne Paq/Activestills)

Muhammad Malakeh, two years old; Siraj ‘Abd al-’Al, eight years old; Sarah al-’Eid, nine years old; Saher Abu Namus, four years old; Ahmad Mahdi, 15 years old.

Some facts should not be permitted to be broadcast in public. Merely hearing them is dangerous: It could cause people to have thoughts, doubts or compassion. If this danger comes to pass, what would become of us?

Safaa Malakeh, six years old; Muhammad ‘Arif, 10 years old; Nidal Nawasrah, four years old; Muhammad Nawasrah, two years old; Miriam al-’Arja, 10 years old.

What sort of thoughts would enter the minds of those who hear even a few names from that forbidden list? It’s difficult to estimate. As a matter of fact, it is a complete mystery as to how humans would respond upon hearing the names of foreign children, Palestinian children – more than 500 under the age of 15 – who were killed in Gaza in the past few weeks. This mystery is part of what makes us free. When that mystery is solved in advance by the government, a part of what allows the public to be free is taken away. It is no longer a mystery, it is propaganda.

Abdallah Abu Ghazal, five years old; Yasmin al-Mutawaq, four years old; Abd a-Rahman Khatab, five years old; Anas ‘Alaa al-Batsh, 10 years old; Amal al-Batsh, two years old.

Without being able to hear for ourselves, we have no choice but to...

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Now is the time for American Jews to speak up on Israel

As an Israeli in the U.S. I learned that criticizing Israel is not an option for many American Jews. But there is a legitimate way to criticize Israeli policy, and if you care about someone or something you won’t let it go astray.

By Abraham Gutman

Thousands protest the Gaza war in Tel Aviv, July 26, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

Thousands protest the Gaza war in Tel Aviv, July 26, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

We were sitting in front of a lagoon at the top of a volcano in Costa Rica. We were happy to get some rest after the three-hour hike, and took a short swim in the freezing water. With us was a group of tourists along with a local guide. There was a Dutch man, some Americans, a group of Canadians and two German women. After the swim we ate our lunch before the hike back down. As we chatted the guide asked me where I was from. “Israel,” I answered, and he immediately responded, “We have a lot of Israelis here, they are the worst clients.”

For the past couple of years I have been living in New York City, where I have learned that mocking Israelis or Israel is just not something that people do. Every conversation about Israel comes with baggage, be it historical, political or religious. Usually when people talk to me about Israel they chose their words very carefully, as every choice of word can change the tone, and changing the tone can transform the conversation. The Costa Rican guide laughed when he told me that Israelis are the worst customers. He was the only one laughing.

The guide and I then proceeded to get into a back-and-forth about Israelis. The truth is that he was dead on. The moment I started laughing at his precise observations, others began laughing as well; they saw my laughter as permission for them to laugh. It was the first time that someone outside of Israel was honest with me about Israelis. There was no underlying tone, no political context, no history – just a tour guide who found it funny that Israelis think nothing is difficult because they served in the army, or how we will always take the advice of another Israeli even over someone who clearly knows better (like a tour guide, for...

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New law would demote Arabic language in the name of 'social cohesion'

Members of Knesset say law builds a ‘collective identity’ that will preserve the ‘values of democracy.’

By Orly Noy

A group of MKs from Yisrael Beiteinu, Likud and Jewish Home recently submitted a bill that calls to rescind the status of Arabic as an official language in Israel.

On its own, the bill is neither out of the ordinary nor surprising, as it joins a long list of draft laws that were brought before the Knesset plenum over the past years, including the Citizenship Law, the Nakba Law, the Loyalty Law, the Basic Law that declares Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people, and so on. After several decades of dispossessing its Palestinian citizens from their lands, the state is now moving on to dispossess them of their culture, including their language, identity and sense of belonging.

Palestinian protesters march in Haifa against Operation Protective Edge. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinian protesters march in Haifa against Operation Protective Edge. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The identity of the lawmakers behind the bill is not surprising, nor are their party affiliations, which that have long ceased to be part of the right-wing margins and have reached deep into the heart of the ruling party. Let us not forget the benefactor of the bill, “The Lobby for the Strengthening of the Hebrew Language.” One of its members is Dr. Zvi Zameret, the former chairman of the Pedagogical Secretariat of Israel’s Education Ministry. He is the same man who was behind the widespread cuts in civics studies in favor of Jewish studies, as well as the “updating” of the contents of civics books in the spirit of Zionism.

What I find interesting about the current proposal is its wording:

I won’t waste my time writing about the so-called “values of democracy” that this bill seeks to promote. However, it is important to look closely at its other goals: social cohesion, building a collective identity and mutual trust in society. The authors of the draft law are actually saying, unanimously, that excluding Arabic – and thus the people who speak the language – is a condition for social cohesion in Israel, and that a collective Israeli identity does not include Arabic-speaking citizens.

It seems to me that in today’s political context, it is no coincidence that this is seen...

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WATCH: Children long for kites, not bombs, in Gaza skies

Musa, Widad and thousands of Palestinian children in Gaza had cried out for the world’s attention when they broke the Guinness World Record. Had we heeded their message, perhaps the sky over Gaza today would not be choked with plumes of smoke.

By Nitin Sawhney and Roger Hill

Four years ago we began making a documentary film focused on two charismatic teenagers in the Gaza Strip, whose passion for kites seemed unusually spirited in a place beset by years of blockade and deprivation. Along with thousands of other Palestinian children, they were determined to break the Guinness World Record for the most kites flown at once.

When we first met Musa in the village of Seifa, he was a confident 14-year-old who enthusiastically built large kites with great precision using newspaper, sticks and wheat-paste. Widad, his 12-year-old sister, competed with Musa to build her own colorful kites while teasing him with witty humor and sarcasm. They wanted to participate in the record-breaking event so that Gazans could finally be seen and heard – they wanted the world to notice them and the war-torn, besieged coastal strip of land that is their home.

WATCH: Gaza children break Guinness World Record in new documentary:

“I am expressing myself and writing a message to the entire world,” one kite-flying girl declared on the day of the record-breaking event. The message written on her kite?: I have the right to pride, to education, to justice, equality and life. Musa in his wisdom felt that kite flying had another crucial role to play. “It will help us forget the trauma of war,” he told us.

When we began filming in July 2010, Musa and Widad had already lived through the devastating 2008-2009 war in Gaza known as “Operation Cast Lead.” In November 2012, they would survive yet another violent campaign of aerial bombardment.

Musa and Widad are now enduring their third war; the harshest, most catastrophic assault yet. It was traumatic enough during Cast Lead, when the family huddled together in one room as the children screamed in fear from loud detonations surrounding them. On July 22, 2014, their home was destroyed altogether and the entire family displaced.

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'Pay the price for peace': Israelis demand ceasefire

Some 400 protesters gathered in Tel Aviv Saturday night to protest against the war in Gaza, calling for an end to the blockade of the Strip and the Israeli occupation in general. The protest was organized by the the Coalition of Women for Peace and the socialist Da’am Workers Party.

Israelis in Tel Aviv protest against Israel's assault on Gaza, calling for a ceasefire and an end to the blockade of the Strip, Tel Aviv, August 23, 2014. (Photo: Activestills)

Israelis in Tel Aviv protest against Israel’s assault on Gaza, calling for a ceasefire and an end to the blockade of the Strip, Tel Aviv, August 23, 2014. (Photo: Activestills)

The protest was set to take place in Habima Square in central Tel Aviv, however police prevented the demonstration from taking place there and moved it to a nearby street. During the protest a rocket was fired from Gaza toward Tel Aviv and intercepted by the Iron Dome.

The protesters chanted demands for a ceasefire, as well as slogans such as “Yes to welfare, no to war” and “Occupation is terrorism.” For the first time since anti-war demonstrations have taken place during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, there was no organized counter-protest of right-wingers; however, at the end of the demonstration an individual threw an egg at the protest organizers.

At the same time that the demonstration was taking place in Tel Aviv, residents of southern Israel gathered in Jerusalem to demand a political solution to the Gaza war, rather than a military one.

An Israeli protester holds a sign reading 'End the massacre in Gaza,' at a demonstration against Israel's assault on the Strip, Tel Aviv, August 23, 2014. (Photo: Activestills)

An Israeli protester holds a sign reading ‘End the massacre in Gaza,’ at a demonstration against Israel’s assault on the Strip, Tel Aviv, August 23, 2014. (Photo: Activestills)

Israelis in Tel Aviv protest against Israel's assault on Gaza, calling for a ceasefire and an end to the blockade of the Strip, Tel Aviv, August 23, 2014. (Photo: Activestills)

Israelis in Tel Aviv protest against Israel’s assault on Gaza, calling for a ceasefire and an end to the blockade of the Strip, Tel Aviv, August 23,...

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Israeli peace activism: Same slogans for a different reality

As a fundamental human desire and right, peace traverses time and context. However, if it is to be realized it must be adjusted to political and social realities.

By Nadia Naser-Najjab

In a period degraded by extremes of violence and dehumanization, the sight of 10,000 Israeli protestors taking to the streets of Tel Aviv last Saturday to protest against their own government’s actions in Gaza appeared as a welcome chink of light illuminating unremittingly bleak skies. Despite being smaller in scale, the demonstration recalled the early 1990s, when large numbers of Israelis demonstrated in favor of peace, and the possibility of a lasting peace seemed so much closer.

Israelis take part in a protest calling for peace negotiations between Israel and Palestinian, Tel Aviv, on August 16, 2014. Thousands of demonstrators gathered on Saturday for a pro-peace rally under the slogan: 'Changing Direction: Toward Peace, Away From War.' (photo: Activestills)

Israelis take part in a protest calling for peace negotiations between Israel and Palestinian, Tel Aviv, on August 16, 2014. Thousands of demonstrators gathered on Saturday for a pro-peace rally under the slogan: ‘Changing Direction: Toward Peace, Away From War.’ (photo: Activestills)

Watching images of the protests in Tel Aviv took me back to the First Intifada, a time when peace appeared as more than a fleeting abstraction or an illusionary delusion; a period when Women in Black attended silent vigils and commemorated Palestinian deaths across Israel; when B’Tselem first emerged to document the full range and scale of the Israeli state’s human rights abuses; when organizations as diverse and significant as Peace Now and Dai L’Kibush (End the Occupation) established the basis of a constituency for peace.

These groups brought Israelis and Palestinians together and proactively engaged in a whole range of solidarity actions. I personally worked alongside Israelis in establishing solidarity groups and organizing demonstrations, sit-ins, workshops, seminars and lectures. These actions were not confined to the occupied territories: They were deliberately aimed at the Israeli public, and were predicated upon a sincere belief that there was a body of public opinion that would be receptive and sympathetic to Palestinian concerns.

While our struggle against the occupation united Palestinians and Israelis it could not conceal deeper tensions, divisions and divergences. Insofar as ‘peace’ was invoked as a unifying abstraction, it was...

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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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