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Jerusalem demolishes Palestinian homes beyond the wall for first time

Israeli authorities destroy three homes in al-Walaje, a village that was partially annexed to Jerusalem, yet has been totally neglected by the municipality.

By Aviv Tatarsky

Israeli authorities demolished three homes in the Palestinian village of al-Walaja on Tuesday. Bulldozers accompanied by Israeli soldiers raided the village at approximately 4 a.m. and began demolishing a home with two units that have yet to be occupied, a family home of five, and a home of Mahmoud, a young man who just got engaged.

The demolitions in the village are part of a larger wave of home demolitions across the West Bank over the last months, including in Khirbet Tana, Umm al-Khir, the Bedouin communities between Jerusalem and the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, and more.

Hundreds of people have lost their homes and entire communities are in danger of expulsion. Settler groups such as Regavim, along with people such as MK Moti Yogev (Jewish Home) have been putting pressure on the authorities to carry out the demolitions, whose entire purpose is to expel Palestinians from Area C of the West Bank, under full Israeli civil and military control. The Jewish Home party’s formal plan is to annex Area C to Israel, leaving the rest of the Palestinians imprisoned in Areas A and B.

From the first day we came to stand alongside al-Walaja, the residents of the village have told us: “Israel doesn’t want us here, the state is trying to remove us.”

The demolitions in al-Walaja may have far-reaching consequences, beyond the three the homes that were destroyed. Ever since the beginning of the construction of the separation wall, which has disconnected the village from Jerusalem — and despite the fact that nearly a third of the village was annexed to and is considered part of Jerusalem’s municipal jurisdiction — Israel refrained from demolition homes there. In North Jerusalem, too, there are eight Palestinian villages — where over 100,000 East Jerusalemites live — that were disconnected from the city by the separation wall. The municipality stopped demolishing houses in every single village left behind the wall — a cold comfort when considering the total neglect of these neighborhoods.

The sight of a demolished home is a horrible thing. It is difficult to see a family that, just moments ago, lost their house. I visited Mahmoud’s family a day after the demolition. His father, Maher, spoke with a measured, soft voice, showing...

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Highway robbery at the Hizme checkpoint

How a drive to the bank can turn into a nightmare, all under the aegis of the Israeli investigative system.

By Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurvitz

It all began with a normal car ride in early January 2016. Zahada Fahdi Awani Tawfiq and his friend, Janem Naal Gamal Harbi Tayb, were driving from East Jerusalem to a-Ram, where Tawfiq withdrew money from his bank account. On their way back, they were stopped at the Israeli army’s Hizma checkpoint. Present were some IDF Military Police officers, Border Police officers, and private security contractors.

A military policeman checked Tawfiq’s ID before allowing him to continue driving. Seconds later, the soldier shouted at him to stop. Tawfiq stopped the car and the soldier walked over to him, demanding to know, “why did you look at the girl?” in reference to one of the female soldiers present. Tawfiq denied looking at her, but the soldier ordered him to pull his car over to the side.

Freeze the frame. An Israeli soldier detains a Palestinian merchant at a checkpoint because, in his opinion, the latter insulted a female soldier – not by deed, not by word, but by a glance. Even were we to accept the ridiculous claim that a glance is enough to permit detention, the one who complained was not the female soldier, but rather a male soldier who apparently felt himself victimized by the alleged insult to her modesty.

A short while after Tawfiq and Tayb were detained, a Border Police officer arrived, took their ID cards and left. He returned several minutes later, ordered Tawfiq to leave the car, and tore a paper document attached to Tayb’s ID’s card. Tawfiq demanded he identify himself but the policeman refused.

Tawfiq asked the policeman what was he doing, and was answered: “you’ll find out soon.” The policeman announced he had to “tear apart the vehicle,” and began throwing its content on the ground – including two Korans, some paperwork, and a booster seat. At this point Tayb tried to call the police, but the Border Police officer snatched the phone out of his hand.

The policeman then ordered the two Palestinians to return the equipment to the car. When they did, the policeman fabricated – or pretended to fabricate – a traffic report against them: he called the regular police, gave the car’s license plate number, and told the officer on the...

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100 percent human: Five years without Juliano Mer-Khamis

In a small cafe in Berlin, I found myself surrounded by Palestinian refugees from Yarmouk who knew and loved my friend Juliano — a man who was 100 percent Palestinian and 100 percent Jewish.

By Udi Aloni

When I landed in Berlin on April 4th, I realized that it was the first time since the murder of Juliano Mer Khamis that I wouldn’t be holding a memorial service for him. I thought that I would buy a bottle of Black Label on the plane, Jul’s favorite whiskey, and down it that same night with Mariam Abu Khaled, his wonderful student who today is a successful actress in Berlin’s Maxim Gorki Theater. We would bring up our favorite memories, then cry, and then laugh.

Juliano’s murder five years ago in front of the Freedom Theater in Jenin refugee camp, which he established with love and endless talent, changed our life completely. The sound of those five bullets piercing through the air and hitting his body still echoes in my head today — its ripples inform my political and artistic work today.

Fate, however, has its own plans. As I landed in Berlin, a Palestinian friend of mine invited us to an event in honor of Juliano.

Before I go on, let me first introduce Mariam Abu Khaled, an Afro-Palestinian actress from Jenin refugee camp. A wonderful person whom Juliano took under his wing when she was just 17. Mariam conquered the stage from the very first moment. I first met her when I moved in with Jul at the refugee camp, while we worked on “Alice in Wonderland,” in which Mariam played the evil Red Queen.

When Juliano was murdered, we were left traumatized and orphaned. The Arab Spring quickly turned into a cruel winter, and I moved with 12 students to Ramallah. They became refugees for a second time, and I was an Asheknazi Israeli Jew in a Palestinian city. Our tightly knit group brought “Waiting for Godot” to the stage, as well as our film “Art/Violence.”

We felt Juliano was with us the entire time. Everywhere we went we discovered another community of artists who remember him and continue his legacy. If at first we thought we had to fight to commemorate him, now it is clear that there are many communities that remember him and continue making sure to maintain the connection between high quality art and radical...

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What's so threatening about human rights?

The Right doesn’t reject the concept of universal human rights because it threatens the Zionist project, they do so because it would mean seeing Palestinians as equals. 

By Dror Etkes

There is a positive aspect to the continuing, orchestrated campaign by Israel’s right-wing government and its helpers against “leftist” organizations, which many seem not to be paying attention to. As the campaign goes on, it helps create an intuitive, collective understanding for most people who have refrained from dedicating their life to understanding the inner politics of left-wing organizations in Israel, that there is no room for the artificial barrier dividing human rights organizations from other left-wing groups, under the pretense that these are “professional” and “apolitical” organizations.

The ideas that eventually turned into the articles anchored in the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights — which was formulated several years after World War II — grew out of the minds of the same people who understood that every kind of power that rests in the hands of one group will eventually corrupt that group and harm society at large. The view according to which every human has a number of basic rights split into various schools of thought. Some went toward the economic right, which believes in the ideas of a free market and entrepreneurship that sanctify the individual talents of each person.

Others tended toward the left side of the spectrum, which demands that the powers of the market must be limited out of respect for every human, and that the means of production (or at least some of them), must remain in the hands of society. Either way, no one can ignore the fact that in the modern age, and especially in throughout the 20th century, these ideological movements that grew out of the Right and the Left were responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people.

I will not try to establish universal truths about the connection between human rights and the political left, but rather say something about the relationship between the two as has been formed in the Israeli context since the occupation in 1967, and especially as they have been formed in the Israeli public over the past few decades.

In post-1967 Israel, and especially following the Likud party’s rise to power in 1977, the Right has only entrenched its scorn for human rights. This, put simply, is because the settlement...

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Israel holding 10 Palestinian children in admin. detention

Over 400 Palestinian minors from East Jerusalem and the West Bank are currently being held in Israeli prisons. Five of them are under 14 years old, while 10 are being held indefinitely without trial.

By Noam Rotem

Statistics sent Sunday by the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem reveal the number of Palestinians currently imprisoned by Israel.

According to the data, at the end of February 437 Palestinian minors from East Jerusalem and the West Bank were in Israeli jails. Five of those were under 14 years old, and 10 of them were being held in administrative detention without trial.

Administrative detention is an extreme measure meant to be adopted rarely and with moderation, in which detainees are held indefinitely without charge or trial — with out any way to defend themselves.

According to Military Order No. 132, regarding “sentencing young criminals” — which applies to Palestinians in the West Bank, all of whom live under a military regime — the official term for a prisoner under 14 is “teenager.” According to Israeli civil law, criminals under the age of 14 are considered “children,” and are rarely imprisoned.

One hundred and three “near adults,” who are over the age of 14 and under 16, are also being held in Israeli prisons, along with 329 minors between 16-18. The status assigned to most of these prisoners (who make up 83 percent of Palestinian prisoners under 18) is one of “detained” — which means they have yet to be put on trial.

The IPS data also notes that Israel is holding a total of 686 people under administrative detention without trial, a rise of 20 percent since January, when 568 people were being held in administrative detention. Ten of those being held without trial are minors, one of them younger than 16. The statistics show that 23 Israeli citizens or residents are being held under administrative detention orders. The rest are Palestinians from the West Bank.

In mid-March, the Israeli army put 16-year-old Hamza Hamad from the West Bank village of Silwad in administrative detention, making him the youngest administrative detainee in Israeli prison. Hamad was arrested in a raid on his home, and after a short interrogation the GOC Central Command signed an administrative order that would keep him in prison without trial for half a year, at which point the order can be renewed.

Noam Rotem...

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Would pre-state Zionist militias be terrorists by today's standards?

A Zionist Union MK gets heat for saying not all Palestinians who use violence against Israeli soldiers are terrorists. Can attacks against uniformed soldiers be considered terrorism?

By Tomer Persico

Labor MK Zohair Bahloul in recent days raised the ire of Israeli politicians from across the political spectrum, including members of his own party, for his unwillingness to label Palestinians who attack Israeli soldiers “terrorists.”

Explaining why he opposes applying the word terrorist to all Palestinians who employ violence, Bahloul brought up the example of the pre-state militias that took up arms against the British Mandate government.

“The Etzel (Irgun), the Lehi, the Haganah – all of these Jewish organizations went out to the streets to fight against the British mandate and its soldiers, to make your state – which has become an incredible state – a reality. Why can’t the Palestinians do the same?” Bahloul said on Saturday.

Using those Zionist militias as a short case study, here are a few ways to distinguish between acts of terror and guerrilla warfare:

- In July 1938, members of the Etzel (also known as “Irgun”), a right-wing Zionist militant group, tossed a bomb into a vegetable market in Haifa. Eighteen Arabs were killed, 38 were wounded. That same month, a bomb was planted in the Arab market in Jerusalem, killing 10 and wounding 31. After that came the bombing of the Arab market in Haifa — 27 were killed, 46 were wounded. Men, women, and children.

- On May 9, 1939, seven Etzel members entered Jerusalem’s Rex Theater during a screening of Tarzan. They detonated a mine, killing five Arabs and wounding 18 others. The attackers managed to flee. In December of that year, Etzel members tossed a bomb into an Arab cafe in Jaffa. Six were killed.

- In July 1939, Jewish militants placed bombs at Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, killing five Arabs and wounding 14. That same month, a donkey mounted with explosives killed 21 Arabs and wounded 24 in the Haifa vegetable market.

- In May 1947, Etzel militants broke into Acre Prison and freed 28 incarcerated Irgun and Lehi members. During the operation, three Etzel members were caught. In order to prevent them from being hanged, the Etzel abducted two British sergeants. In July 1947, the three Etzel members were executed. The following day, the Etzel hanged the two sergeants.

The events described...

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On our way out of the apartheid closet

By advancing legislation to exclude the Arab minority from the Knesset, Israel is showing the world that its political system is really only intended for one group.

By Marzouq El-Halabi

The so-called “suspension bill,” which passed its first reading in the Knesset several weeks ago, constitutes another step by the Israeli Right to exclude Arab representatives from Israeli politics. The bill, which gives the Knesset the authority to temporarily or permanently suspend elected members, stems not from a worry over the fate of Israel’s democracy, but is part of the Right’s slow effort to maliciously and intentionally harm it. The ultimate goal of the bill goes unspoken, although it is clear to all: to remove the Arab electorate from the political game in order to ensure the Right’s reign in the near future.

That strategy began even before the right-wing parties marked Arabs in Israel as the targets of a well-orchestrated delegitimization campaign. There is not a single leader on the Right who has not tried his hand, whether through incitement, anti-democratic bills — some of which passed — or targeting specific Arab MKs in the Knesset. A racist public discourse that besmirches the Arab minority as a “suspicious group” that is always “at fault.” My presumption is that this incitement is organized, even if it comes from different political parties.

From cooperation to exclusion

After the Right failed, at least temporarily, to exclude the Arabs by raising the election threshold, it attempted to put pressure on the Arab minority and its representatives. Unfortunately, many media outlets cooperated with the Right’s mission, even so far as strengthening the attacks against the Arab minority and its representatives. When the atmosphere grew tense due to violent attacks by individual Palestinians, the Right struck again, this time by outlawing the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement. The Islamic Movement may have been the target, but the goal was to create an atmosphere in which the entire Arab public is removed from the political sphere. Now it seems that the Right has marked the representatives of the nationalist Balad party, and any other Arab representative that does not dance to the tune of Bennett or Netanyahu.

The process is clear. The point is to drive a wedge between the Arab minority as a significant electorate power and the opposing right-wing camp. Let us remember that it was the Arab members of Knesset...

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IDF preventing Arab citizens from visiting ailing relatives in Gaza

A new Israeli policy makes it nearly impossible for Palestinian citizens from visiting their ailing relatives in the Gaza Strip. All in the name of security.

By Michal Luft

In a press release published July of 2015, Commander of the Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Sami Turgeman, announced a new policy intended to reduce entry into the Gaza by Israeli civilians, thereby further undermining the already limited ability of thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel to see their relatives who live in the Strip.

The decision came about after it was made public that two Israeli citizens had recently disappeared in the Strip, as well as the “security situation in the Gaza Strip.” The policy was said to be temporary and that Israeli citizens would still be able to obtain permits to enter the Gaza Strip in specific cases, as per humanitarian need. This expression is code for a situation in which people may ask for a permit only if a relative is dying, has died, or is getting married.

Even before the new policy was announced, Palestinian citizens with relatives in Gaza were only able to ask to visit them in extreme humanitarian conditions. In recent months, however, they have discovered that they cannot get permits even when these conditions do exist. Gaza entry permits have been given only in the most extreme cases, and even then, only after legal efforts that include correspondence with the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT),  intervention by the State Attorney’s Office, or the courts. Figures show that in the five months preceding the new ban, the monthly average number of entries into Gaza by Israelis was 337, whereas in the five months since the ban, the monthly average has been about 138 — a 60 percent drop.

In fact, the cases in which permits are actually granted, yet no companions are allowed to join, are the ones that fully expose the cruelty of this “new” policy, which is, incidentally, still in effect today. Recently, the military denied a request made by R., a 20-year-old woman, to enter Gaza along with her husband and their six-week-old infant son, to attend her brother’s wedding. Only concerted legal efforts by Gisha finally resulted in the Gaza District Coordination Offices (DCO) agreeing to issue another permit — for the baby.

In another case, S., a 38-year-old woman, asked to enter Gaza with her...

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Before Zionism: The shared life of Jews and Palestinians

Before the advent of Zionism and Arab nationalism, Jews and Palestinians lived in peace in the holy land. Menachem Klein’s new book maps out an oft-forgotten history of Israel/Palestine, and offers some guidance on how we may go back to that time.

By Noam Rotem

Menachem Klein’s book, Lives in Common: Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem, Jaffa and Hebron, is a depressing one. Originally released in English, the book — which is being published in Hebrew  — paints a picture of a shared life between Palestinians and Jews at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, bringing us face to face with daily life, commerce, education, celebrations, and sadness. It shows that us this kind existence, despite everything we were taught by the Israeli education system, is possible. And then Klein goes on and destroys this delicate balance, burning everything left of it today.

As the Ottoman Empire, which ruled Palestine at the time, began losing its power toward the end of the 19th century, a new, local identity began developing out of the lived experiences of Jews and Arabs. This identity, which took precedence over religion, was shared by Muslims, Jews, and Christians.

Following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire during the First World War, both the Zionist movement and the Palestinian national movement began trying to take control of that identity and define the people of the land as either Jewish Zionists or Palestinian Arabs. There were those who called for unity, such as Jerusalem Mayor Raghib al-Nashashibi, who wanted not to speak of Arabs and Jews, but of Palestinians. Klein debunks the myth according to which the residents of the country before the advent Zionism or the Arab national movement lacked all identity. Instead, he describes a lively and vivacious community with its own traditions and customs, bringing testimonies from Jews, Muslims and foreigners as proof.

Both Zionism and Arab nationalism came to Palestine from outside the country. The two movements developed in the diaspora but both saw the territory between the river and the sea as part of their war for control; they drew borders in a place that had been borderless at the expense of those who lived here. Palestinian residents distinguished between “Arab Jews” — a common identity of Jews who were either born here or in other Arab countries — and Jewish immigrants from Europe who arrived to redefine...

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The Zionist educator we should have listened to

At a time when Israel’s education minister sees only Jews as moral, it is worth remembering a prominent Zionist educator who taught us that things could have turned out differently.

By Gil Gertel

This past week marked “Land Day,” in which we commemorate and decry the dispossession of Israel’s Arab citizens of their land. Fate also had it that on that very same week, the Israeli public found itself a new national hero, who took the slogan “death to Arabs” and made it a reality.

On the day following the Hebron shooting, Education Minister Naftali Bennett attacked those who hurried to seal the fate of the soldier, supporting him half-heartedly because he “protects each and every one of us.” Last Saturday night, Bennett figured out which way the wind blows, joining the chorus of those who decided on their own that the soldier did not commit murder.

Since we lack any real prominent educators in the present, we must dust off the writings of Yitzhak Epstein, a distinguished and pioneering educator who was one of the first Hebrew educators in pre-state Palestine. He came to Palestine in 1886 at age 23, serving as an agriculture guide at the behest of Baron Rothschild. Five years later he began working in education, when he was appointed as teacher and principal at a girls’ school in Safed.

Epstein, in one sentence, asked us to look at things from the perspective of the other. This ability is necessary for a society based on institutions of justice, and, surprise surprise, it is the basis for all processes of learning and education. At the Seventh Zionist Congress in 1905, Epstein gave a speech titled “The Hidden Question,” which was published in print in 1907. “Among the difficult issues regarding the rebirth of our people in its homeland, one issue outweighs them all: our relations with the Arabs. This issue, upon whose correct resolution hinges the revival of our national hope, has not been forgotten by the Zionists but has gone completely unnoticed by them and, in its true form, is barely mentioned in the literature of our movement.”

The things Epstein saw

Epstein already talked about all the Zionists who denied the existence of the Arabs: “We devote attention to everything related to our homeland, we discuss and debate everything, we praise and criticize in every way, but one trivial thing we have overlooked...

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'There is another way': Palestinians, Israelis march together against the occupation

Roughly 300 Palestinians and Israelis marched along a major West Bank highway Friday afternoon to demand an end to the occupation and to protest Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The monthly protest march is deliberately held on a road that both Palestinians and Israeli settlers use, with the intention of demonstrating a joint Palestinian-Israeli anti-occupation message in full view of settlers.

Photos by Oren Ziv/


The march set out from the “Tunnels Checkpoint,” the main checkpoint for settlers entering Jerusalem from the southern West Bank settlements of Gush Etzion.


Israeli soldiers and police accompanied the march the whole way.


A single right-wing Israeli counter-protester showed up but kept to the other side of the highway where he waved an oversized flag.


The march has been organized by a consortium of peace and anti-occupation organizations in recent months. On Friday the most prominent organization was Combatants for Peace. The main slogan was: “There is another way.”


The march ended at Husan Junction, a kilometer and a half south-west of the “Tunnels Checkpoint.” At the turnoff is a sign, common throughout the West Bank, warning Israelis not to enter Palestinian villages and cities.


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From the West Bank to NYC: Challenge Dani Dayan wherever he goes

Now that settler leader Dani Dayan has been appointed as Israel’s consul general in New York, will Jewish leaders wake up and realize that the Israeli government supports indefinite occupation over freedom for all?

By Yonah Lieberman

In 1963, Bull Connor became an international symbol of racism and white supremacy. A year earlier, as commissioner of public safety in Birmingham, Alabama, he shut down all of the city’s 67 parks and eight public pools, rather than desegregating them as ordered by the court. He soared to notoriety when, the following year, he oversaw legions of police officers as they blasted fire hoses on African American children and set dogs on civil rights protesters.

In contrast with white moderates across the South — who silently supported and upheld systems of segregation — Connor’s support for violence and unabashed disdain for the civil rights movement helped bring an unbearable status quo to the nation’s attention. The resulting backlash galvanized opposition to segregation and led to the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Now the New York Jewish community has our very own Bull Connor: Dani Dayan.

For 15 years, Dayan was a leader of the Yesha Council, the umbrella organization representing the settlements of the West Bank, serving for six of them as chairman. Currently a resident of the settlement of Ma’ale Shomron, he has for years taken his pro-occupation message to the opinion pages of the New York Times, Boston Globe, LA Times, USA Today, and more, and has even flown to Congress to lobby representatives against the two-state solution.

In one piece for the New York Times titled “Israel’s Settlers Are Here to Stay,” Dayan wrote: “We aim to expand the existing Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, and create new ones….Our presence in all of Judea and Samaria — not just in the so-called settlement blocs — is an irreversible fact.”

Dayan was never supposed to end up in New York. The Israeli government initially appointed him ambassador to Brazil, but the Brazilian government denied his appointment for months because of its opposition to Israeli policies in the West Bank. Admitting defeat, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rescinded Dayan’s appointment this week, announcing that he will be appointed the Israeli consul general in New York instead.

Dayan, the champion of the settler movement, is now headed straight into the epicenter of the...

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The duality of Israel's occupation, at home and abroad

Slowly but surely, the process of shedding democratic characteristics in favor of ‘ethnocratic’ ones is becoming clearer and clearer for all to see.

By Tomer Persico (translated by Maya Haber)

Over the last few weeks we have heard about the collapse of the delicate duality the Israeli government has been trying to preserve for years. It is the duality of occupation at home and democracy for abroad, religious coercion at home and a booming high-tech industry abroad, the stabbing at Jerusalem’s pride parade and pinkwashing abroad. It is a strategic duality. It allows Israel to play a part in the community of enlightened nations. It has enormous benefits like trade agreements, the ability to purchase advanced weaponry (and tacit approval of nuclear armament) and the right to participate in the coalition of the virtuous allies fighting against jihadist Islam.

Netanyahu understands well the value of this duality. He proudly speaks of values Israel shares with Europe. He hints that the U.S. and Israel share the status of God’s chosen nations. He speaks of LGBT rights in Israel. But most often Netanyahu mentions that Israel is “the only democracy in the Middle East.” These statements are a first-rate foreign relations tool. This is what Israel has to sell. As Amos Kenan said once, no one will weep for the death of a Jewish Effendi. If Israel’s values resembled its neighbors, it would be thrown to the dogs just like them.

The last few weeks have therefore been a nightmare for Israeli foreign relations: Israel’s brutalization won over hasbara (PR or public diplomacy). A day after the attacks in Brussels, which killed 31 people, Israeli Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz joked on Army Radio that Belgians should stop eating chocolate and instead focus on Muslims in their communities who are involved in terrorism. Israel’s Science and Technology minister, Ofir Akunis, mocked EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini for crying at a press conference after she got word of the deadly terror attacks in Brussels. Some of the online responses of so many Israelis who ridiculed the Belgians and rejoiced at their misfortunes were translated and circulated around the world.

We can add to the hasbara disaster of the last few weeks the government’s surrender to the ultra-Orthodox by advancing bills that bar Conservative and Reform converts...

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