+972 Magazine » Ami Kaufman http://972mag.com Independent commentary and news from Israel & Palestine Sat, 23 May 2015 00:08:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8 [Vid] Wake-up Call: The Holocaust and Iran — the Netanyahu connection http://972mag.com/vid-wake-up-call-the-holocaust-and-iran-the-netanyahu-connection/106227/ http://972mag.com/vid-wake-up-call-the-holocaust-and-iran-the-netanyahu-connection/106227/#comments Sat, 02 May 2015 10:46:52 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=106227 Have you ever noticed that speeches by the Israeli prime minister tend to sound a lot like: ‘Iran, Iran, Holocaust, Iran. Iran, Iran, Iran. Holocaust Iran…’? Are you scared yet? Ami Kaufman has a wake-up call for you.

Related:
Every day is Holocaust Day in Israel
Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel: Something’s missing

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[Vid] Wake-up Call: Israel says … No http://972mag.com/vid-wake-up-call-israel-says-no/105360/ http://972mag.com/vid-wake-up-call-israel-says-no/105360/#comments Tue, 07 Apr 2015 13:53:56 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=105360 In the recent elections, Israelis clearly articulated what they don’t want, less clear was what type of future they do want. Ami Kaufman has a wake-up call for you.

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Wake-up Call: And the winner is… http://972mag.com/wake-up-call-and-the-winner-is/104456/ http://972mag.com/wake-up-call-and-the-winner-is/104456/#comments Mon, 16 Mar 2015 23:54:35 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=104456 One group of Israeli citizens already won the Israeli elections — before voting even began. Ami Kaufman has a wake-up call for you.

Click here for +972′s full coverage of Israeli elections

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Wake-up Call: 47 years of disenfranchisement http://972mag.com/wakeup-call-47-years-of-disenfranchisement/104015/ http://972mag.com/wakeup-call-47-years-of-disenfranchisement/104015/#comments Mon, 09 Mar 2015 20:33:06 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=104015 Did you know that in 15 out of Israel’s 20 elections one in three people living under Israeli rule haven’t had a vote? Ami Kaufman has a wake-up call for you.

Click here for +972′s full coverage of Israeli elections

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‘She just wants chocolate! What is she, an Arab?’ http://972mag.com/she-just-wants-chocolate-what-is-she-an-arab/103037/ http://972mag.com/she-just-wants-chocolate-what-is-she-an-arab/103037/#comments Sun, 22 Feb 2015 10:39:32 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=103037 Israeli social media is talking about one thing today: the video showing Israeli passengers cursing and threatening a flight attendant on their way to Varna, Bulgaria.

The headlines are pretty much the same all over, and include the words: “Watch: The Ugly Israeli,” in reference to what Israelis see as the rude behavior they are notorious for worldwide.

However, few (including mainstream media) paid attention to the little gem hidden in the video, a one-liner that epitomizes the casual racism so widespread in the Jewish state.

The flight attendant refuses to sell chocolate to a passenger (apparently he was busy with another passenger, it’s difficult to discern the exact reason). Things heat up. Then, her sister sitting across the aisle says at 0:28 in the video below: “She just wants to buy chocolate, what is she – an Arab?”

Of course, this is understandable. The only reason a flight attendant refuses to sell chocolate to someone is because they’re Arab.

#Facepalm.

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Farewell to David Landau, who would have hated this headline http://972mag.com/farewell-to-david-landau-who-would-have-hated-this-headline/101953/ http://972mag.com/farewell-to-david-landau-who-would-have-hated-this-headline/101953/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 12:03:17 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=101953 David Landau (Photo: Ami Kaufman)

David Landau, at my wedding, 2004 (Photo: Ami Kaufman)

September 11, 2001. I get off the bus from northern Tel Aviv that takes me to 21 Shocken St., where the Haaretz building is located. As I enter the doors I’m greeted by a colleague from the Hebrew news desk, who says “Wow, you’re going to have quite a shift.” I was night editor of the English edition of Haaretz at the time.

Intrigued, I ask “Why?”

“You didn’t see? A plane just hit one of the World Trade Center towers.”

I ran to my office, saw other staff members staring in awe at the television screens, and turned on my TV. I got there just in time to watch the second plane hit.

I started to tremble, and immediately picked up the phone to David Landau, editor in chief. “Did you see what’s going on?!”

“Yeah.”

“So, when are you coming in?”

“I’m not.”

“Seriously, when are you coming?”

“You’ll be fine. Call me if you need anything, I’ll help from here.”

“Are you crazy?!?!”

We were both right. He was crazy, and I was fine. I put out a good paper, and got it sent on time.

David Landau, who passed away yesterday due to an illness, was my first mentor in journalism. He was my boss, my teacher, my friend. He was this to many people, so influential a person to the lives and careers of dozens, if not hundreds.

Already, much has been said about him since he passed. To fully grasp what a special man he was, I sincerely recommend reading the beautiful obituary written by Anshel Pfeffer here, and the very moving farewells from his two colleagues Gideon Levy here, and Chemi Shalev here. They have portrayed much more beautifully than I ever could the complexity of David, his life story and amazing accomplishments, his few minuses and hundreds of pluses.

As many do, I also remember my first encounter with David. It was my interview for an internship at the Haaretz English edition he had just founded about six months earlier. I’ll never forget his first words to me as I entered his office:

“Well, that’s a horrible shirt to wear to an interview.”

In retrospect, it was. For some odd reason I was wearing a bright orange short sleeve button down shirt.

This wasn’t to be the last time David critiqued my attire. On my wedding night, after shaking my hand I asked him if he liked my suit. “No, you look like a bar mitzvah boy.” He was right again, actually. It was a flashy blue disco-style suit. In all the farewells to David you’ll see mentions of his odd (or non-existent) tact, but I’ll bet you’ll never see this compliment: the man had style.

David managed to put his fashion taste aside and decided to hire me as an intern, where I made NIS 80, around $20 (a shift!). But I got my foot in the door of one of the most respectable broadsheets in the world.

He began to teach me. As my confidence grew, the Hebrew edition picked me up for a few years as a copyeditor on the news and foreign news desks. But David brought me back to the English edition later to be his night editor, and that’s where the real Journalism 101 began.

After every paper I sent, we would sit the next day and do a post mortem. And boy, were they lethal. Much has been said about his rumbling and intimidating voice, and it was those post mortems where I got the brunt of it. Sometimes I would get it by phone early in the morning, because he simply couldn’t wait to scream at me at the office.

But as time went by we grew very fond of each other. Fond enough that I felt I could scream back at him. We used to have screaming matches on the phone during the shifts, all in good fun. I think he might have enjoyed the fact that I had a short fuse like him and gave him a taste of his own medicine every once in a while.

I remember one staff meeting, where I was enraged that I had been doing the Saturday evening shifts non-stop, because the only other night editor was religious and kept the Sabbath. David said there was nothing to do about it, and in front of everyone I yelled “You fucking dossim!” (a somewhat derogatory term for orthodox Jews). Everyone’s jaws dropped to the floor, except for David’s, who just grinned at me, black kippa and all. I grinned back. We were on the same page; he totally got my screwed-up humor.

And how can anyone forget those newsroom antics of his. How can anyone forget him, as you’re sitting for hours on the wording of a headline for the front page in front of a Mac and he would shove you over and grunt “Let me do this!” And this man, one of the most amazing journalists I’ve met, the first Israeli to interview Sadat, would hunch over the keyboard with his enormous hands and type with only his index fingers at the speed of a snail! One could only wonder how he managed to write so many books.

One day, when I wanted to put a large headline across all eight columns of the front page, he yelled at me: “Do not, ever ever, put a headline across the whole page! You save those eight columns for when a war breaks out! Do you understand?”

As I read the farewells on Facebook, it was such a pleasure to read my former colleagues reminisce and tell some of the classic David stories.

There was the well-known, daily and almost hourly roar, “Send the fucking page!!!”

Some other gems: “Is there a bunch of fucking monkeys working on this site?”

“Who translated that article?” I did. “Into what language?”

“This page looks like my dog’s breakfast!

“Fucking useless? Who wrote this shit? What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”

And more, and more. One colleague reminded us of how David used to boast that he was the first and hopefully the last night editor in the Haaretz Hebrew edition to ever publish the same story twice on the front page. It was an Akiva Eldar piece, one above the fold, and the same exact one below the fold.

Another reminded how anxious he would get every Thursday afternoon, as he would have to write the Friday Haaretz editorial. He’d be there, sitting in the dark, door closed, with only his little desk lamp on and type away in Hebrew with his huge index fingers.

Needless to say, some people didn’t always get David. And I can understand that, it took me a while, too. But once I did, I was hooked. Both me and my wife to be, Karen, who also worked under David and also developed a strong relationship with him, decided on our wedding day to honor him (and us) with one of the seven blessings. Whenever we needed a reference letter from him during our careers, he would always oblige, but add “how many more times am I going to have to tell lies about you people?”

David continued to mentor me when he was appointed editor in chief of Haaretz, and brought me back to be his night editor in the Hebrew edition as well. Those years at the desk with him were the most exciting and demanding in my days at Haaretz, covering the Gaza disengagement, Ariel Sharon’s stroke, and more.

Even after I left Haaretz, David continued to affect my career. I don’t think it would be far-fetched to say that there would be no +972 Magazine without him. One of the main reasons we founded the site was to fill in the gap that the English Haaretz and Jerusalem Post could not fill when it came to telling the full story of what is happening on the ground in Israel/Palestine.

And although I know very well +972’s politics are far from David’s, I think he would be proud of what my colleagues I are doing on a daily basis: good, solid journalism with a (large) pinch of our ideology. Even though I haven’t made one shekel from the five years this site has been around, it is the journalism I am most proud of – and I think David would be proud of that too.

It’s David who stuck me with the journalism bug, back then when I wore that orange shirt in his office. Since then I’ve left journalism a few times, in search of a better salary in this difficult land, but I always come back. I always leave one foot in the field. I’ll always be a journalist at heart.

And there’s only one person to blame for that. One of the smartest, warmest, funniest, caring people I know.

It’s your fault, David.

I love you, and miss you loads.

Baruch Dayan Emet.

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Top 10 reasons Israel should be going to early elections http://972mag.com/top-10-reasons-israel-should-be-going-to-elections-but-isnt/99514/ http://972mag.com/top-10-reasons-israel-should-be-going-to-elections-but-isnt/99514/#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 13:25:16 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=99514 From bombs dropped on innocent children in Gaza to the increasing gap between rich and poor, there are many good reasons why the current government needs to go.

Binyamin Netanyahu and Yair Lapid (Photo: IsraeliinUSA/CC BY 2.0, Activestills.org)

Benjamin Netanyahu and Yair Lapid (Photo: IsraeliinUSA/CC BY 2.0, Activestills.org)

1. Israel is going to early elections, but not because this government went on an unnecessary adventure in Gaza killing 500 innocent children only a few months ago.

2. Israel is going to early elections, but not because this government failed in making any progress toward ending the occupation of millions of Palestinians, while continually denying them the basic right to determine their own future.

3. Israel is going to early elections, but not because this government breeds hatred of anyone who is not Jewish.

4. Israel is going to early elections, but not because this government is interested in remaining a democracy for Jews and a Jewish state for Arabs.

5. Israel is going to early elections, but not because this government harmed its standing in the international community with every day that has passed, particularly with Avigdor Liberman as foreign minister.

6. Israel is going to early elections, but not because this government has brought relations with the U.S. to a low never seen in its history.

7. Israel is going to early elections, but not because this government failed in lowering the cost of living.

8. Israel is going to early elections, but not because this government only made efforts to survive another day, rather than lead.

9. Israel is going to early elections, but not because this government keeps taking care of tycoons, not narrowing the gaps between rich and poor.

10. Israel is going to early elections, but not because this government wants to pour billions more shekels into the defense establishment rather than into health, education and welfare.

Israel is going to early elections for one reason, and one reason only: because Sheldon Adelson said so.

Related:
Israelis deserve more from their leaders
Welcome to Netanyahu’s ‘resolution’ to the conflict

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‘Nation-state law’ may end Arab grip on Jewish-Israeli society [satire] http://972mag.com/nation-state-law-may-end-arab-grip-on-jewish-israeli-society-satire/99248/ http://972mag.com/nation-state-law-may-end-arab-grip-on-jewish-israeli-society-satire/99248/#comments Wed, 26 Nov 2014 12:18:58 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=99248 Public and private sector Arab leaders in Israel fear the new basic law could threaten their long-standing economic, cultural and political dominance in the Jewish state. (Satire)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo: Kobi Gideon / GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo: Kobi Gideon / GPO)

The Jewish Nation-State law, a new bill that the Netanyahu government is pushing through the Knesset could bring about the end to their political domination over Jews in Israeli society since the state was founded in 1948, Arab leaders are warning.

Mohamed el-Rasmi from Sakhnin told +972: “We’re really worried. We’ve been dominating Israeli politics since 1948. What now? We won’t have any more Arab ministers? No Arab minister of defense? Of treasury? Of education? The thought alone makes me shudder. If we have no representation in government, we’ll basically be second-class citizens!”

Over the past few days, +972 Magazine spoke to various leaders in both the public and private Arab sectors about the new bill and its consequences. There seems to be a wide consensus that the outcome could be quite grave.

Hamdan Younis, a businessman from Taibeh, said he fears for his livelihood. “It’s always been the Younis’ and 11 other Arab families making money off of the land’s resources. The water, the phosphates, the gas in the Mediterranean. We’ve been screwing the 99 percent over for decades – why does it have to stop now? Why? Because we own the media? Is that it?!”

“What will happen to all the Arab cities in planning?” asked Mustafa Mahmid, who owns a large construction company in Tira. “New Arab towns have popped up like mushrooms after the rain until now – where does this leave me? Will they stop approving new towns? You know what this will mean, don’t you. We’ll have to live basically on top of each other, with sewage running in the streets! When’s the last time you saw an Arab town like that!?” he added, enraged.

Fadi Jabarin, minister of education, believes the law could have an astounding effect on the Israeli school curriculum. “I am afraid that if this bill turns into law, Israelis will stop learning about the Nakba. They might even stop learning about Arabs at all. What will they learn about then? The Holocaust? Bar Kochva? Bialik? After all these years Israelis have been studying and quoting Mahmoud Darwish, wouldn’t that be a shame?” said Jabarin.

Other leaders expressed concern for the more basic and symbolic. Interior Minister Mahmoud Majadli said he fears of an inevitable change to the nation’s symbols. “What now? Will they take the crescent off the national flag? It looks so nice next to the Star of David. And what about the national anthem? Are you actually telling me that from now on the national anthem will only be about Jews? No mention of us? How can I sing that? I love singing our anthem, and I’ve been told I have a really nice voice.”

(This article is satire.)

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Roger Cohen thinks Israelis and Palestinians just need to get along http://972mag.com/is-the-nyts-roger-cohen-deliberately-misleading-his-readers/99062/ http://972mag.com/is-the-nyts-roger-cohen-deliberately-misleading-his-readers/99062/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 17:42:38 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=99062 How a popular columnist fools readers into a false understanding of the situation in Israel/Palestine.

Oh man, is he smooth.

There is a reason Roger Cohen is a columnist in The Grey Lady: he is a fabulous writer. He is also extremely convincing, and his op-ed from yesterday, “Two Ideas of Israel-Palestine,” is no exception. It reads so well that I am sure he basically had most readers eating out of the palm of his hand.

And if that’s the case, boy, did they fall for it.

Because what Roger Cohen did yesterday is spoon-feed his readers one of the core principles of Liberal Zionism, without which they basically have nothing to say in their political arguments in living rooms all over the world, from Ramat Aviv to Brooklyn. And that core principle goes like this: the blame rests equally on both sides.

The “beauty” of this op-ed, focusing on the roots of the conflict, lies in its simplistic three-part structure. If you haven’t read the piece yet, you should – because the way it is built is crucial to understanding Cohen’s mindset.

I won’t deal much with the opening graph, mostly because Cohen himself is too lazy to put recent events into context. All he does is state that “the facts” – that Palestinians killed Jews in a synagogue during the recent wave of violence. Way to go for giving your readers a good picture about what’s going on Jerusalem, Cohen!

But the real gem is the second part of his piece, which include two long paragraphs in which Cohen attempts to bring up every argument possible from each side’s story. Both are equal in length, making the reader think that these are simply two parallel lines that will never meet. They’re just too entrenched in their own narratives. Everybody’s right.

The worst is his last paragraph:

Two children, one Israeli and one Palestinian, asked me if it is possible to have two ideas in your head at the same time. Not in the Middle East, I said. But it is important to try, because this is where you both have to live.

The sheer arrogance of telling us that “you guys just better get along already ‘cause you’re stuck with each other,” especially from one living in a country who has enabled the occupation of millions for almost 50 years, is shameful and enraging.

I’ve got news for you, Roger Cohen, this isn’t some kind of Cold War between two nuclear powers. This is a rich, armed-to-the-teeth colonial regime that has been stepping on the neck of an oppressed people for 47 years. That’s the narrative. That’s the story.

Your nice maneuver of putting two “narratives” opposite each other was indeed a sleek writing move. But I don’t fall for that stance any more.

No one should.

Related:
‘New York Times’ on Jerusalem violence: What occupation?
‘The New York Times’ investigates a Palestinian hobby
When ‘The New York Times’ embeds its reporters with the IDF

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Netanyahu government’s true colors are shining through http://972mag.com/netanyahu-governments-true-colors-are-shining-through/98585/ http://972mag.com/netanyahu-governments-true-colors-are-shining-through/98585/#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 09:26:21 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=98585 Even as the flames spread from Jerusalem into the West Bank and back over the Green Line, Israeli leaders are showing no restraint in their statements and actions. It feels like they just don’t care anymore.

Arab youth clash with Israeli riot police in Kafr Kanna, Israel, November 8, 2014. The protests took place after an Arab man from the village was shot and killed by Israeli policemen. (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Arab youth clash with Israeli riot police in Kafr Kanna, Israel, November 8, 2014. The protests took place after an Arab man from the village was shot and killed by Israeli policemen. (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

These are tough, disgusting times in Israel/Palestine. The flames in Jerusalem, which were ignited well before the recent war in Gaza, seem to be climbing higher every day, spreading to the West Bank and inside the Green Line as well.

The recent events also seem to be bringing out some of Israeli leaders’ true color. Yitzhak Aharonovitch, the Israeli public security minister (something equivalent to a police minister), had some very harsh words after the last attack by a Palestinian who ran over a group of Border Police and pedestrians in Jerusalem, killing two and wounding others. After a police officer killed the attacker on the scene, Aharonovich said that, “the sentence for any any terrorist who harms civilians is to be killed.” He added that all such events should end that way. To hell with the rule of law, right guys?

But who would have thought that the police would heed their boss’ call so soon? On Saturday evening cops shot 22-year-old Khir Hamdan from Kafr Kanna (well inside Green Line) in the back after he attacked a police van with a knife. No taser, no shooting towards the legs. Just a bullet in the chest as he was running away. To make things worse, instead of calling an ambulance they dragged him into the van like he was a sack of potatoes, while still alive. I’m pretty sure I saw that scene on a Sopranos episode; I just can’t remember which season.

Obviously, the killing heated things up. As would be expected of a wise leader, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thought this might be a good time to try and calm things down — to be the responsible adult. Oh sorry, scrap that! Instead, just like his public security minister, Netanyahu poured some more gas on this bonfire, showed his true colors as well and just hours later announced he “will instruct the interior minister to evaluate revoking the citizenship of those who call for the destruction of the State of Israel.” Or, in other words, “I don’t have anything to say about shooting Hamdan in the back and you Arabs better calm down before I frickin’ lose it.”

Then comes a Facebook post from Naftali Bennet, leader of The Jewish Home and the Economy Minister:

Notice how Bennet calls Hamdan a “crazed Arab terrorist.” Not a suspect in a violent crime who should be arrested and tried in court like any other criminal suspect. No, Bennet is a minister in the “only democracy in the Middle East” that claims every other day that Arabs in Israel are equal citizens. That is, except for when they commit crimes. Then, they’re crazed terrorists. Who should be shot. In the back. While running away. From a group of armed cops in a van. With a only a knife. (This should come as no surprise, of course. Bennett has never hid his feelings on the topic.)

But for me, the best part of this feces storm came on Sunday when the government voted to support a bill extending Israeli law to West Bank settlements without formally annexing the area. For those of you who still don’t see Israel’s policies in the West Bank as apartheid, it might become a little easier for you if this bill becomes a law. It’s a nice, big step in that direction.

Looking at all these statements and actions, it feels like they just don’t care anymore. They’re really going ahead with it; they actually want this to happen. Their true colors are coming out. They’re no longer hiding.

And if I may be honest for just a moment (did you expect anything else?), I’m actually quite satisfied with this rather rapid deterioration toward a full-fledged apartheid state. There’s simply something too painful in watching it unfold so slowly, like pulling off a Band-Aid way too carefully instead of just getting it over with in one quick pull.

Seriously, why condemn every settlement expansion, every undemocratic law, every racist comment from a politician? The only thing these condemnations do is slow things down and delay the inevitable. It only keeps things in some sort of gray area that allows the rest of the world to keep debating if Israel is an apartheid state or isn’t. Why not let things worsen quicker so the world understands sooner and will be left with no choice but to finally act?

Related:
How police lied about the deadly shooting of Khir Hamdan
Israeli government votes to support annexing West Bank settlements
PHOTOS: Protests in northern Israel after police kill Arab man

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