Analysis News

There is no war of images, only occupation

The right-wing Israel crowd is on a mission to delegitimize every Palestinian activity that goes beyond silent submission to permanent foreign military rule.

Post-modern madness has Israelis very excited, for years now, about the notion that if Israel just “explains” its side of the matter, the world will come to its senses.

There is a deep and pervasive myth that Israel is hopelessly incompetent at communications. Israelis speak of Palestinian propaganda as a well-oiled machine, with tentacles in every news media, lobby groups in the halls of power and pressure groups controlling the minds of students and faculty in universities around the world. Many Israelis seem unaware that operating highly elaborate lobbies, media watchdogs and branding efforts – with generous funding and considerable sophistication – is a long-established Jewish activity. And it hasn’t saved Israel from a deteriorating global image.

Meanwhile, Israelis know that the Palestinian machine is a Svengali spinning lies into narratives that everybody believes. Palestinians’ clever use of film as a weapon exaggerates benign realities of an enlightened occupation by the most moral army into a Hollywood-produced image of hell. Right-wingers so thoroughly believe this that they have developed a nickname for the string of manipulative and manipulated video clips showing Israelis harming Palestinians: “Pallywood.” How to fight the scourge is a national obsession.

In the thick of the terrible escalation this weekend, an item on Israel’s Channel 10 claimed to explore the “stories behind” some of the most damaging videos that have made global rounds. The repulsive footage of Israeli border policemen beating a teenaged Palestinian-American while he is flattened and immobilized (a relative of the murdered youth Muhammed Abu Khdeir) is the very latest; David the “Nahlawi” is another; two weeks before that was  damning footage from Beitunia of soldiers shooting at demonstrators, some of them stone-throwers, resulting in two teenage deaths; before that the M16-whipping of a Danish activist, and the iconic Muhammed al-Dura affair, and so forth. Apparently these incidents are a purely a matter of image, with no connection to each other, only loosely tied to reality at all.

The Channel 10 story was actually about the “National-Zionist news agency” called “Tazpit” (Lookout), established to counter the images drawn from “partial, lying footage of what goes on in Judea and Samaria…” by the “enemies of Zionism,” as if Zionism is a universal value. The organization itself doesn’t say this...

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Five possible consequences of Hamas-Fatah unity

Hamas could be moderated by entering the mainstream, internationally acceptable Palestinian government. Or it could follow the Hezbollah model and slowly reverse Abbas’s legacy.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the swearing in ceremony for the new unity government, Ramallah, June 2, 2014. (Photo: Mustafa Bader/Activestills.org)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the swearing in ceremony for the new Palestinian unity government, Ramallah, June 2, 2014. (Photo: Mustafa Bader/Activestills.org)

The Hamas-Fatah reconciliation is either the end of days, or the dawn over new horizons. The deal is so confusing because it might mean one thing – or else the opposite.  Here are some of the polarized possible outcomes:

1. Fatah will become one with terrorists, OR terrorists were just co-opted by a more moderate political leadership.

Prime Minister Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Liberman look at this as Hamas spreading its terrorist stain over Palestinian politics. They probably fear the example of Hezbollah, which first took part in Lebanon’s elections in 1992, and went on to redefine the country.

The other perspective involves Sinn Fein the political wing of the Irish Republican Army, a terrorist organization. Sinn Fein became a signatory to the Good Friday peace agreement of Northern Ireland. The IRA laid down its arms for the sake of the accords.

Either option is a reality. But unlike Hezbollah, Hamas is not as directly dominated by other states. It is more accountable to its own people.

2. Hamas will get stronger, OR Hamas will get weaker.

The accord came about in part because Hamas was already weakened: opposing Assad for the slaughter in Syria angered Iran, Assad’s patron, and led to a slump in Iranian support for Hamas. Then the group lost its Egyptian patron, Mohammed Morsi, to Tahrir. Tunnels to Egypt closed, gas prices in Gaza soared and desperation grew. The political division is top priority among Palestinians. Hamas’ legitimacy was both eroded and limited.

Hamas surely thinks the move will make it more popular. But popular for what? Not for further isolation and bad alliances. Hamas seems to have concluded that it would be rewarded for political pragmatism, advancing elections, unifying Palestinians around the Fatah agenda of an independent Palestinian state within broad 1967 lines, through diplomacy not arms.

So Hamas as a political force might get stronger. But the meaning of Hamas – what it has...

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Truth, tapes and two dead Palestinians

The raging debate about the death of the Beitunia teens will become eternally self-referential as each side pumps up its own greater narratives. Herein lies perhaps the greatest victory for the stronger side.

Two Palestinian teens were killed last Thursday, Nakba Day. Until yesterday, it was also true that the Palestinian teens were shot with live ammunition by Israeli forces. There is excessive documentation – eyewitnesses, news outlets, still photos and 12 hours of video from the security cameras monitoring the shack-like structures where they were shot, owned by a private Palestinian.

Members of the Palestinian national security forces carry the bodies of Nadim Seeam Abu Kara and Muhammad Abu Da'har during their funeral procession in the West Bank city of Ramallah on May 16, 2014. Abu Kara and Muhammad Abu Da'har were shot dead by Israeli forces during clashes the previous day outside the Israeli-run Ofer prison following a protest commemorating the Nakba. Foreign press published that the two died in a Ramallah hospital after being shot in the chest during a protest to demand the release of thousands of Palestinians held by Israel. (Activestills.org)

Members of the Palestinian National Security Forces carry the bodies of Nadim Seeam Abu Kara and Muhammad Abu Da’har during their funeral procession in the West Bank city of Ramallah, May 16, 2014. Activestills.org)

A week later, the IDF embraced different facts. It is conducting an investigation and here are the theories that have come out so far, according to news reports: the IDF used only rubber bullets, not live ammunition. It is not clear that Israeli forces did it; the youth might have been shot by Palestinian fire.  The youth who were brought to the hospital and died might not be the same youth who were shot. The 12 hours of video that shows them being hit, says an unnamed “senior security figure” to Haaretz, is “very likely fabricated.”

WATCH: Footage shows Israeli army’s killing of two Palestinian teens

These competing theories are like the opening shots (so to speak) in a race of narratives and obsession with angles. What was the direction of the shot? What could the soldiers see from their angle? Is a hospital report saying they were killed by live bullets credible? Should the graves be opened and a body exhumed,...

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The burden, and wall, of Zionism

Zionism has come to refer not to the many ways of building Israel, but to a litmus test. Any answer other than ‘I am a Zionist,’ is akin to being un-American in the 1950s.

I didn’t join a Labor Zionist youth movement at 14 because I thought of myself as a Zionist. Actually I shied away from group identities, bouncing among social cliques at school and staying away from team sports. My parents just didn’t know what to do with me one summer and they heard about a nice Jewish camp, not too expensive.

The Habonim-Dror camp turned out to be a tiny gaggle of barely 100 kids and counselors, some of them bona fide 60s leftovers in the mid-1980s, with a fetish for socialist values and arguments we felt sure were intellectual. When heated discussions went on too long, counselors let us skip team sports. In fact they let us skip for pretty much any reason. Things were a little crazy – one day each summer, the 17-year old campers held a “revolution” and tossed out the (delighted) counselors for 24 hours. There were not a few parental lawsuits.

I was hooked, and determined not to miss the year on kibbutz after high school. My fascination with the idea of Israel was growing and the social bonds were strong. Some of those people became friends for life and a few of us even moved here.

I don’t remember anyone asking me if I was a Zionist, or caring if I had said I wasn’t. We talked about terribly important substance – the socialist ethics of pooling our money to buy cigarettes that some wanted and some (only some!) hated; the concept of tikkun olam; learning the spectrum of left and right political parties in Israel, and how some of them opposed holding “the territories”; we learned about Berl Katznelson and Ahad Ha’am – but I don’t recall any fixation on the label “Zionism.”

An American is an American. A Frenchman is a Frenchman, or woman. Israel too has a dynamic debate about what makes a person Israeli: the declaration of independence says all its citizens are equal regardless of religion, race, or gender. The Right loves to point out that other countries also restrict borders, rights and privileges to people who embody the national identity.

But the parallel to other countries is inaccurate, because Israel has two definitions...

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Dear American Jews: Time to boycott the Conference of Presidents

The Conference of Presidents, a U.S. group comprised of 51 national Jewish organizations, voted earlier this week against admitting the dovish J Street into its ranks. Now, says Dahlia Scheindlin, is the time for American Jews to walk away.

There is something that troubles me while observing current events, forming my political opinions and appropriate responses: it is so easy to judge history and see how things went wrong, but so easy to not to see what is going deeply, terribly wrong in the present. It is so hard to be clear minded and step outside what we take for granted, what seems obvious and normal but is deeply flawed and unjust.

I am easily outraged, but fundamentally anti-alarmist. I often find myself instinctively confident in the big-picture balance of good and evil among human societies.

So when leftists cry “fascism” in Israel sometimes, I never join them. I don’t wait for Holocaust Memorial Day to decry the cheapening of words that have profound and appalling historic facts behind them, which are truly not related to current reality, as horrible as the political situation here is.

But occasionally, that nagging thought returns. Am I too complacent? Would I recognize an authority that has gotten drunk on its power and violent when it feels that power crumbling – for that’s when authorities are most dangerous.  They lack confidence, but have much to preserve, so they lash out against their enemies with blunt instruments.

Thinking about the Conference of Presidents’ vote to reject J Street from its members, I was somewhat gratified to realize that the signs seem screamingly obvious, even on our teacup-sized scale, and I’m not about to miss them.

Naomi Chazan speaking at Jstreet conference (Jstreet/CC BY NC SA 2.0)

New Israel Fund President Naomi Chazan speaking at the J Street conference. (Jstreet/CC BY NC SA 2.0)

The Jewish community life of America as we know it is coming to an end. There are no common causes to rally around. Power has corrupted absolutely and the fat cat leaders of the establishment are enraged that all their money can’t buy ideological loyalty to their perverted ideas of what makes Israel healthy – in the name of which they raise millions that could be going to starving children, or for that matter, Palestinian villages where Israel has 100...

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High Court to state: Give Palestinians a say in planning

Israel’s High Court orders the government to upgrade representation of Palestinians in planning committees. But will the minor changes only serve to legitimize a system based on inequality?

A resident of the Jordan Valley village of Kirbet Makhoul inspects stores of feed for livestock kept in tents built since the village was demolished by the Israeli military, January 22, 2014. Khirbet Makhoul was demolished twice by the Israeli army in autumn of 2013. The army has also prevented humanitarian aid organizations from delivering tents and other forms of assistance to residents. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

A resident of the Jordan Valley village of Kirbet Makhoul inspects stores of feed for livestock kept in tents built since the village was demolished by the Israeli military, January 22, 2014. Khirbet Makhoul was demolished twice by the Israeli army in autumn of 2013. The army has also prevented humanitarian aid organizations from delivering tents and other forms of assistance to residents. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

Israel’s High Court on Monday ordered the state to provide proposals for including Palestinian representatives in planning committees that govern development and land use in Area C (which makes up 60 percent of the territory in the West Bank). The interim decision was made following an appeal by the Palestinian village of Ad-Dirat-Al-Rfai’ya, together with human rights organizations Rabbis For Human Rights, the Israel Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), The Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC), and St. Yves.

Atypically, the hearing lasted a full hour. Oren Yiftachel, a professor of political geography at Ben Gurion University and a former chairman of Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem observed that Palestinian human rights claims related to the occupied territories are commonly dismissed on the basis of “security concerns.”

During the hearing, the state mainly argued that there was no discrimination against Palestinians, since they are already allowed to submit planning requests to the administrative committees.

But grossly asymmetrical data apparently left the court little room to justify the current situation: over 90 percent of Palestinian planning requests are rejected – over 97 percent in recent years, according to a B’Tselem report. Therefore, they build without permits, and their structures often face demolition orders. According to the report, an average of over 200 structures have been destroyed annually since 2000....

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Court case challenges the building blocks of occupation

The Israel army almost automatically rejects building permits for Palestinians in 60 percent of the West Bank. One of the least sexy aspects of the conflict, a new court case aims to challenge the discriminatory regime of building permits and planning.

A member of Sariya family stands next to his family belongings in the village of Al-Mayta following a demolition in the Jordan Valley, Area C. (Photo by Activestills.org)

A member of Sariya family stands next to his family belongings in the village of Al-Mayta following a demolition in the Jordan Valley, Area C. (Photo by Activestills.org)

The Israeli High Court of Justice on Monday will hear a petition asking to restore planning rights in Area C of the West Bank to Palestinian local and district planning committees, which were abolished by the Israeli military in 1971.

The petitioners, local Palestinian leaders and Israeli and Palestinian human rights organizations, hope to give Palestinians a say in the use of land and resources, redress discrimination compared to Israeli settlers, and scale back military control over their lives. They seek to turn residential planning over to civil bodies, instead of the IDF which administers the land today.

If that sounds boring, it is. Terrorism, stone throwing, tear gas, juvenile detention, weapons smuggling, hilltop youth and even the peace process are the sexy topics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Planning rights in Area C are bureaucratic and impenetrable.

The sexy parts of the conflict easily distract from the daily lives of 150,000 Palestinians (the UN says it may be double that, Naftali Bennett thinks it’s less) who live under military rule and under the shadow of IDF bulldozers. Their requests for building permits from the military planning authority are almost automatically denied – 94 percent, say the petitioners. Hence they live in permanent fear of demolition orders, have no water lines, electricity grids or roads to their villages. They are hard to visit, hard to count, and when driving through the desert, they can even be hard to see.

Where the sovereign reigns

Area C is not some tiny, faraway patch of land: it is fully 60 percent of the West Bank, which was carved up by the Oslo accords: Areas A and B are regions of partial or near-total Palestinian civil control, both formally under Israeli military sovereignty....

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Peace process: Only four options left

Resolutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be reached either by agreement or evolution.

As the peace talks stumble toward their formal end point, there are essentially four scenarios for political developments between the river and the sea, excluding resurgent violence: two states by agreement, two states by evolution, one state by agreement, or one sovereign entity by evolution.

Policymakers should acknowledge these scenarios openly to assess what each one will mean for the future of the region.

I recently proposed using basic values as a guideline to assess the desirability of such scenarios: reducing violence, realizing human and civil rights, providing for collective rights, and doing so in a sustainable way. It’s also worth considering the feasibility and consequences of each possibility.

Two states by agreement. This scenario looks increasingly unlikely, largely for political reasons. Likud essentially doesn’t want it; its other half, Israel-Beitenu, claims to want it but only under unacceptable conditions, including unilateral disenfranchisement of Israeli citizenship. Jewish Home, is steadfastly opposed. Palestinians have become so disillusioned about statehood as Israel defines it that PA President Mahmoud Abbas lacks the legitimacy to make major concessions on their behalf.

Another reason is physical: land, population and infrastructure developments over the last two decades mean that a Palestinian state will be chopped up by settlements too entrenched to be vacated. Therefore, “statehood” won’t offer much greater mobility or economic freedom for Palestinians; sovereign borders might even replace military checkpoints posing much greater bureaucratic obstacles.

However, this solution could theoretically reduce violence by establishing representative political frameworks for each society, to guarantee discrete collective and civil rights. Whether that means more human rights for Palestinians than today depends on how the Fatah and Hamas authorities rule; their current record does not bode well. An agreement over two states with borders and finalized political status is probably relatively sustainable. But the lack of feasibility makes most of this assessment moot.

Two states by evolution. The lack of a negotiated agreement could make this more attractive to Palestinians. If they are to suffer the constraints of highly circumscribed statehood, at least they will not also be forced into concessions they resent as the price.

States can be defined as entities with a people, territory, government and the ability to enter into foreign relations. The Palestinians are making strong progress on that last one. Compared to other disputed states, Palestine enjoys...

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Moderate Islam meets Auschwitz

It’s hard to think of more divisive activities in Palestinian society today. Regardless of whether one agrees with his actions, it is exceedingly rare to see someone publicly buck the fiercely dominant trends in Palestinian discourse.

For nearly 40 years, Mohammed Dajani Daoudi has felt that something was wrong with Palestinian politics. In 1975, while studying at the American University at Beirut (“doing everything except studying”), he was deported to Syria for political activities. Fatah operatives supplied him with a fake passport to get back. But they mistakenly put a Syrian exit stamp into the passport rather than an entry stamp; which looked odd when Syrian passport control moved to give him an exit stamp. The officer went to check with a superior, and Dajani says he grabbed his documents and fled back to Lebanon.

The incident made him feel like he was “fighting Israelis and fighting Palestinians, and it’s too much for me,” he told +972 Magazine in an interview in Jerusalem. After eight years in Fatah, he saw the organization as full of corruption, nepotism, mis-governance. That was when “I divorced politics and married academia.”

moha

Mohammed Dajani Daoudi (Photo: Dahlia Scheindlin, 14 April 2014)

Decades and two American doctoral degrees later, his criticism has spread from politics, to religious life, to Palestinian society itself. Palestinian society was traditionally characterized by moderate Islam, he says; now it has been hijacked by extremism, the Quran has been misinterpreted for cynical political gain, and ignorant people fall for it.

His response, in 2007, was to found Wasatia – “moderation” – a framework through which he promotes values of moderation in religion and society.  Drawing liberally on Quran, he advances his ideas in lectures, booklets and articles. He brings them to his classroom as a professor at al Quds University, where he founded American Studies.

But his credo goes beyond calmer religious interpretations. It extends into embracing diversity, cooperating with, learning and accepting the narratives of the other, even enemies. Even Israel.

He has supported the broadest possible negotiation concessions, such as advocating the recognition of a Jewish state. Most recently and controversially, he took a group of his students on a trip to Auschwitz.

It’s hard to think of more divisive activities in Palestinian society today. Regardless of whether one agrees with his actions, it is exceedingly...

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The peace process needs a whole new outlook

Instead of using the talks as a replacement for progress, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators would do well to define guiding values that should be the basis of both process and solutions.

One of the problems with the flagging Kerry negotiations is that they are heavy on ‘process,’ and not much about ‘peace.’ That could be due to the fairly accurate cliché that the outlines of the two-state solution are “largely known.” Negotiations and civil initiatives from 2000 onwards – Camp David to the Arab Peace Initiative –  overlap on the core issues, with differences of details.

On the other hand, the Israeli leadership’s moves to radically alter those core policy approaches may have made the Americans and the Palestinians reluctant to address them. Netanyahu threw cold water on the concept of a Palestinian state based roughly around adjusted 1967 lines – a mainstay of the two-state solution since the early 1990s. Avigdor Liberman perverted the idea of land swaps: in the past, this referred to Israel keeping large settlement blocs, while giving away insignificant, almost unpopulated tracts of desert. Lieberman turned land swaps into what he calls “population swaps” but which is actually unilateral, forced disenfranchisement of citizenship. It’s little wonder nobody was rushing to seriously open these issues.

Read +972′s full coverage of the peace process

Unless negotiations abandon the obsession with process, but block damaging re-invention of the core elements of peace, they will do more harm than good. Instead of using the talks as a replacement for progress, negotiators would do well to define guiding values that should be the basis of both process and solutions.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, and Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat address reporters on the Middle East Peace Process Talks at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on July 30, 2013. [State Department photo/ Public Domain]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, and Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat address reporters on the Middle East Peace Process Talks at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on July 30, 2013. [State Department photo]

The following is my proposal for the highest priority values:

1. De-escalating, avoiding and deterring violence. Talk of “preventing violence” is a canard designed to kill peace, since humanity has never prevented...

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Israel grasps at a crumbling narrative

Blaming the peace talks’ failure on Palestinian ‘rejectionism’ is nothing more than a flimsy attempt at flipping reality on its head.

With commentators now referring to the peace process as a “corpse,” Israeli talking heads and politicians are scrambling to manage the narrative of the dying animal.

The first task today is to finesse the blame laid squarely on Israel by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. One radio commentator spoke quite factually about “Kerry’s mistake.” But it’s hard to finesse an unprecedented shift of tone from an American administration. It isn’t exactly like America suddenly supported a negative UN resolution; it is, however, further than this or any other administration has ever gone in naming the facts.

Second, Netanyahu is trying to convey that Israel calls the shots: he has reportedly instructed members of the government to cut all contact with Palestinian Authority figures. One commentator observed that since the ministers don’t exactly phone Abu Mazen twice a week anyway, the directive is more declarative than meaningful: we steer the course and can project punishing silence. It’s not clear that anybody on the other side is terribly saddened by this. Netanyahu’s reported plans for further sanctions against the PA sound somewhat hollow, considering that if the PA crumbles, its security cooperation with Israel and the pretension of Palestinian autonomy goes with it.

He must be genuinely angry.

Netanyahu, the “preservation prime minister” was counting on this “preservation process” either continuing forever, or at the very least, breaking down due to Palestinian rejectionism.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a joint press conference with US Secretary of State John Kerry following their meeting in Jerusalem, December 5, 2013. (Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a joint press conference with US Secretary of State John Kerry following their meeting in Jerusalem, December 5, 2013. (Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO)

The Israeli political leadership has come to depend on the peace process as a surefire means of continuing the occupation, expanding the depth and reach of settlements (i.e., building in old areas, and winking while their unofficial soldiers, the settlers, break new ground), all while keeping the pesky international condemnations at bay. It’s no wonder a number of senior figures are expressing some sort of panic.

Third, there is no doubt that a “message box” has...

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Will boycott 'work?'

Four notes on what could be tipping points for — or against — the boycott movement.

A week without a major boycott development in Israel is beginning to seem like a rarity. With a string of celebrity, corporate, cultural and professional threats or actions, the atmosphere is jittery; minor rumors like boycott pressure on Beyoncé are making momentary headlines in Israeli news.

The hot question is what impact will all this have? The peace and anti-occupation camp wonders if such actions will break Israel’s stubborn commitment to its policies (even if many don’t support BDS themselves). Pro-occupation* figures believe the boycott movement is exposing its real face of rabid anti-Semitism, and hope that the ugly truth will drive sensible people away.

Israeli Jews are almost evenly divided between succumbing to the pressure and digging in: the January Peace Index by Tel Aviv University and the Israeli Democracy Institute shows that half of Israeli Jews think the movement will intensify and reach a full-out boycott against Israeli products; nearly one half (47 percent) think it won’t. Nearly half of Israeli Jews (46 percent) think that if the boycott intensifies Israel will not be able to continue its current policies, specifically with relation to settlements, while 49 percent think it can.

I can think of four kinds of developments that might tip the scales – in either direction.

IDF – untouchable? Last week, an Israeli newspaper carried a small item reporting that popular musician Idan Raichel had agreed to perform at a concert exclusively for soldiers doing their mandatory service. The article was saturated with IDF-celebratory tones, including reverential quotes by Raichel. Since cultural figures are commonly assumed to be left wing, such as the Israeli actors, artists and academics who in 2010 protested or boycotted the cultural center in the West Bank settlement of Ariel, the article, to my ears, had a defensive, “so there,” subtext. But the fact is that IDF veneration remains a powerful force in Israeli society; the recent rage against a teacher who discussed politicized topics in the classroom ultimately honed in on the fact that he raised critical questions about the IDF. Over the last two decades there have been some high-profile Israelis who avoided mandatory army service, causing controversy. But they rarely, if ever, do so as a clear statement against Israeli policy or as part of a movement. For now, hyped-up...

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Time to end the delegitimization of Arab Knesset members

Any time the subject of Arab legislators or Arab parties in Israel comes up, someone always feels the tiresome need to mouth off about how horrible Arab members of Knesset are. With crocodile tears, they accuse those MKs of manipulating or forgetting Arab citizens and getting lost in their occupation obsession (a thin guise for their real goal which is the destruction of Israel), instead of working to improve the lives of their voters.

With all due respect, I’d like to blow this nonsense out of the water with a few facts.

MK Ahmad Tibi (Yossi Gurvitz)

MK Ahmad Tibi (Yossi Gurvitz)

A recent quantitative study by the Abraham Fund released just a few months ago 2013 examined legislative activity from a 19-month period during the previous (18th) Knesset. It did not examine all 17 Arab MKs, but chose to focus on 11 who are most often accused of the things above (10 of them from Arab parties, one from Labor). Here are some of the findings:

- 1,107 private bills were proposed; 158 of them were submitted by the 11 Arab legislators. That’s 14 percent of the total, although those MKs make up less than 10 percent of the Knesset. Assuming the remaining six MKs submitted some bills, the actual percentage submitted by Arab MKs is presumably higher.

- Three of those bills involved the occupation; two involved Arab Israeli citizens, and had something to do with the conflict. Together, those five bills made up three percent of the bills submitted.

- The remaining 153 bills, 97 percent, addressed civic issues such as improved administration, narrowing socio-economic gaps, adjusting distortions and preferential treatment in existing laws.

- Parliamentary activity such as short speeches, calls to order, or queries to ministerial committees were also categorized. One-quarter had to do with the occupation; 46 percent had to do with Arab Israeli citizens and 29 percent were issues related to Israeli society in general.

A quick glance at some of the individual MKs provides a snapshot of their activities:

- Hanin Zoabi of Balad, best known in Jewish Israeli society for her participation in the Gaza flotilla and as the target of attacks by right-wing nationalist parties, was the most active MK of all in 2012 in posing queries...

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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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