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PHOTOS: Settlers assault Palestinian NGO worker in northern West Bank

Settlers attacked a Palestinian NGO worker in the West Bank village of Burin on Sunday.

According to Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights organization that provides legal assistance to Palestinians in the West Bank, the settlers attacked Munir Kadus (a Yesh Din investigator) as he was accompanying a group of Palestinians who were paving a road in the village Burin, south of Nablus. The settlers allegedly came from the direction of Givat Ronen, an outpost neighborhood of Har Bracha.

Settlers and Israeli soldiers seen in Burin, West Bank. (photo: Yesh Din)

Settlers and Israeli soldiers seen in Burin, West Bank. (photo: Yesh Din)

Kadus, who sustained injuries to his arm and both ribs, was released from Rafidia Hospital in Nablus on Sunday afternoon. According to Yesh Din, the Palestinians were accompanied by a large number of soldiers, since the road work was done in accordance with the Israeli military and the Civil Administration. Despite the presence of the soldiers, the settlers were able to harass the road workers. The settlers also walked among the houses of the village, throwing stones at Palestinians.

Munir Kadus lays in the Rafidia Hospital in Nablus after being attacked by settlers in the village of Burin. (photo: 'i love you burin' Facebook page)

Munir Kadus lays in the Rafidia Hospital in Nablus after being attacked by settlers in the village of Burin. (photo: ‘i love you burin’ Facebook page)

According to Yesh Din, the Committee for Settlers in Samaria called for Israelis to arrive at the scene and disrupt the work on its official Facebook page. The page also boasted about the villagers’ attempt at paving the road, which was also disrupted by settlers.

WATCH: Settlers assault Israeli in West Bank, tell soldiers to shoot
WATCH: IDF soldiers escort masked settlers attacking Palestinian village

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Israeli teens tell Netanyahu: We will not take part in occupation

Nearly 50 Israeli teenagers of draft age send letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu, stating clearly that they will refuse to join the IDF due to the occupation of the West Bank, and the violent effect it has on Israeli society.

Dozens of Israel teenagers signed a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu on Saturday, in which they announced that they would refuse to serve in the Israeli army come draft time.

According to the letter, the teenagers are refusing to enlist in the army due to their “opposition to the military occupation of Palestinian territories,” where “human rights are violated, and acts defined under international law as war-crimes are perpetuated on a daily basis.” Aside from the ultra-Orthodox and Palestinian citizens of Israel, army service is mandatory for all Israelis (three years for males, two for females).

The letter goes on to decry the effect of the occupation on Israeli society itself, especially the way it “shapes the educational system, our workforce opportunities, while fostering racism, violence and ethnic, national and gender-based discrimination,” and promotes and perpetuates “male dominance” and oppressive gender structures within the army itself.

Dafna Rotstein (left) and Roy Lax, two of the refuseniks who signed the letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu. Lax:

Dafna Rotstein (left) and Roni Lax, two of the refuseniks who signed the letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu. Lax: ‘If they decide to enlist me by force, I’ll sit in prison.’

Udi Segal, an 18 year old from Kibbutz Tuval in Israel’s north told +972 that his signing of the letter is connected to the rightward shift taking place in Israeli society.

“I cannot take part in an army that occupies another people and makes Israeli society more violent and apathetic to what is happening,” says Segal.

17-year-old Elza Bugnet, who also signed the letter, says the issue is not solely about opposing the military. “The idea is to bring the idea of the occupation up for public discussion. To create a new understanding of enlistment and what that means for Israelis, and especially what it means for the occupation.”

Bugnet, who is originally from Tel Aviv, says that her friends and family support her decision to refuse. “I get a lot of support from my family – we share the same beliefs. A lot of my friends don’t necessarily agree with my choice, but appreciate...

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In IDF fantasy video, Palestinians are allowed to protest

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any more embarrassing or distorted, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit has managed to top itself. On Sunday, the unit published a new video on its YouTube channel, showing scenes of Palestinian demonstrators throwing rocks and Israeli soldiers firing rounds of tear gas “in self-defense” in the West Bank village of Qaddum.

Every Friday for the past two years, the villagers of Qaddum (along with Israeli and international activists) have marched toward the nearby settlement of Kedumim to protest the continuing expropriation of their land. As in every un-armed protest across the West Bank, the IDF is ready for them. With its state-of-the-art crowd dispersal weapons – tear gas, rubber and live bullets, sound grenades and skunk water – the villagers don’t stand a chance. As anyone who has been to these protests can attest, the tear gas often starts well before Palestinians even have the chance to throw a stone, let alone march.

So what does the video teach us?

According to the good folks at the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit, Palestinians are “free to demonstrate non-violently, as IDF officers explain to them every week.”

You don’t say.

The order regulating demonstrations in the West Bank is Order No. 101 — “Order Regarding Prohibition of Incitement and Hostile Propaganda Actions,” which was set after Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967. According to the order, any assembly, vigil, or procession of 10 or more people requires a permit from the local IDF commander and imposes 10 years’ imprisonment on violators. Of course, as with all Israeli military orders, it applies only to the Palestinians who live in Areas B and C (both under full Israeli military control), whereas Israeli settlers (who live in Area C) are subject to Israeli civil law.

Back to the video. We see an IDF soldier’s view of a Qaddum protest that took on place on February 7 of this year. “We ask you today not to choose violence,” a megaphone-wielding IDF officer announces to the protesters in English. “It is okay to demonstrate, but it is not okay to use violence — we ask you to stop throwing rocks,” the officer shouts. I wonder how many of the people he was speaking to understood him.

According to the video’s subtitled narration, the Palestinians “consistently ignore the officer’s request and start attacking the soldiers.” The video states that...

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In the diaspora, Arik Einstein defined 'Israeliness'

As an Israeli who was born and raised in the United States, few things were more important to me than formulating an Israeli identity. It was a strange complex, which, at its core, always strived to be “the most Israeli” possible (and always more Israeli than those who surrounded me). In our expat community, Israeliness was demonstrated in all sorts of way – there was (and still is) an Israeli scouts chapter, Israeli Remembrance Day and Holocaust Memorial Day ceremonies, lectures on Israeli culture and history and a plethora of Zionist organizations that worked tirelessly to bring us a culture that we needed so badly. And me? I just wanted the music.

Every year, my cousins would bring me and my sister cassette tapes full of popular Israeli music. All kinds of things that I no longer connect to, but nonetheless gave me the feeling that I’m part of this place.

And for me, Arik Einstein was the greatest of them all. My cousins would bring us all of his tapes, which my family would bring along everywhere we traveled in the world. But all the Aviv Geffens, the Shlomo Artzis and the Subliminals, who I loved at different points in my life, don’t even come close to how Einstein’s songs became a part of me – a part of what I wanted to be.

Once, my grandfather bought me a VHS of Einstein singing his famous children songs. I remember watching it over and over again as I sat up close by the television. I memorized every song, every note. Sometimes my grandfather would join me, and I gladly accepted the risk of permanently damaging my eyes (which ended up happening anyway) in order to sit side-by-side with him on that green couch at my aunt and uncle’s home in Haifa.

Today I look at things a little bit differently. Arik Einstein just died and already my Facebook feed is full of people eulogizing him as the “beautiful Israeli” or “the best that this land had to offer.”

I don’t really know what a “beautiful Israeli” looks like, and I’m no longer sure how good something or someone is just because they grew up here, or anywhere else. What I do know is that those memories – the long drives with my family or the failed attempts at hiding my tears from my grandfather when the music video...

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PHOTOS: Hundreds of olive trees destroyed near West Bank village

Nearly 230 olive trees were destroyed earlier this week in the northern West Bank. According to B’Tselem, an Israeli NGO that documents human rights violations in the occupied territories, the trees belonged to the Radwan family from the village Azzoun, and were planted no more than five years ago.

The family began harvesting the trees, which lie near the junction of Karnei Shomron and the village Kufr Latif, just yesterday, leading them to suspect that they were destroyed shortly thereafter or during the early hours of the morning.

Destroyed olive trees belonging to the Radwan family from the West Bank village of Azun. (photo: ‘Abd al-Karim Sa’adi/B’Tselem)

The destruction comes at the height of the tense olive harvest season, which has seen a dramatic rise in settler attacks against Palestinians and their olive trees. According to Rabbis for Human Rights, nearly 2,000 Palestinian olive trees have been destroyed in recent months in areas the Israeli army knows to be flash points.

Destroyed olive trees belonging to the Radwan family from the West Bank village of Azun. (photo: ‘Abd al-Karim Sa’adi/B’Tselem)

According to Yesh Din, between 2005 and 2013 just 8.5 percent of investigation files ended in the indictment of Israelis suspected of harming Palestinians and their property. In the vast majority of cases, the investigators failed to locate the offenders or to collect sufficient evidence for prosecution. Thus, the chances that the police will catch the vandals is nearly zero.

Israeli soldiers stand near the destroyed olive trees belonging to the Radwan family from the West Bank village of Azun.

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Settler violence: Think of it like burning down a Jewish business
For Israel’s police, settler violence is but a fantasy
WATCH: Masked settler beats Palestinian with metal pipe

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Settler violence: Think of it like burning down a Jewish business

When violent hate crimes happen so often they become a non-story.

Palestinian farmers from the West Bank village of Qaryut assess the damage done to their olive trees the day before by Israeli settlers, October 20, 2013. Officials from the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture on the scene counted 60 trees damaged belonging to 12 different farmers. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/

Imagine a series of attacks on shops and businesses in your city. Every night, a gang of hooligans breaks windows, damages goods and sets fire to a different store.

Now imagine that this same gang only targets businesses owned by a specific group of people – say, a chain of local stores owned and operated by blacks or Jews. The attacks go on for years and only worsen with time. If the store owner happens to be there, he or she is beaten and left bleeding at the front door.

In the United States and Europe these kind of acts would be deemed “hate crimes.” In Israel, the targeting of, say, Jewish-owned businesses would be decried as an act of “terror” by politicians and the press. If the problem persists, it may even become an internationally-recognized issue. Petitions will be signed. Ambassadors will be called to explain. Communities will mobilize.

For a Palestinian farmer, the olive grove is his business.

The past several years have seen thousands of trees burned, cut down or damaged in dozens of incidents, including “price tag attacks” – a form of vandalism or property destruction, sometimes carried out in protest of a certain governmental decision that the perpetrators don’t like, and sometimes for no reason other than hate. Farmers have been shot atbeaten, and have had their cars burned. Some have suffered severe injuries, others have lost the little property they own. For almost everyone, the yearly olive harvest – taking place this time of year – has become a time of deep fear and anxiety.

According to Rabbis for Human Rights, nearly 2,000 Palestinian olive trees have been either uprooted or burned across the West Bank in recent months alone. Palestinians and their Israeli and international allies are routinely attacked while attempting to harvest olives. A recent video posted by my colleague Michael Omer-Man shows settlers violently beating a Palestinian olive harvester...

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WATCH: An IDF love song set in the ruins of a Palestinian village

One of the more difficult aspects of living in Israel over the last several years has been coming to terms with the layers of denial in which Jewish Israeli society wraps itself. The denial comes in many forms and covers some of the biggest issues facing the country: the occupation, discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel and Mizrahi Jews, sexism, homophobia and of course, the Nakba.

I recently came across a video that, at least for me, clarifies just how deep the denial of the destruction of Palestinian existence prior to 1948 runs in Israeli society. The video shows the Nahal Band – a music and theater troupe belonging to the IDF’s Nahal group, famous for their renditions of classic Eretz Yisrael songs – singing Haim Hefer’s timeless “He Never Knew Her Name.” The sepia-tinted clip, which looks as if it were filmed sometime the 1960s, opens with five members of the group driving their jeep through a rocky terrain lined with sabra cacti. As the camera zooms out, we see the ruins of a Palestinian village. The next two-and-a-half minutes show lead singer Sassi Keshet (who went on to become a famous Israeli entertainer), walking around the sabra field, finally reaching what is clearly an abandoned Palestinian home. There, he leans on the building, looking forlorn and dejected, before returning to his fellow troupe members and driving off.

Watching this video, one cannot help but be taken aback by the sight of the soldier singing a love song while walking around a depopulated Palestinian village. The village’s ruins and its cacti are transformed and repurposed into a mere backdrop for the soldier’s longing for his nameless female lover. But the most disturbing aspect of the video is that we aren’t watching some kind of accident unfold before us, nor are we witnessing some lone blemish on the pristine record of the most moral army in the world. The video strikes at the underlying principles of the Zionist project: the denial of the existence of another people who had to be cleared away in order to build a new society.

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Right-wing group seeks to dismantle Israeli NGO dedicated to Palestinian return

Just weeks after it was deemed to have ‘fascist characteristics,’ nationalist group Im Tirtzu tries to shut down Zochrot for allegedly ‘rejecting the existence of the State of Israel.’

Im Tirzu activists demonstrate against supporters of army refusers, Tel Hashomer army base, near Tel Aviv. (photo: Activestills)

Right-wing group Im Tirtzu is attempting to shut down Zochrot, a non-profit organization that dedicates itself to raising awareness of the Nakba in Israeli society, and working toward the return of Palestinian refugees who fled or were expelled by Israeli forces in 1948.

According to the Israeli news site Kipa [Hebrew], Im Tirtzu leader Ronen Shoval sent a letter to the head of Israel’s NGO registry, claiming that Zochrot’s activity contradicts section 49 of the law regulating budgets of non-profit organizations. According to the law, a district court may dismantle a non-profit organization if “the organization or its activities aim to reject the existence of the State of Israel or its democratic character.”

 > Read more: Following right-wing attacks, museum seeks to cancel ‘Right of Return Conference’

According to Zochrot’s website, the group’s aim is to “promote Israeli Jewish society’s acknowledgement of and accountability for the ongoing injustices of the Nakba and the reconceptualization of Return as the imperative redress of the Nakba and a chance for a better life for all the country’s inhabitants.” The organization’s stated purpose is to “create the conditions for the Return of Palestinian Refugees and a shared life in this country.”

In his letter, Shoval states that Zochrot’s support for Palestinian return is “unequivocal.” According to Shoval:

This isn’t Im Tirtzu’s first confrontation with Zochrot; just last month the group attempted to shut down the annual Zochrot conference, to be held at the Eretz Yisrael Museum in north Tel Aviv, on the former site of the Palestinian village Al-Sheikh Muwannis.

Zochrot’s Director Liat Rosenberg responded to Im Tirtzu’s latest attack:

Jerusalem Court: Okay to call Im Tirtzu a ‘fascist group’
State council seeks to shut down ‘leftist’ department at BGU
Following right-wing attacks, museum seeks to cancel ‘Right of Return Conference’
Right-wing group publishes Nakba denial...

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'There is peace here': Notes from a journey to settler backcountry

After deciding to visit a few wildcat Jewish settlements in the West Bank, I felt anxious. Will they recognize us for the Tel Aviv leftists that we are? Will they become enraged at our questions? Might we face violence? Arriving at the settlement gate, however, I am struck by just how much the place resembles the kibbutz I lived on just a few years ago. But by the end of our journey, it becomes clear that we are not welcome.

By Edo Konrad

A poster of Meir Kahane hangs from the bus stop at the entrance to the Havat Gilad outpost near Nablus. (photo: Yuval Ben-Ami).

The first and only time I had ever spoken to an ideological settler was during the summer 2011 social protests. Out on Rothschild Boulevard in the heart of Tel Aviv, where thousands of Israelis gathered to demand social justice, I argued face-to-face with a teenage settler boy. It was on the same day that former MK Michael Ben-Ari arrived with henchman Baruch Marzel and a group of hilltop youth wearing shirts that read “Let the Jews win!” and “Keep Tel Aviv Jewish.” They were there to establish the “Judea and Samaria Tent,” whose main mission was to demand increased government spending on settlement construction and to ensure that the settlement issue was on the protest’s agenda.

“Why are you here?” I asked the boy curiously. To me, a group of people who actively call for taking even more Palestinian land are not allies in my struggle for social justice. His response was frank: “We’re here because we want to make sure that all sectors of Israeli society are represented, not just residents of Tel Aviv. We believe the residents of Migron are no less important, even if the government doesn’t give a shit about them.” The Arabs are the real occupiers of Jewish land, some of the others yelled.

I left Rothschild angry. I was angry with this group of people whose whole raison d’etre seemed to be to make life hell for the Palestinians. But I also began to realize how little I actually knew about them. Growing up in a tightly knit Israeli community in the United States, the settlements and the occupation were entirely absent from any conversation having to do with Israel. It...

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