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High Court freezes Palestinian hunger striker's administrative detention

High Court freezes Muhammad Allan’s administrative detention order. Decision comes hours after state announces it will release him should it be proven that he has suffered permanent brain damage.

After more than 65 days of hunger strike Israel’s High Court of Justice froze Palestinian hunger striker Muhammad Allan’s administrative detention order Wednesday evening.

According to Haaretz, the court order does not release Allaan from administrative detention, but rather freezes the order for the period of his treatment in Barzilai Hospital. When his condition stabilizes, Allan may petition authorities to be transferred to another hospital. The response to that will be at the discretion of the court.

The High Court’s decision comes two days after the state rejected a petition to drop the administrative detention orders, saying instead that it would be willing to release Allan on the condition that he be deported and live outside of the country for a period of four years.

On Wednesday, the state announced that Allan would be released should it be proven that he suffered permanent brain damage. Hours later, an MRI test revealed he had suffered irreversible neurological damage as a result of vitamin deficiency, according to medical officials.

Haaretz also reports that the deterioration in Allan’s medical condition began after his doctors took him off the inhalator and anesthesia on Tuesday. He was reported to be conscious and able to communicate, and in stable condition.

Allan, 31, a lawyer from the area of Nablus, has been held by Israel in administrative detention since November 2014. According to the Shin Bet, he is accused of being a member of Islamic Jihad, and poses a danger to the security of the state. However, as an administrative detainee, he is neither put on trial nor does he have the right to be made aware of the evidence held against him by the state.

On Monday a demonstration outside Barzilai Hospital against Allan’s detention was violently suppressed by Israeli police, who also stood by as right-wing Israeli activists attacked the protestors.

The Israeli military has put its forces on alert throughout the occupied territories in the event of further demonstrations or escalations, namely, if Allan were to die as a result of his strike.

Israel’s new force-feeding law, which the state has been seeking to use on Allan, also continues to hover over other Palestinian detainees who are conducting separate hunger strikes. The law is currently being challenged before the...

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IDF may start viewing Iran nukes as less of a threat

A new document published by the IDF’s chief of staff rebuts Netanyahu’s attempts at consensus-building on the Iran nuclear threat.

The so-called Israeli consensus on the Iranian threat took another blow on Thursday after IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot published a new document titled “IDF Strategy.” News on the document was published in Haaretz, describing Eizenkot’s five-year plan for building up the army under financial restrictions, which includes plans for slashing budgets, re-allocating funds, and prospects for bringing other security agencies into the fray.

The document also lists the gravest threats presently facing the Israeli military: Islamic State, Hezbollah, and Hamas. And while Iran is mentioned as a supporter of Hezbollah and Hamas, not once is it deemed a “nuclear threat,” contradicting Netanyahu’s claim that the Islamic Republic will continue advancing its goal of achieving a nuclear weapon, despite the Vienna deal.

On the very same day, senior political correspondent Alon Ben-David published an op-ed in the Ma’ariv daily [Hebrew], in which he claims that as Netanyahu plans to go head-to-head with President Obama, the army is breathing a little easier. According to Ben-David, the deal will buy the IDF time, at least on the Iranian front, and will “delay the Iranian nuclear threat by at least a decade, which will allow the IDF to spread and downgrade its investments in preparing for a military option against Iran.”

But aside from a few voices in the Israeli media, why are army officials refraining from speaking out in favor of the Obama deal? A recent op-ed by Haaretz‘s Amir Oren may hold the answer. According to Oren, there are people in the IDF Intelligence Corps, including those who work in the research division dealing with Iran who “have a very positive view of the nuclear agreement.” Their views, Oren writes, have reached the likes of Eisenkot and head of the Israel Defense Forces Intelligence Corps, Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevy, where they have been “swallowed up as if they had never existed.”

While the military echelon remains silent, a number of high-profile, former members of Israel’s security establishment have already come out in favor of the deal. In a July interview with the Daily Beast, former Shin Bet head Ami Ayalon said “Israelis are failing to distinguish between reducing Iran’s nuclear capability and Iran being the biggest devil in the Middle East.” Following the formulation of...

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Thousands protest against racist, homophobic attacks; place blame on gov't

Across Israel, thousands of protesters flood the streets, laying the blame on the government for the arson attack that killed a Palestinian infant and the stabbing attack on marchers during Jerusalem’s Pride march.

Photos by Oren Ziv /

Thousands of people gathered in cities across the country on Saturday night to protest against the racist and homophobic attacks of the past few days. The demonstrations come in response to Thursday’s mass stabbing attack at the Jerusalem Pride Parade, as well as the arson attack in the West Bank village Duma, where 18-month-old Ali Dawabsha was burned to death.

In Tel Aviv over 3,000 people attended a rally organized by Peace Now, calling for “an iron fist against Jewish terrorism.” Among the speakers were opposition leader Isaac Herzog, who earlier on Saturday called on the government to expand its use of administrative detention against Jews involved in terrorism.

Nasser Dawabshe, the uncle of the slain infant, also spoke, saying that Netanyahu’s condolences were not enough, and that it is the prime minister’s duty to ensure the security of the Palestinians in the occupied territories. “We demand that this be the end of our people’s suffering,” he told the crowed. “Before Ali came Muhammad Abu Khdeir, and we do not know who is next in line. We want these arson attacks to end.”

Not far from Rabin Square, thousands gathered at Gan Meir Park to protest the stabbing attacks that took place during the Jerusalem Pride march on Thursday. The speakers list included former President Shimon Peres, members of both the coalition and the opposition, as well as representatives of LGBT groups.

When Likud MK Yuval Steinitz went up to the podium to speak, dozens of LGBT activists held up their hands in gloves dyed the color red, calling out “homophobia begins with the government.”

In Jerusalem, over 1,000 people gathered in Zion Square under heavy security to protest against both the attacks of the past week. President Reuven Rivlin, who has received numerous death threats for speaking out against the arson attack in Duma, was the keynote speaker, saying that “We cannot continue treating these as tragic coincidences, we cannot put out the fire with weak condemnations.”

“Contempt for the rule of law, for the love of mankind, these create the conditions that lay the foundation for what we call ‘bad apples.’ We need to ask what...

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At least six stabbed in Jerusalem Pride Parade attack

At least six people were stabbed Thursday afternoon during the annual Jerusalem Pride Parade. At least two are seriously wounded, one of them in critical condition.

The stabbing took place on Jerusalem’s Keren Hayesod Street, where Magen David Adom emergency services treated the victims. According to Israeli Police, the suspected stabber is Yishai Shlissel, an ultra-Orthodox man who was recently released from prison after serving 10 years for stabbing three marchers during the 2005 parade. He was caught at the scene.

According to witnesses, the attacker emerged behind the marchers and began stabbing them while screaming. A police officer then tackled him to the ground and arrested him.

According to Haaretz, police had granted a permit to 30 right-wing activists, including far-right leader Benzi Gopstein — who heads the anti-miscegenation group, Lehava — to protest the event not far from the march. Earlier Thursday, police arrested right-wing extremist Baruch Marzel though they denied the arrest had anything to do with the the parade itself.

Prime Minister Netanyahu condemned the attack, stating that, “We must ensure that every man and woman in Israel live securely no matter what choice they make,” and wished the wounded a speedy recovery.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, whose Jewish Home party was criticized by Israel’s LGBTQ community during this year’s election campaign for its homophobic platform, called the stabbing a “moral crime that cannot be forgiven.”

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Israeli media review: Is Bibi going back to Congress over Iran deal?

Netanyahu’s mouthpiece largely parrots the prime minister’s warnings and fears; leading columnists in other newspapers label the deal a personal failure for Netanyahu, warn that the ground-breaking agreement actually puts a military option back on the table.

By Edo Konrad and Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man

Even before the historic nuclear agreement with Iran was announced Tuesday morning, Israel’s most widely read newspaper was parroting the prime minister’s condemnations of what he termed “a deal at any cost.” The front-page headline in Israel Hayom, which is regarded as a mouthpiece for Netanyahu, read: “A deal full of holes; concessions at any cost.”

Writing in Israel Hayom after the deal was signed a few hours after the newspaper went to print, former Israeli ambassador and Netanyahu ally Zalman Shoval wrote that the battlefield must now move to Congress, where Israel must convince the Americans not approve the agreement. Shoval goes on to warn that Israel’s considerations regarding its relationship with the U.S., “both in general and specifically when it comes to the Palestinian issue,” will change.

Writing in the Jerusalem Post-owned Maariv website, leading columnist Ben Caspit lamented what he described as Netanyahu’s personal failure. The only thing Netanyahu has been talking about, to anybody who will listen, at any opportunity, and for 20 years, Caspit wrote, is stopping Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Israel’s prime minister could have gotten a better deal, Caspit argued, if only he had played things smart — if he had been nicer to Obama, if he had appeased the administration and the world. “But Netanyahu preferred Sheldon [Adelson] and [Ron] Dermer and the radical settlers instead of the rational path.”

Also writing in Maariv, former Haaretz columnist and intelligence expert Yossi Melman argued that the deal is actually a success for Israel. For nearly a decade, decision-makers in Jerusalem knew they could only delay Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Through a combination of diplomacy, sanctions and covert assassinations and sabotage, and concluding with the deal signed in Vienna, Melman argues, Israel has accomplished just that.

“Even if the deal isn’t the best, the sky will not fall on Israel,” Melman writes. “[Israel will continue to be a strong regional power, with the best army, which has the most modern technology, and according to foreign publications, with a large arsenal of nuclear weapons.”

It’s bizarre to hear the Israeli government express deep fears and let...

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How does Israel's media fight sexual harassment? With racism

An Israeli news site runs a piece about Palestinian men sexually assaulting Israeli women at the beach, begging the question: why is this particular story newsworthy when stories about Jewish men assaulting Jewish women rarely are?

Israeli news site Walla! ran an article [Hebrew] on Friday with the following headline: “Palestinians who come to Tel Aviv’s beaches cannot resist the women.” The article describes how Palestinian men from the West Bank take advantage of their entry permits—which are granted with greater ease during the month of Ramadan in order to allow worshippers access to Jerusalem—to enjoy the beaches of Tel Aviv.

But if you ask Walla, not all of these men are so innocent. According to the article, one 19-year-old Palestinian from Hebron was detained for sexually harassing two women on the beach this past week.

“We see this phenomenon every year during Ramadan,” said police investigator Yoni Hirshhorn during a hearing over whether to extend the man’s detention. “The Ramadan tourists who obtain permits to pray take trips to Tel Aviv. They come to the beaches of Tel Aviv and some of them cannot help themselves when they see the women, that’s when we receive reports of sexual harassment and assault.”

There is no minimizing acts of sexual harassment and sexual assault, and there is no doubt that every allegation of sexual assault needs to be taken seriously. Men cannot commit violent, gender-based crimes against women and expect to be let off the hook.

But as one scrolls through Walla’s story, which is rife with disturbing, illustrative photos of Palestinian-looking men leering at what are presumed to be white, Jewish women on the beach—one must ask why on earth the editors thought this particular story was worth publishing, when stories about Jewish men assaulting Jewish women rarely are. Does the nationality of the attacker matter for anything other than click bait, not to mention race-baiting? Does it count as news when a Jewish man assaults a Jewish woman?

The other glaring issue is the way the article constructs the Jewish women who are at risk of assault. Walla’s article doesn’t stray too far from the racist, Jim Crow-era construction of the black man as what scholar Christopher J. Metzler calls a “hyper-sexual brute with an insatiable lust for white women.” In fact, Walla’s article only perpetuates the trope according to which white, Jewish women are always in danger of being...

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'We don't need a constitution—we have the Bible'

Chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee says every piece of legislation should be ‘compatible with Jewish law.’

From the moment Israel’s founding fathers declared the independence of their state, Israeli politicians have been unable to agree on a formal constitution. Although the Declaration of Independence stipulated that a constitution be written by October 1, 1948, the 1948 war—as well as the inability of different groups in Israeli society to agree on the purpose and identity of the state—prevented that from happening.

Every so often the idea of a formal constitution is floated by politicians and civil society, but has never come to fruition. Now, it seems, the idea of preparing a constitution is being rendered redundant by the chairman of the Knesset committee charged with, among other things, determining the constitutionality of proposed Knesset bills.

In an interview with the Israel Hayom daily this week, Nissan Slomiansky, the chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, stated that drafting a constitution is unnecessary, since “Israel already has a constitution, the Bible.”

According to Slomiansky (Jewish Home), Knesset legislation should be “compatible with Jewish law,” adding that “there is no reason why this should not be the case.”

Like the United Kingdom, Israel doesn’t have a written constitution, but rather relies on a set of “basic laws” that were built piecemeal since its founding. These laws deal with the formation and role of state’s institutions; the relations between the different state authorities and branches; and they protect civil rights. Basic laws were given constitutional status in a 1992 landmark decision by the Chief Justice of Israel’s Supreme Court at the time, Aharon Barak. Since then, the Supreme Court has asserted its authority to invalidate provisions of Knesset laws it has found to be inconsistent with a basic law—a reality that Slomiansky’s party is working hard to change.

Slomiansky, a founder of Gush Emunim (a Jewish messianic movement that promoted the settlement of Jews in the occupied territories) and former head of the Council of Judea and Samaria (Yesha Council), is one of the key forces pushing for a major overhaul of the court, an institution that he believes is “disconnected from the will of the people.” In essence, however, his goal is to replace its more liberal justices and allow the Knesset to override Supreme Court rulings that strike down anti-democratic legislation. Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, also from his Jewish...

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Palestinian man killed by IDF jeep, soldiers shoot Gaza man

Abdullah Iyad Ghanayim, 22, was shot in the lower back during clashes before the jeep flipped on top of him and left him dead.

A Palestinian man was killed on Sunday when Israeli soldiers struck him with their jeep during clashes in Kafr Malik, a village near Ramallah.

Palestinian officials stated that the incident took place when local residents threw stones at the Israeli soldiers, and that the victim, 22-year-old Abdullah Iyad Ghanayim, was shot in the lower back during clashes before the jeep lost control and flipped on top of him.

According to the Israeli military, Ghanayim had just thrown a firebomb at the jeep, causing it to swerve out of the way and strike him by accident, Haaretz reported. The jeep flipped over.

The Israeli military also said it was investigating the incident.

According to Ma’an News Agency, local sources said six other Palestinians were injured during the clashes after they were shot by Israeli forces with rubber-coated steel bullets.

Ghanayim is the second Palestinian to die in clashes with Israeli forces in less than a week, after a man was shot dead during a confrontation with the army on Wednesday in Jenin refugee camp.

According to the UN, Israeli soldiers have killed 11 Palestinians in the West Bank since the start of the year.

Ghanayim’s death comes just two days after a video — which has by now gone viral — showed Israeli soldiers beating a Palestinian man after he was arrested during a demonstration near Ramallah.

According to Haaretz, clashes that erupted between Palestinians and forces from the Netzah Yehuda Battalion in Jalazone refugee camp were caught on video by local Palestinian media.

The footage shows Israeli soldiers repeatedly punching the man and striking him with the butts of their rifles. The soldiers also yelled obscenities at him as he lay on the ground.

WATCH: Soldiers beat Palestinian during protest in Jalazone

Haaretz reports that according initial investigation conducted Saturday morning, the soldier reported the arrest, but failed to mention the events as they were caught on video. The army claims that the beating took place after Palestinians threw stones at soldiers, who in return fired rubber bullets, injuring one Palestinian, and then fired live round into the air in an attempt to disperse what they described as a riot.

Following a more in-depth investigation, however, the IDF...

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Who needs the Right when we have Isaac Herzog?

What is the difference between warning about Arab hordes heading to the polls and warning of Arabs being democratically elected to parliament?

A few days after Benjamin Netanyahu swept the elections — partly attributed to his election-day racist warnings about Israel’s Palestinian minority — I wrote a piece about his rival, Isaac Herzog, who was lugging his own brand of anti-Arab racism along with him on the campaign trail.

Throughout the race, Herzog positioned himself as an alternative to Netanyahu who would reach a peace agreement with the Palestinians, save Israel from looming international isolation, and return the country to its rightful place among the community of nations. In reality, Herzog refused to consider forming a coalition with the Joint List, joined the right-wing chorus by voting to disqualify MK Haneen Zoabi from the elections, and released a video featuring former intelligence officers lauding him as someone who “understands the Arab mentality,” and who “has seen Arabs in all kinds of situations” (including “in the crosshairs”).

Some might counter that in the current climate, a “dovish” underdog has little choice but to turn into a hawk during elections. I accept that premise: politicians always have and always will make election promises they do not keep. But if there was any doubt that a racism lies deep down in Herzog and his ilk, it was belied on Sunday evening when the Zionist Union leader warned attendees at the Herzliya Conference of the “demographic emergency” facing Israel:

There you have it. The leader of the Israeli opposition, the great white hope of the Israeli Left, the man who was supposed to rescue Israel from itself, thinks only Jews are worthy of being elected prime minister in the Jewish and democratic state. What is allowed for Jews is, at best, hardly afforded to Palestinians. At worst, it is a prized possession that must be protected from non-Jews at all costs. After all, what is the difference between warning of Arab hordes heading to the polls and warning of Arabs being democratically elected to parliament?

At this point, Herzog is doing us a favor by making it clear that the issue does not lie specifically with him, or even Netanyahu for that matter. The consensus worldview in Israel — which has historically been propagated by the Zionist Left — is one of separation between Jews and Palestinians. This is...

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WATCH: IDF brings segregated streets back to Hebron

IDF re-segregates main road leading to Cave of the Patriarchs, two years after it ostensibly put an end to the policy.  

Israeli human rights group B’Tselem announced Thursday that the Israeli military has renewed segregation between Jews and Palestinians on the main street leading to the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron since January. The military does not allow Palestinians to use the main part of the street and forces Palestinians to use a narrow, unpaved and rough pedestrian passageway.

According to B’Tselem, this policy had been previously implemented between September 2012 to March 2013. It was was temporarily stopped after the organization published a video (above) showing Border Police officers explaining that the main part of the street was for Jews only. The military withdrew the policy only once the video circulated widely and received much media coverage. Until recently, that is.

Since the 1994 Cave of the Patriarchs Massacre, in which an Israeli settler by the name of Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 Muslim worshippers, the Israeli military has adopted an official policy of separating Jews and Muslims in Hebron. However, only Palestinians bear the brunt of this policy, which places them under severe restrictions when it comes to travel and movement in downtown Hebron.

Prisoners in our own homes: A look at life in occupied Hebron
WATCH: A heartbreaking portrait of life in Hebron, in 9 minutes
Israel’s president went to Hebron for all the wrong reasons

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Every day is Land Day, on both sides of the Green Line

The word ‘occupation’ evokes the West Bank, but the policies of land expropriation and Judaization were perfected inside Israel long before they were used on Palestinians in the occupied territories.

In 2005, Amnon Raz-Karkotzkin, a professor of Jewish history at Ben-Gurion University known to his friends and associates simply as Nono, published a seminal article titled “There is No God, But He Promised Us the Land.” The article, published in Hebrew in Mitaam, an Israeli journal devoted to literature and radical political thought, captured perfectly the spirit of the Zionists who founded the State of Israel. While Judaism may have been the source behind the fervor to re-claim Zion, Nono wrote, those who envisioned and founded the State of Israel only used it inasmuch as it provided them a vehicle for demographic and territorial power in their nascent state.

For instance, the national symbols, created upon the formal establishment of the state, have always been inextricably tied to Judaism. The best example is the national flag, whose double stripes are based on the patterns found on the tallit (Jewish prayer shawl). Turning Jewish symbols into national ones was never very difficult; the difficult part was converting the most valuable resource in the country into a national (read: Jewish) asset. That resource, of course, was land.

From the founding of the state until 1966, approximately 90 percent of Palestinian citizens — those who neither fled nor were expelled during the 1948 war — were placed under a military regime. In the Galilee, the Negev and the Triangle, Palestinian citizens (who were given the right to vote in Israeli elections) were subject to a harsh permit regime, strict curfews and very often coerced collaboration (for more, see Hillel Cohen’s “Good Arabs” and Shira Robinson’s “Citizen Strangers”).

It was during this time that Israel’s secular regime expropriated the land of Palestinians refugees who had fled the country as well as much of the land belonging to those who remained. Passing a swath of legislation in the 1950s under the guise of the Absentee Property Law, the new regime transferred land that had — just years earlier — belonged to Palestinians, to the Israel Land Administration. In fact much of the justifications given by Israeli authorities for building settlements in the West Bank are identical to those given for many of the new towns and cities that were built in the years following the...

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When Jewish militants dug underground tunnels

Seventy years ago it was the Zionist militias who dug underground tunnels and hid weapon caches among the civilian population. So why is it so difficult for Israelis to understand when Hamas does the same today?

Whether we like to admit it or not, the Israeli press intentionally ignores the realities of Gaza. One would be hard-pressed to find articles about the fall-out from last summer’s Gaza war, including home reconstruction, destroyed infrastructure, high unemployment rates and the trauma that will likely stay with many of the victims for the rest of their lives.

Even during the war itself, Israel’s biggest television station consciously refrained from showing images of destruction in the Strip in its broadcasts, while the country’s biggest newspaper could barely dedicate a paragraph to the deaths of innocents killed by IDF airstrikes.

It is staggering to think that seven months after Israel embarked on a 54-day military adventure, which led to the deaths of 2,200 Palestinians (500 of whom were children), and 66 Israelis soldiers and five civilians (including one child) — it seems like nothing ever happened.

So when do we hear about Gaza? When Hamas and Fatah go head to head, when the international community fails to make good on its commitments, when Israelis are killed or wounded by Gaza militants or when the army happens to discover a new underground tunnel that it missed during Operation Protective Edge.

* * *

This weekend, while leafing through the Hebrew print edition of Haaretz, an obituary caught my eye. The piece, written by Ofer Aderet, described the life story of Yehudit Ayalon, who was born in Latvia in 1924 and moved to Palestine in 1936. In 1945, two years before the war broke out, Ayalon and a group of her friends from her Zionist youth group were enlisted into the pre-state Haganah militia for a secret mission.

“They didn’t tell us what they wanted us to do,” she said. “They just told us it would be dangerous and secret. We decided to do it, because it was very Zionist. Here I had the opportunity to do something small that would lead to the establishment of the State of Israel.” The group was soon to find out exactly what its top-secret mission was: building an underground bullet factory.

The factory, named “Machon Ayalon,” was established in an...

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Why did we forget about Herzog's anti-Arab campaign?

While commentators will be talking about Netanyahu’s anti-Arab race-baiting for a long time, his opponent’s anti-Arab campaign tactics never stirred up too much controversy. 

There were many reasons why Benjamin Netanyahu galloped to victory in last week’s election. His opponent, Isaac Herzog, was viewed by many as disconnected, elitist and lacking an alternative vision for the future of the country. However, it was Netanyahu’s campaign blitz, which came after polls revealed he was trailing his opponent by four seats, that truly won him the election.

Netanyahu pulled out all the stops, from driving a stake through the two-state solution to calling on his supporters to vote in order to counter “droves of Arabs” who were allegedly being bused to polling stations by foreign-funded left-wing NGOs. Many in Israel, as well as the international community, condemned the prime minister’s comments. After all, this wasn’t the leader of some fringe, right-wing extremist group — this was the prime minister of a state that claims to be both Jewish and democratic.

In classic Netanyahu style, the prime minister tried to backpedal from his remarks during his speech on election night, in which he promised to act as prime minister for all Israeli citizens. But it was too late: Bibi won a landslide victory through acts of shameless race-baiting.

The media, of course, rightfully panned Netanyahu for his remarks. But while Bibi’s racism was clear as day, it was Herzog’s utter indifference toward Israel’s Palestinian minority, not to mention the 47-year military dictatorship in the occupied territories, that received little media attention.

In fact, the only time Herzog’s campaign really made an effort to spotlight Israel’s Arab citizens was in a video featuring IDF veterans who served alongside him in the prestigious Unit 8200, which is part of Israel’s vaunted intelligence corps. In the video, the veterans laud Herzog as someone who “understands the Arab mentality” and “has seen Arabs in all kinds of situations,” including “in the crosshairs.”

WATCH: Unit 8200 support Herzog in election campaign video

If that wasn’t enough, Herzog and the Zionist Camp also supported the disqualification of MK Haneen Zoabi from the elections, joining the chorus of far-right extremists who have been inciting against her for years. Perhaps Herzog hoped that by attacking Zoabi he would be able to steal some seats away...

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