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Israeli forces wound two small Palestinian children: Where's the outrage?

Israeli security forces shoot two small Palestinian children with ‘less lethal’ bullets — one in the head, one in the thigh. The Israeli media barely notices.

A five year old. An armed, uniformed Israeli pointed a gun at him. And shot. A kid not even old enough for first grade. I haven’t seen any reports on this in English and the few I saw in Hebrew were scant and focused primarily on the incendiary, racist comments posted by Israelis on the photo of Abu Ali that went around Facebook. Things like, “too bad they didn’t take him out,” and, “if the soldier had pointed his gun a little more in the center, no more sluts like him would be brought into the world.”

But we don’t need a photo of an injured Palestinian child on social media to know that there are Israeli racists who love to make seditious comments about Palestinians on Facebook. The little media that did cover it didn’t even ask the most basic question: Why are Israeli forces shooting at five year olds? Who is the officer and who is the commander and will they be held accountable? And where is the outrage by politicians?

According to a Hebrew report in Haaretz, it was a sponge-tipped bullet shot by Israeli police officers, in contravention to the department’s own policy, which forbids shooting sponge-tipped bullets at senior citizens, pregnant women and children. In recent years, dozens of Palestinians have been seriously injured by sponge-tipped bullets, several losing eyes, fracturing faces and arms and one child, Mahmoud Sunukrut, was even killed.

Israeli authorities claim he was throwing stones. Indeed, it is very possible that he was. Issawiya is a neighborhood right at the foot of Mt. Scopus, where Hebrew University is located. It is the scene of constant military closures, demolitions, raids and harassment, and many times young Palestinian residents throw stones at Israeli forces. As an almost default, Israel blocks off two of the three main access roads to the village with barricades, making it extremely difficult to enter and exit the neighborhood.

Likewise, little attention was paid to the Israeli army shooting a three-year-old girl in the head with a rubber-coated bullet in the West Bank village of Qaddum last week. Haaretz Hebrew was the only Israeli media outlet to report on the Israeli army shooting a toddler.

It could be that because neither...

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Israeli hotels warn Jewish guests that Arabs will also be there

Israeli Jews trying to book hotel rooms for the upcoming holidays being informed of far more than the price and terms, Channel 2 reveals. The latest  hotel courtesy.

A number of hotels in Israel are warning Jews trying to make reservations for the upcoming High Holidays that Arabs will also be vacationing there, a report on Israel’s Channel 2 News revealed Monday.

In audio recordings of telephone calls made to the Crown Plaza, Club Hotel and Astral Hotel reservation lines, employees can be heard actively warning callers that before they book a room, they should take into account that Arabs will also be staying there.

The Jewish holidays this year overlap with the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, hotel reservation agents proactively inform callers without any prompting, explaining that many Palestinian citizens of Israel will also be on holiday in their hotels.

Except the hotel employees don’t dare utter the word Arabs, or even “minorities,” and certainly not Palestinians. Instead, they refer to their Arab guests as members of “hamigzar,” which means “the sector” in Hebrew, and is used in Israel to refer to the large Arab minority, which comprises over 20 percent of the country’s population.

In at least one of the recorded calls a hotel employee goes on at length, stumbling over her words in an effort not to actually utter the word Arab, as if saying “the sector” and not “Arab” makes it somehow OK.

When one caller, presumably a reporter, asks why the hotel is making the “disclosure” to potential guests, the hotel employee says, “there are people who want to know.”

In another call, the hotel employee says: “you know that it is a Muslim holiday on those dates, right?” The caller replies, “What does that mean?” to which the employee responds, “there are people who are bothered by this.”

When the caller says she’s never heard such a warning and that it’s pretty bizarre, the hotel employee says, “We are doing it to be fair. Some people later complain that we didn’t tell them ahead of time.”

From the consistency shown across hotel chains in the report it appears employees of various hotels were given orders from above to proactively inform all Jews booking on those dates that they will be sharing their vacation with Arabs.

Asked by Channel 2 to respond, the hotels said the policy is a result of feedback...

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Hunger striker proves only way to challenge Israeli policy is to starve

By freezing Muhammed Allan’s administrative detention, Israel proves that the only way for Palestinians to successfully challenge its unlawful detention policy is to starve themselves to brain damage.

In its decision to suspend Muhammed Allan’s administrative detention Wednesday night, Israel’s High Court has sent a clear message: if you are of sound mind and body, you will remain imprisoned without question. But if you slip into a coma, we’ll consider lifting your administrative detention, at least temporarily.

To put it more bluntly, as long as you are essentially a vegetable, you’re free to go. However, if we see that your situation improves, you will remain incarcerated. In his judgment, Justice Rubinstein actually wrote: “[Allan] does not pose a danger because of his medical condition, so the administrative order is not active now.”

The decision is appalling from a humanitarian perspective, with the state watching on as Allan’s condition rapidly deteriorated since he fell into a coma last Friday; his body both figuratively and literally being employed as a bargaining chip in the debate over Israeli administrative detention.

The decision also demonstrates the power of hunger strike as a form of nonviolent resistance to imprisonment without charge. Israel is incapable of ignoring or circumventing this tool. By letting Allan get to this point, it has made clear that the only way to successfully challenge its draconian policy of administrative detention is to starve yourself into brain damage — essentially, to kill yourself.

The story of Muhammad Allan is so powerful because it embodies the  story of Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation. Israel has historically made concessions as a response to Palestinian force; many point to the First and Second Intifadas as the reasons why Israel ultimately withdrew from parts of the territories it occupied.

The only way to challenge Israel’s monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force, of violence, is to upend it with one’s own body through a physical, forceful act. This is why a Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike is the ultimate symbol of resistance, and one of the most effective ways to expose and dispute Israeli mechanisms of control.

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Political death notices mourn Palestinian baby, Israeli teen

Mourning notices for Ali Dawabshe and Shira Banki are plastered across Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, calling on Israeli Jews to to take collective, moral responsibility for the murders.

It has been a week since Palestinian infant Ali Dawabshe was burned alive when his West Bank home was set on fire by Jewish Israelis, and five days since 16-year old Israeli Shira Banki — who was stabbed at the Jerusalem Pride Parade — died of her wounds.

Dawabshe’s parents are still in critical condition in an Israeli hospital, while their house is still in ashes. The Banki family is still sitting shiva (the Jewish seven-day mourning period), while the news cycle has already moved on to Netanyahu’s broken record on the Iran deal, the current heatwave and the GOP debate. But on the streets of West Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, death notices in Hebrew and English have been plastered in recent days to mark the two murders.

Mourning notices are a common practice in Israel to notify of a death in the community. But these notices, initiated, composed and hung by writer Ilana Sichel and artist Romy Achituv, not only mourn the deaths of these two minors — they also call on Jews in Israel to assume a collective, moral responsibility for them.

Ali’s notice reads:

A quote from Lamentations 1:8 is printed the top of both notices: “Jerusalem has grievously sinned and so has become uncleaned.”

Shira Banki’s notice reads:

Sichel and Achituv have printed and hung nearly 250 of these notices while documented their work in photographs, which they have been spreading on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

“When the brutal arson attack and murder of 18-month old Ali Saad Dawabshe became public, I wanted to tether the ripples of shock and horror that went through through the Israeli public for longer than the two-day news and outrage cycle by bringing this attack into the public, visible sphere,” Sichel told +972.

“While we can all agree that burning a baby alive is a bad thing, there’s enormous disagreement about the political basis of the crime. We wanted to appeal to fellow Jews and Israelis and point toward our collective responsibility for, and implications in this heinous act, which is inseparable from the occupation, and from the growing trend of religious fundamentalism.”

While leaders across the political spectrum in government expressed shock and condemned both the acts, their words rang mostly...

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Killing of three Palestinians in a week shouldn't be business as usual

If it had been Palestinians who killed three Israelis, we would be having a very different conversation about a ‘worrying escalation’ or ‘wave of violence.’

Israeli military forces shot and killed three Palestinians in the last week. All three killings took place during raids in the middle of the night to detain suspects in crimes we know nothing about, sometimes crimes the suspects know nothing about. Although it appears there was some level of resistance in the three attempted arrests, there is no evidence at all that any of the three were armed or posed a mortal threat when they were killed.

In the early hours of Monday morning, soldiers and police commandos entered the Qalandiya Refugee Camp looking for 18-year-old Muhammad Abu Latifa on suspicion of weapons trafficking, though some reports say simply, “terror activities.” According to the IDF, Latifa was shot in the leg while trying to escape to a nearby roof, from which he fell to his death. His family claims he was simply shot to death, and a report published on +972 on Monday shows evidence that challenges the IDF account.

Some reports in Israeli outlets, like Haaretz, didn’t even bother to speak to anyone from the family and only provided the IDF account. Ynet’s English site reported the story with an appalling headline that left many dumbfounded: “Parkour in Palestine: Fleeing suspect falls to his death,” playing on the acrobatic sport that has become popular among young Palestinians, who use their bodies to jump on and between buildings and urban obstacles. It was the top story on their homepage for several hours before being changed. Ynet declined to comment when I approached them asking them what they were thinking.

The previous Thursday, Falah Abu Maria, 52, died after being shot twice in the chest by Israeli soldiers who tried to enter his family home in the West Bank village of Beit Omar, near Hebron, at 3:30 a.m. Again, Israeli media primarily adopted the IDF version that the fully armed combat soldiers “encountered resistance,” which was enough to justify his death, at least as far as Israeli mainstream media goes.

A report in The Telegraph, which consisted primarily of an interview with family members who witnessed the shooting, contradicts IDF Spokesperson’s claims that the forces were confronted by a “violent mob” throwing stones at them. According to Abu Maria’s daughter-in-law, not a single stone...

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Deputy defense minister: Embattled Palestinian village doesn't exist

The man charged with managing the day-to-day life of Palestinians in the West Bank calls Susya, a village facing imminent demolition, a ‘ploy by leftist organizations to take over Area C of the West Bank.’

Deputy Defense Minister and new head of Israel’s Civil Administration Eli Ben Dahan openly denied the existence of Susya, a West Bank village under threat of demolition, while speaking to the Knesset on Wednesday.

“There has never been an Arab village called Susya,” Ben Dahan said, calling the village “a ploy by leftist organizations to take over Area C [of the West Bank].”

Ben Dahan, a Rabbi from the Jewish Home party — who previously said that Palestinians are sub-human and that even homosexual Jews are superior to non-Jews — was responding to a formal query lodged by Joint List Member Dov Khenin, who inquired as whether it is true that the Civil Administration plans to demolish half of the village’s structures.

Khenin, who was visibly enraged by Ben Dahan’s remarks (you can view a video of the exchange here, in Hebrew), responded: “I have not heard such a response so detached from reality in a long time.” He then went on to quote Plia Albeck, a pro-settler former government official who oversaw legal decisions regarding West Bank land, and who herself admitted in 1982 that the old synagogue in what is now the Jewish settlement of Susya is “surrounded by an Arab village,” and that the land is registered in the Israel Lands Authority as being privately owned by Arabs.

Susya made headlines earlier this week after both the U.S. State Department and the EU warned Israel against any demolitions there. Israel’s Civil Administration notified residents of its intention to demolish half of the village’s structures following the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The story of Susya, however, did not begin last week. Israel first expelled Susya’s residents from their land in 1986 in order to build a Jewish settlement of the same name, and to establish an archaeological site on top of the Palestinian village. The displaced Palestinians moved the village to their adjacent agricultural lands and have been fighting to subsist there ever since.

The Israeli army, however, never gave Susya’s residents permission to build their homes on the current location. Susya is located in the south Hebron Hills, in Area C of the West Bank, which according to the Oslo Accords...

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U.S. warns Israel against evicting Palestinians from Susya

Although Susya has been under constant threat of destruction for years, the State Department is now warning Israel that any demolitions in this tiny village in the West Bank would be considered a provocation.

While the Iran nuclear deal captured most of the attention and highlighted continued tensions in the U.S.-Israeli relationship this week, the tiny rural Palestinian village of Susya also managed to get the U.S. State Department’s attention. Israel has indicated that it plans to demolish parts of the West Bank village after Ramadan, which officially ended Friday, or after the current Muslim holiday of Eid el-Fitr.

According to Susya resident Nasser Nawaj’ah, who is also a B’Tselem researcher, the Israeli army’s Civil Administration (the military government in the West Bank) notified residents of its intention to demolish about half of the village’s structures once the month of Ramadan is over: 10 residential homes, a clinic, eight animal shelters, 12 storerooms and outhouses. A High Court petition appealing the demolitions and a plan to expel Susya’s residents is only scheduled for August 3.

Asked about the situation, U.S. State Department spokesperson John Kirby said on Thursday:

We’re closely following developments in the village of Susya in the West Bank, and we strongly urge the Israeli authorities to refrain from carrying out any demolitions in the village. Demolition of this Palestinian village or of parts of it, and evictions of Palestinians from their homes would be harmful and provocative.

Such actions have an impact beyond those individuals and families who are evicted. We are concerned that the demolition of this village may worsen the atmosphere for a peaceful resolution and would set a damaging standard for displacement and land confiscation, particularly given settlement-related activity in the area.

We urge Israeli authorities to work with the residents of the village to finalize a plan for the village that addresses the residents’ humanitarian needs.

While it is significant that the State Department warned Israel against moving forward with demolition, Israel has already, many times over, “set a damaging standard for displacement and land confiscation,” and the Obama administration has done nothing about it. Al Araqib, an “unrecognized” Bedouin village inside Israel proper, whose residents are full Israeli citizens, has not to my knowledge received the same kind of attention from Washington.

The only reason that Susya has is that its demolition would constitute another step in Israel’s...

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Netanyahu to Gaza flotilla: Did you mean to sail to Syria?

Netanyahu publishes letter to flotilla participants in which he states there is no blockade, while at the same time declaring that Israel will prevent them from reaching Gaza. 

UPDATE 7:27 A.M.: The IDF intercepted the Marianne ship early morning Monday and and began towing it to the Ashdod Port. No violence or injuries reported.

The “Freedom Flotilla III” is due to approach the Gaza coastline in a matter of hours, sometime overnight Sunday. Its declared mission is to non-violently challenge Israel’s nine-year blockade of the Strip by bringing in medical equipment and other humanitarian aid. It is not expected to actually reach Gaza, as Israel plans to stop the four boats, just as it has done in previous attempts in 2011 and the infamous Mavi Marmara in 2010, which ended with the killing of nine people on board.

Prime Minister Netanyahu published a letter Sunday night that he intends to present to all the participants, in which he sarcastically mocks those aboard (my translation):

The letter goes on to detail all the merchandise Israel allows through into Gaza and then insists: “There is no blockade of Gaza. You are welcome to transfer humanitarian aid through Israel. We are not, however, willing to allow weapons to enter Gaza and reach terror groups, as has been done in the past via the sea.”

Netanyahu states that there is no blockade while at the same time declaring that Israel will prohibit the flotilla from reaching Gaza. It is the IDF’s naval blockade of the Strip – deemed legitimate by international law – that enables Israel to force the ships to revert to docking in the port in Ashdod. It is the blockade that allows Israel to shoot at Gaza fisherman on a regular basis. Also, what does the blockade of 1.8 million Palestinians have to do with Syria?

The 2015 flotilla is comprised of four boats, which include 48 human rights activists, journalists, artists, and political figures representing 17 countries. Dr. Bassel Ghattas, a member of Knesset with the Joint List is on board, as is Dr. Moncef Marzouki, former President of Tunisia, who came to power after the 2011 popular uprising.

Ghattas sent a letter earlier Sunday addressed to Netanyahu, calling on him to allow the flotilla to reach Gaza. His participation caused an uproar in the Knesset earlier this week, with several MKs calling for his citizenship to be revoked,...

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IDF soldiers killed Palestinian teen who posed no danger, report finds

Israeli soldiers ambushed three Palestinian teenagers with live ammunition, killing one, despite the fact that they posed no immediate threat. Neither the soldiers nor their commanders will face any charges.

An IDF commander ordered soldiers to fire live ammunition directly at Palestinian teenagers who broke through part of the separation fence, resulting in the killing of 14-year-old Yousef a-Shawamreh last year. This, despite the fact they they posed no immediate danger, according to a B’Tselem report released Wednesday criticizing the military’s decision to close the investigation without indictment.

On March 19, 2014, three Palestinians – an 18-year-old and two minors, one of them a-Shawamreh – walked up to the separation barrier in the area of the village of Deir al-‘Asal al-Foqa, southwest of Hebron. The IDF knows that certain parts of the barrier are often crossed by Palestinian youth who go to pick edible gundelia plants from their families’ land on the other side.

B’Tselem originally thought they crossed through an opening but later learned from military footage (video below) that they cut through the metal fence that the military sealed the previous day. This means that the IDF knew that whomever tried to cross that day would have to first sabotage the fence. That person would then be deemed “a fence saboteur” – and by definition suspected of committing an offense serious enough to warrant carrying out a suspect-apprehension procedure, including firing at below the knees.

According to B’Tselem, the investigators did not ask the commander why he had decided, by sealing the gaps in the fence, to incriminate anyone who crossed it as “suspected of a dangerous offense.”

According to the military, the soldiers in the field called out to the boys to stop, firing two warning shots in the air before firing at 14-year-old a-Shawamreh with a shot that should have been directed at his legs, but which they claim accidentally hit his waist. The Palestinian teens who were with a-Shawamreh testified that they didn’t realize there were any warning shots but rather were immediately fired upon.

B’Tselem slammed the Military Advocate General’s decision to close the investigation without serving any indictments. ”No apparent attempt was made to reconcile the contradicting versions given by the suspects and by witnesses, and the responsibility of the commanders who decided to mount an armed ambush at the spot was utterly ignored.”

Whether or not the open-fire regulations directed by...

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Israel's culture minister is turning artists into enemies

Miri Regev’s attempts to pull funding from artists who ‘delegitimize’ Israel expose the lengths to which this government will go to try and silence its critics.

Last week Israel’s new Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev threatened to pull state funding from a children’s theater in Jaffa after its manager, Norman Issa, an actor with the Haifa Theater, refused to perform in a West Bank settlement. She claimed that as opposed to her, Issa is not an advocate for coexistence.

After it provoked some backlash, she went on the defensive and stated that because her Likud party won 30 Knesset seats, and the “Left” (read: Labor/Zionist Camp) won only 20 seats, that she was at liberty to do as she pleases with state funds for the arts.

This kind of talk shows that Regev has a total lack of understanding of what it means to be an elected official, and speaks volumes of the current leadership’s understanding of how a democratically-elected public servant is supposed to act.

But here is the real kicker:

Regev’s comments raise serious doubts about her ability to tolerate dissent and freedom of expression, but her use of the word “delegitimize” gave me pause and is worth elaborating on. The word has been used over and over again by Prime Minister Netanyahu in recent years when discussing the boycott movement. Actually, he used it most recently in relation to the Palestinian effort to suspend Israel from FIFA.

It is worth noting that Regev — who previously referred to African asylum seekers as a “cancer” — chose to use this word during an internal Israeli discussion over state funding for cultural institutions. It is no coincidence. It is because she sees Israeli citizens whose artistic work or personal views challenge the status quo of Israel’s Jewish nationalist hegemony as “delegitimizers” — whether they are Palestinian or Jewish. That they pay taxes, follow the law and fulfill all their civic duties does not matter; if they are seen to be “delegitimizing” Israel, their work may be under threat of not being funded.

Last September, I wrote an op-ed in the The New York Times about how Israel was silencing dissent. In it I described how after so many years of Israeli repression of Palestinians, “the transition to targeting ‘one of your own’ isn’t so difficult. Now it is the few Jewish Israelis who speak the language of...

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BDS is being used to stifle dissent in Israel

Israeli members of Knesset, along with journalists, commentators and others are taking advantage of the boycott movement in order to delegitimize Israeli human rights groups at home.

As all eyes in Israel obsessively turned their attention to BDS, a subplot emerged that has gone by the wayside — one that I believe is the real story regarding the boycott movement’s current role within Israeli society.

Last week Israel’s Foreign Ministry called on Switzerland to pull its funding from an event put on by Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence, in an effort to force the organization to cancel its upcoming exhibit featuring soldiers’ testimonies of IDF human rights violations, which is supposed to open in Zurich this month. In response to the exhibit, newly-appointed Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) said: “The Foreign Ministry will continue its extensive actions against organizations that are acting against Israel, at home and abroad.” Gilad Erdan, the new minister for strategic affairs who has been tasked with combatting the Israel boycott, has called Breaking the Silence an organization that “leads the delegitimization campaign against Israeli soldiers.”

Also last week, in one of her first acts as new minister of culture and sport, Miri Regev pulled the ministry’s sponsorship from a solo dance show that incorporates footage taken by B’Tselem volunteers in the West Bank. Entitled “Archive,” Israeli artist and choreographer Arkadi Zaides mimics the physical expressions and movements of Israeli settlers and soldiers, projected onto a large screen behind him. The show highlights their violent and domineering body language, as seen from the perspective of Palestinians behind the camera. The show, which first launched in Europe and has already taken the stage in Israel, no longer bears the Culture Ministry logo. Now Regev is considering pulling its funding.

While the two incidents may seem minor and insignificant, they are a sharp indication of this government’s crackdown on dissent and independent art.

It is, after all, no coincidence that this all happened on the same week as the eruption of the BDS debate here in Israel. This is the product of a concerted effort by the Right, which includes mainstream journalists and commentators, to conflate any boycott efforts — whether by FIFA, Orange, student unions or settlement product-labeling Europeans — with the work of Israeli human rights groups such as B’Tselem and Breaking the Silence (two organizations that have absolutely nothing to do with boycott of any kind).

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Israel Supreme Court: Bedouin have no indigenous rights

A recent Supreme Court ruling refusing to recognize Bedouin land rights sets a legal precedent for the state to endlessly appropriate Palestinian lands. 

Israel’s Supreme Court made a significant ruling this week, setting a precedent for the state to approve the expropriation of Palestinian land in future cases, specifically inside Israel.

The court rejected a five-year old petition filed by the Al Uqbi family to recognize its ownership over a large plot of land in Israel’s Negev/Naqab Desert. The land also includes the unrecognized village Al Arakib, which is still in its own legal battle for recognition from the stae.

According to Attorney Michael Sfard, who represented the Ul Uqbi family, no one is arguing with the fact that the family has been living in this area for centuries. However, the ruling does not recognize the family’s ownership of the land since it defines it as consisting of stone houses and written deeds as proof of ownership. Bedouin have traditionally lived in tent structures and their ownership was passed down orally, such that they do not fit that definition. As Sfard points out, the judgement uses “cultural bias to uphold Western notions of what a ‘human settlement’ is.”

The petition called for recognition of ownership over the family’s historical lands, from which they were expelled in the 1950s. The ruling, which went largely un-reported in the Israeli media, effectively means the state does not recognize Bedouin rights to the land, clearing the path for it to continue to legalize the expropriation of Palestinian lands, whether inside Israel or in the West Bank.

The decision not only fails to acknowledge the distinct historical and cultural heritage of this Bedouin community, it is also a major contradiction: while Bedouin property rights are not recognized, the Zionist purchase of land from Bedouin before the state was established is. If the court recognizes land deals made with the Bedouin, it necessarily implies that it recognizes their ownership. But according to Sfard, the court simply disregarded this fact. Israeli officials often claim that the country was established through the legitimate purchase of land from Arabs, not through forceful expropriation.

“The bottom line: hundreds of thousands of Bedouin have lived for centuries in the Negev, but as the court astonishingly said, the Bedouin way of life does not create any legal rights in the lands they lived on and cultivated for generations,” Michael Sfard says.

While the village of Al Arakib’s...

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Why is Matti Friedman so mad at Breaking the Silence?

A former AP reporter who crusades against the international media’s alleged anti-Israel bias takes aim at the Israeli NGO of veteran soldiers in an article that is long on … well, length. But short on substance. 

By Mairav Zonszein and Lisa Goldman

Earlier this month, the Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence released a report about the army’s 50-day incursion into Gaza last summer. Titled “This is How We Fought in Gaza 2014,” it is comprised of more than 60 oral testimonies collected from soldiers and officers. The overriding theme of the eyewitness accounts is that soldiers going into Gaza were given unprecedentedly loose rules of engagement. Many of the soldiers say those orders contradicted the rules and code of ethics they were taught in training, which mandate doing everything possible to avoid harming civilians or their property.

In Israel, the response to the soldiers’ testimonies has ranged from indifference to ambivalence to outright slander. The higher political and military echelons didn’t even acknowledge the report, while the Hebrew media was largely ambivalent. For example, even Haaretz military analyst Amos Harel writes (Hebrew) that despite the organization’s agenda, which he defines vaguely as “leftist,” its claims should not be ignored.

The slander has come from people who, rather than respond to the report itself, try to delegitimize Breaking the Silence by discrediting the soldiers who gave testimonies and questioning their integrity and motives.

A journalist turned attack dog

Matti Friedman, a Canadian-Israeli who was once a reporter for the AP bureau in Jerusalem, now falls on the slandering side of the spectrum. Friedman recently launched his own one-man crusade against what he seems to think is an international conspiracy to churn out gratuitously critical reporting on Israel. He has written several long articles to this effect, and been invited to speak on the topic at events hosted by Jewish organizations in England and the United States.

Friedman’s analysis of the Breaking the Silence report, published in Mosaic Magazine on Thursday, can be boiled down to three main points:

1.    The BtS report is propaganda, not journalism;

2.    The testimonies not only fail to show loose rules of engagement, but in fact support the army’s claim that it did everything possible to avoid civilian injuries;

3.    BtS is dishonest about its political agenda, which Friedman suggests is nefarious.

None of these claims is supported...

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