+972 Magazine » Mairav Zonszein http://972mag.com Independent commentary and news from Israel & Palestine Thu, 23 Oct 2014 14:45:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8 Nine more Jewish families take over Silwan homes in dead of night http://972mag.com/nine-more-jewish-families-take-over-silwan-homes-in-dead-of-night/97864/ http://972mag.com/nine-more-jewish-families-take-over-silwan-homes-in-dead-of-night/97864/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 11:07:48 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=97864 If settling Jews beyond the Green Line in Palestinian East Jerusalem is legitimate, why are organizations sneaking in settlers in the middle of the night?

Nine Jewish Israeli families took over two empty buildings in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem overnight Sunday. According to the NGO Ir Amim, the families took control over 10 housing units in two buildings in the heart of Silwan. They moved in under the auspices of Ateret Cohanim, a settler organization based in the Muslim quarter of the Old City that works to create a Jewish demographic majority in East Jerusalem.

This latest takeover comes less than a month after settlers moved into seven houses in another part of Silwan, also in the dead of night and backed by heavy security forces, courtesy of Elad, another East Jerusalem settler organization. These new moves double the number of Jews currently living in Silwan, according to Israeli media. There were no reports of confrontations during the takeover Sunday night.

Read also: In Silwan, the settlers are winning — big time

According to Haaretz, the buildings were purchased in the last year by foreign companies at the behest of the Committee for the Renewal of the Yemenite Village, which looks to restore the Yemenite community that lived in the area before the establishment of the State of Israel. This is similar to the warped rationale behind moving Jews back into the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah — which exposes the discriminatory practice in which Jews can reclaim lands from before 1948 in East Jerusalem but Palestinians cannot do the same in West Jerusalem — or anywhere throughout Israel.

Silwan, East Jerusalem (image: activestills)

Silwan, East Jerusalem (photo: Activestills)

Speaking at a dedication ceremony for a road in memory of late Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir on Sunday in Jerusalem, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin addressed the situation in the city, specifically alluding to settlements in Silwan:

Jerusalem cannot be a city in which building takes place in secret, or where moving into apartments happens in the dead of night. We must bear responsibility for keeping Jerusalem sovereign.

We need to take the reins and manage Jerusalem in an active and straightforward way, with care and thoughtfulness. I hope that in Yitzhak Shamir’s spirit, we will know how to stand up for our undisputed right over Jerusalem, and through this right, treat her as a sovereign with all the responsibility that comes with it.

Rivlin is essentially saying that there is no reason to move Jews into East Jerusalem in a clandestine manner since Jews have an “undisputed right over Jerusalem.” He does make a point. If East Jerusalem is the legitimate, uncontested capital of Israel, then why are settler organizations sneaking people in secretly at night? The act is incriminating when, according to the president, there is no crime being committed.

This is the same president who recently appeared in a video with a Palestinian boy from Jaffa calling for equality and tolerance, pretty much the only major political voice in Israel doing so — although as head of state his office doesn’t have any actual political power. During the speech, he does indeed go on to invoke the need for Arabs and Jews to be treated equally:

It is no secret that Jerusalem is volatile. Too many violent incidents occur in East as well as in West Jerusalem. This violence, which boils into terrorism, must be stopped, and dealt with severely by the security forces and police. Even at the cost of forcible action against the rioters – whether Arab or Jew.

Jerusalem cannot be governed by groups with an interest to enflame and stoke the fires at their will. We cannot ignore the conscious attempts by different sides to incite Jerusalem’s citizens, against each other. Jerusalem wasn’t divided into tribes. She was not and will not be anybody’s hostage, or political pawn. Jerusalem must be kept as a sovereign city with a responsibility to all its inhabitants, and maintaining the relations between them.

The president wants nothing more than for Jews and Arabs to get along in Jerusalem and at the same time is supporting the continued occupation of East Jerusalem.

In a statement responding to the takeover, Ir Amim wrote:

The entrance of additional settlers in Silwan is another step toward closing the window for a political solution. It is always done with the backing of the authorities, both directly and through the allocation of millions of shekels in security from the state budget.

In Silwan, the settlers are winning — big time
Elie Wiesel, Amos Yadlin congratulate E. Jerusalem settlers

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Most Jewish Israelis oppose Palestinian state, new poll shows http://972mag.com/most-israelis-oppose-palestinian-state-new-poll-shows/97833/ http://972mag.com/most-israelis-oppose-palestinian-state-new-poll-shows/97833/#comments Sun, 19 Oct 2014 13:58:54 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=97833 No poll is perfect, but this one happens to be an accurate reflection of the Israeli government’s policies, much of its rhetoric, and the reality on the ground.

A large majority of Jewish Israeli citizens (74 percent) oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 borders, according to a new poll conducted by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a right-wing think tank. The organization also found that 76 percent oppose a Palestinian state if it means dividing Jerusalem.

The poll surveyed 505 Jewish Israelis, dividing them along their personal political orientation. Three hundred and four identified themselves as right wing, 125 as centrists and 68 as left wing. It is interesting to note that of those who consider themselves “centrists,” 63 percent oppose a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 border, compared with only 19 percent who identify as left.

When it comes to Jerusalem, a not surprising majority of both rightists and centrists oppose conceding East Jerusalem to a future Palestinian state. However, while 51.5 percent of leftists support it, nearly 40 percent of them oppose it. This means that even those who consider themselves left wing in Israel are on the fence about giving up East Jerusalem. From this we can conclude that most Jewish Israelis oppose a two-state solution, and even those on the left are not quite sure about it. It also illustrates that the notion of what is considered “left wing” in Israel has shifted to the right along with the rest of the public.

Palestinian activists lifting the Palestinian flag in the "Bab Al-Shams" village. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills)

Palestinian activists lifting the Palestinian flag in the “Bab Al-Shams” village. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills)

On the issue of the Jordan Valley, a large majority of Jewish Israelis, including those identified as left (42.6 percent), oppose withdrawal for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

The poll, published in Israel Hayom, is obviously meant to serve Netanyahu’s agenda. And while it is dangerous to rely on solely on a single poll to back up any claim, this specific poll – no matter how flawed or skewed – happens to be an accurate reflection of the Israeli government’s policies, much of its rhetoric, and the reality on the ground.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has said time and time again that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel and will never be divided. Members of the Likud party have openly come out against the establishment of a Palestinian state and leaders of both Yisrael Beiteinu and the Jewish Home party could not be more explicit in how much they oppose the notion of a Palestinian state.

Just the other day, Defense Minister Ya’alon said plainly that he is “not looking for a solution, I am looking for a way to manage the conflict and maintain relations in a way that works for our interests. We need to free ourselves of the notion that everything boils down to only one option called a [Palestinian] state.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is welcomed by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon in Jerusalem on May 23, 2013. (State Dept Photo)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is welcomed by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon in Jerusalem on May 23, 2013. (State Dept Photo)

So even though many polls over the years have shown and still show that a majority of Jewish Israelis support a two-state solution based more or less along the 1967 border with land swaps – such sentiment is reflected less and less in the way Israelis vote and talk. This new poll seems to provide a much more honest assessment of the reality on the ground and the reality in the halls of government.

If government policies, government rhetoric, the reality on the ground and polls like this one don’t convince the U.S. government and the rest of the world that Israelis have no interest in negotiating a peace deal that includes a viable Palestinian state, what will?

Polls: Two-state solution was a casualty, even before the war
After Kerry, only BDS may save the two-state solution
COMIC: Why even god can’t reach a two-state solution

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Instead of voting to recognize Palestine, vote against occupation http://972mag.com/instead-of-voting-to-recognize-palestine-vote-against-occupation/97733/ http://972mag.com/instead-of-voting-to-recognize-palestine-vote-against-occupation/97733/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 07:30:25 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=97733 Opposing Israeli settlements is not necessarily a vote for Palestine.

The British Parliament’s non-binding, purely symbolic vote to recognize the “State of Palestine” on Monday was not as significant as the debate that preceded the vote (read the full transcript here). Several media outlets noted conservative MP Richard Ottaway’s speech, a longtime Israel supporter who expressed genuine indignation with its latest announcement of more settlements as the reason behind his yes vote. As John Cassidy at The New Yorker put it, “for any true friend of Israel, Ottaway’s words will be hard to ignore.”

In fact, Ottoway sounded more like a spouse who has suddenly discovered that his partner has been cheating on him all these years, and is now in a state of utter shock and betrayal:

The annexation of the 950 acres of the West Bank just a few months ago has outraged me more than anything else in my political life, mainly because it makes me look a fool, and that is something that I resent.

That staunch allies of Israel are finally openly criticizing its policies is noteworthy. However, Ottaway’s words reflect that his vote to recognize “Palestine” was not a vote for Palestinian independence or justice, so much as a vote against Israeli leadership, for whom the notion of a Palestinian state is the bane of its existence. As Ottaway noted:

Under normal circumstances, I would oppose the motion tonight; but such is my anger over Israel’s behavior in recent months that I will not oppose the motion. I have to say to the government of Israel that if they are losing people like me, they will be losing a lot of people.

I don’t know what he means by “normal’ circumstances or where he has been for decades as Israel talked peace while directly acting against it. The fact is, Ottaway’s vote was meant to stick it to Israel for making him look like an idiot. Not because he necessarily cares about Palestinians or has any clue what a Palestinian state that he symbolically opted to recognize would look like.

Hundreds of Palestinians gather to watch the speech by Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas in the bid for Palestine's "nonmember observer state" status at the United Nations, projected on the Israeli separation wall in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, November 29, 2012. Hours later, the UN General Assembly voted 138-9 in favor of the upgraded status for Palestine, with 41 nations abstaining. (Photo by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

Hundreds of Palestinians gather to watch the speech by Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas in the bid for Palestine’s “nonmember observer state” status at the United Nations, projected on the Israeli separation wall in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, November 29, 2012. Hours later, the UN General Assembly voted 138-9 in favor of the upgraded status for Palestine, with 41 nations abstaining. (Photo by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

After all, the last thing Palestinians need right now is symbolic recognition; even actual recognition in the Oslo Accords didn’t do anything for them. What they need are concrete steps – the end of Israeli control over their lives, which is why Abbas is turning to the UN to demand Israel end the occupation by 2016 and withdraw from the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Before this happens, there can be no solution, since any forms of negotiation will necessarily take place in a dynamic in which Israel still has lopsided control and thus leverage.

Ottaway’s motive for his vote is highly problematic – not only because he admitted it is more about his own ego than the reality on the ground for those living here, but because it propagates the bogus dichotomy that being “pro-Israel” necessarily means being “anti-Palestinian” and in this case the inverse: that being “anti-Israel” means being “pro-Palestinian.”

This zero-sum dichotomy was created in order to pit Israel’s right to self-determination directly against that of Palestinians, forcing the world to decide between them. And it has been cultivated with great devotion by the hasbara industry and Israeli advocates in the West for decades – exemplified most prominently by AIPAC. Being pro-Israel means supporting the government, supporting settlements, not asking difficult questions and never, ever advocating for Palestinians.

Today the Netanyahu government is pushing that dichotomy harder than ever – taking the issue back to the 1980s, when Palestinian statehood was still taboo and settlements weren’t occupying as much land.  It is why the Israeli peace camp has pushed so hard all these years for a two-state solution and why groups in the U.S. like J Street have made it their motto that being “pro-Israel” means being “pro peace.”

A vote against Israeli settlements is not necessarily a vote for a Palestinian state. But it should be a vote against Israeli occupation, which continues to colonize Palestinian land and resources and violates their basic human rights. During the debate, many MPs expressed the simple but critical notion that opposing settlements and favoring the idea of an independent Palestinian state does not mean being “anti-Israel.” But their vote was misguided.

What they should have voted on is an end to Israeli occupation and settlements, while legislating ways in which they can stop being actively complicit in it.

World’s delayed reaction to Gaza war kicks in
British Parliament recognizes Palestinian state in non-binding resolution
Labour MPs: Vote yes on Palestinian statehood

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Israeli settlements, U.S. policy: The gap between values and actions http://972mag.com/israeli-settlements-u-s-policy-the-gap-between-values-and-actions/97442/ http://972mag.com/israeli-settlements-u-s-policy-the-gap-between-values-and-actions/97442/#comments Tue, 07 Oct 2014 14:24:17 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=97442 The only thing odder than Netanyahu’s “un-American” comment is the White House’s response.

Although the latest Israeli announcement of settlement expansion in East Jerusalem drew the usual verbal slap on the wrist from the U.S., the media didn’t make much of it – until, that is, when Prime Minister Netanyahu decided to call that criticism un-American on American TV.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Photo: Haim Zach/GPO)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (Photo: Haim Zach/GPO)

The White House of course felt compelled to respond. On Monday Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest called Netanyahu’s choice of words “odd” – another in a series of adjectives that U.S. government spokespersons pull from their thesaurus to show their dismay at Israel’s settlement enterprise.

It did seem odd for him to try to defend the actions of his government by saying that our response does not reflect American values…The fact is, when it comes to American values, it’s American values that lend this country’s unwavering support to Israel. It’s American values that have led us to fight for and secure funding to strengthen Israel’s security in tangible ways.

While media headlines called this a harsh response, even if you understand  Earnest’s use of the term “odd” as somewhat facetious, his comments were not harsh as much as telling of the dynamic of the U.S.-Israel relationship over the last few decades and certainly between Netanyahu and Obama in recent years.

In effect, Earnest exposes the gap between what Israel claims to stand for and what it actually does – and in turn the failure of the U.S. to match its policy to its words.

Israel’s stated values and positions are peace, democracy and a two-state solution. But oddly enough, its actions are to delegitimize Abbas as a partner in the “peace process,” continue the military control of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the siege on Gaza, and build settlements in East Jerusalem, the most tangible affront to a two-state solution.

The U.S. knows this, but for various reasons (chief among them the lucrative nature of the American-Israeli weapons business and the power of AIPAC to ruin political careers) it limits itself to condemnations – but no actions. It did come close during the Gaza war when the White House withheld a shipment of Hellfire missiles and threatened to review every Israeli requests for American arms individually. But that didn’t last long.

The fact is that as “odd” as Netanyahu’s rhetoric is on the U.S. (not to mention actions such as endorsing Romney for president and meeting with Sheldon Adelson just before Obama last week) the U.S. comes out looking even odder. It on the one hand condemns settlement building over and over again, using as many different words as it can muster to express its disapproval, but it ultimately enables it because it has chosen not to take any concrete steps.

As a result, it is the number one enabler of Israel’s anti-peace policies. In this sense, Netanyahu actually exposed the gap between Israeli rhetoric and action, as well as the gap between American rhetoric and action. This was most apparent in the following statement by Earnest:

We oppose any unilateral actions that attempt to prejudge final status issues including the status of Jerusalem. These can only be legitimately determined through direct negotiations between the parties that this president has worked hard to try to facilitate.

Israel has been unilaterally prejudging final status issues since 1967. The act of redefining the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem two weeks after the Six-Day War to expand its capital by 70 kilometers was the most definitive unilateral action it has taken – possibly ever. This is why the U.S doesn’t recognize Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem and won’t put its embassy there.

But it has stopped short of outlawing Israeli settlements. The farthest it has come is when U.S. Secretary of State called them “illegitimate” during his failed attempt to restart negotiations last year. This is not enough.

If the U.S. wants to be taken seriously, if it wants to do away with the obvious conflict between its words and deeds, it needs to make the settlements illegal and put in place a set of punitive consequences.

Without this, Netanyahu will continue to do as he pleases – and when he states that America’s criticism of his actions are “un-American,” he won’t be totally wrong.

Netanyahu’s not-so-white-lies to Americans
Settlers take over 7 East Jerusalem homes in dead of night

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Education Ministry’s website revamped – without Arabic http://972mag.com/education-ministrys-website-revamped-without-arabic/97366/ http://972mag.com/education-ministrys-website-revamped-without-arabic/97366/#comments Sun, 05 Oct 2014 15:07:01 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=97366 The Ministry of Education has promised to add Arabic to its new website ‘within days’ for over a month. 

Since the Israeli school year began on September 1, the Education Ministry’s official website, which was recently revamped, has failed to provide its new look in Arabic – which is (still) an official language in Israel.

Or Kashti, Haaretz’s reporter on education, inquired with the ministry when he first noticed the issue after the site’s relaunch on August 20th. He also contacted them about the fact that nearly all the photos on the site were of light-skinned blonde children (His report in Haaretz Hebrew). He found out they were taken from a database abroad (presumably Scandinavia) and only one photo — of soldiers at a Memorial Day service – were of actual Israelis. After more and more people noticed and lodged complaints, the ministry acted fairly quickly, issuing an apology and changing the photos within a few days.

But the issue of the lack of Arabic has yet to be addressed even though officials in the ministry told him the issue would be resolved as well “within a matter of days.” Over a month later – still nothing. He told +972 that he has checked in with them twice since, the last time  a week ago. He updates his Facebook page about once a week to remind his readers on the issue.

He explained to +972 that there are some pages in Arabic from the old site that still exist on the new site. But they were buried deeply then and are buried even further on the new site. When I visited I tried to find them, but to no avail. “When relaunching a website, you cannot disregard the Arab population. Even the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Welfare and Social Services have understood that,” he said.

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Silencing dissent in Israel – continued http://972mag.com/silencing-dissent-in-israel-continued/97215/ http://972mag.com/silencing-dissent-in-israel-continued/97215/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 19:46:38 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=97215 Silencing dissent doesn’t only mean directly quashing free speech. Silencing, or a chilling effect, also take place when certain forces in society dominate and monopolize the narrative, deciding what is acceptable, what is fringe and what is mainstream.

Judaism for me is a sensibility of collective self-questioning and uncomfortable truth-telling: the dafka-like quality of awkwardness and dissent for which we were once known. It is not enough to stand at a tangent to other peoples’ conventions; we should also be the most unforgiving critics of our own. I feel a debt of responsibility to this past. It is why I am Jewish.
-Tony Judt, “Toni”, NYRB April 19, 2010.

This sentiment by the late historian Tony Judt articulates much of what informs my identity and my academic and journalistic pursuits. The mere fact that I quote him will already set off alarm bells, deterring those who wrote him off as anti-Israel and beyond the pale, due to his 2003 New York Review of Books article suggesting the two-state solution was dead; an argument much more ubiquitous today – and openly voiced by right-wing members of Israel’s government.

But he, Hannah Arendt, Baruch Spinoza and Yeshayahu Leibovitz are all examples of Jews in history who were ostracized for their opinions – precisely because they dared to open up sensitive topics and subsequently challenged a paradigm within the community. People accused them of inaccuracies, dismissed them, calling them bad Jews and Israel haters. I am by no means comparing myself to them but they are all significant inspirations who embody the issue of demarcating the limits of dissent in Jewish history, and whose work I go back to over and over again.

Israelis are really sensitive about having their dirty laundry aired in public. And that is exactly why it should be done. It is why I wrote what I wrote in the New York Times; the issues I raised need to be voiced and grappled with in a broader forum, and precisely because it is not something you normally see in that paper.

Pointing out worrying trends doesn’t mean Israel is China or North Korea. But that is not something to boast about. It is (still) a place where individual Jews can speak freely without being silenced – for the most part. There was the incident of high school teacher Adam Verete, who was nearly fired for holding an open classroom debate about the morality of the IDF, after receiving death threats. If that isn’t silencing, I don’t know what is.

Many of the few Jewish citizens who are regular fixtures at West Bank protests have been summoned by the Shin Bet and arrested countless times without charges in an effort to deter them from returning. Palestinian citizens of Israel aren’t afforded the same level of free speech because their loyalty is always in question. They were arrested in stark numbers over the summer for protesting the war in Gaza. This is a blatant form of silencing, something that is standard policy in the West Bank, where Palestinians aren’t permitted to congregate at all. And like non-violent protests in the West Bank, it wasn’t reported on much in mainstream media – which is also a form of silencing.

Another example, a very literal example missing from my piece, was the silencing of B’Tselem by the Israel Broadcasting Authority, which refused to run a radio ad during the war listing the names of the children killed in Gaza on grounds it was too “political.” But this wasn’t surprising since the Israeli establishment can’t stand B’Tselem anyway — it airs Israel’s dirty laundry out every single day.

Silencing dissent doesn’t only mean the direct quashing of free speech. Silencing is also when certain forces in society dominate and monopolize the narrative, deciding what is in and what is out; what is fringe and what is acceptable. Precisely the Us vs. Them mentality I discuss in the New York Times piece.

It is about an atmosphere of intimidation and intolerance: the fact that “death to Arabs” has become an increasingly common and acceptable slogan at protests and that numerous Facebook groups have been launched to police criticism against the latest Gaza war is part of this silencing process. It is not a coincidence that today, 51 percent of Jewish Israelis say they would boycott businesses that employ people who criticize the army and 24 percent of Jewish Israelis say they already boycott Arab businesses. During the war, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman specifically called for Jews to boycott those Arab businesses that dared speak out against “Operation Protective Edge.” Silencing.

Both Israeli society and the government it elects are responsible – for either actively creating this atmosphere or passively allowing it to take hold. Over a decade ago, during the Second Intifada, when Israelis began going to protest alongside Palestinians in the West Bank against the separation barrier, they were called “traitors” on the news and in other forums. Soon enough the word leftist began to be derogatory in Israel. It is no coincidence that two years ago, a Kadima MK said that “all human rights activists should be imprisoned and transported to camps we are building,” referring to those desert prisons holding African refugees.

There is no shortage of examples of how the state is increasingly repressing dissent and signaling to others that such behavior is acceptable. There was the bill trying to limit funding of NGOs that document human rights violations. Then there is the Nakba Law, which is the state saying loud and clear that there is no place in Israeli society for its Palestinians citizens to mark or teach their historical narrative. Coalition Chairman MK Yariv Levin (Likud) recently exhibited his intolerance for freedom of speech and press when he said he wants Haaretz journalist Gideon Levy put on trial for treason, following articles he wrote during the course of Operation Protective Edge.

Israelis are increasingly deciding what is acceptable rhetoric and what is not. This is what happens in a hegemony. For example, in a letter to the editor addressing my piece, one Israeli journalist wrote that it is “A sad phenomenon in Israel these days is that radical-left extremists, few in number, present themselves as ‘the peace camp,’ while the larger part of Israel’s peace camp wants nothing to do with their radical views. Somehow these views are echoed outside of Israel far beyond their importance in Israeli society.”

How sad it is that the rhetoric of human rights, about ending the occupation, guaranteeing equal rights and questioning what solution would be best for the conflict – all concepts embraced by the international community –  is considered radical or fringe in Israel – an attack on it. It is why I say in my piece that considering these are the parameters we are working with, I’m certainly with “them.” That doesn’t mean giving up – quite the opposite.

This paradigm is similar to the limits on dissent in the American Jewish community when it comes to support for Israel. After 1967, being pro-Israel somehow became synonymous with being pro-settlement and pro-occupation – or to be even more precise, those who questioned or disagreed were treated with suspicion and disdain. Only in the last decade, thanks to brave groups and individuals – has this hegemony begun to erode. You all may remember Peter Beinart’s NY Times oped encouraging settlement boycott, which is still considered by many to be beyond the pale. If Israelis hadn’t formed Peace Now and begun outing settlement expansion and settler impunity to a global audience, do you think Beinart would have become aware of their detrimental effects and come out strongly against them?

All the reactionary and vitriolic responses to trends like the ones mentioned above go to prove that there is truth to them, that they are uncomfortable and difficult to deal with; otherwise they would be ignored. All those who decided that what I write is fringe, unacceptable, hysterical, un-journalistic or disingenuous, are propagating the hegemony.

Those who insist on marginalizing dissent are themselves perpetuating a reality in which Israel is the single most divisive issue in contemporary Jewish politics, instead of a normalizing and uniting factor. Instead of encouraging Israel to become a “normal” country whose existence is not constantly in question, such voices continue to elevate Israel to a symbol, a value in and of itself.  They are the policemen making sure no one violates the values they have determined.

How freedom of speech was crushed during Protective Edge
Israel’s other war: Silencing Palestinian citizens
‘Unprecedented’ violence stalks anti-war demos across Israel
Boycott law aftermath: The sound of silence

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‘Autopsy contradicts police, shows Palestinian teen was shot in head’ http://972mag.com/autopsy-contradicts-police-shows-palestinian-teen-was-shot-in-head/96634/ http://972mag.com/autopsy-contradicts-police-shows-palestinian-teen-was-shot-in-head/96634/#comments Fri, 12 Sep 2014 16:31:54 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=96634 Police originally said they had shot the teenager in the leg with a sponge-tipped bullet. Sixteen-year-old Mohammed Sunuqrut is the first Palestinian to die from the ‘less-lethal’ crowd control munition.

Muhammad Sunuqrut's body is prepared for the funeral procession, East Jerusalem, September 8, 2014. (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Muhammad Sunuqrut’s body is prepared for the funeral procession, East Jerusalem, September 8, 2014. (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Sixteen-year-old Palestinian boy Mohammed Sunuqrut was shot in the head and not in the leg, as police claimed, leaked preliminary results of his autopsy showed. Israeli police shot Sunuqrut with a sponge-tipped bullet near a protest in East Jerusalem on August 31 and he died of his wounds a week later. The official autopsy report has not yet been published but both Israeli and Palestinian sources involved confirm that Sunuqrut died from a projectile wound to his head. The police claim — that they shot him in the leg as he threw stones and that when he turned to run, fell and cracked his skull — appears to be untrue.

Sunuqrut’s uncle Adel told +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call, that Mohammed was not protesting that day and claimed he had never taken part in any rioting or stone throwing. The teenager had been sent out to buy some bread, the uncle said, but 10 minutes after he left people came running to the home to say Mohammed was shot. Adel says that when he tried to reach his wounded nephew, Israeli policemen were surrounding the boy and wouldn’t let him through. He claims they threatened to shoot him if he didn’t back away, and continued to surround the boy for 10 to 15 minutes before allowing him to be evacuated to hospital.

Learn more about Israel’s use of crowd control weapons

What is even more disconcerting is that someone at the scene who identified himself as Ahmed made an emergency call to the Israeli emergency services dispatch describing Muhammed’s dire situation. He can be heard in the recording saying, “he was shot in the head, he’s unconscious,” Haaretz reported. Even if at that time police were convinced that Mohammed’s head injuries were caused by the fall, that does not explain why they delayed his evacuation to the hospital by so many crucial minutes. The bullet that hit Mohammed was also mysteriously missing from the scene.

Mohammed’s killing, which rekindled riots and clashes in East Jerusalem that have been taking place on and off all summer long since the murder of another teenage Palestinian resident of the area, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, marks the first known time a Palestinian has been killed by a sponge-tipped bullet. Because sponge-tipped bullets have never killed anyone in Israel or Palestine, the family originally claimed that Mohammed was shot by a rubber-coated steel bullet. Since October 2000, police have not been allowed to use rubber-coated bullets inside Israel (which includes annexed and occupied East Jerusalem where most Palestinians have residency status, not citizenship), but they continue to use the deadlier weapon against protesters in the West Bank. Apparently it is (more) OK to risk killing Palestinians — just not Israeli citizens or residents.

According to the Haaretz report, Israeli police recently introduced a new kind of sponge-tipped bullet that is heavier, larger and black in color instead of blue. They have reportedly been using it this summer in response to Palestinian protests and riots in East Jerusalem. Police claim they need them because the blue sponge-tipped bullets are not effective enough, according to the report.

Dr. Rafik Husseini, director of Al-Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem, holds a new crowd-control projectile the Israeli army is using in the occupied territories. (Photo by Yael Marom)

Dr. Rafik Husseini, director of Al-Makassed Hospital in East Jerusalem, holds a new crowd-control projectile the Israeli army is using in the occupied territories. (Photo by Yael Marom)

But this new type of bullet, like the older one, may only be shot at the lower half of a person’s body; the projectile can indeed be fatal if shot at the torso or head, which is apparently what has just been demonstrated. Shooting above the waist is absolutely forbidden and those officers authorized to shoot the weapon at protesters undergo comprehensive training with it. So in addition to the police’s seemingly fallacious statement, it is unclear why Mohammed was shot in the head.

According to the report in Local Call, at least four other cases have been recorded this summer in which such projectiles were fired at the upper bodies of protesters and journalists. In July, Activestills and Walla! News photographer Tali Mayer was shot in the face and Activestills photographer Oren Ziv was hit in the arm.

This is far from the first time accounts relayed by Israeli authorities about the death of Palestinian protesters turned out to be false or at least misleading. In January 2011, the IDF kept offering new versions of events regarding the death of Jawaher Abu Rahmah, who died after inhaling large amounts of tear gas fired in Bil’in. On Nakba Day earlier this year, the IDF denied using live fire against two Palestinian teenagers shot while appearing to present no threat; an autopsy later showed that the boys were killed with live bullets.

Truth, tapes and two dead Palestinians
The IDF Spokeperson’s ever-changing story about Bil’in death

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‘Police threaten to destroy memorial for slain Palestinian teen, Mohammed Abu Khdeir’ http://972mag.com/police-threaten-to-destroy-memorial-for-slain-palestinian-teen-muhammed-abu-khdeir/96447/ http://972mag.com/police-threaten-to-destroy-memorial-for-slain-palestinian-teen-muhammed-abu-khdeir/96447/#comments Mon, 08 Sep 2014 10:36:03 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=96447 Clashes and riots break out over the death of another Palestinian teen shot by Israel police.

Memorial for Mohammed Abu Khdeir outside his home in Shuafat, East Jerusalem (Photo: Tamar Fleishman)

Memorial for Mohammed Abu Khdeir outside his home in Shuafat, East Jerusalem (Photo: Tamar Fleishman)

Israel Police on Sunday threatened to destroy a memorial for murdered Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir, who was burned alive by several Israeli Jews on July 2, according to Tamar Fleishman, an Israeli activist who met with the Abu Khdeir family on Sunday. Mohammed’s father, Hussein, reportedly said police instructed him to dismantle it or they would.

According to Fleishman, Hussein told police that if they destroyed the memorial the entire family would return in the middle of the night and build a larger one in the middle of the street of their Shuafat neighborhood, on the tracks of the light rail.

+972 requested comment from the Jerusalem police who replied that it is a municipal matter.

The municipality responded that they are not familiar with the incident, did not send any of their inspectors and have no intention of destroying the memorial.

It has been just over two months since Abu Khdeir was kidnapped and burned alive. Since then, Palestinian residents of the area have been protesting and rioting in the biggest display of opposition to Israeli occupation in Jerusalem since the Second Intifada.

And Israel border policeman outside the Abu Khdeir home in Shuafat, East Jerusalem Sept. 7, 2014 (Photo: Tamar Fleishman)

And Israel border policeman outside the Abu Khdeir home in Shuafat, East Jerusalem Sept. 7, 2014 (Photo: Tamar Fleishman)

Israeli authorities have beefed up police presence and have been detaining large numbers of Palestinians on a nightly basis. According to the Addammeer prisoner rights group, over 770 Palestinian Jerusalemites were arrested in July and August, including roughly a dozen members of the Abu Kheir family. (Muhammed’s American cousin, Tarek, was famously filmed being severely beaten by Israeli police.) In addition, East Jerusalem neighborhoods such as Silwan and Issawiya have been regularly closed off by Jerusalem police effectively barring residents from entering and exiting freely.

On Sunday yet another Palestinian teenager, Mohammed Sunuqrut from Wadi Joz, a neighborhood just north of the Old City, died of wounds sustained when he was shot by Israel police at a protest last week. While Sunuqruut’s family alleges he was shot in the head with a rubber-coated bullet at close range, Jerusalem police claim he was shot in the leg with a sponge-tipped bullet, fell and hit his head. An autopsy was scheduled for Monday.

Palestinians throw stones at Israeli policemen during a protest following the death of a Palestinian teenager, in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz, September 7, 2014. Mohammed Sunuqrut, 16, was wounded by police gunfire in the Wadi Joz neighborhood on August 31 and died from injuries on September 7. (Photo by Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Activestills.org)

Palestinians throw stones at Israeli policemen during a protest following the death of a Palestinian teenager, in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz, September 7, 2014. Mohammed Sunuqrut, 16, was wounded by police gunfire in the Wadi Joz neighborhood on August 31 and died from injuries on September 7. (Photo by Faiz Abu Rmeleh/Activestills.org)

After his death was confirmed Sunday, riots intensified in East Jerusalem, with protesters reportedly throwing rocks and firebombs and riot police responding with rubber bullets. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat condemned the rioting and called for an even more heavy handed response.

Just a few days ago, the Jerusalem Local Building and Planning Committee approved 2,200 housing units for Palestinians in the Arav al-Swahara neighborhood of East Jerusalem. While this is considered a victory over the right-wing forces on the committee who had tried to block the move, Barkat’s comment made clear how he sees Jerusalem’s future: “The planning of neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem by the municipality is a clear expression of Israeli sovereignty over all parts of the city and strengthens the unity of Jerusalem.”

*This article was updated with a response from the Jerusalem Municipality.

Checkpoints and blood drives: East Jerusalem hospitals cope with clashes
Jerusalem by the numbers: Poverty, segregation and discrimination
VIDEO: Israeli police beat American teenager in E. Jerusalem

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Post-Gaza war poll: Hamas, Haniyeh and rockets popularity at all-time high http://972mag.com/post-gaza-war-poll-hamas-haniyeh-and-rockets-popularity-at-all-time-high/96243/ http://972mag.com/post-gaza-war-poll-hamas-haniyeh-and-rockets-popularity-at-all-time-high/96243/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 11:35:58 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=96243 More than two-thirds of Palestinians favor bringing Hamas’ armed resistance model to the West Bank, although majorities in Gaza prefer that the PA take over key aspects of security and governance of Gaza.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli military leaders may have boasted of victory over Hamas last week following 50 days of warfare in Gaza, but a new poll shows Hamas with its highest-ever approval ratings among Palestinians since it took control of Gaza in 2006. In contrast, Netanyahu’s approval ratings have plummeted: 50 percent of Israelis said they are dissatisfied with his conduct, compared with an 82-percent approval rating at the beginning of the ground operation in mid-July, according to a Channel 2 poll.

If presidential elections were held today, Hamas leader and former PA prime minister Ismail Haniyeh would defeat Fatah leader and current PA President Mahmoud Abbas by a large margin (61 percent to 32 percent), according to the poll. In addition, for the first time in eight years, Haniyeh would also come in slightly ahead of imprisoned Fatah veteran Marwan Barghouti (49:45), who is serving two life sentences in Israeli prison.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, May 29, 2014 (Screenshot from Palestinian Interior Ministry YouTube)

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, May 29, 2014 (Screenshot from Palestinian Interior Ministry YouTube)

The poll, conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) among a sample of 1,270 adults in person in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip between August 26-30, 2014, indicates that 79 percent of Palestinians believe Hamas won the war, 94 percent are satisfied with its military performance against Israel and a majority — 53 percent – believes that armed confrontation is the most effective means for establishing a Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel.

Eighty-six percent of Palestinians support launching of rockets from Gaza if the siege and blockade are not ended, according to the poll. Half of those polled believe that launching rockets from populated areas is unjustified, but that number increases to 59 percent among Gazans; only 38 percent of those polled in the West Bank believe it is unjustified.

When broken down geographically, Abbas’ approval rating rises in the Gaza Strip to 49 percent but drops to 33 percent in the West Bank. By contrast, Khaled Meshaal’s approval rating drops in the Gaza Strip to 70 percent but rises to 83 percent in the West Bank. (Each is slightly more popular in the territory which they do not actually rule.)

A majority of those polled said they supported the June 2014 kidnapping of the three Israelis in the West Bank at the time (67 percent in Gaza and only 45 percent in the West Bank). A majority of those from the West Bank, however, opposed the killing of the kidnapped Israelis.

Palestinians in the West Bank city of Nablus demonstrate their support for Hamas resistance in Gaza Strip three days after a deal signed by Israel and Hamas ended a 50-day Israeli attack, August 29, 2014. (Photo: Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Palestinians in the West Bank city of Nablus demonstrate their support for Hamas resistance in Gaza Strip three days after a deal signed by Israel and Hamas ended a 50-day Israeli attack, August 29, 2014. (Photo: Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Overall, more than two thirds of those polled in both the West Bank and Gaza favor the transfer of Hamas’ armed resistance approach to the West Bank, although 61 percent believe that massive popular demonstrations could also contribute to ending the Israeli occupation.

Despite Hamas’ overall gains in popularity, in the Gaza Strip alone, the majority want to place the Rafah crossing and the security sector to come under the control of the Palestinian Authority reconciliation government; only a quarter of Gazans want them to remain under Hamas control. These statistics seem to point to overwhelming approval for Hamas as a military force in times of war with Israel, but not when it comes to governance and actual day-to-day rule.

It is important to keep in mind that polls taken during or directly after armed conflict tend to exhibit more extreme results with spikes in various directions, and the pollsters at PCPSR specifically warn that the latest statistics may revert in short time to what they were before the latest confrontation.

The victors of the Gaza war were also the losers
Five Gaza war takeaways
What if Hamas fired rockets at Britain?

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‘Suspects in brutal beating of two Palestinians tied to anti-miscegenation group’ http://972mag.com/suspects-in-brutal-beating-of-two-palestinians-tied-to-anti-miscegenation-group/96209/ http://972mag.com/suspects-in-brutal-beating-of-two-palestinians-tied-to-anti-miscegenation-group/96209/#comments Mon, 01 Sep 2014 16:39:37 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=96209 Ten Jewish Israelis are suspected of severely beating two Palestinian men from Jerusalem in a wartime hate crime. Police believe some of the suspects are tied to right-wing anti-Arab group Lehava, Walla reports.

Several Jewish Israeli suspects in the brutal attack of two Palestinians from East Jerusalem on July 25th are connected to anti-miscegenation, anti-Arab group Lehava, according to a report by Walla! News on Monday.

In what Walla! describes as a “near lynch,” a group of about 10 Jewish Israelis from the East Jerusalem settlement of Neve Yaakov assaulted Amir Shwiki and Samer Mahfouz of Beit Hanina with bats and iron rods on a Friday evening during the height of the summer’s Gaza war (known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge). Both men were beaten unconscious and hospitalized in critical condition, only only recently improving to stable condition.

According to the report, the suspects had just left a shiva (Jewish ritual of seven days of mourning) for fallen IDF soldier Staff-Sgt. Moshe Malko, who was killed during an operation in Shujaiyeh in Gaza a few days earlier. From the investigation, it appears they set out looking to take revenge for Malko’s death. One of the suspects admitted in his interrogation that the motive for the assault was hatred of Arabs, according to Walla!. He added that he hates Arabs “just because. They are the enemy.” The investigation also allegedly revealed that several Jewish women who witnessed the beating did not call police, instead encouraging the attackers by screaming “death to Arabs.”

Neve Yaakov is a settlement in East Jerusalem adjacent to Beit Hanina, and the two communities have had violent confrontations in the past, especially since the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir on July 2 and the subsequent Gaza war.

Nine of the 10 suspects are not cooperating with police but one of them, a 14 year old, did talk. He reportedly told police that his brother, who was also allegedly involved in the attack, is an active member of anti-miscegenation group “Lehava.” According to the Walla! report, police believe many of those involved in the attack are active members of Lehava, an organization whose stated mission is to combat Jewish intermarriage but in practice engages in rampant and blatant anti-Arab incitement and racism.

Police also reportedly found that two of the suspects had been arrested in the past (more than once) for assaulting Palestinians (neither of them ever served time in jail) and several of the suspects were caught trying to hide evidence and coordinate their stories and alibis. For those who read Hebrew, the Walla! report publishes excerpts from the police’s surveillance and wiretaps of the suspects’ WhatsApp messages and phone conversations.

Severe beatings of Palestinians by Jewish youth, called by some Israeli media outlets as “near lynches,” are unfortunately not a new occurrence. In August 2012, 17-year old Jamal Julani was beaten unconscious in the middle of Zion Square by a group of Jewish youth while dozens of onlookers screamed “death to Arabs.”

Lehava leader Benzi Gupstein – a former Kach member and sworn Kahanist – told Walla! in a comment that Lehava “follows the law.” Police told the news outlet that they are aware of dozens of the organization’s members who are involved in “serious incitement.”

Last month Lehava organized a large protest against the marriage of a Palestinian Muslim from Jaffa to a Jewish convert to Islam. Several years ago, an expose in Haaretz revealed that Lehava was indirectly funded by the government.

Palestinian-Jewish couple hires wedding security for fear of anti-miscegenation group
Why Palestinian citizens of Israel are no longer safe

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