+972 Magazine » Mairav Zonszein http://972mag.com Independent commentary and news from Israel & Palestine Sat, 28 Nov 2015 10:15:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8 WATCH: How the far-right glorifies killing of Palestinians http://972mag.com/watch-how-the-far-right-glorifies-killing-of-palestinians/114163/ http://972mag.com/watch-how-the-far-right-glorifies-killing-of-palestinians/114163/#comments Tue, 24 Nov 2015 12:32:38 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=114163 The leader of a popular Jewish supremacist group circulates a new video that puts CCTV footage of stabbing attack to bouncy electronic music and violent, disturbing lyrics.

Benzi Gopstein, the head of Lehava, posted a video on his Facebook page Monday glorifying the killing of Palestinians. Lehava is a popular Jewish supremacist group dedicated to preventing Arab-Jewish relations, which is also accused of regular incitement and racism against Palestinians — both online and on the streets of Jerusalem.

(Click here for the original posting on Facebook)

The video itself is CCTV footage of an incident in Jerusalem on Monday in which two Palestinian girls, 14 and 16, stabbed an elderly Palestinian man with scissors (presumably mistaking him for a Jewish Israeli) before they were shot several times, and even after they lay still on the ground. One was killed, the other is in critical condition.

Crappy electronic music was added to the CCTV footage with synthesized lyrics: “She just wants to stab, put a bullet in her head.” Gopstein shared it on Facebook and wrote: “The new video, if you enjoy it share it!”


Using the video to glorify, celebrate and make light of the shooting of two Palestinian teenage girls, even though they attacked an innocent man with scissors, is almost as disturbing as the attack itself.

It is not just that the video glorifies and fetishizes the killing of Palestinians. It’s not just that it could be construed as incitement against all Palestinians, encouraging people to shoot to kill. In a certain tragic sense, it is an accurate snapshot of what life feels like in Israel these days.

In the current reality it feels like everyone is a potential target, and everything a potential weapon. Murder is not a means to an end, it has become the end. And all of the above is mediated through images and videos that people can watch, manipulate and share as they wish. This of course is done by both Israelis and Palestinians. But let’s not forget who has the army, the right to carry weapons, and the monopoly on the use of force.

Violence itself has gained currency here, in the literal sense of the word: “the quality or state of being used or accepted by many people.” Violence against Palestinians long ago became an accepted part of daily life in Israel. Now, violence against Israelis has once again become normal, too, with Israelis being attacked daily and the majority of people remaining silent about it — as if it is par for the course.

How many more people need to be killed before we realize things need to change, drastically?

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What happens to a cop who beats up a handcuffed 15 year old http://972mag.com/what-happens-to-a-cop-who-beats-up-a-handcuffed-15-year-old/113981/ http://972mag.com/what-happens-to-a-cop-who-beats-up-a-handcuffed-15-year-old/113981/#comments Thu, 19 Nov 2015 14:25:10 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=113981 Just as nobody seriously believes that Israel upholds Palestinians’ basic human rights, it should come as no surprise when it fails to bring to justice those who violate those rights — even if the victim is an American citizen.

I had to rub my eyes and reread the headline in Haaretz this morning: “Cop Who Beat Up Palestinian Teen Gets Six Weeks Community Service.” I must have misread. Not six weeks jail time? Or at least six months community service? No. Just six weeks (45 days) of community service for a policeman who repeatedly and brutally punched and kicked 15-year-old Tariq Abu Khdeir in the stomach and head after he was already in custody — and unconscious.


Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian-American from Florida who was on a family trip to Jerusalem during the summer of 2014, was arrested near a protest in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat. The arrest came just days after his cousin, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, was kidnapped and burned alive by three Israeli Jews. Tariq maintains he was not involved in any protest.

In handing down the lenient sentence, the judge took into account the fact that the police officer had no criminal record and had positive character references. Police officers — the people tasked with upholding the law — should not have criminal records in the first place. And if for some reason they do, they should not be rewarded for that when committing a crime. And positive character references? The guy beat up a kid in handcuffs. This very act overrides any positive character references, presumably from fellow Israeli security personnel.

This is just perverse. A police officer who is supposed to serve as a role model of respect and civility, beats up a minor while after he is already restrained and in custody.

What kind of message does such a lenient sentence send to other officers? That they can beat up arrested Palestinians, even minors, and get away with it. Apparently that’s no big deal. Apparently that’s not considered a flagrant violation of their most basic duties.

And what does that say about Israeli society? That Palestinian lives are not as valued as Jewish ones. That it is not an aberration from the norm, but rather part and parcel of Israel’s policy of crushing the enemy — another example of the double standard inherent in Israel’s legal system when it comes to apprehending and trying Jewish assailants.

A week ago Israel sent over a dozen elite, undercover officers to raid a hospital in Hebron and arrest a Palestinian man accused of stabbing and seriously wounding an Israeli. And yet no one has been arrested or charged in the murder of three members of the Dawabshe family in July of this year. Another example of the double standard was attack on Rabbis for Human Rights head Arik Ascherman by a masked settler last month. The culprit has already been caught and indicted, yet countless other incidents of settler violence against lesser known Israeli Jewish activists and — not to mention those against Palestinians — rarely even result in arrests. According to statistics compiled by Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din, only 7 percent of Palestinian complaints of settler violence result in indictments.

Just as nobody seriously believes that Israel upholds Palestinians’ basic human rights, it should come as no surprise when it fails to bring to justice those who violate those rights. For anyone still under this delusion, today’s news should be another nail in the coffin. The notion of justice and the rule of law — in any way that benefits Palestinians living under Israeli rule — has lost all meaning. Israel’s judicial system, like all of its institutions, serves the agenda of the Jewish hegemony.

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New Jewish network launches worldwide initiative against occupation http://972mag.com/jewish-network-launches-worldwide-initiative-against-occupation/112896/ http://972mag.com/jewish-network-launches-worldwide-initiative-against-occupation/112896/#comments Sun, 18 Oct 2015 14:01:47 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=112896 Group seeks to ‘reclaim Jewish identity,’ raise a global Jewish voice to ‘challenge Israel’s destructive policies.’

An action by If Not Now, When, for Tisha B’Av in New York City, where participants read the names of Israelis and Palestinians who died in this summer’s Gaza war. (Photo by Gili Getz)

An action by the American anti-occupation group If Not Now for Tisha B’Av in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, where participants read the names of Israelis and Palestinians who died in last summer’s Gaza war. (Photo by Gili Getz)

A new international network of Jewish groups and individuals committed to justice in Palestine released a statement over the weekend calling for an end to the killing and an end the occupation. The network, which first met over the summer and has yet to come up with a name, currently spans 16 countries — from Brazil, to Australia, to Switzerland and South Africa — and represents 15 organizations.

According to the preface to their statement, the group seeks to “reclaim Jewish identity not as a nationalist identity but as one that celebrates our diverse roots, traditions & communities wherever we are around the world. We believe that it is essential for there to be a global Jewish voice to challenge Israel’s destructive policies, in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle. This international Jewish network aims to become that voice.”

Forty Palestinians and eight Israelis have been killed since the beginning of the month. There have been over two dozen stabbing attacks against Israelis across Israel and the West Bank, with around 100 Israelis and well over 1,000 Palestinians wounded, many of them by live fire.

In times of heightened violence, specifically against Israelis, Jewish organizations and individuals around the world tend to either show support for Israel or stay silent. It is taboo to criticize Israel when there are terror attacks against Israeli citizens, as was clear during the Second Intifada. But that is precisely when it is most necessary. To both identify as Jewish and show a deep concern for what is going on in Israel while criticizing its policies is rare, making this letter is so important.

Here are some excerpts:

As members of Jewish communities around the world, we are horrified by the violence that is sweeping the streets of Palestine/Israel, costing the lives of over 30 people, both Palestinians and Israelis in the past two weeks alone. A 2 year old girl in Gaza was the youngest of 4 Palestinian children who were killed in the past two weeks. A 13 year-old Israeli boy is in critical condition after being stabbed nearly a dozen times. Over a thousand people were injured in the same period. Fear has completely taken over the streets of Jerusalem, the center of this violence. Israelis shooting Palestinian protesters in and around East Jerusalem. Palestinians stabbing and shooting Israeli civilians and policemen in the middle of the streets. Israeli forces killing Palestinian suspects when they are clearly not a threat and without trial. Palestinians throwing stones at passing cars. Israeli mobs beating up Palestinians or calling on police to shoot them. Humiliating strip searches of Palestinians in the streets – all of these have become a daily occurrence in the city in which we are raised to pray for peace, as well as other places in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank….

It is incumbent on all Jews around the world to pressure the Israeli government – and those who follow and support its words and deeds – to change its approach. The military crackdown must cease immediately, Palestinians must be allowed complete freedom of movement. It is also a responsibility of Jewish people worldwide to obligate the countries in which we live to immediately cease the economic and military support of the ongoing Israeli occupation in Palestine and siege of Gaza.

As a group of Jews from around the world we believe that immediate change needs to come from the Israeli government and Israeli people. It is incumbent on all Jews around the world to pressure the Israeli government – and those who follow and support its words and deeds – to change its approach. The military crackdown must cease immediately, Palestinians must be allowed complete freedom of movement. It is also a responsibility of Jewish people worldwide to obligate the countries in which we live to immediately cease the economic and military support of the ongoing Israeli occupation in Palestine and siege of Gaza.

We call on our Jewish communities, and our broader communities, to publicly insist on an end to the violence, occupation, siege and military response and instead demand equality and freedom for the Palestinian people and justice for all.

According to Jordy Silverstein, a historian and writer from Melbourne who signed onto the statement, the point is to “increase the dissent in our communities.” The network, she says, “seeks to show that a Zionism based on militarism, exclusion, violence, division, murder, and lies isn’t the only way of living on that land, or of expressing ones Jewishness.”

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The only thing scarier than terror is the leadership vacuum http://972mag.com/the-only-thing-scarier-than-terror-is-leadership-vacuum/112753/ http://972mag.com/the-only-thing-scarier-than-terror-is-leadership-vacuum/112753/#comments Wed, 14 Oct 2015 09:45:02 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=112753 Israelis need to realize that neither Abbas nor the PA, nor Hamas are responsible for Israelis’ security. Israeli leaders are — and they are failing miserably.

An Israeli bus driver uses toilet paper to clean blood from the entrance of his bus following a stabbing attack, Jerusalem, October 12, 2015. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

An Israeli bus driver uses toilet paper to clean blood from the entrance of his bus following a stabbing attack, Jerusalem, October 12, 2015. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The sense of terror and anxiety has become palpable everywhere. The fear is visceral. The consistent flow of news alerts and bloody videos informing of another attack and another attack is paralyzing. I’m practically living inside my Twitter feed, looking on in horror at the events.

The Palestinians going out to stab Israelis every day — many of them teenagers — are on veritable suicide missions. It’s like there’s a zombie movie happening on loop out there: people walking around with knifes or sharp objects, using whatever they can muster to inflict harm and then poof, they disappear.


Even in my bubble in Jaffa, where things are ostensibly calm, where Jews and Palestinians walk and work side by side in a shared space, where my son spends time in playgrounds with Palestinian and Jewish kids who have Palestinian and Jewish nannies, I find myself looking over my shoulder. Not because I necessarily think something will happen. But because this is the effect of terror, plain and simple — the feeling that you could be targeted at any moment, anywhere.

It’s much worse than the 2014 summer, when I gave birth to my first son amid sirens, daily Israeli casualties, and the massive death and destruction of Palestinians in Gaza being carried out in my name. This time there are no sirens to warn you of an oncoming attack, and no Iron Dome to thwart the stabbings. It is happening spontaneously all over the place, not just in Jerusalem or settlements, but inside the heart of 1948 Israel.

Palestinians, I hear, are also scared shitless. They aren’t just facing harassment and violence from Israeli settlers and soldiers in the West Bank and increasingly inside Israel proper, but also from police and other security officials. They are all suspect. They have no representation. Their lives hang on the whims of the Israeli government and its agents. That is scary.

It is chaos. A running national trauma on both sides. And the only thing scarier than what is going on is that the Israeli leadership is directly responsible for the situation. Netanyahu was reelected last March on a platform of continued occupation and increasing institutionalized discrimination inside Israel proper, all while wiping out any chance for a diplomatic resolution. On election night he complained that Palestinian citizens were going out to vote in drove —  inciting unabashedly against 20 percent of the population he represents as prime minister. And then he complains of Palestinian incitement.

Netanyahu is one of the most dangerous people for Jews in Israel and worldwide. I have been attacked on Twitter for saying as much, and for not condemning Abbas. But what Israelis must realize is that neither Abbas nor the PA, nor Hamas are responsible for Israelis’ security. Israeli leaders are — and they are failing miserably.

An officer from a special Israeli police unit at the scene of a terror attack in Jerusalem, October 13, 2015. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

An officer from a special Israeli police unit at the scene of a terror attack in Jerusalem, October 13, 2015. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Worse yet, the more Israeli blood is shed, the stronger the far-right seems to be getting. A poll last week by Channel 2 news showed that Israelis believe the person most suited to deal with the situation is Avigdor Liberman, in second place Naftali Bennett, then Netanyahu. Liberman, who has in the past called for disloyal Palestinian citizens to be “decapitated,” and who advocates population transfer, called for a total military lockdown on Palestinians in East Jerusalem. But when you look at the fact that opposition leader Isaac Herzog has called for the exact same thing, there doesn’t seem to be much of a difference between any of the Jewish political parties. None of them have any good ideas to offer.

Netanyahu’s cabinet Tuesday evening authorized the police to impose closures, revoke the residency of Palestinians who commit murder and to seize their property, in addition to the continued policy of home demolitions. These steps are not new. They have already been taken at various times to varying degrees. Issawiya, for example, is subject to regular closures and blockades. So why is it is supposed to suddenly be effective now? The steps Netanyahu is taking are being played up to make Israelis feel like the government is doing something.

The failure of the Israeli leadership is so tragically evident in Jerusalem, where the state is incapable of providing security. Instead of admitting this, the government could recognize, at least nominally for now, the Palestinian claim to East Jerusalem (absolutely unheard of across the political spectrum in Israel), which would go a long way, the leadership is pressing on with more of the same. Even as it is evident that the “unified, undivided capital” they have been boasting for nearly 50 years is so obviously divided and unequal, under the rule of an Israeli government that privileges Jews. A perfect microcosm of what is going on from the river to the sea.

As a Palestinian friend of mine from East Jerusalem told me:

I am puzzled. The provocation of the police in Jerusalem is beyond imagination. It is almost as if they are looking to get people to the point of madness. Last night they arrested two minor girls. Didn’t inform their families. People thought settlers kidnapped them. Later they were released. But in the meantime hundreds of men were enraged. I don’t get the end game of this.

That is because there is no endgame. It will likely get  much worse still. The question is if Israelis will begin to realize that more of the same will only lead to further horrors.

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Israeli forces wound two small Palestinian children: Where’s the outrage? http://972mag.com/israeli-forces-wound-two-small-palestinian-children/112190/ http://972mag.com/israeli-forces-wound-two-small-palestinian-children/112190/#comments Thu, 01 Oct 2015 16:48:48 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=112190 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.”

Abed Al Rahman Abu Ali, 5, in hospital after being shot by Israeli forces

Abed Al Rahman Abu Ali, 5, in hospital after being shot by Israeli forces

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 child was seriously injured the media didn’t think the two shootings deserved more attention. And it is clear that many Israelis, both in government and in the public, think throwing a stone merits being shot. Regardless, this story is a horrible reminder of just how far Israelis have come in their dehumanization and desensitization of Palestinians, that a five year old and a three year old being shot is a non story.

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Israeli hotels warn Jewish guests that Arabs will also be there http://972mag.com/israeli-hotels-warn-jewish-guests-that-arabs-will-also-be-there/111503/ http://972mag.com/israeli-hotels-warn-jewish-guests-that-arabs-will-also-be-there/111503/#comments Tue, 08 Sep 2015 12:59:09 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=111503 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.

Illustrative photo of tourists sunbathing at a hotel pool. (Photo by Benoit Daoust/Shutterstock.com)

Illustrative photo of tourists sunbathing at a hotel pool. (Photo by Benoit Daoust/Shutterstock.com)

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 they received in the past — reviews like: “The hotel is great for families but full of Arabs.”

Imagine for a moment that a hotel employee warned a white American making a reservation that blacks would also be staying there at the same time. Or if a hotel warned Christian guests that they might have to share the pool with Jewish families. This is exactly the same.

The phenomenon of private segregation of leisure sites and activities in Israel is nothing new. In 2013, the Superland amusement park in Rishon Lezion was exposed for segregating between Arab and Jewish schools. There are, after all, already segregated schools, buses, streets and highways. Why not hotels, too?

Considering Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won the parliamentary elections earlier this year largely by warning his constituents that “droves of Arabs“ were going to the polls to exercise their right to vote, it can’t be surprising that hotels are warning Jews about Arab vacationers. It’s all part of the increased normalization of the practice of segregation in Israel.

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Hunger striker proves only way to challenge Israeli policy is to starve http://972mag.com/hunger-striker-proves-only-way-to-challenge-israeli-police-it-to-starve/110702/ http://972mag.com/hunger-striker-proves-only-way-to-challenge-israeli-police-it-to-starve/110702/#comments Wed, 19 Aug 2015 20:00:53 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=110702 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.

Israeli police bar a Palestinian protester at a demonstration for the release of hunger striker Mohammad Allan, outside of Barzilai hospital in Ashkelon, Israel. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israeli police bar a Palestinian protester at a demonstration for the release of hunger striker Mohammad Allan, outside of Barzilai hospital in Ashkelon, Israel, August 16, 2015. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

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 http://972mag.com/political-death-notices-mourn-palestinian-baby-israeli-teen/109831/ http://972mag.com/political-death-notices-mourn-palestinian-baby-israeli-teen/109831/#comments Fri, 07 Aug 2015 09:44:54 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=109831 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.

Death notices for Ali Dawabshe and Shira Banki  (Photo by Ilana Sichel)

Death notices for Ali Dawabshe and Shira Banki (Photo by Sara Holcman)

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:

An innocent child, one and a half years old, burned by our own sons in an act of flagrant hatred. We mourn the policies of occupation, which incite violence and racism and our belonging to a society that values land over people, a society that implicates all of us in this crime.

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:

A spirited young woman, 16 years old, stabbed by our own son in an act of flagrant hatred, abandoned by leaders who profess equality but fail to act, betrayed by authorities, whose negligence kills innocents. We mourn belonging to a society that values some lives over others, a society that implicates all of us in this crime.

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.”

Death notices for Ali Dawabshe in Jerusalem (Photo by Ilana Sichel).

Death notices for Ali Dawabshe in Jerusalem (Photo by Ilana Sichel).

While leaders across the political spectrum in government expressed shock and condemned both the acts, their words rang mostly hollow when considering their policies. In the wake of Ali’s death, the Israeli media quickly moved from showing photos of the infant to images of Palestinians throwing stones, coupled with reports of the expected Palestinian reprisals. Only several thousand Israelis went out into the streets to express their opposition to the violence. Perhaps it was the combination of apathy and extreme heat that kept them at home.

Religious Jewish youth looking at death notice for Ali Dawabshe in Jerusalem (Photo by Ilana Sichel)

Religious Jewish youth looking at death notice for Ali Dawabshe in Jerusalem (Photo by Ilana Sichel)

“Though the specific political contexts of Shira Banki’s murder and Ali Saad Dawabshe’s murder differ from each other, they have some deeply distressing commonalities: they are both child victims of the impunity enjoyed by messianic, militant Jewish extremists, and they are both murders which proper law enforcement and sentencing should have prevented,” says Sichel.

I find the notices so powerful and moving because the act of making and publicizing them puts a mirror up to Israelis, and creates a “vista of grief” through public symbols Israelis are accustomed to, but with self-critical messages they don’t normally need to or necessarily want to face.

Ali Dawabshe death notice torn in Jerusalem (Photo by Ilana Sichel).

Ali Dawabshe death notice torn in Jerusalem (Photo by Ilana Sichel).

Some of the notices have already been torn down or vandalized — primarily those mourning Ali. Shira’s have mostly stayed in tact. Which just goes to show how much work there is to be done.

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Killing of three Palestinians in a week shouldn’t be business as usual http://972mag.com/killing-of-three-palestinians-in-a-week-shouldnt-be-business-as-usual/109372/ http://972mag.com/killing-of-three-palestinians-in-a-week-shouldnt-be-business-as-usual/109372/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 11:21:46 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=109372 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.’

An aunt of Muhammad Abu Latifa cries at his funeral in Qalandia Refugee Camp in between Ramallah and Jerusalem, July 27, 2015. Abu Latifa was killed while fleeing Israeli special police commandos during an arrest raid on his home early that morning. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

An aunt of Muhammad Abu Latifa cries at his funeral in Qalandia Refugee Camp in between Ramallah and Jerusalem, July 27, 2015. Abu Latifa was killed while fleeing Israeli special police commandos during an arrest raid on his home early that morning. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

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.

Ynetnews.com homepage screengrab

Ynetnews.com homepage screenshot, July 27, 2015

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 was thrown, but Abu Maria did throw a plastic potted plant at the soldiers after watching soldiers shoot his son Mohammed, 24, in both of his legs at point black range. According to the family, Abu Maria thought his son had been killed, and in the rage of the moment threw a small plant at the soldiers, for which he got two bullets straight in the chest.

In the third incident, just 24 hours earlier, 21-year-old Muhammad Ahmad Alawneh was shot and killed by IDF soldiers in the West Bank village of Burkin near Jenin. The IDF and Border Police claimed firebombs were hurled at them, though there are no reports that Alauna threw one. In some reports, he threw a stone.

Illustrative photo of Israeli soldiers raiding a Palestinian home and making an arrest in 2012 (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

File photo of Israeli soldiers raiding a Palestinian home and making an arrest. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Three unarmed Palestinians killed in one week is alarming. If it were three Israelis, the news of the “escalation” or “wave of violence” would surely be much more widespread in both local and international media. But it is not only the frequency of these events; it is the fact that they are accepted as routine — and legitimate — operations in Israel.

Israeli soldiers force their way into a home in the dead of night, fully armed, masked and protected. They don’t need a warrant, and the suspects don’t have any rights. Israeli army claims that soldiers’ lives were at risk is what justifies the killing of unarmed Palestinians. Sound familiar? That is because it has happened over and over again for nearly 50 years.

The very nature of the relationship between occupier and occupied, between the soldier and the enemy, to which Israelis have become so accustomed and desensitized, somehow makes the killing of three Palestinians into a non-event that mainstream Israeli journalists don’t bother to question.

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Deputy defense minister: Embattled Palestinian village doesn’t exist http://972mag.com/deputy-defense-minister-embattled-palestinian-village-doesnt-even-exist/109133/ http://972mag.com/deputy-defense-minister-embattled-palestinian-village-doesnt-even-exist/109133/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 13:38:41 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=109133 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.’

Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan (Photo: Natisabu/CC)

Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben Dahan. (Photo: Natisabu/CC)

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.

Mohammad Mousa Abu Ghanam passes in front of one of his animal shelters which was demolished earlier in the day by the Israeli army, in the village of Susiya, South Hebron Hills, August 28, 2012

Mohammad Mousa Abu Ghanam passes in front of one of his animal shelters ,which were demolished earlier in the day by the Israeli army, Susya, South Hebron Hills, August 28, 2012. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org

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 is under full Israeli control.

The reason Palestinians in the south Hebron Hills build illegally is because Israeli authorities systematically refuse to grant them building permits or recognize any planning rights. The Israeli army rejects 90 percent of Palestinian planning requests in Area C, and most villages in the area face almost identical restrictions and demolition threats. Settlements for Jewish Israelis, however, continuously pop up in the area.

Last May, the High Court of Justice gave the state the green light to destroy the village at any moment by refusing to issue an injunction until an appeal is heard.

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