+972 Magazine » Mairav Zonszein http://972mag.com Independent commentary and news from Israel & Palestine Thu, 11 Feb 2016 19:35:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8 Knesset hearing on unflattering press coverage looks like ‘witch-hunt’ http://972mag.com/knesset-hearing-on-unflattering-press-coverage-looks-like-witch-hunt/116858/ http://972mag.com/knesset-hearing-on-unflattering-press-coverage-looks-like-witch-hunt/116858/#comments Tue, 09 Feb 2016 12:58:06 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=116858 Chairwoman Tzipi Livni asks government agencies to present examples of ‘biased reporting,’ suggestions for legal and diplomatic tools for countering unflattering news coverage. Foreign Press Association slams the very premise of the hearing.

Tzipi Livni (photo: Yotam Ronen / activestills)

Tzipi Livni (photo: Yotam Ronen / activestills)

The influential Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense subcommittee held an urgent hearing on Tuesday on “legal warfare with respect to foreign media coverage – coverage which in the long term erodes the legitimacy of [Israel's] fight against terrorism” (Emphasis mine).


Subcommittee chairwoman Tzipi Livni asked representatives of various government agencies, among them the Government Press Office, Prime Minister’s Office, Defense Ministry, Border Police and IDF to bring specific examples of “biased, one sided reporting against soldiers and police following terror incidents” and to suggest diplomatic and legal steps to counter the phenomenon.

The Knesset committee requested that the Foreign Press Association — which represents some 400 journalists from a wide range of outlets including The New York Times, Reuters, Associated Press, and CBC and Financial Times — also attend the hearing. Ironically, the “invitation” also asked them to present examples of their own biased, errant reporting, in what can only be understood as an indictment of their work.

In response, the FPA drafted a letter that challenged the very idea of holding such a hearing and emphasizing the level of influence the government already has on reporters.

“May we state first that we disagree with the premise of the hearing – it presupposes two things: that the foreign media are biased and that that supposed bias undermines Israel’s ability to quell terrorist attacks. We do not agree that the foreign media are biased, and the legitimacy of Israel’s campaign against terrorism is entirely determined by how Israel conducts that campaign. It has nothing to do with the foreign media.”

The letter goes on to list the variety of recourses the Israeli government already has for filing legal and other complaints regarding foreign reporting and admits that there are isolated incidents in which inaccurate or poorly worded headlines are drafted — but by editors sitting in their offices abroad, and these are quickly corrected when necessary.

The letter closes by stating: “A free and open media is the bedrock of a democratic society. Parliamentary subcommittee hearings that start from the premise that the foreign media is biased tend to look like poorly conceived witch-hunts.”

The hearing was called following a CBS news headline from last week about the murder of Border Police officer Hadar Cohen by three Palestinian assailants. The headline read: “3 Palestinians killed as daily violence grinds on.”

In response, the head of the GPO Nitzan Chen threatened to revoke the credentials of reporters for inaccurate headlines. Following Israeli intervention, the CBS headline was changed to: “Palestinians kill Israeli officer, wound another before being killed.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists issued a statement Monday expressing concern over increasing pressure and interference by the Israeli government on foreign journalists.

Last week, the same Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee held a discussion on violent incidents between security forces and the press, in which Knesset members and the IDF accused journalists of orchestrating events in order to negatively portray Israel.

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How Im Tirtzu dominates Israel’s public debate http://972mag.com/how-im-tirzu-dominates-israels-public-debate/116498/ http://972mag.com/how-im-tirzu-dominates-israels-public-debate/116498/#comments Mon, 01 Feb 2016 16:31:38 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=116498 While its campaign of intimidation against supposed left-wing Israeli artists seems to have backfired, Im Tirtzu’s role in Israel’s current political climate cannot be overstated.

Right-wing activists from ‘Im Tirzu’ protest at the entrance to the Tel Aviv University, November 20, 2014. (photo: Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org)

Right-wing activists from ‘Im Tirzu’ protest at the entrance to the Tel Aviv University, November 20, 2014. (photo: Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org)

The political climate in Israel has become so draconian and repressive lately that it was slightly surprising how quickly everyone rushed to denounce Im Tirtzu’s latest campaign against mainstream artists and celebrities who sit or have sat on the boards of human rights organizations. Leaders across the political spectrum condemned the campaign, including Netanyahu, who has previously sung Im Tirtzu’s praises on camera.  Following the backlash, the group told the Israeli press they had made a mistake and gone too far, with director Matan Peleg going as far as suspending himself.


Some Israeli commentators have written about how the campaign was actually a gift to those on the Left, since it forced many centrist, mainstream artists to draw a clear political line in the sand between Im Tirtzu’s hyper-nationalism and their own values. It ostensibly forces them to step out of their comfort zones and choose sides.

But a look at the reactions by several of the artists who were targeted by Im Tirtzu reveals just how paralyzed and monopolized the Israeli mainstream discourse is; how it uses the very same language as the Right to try and defend itself.

For example, veteran actress Gila Almagor was invited to speak on Channel 2′s Friday night prime time news broadcast about the recent incitement against her. A horrible incendiary article was printed in an Israeli media outlet that literally called for her to prepare a will, since she should expect to be shot in the back three times in the near future (the article was later taken down). Almagor said that she believes the incitement comes from the leaders, before adding “I always represent this country honorably, I never take my criticism outside the country.”

Israeli actress Gila Almagor. (Right-wing activists from ‘Im Tirzu’ protest at the entrance to the Tel Aviv University, November 20, 2014. (photo: Amir Gilad/CC BY-SA 3.0)

Israeli actress Gila Almagor. (Right-wing activists from ‘Im Tirzu’ protest at the entrance to the Tel Aviv University, November 20, 2014. (photo: Amir Gilad/CC BY-SA 3.0)

The idea that it is somehow disloyal to criticize Israel outside the country is an old and very popular trope. It was not created by the Right, but by Israel’s founding prime minister David Ben-Gurion, to cover up for massacres against Palestinians that took place upon the state’s establishment. It has been made even more rigid and popular in recent years by the Right, in the form of the bill targeting NGOs that receive funding from foreign governments, as well as the witch hunt against anti-occupation groups such as Breaking the Silence, who take part in speaking tours abroad. To be a “good Israeli” according to this logic, is to keep quiet about Israel’s wrongs, which is exactly why Breaking the Silence has become persona non grata.

The significance of Almagor condemning incitement, while in the same breath assuring that she would never criticize Israel abroad, is a backhanded way of delegitimizing all the other organizations, including +972, that believe the Israeli system of occupation is not an internal Israeli debate but an international human rights issue. Her response was a way of proving her loyalty and patriotism to the state — along the lines Im Tirtzu and its ilk have delineated. After all, why shouldn’t Almagor speak freely against policies that she disagrees with anywhere she likes? Her response indicates she isn’t a genuine advocate of freedom of speech.

Another example came from Dean Oz Salzberger, the grandson of famed Israeli author Amos Oz, who was also on Im Tirtzu’s list. Salzberger used the same rhetoric against Im Tirtzu that Culture Minister Miri Regev once used to describe African asylum seekers: “a cancer in Israel’s society.” This is a form of incitement against Im Tirtzu, or at the least, an attack made in very poor taste.

Salzberger also uploaded to Facebook a photo of himself in IDF uniform with Oz, writing: ”Attached is a photo of my grandfather Amos (‘the foreign agent’) who is crying from excitement at my IDF officer’s graduation ceremony a few months ago.” From Salzberger’s photo we can understand that in order to defend your grandfather against a quasi-fascist group, it is important to prove you are pro-military, or in other words: a good Zionist.

Im Tirtzu first came into the spotlight back in 2010 with its first big campaign targeting the academic freedom of professors at Ben-Gurion University. At the time, all the deans of all the major universities condemned the group, but like Salzberger, also made a point to declare their loyalty to Zionism — a fact that should have no bearing on upholding academic freedom at a public institution. At the time I wrote an oped in Haaretz (Hebrew), warning that such responses created a dangerous precedent that strengthens the bogus connection between one’s own personal identity and affinity to Zionism on the one hand, and one’s commitment to freedom of speech and other universal values on the other.

Israel Prize winner and famed author Amos Oz. (photo: Michiel Hendryckx/CC BY 3.0)

Israel Prize winner and famed author Amos Oz. (photo: Michiel Hendryckx/CC BY 3.0)

Six years laters, Im Tirtzu has gone after the heart of Israel’s mainstream culture, and while the widespread condemnation of their attack is a relief, I would be hard pressed to say they have failed. The artists’ responses shed light on just how skewed Israeli discourse is. Even artists who support human rights work are incapable of stepping outside the boundaries of a debate that have been determined for them. That is where the real challenge lies.

One last note: while one artist, Rivka Michaeli, actually used the word “occupation” in her response to the incitement against her, no one else, as far as I know, has mentioned the people who are the actual victims of Israel’s human rights abuses. Furthermore, while everyone — even the most right-wing Israeli pundits — are busy condemning Im Tirtzu, no one in the media is talking about the fact that there is no security, no peace, no equality, no public housing, no stability, no hope, no justice, etc. In that sense, the ultimate victory of Im Tirtzu’s campaign and in general, that of the Right, is their monopoly over public debate, they are diverting it with unmatched success so as not to deal with the real issues.

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Building an alternative reality means building community http://972mag.com/building-an-alternative-reality-means-building-community/116435/ http://972mag.com/building-an-alternative-reality-means-building-community/116435/#comments Sat, 30 Jan 2016 13:55:02 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=116435 In an era when settlements are a given, when criticizing the occupation is tantamount to treason, and when there is no viable alternative to the Right, building a community is one way to create a new reality.

Bloggers and editors from +972 Magazine and Local Call at the Anna LouLou Bar in Jaffa. (photo: Activestills.org)

Bloggers and editors from +972 Magazine and Local Call at the Anna Loulou Bar in Jaffa. (photo: Activestills.org)

On Thursday night, bloggers, editors, photographers, designers, readers, journalists and supporters of +972 Magazine and its Hebrew sister site, Local Call, gathered together to officially welcome our new executive editor, Sawsan Khalife.


Arabic, Hebrew and English filled the Anna Loulou, a small bar in Jaffa’s Old City. Some of us hadn’t seen each other in a long time, while others had never met face to face. Some came from afar and others just a five-minute walk away. Some spend their days out in the field, others in front of the keyboard; some of us vote for the same political parties while others can’t agree on almost anything. It was clear that we had all succeeded in building a singular media platform that challenges mainstream discourse. Beyond that, however, we have managed to build a robust collective whose very existence challenges the reality of hyper-nationalism, intolerance and segregation that we live in.

We are not creating Israeli-Palestinian “coexistence,” but rather a network based on a shared determination to confront experiences around us every single day with critical, conscious and sensitive eyes, based on our own personal vantage point and identity. In a post-Oslo era when settlements are a given, when criticizing the occupation is tantamount to treason, and when there is no viable alternative to the Right, how do we challenge the existing reality? +972 Magazine and Local Call have provided me a community — both virtual and actual — in which I can grapple with these issues. In doing so, we are creating new facts on the ground that present an alternative for when, eventually, the occupation does end and something new must be formed in its stead.

A Ta'ayush activist argues with an Israeli soldier in the South Hebron hills, August 11, 2012. (Photo: Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

A Ta’ayush activist argues with an Israeli soldier in the South Hebron hills, August 11, 2012. (Photo: Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

The individuals and groups throughout Israeli and Palestinian society doing this are few, but significant. They are not hoping for or demanding peace — they are laying the foundation for a new reality by embodying the change they envision. Ta’ayush, a group of Israeli Jews who try to protect Palestinian residents of the South Hebron Hills from settler and military violence — and have recently been one of the victims of the Right’s campaign of incitement and slander — is just one such a group.

Much of my political activism and awakening was shaped by being active with Ta’ayush for several years. Being in these areas and confronting settlers and soldiers changes, albeit slowly, the facts on the ground for the Palestinians living there, not to mention for those settlers and soldiers who see Israelis opposing their actions.

In the current climate, when Israeli Jews are starting to get a small taste of what Palestinians have been living with their whole lives, what matters is not only the demand for equality and human rights, but attempting to embody those values every day.

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The Israeli Left’s challenge: Defeating ideology with facts http://972mag.com/the-israeli-lefts-challenge-defeating-ideology-with-facts/116082/ http://972mag.com/the-israeli-lefts-challenge-defeating-ideology-with-facts/116082/#comments Tue, 19 Jan 2016 11:58:05 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=116082 Left-wing and anti-occupation groups in Israel are finally hitting back, but the task seems Sisyphean: how do you win over people who don’t even acknowledge the same sets of facts.

A public reading of Breaking the Silence testimonies in Tel Aviv to mark 10 years since the organization was founded, June 6, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

A public reading of Breaking the Silence testimonies of former soldiers to mark 10 years since the organization was founded, Tel Aviv, June 6, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem published a cynical ad in Haaretz Tuesday, in which the veteran watchdog group invited right-wingers on a tour of the West Bank’s South Hebron Hills.

Right-wing groups have published a number of hidden-camera reports in recent weeks in which their “moles” infiltrate left-wing groups in hopes of catching left-wingers saying and doing embarrassing ,and possibly illegal, things. Thus far, the undercover “sting operations” appear to have netted very little, save for one individual activist.

(English translation after the Hebrew below)

Photo B'tselem ad in Haaretz, January 19, 2016

Photo B’tselem ad in Haaretz, January 19, 2016

B’Tselem invites you – right-wing moles, impostors, frauds, to a tour of the South Hebron Hills on Friday January 29. There is no requirement to dress in disguises or bring hidden cameras.

On the agenda: snacks, mingling with Palestinians, discussion circles with B’Tselem researchers about the injustices of occupation, and to conclude: free time for questions, eavesdropping and taking statements out of context.

I appreciate the humor, and it is satisfying to see Israel’s leading human rights organization use some biting wit to take a stab at the people so vehemently trying to delegitimize their critical work. It captures the truly absurd feeling that all the time and money the Right is investing in infiltrating left-wing organizations — and stealing their trash — to expose that they are in fact exactly what they purport to be: organizations that champion human rights and equality.


But after an initial chuckle, I was left with a feeling of despair. The ad is representative of a desperate attempt, in this case by B’Tselem, to prove its legitimacy within Israeli Jewish society by engaging people with whom it shares no values or even working assumptions. The people B’Tselem is targeting with this ad do not even acknowledge that Israel has for 47 years been engaged in the military control of a foreign population, or that doing so is wrong.

The fact that B’Tselem is engaging with such ideas at all is sad. But the even sadder reality is that it has to.

This is not just a a few trolls, a small group of extremists with no legitimacy: it is the prevailing zeitgeist in Israel, as expressed by the vast majority of government representatives, large parts of the media, the justice system, and by the silent majority of citizens who seem to have lost interest in what is being done to Palestinians in their name. If they truly did care, surely Israelis of all stripes would have used the ballot box to do something about it.

Breaking the Silence has also been engaging with its attackers. The anti-occupation group of former Israeli soldiers has put out a series of short videos in recent weeks, the latest of which tries to disprove allegations that it is spreading lies. (Allegations that the BtS publishes, or has ever published lies, has never been proven.) For example, this week it released a video (see below) composed of several testimonies and actual footage from the Second Intifada that proves Israeli soldiers routinely fire automatic grenade launchers toward densely populated areas in the West Bank. Will this proof defuse the attacks against it?

How utterly depressing that soldiers who want to talk about their experiences in the occupied territories are guilty until proven innocent; they have to prove that they are not lying, they have to prove their credibility and loyalty to the Israeli public. They were credible enough to serve in its army, to protect its civilians, but they are not credible enough to question what they did after the fact.

These organizations are essentially fighting ideology with facts. They are trying to reach out to people who either do not share their basic working assumptions or who do not care enough to find out. They seem to be fighting a battle that cannot be won. This is the real challenge facing the Israeli Left today. How are we supposed to engage in a dialogue with people with whom we have practically no common values or accepted sets of facts? I have been grappling with this question for years now.

I don't have the answer, but the tiny community of Jewish Israeli leftists needs to figure it out.

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The new normal in Israel http://972mag.com/the-new-normal-in-israel/115594/ http://972mag.com/the-new-normal-in-israel/115594/#comments Tue, 05 Jan 2016 14:03:16 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=115594 Violence, racism, fear and no political horizon: that is what Israel’s leadership has to offer.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the scene of a mass shooting in central Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff St., January 2, 2016. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the scene of a mass shooting in central Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff St., January 2, 2016. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Two Arab residents of Israel were taken off an Aegean Airlines flight to Tel Aviv Monday night after several Jewish Israeli passengers demanded they be removed, simply for being Arab. The Jewish Israeli passengers refused to take their seats — thereby preventing the flight from departing — until the two Arab men deplaned, Israel Radio reported.


After a couple of hours, in an effort to de-escalate, the airline ended up offering the two Arab men a different flight and a free night at a hotel if they agreed to stay behind, according to the report. The pair arrived back in Israel today.

There was no mention in the report of any other Israeli passengers trying to step in and oppose the move, or get off the plane in protest or solidarity.

The Israel Radio report did note that the Israeli Embassy in Athens was notified of what happened, but that it chose not to make any statement or take any action because the matter had been “resolved.”

That silence in the face of such a clear wrong, both by the other passengers and the embassy, speaks volumes.

Welcome to the “new normal” in Israel 2016. Similar such incidents happen all the time. There were the Israeli hotels that warned Jewish guests about Arab citizens who would also be staying there.

There was that time in 2013 when the “Superland” amusement park was caught segregating Jewish and Arab student groups in order to “avoid confrontations.”

So should it really come as a surprise that the Education Ministry has banned a book that discusses a romance between an Arab and a Jew from its curriculum ? (Or is it actually because it portrays IDF soldiers in a bad light, as Education Minister Naftali Bennett has now said?)

These acts are not an aberration from the norm. They are the new normal.

The fact that police automatically raided and ransacked the dorms and apartments of Arab citizens in search of the suspect in Friday’s Tel Aviv shooting attack appears to be a matter of policy. The only probable cause was having the wrong ethnicity — which is precisely what happened on the Greek airplane.

These are not a few random incidents by a few crazy citizens or a few radical Knesset members. This is the new normal.

Prime Minister Netanyahu on Saturday gave a short speech at the scene of the Tel Aviv shooting attack that many commentators have described as incendiary and racist: the prime minister essentially blamed the entire Arab citizen population for the acts of one individual person. It was basically a sequel to his Election Day warning this past March that “the Arabs are going to the polls in droves.”

But it is also important to pause on something else Netanyahu said over the weekend: ”Whoever wants to be Israeli must be Israeli all the way.”

What on earth is being “Israeli all the way?”

I can tell you what it is not. It is not being a combat soldier who feels the need to talk about the things he or she was ordered to do in the occupied territories. It is not working for a non-profit organization whose primary funding comes from European governments. It is not a Jewish citizen in a romantic relationship with a Palestinian. It is not someone who refuses to buy settlement products, someone who goes out to protest military operations, or somebody who actively opposes the systematic control and oppression of millions of Palestinians.

With no end to the violence in sight — against both Palestinians as well as against Israeli citizens and security forces — and no political resolution on the horizon, all Israeli leaders have left to do, it seems, is fan the flames of fear, trauma and mayhem. As long as violence and fear envelop the country like a fog, the public remains distracted from the leadership’s total incompetence at providing a viable future for anyone living here.

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WATCH: Incitement against the Israeli Left just got a lot scarier http://972mag.com/watch-incitement-against-israeli-left-just-got-a-whole-lot-scarier/114787/ http://972mag.com/watch-incitement-against-israeli-left-just-got-a-whole-lot-scarier/114787/#comments Tue, 15 Dec 2015 14:34:00 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=114787 Four Israelis who work for leading human rights organizations woke up to a new, frightening reality after a video accused each one of them of being a foreign agent working to defend Palestinian terrorists.

A new video entitled “Foreign Agents – Revealed!” was released on Tuesday by Im Tirtzu, a neo-Mccarthyite, extreme right-wing group notorious for its public attacks against left-wing academics and organizations. In 2013 an Israeli court ruled that the group bears similarities to a fascist movement. Its leadership enjoys ties with Likud and Yisrael Beitenu politicians.


The video plasters the faces of the heads of four Israeli human rights organizations — The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel, Breaking the Silence, B’Tselem and Hamoked: The Center for the Defense of the Individual — directly accusing them of being “planted” by different European entities (Holland, Germany, Norway and the European Union, respectively) to aid and abet terrorists. I wonder whether any of these European entities has a problem with being accused of planting operatives in an “enemy” country.

In response to the video, B’Tselem head Hagai El-Ad, who was targeted in the video, told +972:

“The government has no idea what it is doing, so its emissaries are busy dealing in incitement. We will continue to document and expose the occupation and its injustices, and resist Israel’s half century-long military control over millions of Palestinians.”

Meretz MK Michal Rozin has already demanded the attorney general investigate it. According to attorney Michael Sfard, the legal definition of incitement is very narrow, and therefore it probably won’t apply here. It requires a call to commit an offense against someone, the reasonable likelihood that someone can and will commit that act, and that the distributor of the material is interested in that happening or at least doesn’t mind.

However, Sfard says it definitely is incitement in the social, political and ethical sense of the term. “Soviet-style incitement, talking about people as if they are foreign agents working for the enemy.” According to Sfard, there is a legal definition of incitement to racism that does not include the call to harm someone – like what Netanyahu did on Election Day (even though the Attorney General acquitted him). Such incitement creates an atmosphere of hatred for a person based on their being attributed to a specific group.

“If there was a parallel to the law on incitement for racism that included incitement against political groups, this would qualify,” Sfard told +972.

The past few months have been a scary time for human rights activists in Israel. The recent incitement against activists from Breaking the Silence — which came from right-wing and centrist leaders alike — has created an environment in which Israelis working for organizations that deal with Palestinian human rights are endangering themselves. They are being silenced, they are the target of slander and lies, and their actual physical safety may be in danger.

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Trump is no more racist than mainstream Israeli policy http://972mag.com/trump-is-no-more-racist-than-mainstream-israeli-policy/114613/ http://972mag.com/trump-is-no-more-racist-than-mainstream-israeli-policy/114613/#comments Wed, 09 Dec 2015 10:23:52 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=114613 Israeli politicians are joining the global pushback against Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim racism. But guess what other country bans Muslim immigration?

File photo of Donald Trump (Albert H. Teich / Shutterstock.com)

File photo of Donald Trump (Albert H. Teich / Shutterstock.com)

Just days after Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump announced that he will be visiting Israel by the end of December, the billionaire populist called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Everyone is aghast, including several Israeli politicians, figures and organizations, who began expressing their disgust and indignation Wednesday morning. Some went as far as demanding that Trump be blocked from entering Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, or to bar him from entering the country entirely.

The organization Republicans Abroad Israel was quick to condemn Trump’s statement, calling it “diametrically opposed to everything American stands for.”


Labor MK Omer Bar-Lev tweeted Wednesday morning that Trump is racist and should not be welcomed into the Knesset. Anti-settlement activist and scholar Gershom Goremberg tweeted that the appropriate Israeli response would be to ban Trump from the country.

Joint List MK Ahmed Tibi called Trump a neo-Nazi on Twitter who should not be allowed into Israel’s parliament, but noted that “the things he said are not unfamiliar to some of those here who serve in the Knesset.”

That might be the understatement of the year.

Racism — and various forms of discrimination against Muslims, Arabs, and Palestinians — is just as rampant here in Israel as it is inside the Trump camp, if not more so. Except in Israel, racism and ethno-religious discrimination is not only accepted rhetoric in the halls of power and the sidewalk cafes of Tel Aviv, it is also long-standing formal state policy.

Trump called to ban Muslims from entering the United States. In Israel, there is already a law banning Muslims from immigrating — the “Law of Return” which gives that right to Jews alone. Even those who were born here but fled, or whose families lived here for generations upon generations, are forbidden from returning.

The Anti-Defamation League on Monday called Trump’s plan to “bar people from entry to the United States based on their religion” is “deeply offensive and runs contrary to our nation’s deepest values.” Has the ADL ever spoken out against Israel’s Jewish-only immigration law and discriminatory border control policies?

Inherent institutional racism can also be seen in the two separate-and-unequal legal systems for Palestinians and Israelis living meters from one another in the occupied West Bank. It can be seen the total negligence of infrastructure, resources and education for Palestinians in annexed East Jerusalem as opposed to Jewish neighborhoods in the same territory. It can be seen in the rampant and deep-seeded discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel when it comes to housing, land confiscation and re-distribution, education and employment. And these are just the most obvious examples.

If we follow the logic of demanding that Donald Trump be barred from entering Israel’s Knesset, then so too should a large number of elected officials serving in that Knesset.

There is Education Minister Naftali Bennett who has bragged about killing Arabs and suggested that Jews are more evolutionarily advanced than Arabs. There is Likud MK Yaron Mazuz, who told Arab members of Knesset they should be grateful for even being allowed to serve as elected officials, that “We’re doing you a favor by letting you sit here.” There is Prime Minister Netanyahu, of course, who complained that Palestinian citizens of Israel were exercising their right to vote — “in droves.” There was the sitting foreign minister, Avigdor Liberman, who advocated population transfer.

And that’s just the right-wing camp.

The “Zionist Union,” a joint slate comprised of Labor and Tzipi Livni, voted to disqualify Arab MK Haneen Zoabi from the Knesset. The side of the Israeli politics formerly known as the Left also has no problem with acceptance committees designed to keep Arabs out of Jewish communities or the idea of segregated communities, or segregated schools. They have no problem with the ban on Palestinian citizens of Israel living with or conferring residency to their spouses from the West Bank or Gaza. Oh yeah, and of course, there’s the Jewish-only settlements and dual legal systems in the West Bank, which came into existence under “left-wing” governments and have never even been questioned by any subsequent government.

Israelis who want to ban Trump, who call him racist, need to take a good look in the mirror. And just imagine for a second what would happen if the American Jewish establishment — Democrats, Republicans, communal institutions, elected officials — treated racist policies in Israel with the same uniform rejection and disgust as they are starting to direct at Trump’s abhorrently racist rhetoric.

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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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