+972 Magazine » Mairav Zonszein http://972mag.com Independent commentary and news from Israel & Palestine Tue, 29 Jul 2014 22:32:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8 Anticipating sirens and contractions: Bringing a baby into this reality http://972mag.com/anticipating-sirens-and-contractions-bringing-a-baby-into-this-reality/93290/ http://972mag.com/anticipating-sirens-and-contractions-bringing-a-baby-into-this-reality/93290/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 13:05:55 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=93290 Nothing about life here is ‘normal.’ How could it be? And neither will my birthing experience – and maybe that’s for the best, so that things have a chance to actually change.

Thursday was my “due date.” I began my 40th week of pregnancy yesterday and am due to go into labor any day now. I’ve been mentally and physically preparing myself for this exciting and unpredictable moment for months, planning to have as natural, active and positive an experience as I can without any unnecessary interventions.

Then came the huge intervention of reality this week as rockets began being fired at Jaffa-Tel Aviv. No longer simply anticipating contractions, but anticipating sirens. No longer just being attentive to my body ahead of labor, but also ahead of rockets. I’ve been coming to terms with the fact that I’ll be bringing my first child into this world amid the harrowing sounds of sirens followed by booms of rockets exploding in the skies above me that shake the whole house — and waking up every morning to news that the Israeli military is in-distinctively killing dozens of Palestinians, including women and children in an operation that I do not feel protects me, or serves the interests of my soon-to-be-born child’s future.

At first I couldn’t see past my upset and resentment that the holistic, wholesome and calm labor experience I had been hoping for is being taken away from me, just like that, because of the inopportune timing, and there’s little I can do about it. And I’m angry over the fact that my child’s first days of existence will be shrouded in unnerving sounds and an atmosphere of fear, violence, death and destruction.

And this, on the already grim backdrop of weeks of heightened violence in which so many young people — the three murdered Israeli teens and significantly more Palestinian teens — have been killed, beaten and detained. (Remember Nadim Nuwara and Mohammed Salameh, who were shot by Israeli forces in Beitunia on May 15 while posing no direct threat, and still no condemnation or legal action has been taken.) And all this, on top of the ongoing daily reality of the evergreen occupation and general violence of life here in Israel and Palestine.

But while it is still of course difficult and stressful for me as far as my personal experience as a pregnant woman, relatively speaking, I’m fine. My life here in Jaffa goes on. And I can’t help but think about all the pregnant women in the south of Israel, not to mention those in Gaza, who are going into labor these days. What about them? They don’t have sirens to warn them or well-equipped hospitals or anywhere else to go. Where do they find comfort? How can they possibly give birth in such a  situation? Their daily lives, already trying on many levels, cannot simply go on when tons of explosives are being dropped from the sky all day and all night. It is well known that a woman’s body cannot go into labor when she is feeling extreme anxiety or fear – whether from the labor itself – and certainly  all the more so during a state of armed conflict.

But here in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, the routine doesn’t seem to have been affected much, thanks entirely to the fact that not a single rocket has actually made landfall. As Uri Misgav writes in Haaretz (Hebrew), the Iron Dome , which has thus far intercepted all the rockets over the greater Tel Aviv area and reportedly has a 90 percent success rate, allows Israelis the dangerous duality of what he describes as a maximum sense of victimhood with minimum obstruction of their daily comforts. “They can be glued like drug addicts to the radio and TV while absolving themselves of any self-examination or criticism of the endless cycle of hate and violence.” (My rough translation)

Indeed, it is quite astonishing that somehow life does simply go on here, despite the emotional distress.  Israelis continue to act as if they are shocked that we are being attacked, and that they are the only victims – or at least the only righteous ones. The fact is, as awful and difficult as it is to live under the threat of rockets, nothing seems to be able to shake up Israelis and shift their perception of the reality here and how to better the future for all those who live in this region. The nearly half-century long occupation hasn’t done it. The killing, arresting and beating of Palestinians with impunity has not done it. The constancy of settler violence hasn’t done it. The burning alive of a child and brutal beating of his cousin hasn’t done it. The killing of so many Palestinian civilians at a time when rockets are being fired at us is certainly not going to do it either. It is somehow legitimate collateral damage. So what will?

As a soon-to-be-mother, the sense is even more acute for me now that as upset as I am that I will be bringing a child into such a harsh reality, I am even more disturbed by the fact that Israelis think they can continue with these policies and actions and complacency, and think they won’t have have to pay a price for it, that our children won’t all pay a price for it as some point – if we are not able to see past our own isolated situation and farther than just tomorrow.

Regardless of what the other side does and how awful the Hamas regime is, I don’t see how killing nearly 100 people in four days will serve me and my family’s interests. As if all the rockets can be wiped out? As if wiping out all the Hamas people will bring quiet? As if military might can ever really bring about a long-term solution?

Nothing about life here is “normal.” How could it be? And neither will my birthing experience – and maybe that’s for the best, so that things have a chance to actually change. But I refuse to be driven by fear – whether it is sirens or contractions.

Read this post in Hebrew on Local Call.

Related:
Why are there are no white flags in Gaza?
WATCH: A voice of peace on the Gaza border
‘They left us no choice’: On military escalation and its Israeli rationale

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‘Jewish extremists’ arrested in murder of Palestinian teen in Jerusalem http://972mag.com/jewish-extremists-arrested-in-murder-of-palestinian-teen-in-jerusalem/93049/ http://972mag.com/jewish-extremists-arrested-in-murder-of-palestinian-teen-in-jerusalem/93049/#comments Sun, 06 Jul 2014 11:56:10 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=93049 Details of the police investigation into the kidnapping and murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir have been held under gag order.

Palestinians carry the body of Muhammed Abu Khdeir through the streets of Shuafat. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinians carry the body of Muhammed Abu Khdeir through the streets of Shuafat. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Six suspects identified as “Jewish extremists” were arrested in connection to the heinous murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, police revealed as details began emerging about the investigation Sunday morning. All details about the investigation have been kept under gag order since the 16 year old was kidnapped and burned alive, an incident that sparked clashes and riots in Shuafat that spread to other parts of Israel in recent days.

It is important to point out that following the kidnapping/murder of the three Israeli teenagers on June 12, headlines in Israeli media and statements from the government quickly deemed it a “terror” attack perpetrated by  ”terrorists” backed by the “terrorist” organization Hamas - before any evidence was shown or any suspects arrested.  However, in the case of Abu Khdeir’s murder, the suspects are, at worst, “Jewish extremists” or from the “far-right.”

While the Abu Khdeir family claimed from the very beginning  that this was an act committed by Jewish Israelis because their son was Palestinian, rumors spread (many believe by the Israel Police itself) that this was an inter-family honor killing, possibly because the victim was gay. However, that baseless claim was completely ruled out Sunday.
Read +972′s full coverage of the kidnappings and their aftermath

According to a preliminary autopsy report released Friday, Abu Khdeir was burnt alive; soot was found in his respiratory system and he had burns over 90 percent of his body, in addition to a head injury.

Police were expected to hold a press conference Sunday afternoon.

Meanwhile, a Jerusalem court on Sunday ordered the release of Muhammad Abu Khdeir’s cousin Tarek, an American citizen from Tampa, Florida who was  brutally beaten by Border Police officers while  in custody on Thursday. Tarek has not been charged with a crime. His bail was set at NIS 3,000 and he was placed under house arrest and barred from entering Shuafat, where he has been on vacation visiting his family. The investigation against him is ongoing. There were various reports in Israeli media as to police claims ranging from: that he was involved in rioting, was carrying a slingshot, was carrying a knife, attacked policemen and the latest was that he hurled rocks and /or Molotov cocktails at police.

Tarek spoke to the media after being released from custody Sunday afternoon. He says he was watching and not participating in the clashes when he was beaten and then lost consciousness. (Video from Addameer)

Related:
Police are exacerbating the violence with gag orders
Kidnappings leave a wake of ‘revenge,’ racist violence
A premier failure: Where is Israel’s leadership?

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WATCH: Disturbing footage of police beating Palestinian in Shuafat http://972mag.com/watch-disturbing-footage-of-police-beating-palestinian-in-shuafat/92959/ http://972mag.com/watch-disturbing-footage-of-police-beating-palestinian-in-shuafat/92959/#comments Fri, 04 Jul 2014 10:56:26 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=92959 A disturbing video emerged Thursday night that shows what appears to be Israeli policemen brutally beating a Palestinian in the East Jerusalem neighborhood Shuafat. Clashes broke out in the neighborhood Wednesday morning following the discovery of 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir’s body in a suspected revenge killing by Israeli Jews.

The video, first aired by Palestine Today and also appearing in a report in Electronic Intifada, shows what appear to be two undercover Israeli border policemen kicking and beating a Palestinian, whose face is also covered, while he appears handcuffed, pinned down and barely moving. After the two finish beating him they drag him over to a group of other Israeli police forces, including both undercover and uniformed riot police.

A second video appears to show parts of the same scene from a different angle.

Asked for comment by +972, Israel Police Foreign Press Spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld gave a very brief comment after the video was described to him on the phone: “This may be part of the ongoing police operations in the area [Shuafat] amid heavy rioting. Six people whose faces were covered were arrested yesterday. That’s all I have to say about it.”

The clashes in Shuafat came just one day after hundreds of far-right Israeli Jews rioted in West Jerusalem, following the discovery of the bodies of the three kidnapped Israeli teenagers. The rioters searched businesses for Arabs and accosted Arab-looking people on the street. A total of 50 people were arrested.

Read more about the kidnappings and clashes:
Photos of the week: A chronology of two kidnappings
Why this isn’t a ‘new’ intifada
East Jerusalem hospitals cope with clashes

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The kidnapping and the Israeli military operation – in numbers http://972mag.com/the-kidnapping-and-the-israeli-military-operation-in-numbers/92332/ http://972mag.com/the-kidnapping-and-the-israeli-military-operation-in-numbers/92332/#comments Fri, 20 Jun 2014 19:06:03 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=92332 Since the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers from a hitchhiking stop in the West Bank on June 12, 2014, the Israel Defense Forces has been operating all over the Palestinian territories, in Areas A, B and C. The following list attempts to provide some basic statistics on the toll it has been exacting. While Israeli media is portraying the operation as highly restrained, these numbers show the deep effect it has on the Palestinian population as of June 20, 2014. *Some numbers provided are estimates due to the difficulty in confirming exact numbers.

Number of kidnapped Israeli teenagers: 3

Number of days since operation began: 7

Number of Palestinians arrested: 388

Of them, number associated with Hamas: 240

Of them, the number released in 2011 Gilad Shalit exchange: 55

Number of indictments filed against them thus far: 0

Number of Palestinians killed: 2

Number of Palestinians wounded: Dozens

In critical condition: 1

Number of Israeli soldiers wounded: 1

Number of troops deployed to Hebron: At least 2,000

Number of residents of the city of Hebron under total lockdown:  200,000

Number of Israelis living in Hebron: 800

Number of houses raided throughout West Bank: Thousands

Number of locations/institutions raided: 1,150

Number of rockets fired from Gaza: 16

Number of Israelis wounded: 0

Structures damaged: 1

Number of Israeli air strikes on Gaza: At least 15

Number of Palestinians wounded: At least 7

Sources: IDF Spokesperson, Palestinian Prisoners Club, Haaretz, Walla, Ma’an News Agency, Associated Press, New York Times, International Middle East Media Center

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The kidnapping: Israelis aren’t the only ones facing national tragedy http://972mag.com/the-kidnapping-israelis-arent-the-only-ones-facing-national-tragedy/92078/ http://972mag.com/the-kidnapping-israelis-arent-the-only-ones-facing-national-tragedy/92078/#comments Sun, 15 Jun 2014 11:39:08 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=92078 Providing context may be taboo at a time when the entire country is focused on the fate of three kidnapped Israeli teens, but it is part and parcel of the story.

Since news broke Friday of the alleged kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers who study in a West Bank yeshiva north of Hebron the night before, media outlets and social media users have been gripping at straws to publicize new information on what has quickly become a national tragedy dominating Israel’s public discourse. The kidnapping and reactions to it, however, cannot be viewed in a vacuum.

The Israel Defense Forces on Sunday named the operation to locate the three, “Shuvu Achim” (Return, Brothers), and the IDF Spokesperson launched a social media campaign with the hashtag #BringBackOurBoys. Netanyahu asserted Sunday morning that Hamas is responsible for the kidnapping – although he provided no other information. Hamas thus far has not claimed responsibility and a Gaza-based spokesperson for the group called Netanyahu’s statement “stupid.”

Israeli soldiers shut down the entrance to the West Bank city of Hebron, seen on June 15, 2014. A complete closure was put on the city after three Israeli teenagers went missing near a West Bank settlement. The three, all students at a Jewish seminary, went missing late on June 12 as they were hitchhiking between Bethlehem and Hebron and are believed to have been kidnapped. (Photo by Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Israeli soldiers shut down the entrance to the West Bank city of Hebron, seen on June 15, 2014. A complete closure was put on the city after three Israeli teenagers went missing near a West Bank settlement. The three, all students at a Jewish seminary, went missing late on June 12 as they were hitchhiking between Bethlehem and Hebron and are believed to have been kidnapped. (Photo by Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Netanyahu also repeatedly declared that he also holds the Palestinian Authority and President Mahmoud Abbas directly responsible, even though the incident took place in areas under total Israeli control. He quickly used the incident to justify his position that peace cannot be negotiated with a Palestinian leadership affiliated with Hamas, for which he was attacked by the Israeli opposition. Netanyahu did not mention Israel’s long-standing security coordination with Palestinian security forces, unlike several other Israeli officials, who have come out saying they are pleased with the coordination over the last few days.

Hebron, a city of 160,000 Palestinians already under occupation, and which normally has about 600 IDF troops stationed in it, has been under complete lockdown for days now. An additional 2,000 or so troops have been deployed as part of the massive operation. Around 80 Palestinians, almost all Hamas members, some of them senior officials, were arrested overnight by the IDF in a massive raid. According to Haaretz military correspondent Gili Cohen, in addition to the 2,000 extra troops already deployed in Hebron area, the IDF on Sunday ordered a limited call-up of reserve forces to assist in the search operation.

But all of that has been widely reported.

Israeli soldiers stationed at the entrance to the West Bank city of Hebron, seen on June 15, 2014. A complete closure was put on the city after three Israeli teenagers went missing near a West Bank settlement. The three, all students at a Jewish seminary, went missing late on June 12 as they were hitchhiking between Bethlehem and Hebron and are believed to have been kidnapped. (Photo by Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Israeli soldiers stationed at the entrance to the West Bank city of Hebron, seen on June 15, 2014. A complete closure was put on the city after three Israeli teenagers went missing near a West Bank settlement. The three, all students at a Jewish seminary, went missing late on June 12 as they were hitchhiking between Bethlehem and Hebron and are believed to have been kidnapped. (Photo by Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Incidents that received less or no coverage in Israeli media are reports that settlers threw barrages of stones at Palestinian cars over the weekend, damaging 15 cars and injuring three people. In the south Hebron hills, some 30 settlers reportedly invaded the Palestinian village of Susya, threw stones at homes and attempted to attack a 13 year old.

Many in the twittersphere have responded to the IDF campaign by hijacking the hashtag #BringBackOurBoys with statistics and photos of Palestinian children detained or killed by Israel, including a Palestinian child killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza this week and the hundreds (191) administrative detainees currently in Israeli prisons without charge or trial, all of whom the online activists are adamant to “bring back” as well. Since April, some 120 of them have been on hunger strike (that’s 53 days now) and there have been solidarity protests throughout the West Bank and Israel on a regular basis.

Palestinians living in Israel and Israeli activists protest outside Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, June 5, 2014. At least 6 Palestinian prisoners are currently hospitalized at Ichilov after hunger striking for more than 35 days, and dozens of Palestinian prisoners are in other hospitals in Israel. Most of those on hunger strike are protesting against their administrative detention by Israel. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinians living in Israel and Israeli activists protest outside Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, June 5, 2014. At least 6 Palestinian prisoners are currently hospitalized at Ichilov after hunger striking for more than 35 days, and dozens of Palestinian prisoners are in other hospitals in Israel. Most of those on hunger strike are protesting against their administrative detention by Israel. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

For Palestinians, this is a national tragedy and a major component of the macro national tragedy that comprises daily life under Israeli military rule and occupation, now 47 years old. It is no secret that holding Israelis hostage is a proven tactic Palestinians — and others — have used to secure the release of prisoners held by Israel, just like what took place recently in the deal to free captured soldier Gilad Schalit.

***

Providing this context may be taboo at a time when the entire country is focused on the fate of three kidnapped Israeli teens, but it is part and parcel of the story here. It is an important reminder to Israelis that we are in a constant state of war and Palestinians under constant occupation – no matter how much they  are largely immune to it due to the imbalance of power that protects them on a day-to-day basis.

That is why for example, when the IDF uses another hashtag in its campaign, such as #LifeUnderTerror, I cannot help but think how easily this could just as well apply to Palestinians (Palestinian activists also quickly hijacked this hashtag). Think of the 80,000 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem who have been living without regular running water for months now. Or remember that exactly one month ago, on Nakba Day, two Palestinian teens were killed by IDF fire during protests in Beitunia while presenting no immediate threat to anyone. Although no conclusive results have been formally published, an autopsy on one of the teens, Nadim Syam Nuwara, confirmed live ammunition killed him, casting serious doubt on IDF claims that no live bullets were fired. No one can bring those boys back home to their parents and it is doubtful whether justice will ever be brought to their families.

I, of course, want the three Israelis, Eyal Yifrah (19(, Gilad Shaer (16) and Naftali Frenkel (16) to return home safe and sound. But it is important to remember that Israelis are not the only ones suffering a national tragedy, and that incidents like this do not happen in a vacuum.

Related:
West Bank kidnapping: The Palestinian unity government’s first real test
Three Israeli teens feared kidnapped in the West Bank

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PHOTO: Soldier punches Palestinian activist in the face http://972mag.com/photo-soldier-punches-palestinian-activist-in-the-face/91813/ http://972mag.com/photo-soldier-punches-palestinian-activist-in-the-face/91813/#comments Sun, 08 Jun 2014 15:01:17 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=91813 Israeli soldiers have been harassing Palestinian activist Issa Amro since he released a video of a soldier cocking his weapon at two youths. ‘They know I am a moving camera,’ he says.

Palestinian non-violent activist Issa Amro is seen in the following photo, taken on May 28, being punched by an IDF soldier (the soldier’s identity is unknown and this specific moment does not capture the punch that achieved contact). Amro, who lives in Hebron, is the founder and director of Youth Against Settlements and one of the most prolific and effective documentarians of Israeli occupation in the city.

IDF soldier punching Issa Amro in Hebron (photo: Awni Abu Shamsieh)

IDF soldier punching Issa Amro in Hebron (photo: Awni Abu Shamsieh)

Amro, who has been detained and arrested more times than he can count despite not a single indictment ever being filed against him, told +972 he has been harassed by this specific soldier over the last few weeks. He suspects the reason is that last month he released a video (which went viral) of an Israeli soldier cocking his rifle at a Palestinian teenager in Hebron, and later threatening to “put a bullet in the head” of another Palestinian filming the incident.

David Adamov (a.k.a. David Nahlawi), a soldier in the Nahal Brigade who has since been dismissed (for assaulting his commander, not for this incident), became a  Facebook sensation among Israeli soldiers who lined up to defend him and proclaim, “we are all David Nahlawi.

Amro said the soldier in the photo has been following him around and detaining him while he films clashes between soldiers and Palestinians in Hebron recently. “They know I am a moving camera,” Amro told +972. He said he was detained several times last week, sometimes several times in one day.

“Last Monday, he detained me twice, once at 6 a.m. and once in the afternoon. He forced me to go in and out of the checkpoint more than 10 times,” Amro said. He said he was detained again on Tuesday, while being cursed at and verbally abused.

“I filled up with anger inside. The soldiers are using the power of occupation to humiliate me and to take revenge on me for doing something legal. I have no protection at all, no one to complain to, no one to give [me] the feeling of protection,” Amro said.

Amira Hass reported in Haaretz on another incident last month in which Amro insisted it is the army’s job to protect him from settlers. The soldier replied that he only protects Jews, adding: ”Who protects you? You fucker – the next chance I get I’ll shoot you.”

Related:
Palestinian non-violent protest leader arrested en route abroad
A city of devastation: Hebron 20 years after the massacre
WATCH: IDF detains 5-year-old Palestnian in Hebron

 

 

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Settlements as punishment prove Palestinian lives are bargaining chip http://972mag.com/settlements-as-punishment-prove-palestinian-lives-are-bargaining-chip/91686/ http://972mag.com/settlements-as-punishment-prove-palestinian-lives-are-bargaining-chip/91686/#comments Fri, 06 Jun 2014 09:18:31 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=91686 By using settlements as a punitive response to Palestinian political actions, Israel proves they come at the direct expense of Palestinian statehood, and that it holds all the power in this conflict.

Here we go again. Palestinians do something Israel doesn’t approve of, and Israel retaliates by using its unchecked power and leverage to block the possibility of a Palestinian state ever becoming a reality.

By announcing the advancement of about 3,300 settlement units on Thursday, as a retaliatory measure that it unabashedly admits is punishment for the formation of the temporary Palestinian unity government, Israel is proving that settlements come at the direct expense of Palestinian livelihood – that they are the main obstacle to a two-state solution and a Palestinian state.

Illustrative photo: An activist puts a Palestinan flag on the Separation Wall facing the Modi'in Illit settlement (Photo: Anne Paq/ Activestills.org)

Illustrative photo: An activist puts a Palestinan flag on the Separation Wall facing the Modi’in Illit settlement (Photo: Anne Paq/ Activestills.org)

Settlements as a form of punishment also exhibit that Israel is the omnipotent power and that any form of negotiations within this reality is inherently imbalanced and ineffective. Israel controls the reality on the ground and does as it pleases, when it pleases, while laying blame on the Palestinians. Even though Israel is constantly taking unilateral actions, when Palestinians do so, it is suddenly out of bounds.

It is not the first time Israel has used settlement expansion as a direct response to Palestinian efforts to promote statehood in the international arena. It did so in 2012 after the UN recognized Palestine as a non-member state with observer status, and in 2011 when Palestine was successfully admitted to UNESCO.

In recent years, every time Palestinians take an independent political step in an effort to somehow alter their evergreen reality as a stateless, occupied nation, Israel punishes them for it – as if it were an abusive parent.

Can you imagine the Palestinians doing the same thing in response to their objection to the makeup of the Israeli government or its actions in the international community? Of course not, because the Palestinians do not hold that kind of power. They cannot affect direct and immediate changes on the ground the way Israel can, through demolishing homes, cutting off water or electricity, withholding tax revenues, intimidating people, arresting children, etc. All of these tools are of course very violent, but if Palestinians so much as throw rocks, they are immediately cast as the violent party and often at risk of death.

Palestinian daily lives are entirely subject to Israeli rule and systematic violence – and whether they respond with violence or  try through various long-term non-violent means to change the reality – i.e. through popular protests, applying to international bodies or boycott movements, they are punished. Israel puts a lot of energy and resources into delegitimizing and debilitating the non-violent efforts.

It is not just the fact that Israel is  expanding settlements on a future Palestinian state – something the entire international community agrees is a direct affront to Palestinian self-determination – as a form of punishment, but the cynical and cruel way in which it uses Palestinian lives, land and resources as a bargaining chip, a blackmailing tool, a pawn to promote its own agenda.

When you think about it, it is really quite astonishing that the world lets Israel get away with it, over and over again, and that so many people still seem to think this is a conflict with two equal sides and that Israel has any intention of facilitating the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Related:
Peace talks: The perfect alibi for settlement expansion
Bucking Israeli sanctions, Palestinians form unity gov’t

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Protest marking 47 years of occupation in Tel Aviv will ‘disrupt routine,’ police says http://972mag.com/protest-marking-47-years-of-occupation-in-tel-aviv-disrupts-routine-police-says/91616/ http://972mag.com/protest-marking-47-years-of-occupation-in-tel-aviv-disrupts-routine-police-says/91616/#comments Tue, 03 Jun 2014 13:02:20 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=91616 This week marks 47 years since the start of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights, the product of the Six-Day War that took place June 5-10, 1967. That is almost half a century, and nearly three-quarters of Israel’s entire existence.

Like every year, the tiny Israeli left plans to hold a protest march down the streets of central Tel Aviv. The demonstrations are never very large, at best several thousand attend (last year’s demonstration barely reached 1,000 participants). But this year, for some reason, the police decided that even that is too much.

According to MK Dov Khenin, a member of the left-wing Hadash Party, which has been the primary organizer of the protests the last few years, the police did not agree to block the main roads in central Tel Aviv leading to Habima Theater, through which the march usually runs. Instead, they offered two shorter alternative routes on side streets that would receive much less public attention. The police has also reportedly prohibited the use of a car with loudspeaker for slogans.

Read: Israelis to publicly read soldier testimonies on 47th anniversary of occupation

The reasoning, according to the police statement submitted to Hadash, is that it would “disrupt the routine fabric of life” in the city, bothering theater goers and others consuming cultural events in the area.

Dov Khenin spoke to +972 about the decision:

It turns out that the people who live under occupation, as well as all of us who continue to pay the high price for this conflict that much end, do not constitute sufficient enough grounds for ‘disrupting the fabric of life.’ Police conduct in this matter is not isolated, but rather part of a trend of increasing restrictions on freedom of speech. It is not the protest but rather the reality of occupation that disturbs life in this country.

Indeed, the notion that citizens cannot go out and loudly voice their opposition to Israel’s largest, most violent and controversial project on the main streets of Israel’s cosmopolitan city because, for a couple of hours on one night of the year, it would bother the “routine,” is absurd and despotic.

Khenin added that despite the decision, “Jews and Arabs alike will go out and protest for an alternative, for Israeli-Palestinian peace, like we do every year. And this year, we will do it to protest the attempt to keep us silent.”

Organizers, who have appealed to the High Court on the matter and hope to get an answer by Saturday, insist they will go ahead with the march through the main streets as planned, whether or not they receive police authorization.

The march is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 7th from Meir Park on King George St.

Related:
Public reading of soldier testimonies to be held in Tel Aviv on anniversary of occupation
WATCH: Anti-occupation activists bring Hebron to Tel Aviv
The occupation doesn’t have an ‘image problem’

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Israeli teacher who almost lost job for ‘leftist’ views gets fired http://972mag.com/israeli-teacher-who-almost-lost-job-for-leftist-views-gets-fired/91358/ http://972mag.com/israeli-teacher-who-almost-lost-job-for-leftist-views-gets-fired/91358/#comments Sun, 25 May 2014 19:22:53 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=91358 Adam Verete, the Israeli high school teacher who almost lost his job in January due to complaints by a student that he expressed “left-wing” views in the classroom, was fired by the school on Sunday. According to reports in Israeli media, the ORT school in Kiryat Tivon notified Verete that he was being dismissed due to budget cuts, which include cutting the subject he was teaching: Jewish thought/philosophy. Other teachers are reportedly being fired and some are having their hours scaled back due to the budget constraints.

Back in January, Sapir Sabah, a student identified with the extreme right in Israel, filed a complaint with the education minister claiming that Verete had called the Israel Defense Forces an immoral army and by doing so, was disparaging the state of Israel. Verete was called by the school administration for a hearing which, from the recordings, can only be described as modern-day Israeli McCarthy-style tribunal.

Sapir Sabah recieves a "Jewish State" award, during a ceremony orgenized by Michael Ben-Ari , Israel, February 9, 2014. (Activestills.org)

Sapir Sabah recieves a “Jewish State” award, during a ceremony orgenized by Michael Ben-Ari , Israel, February 9, 2014. (Activestills.org)

The school immediately treated him as guilty, and  at the time said that it cannot employ teachers who discourage students from enlisting in the IDF – since this is one of its core values – and suggested he save everyone the trouble and resign. Verete insisted that he was facilitating a critical and open discussion of the notion brought up by a students that the “IDF is the most moral army in the world.”

Verete said at the end of the hearing: “It is our bad luck in this country that a discussion of human rights is considered to be delusional leftism. If I say that certain acts contradict human rights — whether that person is a refugee from Africa or a Palestinian at a checkpoint — if that’s considered a political statement, then the situation is severe. It can’t be that basic humanistic values are a political statement. They’re not.” After two hearings and a minor media storm, ORT decided not to fire him.

At the time I wrote in The Forward that the most disturbing part of the affair is what it says about how values are categorized in Israel as left or right: “Adam Verete is “left” because he prompts critical thinking of the state’s most sacred pillars — security and military — whereas Sapir Sabah is “right” because she is  patriotic and blindly pro-IDF.

While the ORT school may indeed be in financial trouble, let’s just say that of all teachers to fire, I think they let one of the good ones get away.

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WATCH: Footage shows Israeli army’s killing of two Palestinian teens http://972mag.com/watch-footage-shows-israeli-armys-killing-of-two-palestinian-teens/91084/ http://972mag.com/watch-footage-shows-israeli-armys-killing-of-two-palestinian-teens/91084/#comments Tue, 20 May 2014 07:15:57 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=91084 Video footage has surfaced showing the shooting and killing of two Palestinian teenagers, Nadem Syam Nawara, 17, and Mohammad Mahmoud Odeh, 16 on Nakba Day during protests in front of the Ofer Military Prison.

The footage, obtained by Defense for Children International Palestine (DCI-Palestine), was captured by CCTV cameras mounted on the building where the incident took place last Thursday.

Nawara sustained a fatal gunshot wound to the chest. Odeh, 16, sustained a fatal gunshot wound to the back.

Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said troops were breaking up a “disturbance” and did not use live fire.

However, according to John Brown at Local Call, eyewitnesses reported that the sound of the gunfire was clearly that of live fire. They further stated that the Palestinians were shot from at least 100 meters – a distance from which the prospect of death from a rubber bullet are tiny. In the case of Odeh, the bullet entered his back and exited from his chest – something that almost never occurs as a result of rubber bullets.

Dr. Samir Saliba, head of the emergency room in the Ramallah hospital, stated in his medical report that the internal damage and the exit wound in Odeh’s body could have only been caused by live fire.

The Israeli military’s own regulations dictate that live ammunition must be used only under life-threatening circumstances. The video shows this was clearly not the case.

The IDF Spokesperson was contacted for comment on the incident.

Update (1:30 p.m.): In response to my inquiry, the IDF Spokesperson stated the following:

A number of violent demonstrations took place across Judea and Samaria last Thursday. In the Beitunia area, there was a violent protest of approximately 150 Palestinians who burned tires and threw rocks. Israeli security forces arrived in the area in order to disperse the demonstration using crowd-dispersal means.

That same day it was reported that two Palestinians were killed as a result of actions taken by security forces. An initial investigation reveals that no live fire was used throughout the day. The incident is currently under investigation. The video that has been shared on the internet in the past hours is edited and does not fully reflect the violence of the rioters during the demonstration.

MK Zehava Galon, who heads the left-wing Meretz party, responded to the video on her Facebook page (translation by Sol Salbe):

In the attached video you can see two Palestinian youths being shot dead by IDF soldiers during a demonstration last week in Beitunia. The IDF announced on the day of the incident that subject is “being investigated.” But it hastened to add that the shooting came in response to disturbances, the protesters were armed and the army merely used rubber bullets to break up the demonstration.

Unfortunately, most of the ‘investigations’ conducted by the IDF are a means of getting the story out of the way and avoid anyone paying the penalty for the light finger on the trigger and/or use of violence. I have contacted the attorney general and demanded that the investigation into the incident in Beitunia be carried out in conjunction with State Attorney office staff, because when two unarmed youth are killed by our forces, an IDF ‘investigation’ and the knee-jerk reaction are not good enough.

Related:
Israeli soldiers kill two Palestinians during Nakba Day protest
IDF closes probe into killing of Mustafa Tamimi in Nabi Saleh

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