+972 Magazine » Mairav Zonszein http://972mag.com Independent commentary and news from Israel & Palestine Sun, 23 Nov 2014 22:05:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8 Jerusalem posters call to ban Arab workers http://972mag.com/jerusalem-posters-call-to-ban-arab-workers/99060/ http://972mag.com/jerusalem-posters-call-to-ban-arab-workers/99060/#comments Fri, 21 Nov 2014 22:35:59 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=99060 Posters reading “Jews only employ Jews” were spotted near the entrance to Jerusalem Friday, three days after two Palestinians killed five Israelis in an attack on a Jerusalem synagogue.

'Jews only employ Jews' poster in Jerusalem, Nov 21, 2014 (Photo: Guy Butavia)

‘Jews only employ Jews’ poster in Jerusalem, Nov 21, 2014 (Photo: Guy Butavia)

Above the slogan in smaller letters, at the top of the Israeli flag-shaped poster, it reads: “Biblical law determines” and at the bottom it reads: “Did you know?! The terrorists that committed the massacre in Har Nof – were employed in the synagogue and its surroundings.” One of the attackers indeed was reported to have worked in a grocery store next to the synagogue.

Whoever crafted the racist message grounded it in both religious scripture and practical empiricism.

Another poster found in the same area reads: “Employed an Arab? You endangered a Jew!”

"Did you employ an Arab? You endangered a Jew!' Poster in Jerusalem (Photo: Guy Butavia)

“Employed an Arab? You endangered a Jew!’ Poster in Jerusalem (Photo: Guy Butavia)

These messages echo the decision by the mayor of the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon a day earlier to ban Israeli Arab construction workers from jobs in and around schools in the name of security. The legality of his decision is in question and politicians from across the right-wing spectrum were quick to denounce the move as unacceptable. Prime Minister Netanyahu said discrimination won’t be tolerated, while Minister of the Economy Naftali Bennett said that 99.9 percent of Israeli Arab citizens are loyal (read: reliable cheap labor).

Reactions were so strong and across the board that it honestly felt at one point as if the mayor’s ban was a ploy to enable all these politicians the opportunity to resolutely declare to the Israeli public that the country is not anti-Arab – even as it prepares to push forward on Sunday the “Jewish nation state” bill in a version that does not guarantee equal rights for its non-Jewish citizens (the 20 percent of the population that is Palestinian).

However, a poll by Israel’s Channel 10 showed that 58 percent of Israelis supported the move (with 32 percent against), and several Ashkelon residents told TV reporters they are in favor. One young mother said she felt the move made her feel safer dropping her kids off at school, adding: “I have no problem with the Arab sector. Some of them are perfectly fine.” Another said, “I’d rather be racist than be a victim.”

UPDATE: I discovered a Facebook page called “Fighting for our country, for ourselves” which is filled with anti-Arab messaging, including this photo taken at a store (location unknown) with a sign reading: “Arabs not employed  here.” Many comments from Israelis on the photo express disgust and disdain, and while the photo has over 8,500 likes, the page itself only has around 600.

'We don't employ Arabs here,' photo of sign uploaded to Facebook page.

‘We don’t employ Arabs here,’ photo of sign uploaded to Facebook page.

Related:
Five killed in attack on Jerusalem synagogue
Welcome to Netanyahu’s ‘resolution’ to the conflict

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WATCH: Soldiers protect settlers attacking West Bank village http://972mag.com/watch-soldiers-protect-settlers-attacking-west-bank-village/99018/ http://972mag.com/watch-soldiers-protect-settlers-attacking-west-bank-village/99018/#comments Wed, 19 Nov 2014 16:54:35 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=99018 Following the horrific terror attack in Jerusalem, IDF soldiers escort masked settlers as they pelt the village of Urif with stones.

A group of about 50 — mostly masked — settlers from Yitzhar attacked Palestinians in the West Bank village Urif on Tuesday night under the protection and escort of IDF soldiers, Israeli human rights NGO Yesh Din reported.

Video footage of the incident, which took place just hours after the horrific terror attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, clearly shows IDF soldiers not only doing nothing to stop the assault on Palestinians, but in fact guarding the settlers as they throw stones.

Some of the soldiers appear to fire crowd-dispersal weapons at young Palestinians who gathered on the edge of the village. A 13-year-old student from the village school was lightly wounded by a stone thrown at his head, according to Yesh Din.

In the video below, at minute 00:54, a masked Israeli settler can be seen hurling a stone in the direction of Palestinians, standing safely behind the soldiers, who look on.

Yesh Din, which has been monitoring the recently established Nationalistic Crimes Unit, an Israeli police unit meant to deal specifically with settler violence against Palestinians, found that in the two years since the unit’s establishment, the number of investigations that led to indictments has actually gone down. Since 2005, a mere 7.4 percent of investigation files led to indictments of Israeli civilians suspected of attacking Palestinians and their property.

According to the organization, Tuesday’s attack is just the latest example of the IDF’s failure to meet its obligation to protect Palestinian residents of the West Bank, which it is expected to do under international law as an occupying force.

“Once again we discover IDF soldiers failing to meet their obligation to protect Palestinians subjected to vicious attacks by settlers in their own backyards,” said attorney Emily Schaeffer Omer-Man, legal advisor to Yesh Din’s criminal accountability of Israeli security forces project.

“The disturbing video footage demands vigorous investigation and the immediate prosecution of the soldiers involved. An examination must also be carried out of whether the soldiers’ commanders bear liability for the conduct of their subordinates,” she added.

Read also:
WATCH: IDF soldiers escort settlers attacking Palestinian village
Settler violence: It comes with the territory
Just another day of settler violence, IDF acquiescence

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Conflicting reports on death of Palestinian found hanged http://972mag.com/conflicting-reports-on-cause-of-death-of-palestinian-found-hanged/98918/ http://972mag.com/conflicting-reports-on-cause-of-death-of-palestinian-found-hanged/98918/#comments Mon, 17 Nov 2014 21:14:45 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=98918 It is still unclear whether Yusuf Hassan al-Ramouni took his own life or had it taken from him. What is clear is that Palestinians have every reason to doubt the police’s credibility.

The minute news came out late Sunday night that a Palestinian man was found hanged at an Egged bus depot in Jerusalem, Twitter was awash with speculations as to whether it was suicide or murder. Israel Police quickly issued a statement that it did not suspect foul play. ”According to an initial investigation, it appears there is no suspicion of criminal activity, in other words a suicide,” police spokeswoman Luba Samri told the press.

But photos of the body of Yusuf Hassan al-Ramouni, 32, began circulating on Twitter showing bruises on his body indicating he was attacked before being hanged. The Palestinian Ma’an News Agency (Arabic) reported witnesses who claim six Israeli settlers attacked al-Ramouni, who worked as an Egged bus driver. Many Palestinians, including his family, insist this was not suicide but rather a lynch by Jews.

By around 5 p.m. on Monday, Israeli news sites reported that the autopsy – which was conducted at the Abu Kabir Forensic Institute, and included the participation of a Palestinian pathologist selected by al-Ramouni’s family – was completed and affirmed that there was no murder. Israel Police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld tweeted assuredly that “findings are-incident not criminal related whatsoever.”

However, a Palestinian medical expert told Ma’an that the findings of the autopsy indicate that al-Ramouni did not die by suicide, but was in fact the victim of an “organized crime,” since, for example, “there was no dislocation in the first cervical vertebrae, which is usually found in cases of suicide by hanging.” The Palestinian new site Arabs 48 also reported these findings in more detail. The medical expert told Ma’an that more lab work was necessary to reach conclusive findings, which could take several months.

While we cannot yet confirm what exactly the circumstances of al-Ramouni’s death were, one cannot help but think of Israeli reactions to Mohammed Abu Khdeir’s brutal murder by immolation in July by Jewish extremists: rumors immediately circulated that he was killed by fellow Palestinians for being gay. Because the police had put a strict gag order on the case, the rumors were not immediately denied until suspects were found and it became clear that he was murdered for being Palestinian.

It is also important to note that Palestinian bus drivers who work for Egged have been assaulted several times in the past. According to a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem I spoke to, several incidents took place during the Gaza War which were not reported on at all. Therefore when Palestinians heard al-Ramouni was found hanged at the bus terminal, it was not at all far-fetched for them to assume he was attacked by Jews. On Monday evening, Arab drivers for the Egged bus company in Jerusalem walked off the job in protest.

Furthermore, past experience proves there is no reason for Palestinians to trust the Israeli authorities. Quite the contrary. Both the police and the military often ignore complaints from Palestinians, and almost always fail to prosecute. According to Yesh Din, 92 percent of complaints filed by Palestinians in the West Bank against Israeli civilians are closed without indictment.

Most recently, police lied about the circumstances of the shooting of Palestinian citizen Khir Hamdan in Kafr Kanna, providing several versions of events until video footage proved he did not pose a threat when he was shot and no warning shots were fired.

Related:
Investigation of Abu Khdeir murder tainted by racism
Border cop arrested for Nakba Day killing, debunking IDF tales

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Border cop arrested for Nakba Day killing, debunking IDF tales http://972mag.com/border-cop-arrested-for-nakba-day-killing-debunking-idf-tales/98670/ http://972mag.com/border-cop-arrested-for-nakba-day-killing-debunking-idf-tales/98670/#comments Wed, 12 Nov 2014 11:34:48 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=98670 The arrest appears to prove what footage and family indicated from the start: Live bullets were fired at protestors, unlawfully, as the victims posed no immediate threat.

Screenshot of CNN footage showing what appears to be a Border Police officer shooting at demonstrators in Beitunia on Nakba Day, May 15, 2014. In the video, a puff of smoke and shell can be seen coming from the third-to-left officer’s weapon.

Screenshot of CNN footage showing what appears to be a Border Police officer shooting at demonstrators in Beitunia on Nakba Day, May 15, 2014. In the video, a puff of smoke and shell can be seen coming from the third-to-left officer’s weapon.

A Border Police officer was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of shooting Nadim Syam Nuwara (17) with live ammunition, one of two Palestinian teenagers killed during Nakba Day protests in the West Bank village of Beitunia last May. The border policeman is being charged with murder and his commander is also facing charges for not reporting the incident.

The shootings, which were caught on film by CCTV cameras, showed that the protesters posed no immediate threat to the soldiers at the time they were shot. It was unclear whether the policeman was also implicated in the killing of Mohammad Mahmoud Odeh, 16, who was killed under nearly identical circumstances in the same place on the same day. The investigation into the incident is being conducted by a unit with the police force.

At the time, the IDF insisted that no live bullets were fired, and that it only used crowd dispersal methods (which in the West Bank, includes rubber bullets). Israeli military investigators even claimed that the shots may have been fired by the Palestinian side, rather than by Israeli troops. Some top Israeli officials even went as far as suggesting the video was forged or tendentiously edited.

Although technically part of the Israel Police, the Border Police is often deployed under the command of the IDF in the West Bank. Many Border Police officers are army conscripts.

But the head of the Ramallah emergency room that treated the youths, Dr. Samir Saliba, stated in his medical report at the time that the internal damage and the exit wound could have only been caused by live fire. An autopsy on Nawara’s body, requested by his family, also indicated live fire was used and CNN provided footage that showed a Border Police officer shooting at the exact moment Nawara was shot.

In the CNN video below, a puff of smoke can be seen coming from the weapon of the border policeman third to the left, and a shell can be seen flying from his rifle at minute mark 1:53-1:52.

B’tselem’s initial findings at the time led to the “grave suspicion that forces willfully killed” the two and injured two others.

Responding to news of the arrest on Wednesday, B’Tselem spokesperson Sarit Michaeli told +972 that the authorities are now admitting they provided erroneous information at the time. “We demand an apology from all the politicians and reporters who slandered B’Tselem for providing information and sticking up for the truth from the start.”

The details of the investigation are still under gag order, but according to a report in Haaretz, all the soldiers and police officers investigated at the time denied using live fire.

What led to the arrest Tuesday was a bullet found in Nawara’s backpack, which led investigators to the gun it was fired from. It is unclear why it took six months to make the arrest, since the bullet was provided immediately after the shooting.

Related:
Beitunia killings and the media’s incredibly high bar for Palestinian stories
Truth, tapes and two dead Palestinians
Details of Palestinian deaths jeopardize a system of denial

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Far-right group to IDF soldiers: If you feel threatened, shoot Arab in head http://972mag.com/far-right-group-to-idf-soldiers-if-you-feel-threatened-shoot-arab-in-head/98571/ http://972mag.com/far-right-group-to-idf-soldiers-if-you-feel-threatened-shoot-arab-in-head/98571/#comments Sun, 09 Nov 2014 19:49:38 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=98571 Lehava, the right-wing, anti-miscegenation group whose main activity is to incite against Arabs as a way of dissuading Jewish Israeli girls from dating them, has taken its incitement beyond intermarriage and into the realm of security.

A new poster on its Facebook page encourages Israeli soldiers to act trigger happy when it comes to Palestinian protestors. It reads:

Soldier! Stones and firebombs can kill you! Do you feel your life is in danger? Pick up your weapon and put a bullet through the murderer’s head. It’s better to sit in jail than die. ‘Kill or be killed’ [quote from Sages] IDF soldiers and Border Policemen, the Israeli people love you and embrace you.

Lehava poster  posted on Facebook, Nov 9, 2014.

Lehava poster posted on Facebook, Nov 9, 2014.

This comes just one day after an Israeli policeman shot and killed 22-year-old Khir Hamdan in the village of Kafr Kanna after he attempted to attack them with a knife, but did not appear to pose any direct threat to their lives, leading to accusations the police shot him in cold blood and lied about it.

The Lehava poster effectively weighs in on the matter, defending the police and sending the message that when in doubt, soldiers must forget protocol, forget the law, and simply shoot to kill. My question is, what is a group that claims to be committed to preventing intermarriage doing getting involved in this issue? The answer seems clear.

They are following in the footsteps of both Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich, who essentially endorsed the extra-judicial killing of murder suspects, following last week’s terror attack in Jerusalem, and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, who defended the police action, saying Hamdan was a “frenzied Arab terrorist.”

Related:
Couple hires wedding security for fear of anti-miscegenation group
Jewish anti-miscegenation groups distribute racist, sexist flyers
How police lied about the deadly shooting of Khir Hamdan

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Netanyahu: Those who call to destroy Israel should have citizenship revoked http://972mag.com/bibi-those-who-call-to-destroy-israel-should-have-citizenship-revoked/98537/ http://972mag.com/bibi-those-who-call-to-destroy-israel-should-have-citizenship-revoked/98537/#comments Sat, 08 Nov 2014 19:50:32 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=98537 Just hours after thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel demonstrated in the northern Israeli village of Kafr Kanna Saturday in response to the overnight killing from close range of 22-year-old Khir Hamdan by police, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued the following statement:

Israel is a nation of law. We will not tolerate disturbances and rioting. We will act against those who throw stones, block roads and call for the establishment of a Palestinian state in place of the State of Israel. Whoever does not honor Israeli law will be punished with utmost severity. I will instruct the Interior Minister to evaluate revoking the citizenship of those who call for the destruction of the State of Israel.

Netanyahu did not mention the protests in Kafr Kanna or the killing of Hamdan that prompted them, but the timing of the statement seems to imply he was referring to them. Considering the daily rioting in East Jerusalem, one would think he was directing his words at Palestinian residents. They, however, are not citizens of Israel.

WATCH: Security camera catches the killing of Khir Hamdan:

The statement is obscure and could be interpreted in several ways, but one thing is certain: Netanyahu is not seeking to calm tensions, but rather chose his words very carefully in order to add fuel to the fire. His message to all Palestinians is that they are not free to protest or resist the way they are treated; that when one of them is killed by the authorities, regardless of circumstance, there will be no questions or apologies; that their rights as citizens are in question; that their homes and livelihoods are under constant threat.

It is worth noting that under international law it is illegal to leave somebody stateless. As UN high commissioner for refugees, António Guterres, said: “Statelessness is a profound violation of an individual’s human rights. [It] makes people feel like their very existence is a crime.” So even if it’s legal under Israeli law to strip somebody of their citizenship, unless they hold a foreign passport it’s unlikely it will be approved.

In the statement, Netanyahu lumps together blocking roads and throwing stones with the call for a Palestinian state – labeling them all as a national security threat and implying that a Palestinian state will never come into existence because it would necessarily mean the destruction of Israel.

It is not clear what Netanyahu thinks qualifies as calling for the “destruction of the State of Israel,” but the statement could be implying that any demonstrations challenging the character of the country as it is devised by the ruling Israeli right will be under scrutiny.

What is clear is that on the same day that a Palestinian citizen of Israel was killed at close range by a police officer, the prime minister chose to tell 20 percent of the population that their citizenship is in question.

Related:
WATCH: Police kill would-be attacker as he runs away
PHOTOS: Protests in northern Israel after police kill Arab man

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Peace Now highlights ‘epidemic’ of incitement in Israel http://972mag.com/peace-now-highlights-epidemic-of-incitement-in-israel/98438/ http://972mag.com/peace-now-highlights-epidemic-of-incitement-in-israel/98438/#comments Thu, 06 Nov 2014 13:15:01 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=98438 Video campaign shows selection out of hundreds of thousands of inciting comments against ‘leftists.’ The pro-peace group is far from the only target of recent incitement — even the president is falling victim.

Peace Now has launched an online video campaign to raise awareness about incitement, intolerance and hate speech directed specifically at “leftists” in Israel and expressed most visibly on Facebook. The organization produced a two-and-a-half minute video entitled, “The writing is still on the wall,” displaying a selection of comments left on its Facebook page. To give you an idea of just a few:

-Leftist whores burn already, you should all be shot in the head.

-You should all be cut up into pieces immediately!!! Israel haters.

-Traitors like you should be hanged.

-Stinky leftists, you should be put in gas chambers, you are worse than the Arabs.

-How great if all the Israeli leftists were kidnapped and killed!

There are also comments specifically calling for the death of Peace Now director Yariv Oppenheimer as well as his family members, in addition to a fairly large amount of Holocaust references.

According to Peace Now’s new media and campaign manager Yaniv Shacham, the video shows only a small fraction of the comments they receive, which he estimates number in the hundreds of thousands.

“We are talking about an epidemic,” Shacham told +972. “It’s not just a few teenagers; we are talking about women and men, Ashkenazim and Mizrahim, old and young.”

Shacham stresses that this is widespread in Israeli society and holds Israeli leaders responsible for encouraging such intolerance for differences in opinion.

For example, last month, when Prime Minister Netanyahu was in the U.S. to meet with President Obama, Peace Now published a statement criticizing the latest announcement of new construction plans beyond the Green Line in East Jerusalem. Without directly referring to the organization by name, Netanyahu alluded to the fact that Peace Now was acting against Israeli interests by calling the government out on new settlement plans. Netanyahu’s message was that dissent will not be tolerated, or more liberally interpreted, that those who condemn Israeli settlements publicly are traitors.

About a month ago I wrote an op-ed in The New York Times entitled, “How Israel silences dissent,” speaking directly to this phenomenon of Jews inciting against Jews, and for which I was attacked and berated for being a liar lacking journalistic integrity, or simply inaccurate. For those who doubt the veracity of this phenomenon, Peace Now’s compilation is another testament. Perhaps even more shocking is the case of Israel’s new president, Reuven Rivlin, who has made it a priority to speak out against Israeli racism and violence against Arabs, and for which he himself has become the target of incitement from the Right.

In 1983, a right-wing activist threw a hand grenade into a Peace Now rally, killing one and injuring several others, including current Likud Minister Yuval Steinitz, who was a Peace Now member at the time.

The timing of Peace Now’s launch of its new campaign coincided with the 19th anniversary of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination, the most glaringly tragic example of inter-Israeli incitement and intolerance. Part of Peace Now’s campaign message is that 19 years later the lessons of Rabin’s murder have not been learned, but if anything, the situation has gotten worse.

For decades, Peace Now has advocated for a two-state solution to the conflict. Its message that the occupation and settlements are detrimental to a negotiated agreement with the Palestinians and that Palestinians have the right to a state of their own is not a radical position, and has been one considered to be held by the majority of Jewish Israelis (despite a recent poll showing otherwise). Yet, if we look at the reality on the ground, the composition of the government, its policies and rhetoric, it appears clear that calling for a two-state solution has, in fact, become an increasingly marginalized, delegitimized, radical position.

The vast number of Israelis who feel free to incite against Peace Now and its anti-settlement, pro-two-state solution platform in the streets and on the web reflect not only that Israelis have moved to the right politically, but that at its core, contemporary Israeli society does not tolerate or respect differences of opinion, the basic mark of any democracy. And the most frightening part is that it is coming right from the top down. As Sefi Rechlevsky wrote this week in a Haaretz oped:

The man who led the anti-Rabin demonstrations that preceded the assassination, protests at which there were slogans including “through blood and fire, we will drive Rabin out,” was none other than Benjamin Netanyahu. He was elected prime minister seven months after Rabin’s murder. He was the same man whom former Shin Bet heads Karmi Gillon and Yuval Diskin were convinced that had it not been for his support for the wave of incitement, it’s possible the assassination never would have occurred. But instead of being shunned by the public, he took up residence in the home and the bed of the murdered Rabin. Even Shakespeare and the Bible don’t provide such tragic endings.

Nearly two decades later, that man is again and still the prime minister of Israel.

Related:
What was different about this war?
Facing increased right-wing violence, Israeli leftists learn to fight back
‘Unprecedented’ violence stalks anti-war demos across Israel

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The only way to stop stone throwing is to end the occupation http://972mag.com/the-only-way-to-stop-stone-throwing-is-to-end-the-occupation/98321/ http://972mag.com/the-only-way-to-stop-stone-throwing-is-to-end-the-occupation/98321/#comments Sun, 02 Nov 2014 16:53:10 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=98321 If Israel was serious about restoring security to its capital, it would recognize the Palestinian claim to East Jerusalem and find a way for all residents to live in dignity.

Trying to make good on his promise to restore quiet in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Netanyahu and his cabinet approved an amendment to Israel’s penal code on Sunday, which would prescribe up to 20 years in prison for someone caught throwing stones at a vehicle (and 10 without having to prove intent to cause harm).

Currently, Palestinians convicted in Israeli civil courts of throwing stones receive around two years in jail, so if this is enforced, it would be a significant increase in degree of severity. While in theory such a law would apply to Israeli citizens, the country’s history of discrimination and granting settler impunity, it is hard to imagine Israeli Jews will be more than nominally affected. While the amendment still needs to pass through committee and three Knesset votes, the message of the bill is clear: a Palestinian caught throwing a stone will go away for a long, long time.

Palestinian youth throw stones during a solidarity protest with the hunger striking Palestinian prisoners jailed in Israeli prisons, outside the Ofer military prison, February 15, 2013. (photo: Activestills)

Palestinian youth throw stones during a solidarity protest with the hunger striking Palestinian prisoners jailed in Israeli prisons, outside the Ofer military prison, February 15, 2013. (photo: Activestills)

While the potential law would apply to all citizens of Israel, it is clearly directed at Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem — occupied, annexed and ruled under Israeli civil law. A similar law is already in place in the West Bank, which under direct Israeli military occupation is governed by Israeli military law. This strengthens the notion that Israel is looking to treat East Jerusalem Palestinians more like it treats West Bank Palestinians.

Whether or not the bill goes through, the Israeli government’s approach to the intensifying unrest in Jerusalem is clearly designed to, as Netanyahu put it, “[take] vigorous action against terrorists and those who throw stones, fire bombs and fireworks…in order to restore quiet and security throughout Jerusalem. I have ordered that massive reinforcements be brought in [to Jerusalem] and that additional means be used in order to ensure law and order in Israel’s capital.”

The Israeli security establishment sincerely believes that it will be able to put a stop to Palestinian resistance by placing more Palestinians — many of them minors — behind bars. While that may solve the problem in the immediate short-term (and even that is doubtful, as riots have only increased despite the arrest of over 700 people since the start of the summer), history and common sense show it will do nothing for the security of Israeli Jews in the long-term.

Since the First Intifada in the late 1980s, thousands of Palestinian men have sat in Israeli jails — many of them more than once. This has not proven to be a long-term deterrent of Palestinian resistance – whether armed or unarmed. Arguably the most popular leader of the Palestinian people is Marwan Barghouti, serving five life sentences in Israeli prison for his involvement in armed Palestinian resistance and terror. Muataz Hejazi, who allegedly shot Rabbi Yehuda Glick at point blank range last week, spent 11 years in Israeli prison, and according to reports, his violent behavior only got worse during his imprisonment. Abd al-Rahman al-Shaloudi, who rammed his car into a group of people at a light rail station in Jerusalem, killing a three-month-old and a woman a week earlier, also did time in Israeli prison.

Palestinian youth throw stones during clashes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al Amud, with the Aqsa Mosque seen in the background. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinian youth throw stones during clashes in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al Amud, with the Aqsa Mosque seen in the background. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

While I am in no way condoning these acts of violence, Israeli authorities have not convinced me that what they are doing will bring any calm or safety to Jerusalem or any other territory under its control. They certainly don’t seem to be taking into account the adverse effects putting young Palestinians in Israeli jail for years for throwing a single stone has on them and their families.

There is no reason to think Palestinians will give up on their claims to East Jerusalem, to self-determination, to freedom and human rights after being dealt an even heavier hand by the entity occupying them. It has been nearly half a century and they haven’t done so yet. It’s pretty obvious that compromise, sacrifice and agreement are the only way to put a stop to it once and for all.

Israeli journalist Amira Hass, who wrote an op-ed in Haaretz in April 2013 explaining the act of stone throwing and defending the Palestinian right to resist occupation, said it best:

Often hurling stones is borne of boredom, excessive hormones, mimicry, boastfulness and competition. But in the inner syntax of the relationship between the occupier and the occupied, stone-throwing is the adjective attached to the subject of “We’ve had enough of you, occupiers.”

In an interview with Democracy Now!, she went on to explain why it is so problematic to see Palestinians as violent and Israelis as victims:

Any hegemonic group, sees its hegemony, and the violence it uses, as self-evident, as a natural thing. And we do everything possible to protect this hegemony…Palestinians have tried many ways, diplomatic ways and others to resist Israeli domination and it has not succeeded. Stone throwing is a message, and the Israelis don’t listen to it. Twenty-five years ago in the first Intifada, Israelis did listen – they did understand it’s a message — not in order to kill or hit somebody but to tell, you are unwelcome visitors in our midst.

If Israel was serious and pragmatic about “restoring security to Jerusalem,” it would once and for all recognize the Palestinians’ claim to East Jerusalem as their capital, find ways to end the occupation and find a way for everyone to live in the city equally. At the very least it would invest in East Jerusalem’s infrastructure and schools — even while continuing to be the occupying force. But it is doing neither. Instead, it is deepening its control and amping up its means of violence, whose only realistic outcome is more stone throwing. That will lead to more arrests, which, based on experience, will only lead to more violence.

Related:
Photos of the month: The holy city nears its boiling point
The New York Times investigates Palestinian stone throwing
Jerusalem expert attacked: ‘No rock can move me to hate’

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Nine more Jewish families take over Silwan homes in dead of night http://972mag.com/nine-more-jewish-families-take-over-silwan-homes-in-dead-of-night/97864/ http://972mag.com/nine-more-jewish-families-take-over-silwan-homes-in-dead-of-night/97864/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 11:07:48 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=97864 If settling Jews beyond the Green Line in Palestinian East Jerusalem is legitimate, why are organizations sneaking in settlers in the middle of the night?

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

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

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

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

Silwan, East Jerusalem (image: activestills)

Silwan, East Jerusalem (photo: Activestills)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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