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IDF destroys 20 Palestinian structures in West Bank 'firing zone'

The army exploits a break-down in a court-ordered mediation to demolish buildings in ‘Firing Zone 918.’ Israel has been trying to evict impoverished Palestinian communities from their lands for over 15 years — in order to save a few bucks on military trainings.

Israeli military forces demolished over 20 structures in the Palestinian villages of Khirbet Jenbah and Hawala Tuesday morning. In the early afternoon, Israel’s Supreme Court issued an interim injunction until a hearing can be held next week.

Some 1,000 Palestinians in eight villages live in what the Israeli army has declared ‘Firing Zone 918′ in the South Hebron Hills. Some 400 people, a large number of whom are children, live in the two villages targeted on Tuesday.

For over 15 years, the state has sought to evict the traditionally cave-dwelling Palestinian families from their homes and grazing lands inside the designated area. Jewish settlements within Firing Zone 918, however, have not been served with eviction orders.

More than two years ago the Israeli Supreme Court ordered the army to enter into mediation with the Palestinian residents of Firing Zone 918. The mediation recently broke down.

The army, it appears, was attempting to take advantage of the period between the breakdown and the matter returning to court, in order to demolish the homes.

The mediation was not the first attempt to resolve the issue of Firing Zone 918 out of court. In 2002, villagers and the state entered a previous round of mediation, in which the army sought to relocate the Palestinian residents to a smaller, nearby area. Residents refused, however, and in 2005 the process ended without any result.

In the 2013 High Court hearing, the state argued that Firing Zone 918 is of military necessity because it reduces logistical costs of training exercises due to its proximity to a nearby army base. Or in other words, to save a few bucks.

Lawyers representing the villagers, however, argued that international law clearly prohibits the expulsion of residents from an occupied territory, as well as the permanent seizure of land for military use.

A year later, however, a senior IDF officer admitted in a Knesset hearing that live-fire training areas are often used in order to displace Palestinian residents.

Firing Zone 918 has gained significant international attention in recent years, with Israeli and international writers urging Israel “to halt its displacement of the Palestinian villages...

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The end of normalcy for Israeli settlements?

Stricter trade guidelines, harsher rhetoric and corporate responsibility campaigns all send a clear message: Israel’s closest allies are no longer willing to passively accept the occupation, and the only consensus on settlements is that they are illegal.

The United States appears to be following the European Union in taking symbolic steps to challenge the aura of normalcy with which Israel has cloaked its settlement enterprise for decades.

United States Customs officials published a notice last week clarifying that U.S. law does not permit goods manufactured in the West Bank, including in Israeli settlements, to be labeled as “made in Israel.”

The regulation is over 20 years old and the notice is just a reminder, the U.S. was quick to point out to journalists who scrambled to draw parallels to the European Union’s settlement labeling guidelines published late last year.

And while there are some significant differences between the two regulations regarding settlement products, primarily that under EU rules settlement goods are ineligible for duty free import, the message is the same.

Israel has never annexed the West Bank (save for East Jerusalem) and no country has ever recognized Israeli claims to the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip or Golan Heights. Over the past two decades, however, under the cover of various peace processes, the number of Israelis living on occupied land has swelled and swelled to well past 500,000 settlers.

Israeli leaders from across the political spectrum speak of “consensus settlement blocs” as if there is no question that large swaths of the West Bank will remain under Israeli control forever, regardless of whether the Palestinians or anybody else consents. Ministers in the current government openly advocate the unilateral annexation of more than 60 percent of the West Bank.

When it comes to Israel’s economy, financial instruments, national infrastructure, natural resources, and the legal system for Israeli citizens, the Green Line — where Israel ends and Palestine begins as far as the world is concerned— no longer exists. Israel’s civilian hold on the West Bank, like its military regime that rules its Palestinian residents, has become an accomplished fact on the ground.

But make no mistake: the matter of settlements is far more serious and consequential than attempts to influence future borders. The very existence of Israeli settlements among the Palestinian population directly results in myriad human rights violations. It has created what can only...

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Don't be fooled: Bibi and Im Tirzu are one and the same

The latest campaign of incitement in Israel is so extreme even the Right has condemned it. The irony? Its message is entirely in line with that of the government.

A single day after right-wing Culture Minister Miri Regev proposed cutting funding to artists and cultural institutions that are “not loyal” to the State of Israel, quasi-fascist organization Im Tirzu launched a campaign to name and shame artists who support human rights and anti-occupation groups.

Several weeks ago, Im Tirzu, a hyper-nationalist organization that an Israeli court ruled resembles a fascist movement, launched another campaign accusing human rights and anti-occupation activists of being foreign planted “moles.” The current campaign, an extension of the first, is being promoted under the banner “moles in [our] culture.”

A number of political figures on the Right from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu down to Benny Begin and Naftali Bennett condemned the campaign, with some saying they oppose it and others going much further. “The singling out of so-called traitors is an old-fashioned fascist technique that is both ugly and dangerous,” veteran yet marginalized Likud lawmaker Benny Begin said.

Prime Minister Netanyahu said of the latest campaign, “[I] oppose the use of the term traitor for those who disagree with me, but at the same time oppose Breaking the Silence, which slanders Israel overseas.” Education Minister Bennett described Im Tirzu’s latest campaign as “embarrassing and unnecessary.”

Im Tirzu’s tactics went too far this time. But only its tactics. The content and sentiment of its messaging are entirely in line with that of the government.

When Im Tirzu first released its “moles” campaign it openly did so with the aim of shoring up support for Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked’s proposed law targeting foreign funding of human rights and anti-occupation groups. For the most part, the groups targeted by Im Tirzu are identical to those that would be affected by Shaked’s NGO funding law. (Disclosure: The non-profit that operates +972 Magazine and its Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call, was included in Im Tirzu’s “Moles” report. We would not, however, be affected by the current version of Shaked’s NGO bill.)

Now the organization has timed its latest report, about cultural figures associated with human rights and anti-occupation groups, with another piece of legislation that targets artists and cultural institutions that oppose various aspects of the ruling regime.

One might be tempted to applaud the leaders...

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What keeps the IDF up at night? Depends on where you get your news

Seven leading Israeli news outlets went to the same briefing with a senior defense official, and wrote six entirely different stories about it. In an era when few people read beyond the headlines, how we understand the world around us is increasingly polarized.

Most people do not read past the first few sentences of online news articles. Even more don’t read past the headline at all. And yet, a large percentage of those who read only the headline nevertheless go on to share that article on social media. (You can read more about that here and here.)

I mention that because the topical way we consume news today demonstrates the importance of how journalists and editors choose headlines and ledes (the first few sentences of an article, chosen by journalists and editors because we think it’s the most important part). Seven journalists could be handed the exact same set of facts and write seven entirely different articles about it. Depending on which news outlets you read, you will get a manifestly different story, and vastly different ideas of what is important.

That is exactly what happened on Tuesday in Israel. The Israeli army held a background briefing for military and defense reporters about the threats facing Israel in 2016 and the country’s “strategic environment.” (Background briefings are when senior officials want to give reporters information, for public consumption, but don’t want to be quoted as actually saying it themselves for various reasons.)

Of seven leading English and Hebrew Israeli news outlets surveyed by +972, six of the headlines and ledes told entirely different stories about the same briefing. Therefore, readers who only read the headline, or those who read only two or three paragraphs on any given news site, were exposed to drastically different pictures of what Israel’s defense establishment is worried about — and by transference, what should be keeping them up at night, too.

Here’s what you would have learned if you only read the headlines and first few sentences in seven leading English and Hebrew Israeli news outlets:

Haaretz’s article about the briefing led with the headline: “Israeli Army Expects Escalation in West Bank in Absence of Calming Efforts.” The lede paragraph framed the threat of violence in the West Bank against steps that could be taken to prevent it, namely improving conditions for Palestinians and continued cooperation with Palestinian security services. Nothing about Hezbollah, Iran...

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Poll: 45% of Israeli Jews don't think Arabs should have equal rights

Did the good folks at Israel’s Army Radio station not think to ask Arab citizens themselves whether they think they deserve full and equal rights?

Israel’s Army Radio conducted a poll of Jewish citizens of Israel and asked them whether Arab citizens of Israel should have equal rights.

No, this is not the start of a joke.

Yes, over 20 percent of Israel’s citizens are Arab.

No, not a single one of those Arab citizens were asked whether they themselves think they should have equal rights. (Or whether Jews should, for that matter.)

The Jewish respondents in the poll were asked whether they support full, equal rights for Arab citizens of the state.

Forty-five percent said “no.”

Six percent said “it depends.”

Another six percent said they “don’t know.”

Forty-three percent of the Jewish-only respondents said they do support full equal rights for Arabs citizens of Israel. (See the poll results in Hebrew.)

The poll did not specify what type of rights it was referring to.

Yes, Israel’s army runs a radio station, of which around a quarter of adult Jewish — yes, only Jews again — Israelis listen to every six months. Yes, the army runs another radio station that just under 30 percent of Jewish adults in Israel listen to.

The poll also asked Jewish Israelis whether they think members of Knesset, Israel’s parliament, are more concerned with the public’s interest than they are about political interests.

Twenty-one percent said they agreed; 76 percent disagreed.

Another 84 percent of the Jewish-only respondents said that the Knesset and its political parties represent them and their values.

Over 20 percent of Israeli citizens are Arab, but only 13 percent of Knesset members are Arab (16 MKs). Arab citizens were not asked whether they think the Knesset is concerned with their interests or whether it represents them or their values.

Likewise, roughly 50 percent of Israeli citizens are women, but only 23 percent of Knesset members are women. The pollsters did not ask whether women feel the Knesset is concerned with their interests or if it represents them and their values.

During Israeli general elections last year media polls regularly excluded Arab candidates and voters from their surveys. In general, it not at all uncommon to exclude entire ethnic groups from political public opinion surveys.

The Army Radio survey polled 503 Hebrew-speaking Jews over the age of 18. It...

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Why it's scarier this time around

There is nothing new about the multi-pronged attack on human rights and anti-occupation activists in Israel, but there’s something different this time. Something scarier.

There is nothing particularly new about the wave of attacks against human rights and the anti-occupation Left in Israel taking place recently. There is nothing new about the increasingly hostile political atmosphere. Not at all. And yet something feels far worse, and scarier, this time around.

Everything happening in Israel these days has also happened in the past. We have seen scarier legislative attempts to target human rights NGOs. Politicians have called leftists traitors before. Security services have targeted anti-occupation activists in the past. Left-wing activists and organizations have been targeted with violence at their offices and homes.

But two things feel different this time, and both make these phenomena far more dangerous.

Firstly, there is nobody to stand in the way of this wave of political, legal and legislative attacks against those fighting to end the occupation or ensure equal rights for Jews and Palestinians. Previous governments were propped up by the support of centrist and left-leaning politicians like Ehud Barak, Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid — all of whom blocked the most dangerous laws and policies from moving forward in their respective time in the limelight.

The current government is being pulled in the opposite direction: the highest-ranking far-right politicians are demanding harsher and more draconian steps be taken against both Palestinians and the anti-occupation Israeli Left, and that the government do more to strengthen Israel’s seemingly permanent hold on the West Bank.

Secondly, as Israel’s right-wing government becomes more unapologetic and cockier about the occupation, the prospects of real international pressure appear more and more real. It used to be that the go-to progressive argument against BDS was to warn that isolating Israel internationally would only empower Israeli hardliners back home. That prophesy appears to be coming true, although the current leadership wasn’t rushing to end the occupation in years past.

Taken together, all of that is making for a disastrous political and social environment. Opposing the occupation, challenging discriminatory and denied of civil and human rights, and advancing values that stand in the way of the Right’s political vision, are all becoming increasingly dangerous in Israel today.

Turning leftists into traitors

Legally speaking, the proposed NGO law is not in and of itself particularly consequential (a separate law was introduced this week that...

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Say what!? Sheldon Adelson is financing the Israeli government?

Of course not. But don’t doubt for a second that the American casino magnate has infinitely more influence and access to Benjamin Netanyahu than any ‘foreign funded’ Israeli human rights organization.

Is Sheldon Adelson funding the Israeli government? You might think the answer was yes if you read the Las Vegas Review-Journal this week.

In a disclosure about the newspaper’s new ownership on Page 3 Sunday, the Review-Journal wrote: “The Adelsons are financial and political supporters of the current Israeli government.”

(My colleague Noa Yachot wrote here about Sheldon Adelson secretly buying the newspaper and the resultant editorial “challenges” — I recommend reading in to understand why the disclosure was necessary in the first place.)

The line, which was only one part of a longer disclosure, was later removed from the online version of the item.

To the best of my knowledge, Sheldon Adelson has not directly donated to the Israeli government, or even to Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent Likud primary campaigns.

The Review-Journal did not respond by press time to my questions about why it initially stated that the Adelsons finance the Israeli government, or what role the Adelsons played in writing the line in question, and in having it removed. Likewise, a query sent to the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office asking whether Sheldon Adelson is secretly filling the country’s coffers went predictably unanswered.

More than 90 percent of Netanyahu’s primary funding came from private overseas donors in the latest elections. The Adelsons, it seems, made do supporting Netanyahu with their free newspaper, Israel Hayom, which famously does just that — Israel Hayom is often referred to “Bibi-ton,” a combination of Netanyahu’s nickname and the Hebrew word for newspaper.

The issue of foreign funding is a hot topic in Israel these days. The Netanyahu government is pursuing a law that would stigmatize and single out certain Israeli non-profit organizations, primarily civil and human rights NGOs, that receive funds from foreign state entities.

Right-wing political and settler NGOs also receive massive amounts of money from overseas but the new law would almost exclusively affect anti-occupation and human rights organizations.

Left-wing and human rights organizations are more likely to receive funding from overseas state entities, however, whereas right-wing causes and organizations tend to receive their funds from private donors.

The new NGO law manages to distinguish between the two (so-called left- and right-wing organizations) by targeting only those NGOs...

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Israeli left-wing activist denied access to lawyer, to be held for another week

A gag order bars publishing any identifying information about the activist, who was arrested at Ben Gurion Airport a day earlier.

The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday extended by one week the arrest remand of a well known left-wing Israeli activist. The court also barred him from meeting his lawyer.

The activist was arrested at Ben Gurion Airport Monday, although there was no legal barrier to him from leaving the country prior to his arrest.

The man, whose identity is under gag order, is being held on suspicion of being in contact with a foreign agent. He was the subject of a right-wing hidden camera ‘sting operation’ broadcast on Israeli television recently.

The court ruled that the hearing on Tuesday would be held behind closed doors and barred the publication of any information or photographs that could identify the suspect.

Beyond specific gag orders, Israeli law bars the publication of any identifying information about a suspect for 48 hours after their arrest or before they are indicted in court, whichever comes first.

A number of Israeli news outlets published the man’s identity anyway on Monday and Tuesday, in apparent violation of the law meant to protect suspects’ rights.

Israeli security forces often violate themselves privacy laws meant to protect suspects, and in some cases those meant to protect minors, although generally only when the suspect is Palestinian.

Israeli authorities recently began using measures previously reserved for Palestinians against Jewish suspects, primarily those accused of terrorism-related crimes.

The state also famously held a former Mossad agent known as Prisoner X incommunicado for years. The story was only published once an Australian news outlet began reporting its details.

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Amid right-wing attacks, suspected arson at B'Tselem offices

Headquarters of Israel’s oldest human rights organization sustain heavy damage. Spokesperson says if fire turns out to be arson, ‘it must be seen in the context of the wave of government incitement and smear campaigns against Israel’s human rights groups, and B’Tselem in particular.’

A fire broke out at Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem’s offices in Jerusalem Sunday night. Police said they suspect arson.

[Update, January 11, 2016, 11 a.m.: The preliminary results of the fire inspector's investigation indicate that the fire the result of an electrical shortage and not arson.]

Right-wing organizations, government ministers and the media have launched seemingly concerted attacks against human rights and anti-occupation organizations in recent weeks, which many have called incitement. The government is currently advancing a law targeting human rights organizations that would portray them as serving foreign agendas.

A handful of right-wing Israelis gathered outside the building and celebrated the blaze while firefighters sought to extinguish it Sunday night, +972’s Orly Noy reported from the scene.

“We are still waiting for the findings of the fire investigator,” B’Tselem said. “However, if it is discovered that this was an arson attack, it must be seen in the context of the wave of government incitement and smear campaigns against Israel’s human rights groups, and B’Tselem in particular.”

Video footage released by the Jerusalem Fire Department showed extensive damage to the organization’s offices.

“Naturally, the damage to our offices will not stop our work of documenting and exposing the harm to human rights under the occupation,” B’Tselem said in a statement.

No B’Tselem staff was in the building at the time of the blaze, which broke out around 10 p.m. Other people in the office building, which houses at least one other NGO and a synagogue, did have to be evacuated, and one person was treated for smoke inhalation.

Hand in Hand, an organization that runs Israel’s only Jewish-Arab integrated school system, also has its offices in the building. A Hand in Hand school was also the target of an arson by right-wing Israelis just over a year ago. It was not immediately clear if its offices were damaged in Sunday’s fire.

Hyper-nationalist group Im Tirzu published a video accusing B’Tselem executive director Hagai Elad of being a foreign agent several weeks ago, suggesting that he and other human rights activists are somehow connected...

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How to foil a human rights probe: Keep the investigator out

Makarim Wibisono resigns as UN special rapporteur to the occupied Palestinian territories — because Israel never allowed him to visit Palestine.

The UN special rapporteur charged with monitoring and investigating Israeli human rights violations in the occupied territories resigned Monday in protest of Israel’s consistent refusal to give him access to said occupied territories.

Refusing access to human rights monitors is a tactic generally employed by non-democratic regimes.

Special Rapporteur Makarim Wibisono, who previously served as Indonesia’s ambassador to the United Nations, said that when he accepted the position he was assured he would have access to the Palestinian territory. He did not say who made that assurance to him.

Israel has for years denied UN special rapporteurs access to Israel and the occupied territories. As the occupying power, Israel makes all decisions on who may enter or exit Palestine.

“Unfortunately, my efforts to help improve the lives of Palestinian victims of violations under the Israeli occupation have been frustrated every step of the way,” Wibisono said in a statement on Monday.

Wibisono added that he hopes his successor will be able to overcome the Israeli restrictions he faced. Doing so, he added would “reassure the Palestinian people that after nearly half a century of occupation the world has not forgotten their plight and that universal human rights are indeed universal.”

A year ago, Israel denied entry to another special rapporteur, this time on violence against women, just because she requested to visit “Palestine” as opposed to the “Palestinian Authority.”  Israel is part of a constantly shrinking minority of UN member states (less than 30 percent) that do not recognize the State of Palestine.

The previous special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, Richard Falk, was also denied entry into Israel and the territories.

Israel’s justifies its refusal to cooperate with UN Human Rights Council investigations into its actions vis-à-vis the Palestinians by asserting that the Council is biased against it, namely that it singles out Israel in comparison to other countries..

The United States even briefly boycotted the UN body in protest of what it describes as a biased approach to Israel. The U.S. State Department on Monday said it hopes Wibisono’s replacement “can take a fair and balanced approach.”

But while expressing hopes for what the next special rapporteur might accomplish, the State Department also said that Washington opposes the very idea of the special human...

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Views on torture split along ethnic lines, Israeli poll finds

Attitudes toward torture in Israel differ significantly among Jews and Arabs. Poll also finds conciliatory views about the legitimacy of the ‘other’ and their claims to the land.

More than 55 percent of Jewish Israelis think it is permissible to use “physical methods” of interrogation, i.e. torture, against terrorism suspects even if there is no “ticking bomb” scenario to stop, according to a public opinion poll published Monday.

The issue of torture has been in the news in recent weeks because attorneys for a handful of Jewish extremists accused of committed acts of terrorism against Palestinians say the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal secret police, used methods amounting to torture in order to extract confessions from them.

There has been much public discussion in Israel about whether authorities use the same methods and dedication in thwarting and solving Jewish terrorism against Palestinians as they do with Palestinian terrorism against Jews.

The poll, published by the Israel Democracy Institute on Monday, found significant ethno-religious divides on the question of against whom torture is permissible.

Over 30 percent of Jewish respondents in the monthly Peace Index said interrogation methods and punishments for Jews suspected of committing acts of terrorism against Palestinians should be less harsh than for Palestinians suspected of terrorism against Jews.

Likewise, only 7 percent of Jews polled thought that the Shin Bet’s interrogation methods for Palestinian terrorism suspects are too harsh. On the other hand, nearly a quarter (23 percent) of Jewish respondents said the security agency’s interrogation methods against Jews are too harsh; 21 percent of Arab respondents agreed.

The biggest cleavage, however, was on the question of whether “physical methods” of interrogation are ever permissible. Six percent of Jewish respondents and 83 percent of Arabs said it is never permissible, ticking bomb or not.

One might surmise that the vastly higher number of Arabs who say torture is never permissible has something to do with the presumption that Israeli authorities are more likely to use physically and mentally abusive methods of interrogation against Arabs, thus only increasing the ethnic-religious divides in attitudes toward torture.

It is important to note that the pollsters never used the word “torture” in their questions.

Expanding the legality of torture

Strictly speaking, torture is not legal in Israel, but the High Court of Justice created a loop-hole to allow for its use in certain situations — when it is “necessary” to stop...

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IDF admits spraying herbicides inside the Gaza Strip

The army says aerial spraying was meant to ‘enable security operations.’ Palestinian farmers say hundreds of acres of crops were damaged or destroyed.

The Israel army has confirmed that it used crop-dusters to kill off vegetation — and perhaps inadvertently, agricultural crops — inside the Gaza Strip last week. According to Palestinian officials, over 420 acres of land were damaged by the spraying.

For years now, the IDF has unilaterally maintained a lethal “no-go zone” on the Palestinian side of the border with Gaza. Now, it seems, it has also implemented a “no-grow zone.”

“The aerial spraying of herbicides and germination inhibitors was conducted in the area along the border fence last week in order to enable optimal and continuous security operations,” an IDF Spokesperson told +972 on Sunday.

Palestinian Agricultural Ministry officials told Ma’an news that farmers said Israeli planes had been spraying their agricultural lands adjacent to the border fence for several days straight. Spinach, pea, parsley and bean crops were reportedly destroyed around the al-Qarrara area in eastern Khan Younis and the Wadi al-Salqa area in central Gaza, according to the report.

The military spokesperson did not respond to a follow-up question about the destruction of agricultural crops.

The spraying of herbicides in Gaza was not reported in the Israeli media.

The IDF has for years imposed a lethal no-go buffer zone along the Gaza border. The army killed at least 16 Palestinians and wounded at least 379 more who entered or approached the no-go zone in recent months, most of whom were participating in demonstrations along the fence.

Farmers and scrap collectors are also regularly targeted as they approach the fence. Palestinians often claim that those shot were outside the restricted area. Rarely are there any allegations that those shot were armed.

“Spraying crop-killing pesticides, like opening fire at people of all ages and gender in the vicinity of the fence, puts civilian lives at risk and hurts livelihoods,” said Shai Grunberg, spokesperson for Gisha, an Israeli rights group that works to promote freedom of movement for Palestinians in Gaza. “By virtue of Israel’s substantial control of the Gaza Strip, international law requires it to facilitate normal life in the Strip.”

From an Israeli military perspective, the buffer zone helps the army counter the laying of IEDs, ambushes and border infiltrations. Ground forces regularly enter the Strip in order to clear...

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Israel isn't denying that it uses torture, it's justifying it

Responding to a right-wing campaign accusing it of torturing ‘Jewish terrorism’ suspects, Israel’s domestic intelligence agency basically admits doing so, and insists it is acting within the law.

Last week’s episode of “This American Life” was called The Poetry of Propaganda. The Chicago-based radio program discussed how official government messaging often contains different meanings for different audiences.

“In some ways, propaganda is like poetry,” New York Times reporter Damien Cave explained at the start of the show. “You need to know how to read it.” Some people only see it on one level, while lots of other people see it on a secondary level “that may speak to the exact opposite of what it says on that first reading.”

That is exactly what is happening in Israel today with a public discussion about allegations that the Shin Bet, the country’s domestic intelligence agency, is physically and mentally torturing suspects in the arson murder of a Palestinian family earlier this year, an attack that the Israeli establishment deemed an act of “Jewish terrorism.”

Radical right-wing Israelis and the suspects’ families have launched a public campaign against the Shin Bet in recent weeks, including going all the way to New York in order to side-step an archaic gag order that prevents anyone in Israel from identifying the suspects. (+972, like the rest of the Israeli media, is subject to that gag order.)

The Shin Bet, in a highly unusual step indicative of how sensitive this case is, has publicly responded to the allegations. The agency twice put out statements accusing radical right-wing groups of running a “slanderous,” “deceitful” campaign “full of lies,” throwing in for good measure a list of truly horrifying acts that it swears it is not using.

Many news agencies took those statements to be a Shin Bet denial that it utilizes torture — or at least is utilizing torture in this case. Among others, the JTA and Times of Israel both carried headlines indicating as much.

That’s where that “secondary level” of language comes in. The Shin Bet was not actually denying that it is torturing the Jewish terrorism suspects — it was actually justifying doing so.

“The purpose of the interrogation being carried out is uncovering the organization and thwarting future attacks,” the Shin Bet said. “In coordination with the judicial system, the [suspects] are being interrogated according to established...

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+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

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