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Blurring the lines between Palestine and Baltimore

A new play tells the story of Aseel Asleh, one of the 13 Palestinians killed by police inside Israel at the start of the Second Intifada. Playwright Jen Marlowe is bringing it to black colleges in the U.S. in the hopes of connecting two struggles.

Before his death, Palestinian teenager Aseel Asleh dedicated himself to his Jewish Israeli friends. As a loyal alumnus of Seeds of Peace, a coexistence summer camp, he was convinced that the promise of peace lay in forgiveness and reconciliation.

More than 15 years after he was killed at the age of 17 by Israeli police, a play about his life and death is being used to foster a very different dialogue. “There Is a Field” explicitly aims to build connections between movements for Palestinian rights and racial justice in America. It is presently on a tour that focuses on historically black colleges and universities in the eastern United States.

Aseel was shot to death in his hometown of Arrabe in the early days of the Second Intifada, while demonstrating in solidarity with Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza. He was one of 13 Palestinians – including 12 citizens of Israel – killed inside Israel in a single week in the notorious “October events” of 2000. He was killed and buried in a Seeds of Peace t-shirt.

Jen Marlowe had been the boy’s camp counselor. In search of a way to honor Aseel’s memory and cope with the grief that shook her community, she set out to write a play about his life. “There Is a Field” took shape over the next 15 years, finally premiering last month in New York. The play is styled as a documentary, comprised of artful transitions between family members’ reflections, materials from the investigation into Aseel’s death, and emails he left behind. (An early digital native, he spent hours online corresponding with his fellow “Seeds.”)

Much changed over the course of the play’s 15-year journey to fruition. Investigations into the killings closed without a single indictment, despite damning findings of excessive police violence by the government-established Or Commission. Relations between Israelis and Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line devolved to their all-time present low. As hopes for peace dwindled, so did the credibility of dialogue-based programs like Seeds of Peace. And a new protagonist took Aseel’s place in “There Is a Field.”

Marlowe...

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AIPAC can’t distance itself from Trump any more than the GOP can

Considering the Israel lobby’s history of confrontation with Obama and the roars of approval its members gave Donald Trump for bashing him, AIPAC’s apology rings hollow, to put it mildly.

In a strange twist to the theater that is the annual AIPAC conference, Donald Trump’s attacks against President Obama during his speech on Monday brought the lobby’s president to tears.

Lillian Pinkus issued an emotional apology on Tuesday, the day after Trump celebrated onstage – with a “yay” – Obama’s looming departure from office. “There are people in our AIPAC family who were deeply hurt last night and for that we are deeply sorry,” she said.

This rings hollow, to put it mildly. AIPAC has made no secret of its disdain for Obama and his less-than-cuddly approach to Israel’s leadership. And Trump was met with standing ovations and roars of approval when he spoke at the lobby’s conference. AIPAC can’t distance itself from Trump any more than the GOP can.

Actually, Trump’s AIPAC speech was remarkable for how unremarkable it was. It had all the swagger of a typical AIPAC spectacle – garish praise for the U.S.-Israel alliance, doomsday warnings of the threats both countries face, and blame for the conflict squarely on the Palestinians. He stayed within AIPAC’s playbook – and he even used a teleprompter. The annual Israel love-fest is no time for improvisation.

Hillary Clinton’s performance was more startling for its jingoism and distortion of reality. To hear her speak, it would seem that tolerant Israeli Jews are cowering in their homes as bloodthirsty Palestinian masses roam the streets and American anti-Semites plot a BDS-fueled takeover. There is, of course, no human rights problem. There is no occupation.

I suppose this shouldn’t have been so surprising. Clinton’s tone isn’t new, and it’s been long established that AIPAC’s hold on American politics is so oppressive that when it comes to Israel, right-wing extremism is by no means the province of the GOP alone. But in a primary season that, thanks to her competitor, has moved Clinton significantly leftward, many progressive analysts hoped for something different. We’ve been told she is working on her fledgling appeal to progressives and young people – who are increasingly moving away from unflinching support for Israel, as evidenced by the vibrant protest by young Jews outside the conference.

She may not have gotten the memo. Or perhaps Israel continues to defy any progress in American politics.

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Lessons from Israel for Sheldon Adelson’s new journalists

Adelson’s acquisition of the Las Vegas Review-Journal has its journalists fighting for their paper’s soul. They may want to take note of Adelon’s dangerous imprint on Israel’s media. 

An ethical fight for the ages has been playing out at the Las Vegas Review-Journal in the past week, one that should be taught in journalism schools everywhere. In taking on their new owner, the Review-Journal’s journalists may be well served by some lessons from Sheldon Adelson’s other media playground — Israel.

Since the Las Vegas Journal-Review’s reporters uncovered the acquisition of their paper by casino magnate and Israel Hayom owner Sheldon Adelson, they have been relentless in their pursuit of transparency, in the face of a new boss known for bullying critical journalists into submission.

But their campaign took a hit on Tuesday, when the Review-Journal’s editor, Michael Hengel, announced he had accepted a buyout and would be leaving the paper. “I think my resignation probably comes as a relief to the new owners,” he told his staff.

Hengel was capping off an extraordinary week. Last Wednesday, Review-Journal reporters revealed the identity of the new owner following an investigation that inveighed heavily against the secrecy that had surrounded the sale.

Two days later, they published another stunning investigation that, again, turned the spotlight inward, painting their new boss in an extremely shady light. That piece explored a mysterious assignment they had received a month prior, asking them to drop everything to spend their time scrutinizing three county judges. One of them, it turned out, was overseeing a lawsuit filed against Adelson by the former CEO of his Macau casinos.

(The story gets much more bizarre, with twists including a tiny Connecticut paper with links to Adelson’s company and a possible hit job on the same judge by a journalist who it seems does not exist. This is truly the stuff of great cinema.)

The Review-Journal didn’t stop there. A passionate editorial promised to keep fighting for readers’ trust. Reporters amassed a document listing possible conflicts of interest between Adelson and their coverage, and worked on a disclaimer for when such conflicts arise. A column by John L. Smith, one of many journalists to enjoy the distinct honor of being sued by Adelson, openly declared his new boss to be “precisely the wrong person to own this or any newspaper.”

The search for a new editor is...

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Israeli doctors versus the state in showdown over force-feeding

The government hoped that transferring Mohammed Allan to a different hospital would make force-feeding him easier. But a doctors’ protest is gaining ground.

A confrontation between the Israeli government and doctors treating hunger-striking prisoners is reaching a fever pitch, testing the medical community’s independence against government efforts to quell a nonviolent protest by Palestinian detainees.

The backdrop is a law passed last month sanctioning the force-feeding of hunger-striking prisoners, in order to combat a growing means of protest against administrative detention without charge or trial.

The test case for the new law appears to be Mohammed Allan, a 33-year-old Palestinian lawyer detained since November of last year. Allan is on the 54th day of his strike. As my colleague Yael Marom at Local Call reports, he is drinking water but refusing any minerals, vitamins, and medical treatment of any sort. It emerged this weekend that authorities would seek to force-feed Allan, and the resulting showdown over his treatment has pit a growing group of doctors, armed with medical ethics, against the state and the military.

Doctors at Soroka Hospital in Be’er Sheva, where Allan was hospitalized until this morning, refused to treat him, citing international standards governing patient autonomy. Their stand  came despite the recommendation of a hospital ethics panel, which gave the doctors monitoring Allan “discretion” to take measures to save his life, even against his will. Israeli security services transferred Allan today to Ashkelon’s Barzilai Hospital, whose director, according to Ynet sources [Hebrew], “holds a different viewpoint with regards to force-feeding than the Soroka doctors.”

But the protest appears to be spreading. Doctors at Barzilai have also declared their refusal to treat him against his will, and, as of Monday afternoon, a fierce debate on the matter was in full swing at the hospital.

These doctors have the force of the Israeli medical establishment behind them. The Israeli Medical Association has come out vehemently against the law, unequivocally declaring force-feeding to be a form of torture in accordance with international standards. The body filed a petition against the law with the High Court of Justice three days after it passed, and indicated on Sunday evening it would also ask for the court’s urgent intervention to prevent Allan’s force feeding. Its chairman, Dr. Leonid Eidelman, said last year that doctors should disobey force-feeding orders, and that the association would not be able to defend force-feeding doctors should...

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Israel sells its story on a new Lebanon war, and the 'Times' bites

If you’re going to publish ominous warnings portending the killing of scores of civilians, shouldn’t you verify the grounds and ask why?

In an article published on the New York Times website today, Israel sells the author, Isabel Kershner, the pretense for its next war: its claims that Hezbollah has dramatically beefed up its military infrastructure along Israel’s northern border.

Those claims on their own don’t come as much of a surprise. It’s been widely acknowledged that Hezbollah has increased its capabilities in southern Lebanon. Nor is the overt battle cry the most ominous part of the piece. What’s most concerning is Israel’s warning that since Hezbollah has embedded its facilities within southern Lebanese villages, all bets are off when it comes to their residents. They are now human shields, Israel says. “At the end of the day, it means that many, many Lebanese will be killed,” the piece quotes Yaakov Amidror, a former national security adviser, as saying.

That’s one of a number of warnings in the piece, which are quite chilling when taken in context. Israel killed more than 1,000 Lebanese during the 2006 Second Lebanese War. Its relentless air strikes destroyed extensive civilian infrastructure. Human Rights Watch later found that the strikes were indiscriminate, targeting civilian areas long after Hezbollah had left them. (Forty-four Israel civilians were killed in that war, along with 119 soldiers.) There’s little reason to believe the next round will be less bloody, and plenty of reason to believe it will be deeply familiar, or worse:

But beyond reminding readers of what we have to look forward to, it’s hard to understand why this piece was published. Its problems are manifold. It’s a government-packaged story with a bit of added background. It fails to recognize the irony of officials in their central Tel Aviv military headquarters lambasting Hezbollah for embedding among civilians. It doesn’t do much to substantiate the story it’s echoing. “The Israeli claims could not be independently verified,” Kershner (or her editor) writes.

If Israel is paving the way for another war, shouldn’t its claims be thoroughly, painstakingly investigated before they’re used as a pretense to kill hundreds or thousands of people?

It’s possible that Kershner indeed believes, as she indicates, that the story she was peddled could prevent the next war. But it’s as hard to imagine Hezbollah retreating from southern Lebanon as it is to believe it will proactively seek to add an...

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J Street, turn your focus homeward

Notes from the J Street conference. 

Since Netanyahu’s resounding election win last week, there’s been a deluge of coverage in the American media of a deepening disillusionment among U.S. Jews over Israel. Whether in the New York Times, the Associated Press, or Bloomberg, the thesis is more or less what you’d expect: Netanyahu rode to victory on a wave of racism, a rejection of peace with the Palestinians, and unprecedented disrespect for his number one patron, Barack Obama. These tactics fly in the face of a largely liberal community comprised of reliably Democratic voters.

That rift was represented this weekend in Washington, where the J Street lobby wrapped up its fifth national conference. Contempt for Netanyahu was prevalent and unapologetic. To the activists and supporters of the “pro-Israel, pro-peace” lobby, the Israeli prime minister is anathema to peace and the main obstacle to the two-state solution. They are shocked and they are angry.

To a first-time observer like me, the discourse characterizing the conference was a fascinating representation of both the evolution and stagnation that seems to characterize much of the U.S. Jewish community lately. Judging by applause levels at various sessions and plenaries, the professed commitment to universalism seemed real. Language of equal rights and dignity for all was met with enthusiasm. In one particularly satisfying moment, the crowd erupted on behalf of Hadash activist Nabila Espanioly, who accused incoming Zionist Union MK Yoel Hasson of paternalism when he smugly told her what he thinks the Joint List needs to do (lose Balad). Other speakers given the main stage also departed from J Street orthodoxy, declaring the two-state solution dead (Marcia Freedman) and even calling out the lobby’s support for the Gaza war (our very own Noam Sheizaf).

But there’s some dissonance accompanying these moments and all the hand-wringing over Netanyahu’s win. Old ideas and regressive sentimentality still take center stage. Say “two states” and you’ll get a round of applause. Say it in the same sentence as “Zionism” and you might get a standing ovation.

I heard a number of strong voices in several breakout panels, offering sharp analysis and new thinking. Many of J Street U’s young activists are similarly impressive, and some have graduated to activism far more critical of Israel. Unfortunately, that freshness of thought doesn’t extend to some of the conference’s headliners. One particularly shameful...

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'No more deaths': Thousands of Israelis protest the Gaza war

Thousands gathered in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square; police let the protest go ahead after canceling it two hours before it was set to start; at least five anti-war protesters were attacked after the demonstration. 

Some 5,000 Israelis on Saturday evening protested the war in Gaza under the banner, “No more deaths – Israeli-Palestinian peace, now.” The protest took place at Rabin Square in central Tel Aviv.

+972′s full coverage of the war in Gaza

Speakers included Hadash MK Dov Khenin, an Israeli and Palestinian veteran from the organization Combatants for Peace, and Yifat Solel, the head of the Meretz party’s anti-occupation forum. Meretz, however, did not back the demonstration as a party. Ben Kfir of the Parents’ Circle, whose daughter was killed in a Hamas suicide bombing in 2003, also spoke, refuting the government’s claim that there is no partner for peace among the Palestinians. The speakers criticized the government for its attitude toward peace negotiations, and for resorting to war as a default policy. Demonstrators chanted “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies,” called for an end to the occupation and the siege on Gaza, and lit candles to commemorate the victims.

Roughly 300 right-wing counter-protesters were on the scene trying to reach the main demonstration, audibly chanting “Death to Arabs” while Sulaiman Khatib, co-founder of Combatants for Peace, spoke. A large police presence circled the square in order to keep the sides separate. Four were arrested.

Police ended the protest at around 10 p.m., citing resumed rocket fire from Gaza, two hours before a “humanitarian” ceasefire was set to expire. Soon after the demonstration dispersed, counter-protesters began following the demonstrators home. Verbal attacks turned physically violent; one anti-war demonstrator was beaten with a metal rod and required stitches, and two were attacked with pepper spray.

Some two hours before the protest was set to begin, police canceled it over what they said was fear of a rocket attack. The permit for the demonstration was reinstated only an hour before it began – by which time busses of protesters en route for Tel Aviv had turned back.

The invitation to the protest read:

On Saturday, the peace camp takes a stand at...

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'The largest West Bank protest in decades'

Thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem march in solidarity with Gaza, in the largest such protest in years. At least two were killed. 

At least two protesters were killed and more than 100 wounded in clashes with Israeli security forces in the West Bank and East Jerusalem late Thursday night, as thousands of Palestinians marched from Ramallah to the Qalandia checkpoint, which separates Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The protest, against Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip, was the largest the West Bank has seen in years – according to some Palestinian demonstrators, the largest in decades. As of Thursday night, 805 Palestinians  had been killed in Gaza since Israel launched its offensive on July 8. 

The West Bank march quickly spread to East Jerusalem, where police were said to be clashing with protesters in the Old City, Silwan, and other neighborhoods. Protests were also reported in Nablus and Bethlehem.

 

According to Haaretz reporter Amira Hass, Palestinian ambulances, blaring their horns, were streaming in the opposite direction of the march, evacuating protesters wounded by Israeli fire at the checkpoint.

The West Bank protest came during Laylat al-Qadr, the 27th night of Ramadan and  the holiest night of the year for Muslims. According to the Jerusalem Post, Israel Police Micky Rosenfeld said that hundreds of officers would be stationed around the Old City during Friday prayers, and that no Arabs under 50 would be permitted to enter Damascus Gate.

 

 

Earlier Thursday, Hamas political bureau head Khaled Meshaal said Hamas was prepared to sign a ceasefire agreement with Israel, as long as Israel’s siege of Gaza is lifted. In comments made from Qatar, Meshaal underlined that he also wants Gaza’s border with Egypt to be opened.

“We want an international airport, we want a seaport, we want an opening to the outside world, and not the situation where we are controlled by a few border crossings that turn Gaza into a huge prison, where no one can leave even for medical treatment or to work...

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Israel bars prominent Palestinian artist from traveling to N.Y. exhibit

Palestinian artist Khaled Jarrar travels regularly to exhibit and discuss his art. This time, the Israeli army simply said no, you can’t go.

Khaled Jarrar, a prominent Palestinian artist based in Ramallah, was supposed to be in New York by now for an exhibit at the New Museum, a Manhattan hotspot for contemporary art.

Except Israel isn’t letting him go. Jarrar arrived at the Allenby border crossing at 3:00 p.m. yesterday. Rather than cross into Jordan, as he has done many times over the last few years, he was told he could not exit due to “an intelligence order.” After 10 hours spent waiting, he returned home at around 1 a.m. today.

Jarrar, 38, told +972 that dozens of others Palestinians were turned back while he was waiting at the crossing, though many others were let through. He has no idea why he was refused, as he has traveled regularly over the years to exhibit his work, and has never had a problem. He explained:

After a very long wait and without understanding what was happening, I was informed that there are “security reasons” that will prevent me from traveling until the 1st of August. For now, that means that I missed my morning flight from Amman to New York, that I will miss the opening of the show at the New Museum, and that I will miss my ‘artist talk’ with Lamia Joreige and Charif Kiwan, with Natalie Bell, that was supposed to happen on the 16th of July.

Yesterday was the longest day of my life and a day of humiliation. I felt real racism on the part of the security at Allenby Bridge. When this one soldier was talking to his superior officer,  I understood he called me “zevel” [“garbage,” in Hebrew -NY]. I shouted at him that I was no “zevel” and he was impolite to call me that. No one listened to me, like I did not even exist.

The Allenby Bridge is the only entry and exit point for the Palestinians of the occupied West Bank. It is controlled by Israel, which often closes it to entire categories of Palestinians. During the search for the three Israeli teenagers who were found dead on June 30, Israel imposed a blanket ban on the exit from Allenby of all Palestinians from Hebron—a move condemned as collective punishment by Amnesty International.

Jarrar is a Ramallah-based multimedia artist well known for his...

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Tariq Abu Khdeir wasn't the first and he won't be the last

Israel has detained over 7,000 Palestinian children over the past 12 years. Many of them report beatings, abuse and a denial of rights by security forces. It’s time to put things in the wider context.

The detention and abuse of Palestinian children by Israeli security forces has, for a change, been all over the international news media. Unfortunately, it took the severe beating of a 15-year-old boy who happens to have American citizenship for that to happen.

Tariq Abu Khdeir was beaten by Israeli Border Police officers in Shuafat last week, during a protest against the brutal killing of of his cousin, 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir. Tariq was detained and held in Israeli custody for several days, until he was released to house arrest on Sunday on NIS 3,000 bail. He hasn’t been charged with a crime.

American media is paying attention. Tariq is a Florida high school student visiting his family in Palestine over summer break. News of his beating, helped along by video footage and upsetting photographs of his wounds, have been tearing up social and mainstream media.

U.S. media doesn’t generally do a good job contextualizing violence in Israel and Palestine, and the recent uptick is no exception. I haven’t seen much discussion of Israel’s systematic abuse of Palestinian children in the reports of Tariq’s beating. Despite that, his citizenship presents a critical opportunity for the American public to learn a few things about how the Israeli army treats the Palestinian minors under its rule.

Read +972′s special coverage: Children under occupation

According to Defense for Children International Palestine, 214 children were detained in Israel as of May of this year. In the last 12 years, Israel has detained more than 7,000. Testimonies detail terrible abuse and torture while in Israeli detention, with few of the protections afforded children under international or Israeli law. Due process is something of a joke; Palestinians are tried in military courts, where the conviction rate is nearly 100 percent.

Many of those children are accused of stone-throwing – an allegation leveled by the police against Tariq, as well.

But despite the myriad human rights reports and their chilling descriptions, the regular injustices of the occupation rarely make mainstream headlines. Although what happened to Tariq is far from an...

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Israel takes a page from the Guantanamo playbook

Netanyahu is pushing a new bill to allow the force-feeding of Palestinian hunger strikers. The prime minister is in good company.

American practices at the prison at Guantanamo Bay are giving Benjamin Netanyahu ideas.

Earlier this week, a draft bill authorizing the force-feeding of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners passed the first of three readings in the Knesset. Of the roughly 300 prisoners presently fasting in protest of Israeli administrative detention, at least 70 are hospitalized around the country, shackled to their beds. If the bill becomes law, dozens of them may be forced to undergo the procedure.

Netanyahu is personally pressing for the law, prodded along by the Shin Bet security service. The Shabak is calling for a tough approach to the mass strike and refusing to negotiate with the prisoners lest they see any benefit from their protest. The prime minister is in good company. He explicitly cited the United States as inspiration, reportedly telling Israel’s Channel 2 that “in Guantanamo, the Americans are using the method of force-feeding too.”

The echoes of the U.S. example don’t stop there. Like its American and international counterparts, the Israeli Medical Association, to its credit, won’t go along, citing “the sanctity of life and the duty to respect the autonomy of the patient.”

Read: ‘Administrative detainees must have done something wrong’

Force-feeding, by all accounts, is an excruciating procedure that causes immense pain and has been declared “cruel, inhuman, and degrading” by medical experts the world over. Watch this video of rapper Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def) being force-fed under the Guantanamo procedure (warning: it’s hard to watch), or consider this description of a method used at the island prison, a variation of “the water cure,” which has roots in the Spanish Inquisition:

In 2012, Khader Adnan, a Palestinian held in Israel without charge or trial, agreed to stop his 66-day hunger strike in exchange for release from prison. Several other hunger strikes, including that of Palestinian footballer Mahmoud Sarsak, were called off under similar terms. The prisoners managed to mobilize their only vestiges of autonomy – their bodies – in protest of a manifestly unjust practice. Israel, faced with the fallout of their deaths, no longer found them too dangerous too free.

But the Shin Bet is clearly seeking to avoid a repetition of those earlier successes. “You can’t have a situation...

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Announcing: +972 travel series 'The Round Trip' now available as e-book

The Round Trip, the much-loved travel series by Yuval Ben-Ami, has been published as +972’s first e-book.

While +972 blogger and travel writer Yuval Ben-Ami traveled for three weeks around Israel’s borders, I mostly stayed put. But editing the series that was borne of that journey was an exhilarating experience. The 22 posts that made up “The Round Trip” were written one a day, in real time, on the road. At any given hour of every single day, we – Mairav, my co-editor at the time, and I – could expect the next installment of Yuval’s adventure, as he zig-zagged through the weird patchwork that makes up this land. I never left Tel Aviv, but I could barely keep up.

“The Round Trip” turned into a fascinating exploration of the 1967 borders. In the first post of the series, Yuval describes the physical and symbolic nature of his trip:

The resulting journey along Israel’s shifting frontier is strange, surreal, and beautiful. It is at once a travel chronicle – rich with diverse cultures, foods, and vistas – and an account of war and displacement. It is alternately inspired by an incredible diversity of hospitable people, and plagued by the sense that something here is going very wrong.

And now, “The Round Trip” has been published as an e-book, in +972 Magazine’s first foray into the format. We’re incredibly excited that after tracking the adventure in real time, our readers can now experience the completed journey, in book form.

The e-book brings you the entirety of the series in one, attractive package. Except for some stylistic edits, the text and the many photographs that made up the original series remain intact. The e-book was produced using the program iBooks Author, so you can click here to buy it if you have an iPad and live in one of these countries.

Buy The Round Trip here>>

If you don’t own an iPad or can’t buy the book due to Apple’s geographic restrictions, we will be happy to send a PDF version in exchange for a donation of $6 or more to +972. You can use this link to donate, and just add a note saying “I would like to receive a copy of The Round Trip.” You can also send us an email at info@972mag.com after your donation is confirmed,...

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Israeli plan to offload Eritreans: An affront to international law

Israel’s supposed plan to send tens of thousands of Eritrean asylum seekers to an unspecified African country raises enormous humanitarian, human rights and political concerns.

The 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees recognizes that:

This is another way of saying that countries bordering conflict zones – often poor and unstable themselves – tend to endure the primary burden of protecting refugees. (Kenya, for example, is presently home to more than half a million refugees.) The resulting concept of “burden sharing” has since become a critical principle of international refugee law.

It is widely accepted that resettlement is meant to function as a mechanism for burden sharing – not, as in what Israel proposes, for rich countries to offload onto poor ones.

Moreover, the resettlement of refugees must ensure the receiving country will go far to actively protect the rights of those being resettled and refrain at all costs from deporting them. From UNHCR:

As for Israel’s stated expectation that it will reject 100 percent of asylum applications filed by Eritreans: I’m curious to know how it will square that with the rest of the world’s recognition that Eritreans are likely to face torture or execution upon deportation home, rendering many of them eligible for refugee status. The same article to which I linked above notes that 74 percent of Eritrean asylum seekers worldwide were recognized as refugees in 2011.

Let’s hope Israel is bluffing. (At the end of this Haaretz report, Or Kashti provides a helpful roundup of all the other times the state has made bogus claims about paying a country to take its refugee population.) But the intention itself is disturbing. We know that Israeli policy is often driven by its demographic interests, which take precedence over human rights and other universal principles. This plan, however, would constitute a particularly egregious declaration that Israel exempts itself from the obligations that come with being a member of the world.

Related:
Myths, facts and suggestions: Asylum seekers in Israel


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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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