+972 Magazine » All Posts http://972mag.com Independent commentary and news from Israel & Palestine Thu, 28 May 2015 18:29:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8 WATCH: Police brutality in East Jerusalem mini-market http://972mag.com/watch-police-brutality-in-east-jerusalem-mini-market/107164/ http://972mag.com/watch-police-brutality-in-east-jerusalem-mini-market/107164/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 18:19:51 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=107164 All the Salman family wanted to do was sit in their grocery store and have a nice lunch. That all changed when police stormed the place, tasered one and arrested three.

By Michael Salisbury-Coresh

On Tuesday May 26, Israeli Police arrested a group of Palestinians without entry permits in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Safafa. Two brothers from the Salman family, who own a mini-market in the middle of the neighborhood, saw the arrests on the other side of the road and continued arranging the store unimpeded.

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When the Salman family sat down to have lunch in their store at around 11:00 a.m., a man dressed in civilian clothing and armed with a taser ran inside.

“It looked like he was about to use the taser and I asked him if something happened,” said Talal Salman, who works in the store with his brother. “He told me that he is from the police and that he is conducting a search. So I told him to show me his police ID as well as a search warrant. If he didn’t have those I would ask him to leave. He refused to identify himself and demanded my ID. I told him that I have no problem giving him my identification card, and then he was joined by another police officer, this time in uniform, who asked what happened. The first officer said that I had attacked him and was refusing to identify.”

When Talal called his wife to ask that she bring his identification card, the officer in civilian clothing demanded he be arrested for assaulting an officer.”I have a disability, and I was very afraid of being arrested. I also didn’t understand how it turned from a situation in which a person enters my store with a taser in his hand to one in which I am arrested for assaulting a police officer. I refused to be arrested, and told the officers that they have no reason to do so.”

But the detectives and the officer involved were not willing to listen and, according to Talal, began violently attacking him and his brother Bilal. “They punched and kicked us, and then tasered me several times.” Other family members ran to the store and joined the chaos, including Bilal and Talal’s brother, Abed.

According to the brothers, the violence didn’t end even after reaching the Moriah Police Station. “The detectives in the station continued to curse at me. They told me ‘God will take you, we won’t leave you, will will continue to chase you.’” Bilal said that a number of detectives demanded he get down on his knees as punishment for attacking soldiers. When he refused they began beating him once again. “They told me that if I don’t kneel down they will add another charge that I pulled a gun on them. This was a form of punishment. They also made the handcuffs extremely tight on my hands and legs. I was in great pain after sitting on my knees like that for an hour.”

Read: The real roots of violence in Jerusalem

Both brothers were interrogated for suspicion of attacking a police officer and obstructing a police officer in the line of duty. They were left in the Russian Compound prison overnight and were released the following morning on conditions.

That same day the two brothers went to submit a complaint with the Israeli Police internal affairs division, despite being skeptical about how much good it would do. Bilal claims that he doubts that the police will stand trial for violence. “The internal affairs division simply helps frame suspects. They back each other up.” Talal, on the other hand, believes that the complaint will have an effect: “I think the state understands that if the situation in which the police attack civilians persists, what happened in Egypt will also happen here. Why did the revolution in Egypt start? Because of police brutality. The fact that I’m Arab makes no difference — the police attack everybody. Only a few months ago I saw a video of police attacking a Jewish man in Beit Shemesh and putting his face under the engine of a car. He was also charged with attacking a police officer.”

Jerusalem Police responded to the allegations:

Our investigation revealed that the suspects fled to the store, where they resisted arrest and those present attempted to prevent the police officers from conducting the arrests. The officers were resigned to use proportional force and arrested three suspects. Jerusalem Police will continue to act professionally and decisiveness toward lawbreakers, and will not allow harm to come to police officers during their service for the sake of the public. However, the suspects can turn to the internal affairs division, which will evaluate their claims, should there be any.

Michael Salisbury-Coresh is an anti-occupation and public housing activist based in Jerusalem. This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call, where he is a blogger. Read it here.

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Israel’s president calls BDS a ‘strategic threat’ http://972mag.com/israels-president-says-bds-is-a-strategic-threat/107156/ http://972mag.com/israels-president-says-bds-is-a-strategic-threat/107156/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 14:46:41 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=107156 The resources and attention Israel’s government is investing in fighting BDS indicates that the Palestinian-led boycott movement is making serious inroads.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin holds an ‘emergency discussion’ about academic boycott with the heads of Israeli universities and colleges at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, May 28, 2015. (Photo by Mark Neiman/GPO)

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin holds an ‘emergency discussion’ about academic boycott with the heads of Israeli universities and colleges at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, May 28, 2015. (Photo by Mark Neiman/GPO)

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin held an “emergency” meeting Thursday with the heads of Israel’s universities and colleges to discuss the academic boycott, which he described as a “strategic threat.”

Israeli institutions and officials have begun addressing the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions movement more seriously and investing more resources into fighting it in recent months and years.

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New Israeli minister of strategic affairs and public diplomacy, Gilad Erdan, reportedly conditioned his entry into the government on the allocation of adequate funds for fighting BDS.

In the meeting with President Rivlin on Thursday, Technion University President and head of a council of university presidents, Peretz Lavie, warned that “it’s still possible to stop the [BDS] snowball but we are in the eleventh hour.”

Rivlin told the university presidents that he has been taken by surprise by the momentum the academic boycott movement is achieving.

“I didn’t think that there would be a real danger to Israeli academia but the atmosphere in the world is changing,” Rivlin said. In the new reality, the president continued, Israel must treat BDS “as a strategic threat of the highest degree.”

Illustrative photo of boycott advocates. (Photo: Brian S / Shutterstock.com)

Illustrative photo of boycott advocates. (Photo: Brian S / Shutterstock.com)

BDS has successfully entered the mainstream in recent years. Whereas Israelis’ contact with the BDS was once relegated to the occasional foreign musicians refusing to perform in Tel Aviv, is now being felt in academic forums across the world, as international corporations pull out of Israeli public works projects, and major investment and religious institutions begin divesting from companies that do business with Israel.

The non-violent grassroots movement modeled on South African anti-apartheid campaigns is viewed by a threat by many in Israel. Of the movement’s three demands — an end to the occupation, full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel, and a resolution for Palestinian refugees of 1948 — Israelis specifically cite the refugee issue as a veiled attempt to undermine Israel’s Jewish identity.

On the other hand, Palestinians and supporters of the boycott movement argue that BDS simply demands that Israel end the occupation and fully respect Palestinian rights, without prejudging any political outcome.

Up until recently consensus wisdom in Israel was that despite increasing gains and small isolated victories, the boycott is a marginal movement. By allocating significant resources to fighting it and describing BDS as a strategic threat, however, the Israeli government is now telling us that boycott might actually be more effective than previously thought.

President Rivlin said on Thursday that he sees himself “as a soldier” in the war against the boycott of Israel, but he did not define what Israel is fighting for in that war: continued occupation? Inequality? Segregation?

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The untold story of Israeli military exports to South Sudan http://972mag.com/the-untold-story-of-israeli-military-exports-to-south-sudan/107137/ http://972mag.com/the-untold-story-of-israeli-military-exports-to-south-sudan/107137/#comments Thu, 28 May 2015 12:10:23 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=107137  Since South Sudan’s independence, Israel has continuously sold it weapons, military training, homeland security and surveillance technology. The only problem? They are being used to commit war crimes and potential crimes against humanity

By: Adv. Itai Mack and Idan Landau (translation: Einat Adar)

South Sudanese Soldiers. (Steve Evans/CC BY-SA 2.0)

South Sudanese Soldiers. (Steve Evans/CC BY-SA 2.0)

We now know that Israel sold weapons to Rwanda in the 1990s as genocide was being committed throughout the country. The details of these dealings are still being kept secret and an appeal (Hebrew) to make them public is currently being examined in the High Court of Justice. No lessons, it seems, were learned from that affair.

For the last 18 months a bloody civil war has been raging in another African country, South Sudan, including documented war crimes and potential crimes against humanity. The international media is covering this war on a daily basis. The Israeli media, on the other hand, reported about it during the first few months but has since become silent, even though atrocities are still being perpetrated. This silence probably has a good reason: high-ranking officials in the government and the security industry are selling weapons, military training, homeland security and surveillance technology to factions in South Sudan. Any publication on these activities can seriously embarrass them.

Since the 1960’s Israel has been fighting a secret war in South Sudan by supporting the rebels’ struggle to break free from Khartoum’s tyranny. Israel’s support does not reflect its humanistic values or solidarity with a just and legitimate fight for freedom, but rather is the result of various strategic interests in the region. In 2011 a referendum was held in South Sudan following massive pressure from the international community. Ninety-nine percent of residents voted in favor of breaking away from Khartoum, and on July 9th of the same year South Sudan became an independent country.

The State of Israel was one of the first countries to recognize the new state, and in 2011 Salva Kiir Mayardit, president of South Sudan, came to Israel on official visit. For Israel, an independent South Sudan was a golden opportunity to further its security and economic interests in the area, and it subsequently made hefty investments in civil and military infrastructure there. The relationship between the two countries is exceptional even when compared to Israel’s close ties with other African countries, showing some signs of sponsorship.

This special relationship should also be understood in the context of regional power struggles. The local conflict between Sudan and South Sudan is sponsored by Iran and Israel respectively. As Iran reinforced its ties with Muslim Sudan, Israel strengthened its relations with Christian South Sudan, which also provides it with oil. Two-and-a-half years ago Israel allegedly bombed an Iranian owned arms factory in Khartoum; a year ago the IDF intercepted a ship carrying munitions from Sudan to Gaza; and just this month an Israeli drone was reportedly shot down in Sudan. It is evident that Iran and Israel are fighting a proxy war through their African allies.

The only question is whether this semi-imperial strategy can, in any way, justify supporting South Sudan forces who perpetrate war crimes and crimes against humanity. No Israeli strategic interest, real or imaginary, can exempt it from the moral and legal responsibility to prevent the sale of any weapons that may be used for such purposes.

South Sudan’s celebration of independence sadly turned into one of the worst tragedies of our times. Since mid-December 2013 a civil war has been raging in Sudan between opposing ethnic and political groups — a continuation of the bloody civil war that led to the country’s independence after 22 years. According to the latest reports, 50,000 people were killed, 2 million people were displaced or became refugees, and 2.5 million people are at risk of starvation due to the war. Human rights organizations and the United Nations estimate that 12,000 child soldiers are fighting in South Sudan. All parties involved in the fighting, and especially the government and its allied militias, are implicated in war crimes, crimes against humanity and severe violations of human rights.

Neither side is able to bring the war to an end, and no ethnic group has a clear majority in the country. The Dinka tribe, which is currently in control of the government, is only 35 percent of the population. Some of the opposition fighters are former security forces personnel who defected to the other side, taking their weapons and military training with them, thus making it harder for government forces to defeat them. For these reasons, the government decided on an alternative strategy: mass murder, systematic rape of other ethnic groups, and abuse of citizens identified with the opposition. As long as weapons continue to stream into the country, the government has no interest in reaching a compromise, and it continues to cling to a false hope of defeating their enemies in the field.

South Sudanese refugees (Activestills)

South Sudanese refugees in Israel. (Activestills)

This situation led European countries to declare a weapons embargo on South Sudan and the U.S. to suspend its military aid. There were also attempts to pass a similar embargo resolution in the UN Security Council. So far these attempts have been unsuccessful due conflicts and arguments between the members of the council, as well as the fear that the rebels will defeat the government forces. Despite the political difficulties involved in agreeing on an embargo resolution, the gravity of the situation in South Sudan is clear to all. On March 3 of this year the Security Council adopted U.S.-sponsored Resolution 2206, giving both sides an ultimatum threatening a weapons embargo and other sanctions if the fighting is not ended.

Despite the world’s reaction, Israel’s secret war in South Sudan continues according to reports and information provided by human rights activists who have been, or still are, in South Sudan. Since the country’s independence, Israel has continuously sent it weapons, training government forces and providing various security-related technologies. There is also a cooperation between the two countries’ secret services, and Israeli entities have established an internal control and surveillance system in South Sudan, which they continue to maintain.

The current Israeli involvement in South Sudan is exceptional in the history of Israeli military exports. This goes way beyond greed. Israel is currently fighting over the viability of a project that it has invested much in over the years — a project whose failure may damage its credibility in the eyes of other dictators and regimes that receive military aid from Israel.

An official publication by the Ministry of Defense from November 2014 (almost a year after the beginning of the civil war in South Sudan) boasts (Hebrew) about the success of the defense export department at Cyber Security exhibition, visited by 70 delegations from around the world, including South Sudan. There are testimonies that the South Sudan military is using the Israeli Galil ACE rifle. Eighteen months before the outbreak of the civil war, a Sudanese newspaper reported on an airlift from Israel to South Sudan, providing rockets, military equipment and even African mercenaries (after training). The provisions still continue to flow. A South Sudanese delegation will visit (Hebrew) an Israeli armament exhibition to be held next week in Tel Aviv.

Think about it for a minute: a country in which crimes against humanity are perpetrated at this very moment, using foreign weapons and under a complete weapons embargo by U.S. and Europe, sends a military acquisitions delegation to Israel and is being welcomed with open arms.

Both international law and basic human morality forbid the sale of weapons or other military aid which may serve in war crimes and crimes against humanity. In the past, due to the political conflicts of the Cold War, the international community failed to fulfill this obligation, but since the 1990s it has been transformed into decisive law in U.S. and Europe, as well as among international conventions and international institutions such as the UN and international courts.

A man waves the South Sudan flag. (photo: Arsenie Coseac/CC BY-SA 2.0)

A man waves the South Sudan flag. (photo: Arsenie Coseac/CC BY-SA 2.0)

Israel has no real way of ensuring the weapons it sells to South Sudan are not used to massacre civilians or threaten women as they are being raped by soldiers and militia fighters. Furthermore, there is no way to ensure that the training of security forces is not used for the murder and torture of civilians and that the technology it provides is not used for persecuting citizens for their political or ethnic affiliations — not to mention supporting horrific war crimes and crimes against humanity — unless it completely stops all military and security-related exports to this country. It is important to clarify that international law also forbids the sale of technologies and devices that “don’t shoot” if they may be used in committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.

On March 12 this year, Adv. Itai Mack gave an interview about military exports to South Sudan on the radio program “According to Foreign Media” (Hebrew), which is aired on the “All For Peace” radio station (beginning 47:50). Mack revealed more details about Israel’s involvement in providing weapons and training to South Sudan forces. Following these findings, Adv. Mack appealed to the Ministry of Defense to stop military exports to the country. The appeal, unsurprisingly, was rejected.

MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) is currently trying to break the seal of silence, by demanded that the Ministry of Defense cease all military exports to South Sudan immediately. The demand was accompanied by an expert opinion prepared by Adv. Mack, which details the factual and legal aspects of the issue (you can find the request and opinion in Hebrew here).

The Israeli public must join this request. And the time to do it is right now.

Idan Landau is an Israeli academic at Ben-Gurion University. This post was originally published in Hebrew on Idan’s blog, Don’t Die a Fool. It is reposted here with the author’s permission.

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Why can’t Israelis just be nice to each other? http://972mag.com/racism-facebook-trigger-suicide-and-soul-searching/107123/ http://972mag.com/racism-facebook-trigger-suicide-and-soul-searching/107123/#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 17:42:23 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=107123 A manager at the Interior Ministry commits suicide days after being publicly shamed on Facebook for alleged racism against a black Israeli woman. What will it take for us to start treating each other like human beings first?

Last week, a black Israeli woman went to a branch of the Interior Ministry with her small children to renew a passport. She got stuck in various lines, and the versions about what happened (hers, or this one from an eyewitness) differ only in nuances. Frustrated, she spoke to the manager, telling him that she had been given the runaround on the lines because the clerk was racist. He got offended and, according to her, brusquely rejected her accusation (“get out of my face”). According to the manager, he was merely being firm.

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On Wednesday, she wrote an angry Facebook post and asked people to share it. By Friday 6,000 people did so, Channel 10 interviewed her and another popular TV host picked up the story. On Saturday, the manager wrote a lengthy Facebook post expressing how hurt he was at being labeled a racist.

Then he committed suicide.

For a couple of days, Israelis spoke of little else. Everyone knows the rage that wells up when we receive foul treatment from bureaucrats or customer-service agents. There was the race aspect, dovetailing on terrible treatment of Ethiopian-Israelis demonstrating against discrimination recently.

When it turned out that the dead manager was a longtime Shin Bet agent before retiring in his 40s and moving to the Interior Ministry, the political angle exploded. Ugly responses from the Left said “I won’t shed a tear for him” — that his role in propping up the occupation was unforgivable, or that he must have been suicidal because all those terrible deeds at the Shin Bet ate away at his conscience.

Some on the right predictably decreed that the woman had manipulated her racial victimhood. Mainstream media covered the fact that he was active in organizations promoting Arab integration and in the center-left Council on Peace and Security. Those who knew him felt he was simply the wrong target for the accusation of racism.

Protesters sit in the road at a demonstration by Israelis of Ethiopian descent against police in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, May 3, 2015. (Activestills.org)

Protesters sit in the road at a demonstration by Israelis of Ethiopian descent against police in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, May 3, 2015. (Activestills.org)

But sometimes it is not about Israel. Often people are simply not nice enough to one other. I used to think the local version — gruffness or open hostility — was a charming idiosyncrasy, since it harked back to the romantic Israeli mythology. Now I think it’s just inexcusable — here, or anywhere.

It won’t help to wax utopian about human nature. But surely there is something we can do short of overhauling whole institutions of parenting, social interaction, education systems and the particular local culture that contributes to meanness (like, I believe, the Israeli political environment).

A modest suggestion: that we consider our interlocutors as full human beings, with history and vulnerabilities just like us.

Here is a recent anecdote that I thought of — the only real parallel is the aggression.

Not long ago, I was jogging home down a narrow sidewalk on a pleasant spring morning listening to my iPod. At some point, through the music, I became aware of someone’s voice behind me saying “get out of the way.”

I turned around and saw a bicyclist, on the busy sidewalk full of people. “You shouldn’t be biking on the sidewalk,” I told him. He pushed past me and yelled backwards “it’s a shame you exist.” I shot back “do you want to run me over?!” He gave me the finger. It was only as he pulled ahead of me that I saw the child in the kid-seat behind him, who wasn’t visible when the rider was behind me.

My stomach soured and my head rang with the nasty words; my morning was shot. I wondered if I had been unfair. I wondered whether, if he had known I couldn’t hear him at first, he would have been less testy in asking me to move; if I had known first that he was biking with a kid whether I would have been less self-righteous about insisting he ride in the street. And whether if he had known that one spring some years ago, I was knocked over by a cyclist on a sidewalk, which crushed the bone in my wrist, sent me to surgery and put a titanium plate, screws and a suicide scar in my arm, and after two months in a cast and six months of physiotherapy, permanently limited my flexibility, he would have considered riding on the street instead, choosing safe routes.

But we didn’t know those things. Next time there is an altercation, we won’t know the history of the person who we believe has wronged us. Following the suicide, the woman from the Interior Ministry wrote that she has been ill-treated for being brown-skinned for years, and now the first time she decided to write publicly about it, someone was hurt. She expressed terrible sorrow. He didn’t know her history, and she couldn’t have known that he would be suicidal.

But maybe we can guess. If we think of each other first as human beings, we might then remember the experiences and vulnerabilities that go along with that. Perhaps that will help us turn the volume down a notch, especially when we’re heated. And if we can do that for individual interactions, can it get easier on the collective level too?

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BDS is not a Zionist movement http://972mag.com/bds-is-not-a-zionist-movement/107104/ http://972mag.com/bds-is-not-a-zionist-movement/107104/#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 15:07:59 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=107104 The Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is not about the number of states, it’s about a just outcome that guarantees basic rights for everyone.

BDS graffiti on Israeli separation wall, Bethlehem, West Bank, June 17, 2014. (Photo by Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

BDS graffiti on Israeli separation wall, Bethlehem, West Bank, June 17, 2014. (Photo by Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

Liberal Zionists and progressive Jews have a hard time with the BDS Movement. Many liberal Zionists very much want to support the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign as a non-violent vehicle for opposing the occupation. Unfortunately, they quickly find that they have difficulties with its clearly-defined goals and tactics, the way it defines those goals, and sadly, the fact that it is a Palestinian-led movement.

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Coming at the tail end of countless failed peace processes, BDS (short for boycott, divestment and sanctions) is at the helm of an effort to shift the world’s understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict toward a rights-based discourse. For subscribers of this paradigm shift, the Palestinians’ biggest problem is not the denial of national self-determination. Statehood, or the two-state solution, is a means, not an end in itself. Any political structure that grants Palestinians — and Israelis, for that matter — basic fundamental rights and equality is an acceptable outcome.

The liberal Zionist perspective cannot accept such an approach. In fact, it seems some liberal Zionists cannot even register it. In a recent Haaretz op-ed, Bradley Burston demands a set of crystalized goals from the BDS Movement:

I’m just asking for clear goals. And straight talk. I want to know if BDS wants to encourage two states … or if the goal is a one-state Palestine. I believe that a boycott can only work if its organizers are clear about what they want to achieve.

Short of disbanding the country altogether, is there anything that Israel can do, that would satisfy the conditions for an end to the boycott campaign?

 

Burston’s article is astounding in three ways, all of which are symptomatic of the wider, liberal Zionist community that at least partially defines itself with its opposition to the occupation.

Firstly, the BDS Movement has a website. It may not be the prettiest use of HTML in the history of the Internet, but it is easily navigable and states quite clearly what the movement’s goals and demands are. Here, let me Google it for you. Hell, you don’t even need to Google it: the Wikipedia page on BDS has an entire section outlining its goals.

Second is the binary paradigm through which liberal Zionists insist on viewing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and any resolution to it: one state or two states. This is not the fault of any one person. Decades of the Oslo Accords, the Clinton Parameters, Bush’s Roadmap and others have reinforced an irrational overconfidence that there is only one solution to the conflict, the outcome of which was preconceived, and which was more or less drawn to along Israel’s terms alone. And so two-state believers have adopted a “with us or against us” attitude, because it’s either two states or bust.

But the biggest, most astounding problem, is that liberal Zionists have trouble supporting BDS — because it is not Zionist. And they’re right; BDS is not a Zionist movement. It does not prioritize Jewish — or Palestinian — self-determination above all else. It does put national rights on equal footing with concepts like ending the occupation, full civil equality (a state by and for all of its citizens), civil rights, suffrage, and the rights of refugees to return to their homes.

And here we arrive at the real, core issue of the liberal Zionist problem with BDS: Palestinian refugees. The third point in the BDS call to boycott, is a demand that Israel, “[respect, protect and promote] the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.”

For defenders of Israel and opponents of BDS, talking about the right of Palestinian refugees to return is tantamount to calling for the destruction of Israel. As illiberal as it might sound, their vision of liberal Zionism includes such concepts as demographic threats to democracy. (Netanyahu was lambasted for having the gall to speak of that threat on election day.) In other words, guaranteeing electoral results by carefully choosing who gets the right to vote. In the United States it’s called gerrymandering; in Israel it is part and parcel of the national ethos.

That is how the peace process came about in the first place. Around the same time that the Apartheid government fell in South Africa, Israeli leaders realized that what they were calling democracy — a regime under which more than 25 percent of the population is denied civil and voting rights —  would not enjoy international legitimacy much longer. Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres devised a plan to gerrymander Israel’s democracy so that the outcome of its elections, and therefore the character of its regime, could be guaranteed.

Ironically, it is also one of the main reasons that the peace process has failed. The process, characterized by a vastly unequal power dynamic under the aegis of the United States, has always existed within a framework defined by Israel and Israel alone. A true end to the military occupation (Israel has never considered withdrawing from Jordan Valley, the West Bank’s eastern border) and a comprehensive and just resolution to the Palestinian refugee problem have never been on the table. Those two Israeli sticking points have meant that no prospective two-state deal has ever been acceptable for the Palestinians.

BDS takes those two issues, along with full equality for “Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel,” and makes them core demands that must be met in whatever political resolution takes shape. It prioritizes individual human and civil rights over national rights that inherently discriminate along ethno-religious lines. And that, is not Zionist.

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When an entire IDF platoon takes over your roof — for a photo http://972mag.com/when-an-entire-idf-platoon-takes-over-your-roof-for-a-photo/107098/ http://972mag.com/when-an-entire-idf-platoon-takes-over-your-roof-for-a-photo/107098/#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 12:45:45 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=107098 A two-minute video manages to perfectly capture the day-to-day banality of living under a military regime. 

I was able to count 37 soldiers. At least 37. One after another, each with his own weapon and combat vest, they climb up to roof the Abu Haya family’s home — located in the section of Hebron under direct Israeli military control.

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Why? It’s unclear. They don’t speak with the members of the family. Or rather, they don’t explain. They simply utter things such as “close the door,” and “turn off the camera,” all while some of the soldiers are clearly enjoying themselves as they film the family from the staircase.

They ignore Muhammad Abu Haya’s (the owner of the house and the person behind the camera) questions, when he tries to understand what dozens of soldiers are doing heading to the roof of his house.

They reach the top, gather together and get ready for a group photo with a lovely view of Hebron in the background. “Put it on Instagram” says one of the soldiers at the end of the clip. It took the soldiers an hour to leave, according to Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, which uploaded the video to its YouTube channel.

Of course, far more terrible things happen around the world. Even in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, for example, one can talk about the thousands killed in wars over the past few years; or about the kidnapping and subsequent murder of four teenagers; or the violence in the streets of Jerusalem; or Hamas’ execution of Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel during last summer’s war; or even the story of the very same Abu Haya family, when soldiers threatened to arrest a 14-year-old member of the family despite having admitted that he did nothing wrong, all while saying that they would arrest him in the future, regardless of whether or not he commits a crime.

And yet, there is something in the banality, the casual day-to-day aspect of this video that captures an essential component of the story of the occupation, of a military regime that runs the lives of millions of Palestinians in the occupied territories. Something in the lordship, the total blindness of the soldiers who, for no good reason (and without a military order) — without so much as explaining what they are even doing — simply head the roof of the family’s home, armed from head to toe, and pose for a group photo.

WATCH: IDF soldiers threaten Palestinian child with false arrest

I looked at their faces as they climbed the stairs and as they were being photographed together. It doesn’t seem like any of them feels uncomfortable by the situation. It doesn’t seem like any of them are thinking that, just maybe, the roof of a family’s house should remain closed off to them if there is no good reason or special approval to be there.

They most likely don’t think about what it means to be a father, a mother, a 14-year-old boy or three-year-old girl watching nearly 40 soldiers doing as they please and climbing the stairs of your home. Soldiers from a foreign country, from a different nation, armed, threatening, who are there in order to enforce a regime that forbids you from walking on entire streets because the chosen people want them for themselves; that allow the chosen ones to throw stones at you and do nothing to stop it; that with their bodies, weapons and foreign language create a reality in which there are two separate legal systems for people from the same place.

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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WATCH: The Nakba, from a feminist perspective http://972mag.com/watch-the-nakba-from-a-feminist-perspective/107093/ http://972mag.com/watch-the-nakba-from-a-feminist-perspective/107093/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 18:34:04 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=107093 A monthly Social TV panel with Tammi Molad Hayo, Nahed Sakis, Dr. Safa Aburabia and Rawan Bisharat discusses the Nakba as it relates to women, militarism and peace.

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West Bank village wakes up to no water http://972mag.com/west-bank-village-wakes-up-to-no-water/107069/ http://972mag.com/west-bank-village-wakes-up-to-no-water/107069/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 08:47:51 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=107069 The municipal council of Qarawat Bani Hassan was not warned that their water supply was going to be nearly shut off for days, and attempts to get answers from Israel, through the Palestinian Authority, did not bear any fruit.

Text and photos by: Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org

Palestinian child carries water gallon in Qarawat Bani Hassan village, West Bank, May 23, 2015. According to the municipal council of Qarawat Bani Hassan the portion of a each villager has decreased to two litters per day as the village receive only 97 Cubic meter per hour. The municipal council said the Israeli authorities did not provide the village with answers regarding the situation. Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org

A Palestinian child carries a water container in Qarawat Bani Hassan village, West Bank, May 23, 2015. Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org

Last Wednesday, without any prior warning, the majority of houses in the West Bank village of Qarawat Bani Hassan, near Salfit, woke up to find that they had no running water. Municipal workers checked the village’s main water valve, located on Road 505, a few meters from the illegal Israeli settlement outpost of Ma’ale Israel.

“We discovered that the main water valve was almost shut off, [and locked in place] with a lock and chain in order to limit our portion of water and prevent anyone from increasing it,” said Hosam Asem, the manager of Qarawat Bani Hassan municipal council.

“We contacted the Israeli side through the Palestinian authority but we didn’t get any answers or explanations for such a step,” He added. “It’s odd that the Israelis didn’t inform us beforehand.”

Palestinian checks the main water valve, now almost closed by Israeli authorities, in Qarawat Bani Hassan village, near Salfit, West Bank, May 23, 2015. According to the municipal council of Qarawat Bani Hassan the portion of a each villager has decreased to two litters per day as the village receive only 97 Cubic meter per hour. The municipal council said the Israeli authorities did not provide the village with answers regarding the situation. Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org

A Palestinian man checks the main water valve, now almost closed by Israeli authorities, in Qarawat Bani Hassan village, near Salfit, West Bank, May 23, 2015. According to the municipal council of Qarawat Bani Hassan the portion of a each villager has decreased to two liters per day as the village receive only 97 cubic meters per hour. The municipal council said the Israeli authorities did not provide the village with answers regarding the situation. Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org

The main water valve of Qarawat Bani Hassan village, near Salfit, is seen almost blocked by Israeli authorities limiting the water supply to the village and nearby villages, West Bank, May 23, 2015. According to the municipal council of Qarawat Bani Hassan the portion of a each villager has decreased to two litters per day as the village receive only 97 Cubic meter per hour. The municipal council said the Israeli authorities did not provide the village with answers regarding the situation. Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org

The main water valve of Qarawat Bani Hassan village, near Salfit, is seen largely shut by Israeli authorities limiting the water supply to the village and nearby villages, West Bank, May 23, 2015. Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org

According to the municipal council, the supply of water for each villager has now been reduced to about two liters per day, as all of the neighboring Palestinian villages now receive a total of 97 cubic meters per hour. The four surrounding Israeli settlements, Barkan, Revava, Kiryat Netafim and Ma’ale Israel were reportedly not affected by the crisis.

Those villagers who own small water wells beside their homes decided to put them to use, while others were forced to buy water in tanks from other villages. After four days, 90 percent of the homes were back to being supplied with the normal amount of water. The remainder were still waiting a solution for their problem.

According to Ewash, Palestinians currently utilize no more than 10 per cent of the West Bank’s shared water resources, while Israel exploits the remainder. The coalition of 27 organizations working in water and sanitation in the occupied territories argues that under international law, the water resources should be shared equitably and reasonably by Israel and Palestine. The average domestic consumption rate for Palestinians living in the West Bank is 70 liters per day. The “absolute minimum” recommended by the WHO is 100 liters per day. In Israel, the average is 300 liters per day.

Palestinians check tap water volume in Qarawat Bani Hassan village, West Bank, May 23, 2015. According to the municipal council of Qarawat Bani Hassan the portion of a each villager has decreased to two litters per day as the village receive only 97 Cubic meter per hour. The municipal council said the Israeli authorities did not provide the village with answers regarding the situation. Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org

Palestinians check the water pressure in Qarawat Bani Hassan village, West Bank, May 23, 2015. Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org

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WATCH: IDF soldiers threaten Palestinian child with false arrest http://972mag.com/watch-idf-soldiers-threaten-palestinian-child-with-false-arrest/107067/ http://972mag.com/watch-idf-soldiers-threaten-palestinian-child-with-false-arrest/107067/#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 21:19:37 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=107067 Israeli soldiers have been filmed harassing the boy’s family in recent weeks, using their home as a photo set, raiding it for no apparent reason.

Israeli soldiers in the Palestinian city of Hebron threatened to arrest a 14-year-old Palestinian boy simply for being in the vicinity of people throwing stones last month.

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In a video released by Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem in recent days, Israeli soldiers can be seen detaining the child, Maher Abu Haya, near his family home on April 6, 2015.

In the video, the soldiers argue with the child’s father. At first the soldiers claim that Maher was running away from them with other Palestinian youths who were throwing stones. Quickly, the soldiers change their story and admit that Maher wasn’t running away at all.

“Next time, he’ll pay for it,” one of the soldiers says in Hebrew. “He’ll have a big mess.”

Whenever stones are thrown, a soldier claims, Maher is nearby. The soldier doesn’t seem to comprehend that there might be other reasons than throwing stones for a 14 year old to be standing outside his own home.

“Every time somebody’s throwing rocks we see this kid,” an English-speaking soldier says. “If I see his face again — I don’t care if I see him throw rocks or not, he’s gonna go with us.”

“He’s going to go with me and he’s going to be tied up all night,” the soldier continues threatening Maher’s father. “And he’s gonna get punished and you’re going to need to pay to take him back.”

To sum up, the soldier says that even though the 14-year-old boy has not committed a crime, and even if he does not commit a crime in the future, he will illegally arrest him, keep him shackled all night long, and force his family to pay some sort of bail to release him.

According to B’Tselem, the family has been the target of Israeli military harassment in recent months. The human rights organization released video of soldiers entering the Abu Haya family home for no apparent reason.

Another video shows dozens of soldiers climbing onto the family’s roof, without their permission or even telling them what was happening — to take a group photo.

While Israeli soldiers go to extraordinary lengths to locate and arrest Palestinians who throw stones, the same cannot be said when Israeli settlers do the same thing. The Abu Haya family, whose members are volunteers with B’Tselem, has documented settlers throwing stones — at them and others — right in front of soldiers, who did nothing to stop them, let alone arrest them.

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What Israelis don’t get about attempts to boot Israel from FIFA http://972mag.com/what-israelis-dont-get-about-attempts-to-boot-israel-from-fifa/107062/ http://972mag.com/what-israelis-dont-get-about-attempts-to-boot-israel-from-fifa/107062/#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 14:06:24 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=107062 It is incomprehensible that one of the premier clubs in Israel doesn’t allow Arab players — because they are Arab.

By Asaf Marziano

Beitar Jerusalem soocer club fans celebrate in Jerusalem after the team wins the Israeli championships. Jerusalem, May 14, 2007. Photo: Tess Scheflan/ Activestills.Org

Beitar Jerusalem soccer club fans celebrate in Jerusalem after the team won the Israeli championship, May 14, 2007. (Photo: Tess Scheflan/ Activestills.org)

The head of Palestinian Football Federation, Jibril Rajoub, is attempting to have Israel expelled from FIFA, soccer’s international governing body. The topic has been making headlines in Israel and internationally in recent weeks, coinciding with a visit to the region by FIFA President Sepp Blatter last week.

Despite attempts by Israel, and Blatter, it seems that Rajoub’s initiative might bear fruit. The topic will come up for a vote in FIFA on Friday.

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Rajoub’s stated reasons for wanting to expel Israel from the soccer association are based, among other things, on the fact that Israel often prevents athletes from Gaza — including soccer players — from taking part in sporting events in the West Bank. A prime example of this was when the Israeli government forbade Gazan runners from participating in the Palestine Marathon in Bethlehem in recent years.

Rajoub’s campaign evoked a chorus of reactions in the Israeli media. But don’t let the diversity of nay-sayers fool you: the central argument was monotone and one-dimensional. The topic was presented as a struggle between political forces — a new venue for confrontation among technocrats, bereft of any substantive arguments that get to the root of the issue. This goes for Hebrew-language Israeli media outlets like Ynet, Sport 5, One and NRG.

Even Haaretz dedicated a column to the issue earlier this month, in which Uzi Dann provided a similar point of view. He pondered why the Israeli government doesn’t exert its power at the highest political levels in order to solve this issue before it becomes a tidal wave.

At a certain point, Dann notes that the only country to ever be kicked out of FIFA was South Africa, during apartheid. For a moment it seemed like it was finally OK to make the comparison, but Dan immediately added: “True, it’s not the same thing, but it shows how difficult Israel’s situation is.” This is, not morally but pragmatically.

Palestinian youth protest in solidarity with soccer player Mahmoud Sarsak, who was held in administrative detention for three years. Nablus, 2012. (Photo by Ahmad al-Baz/Activestills.org)

Palestinian youth protest in solidarity with soccer player Mahmoud Sarsak, who was held in administrative detention for three years. Nablus, 2012. (Photo by Ahmad al-Baz/Activestills.org)

Sports commentator Ouriel Daskal suggested a different approach in a column published in the blog Soccerissue. Daskal makes clear that he is a leftist on every other day of the year, but that everything has red lines. He asks, how dare Rajoub exploit the sport in such a cynical fashion — after all, what do sports have to do with politics? He also condemns FIFA’s treatment of Israel based on the logic of, “why are they allowed and we aren’t?”

After all, athletes and civilians are harmed in other places, so why is the focus only on Israel? From here, the road to “everyone is anti-Semitic” isn’t very long. The transition from discriminators to discriminated is complete.

Israeli sports commentators’s blind spot, it seems, lies exactly at the point where we go from oppressed to oppressors: the moment when the media is asked to critique our own actions in the exact same way it critiques actions taken against us. This transition is often missed by the media.

The issues that are out in the open and visible to anybody — (Palestinian) athletes forbidden from taking part in athletic competitions — are never even brought up.

The case of Beitar Jerusalem

In this context, one cannot avoid talking about the Beitar Jerusalem soccer club, and the way the Israeli sports media talks about it.

Beitar Jerusalem is a premier soccer club in Israel that has a real chance of playing in one of the European tournaments next year, and which does not allow Arab soccer players on the team — because they are Arab. This fact alone is nearly incomprehensible.

The Israeli Football Association should be commended for penalizing the team recently after repeated expressions of racism by its fans, but one must wonder about the timing of the move, considering Blatter’s visit and the upcoming FIFA vote.

Beitar Jerusalem fans (Courtesy of beitarfc.co.il)

Beitar Jerusalem fans (Courtesy of beitarfc.co.il)

Meanwhile, the media continues to provide a shallow, trivial and regressive point of view.

For example, during a match between Beitar Jerusalem and Ironi Kiryat Shmona a little over a month ago, Beitar’s fans hurled racist epithets at Kiryat Shmona’s Ahmad Abad. After he scored a dramatic winning goal, he made a finger gesture at the Beitar fans, which only led to more racist slurs yelled at him.

The next day, the sports media talked about how a player who was humiliated for the duration of an entire game pointed his middle finger at the crowd. Abad quickly released an apology to the press.

The media portrayed Abad’s act as leading to the uproar, which could have been easily avoided had he refrained from acting in such a way.

Moreover, it seems that the media’s discussion of racism has somehow been merged with a wider struggle against violence in sports. Despite the fact that violence is an essential component of both, there is still a crucial difference between the two. This merger, which exists in Israel’s sports media, turns racism into just another form of trivial violence — to the degree that violence can be trivial — and one that makes invisible the significant characteristics of racism. This, in turn, hampers a broader and nuanced approach that gets at the root of the problem.

Asaf Marziano is a Master’s student at Bar-Ilan University focusing on the relationship between sports, the media, culture and society. This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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