+972 Magazine » All Posts http://972mag.com Independent commentary and news from Israel & Palestine Fri, 19 Dec 2014 18:11:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8 PHOTOS: Army fires tear gas, rubber bullets at commemoration march for PA minister http://972mag.com/photos-army-fires-tear-gas-rubber-bullets-at-commemoration-march-for-pa-minister/100284/ http://972mag.com/photos-army-fires-tear-gas-rubber-bullets-at-commemoration-march-for-pa-minister/100284/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 17:58:19 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=100284 Photos and by Yotam Ronen, Oren Ziv / Activestills.org

Palestinians run to take cover, as the Israeli army shoot tear gas, during a demonstration commemorating the death of Palestinian minister, Ziad Abu Ein, in the West Bank village of Turmus Aya, north of Ramallah, December 19, 2014. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinians run to take cover, as the Israeli army shoot tear gas, during a demonstration commemorating the death of Palestinian minister, Ziad Abu Ein, in the West Bank village of Turmus Aya, north of Ramallah, December 19, 2014. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Hundreds of demonstrators arrived Friday at the West Bank village of Turmus Aya to mark one week since the death of Palestinian Authority Minister Ziad Abu Ein. The protest took place not far from the Adei Ad outpost, where Abu Ein was attacked last week by an Israeli soldier. He died shortly thereafter in a Ramallah hospital.

Israeli border policemen arrest Palestinian activist Muhammad Khatib during a demonstration commemorating the death of Palestinian minister, Ziad Abu Ein, in the West Bank village of Turmus Aya, north of Ramallah, December 19, 2014. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israeli border policemen arrest Palestinian activist Muhammad Khatib during a demonstration commemorating the death of Palestinian minister, Ziad Abu Ein, in the West Bank village of Turmus Aya, north of Ramallah, December 19, 2014. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The army used rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the protest. Muhammad Khatib, one of the central members of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, was arrested, along with an Israeli activist.

An Israeli solider with a roger riffle lies on the ground during a demonstration commemorating the death of Palestinian minister, Ziad Abu Ein, in the West Bank village of Turmus Aya, north of Ramallah, December 19, 2014. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

An Israeli solider with a roger riffle lies on the ground during a demonstration commemorating the death of Palestinian minister, Ziad Abu Ein, in the West Bank village of Turmus Aya, north of Ramallah, December 19, 2014. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

An Israeli soldier confronts a Palestinian demonstrator during the commemoration march for deceased PA Minister Ziad Abu Ein, in the West Bank village of Turmus Aya, north of Ramallah, December 19, 2014. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

An Israeli soldier confronts a Palestinian demonstrator during the commemoration march for deceased PA Minister Ziad Abu Ein, in the West Bank village of Turmus Aya, north of Ramallah, December 19, 2014. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Related:
Palestinian minister dies after reportedly struck by Israeli troops
Palestinian non-violent activists: Army violence won’t stop our resistance
PHOTOS: Thousands take part in Palestinian minister’s funeral in Ramallah

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The hand that holds the status quo together http://972mag.com/the-hand-that-holds-the-status-quo-together/100270/ http://972mag.com/the-hand-that-holds-the-status-quo-together/100270/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 14:10:10 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=100270 The Palestinians put forward a Security Council resolution calling for the end of the occupation by 2017. The Obama administration, which has supported essentially every Israeli policy toward the Palestinians, has promised to use its veto power.

The Kingdom of Jordan submitted on Wednesday a resolution draft to the United Nation Security Council (UNSC), calling for the establishing of a Palestinian State and putting forward a deadline for the occupation: 2017, two years from now. The proposal, which could be voted on at any time, was drafted by the Palestinian Authority in the hope of breaking the diplomatic impasse in the efforts to establish a Palestinian state.

According to reports, if the Obama administration vetoes the resolution, the Palestinians will join dozens of international agencies, including perhaps the International Criminal Court – a move that may allow the court to hear future charges against Israeli officials.

The United States opposes the Palestinian motion. The Israeli media reported yesterday that Secretary of State John Kerry informed Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Palestinian Authority that the U.S. will veto the resolution, should it come to a vote. It seems that the Americans are also objecting to a more modest resolution proposed by the French government. The French proposal is said to put forward some parameters for a final status agreement, setting a two-year deadline for negotiations.

The idea of a deadline on the occupation is required to solve a built-in problem with the diplomatic process: it depends entirely on the Israeli will to make concessions. There is simply no incentive for any Israeli leadership (not just Netanyahu’s) to move forward, certainly not at a time when Israel enjoys relative calm and prosperity, as it has over the past decade. The negotiations are not balanced: one side is holding all the cards while the other depends on its good will; one side is in a state of emergency, and the other can ignore the issue altogether; one side gains international credit by merely agreeing to talk, while the other side of the deal – a Palestinian state – is only promised in the very distance future, if at all.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice. (UN Photo/JC McIlwaine)

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice. (UN Photo/JC McIlwaine)

Millions of Palestinians have been under military control in the West Bank and siege in Gaza for almost 50 years. The lack of any form of Palestinian sovereignty directly affects more millions who are stuck in refugee camps and cannot be helped by their own people, even during a crisis like the Syrian Civil War. It has been half a century since the 1967 war, and the Israeli government still has not made up its mind whether to leave the territories it captured and allow Palestinians their independence, or grant them full civil rights. Or perhaps it seems like the government has made up its mind to keep the land but not give the rights, thus treating the Palestinians as prisoners. The expiration date over this state of affairs is long overdue. In this context, allowing another two years for completing an agreed-upon process that would end the occupation actually seems like a generous offer.

The problem is that the U.S. agrees with Israel on an entire different framing of the problem: Not how or when Israel should end the occupation, but whether it should do so at all, and under which hypothetical circumstances. For the two countries, the talks are a process through which Israelis need to be convinced that the Palestinians have rights too.

In recent years I have attended and sometimes even spoken on various panels and forums on American policy vis-a-vis the conflict, including its failure to facilitate a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians. In such forums one always get a sense of helplessness coming from the American side. What more can America do, people ask, to end the occupation? How can peace be so elusive? What went wrong with “the process?”

But in order to keep raising those questions, one simply needs to ignore reality. In truth, it is the United States that holds everything together right now. When people think about American support for Israel they imagine the military aid and Iron Dome. But in fact, American administrations – every one of them – have created the diplomatic and political environment in which Jerusalem can carry out its policies. And when the chips are down, it is the American administration that shields Israel from the inevitable consequences of its policies, allowing Israeli leaders to take decisions which are not only immoral, but carry disastrous consequences for all parties involved.

This is true for almost every step of the way. The United States is boycotting the Fourth Geneva Convention Conference taking place this week, mainly because Israel does not accept the interpretation of its settlement activities as a violation of Article 49 in the treaty; The United States is vetoing Security Council resolutions on the occupation – even resolutions which are deliberately drafted using American State Department’s texts on the settlements. And when Israel ran out of artillery shells for its latest war in Gaza, the U.S. opened its emergency bunkers in Israel to resupply the IDF. In short, one cannot think of any part of the Israeli policies towards the Palestinians – the so-called status quo – that does not depend on the active support and participation of the United States.

This cooperation is a bit inconvenient for the administration at times, especially when it is trying to get the support of other Arab countries for its Middle East wars – and that is where the personal rift between the governments serves both sides very well. Obama and Kerry are able to distance themselves from the active role they are taking in aiding Israeli policies, and Netanyahu can score some points with its base for “standing up” to the U.S. But when things matter – like they do now in the Security Council or last summer in Gaza (and the war was all about maintaining the status quo) – the U.S. and Bibi are almost exactly on the same page.

Unlike UN resolutions, which Israel has learned to ignore, Security Council measures are binding, and can have very serious implications on states (just take a look at Russia or Iran). That’s why the Palestinians are trying to get the international community involved in a way that would require Israel to think about how to end the occupation, rather than whether to do it in the first place. But without American approval, nothing can move forward at the UNSC. When you look for the thing that’s holding the status quo together, the American ambassador’s voting record at the U.N is a good place to start.

Related:
Amid Gaza war IDF buys ammunition from U.S. stock in Israel
Israel’s UN ambassador puts another nail in the two-state coffin

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The Palestinian who won’t give up on the power of nonviolence http://972mag.com/is-nonviolence-on-the-rise-in-palestine-an-interview-with-dr-mubarak-awad/100248/ http://972mag.com/is-nonviolence-on-the-rise-in-palestine-an-interview-with-dr-mubarak-awad/100248/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 11:15:13 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=100248 At the end of 2000, as the Second Intifada was beginning to spread throughout the West Bank and Gaza, Israeli Professor Meir Amor sat down to speak with Dr. Mubarak Awad, a Palestinian expert on nonviolent resistance. Fifteen years later, the two met once again to talk about nonviolence, growing religious fundamentalism, gender equality, Palestinian refugees and Jews from Arab countries. This interview will be published in Peace Magazine in January 2015.

By Meir Amor

* * *

Meir Amor: About 15 years ago you and I had a discussion published in Peace Magazine. The editors think it’s a good opportunity to have another one. So let me ask you: Does your approach to nonviolence have a religious basis? Do Jewish or Muslim religious authorities consider it compatible with their teachings?

Mubarak Awad: Personally, I do it from a Christian perspective. For me, it’s time for us all to learn not to kill or destroy. But I did not push that belief on any Israelis or any Muslims. However, I did study Islam and nonviolence a lot, and I thought it would be great to have a Muslim who was interested in nonviolence so we could have a strong campaign. At that time I was interested in a fellow by the name of Faisal Husseini, a great Muslim who believed in nonviolence. I bought a lot of books about a Muslim who had been with Gandhi—Abdul Ghaffer Khan, who said that Islam is a nonviolent religion.

Mubarak Awad. (photo courtesy of Meir Amor)

Mubarak Awad. (photo courtesy of Meir Amor)

I did this because the majority of Palestinians are Muslim. We held conferences studying Islam and nonviolence, discussing what jihad really means and Sufism in Islam. Sufis are like the Quakers in Christianity. There are many Sufis in Islam who accept the challenge of nonviolence. It’s a big struggle for them—not only between the Palestinians and Israelis or Arabs and Israelis, but also between themselves, for them to be nonviolent at home and active in nonviolence in their community. They can see that we human beings have brains, not just guns, and can resolve any conflict, however big, by debating, by forgiveness, by conciliation.

But in the past 20 years the world has moved toward radical religion in Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. That has allowed a minority within each religion to begin dictating what religion means in a fundamentalist way. Many Muslims want to go back to a caliphate or to Mohammed. Some of them want to be more fundamentalist or more conservative.

Amor: Does conservative also means opposing nonviolence?

Awad: Yes. Being radical, insisting that Islam has to be exactly like the time of Mohammed, discriminating against women and against others who don’t believe in their tradition. They see killing as an honor instead of using an ethical or secular way of discussing issues within civil society.

Amor: Nonviolence runs into trouble, not only with the religious authorities, but with existing political institutions. In Israel I’ve been advocating refusal to serve in the occupied territories, but it is only a tiny group of people who actually do that. And within the Palestinian community too, there is political opposition to nonviolence.

Awad: Yes. To be fair to the Palestinians, nonviolent activities have increased over the past 20 years, especially regarding the separation wall. Nearly every Friday a group comes—Israelis, Palestinians, and internationals. They come and protest about the wall. But this nonviolence is by individuals. We don’t see thousands or millions of people coming together for it. We haven’t recognized the strength of nonviolence by a majority of the people who are willing to sacrifice.

Amor: Why is that? Why is it hard for Palestinians and Israelis to accept the option of nonviolence?

Awad: Because they don’t see it as a way of life, or think that the government will listen to them and make changes. Both the Israeli and Palestinian governments are stuck in their way of thinking. Both of them think it is “not the right time” for it. And they both think nonviolence is a weakness.

Amor: When it comes to individuals, it seems that your approach to nonviolence is based on cooperation between “enemies”—that nonviolence requires a courageous, humanistic approach to cooperation across the lines, not only within your group.

Awad: Right. Look at what has happened. The Soviet Union is gone—nonviolently. We had the problem with South Africa; it’s gone—nonviolently. We had the Berlin Wall. It’s gone—nonviolently. We had the Catholic and Protestant fights in Northern Ireland. It’s gone—nonviolently. We had the civil rights movement against segregation in the United States. There are still difficulties in it but it’s gone. We have equal rights. So with any conflict, a time will come for it to solve itself. The question is how we can push it to solve itself without a lot of killing in the meantime. To have less people killed, fewer refugees, widows, and orphans.

Amor: But it is hard to transform a person from perceiving another as an enemy into perceiving him as cooperative. How do you do this?

Awad: A big example of that transformation is in Israel. Anybody who goes to Haifa can see that the Israelis and Palestinians live together with each other. They have Palestinian and Israeli policemen, judges, schools, everything. It’s a small area but it works. Unfortunately, it cannot work in Jerusalem because each religion there says: “God is on our side. God is ours, not theirs, and we have to ask our God to destroy them.” In Haifa they don’t have that notion, so it can happen.

Amor: I agree. I taught for two years at Haifa. I used to write in journals that Haifa University is the most Israeli-Palestinian university you can find. Half of my students were Palestinian (Israelis) and we had to understand the sensitivities.

AWAD: I gave two lectures at Haifa University and they were full of students. I was impressed with them. They did not ask the weird questions that we often hear from both sides. They think in a positive way about how to live together. It was a great experience for me.

AMOR: You have written that “nonviolence is non-acceptance of the authority of the subjugator.” You said that there is a need to overcome the fear of the subjugator. How do you teach political courage?

AWAD: I have recently been speaking with the leadership of Hamas about why Hamas has refused nonviolence. It has to do with ethics, with human rights, and how they could approach the international community. For example, a Palestinian went to a synagogue in Jerusalem just a few weeks ago and killed five people. It would be good for Hamas to say, “We will not accept that.” That would help Hamas’s image with the international, Jewish, and Arab communities. Say that they are not interested in this killing—that there are other ways of dealing with problems.

Palestinians, international and Israeli activists demonstrate against the separation barrier and the occupation in the West Bank village of Bil'in, October 17, 2014. (Photo by Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Palestinians, international and Israeli activists demonstrate against the separation barrier and the occupation in the West Bank village of Bil’in, October 17, 2014. (Photo by Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Amor: Did they accept your opinion?

Awad: Yes. And at one point more than 75 percent of the Israelis accepted a two-state solution. Now I don’t know whether it even reaches 20 percent. At one time they were in the streets asking for peace. Now it is much less acceptable to ask the Palestinians for peace—to the point that it would be to the interest of the peace process to have a nonviolence center in Tel Aviv run by Israelis. The education would have to do with the Jewish concept of nonviolence. It would have nothing to do with religion, but rather with Israeli ways of accepting peace, because people are only getting the army’s perspective.

Amor: The war is managed by men. How does your nonviolent approach relate to gender issues? Do women find it easier to practice nonviolence?

Awad: It’s partly about equality. Men hide behind religion to oppress women. As long as we don’t have gender equality in the Knesset or Palestinian parliament, men will still dominate the whole arena. Even a democracy such as the United States is not fully democratic when there is not equality in the Senate and the House of Representetives between men and women.

Amor: I want to ask how you’d solve the refugee problem. That’s the heart of the problem between Israeli Jews and Palestinians.

Awad: I don’t see it as much of a problem if you accept the two-state solution. Those Palestinians who lived in Palestine are welcome to come back. Those who want to stay where they are outside of Palestine, they should have the right to citizenship in any country where they are. They have to make that choice themselves. The Palestinians in Syria, Iraq, and other places where there is war – they need a place to call home. For them it has become a sacred question. That can be handled very well.

There is no way that Palestinians in the West Bank or in Gaza could destroy Israel—“push Israel into the sea.” Israel has all the power. They can move the United States in whatever direction they want, so Israel’s fear of us is not realistic. Don’t view the acceptance of refugees as a sign weakness; view it as just something that will be accepted by Israelis and Palestinians alike.

Somebody will have to pay them and there is a lot of money around to pay for houses or to move settlers. The refugees could go live there. But in Jordan I don’t think more than 20 percent—maybe only five percent—of the refugees want to go to the West Bank or Gaza.

Amor: I say to my Israeli friends that we should address the refugees not as a threat but as a hope.

Awad: Yes, that’s a positive approach. If those people are welcomed, they will not fight against the people who welcome them.

Amor: You know there is a debate about the one-state or two-state solution, but it seems that the nonviolent approach is not only a peaceful and feminist approach but also suggests that if there is a state at all. We have to share the place.

Awad: Yes, those people who were there in 1948, or who faced difficulty (like myself, after my father was killed when I was five years old), they are Palestinians. How can you make them feel at ease with their environment and with their neighbors? When I feel at ease and know that nobody is going to harm me, I can easily stretch out my hand out to an Israeli. That is no problem. But he has to accept my hand. And if both accept it then we have to show that people can eat together, that what we both need is for our children and grandchildren to have a good society. Let’s work on it.

Amor: You mention South Africa. Some people there, like Desmond Tutu and Mandela recommended ways of forgiveness and sharing. However it seems that they did not actually do so much sharing, although they made significant efforts. Are elements of sharing necessary for achieving forgiveness and reconciliation?

Palestinians march through the streets of Bethlehem to commemorate the Nakba, May 14, 2013. (Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

Palestinians march through the streets of Bethlehem to commemorate the Nakba, May 14, 2013. (Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

Awad: Yes. It takes leadership to accept that challenge. Tutu is excellent in dealing with reconciliation. He’s a teacher. We have lots of Jews who have been helping in South Africa. They can help the Palestinians and Israelis. But peace will not happen all at once. In South Africa and the United States there are still problems.

Amor: Mainly on the issue of redistribution of resources.

Awad: Right. But nonviolence is mostly a spiritual attitude.

Amor: The late Professor Edward Said, in his book on the Palestinian question, cited Hannah Arendt on how the Jewish refugee issue was solved at the expense of creating refugees on the Palestinian side. In other places she writes about the inability of most people to deal with cohabitation. Your approach of nonviolence is infused with this notion of accepting cohabitation.

Awad: This is related to segregation in our education. Men and women are educated separately, Palestinians and Israelis are educated separately. We have no sports together, no activities together. I have a friend, Eddie Kaufman, who is a Zionist who comes to teach here [in Washington DC]. He wants peace. When we bring his grandchildren and my grandchildren together, they play together and he says, “Look, they don’t understand that in a few years they will want to kill each other.” We put hatred in their minds.

Amor: About 50 percent of the Israeli Jewish population are Jews from Arab countries. Many of them became refugees as a result of the creation of the Jewish state and the conflict. And, in a strange twist, many of these people are seen as right-wingers, entrenched in opposing Palestinians. Tell me about the Palestinian approach to the issue of Jews who were moved out of Arab countries by Arab regimes—which in fact cooperated with the Israeli project of evacuating Jews who had lived in peace with Arabs for centuries. This complemented the Jewish project of pushing Arabs from Palestine instead of accepting their cohabitation. How do you view the dominance of Jews of European descent in Israel and the subordination, not only of Palestinians, but also of Jews who came from Arab countries?

Awad: It is to the advantage of Arab countries to have Jews as neighbors and business people in their countries. They know then that there’s nothing imaginary about Jews. Here they are—human beings just like us. People have to know each other, shake hands, do business with each other. It would be to the advantage of those Arab countries to bring back more Jews. I was discussing this with Jewish groups in Morocco. They are Moroccan. They are happy there; they don’t feel discriminated against because of their religion. That’s fair. A fellow can run for a position in the government. If he is qualified, why not?

Israel is making communication difficult between Palestinians and Israelis by building that wall, by not allowing Israelis to go to Bethlehem, Ramallah, or Gaza. Then it becomes, “Those people over there are hiding. They are devils.” That’s the danger—the danger of not knowing. In a village where the people are all of the same religion, whoever comes to visit is a stranger.

Amor: Recently there was an initiative in the Israeli government to rescind the status of Arabic as a formal language of the state, though the mother tongue of many Jews is Arabic. Politicians build walls but life builds bridges.

Awad: We have to continue supporting Israeli and Palestinian people to get together to push hard against unjust laws. The people can do it.

Dr. Mubarak Awad is a Palestinian psychologist who founded the Palestinian Center for the Study of Nonviolence in 1983, teaching methods of resisting the Israeli occupation. For this he was deported to the United States, where he teaches at American University.

Meir Amor is a sociology professor of Israeli-Moroccan background teaching at Concordia University in Montreal. The interview will be published in Peace Magazine in January 2015.

Related:
Palestinian non-violent activists: Army violence won’t stop our resistance
Israel increases pressure on nonviolent struggle’s flagship village

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For Israeli media, even the memory of the Nakba poses a threat http://972mag.com/for-israeli-media-even-the-memory-of-the-nakba-poses-a-threat/100255/ http://972mag.com/for-israeli-media-even-the-memory-of-the-nakba-poses-a-threat/100255/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 18:52:37 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=100255 A new study reveals that although Israeli newspapers present an array of views on the Nakba, the most common one sees it as nothing less than a threat that seeks to delegitimize Israel.

By Oren Persico / ‘The 7th Eye

An ultra-orthodox Jewish man walks in the depopulated Palestinian village of Lifta, located on the edge of West Jerusalem, Israel, March 4, 2014. During the Nakba, the residents of Lifta fled attacks by Zionist militias beginning in December 1947, resulting in the complete evacuation of the village by February 1948. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

An ultra-orthodox Jewish man walks in the depopulated Palestinian village of Lifta, located on the edge of West Jerusalem, Israel, March 4, 2014. During the Nakba, the residents of Lifta fled attacks by Zionist militias beginning in December 1947, resulting in the complete evacuation of the village by February 1948. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

A new study reveals that Israel’s mainstream media maintains the state’s official stance toward the Nakba, and “puts full responsibility on the tragedy that occurred in 1948 on the Palestinian leadership, thus purifying Israel from any responsibility for the outcome of the war on the Palestinian people.”

The study, conducted by Amal Jamal and Samah Basool and published earlier this year by the I’lam Media Center for Arab Palestinians in Israel, is based on the way Israel’s five main newspapers – Yedioth Ahronot, Ma’ariv, Israel Hayom, Haaretz and Hamodia – describe the Nakba (the Arabic word for “catastrophe,” which Palestinians use to describe the expulsion of over 750,000 Palestinians from their homes during the 1948 War). The researchers looked at how the newspaper articles refer to the Nakba during the period in which the term comes up most naturally – two weeks before Israel’s Independence Day, and two weeks after May 15, Nakba Day. The study took place between 2008-2012 in an attempt to understand the “patterns of perceptions of the Palestinian Nakba in the Israeli collective consciousness, as they are reflected in Israel’s media discourse.”

In their study, Jamal and Basool stress that the goal is not “to argue over the stances in the articles sampled, but rather to classify their contents according to parameters of attitudes.”

As one could probably guess, the newspaper that publishes the highest number of articles relating to the subject is Haaretz. Surprisingly, Israel Hayom published a relatively high number of articles on the Nakba, as opposed to Yedioth Ahronoth and Ma’ariv.

“The data is surprising, on the one hand, since Yedioth Ahronoth is seen as a centrist newspaper that deals with the major issues of the day,” write the researchers. “[…] on the other hand, the large number of articles published in Israel Hayom does not ostensibly align with the nationalistic, hawkish worldview of the newspaper.

Jamal and Basool explain the findings:

Yedioth Ahronoth tries not to upset its readers, and thus refrains from dealing with controversial issues. On the other hand, Israel Hayom serves as a comfortable platform for expressing hawkish opinions toward Arabs and Palestinians. While this fact raises the amount of attention paid to the Nakba, it does so by framing it in a very negative light, which invites a contemptuous attitude toward it.

Jamal and Basool divide the media’s views of the Nakba into five categories, with the first two categories subdivided into two categories each.

Palestinian students lead a Nakba commemoration ceremony at Tel Aviv University. (photo: Activestills.org)

Palestinian students lead a Nakba commemoration ceremony at Tel Aviv University. (photo: Activestills.org)

The first view is one of denial, which views the Nakba as an invention based on propaganda and historical distortions. This view is subdivided into two subcategories: (1a) Denying that that the events of 1948 amount to a Nakba; (1b) The Nakba is an invention based on propaganda and historical revisionism.

The second view is one of denying responsibility for the Nakba, while not denying the it took place. This view is also subdivided into two categories: (2a) The Palestinians are to blame for their situation; (2b) The Nakba is the result of a war that Israel was forced into.

WATCH: Palestinian students commemorate Nakba at Tel Aviv University

According to the third view the Nakba was a tragic occurrence that continues until today. According to the fourth view the Nakba is a continuing threat whose goal is to delegitimize Israel. According to the fifth view, the Nakba is a part of the collective memory that needs to be respected.

The study shows that the most common view in the newspapers (that are not published in Haaretz) is the fourth one, according to which the Nakba is nothing less than a threat that seeks to delegitimize Israel.

“The prominence of the view that sees the Nakba as a continuous threat whose goal is the delegitimization of Israel is connected to the growing emphasis on Israel’s public, diplomatic struggle against the boycott, which has grown in the last years,” say the researchers. According to them “the view that the Nakba is a threat and delegitimizes Israel is intended to mobilize Israeli public opinion – to mold the public’s consciousness against the most central expression of Palestinian identity: the memory of the Nakba.

Right-wing nationalists from the group Im Tirzu protest as Palestinian students living in Israel and Israeli supporters commemorate the Nakba outside Tel Aviv university, May 11, 2014. (Activestills.org)

Right-wing nationalists from the group Im Tirzu protest as Palestinian students living in Israel and Israeli supporters commemorate the Nakba outside Tel Aviv University. The sign reads: ‘Nakba is Bullshit.’ May 11, 2014. (Activestills.org)

The prominence of this view along with the relative prominence of other views, creates what the researchers describe as an “array of public stances, which deny the truth behind the catastrophe that the Palestinians underwent in 1948, and Israeli responsibility for this catastrophe.”

On the other hand, one also encounters views that place the blame on Palestinians for what took place in the 1948 War. “In other words,” write Jamal and Basool, “there are two basic stances that are not necessarily coherent. The first stance denies the existence of the Nakba, while the second one denies Israel’s responsibility for what happened to the Palestinians.”

After analyzing the headlines of the articles included in the study sample, the researchers created a world cloud that presents the most popular terms in different sizes, according to the number of times they appeared. The most common terms that appeared (aside from “Nakba” itself) are: “Israel,” “IDF,” “in the territories,” “were wounded,” “borders,” “riots” and “were killed.” Jamal and Basool claim that “this testifies to the context in which the Nakba is raised, and reflects Israeli public discourse as a whole, particularly the one most intensively engaged in issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Read: What do Palestinian refugees want?

Jamal and Basool provide various quotes to back their central premise. However, one of the articles “Nakba Carnival,” by Assaf Geffen and published in Yedioth Ahronoth, was misread by the researchers. Geffen’s satirical article, which called on readers to “stop denying the existence of the Nakba and begin to enjoy it,” and wrote that Israel’s Independence Day celebrations should be turned “into a day of celebrations of the Palestinian catastrophe,” was understood by Jamal and Basool as a serious op-ed. Thus, in the study they claim that Geffen is “trying to make a convincing argument that we must recognize the Nakba and use it for the sake of Jewish nationalism, in order to ensure the future of the Zionist project, with no need to apologize.”

According to Jamal and Basool, the data they collected points to the Israel public’s complex relationship with the Nakba. “On the one hand the view that denies the Nakba as a historical event and opposes taking any responsibility for it is clearly dominant. On the other hand, there is also support for the need to admit not only to its existence, but also its continuation as well as recognizing the legitimacy of memorializing it,” they write.

Jamal and Basool write that the public discussion that arises from these contradictory stances abets the official Israeli stance. “Despite the different attitudes toward the Nakba, the data allows us to differentiate between the general atmosphere, which suggests a fruitful discussion taking place among the Israeli public… and the power of the hegemonic view, according to which not only did the Nakba not take place, but it is a clever Palestinian invention whose sole purpose is to delegitimize Israel,” they write.

Palestinians demonstrate on the 66th anniversary of the Nakba in the West Bank city of Nablus, May 14, 2014.

Palestinians demonstrate on the 66th anniversary of the Nakba in the West Bank city of Nablus, May 14, 2014.

“The array of stances ostensibly ‘whitewashes’ the discourse of denial and repression of the past and its memory. That way the official position wins twice: it is able to affirm itself in the wider public’s consciousness, while presenting itself as liberal and tolerant. The very existence of this range of positions gives a feeling of pluralism, which grants legitimacy to the dominance of a denouncing position, which in the end leads to the legitimate conclusion of denial.”

Jamal and Basool write that “despite it taking place six decades ago, the Nakba is evident even today. This evidence only strengthens the claims of the minority in the media, according to which the Nakba is an event that has continued from 1948 until today, and thus neither denial nor responsibility have been able to become normative views. The Israeli anxiety vis-a-vis the Nakba, which is manifested through symptoms of past trauma and the return of that that has been repressed in various ways, is an expression of how relevant the Nakba is, despite the attempts to push it out of the public discourse.”

The two conclude by writing that “viewing the memory of the Nakba as a threat to the legitimacy of Israel mean that Israel needs Palestinian recognition in order to be at peace with itself. This need reflects the deep chasms in the moral strength of the narrative, as well as how Israelis view themselves.”

This article was first published in Hebrew by The 7th Eye media watchdog website. It is reproduced here with permission.

Related:
Liberating Israeli Jews from the dark legacy of the Nakba
The Palestinian Nakba: Are Israelis starting to get it?

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Israel’s marriage police: An aberration from Jewish tradition http://972mag.com/israels-marriage-police-an-aberration-from-jewish-tradition/100251/ http://972mag.com/israels-marriage-police-an-aberration-from-jewish-tradition/100251/#comments Thu, 18 Dec 2014 14:51:00 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=100251 From interrogations to blacklists to computerized databases, Israel’s rabbinical authorities have adopted a coercive system of oversight that punishes violators of Jewish law’s bans on ‘certain’ kinds of relationships.

By Akiva Miller

Everyone knows that Israel’s Jewish-Orthodox-controlled marriage system must change. But while activists, lawyers and politicians struggling to reform it have won some important battles in recent years, one of the most important factors behind the crisis — the rabbinical authorities’ system of databases, investigative methods, and coercive powers — has received too little attention.

This system is best understood as a marriage police, motivated by an unprecedented zealousness to detect, enforce and punish would-be violators of Jewish law’s ancient bans on certain kinds of relationships as if they were criminal offenses — most notably the prohibitions on intermarriage and the marriage of a mamzer, the offspring of illicit relations. While the Jewish prohibitions date back two millennia or more, Israel’s marriage police is a new phenomenon of recent decades. It is not rooted in law, but almost entirely built upon a patchwork of administrative regulations and decisions by Israel’s rabbinical courts.

The first and best-known process for policing marriage prohibitions is the pre-registration interview. This interview is at times more like an interrogation; witnesses and relatives of suspect couples are brought before the marriage registrar to give testimony, asked to bring evidence, and are carefully cross-examined on the couples’ Jewishness. This can be a humiliating process, and makes ordinary Israelis feel that the religious authorities of the Jewish state are calling their Jewish identity into question.

If an individual is suspected of being subject to a marriage prohibition, their case is brought before the rabbinical courts. Ordinarily, these cases involve only adults who have applied to marry and were turned away. In recent decades, however, rabbinical courts have adopted the view that they have the authority to initiate investigations into the marriage eligibility of minor children who were born under circumstances that may make their marriage prohibited – whether suspected mamzerim or children of suspected non-Jewish or convert parents. Once any person — adult or child — is caught up in the rabbinical courts, the ordeal can last for years and extracts a heavy financial and emotional toll.

The system of marriage police relies on modern information technologies. One such tool is the “blacklist,” a national database containing thousands of individuals suspected of being under marriage prohibition. A single official, the Administrator of Rabbinical Courts, controls the blacklist. By official policy, every couple applying to marry anywhere in Israel is checked against this list. Placing individuals on the “blacklist” (temporarily pending investigation or permanently) serves as a de-facto sanction to compel cooperation with rabbinical court proceedings.

Like the sad reality in other kinds of policing, the Israeli marriage police also has its suspect classes — primarily recent immigrants and converts to Judaism. These groups are treated with immediate suspicion and suffer excessive enforcement and on the part of rabbinical authorities. Several sources of data allow rabbinical authorities to identify their “suspects.” Marriage registrars enjoy full access to the National Population Registry, which allows them to know, for example, when and where the couple and their parents were born, if they immigrated to Israel, or if they changed their religious status. Official rules on the registration of newborn babies flag suspected mamzerim from birth in official records by omitting the name of their biological fathers.

When individuals of questionable Jewishness (a category expanded since the 1990s to include all immigrants from the Former Soviet Union) seek to marry, the rabbinical courts rely on the opinions of four state-appointed “Jewishness investigators,” who are tasked with investigating and determining who is Jewish and who is not. Officially acting only as expert advisors, the four investigators have unfettered discretion to collect any information — and their opinions are almost never challenged. They apply a body of “expertise” on Jewish genealogy that was never subject to public scrutiny or debate. The investigators use a computerized database called Maayanot to perform their investigations, and receive assistance from the Israel Police’s forensic investigators to examine genealogical documents they suspect as forgeries.

The treatment of converts, always a touchy social issue, took a dramatic turn for the worse after a 2008 landmark decision of Israel’s Supreme Rabbinical Court held that any rabbinical court was authorized to retroactively annul the conversion of a parent and her children and at any time if the court believes the convert was insincere. Consequently, every and any contact by a convert — or her children — with Israel’s rabbinical authorities becomes an opportunity for the rabbis to closely scrutinize the converts’ level of religious devotion.

While every marriage denied or delayed is a personal tragedy, the cumulative affect of the system of marriage police is to deny thousands of citizens the right to marry in Israel, and causes unnecessary hardship on entire segments of Israel’s population, numbering in the hundreds of thousands. Most cases of denied marriages are “false positives” of couples who should never have been denied marriage under Jewish law in the first place. The excessive and unfair targeting is a significant factor in the scores of Israeli couples’ decision to avoid marriage in Israel entirely and marry abroad, or to forego official marriage altogether.

The bitter irony is that Israel’s modern marriage police is an aberration from Jewish tradition, not an expression of it. Traditional Jewish marriage law was careful to limit the disclosure of information that might lead to the prohibition a marriage. It allowed old secrets to remain hidden and forgotten over time and wisely required distant rumors to be ignored.

But creating alternatives to Jewish Orthodox marriage is not enough. Dismantling the marriage police through legal reform is not only possible, but necessary. As long as most Israelis desire some form of Jewish wedding, reform of the broken marriage system will not end with the creation of civil marriage; it requires an end to the vast and arbitrary power that a tiny group within the state’s religious authorities exercise over the entire Jewish population of Israel.

Akiva Miller is an Israeli and New York lawyer.

Related:
Israel’s rabbinate reflects country’s racist streak

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The Beaten Path: Jericho, city of flexible time (part 11) http://972mag.com/the-beaten-path-jericho-city-of-flexible-time-part-11/99757/ http://972mag.com/the-beaten-path-jericho-city-of-flexible-time-part-11/99757/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 12:02:20 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=99757 On we go, deconstructing the tourist trail, except this time it melts in our hands, much like Salvador Dali’s clocks. Welcome to Jericho, oldest city on earth, established right this moment. Part 11 of Yuval Ben-Ami’s latest journey.

ruthie

When I visit Jericho with groups, the visit is typically brief. This sweet, ultra-historical desert town is an attractive destination, but is sadly stuck between two far more attractive ones: Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. It ends up being no more than a way station for most.

We usually swing into town, scale “Tel al-Sultan,” the mound that marks Jericho’s original Neolithic settlement, speak as much of the city’s 120 centuries of history as the heat allows (which is seldom much) and then head over to the main attraction: a round stone tower, buried inside the mound and visible thanks to the trench dug by legendary British archeologist Jana Kenyon.

“This,” my Palestinian partner Husam says to the group, “is the oldest structure ever discovered. It’s 12,000 years old, so old that we don’t even know what purpose it served. It could have been a watchtower, a temple, a silo…”

I like to take over at this point and add an illustration: “this is 8,000 years older than Stonehenge.”

The visitors are typically impressed but they are more concerned with a different period in Jericho’s history, that of Joshua’s conquest. They wish to see remains of Jericho’s famous toppled walls. I am no expert on the archaeological debate, but here is what I do know: it appears that most archaeologists today are in consensus that the oasis was periodically uninhabited at the time attributed to the conquest. The ones who do believe a living Jericho existed during the 13th century BC, are those who dig with a bible in one hand and a rake in another.

Try and explain this to a mixed faith group.

Actually, it isn’t so difficult. Archaeology is the world’s most positive science. It can only prove what was, no that anything was not. You never know conclusively what you might find if you dug a foot deeper or a mile further. You only know what you have found so far and what you haven’t.

When the ever rationalist Husam is being too adamant about Rahab being mythology, I pop in with this notion, appeasing the faithful. Then we stop at the shop to buy fresh dates, reboard the bus, and head to the Dead Sea for a dip and a massage.

For two years now Husam and I have been enjoying our little routine, feeling quite comfortable — until our little spiel about the oldest structure in the world was knocked down by discoveries made in Gobekli Tepe, in Turkey. To be concise: the temple at Gobekli Tepe, incredibly preserved and featuring stone carvings of ducklings, wild boar and divine penises, was shown to be just as old as our round tower. True, Jericho remains the oldest city on Earth. No settlement was found at Gobekli Tepe and the temple was likely used by wandering hunters and gatherers, but our “oldest structure on earth” is no longer the oldest. Our own walls of Jericho have fallen.

A wrinkle in time

One thing that complicates exploring this country is that many of its wonders are incredibly ancient. The sands of time gather over them, shrouding them in mystery and controversy, hiding treasures away or rendering them a misleading appearance. Our minds struggle to grasp the idea of the ages. They often fail, and consequently so much of what is around us appears ageless. Tel al-Sultan, which is made up of the ruins of hundreds of different communities piled one on top of the other, looks like a pretty nondescript mound of soil, something you would find on the outskirts of a building site.

Ruthie, my girlfriend, joins me for my day in Jericho. She has never been. Like other West Bank cities designated “Area A,” Israeli law makes Jericho is off limits to us. We are stunned by how near it is. The drive here from central Tel Aviv lasts an hour and 10 minutes. The IDF’s position on the road leading into town is currently unmanned. There’s a Palestinian checkpoint a bit further, but the policeman waves us in with a smile.

Our first stop is for food. We get shawarma and enjoy it by the fountain on the main square. Ruthie is vegetarian, but only in Israel. This way she can explore culinary traditions when traveling. The UN recognizes Palestine within 1967 borders, hence, though Jericho is entirely besieged by the IDF, which keeps its residents under military rule, for culinary purposes it qualifies as abroad.

From the square we head to the cable car that climbs the Mount of Temptation. Tradition has it that Jesus spent 40 days on this mountain, fasting and meditating while the devil was attempting to taunt him. A monastery of cave dwelling monks has existed here since the fourth century, and in the 19th century was expanded with a beautiful stone structure, clinging to the cliff face.

As we step off the gondola we notice a sign indicating that the monastery closes to visitors at two o’clock. It is now 1:58 p.m., and so we rush up the stairs leading to the entrance. Even in the most patient city on earth, time may shrink into a two-minute slot. When this happens, the centuries vanish, the mysteries become unimportant. All that matters is whether the warden is generous.

He is. We get to visit the handsome premises and enter the grotto that is said to be Jesus’s mountain perch, but something has happened. Jericho’s elusive time has grasped us. From now on we are on Jericho time, flexible time.

The relaxed gazelles

We can sense it as soon as we return to the valley and climb the mount. Music drifts over it, German music. We skirt a small rise and discover its source. A heavily pregnant woman stands there, although on closer inspection she turns out to be fake — nothing but a beach ball tucked under her dress. She carries an old fashioned cassette player. We step over, say hi and learn that she is an art student from Hong Kong on an exchange program in Jerusalem.

“My friend and I get everything for free this way,” she says pointing to the mock pregnancy. “We get free admission to all the sites, we even rode the cable car for free.”

“What’s the music?” I ask.

“It’s German music, from the 30s,” she says.

“Is it Max Raabe?” I ask, referring to the contemporary German star, whose big band orchestra reproduces those old favorites.

“No,” she says, “It’s really from the 30s.”

I nod, fascinated by how curiously time flexed about us. We are standing on the product of 12,000 years of civilization, hearing music from the 30s and refusing to believe that it was really from the 30s. The student’s appearance is incredibly contemporary, her attire goes beyond modern, beyond post-modern. It is post-post-modern. Her one arm is entirely adorned by a tattoo. Her music player is an uber-hipster treasure, her eighth-month belly took 10 minutes to arrange.

This seems like a particularly good time to visit a site that dates back to a period not yet referred to in this series. So we get in the car and drive a mile north to Hisham’s Palace, an 8th century Muslim khalif’s residence. We are driving through Jericho’s sparse, village-like townscape. This time of year it is a town of only over 30,000 residents. In summer, only a third remain. All who can escape the heat, do.

Jericho’s appearance has changed dramatically during my lifetime. When I was a child, before the current restrictions were imposed, my family would pass through town whenever traveling north from our Jerusalem home. The northern part of Jericho was then a mud city. Clusters of mud dwellings covered the short mesas lining the road. Those have all been replaced by concrete. Summer Jericho isn’t winter Jericho. 1984 Jericho isn’t 2014 Jericho. This eternal city is entirely subject to flexible time. When Palestinian and Israeli daylight saving times fail to correspond, it falls back one hour from the settlements surrounding it, from the cars driving past it.

Ruthie is disappointed that Hisham’s Palace is in ruins. She anticipated a proper palace, and instead gets a few stone foundations and scattered remains of past grandeur. I have seen the best stonework of the palace presented in Jerusalem’s Rockefeller Museum, and assumed that little remained on the ground.

There are, however, at least three wonders to behold here. One is a massive decorative element: an ornate stone star, framed in an ornate stone two meters in diameter. The second is a scale model of the palace in its heyday. It sits on metal scaffolding and one can stick their head inside and take a peek (as can be seen in Ruthie’s photo, above). A third wonder is the mosaic on the floor of the palace’s former diwan. It shows three gazelles grazing by a beautiful tree, one of them being eaten by a lion.

These gazelles, of course, cannot possibly all be grazing at the same time. Otherwise the ones not yet devoured would have surely escaped the lion. We are gazing at two frozen moments at least, overlapped in one stunning mosaic, by a tree that will always be green.

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Zionist Christians’ war on the true meaning of Christmas http://972mag.com/zionist-christians-war-on-the-true-meaning-of-christmas/100211/ http://972mag.com/zionist-christians-war-on-the-true-meaning-of-christmas/100211/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 11:17:31 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=100211 The rhetoric of Christian Zionists consistently places loyalty to the modern state of Israel above the example and teachings of the Jesus born in Bethlehem whose birth Christmas celebrates. It’s time to stop calling such groups Christian Zionists and instead use the term Zionist Christians, to more accurately reflect their priorities.

Photos and text by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org

Graffiti on the Israeli separation wall in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, December 16, 2010. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

Graffiti on the Israeli separation wall in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, December 16, 2010. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

For the last two years, Christians United for Israel (CUFI), the largest Christian Zionist organization in the U.S., has sent email blasts urging their supporters to fight back against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement by buying Christmas ornaments “Made in Israel.” Or rather, by receiving these ornaments as a reward for a tax-deductible donation. One message urges supporters to “commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ with this symbolic ornament that was made in the land where Jesus was born.”

I don’t blame CUFI for flogging BDS to fill its own coffers. That’s just standard fundraising strategy. What offends me as a Christian is that while exploiting U.S. Christians’ sentimental perceptions of the Holy Land, they ignore the current situation in Bethlehem, they ignore Palestinian Christians, and worst of all, they ignore the Jesus they claim to follow.

Jesus was born in occupied territory. At the time, it was occupied by the Romans. Today, the West Bank town of Bethlehem is virtually surrounded by the Israeli separation barrier, which if completed as planned will confiscate some 64 square kilometers of the governorate’s land as nearby Israeli settlements continue to expand in violation of international law. How dare CUFI mention “the land where Jesus was born” without recognizing the plight of the Palestinian Christians who’ve carried his tradition to the present day?

When groups like CUFI do make a rare mention of Palestinian Christians, it is often to paint them as victims of Islamist persecution. This despite polls showing that Palestinian Christians overwhelmingly cite the Israeli occupation as the primary challenge in their lives.

Palestinians hold a Catholic mass as a weekly nonviolent witness against the Israeli separation wall in the West Bank village of Beit Jala, September 7, 2012. If completed as planned, the wall would cut off the Cremisan monastery from the Beit Jala community, blocking access to one of the Bethlehem area's last remaining green spaces, and a source of employment for area residents. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

Palestinians hold a Catholic mass as a weekly nonviolent witness against the Israeli separation wall in the West Bank village of Beit Jala, September 7, 2012. If completed as planned, the wall would cut off the Cremisan monastery from the Beit Jala community, blocking access to one of the Bethlehem area’s last remaining green spaces, and a source of employment for area residents. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

In their Christmas email, CUFI claims that BDS supporters are: “Israel haters” who are “hoping you’ll not know that the freest Arabs in the Middle East are the Arab citizens of the Jewish State of Israel.”

While denying the persistent discrimination faced by Palestinian citizens of Israel and entirely ignoring the injustices faced by those living in the occupied territories, they also ignore fellow Christians. Some 3,000 Palestinian Christians, including the heads of 13 historic Holy Land denominations signed the Kairos Palestine Document, which calls for: “boycott and disinvestment as tools of nonviolence for justice, peace and security for all.”

Unlike the straw man “haters” of CUFI’s rhetoric, Kairos Palestine’s call for BDS is rooted in values of liberating love: “These advocacy campaigns must be carried out with courage, openly and sincerely proclaiming that their object is not revenge but rather to put an end to the existing evil, liberating both the perpetrators and the victims of injustice.”

Zionist Christians participating in the annual Jerusalem March offer their support to Israeli troops along the parade route, October 4, 2012. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

South African Zionist Christians participating in the annual Jerusalem March offer their support to Israeli troops along the parade route, October 4, 2012. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

If only groups like CUFI reflected the best teachings of their faith as clearly. Instead, they have made an idol of the modern state of Israel. They may mention Jesus every now and then, but they rarely quote him. Benjamin Netanyahu gets a lot more airtime. “Netanyahu” even returns more than twice as many search results as “Jesus” when searching their web site.

I was not surprised to learn — from the extremely conservative Christian magazine Charisma of all sources — that CUFI’s executive director, David Brog, is “said to run CUFI like a political campaign.” The report goes on to say that, “[o]ne by one, the higher-profile Christian leaders who helped [John] Hagee start CUFI are dropping off as the organization becomes more focused on political lobbying.”

Unfortunately, CUFI and similar groups have convinced many Americans that “blessing Israel” means rubber-stamping every policy of its increasingly right-wing governments. This includes a message filled with military imagery to “stand with Israel” during last summer’s assault on Gaza, with talking points like, “Israel must not be condemned for doing what any responsible government would do to protect its citizens from terror.” Another message demands, “[t]ell President Obama to stop blocking weapons to Israel!” And yet another email cites 64 Israeli soldiers killed and describes a CUFI-sponsored solidarity visit by pastors to Jerusalem, Sderot and Mt. Herzl. None of these messages even mention the 2,200 Palestinians killed in Gaza, most of them civilians.

A Zionist Christian attends a "Stand with Israel" rally in Boston, August 7, 2014. The rally came in the midst of an Israeli military offensive that had thus far killed nearly 2,000 Palestinians, including at least 1,400 civilians. At the same time, three civilians in Israel and 64 soldiers had been killed by Palestinian militants.

A Zionist Christian attends a “Stand with Israel” rally in Boston, August 7, 2014. The rally came in the midst of an Israeli military offensive that had thus far killed nearly 2,000 Palestinians, including at least 1,400 civilians. At the same time, three civilians in Israel and 64 soldiers had been killed by Palestinian militants. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

One need not be a Christian to recognize that Christmas celebrates the arrival of the Jesus who preached, “blessed are the peacemakers”, “love your enemies”, compassion for “the least of these,” and who taught his followers to pursue “justice and the love of God.” But as a Christian, I am compelled to question the priorities of fellow believers who have placed loyalty to the government of Israel above the life, teachings and example of Jesus.

A Palestinian pastor friend put it this way: “my biggest challenge with Christian Zionism is that it doesn’t promote peace and it ignores justice.”

Where is the Jesus of sacrificial love, peace and justice for all amid the Israeli and American flag-waving and military imagery? I therefore suggest that we stop calling such groups Christian Zionists and instead use the term Zionist Christians, to more accurately reflect their priorities.

The Kairos Document offers a sharply contrasting vision of concern for all life, but will U.S. Christians listen to their Palestinian sisters and brothers?

Through our love, we will overcome injustices and establish foundations for a new society both for us and for our opponents. Our future and their future are one. … We call on the people of Israel to be our partners in peace and not in the cycle of interminable violence.

Finally, as an alternative to the CUFI’s ornaments, I recommend supporting Palestinian Christians in the town where Jesus was born by buying an olive wood nativity like this one from the Bethlehem Bible College gift shop—complete with separation wall to raise awareness among your holiday guests.

Read also:
An open letter to Evangelical supporters of Israel
PHOTOS: ‘Christ at the Checkpoint’ challenges Christian Zionism

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‘Activestills’ photographers featured in ‘Local Testimony’ competition http://972mag.com/activestills-photographers-featured-in-local-testimony-competition/100193/ http://972mag.com/activestills-photographers-featured-in-local-testimony-competition/100193/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 10:06:30 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=100193 Photojournalism exhibition opens in Tel Aviv. Works by Tali Mayer, Yotam Ronen and Oren Ziv of Activestills are among those being featured for their work in 2014.

Photographers from the Activestills collective, partners of +972 Magazine, Yotam Ronen, Tali Mayer and Oren Ziv are among the winners of the 2014 “Local Testimony” photojournalism competition.

The “Photograph of the Year” was taken by Yuval Chen of Yedioth Aharonoth, who documented the girlfriend of 20-year-old fallen IDF soldier Guy Algranati standing over his grave, surrounded by members of his army unit in the Kiryat Shaul cemetery. Daniel Tchetchik of Haaretz won the prize for “Series of the Year” for “Sunburn,” photos from around the country. Taking the prize in the “News” category was independent photographer Avishag Shaar-Yashuv.

Taking first place in the “Photographed Story” category was Dan Haimovich, who documented the homeless population of an encampment in Tel Aviv, parts of which were published in +972’s Hebrew-language sister publication, “Local Call.”

The competition is part of an exhibition that opened this week in the Land of Israel Museum in Tel Aviv, featuring photojournalism images from local and global photographers.

In the News category, Activestills’ Tali Mayer’s photographs were featured in the “Curator’s choice” selection:

The 2014 “Local Testimony” competition. (Activestills.org)

The 2014 “Local Testimony” competition. (Tali Mayer/Activestills.org)

Photos by Activestills’ Oren Ziv took second place in the same category for his series on the struggle of African asylum seekers in Israel:

Second place in the “Curator’s Choice” category. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Second place in the “Curator’s Choice” category. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Second place in the “Curator’s Choice” category. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Second place in the “Curator’s Choice” category. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Ziv’s photo from May 1 protests were also selected in the curator’s choice category for religion and community:

Curator’s choice in “Local Testimony” for Religion and Community. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

May Day, 2014. Curator’s choice in “Local Testimony” for Religion and Community. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

In a selection featuring photos of the violence this past summer, photos by Activestills’ Yotam Ronen were included:

Summer 2014 selection in “Local Testimony.” (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Summer 2014 selection in “Local Testimony.” (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Summer 2014 selection in “Local Testimony.” (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Summer 2014 selection in “Local Testimony.” (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Summer 2014 selection in “Local Testimony.” (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Summer 2014 selection in “Local Testimony.” (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Oren Ziv was also included in the same selection:

Summer 2014 selection in “Local Testimony.” (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Summer 2014 selection in “Local Testimony.” (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The 2014 “Local Testimony” competition. (Activestills.org)

The 2014 “Local Testimony” competition. (Activestills.org)

The 2014 “Local Testimony” competition. (Activestills.org)

The 2014 “Local Testimony” competition. (Activestills.org)

A version of this article appeared on our Hebrew-language sister site, ‘Local Call.’ See it here.

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WATCH: Olive harvest marred by arson, vandalism and violence http://972mag.com/watch-olive-harvest-marred-by-arson-vandalism-and-violence/100182/ http://972mag.com/watch-olive-harvest-marred-by-arson-vandalism-and-violence/100182/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 22:39:18 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=100182 Palestinian farmers from the West Bank village of Yasuf are forbidden from accessing their olive groves for much of the year. When they are given access during the olive harvest, they often find their trees cut down or burned by settlers. But even when they turn to police, the vast majority of their complaints lead nowhere. Social TV looks at the most recent olive harvest.

Related:
PHOTOS: In West Bank village, Palestinian farmers go against the grain
WATCH: Israeli police let stone-throwing settlers walk away

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WATCH: A heartbreaking portrait of life in Hebron, in 9 minutes http://972mag.com/watch-a-heartbreaking-portrait-of-life-in-hebron-in-9-minutes/100172/ http://972mag.com/watch-a-heartbreaking-portrait-of-life-in-hebron-in-9-minutes/100172/#comments Tue, 16 Dec 2014 15:28:44 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=100172 By Moriel Rothman-Zecher

What does life under occupation look like for a teenage Palestinian?

A new, powerful short film by filmmaker and activist Yuval Orr attempts to show exactly that, by following 15-year-old Awni Abu Shamsiya as he attempts to maintain some shred of normalcy in his hometown of Hebron.

Hebron, where the occupation is in many ways manifested in its rawest form, is the only Palestinian city inside which there is an Israeli settlement. It is a junction of direct and daily conflict between Palestinian civilians, Israeli soldiers and Jewish-Israeli settlers. It is a city where streets are segregated between Jews and Palestinians,and one of the places where freedom of movement is most restricted. It is the site of some of the worst civilian-led massacres, on both sides, since the beginning of Jewish-Arab conflict. No single work can summarize this city and its machinations, in nine minutes or nine days, but Yuval’s film, in zooming in on one day in Awni Abu Shamsiya’s life, gets as close as anything I’ve seen recently.

Maybe it’s the throat-clench of absurdity or the dull-throb of heartbreak, but “Khalil Helwa” (Hebron is Beautiful) is one of the most powerful films about life under occupation in Hebron that I’ve seen in years. The film leaves room for the viewer to come to her own conclusions, while maintaining a clear, humane and empathetic view of the gallingly unfair situation.

But forget what I have to say. The work speaks for itself, whether you’ve been to Hebron 50 times or only know the vaguest contours of its story.

Watch the full nine-minute film:

Moriel Rothman-Zecher is a writer and activist, based in Tel Aviv. He blogs independently at thelefternwall.com. Follow the filmmaker (@yuvalorr) and the author (@Moriel_RZ) on Twitter.

Related:
In Hebron, terror begets a reign of terror
This is what a military operation in Hebron looks like
Former Israeli AG: We should have evicted Hebron settlers

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