+972 Magazine » News http://972mag.com Independent commentary and news from Israel & Palestine Wed, 04 Mar 2015 18:33:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8 WATCH: Rightists attack Palestinian MK Zoabi and staffer at panel http://972mag.com/watch-rightists-attack-palestinian-mk-zoabi-and-staffer-at-panel/103670/ http://972mag.com/watch-rightists-attack-palestinian-mk-zoabi-and-staffer-at-panel/103670/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 12:23:26 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=103670 Palestinian Knesset member Haneen Zoabi and her media adviser and acting Joint Arab List spokesperson Emilie Moatti were attacked by rightists Tuesday during a panel at the Ramat Gan College of Law and Business. The attackers were identified with extreme right-wing settler Baruch Marzel, who is running with Eli Yishai’s Yachad party.

The assailants violently interrupted the panel Zoabi was speaking on, before physically getting on the stage and pouring cola on her head. Moatti was reportedly hit in the head with a flagpole outside the building while Zoabi’s staff members attempted to evacuate the MK. Moatti was taken to the emergency room at Ichilov and reportedly suffered a light concussion.

The attack came just hours after Marzel published a status on his Facebook page, which read, “Zoabi, I’m coming for you,” and included details of the event, calling on his supporters to attend. After the attack, Marzel boasted on Facebook that he had managed, as promised, to prevent her from speaking at the panel, which focused on the status of women in Israeli society and was attended by several female Knesset members from across the political spectrum. Marzel has been campaigning with the slogan, “I will wipe Zoabi’s smile off her face.”

Joint Arab List spokesperson Emilie Moati at hospital (photo: Activestills)

Joint Arab List spokesperson Emilie Moati at hospital (photo: Activestills)

The police were notified about the threats, yet did not send anyone to secure the event. “The racist and violent attack by right-wing party activists on Zoabi and her staff illustrates the right’s approach and is a direct continuation of its incitement and effort to exclude Arab representatives from the Knesset,” the Joint Arab List said in a statement following the attack.

Related:
No parity between Zoabi’s democracy and Kahane’s racism
The road to a fourth Netanyahu gov’t runs through Haneen Zoabi

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With Netanyahu, confrontations are a feature, not a bug http://972mag.com/with-netanyahu-confrontations-are-a-feature-not-a-bug/103664/ http://972mag.com/with-netanyahu-confrontations-are-a-feature-not-a-bug/103664/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 11:57:05 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=103664 Netanyahu believes he can impress Israelis by standing up to the world on his signature political issue. Previous rifts with the White House paid off for him — this time might be different. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington DC, US, March 2 2015 (Amos Ben Gershom/ GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking at the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington. Former head of Mossad Meir Dagan blamed Netanyahu for causing Israel “the most strategic damage on Iran” (Amos Ben Gershom/ GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will claim to represent the Jewish people in his speech before Congress Tuesday, but the fact of the matter is that he doesn’t even have an Israeli consensus behind him. His journey to Washington was heavily criticized by Israeli opposition leaders, public figures and parts of the media — especially the Haaretz and Yedioth Ahronoth dailies, which are taking a clear anti-Bibi stance ahead of these elections. [UPDATE: Netanyahu also had some bad election polls - the worst one this morning. see at the end of this post].

Last weekend, Yedioth ran a long interview with former Mossad head Meir Dagan, who denounced Netanyahu’s Iran strategy as a complete failure: “Netanyahu has caused Israel the most strategic damage on Iran,” said Dagan. Former head of the IDF’s northern command (and former deputy head of the Mossad) Amiram Levin blamed Netanyahu for “hitting the U.S. president between the eyes” Dagan and Levin are only the tip of the iceberg. In fact, the security establishment was never on board with Netanyahu’s aggressive Iran strategy, and some reports even claim that the IDF and Mossad torpedoed the prime minister’s military option when the moment of decision came.

Yet at the same time, there is a near-consensus view among those in the political establishment that Netanyahu will only come back strengthened from Washington. A strategist for one of the parties told me this week that “most pollsters we talked to believe that Bibi’s Likud will increase by a couple of seats or so by the weekend.” Analysts attribute this to two reasons: first, with his speech, Netanyahu has managed to frame the national conversation around an issue that he dominates, and on which the opposition simple doesn’t have a clear agenda. Second, with Bibi, these kinds of confrontations are a feature, not a bug. They are part of a political strategy that builds on the intense emotions that such moments produce.

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Unlike Ariel Sharon, a Likud prime minister who went after the centrist vote in his national election campaign, Netanyahu has always been about rallying the base. Domestically, he highlights the cultural war within Israeli society, constantly pushing messages against “the Left” and the media (Netanyahu has recently been accusing Yedioth Ahronoth’s publisher, Arnon “Noni” Moses, of conspiring to topple him). On foreign policy, Netanyahu is playing on the old “the entire world is against us” theme — focusing specifically on “Old Europe” and the “anti-Israeli” Obama administration, as they are commonly referred to in the pages of the free Israel Hayom daily, published by Netanyahu’s patron, billionaire Sheldon Adelson. There is a strong element of a self-fulfilling prophesy here: the more resentment Netanyahu’s behavior causes, the more it is seen as proof that he is right after all — that the world is indeed hostile to Israel and its prime minister.

This strategy has proven to be effective enough in the past: after his lecture to Obama at the White House on the 1967 borders, Netanyahu actually rose in the polls. But there are some troubling signs for Bibi this time around. Unlike in previous rounds, which ended in quasi-capitulation by the Obama administration (first on the issue of settlements, then on borders), this time there is a strong pushback against the prime minister, both in Washington and back home. This could potentially lead some of Netanyahu’s “softer” supporters to question the wisdom of his ways. It is not not clear what Netanyahu is trying to achieve: if Congress actually moves to kill an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program, he will be blamed of depriving the president of a major foreign policy success, and possibly pushing the region into war. And if the agreement actually goes through, Netanyahu will appear insignificant.

Read more: The true colors of Netanyahu’s audience

Finally, Iran’s nuclear program is not the dominant issue in these elections. Perhaps Netanyahu’s greatest failure as a prime minister is his inability to truly convince Israelis that Iran is part of his agenda. The public is simply not that interested, and it seems that certain economic issues — including some very mild corruption allegations thrown at Bibi lately — are generating more excitement these days. It remains to be seen whether the prime time appearance in Congress will change that. In Israel, the controversy around the visit may actually score points for Netanyahu, since more Israelis will be tuning in.

Bibi’s speech is the last major political event due to take place before the March 17 elections. According to the current polls, Netanyahu will still have more paths to 61 Knesset seats — the absolute majority needed to build a coalition — than leading opposition candidate, Isaac Herzog. Labor’s leader is failing to generate excitement or to move voters to the left. However, Bibi and his Likud party are usually underperforming in the elections, and the past few days have seen some of the undecided voters moving toward Yair Lapid’s party (just as they did in the previous elections). If Bibi fails to impress Israelis today, he will have serious reasons for concern when he returns.

UPDATE: A poll by the Knesset channel, which was published shortly after I posted this piece, has Labor leading Likud 24:21, and the left/center/Palestinian bloc with 56 seats – the same as Netanyahu’s Right/ultra-Orthodox bloc (the centrist “Kulanu” party headed by Moshe Kahlon has the remaining eight seats, and isn’t leaning toward any of the sides). More bad news for Bibi. 

 

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WATCH: Soldiers taunt, set dogs on Palestinian teen http://972mag.com/watch-soldiers-taunt-set-dogs-on-palestinian-teen/103625/ http://972mag.com/watch-soldiers-taunt-set-dogs-on-palestinian-teen/103625/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 16:40:23 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=103625 Israeli army decries video showing soldiers taunting and setting dogs on Palestinian, despite it being IDF policy.

A leaked video showing a 16-year old Palestinian being attacked by two canines, while being held by two IDF soldiers, was posted on Facebook on Monday by former Knesset member and far-rightist Michael Ben-Ari (who later removed it). It quickly spread around the web and made headlines in Israel.

WARNING: Footage may be disturbing to some

The incident itself took place last December 23 in between the Karmei Tzur settlement and Beit Ummar, a Palestinian village in the southern West Bank. The video — considered classified material not meant for public consumption — was filmed by a soldier, who can be heard saying “Who’s the coward now?” and egging the dogs on by saying “Bite him.” The IDF issued a statement to the press today that this is a highly irregular incident that should not occur, and that an investigation will be opened, after which the necessary steps will be taken.

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But according to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, which reported on this incident when it happened, the IDF has a policy of using canines to arrest Palestinians — a method the organization has consistently demanded the IDF cease. Therefore, the army’s dismayed response contradicts its regular arrest procedure, likely directed by orders from above. B’Tselem spokesperson Sarit Michaeli told +972 that while it is indeed awful to see a dog sink its teeth into a human being, the video doesn’t show anything irregular by IDF standards. It appears to show the moment when soldiers try to pull the dogs off the youth in order to arrest him for throwing stones. According to Michaeli, the issue is not with the soldier who egged on the dogs, but rather with the policy as a whole.

It is unclear why Ben-Ari chose to post the video, since it only makes the IDF look bad. However, it is ironic that thanks to him, Israeli viewers have a chance to see this cruel method in action.

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A Month in Photos: Popular struggle, come hell or high water http://972mag.com/a-month-in-photos-popular-struggle-come-hell-or-high-water/103491/ http://972mag.com/a-month-in-photos-popular-struggle-come-hell-or-high-water/103491/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 16:11:05 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=103491 Editors’ picks of the top photos from Palestine, Israel and beyond for the month of February. This month, Palestinians establish a new protest tent, ultra-Orthodox Jews protest military recruitment, Israeli factory workers protest job cuts, a 14-year-old Palestinian girl is released from prison after 44 days, Negev Bedouin mourn their lost ones, Bil’in marks 10 years of popular struggle, LGBTQ activists speak up against homophobia, and a second wave of snow blankets the holy city.

Photos: Oren Ziv, Ahmad al-Bazz, Keren Manor, Yotam Ronen, Basel Yazouri, Keren Manor, Shiraz Grinbaum, Faiz al-Bazz, Ryan Rodrick Beiler / Activestills.org

Hundreds of Palestinians participate in the funeral of Ahmed Najjar (19 years-old), who was shot to death by the Israeli army on Saturday, nearby his village Burin, Nablus, West Bank, February 1st, 2015. Israeli army reported that Najjar was about to throw a molotov cocktail on passing cars. Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org

Hundreds of Palestinians participate in the funeral of 19-year-old Ahmed Najjar, who was shot to death by the Israeli army near his village Burin, Nablus, West Bank, February 1, 2015. The Israeli army reported that Najjar was about to throw a molotov cocktail at passing cars. (photo: Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org) 

Lawyer Gabi Lasky speaks with Palestinian activist Abdullah Abu Rahmeh, before the beginning of Abdullah hearing in the Ofer military court, near the West Bank town of Baituniya, February 8, 2015. Oren Ziv / Activestills.org

Attorney Gaby Lasky speaks with Palestinian activist Abdullah Abu-Rahmah, before the beginning of his hearing at Ofer military court, near the West Bank town of Beitunia, February 8, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv / Activestills.org)

Palestinian activists sit in the "Gate of Jerusalem" protest camp near the West Bank Abu Dis town, is seen on February 9, 2015. The camp, which was demolished four times by the Israeli army, was set up to protest Israel's plan to confiscate lands in the E1 area, and to force the Jehalin Bedouins to move to the area of a garbage dump. Oren Ziv / Activestills.org

Palestinian activists sit in the “Gate of Jerusalem” protest camp in Abu Dis near Jerusalem, February 9, 2015. The camp, which was demolished four times by the Israeli army, was set up to protest Israel’s plan to confiscate lands in the E1 area, and to force the Jahalin Bedouin to move to a garbage dump. (photo: Oren Ziv / Activestills.org)

Palestinian Malak Al-Khateb, 14, is welcomed by family members, as she arrives to Beitin village near Ramallah, after being released from an Israeli prison, February 13, 2015. Al-Khateb, from Beitin village near Ramallah, was taken prisoner on December 31, 2014, and was subjected to interrogation and harsh treatment without legal representation. She had been accused of throwing stones at Israeli soldiers. On January 22, she was sentenced for two months in prison and a family was fined with 6,000 shekels fine ($1523). By the end of 2014, there were 197 children still imprisoned by Israel. Oren Ziv / Activestills.org

Malak Al-Khatib, 14, is welcomed by family members as she arrives at the village of Beitin near Ramallah after being released from an Israeli prison, February 13, 2015. Al-Khatib was arrested on December 31, 2014, and subjected to interrogation and harsh treatment without legal representation. She was accused of throwing stones at Israeli soldiers. On January 22, she was sentenced for two months in prison and her family was slapped with a fine of NIS 6,000 ($1523). By the end of 2014, there were 197 children still imprisoned by Israel. (photo: Oren Ziv / Activestills.org

Thousands participate in the funeral of Zana Abu Trash, Mnua Abu Elkian, Fatma Abu Elkian, Kfaia Alasibi and Name Abusheida near the Bedouin town of Hura, Negev, February 4, 2015. Eight women were killed in a car accident yesterday on their way back from a prayer in Jerusalem. A truck of the Israeli Land Administration, returning from destroying Bedouin crop, crushed into a bus killing eight and injuring dozens. Road 31 serves primarily the bedouin communities of the Negev, and is the only rout to the city of Arad. Over 70 people were killed on it in the last decade due to poor infrastructure.

Thousands participate in the funeral of Zana Abu Trash, Mnua Abu Elkian, Fatma Abu Elkian, Kfaia Alasibi and Name Abusheida near the Bedouin town of Hura, Negev Desert, February 4, 2015. The eight were killed in a car accident on their way back from prayers in Jerusalem. A truck belonging to the Israeli Land Administration, which had just returned from destroying Bedouin crops, crashed into the bus while on Road 31, killing the women and injuring dozens of others. Road 31 primarily serves the Bedouin communities of the Negev, and is the only route to the nearby city of Arad. Over 70 people were killed on this road over the last decade due to poor infrastructure. (photo: Yotam Ronen / Activestills.org)

Israeli workers protest against the plan to  dismiss hundreds of workers employed in a  factory of the CIL group, in the southern city of Dimona, February 22, 2015. Oren Ziv / Activestills.org

Israeli workers protest against a plan to dismiss hundreds of workers employed in a factory of the CIL group, in the southern city of Dimona, February 22, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv / Activestills.org)

Ultra-Orthodox Jews participate in a protest in solidarity with four ultra-Orthodox youths who were detained last week for refusing to report to a military recruitment, near the city of Beni Brak, February 9, 2015. Yotam Ronen / Activestills.org

Ultra-Orthodox Jews participate in a protest in solidarity with four ultra-Orthodox youths who were detained the week prior for refusing to report to a military recruitment base, near the city of Beni Brak, February 9, 2015. (photo: Yotam Ronen / Activestills.org)

Palestinian public-sector workers stand in que for their salaries in Nablus city, West Bank, February 9, 2015. Yesterday, PA announced it will pay only 60% of January's salaries (Minimum of 2000 NIS). On the middle of January, workers also received 60% of their salaries of December. The future of the rest of the salaries is still unknown. The PA is in a midst of a financial crisis after the Israeli's decision of January 3rd, 2015, to freeze transfers of tax funds in response to Mahmoud Abbas' move to call on the ICC to pursue war-crimes charges against Israel. PA's salaries are estimated in around $200 million per month, $120 million of which is covered from the taxes collected by Israel. Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org

Palestinian public sector workers stand in line for their salaries in Nablus, West Bank, February 9, 2015. The Palestinian Authority announced that it will pay only 60 percent of salaries for the month of January (a minimum of NIS 2000).  The same thing happened the previous month. The PA is in a midst of a financial crisis after the Israeli’s decision on January 3rd to freeze transfers of tax revenues in response to Mahmoud Abbas’  decision to call on the International Criminal Court to pursue war crimes charges against Israel. The PA workers’ salaries equal to approximately $200 million a month, $120 million of which is covered by taxes collected by Israel. (photo: Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org)

Israeli police officers stand guard as the home of Hana al-Nakib and her four children is being demolished, in the city of Lod, February 10, 2015. The house was built with the help of family members and neighbours who donated money to help the single mother. The house was built on a family-owned land, but without permission from the Israeli authorities. Palestinian citizens of Israel can hardly attain building permits due to Israel's discriminative criterions. Oren Ziv / Activestills.org

Israeli police officers stand guard as the home of Hana’a al-Nakib and her four children is demolished, Lod, February 10, 2015. The house, which was built with the help of family members and neighbors who donated money to help the single mother, was constructed on family-owned land, but without permission from the Israeli authorities. Palestinian citizens of Israel can hardly obtain building permits due to Israel’s discriminatory policies. (photo: Oren Ziv / Activestills.org)

A  group of Palestinian surfers on the coast of Gaza city, February 13, 2015. The sea remains one of the few open space where Palestinians can go and try to relax despite a very dire humanitarian situation and the trauma following the last summer Israeli military offensive. Basel Yazouri / Activestills.org

A Palestinian surfer runs on the coast of Gaza City, February 13, 2015. The sea remains one of the few open spaces where Palestinians can go and try to relax despite the dire humanitarian situation and the trauma following the last summer’s Israeli military offensive. (photo: Basel Yazouri / Activestills.org)

A Palestnian man walks Al Aqsa mosque at Jerusalem's old city following a snow storm, on February 20, 2015. Faiz al-Bazz / Activestills.org

A Palestnian man walks up to the Dome of the Rock in the Old City of Jerusalem, following a snow storm, February 20, 2015. (photo: Faiz al-Bazz / Activestills.org)

The Separation Wall and the Sh'uafat Refugee Camp are seen following a snow storm, on February 20, 2015. Yotam Ronen / Activestills.org

The separation wall and around Shuafat Refugee Camp seen following a snow storm, February 20, 2015. (photo: Yotam Ronen / Activestills.org)

The Palestinian activist Abdullah Abu Rahme joins local villagers at a protest against the closing of the eastern gate to the West Bank village of Azzun, february 14, 2015. The gate, which has been closed since 1990 due to requests by the nearby illegal settlement of Karnei Shonron, previously served as a crossing into the city of Nablus. Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org

Palestinian activist Abdullah Abu-Rahmah joins local villagers at a protest against the closing of the eastern gate to the West Bank village of Azzun, February 14, 2015. The gate, which has been closed since 1990 due to requests by the nearby settlement Karnei Shonron, previously served as a crossing into the city of Nablus. (photo: Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org)

Young Muslim women stand hand-in-hand in front of the Oslo Synagogue during the "Ring of Peace" vigil, February 21, 2015. The vigil was organized by Muslim youth in solidarity with Norway's Jewish community following anti-Jewish attacks in Denmark and other parts of Europe. Ryan Rodrick Beiler / Activestills.org

Young Muslim women stand hand-in-hand in front of the Oslo Synagogue during the “Ring of Peace” vigil, February 21, 2015. The vigil was organized by Muslim youth in solidarity with Norway’s Jewish community following anti-Jewish attacks in Denmark and other parts of Europe.
(photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler / Activestills.org)

LGTBQ activists protest outside an elections conference of the Zionist Camp in Tel Aviv, February 24, 2015. Keren Manor / Activestills.org

LGTBQ activists protest outside an elections conference held by Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home party, Tel Aviv, February 24, 2015. (photo: Keren Manor / Activestills.org)

Public housing activists protest at an elections conference of the Zionist Camp Party, Tel Aviv, February 24, 2015. Keren Manor / Activestills.org

Israeli public housing activists protest at an elections conference of the ‘Zionist Camp,’ Tel Aviv, February 24, 2015. (photo: Keren Manor / Activestills.org)

Palestinians protest against the closure of Shuhada Street, Hebron, West Bank, February 27, 2015.  Hundreds of Palestinians and internationals gathered on Friday marking the 21th anniversary of the street's closure. Shuhada street was closed by the Israeli army in 1994 following the Hebron mosque massacre where Baruch Goldstein, an Israeli settler, went on a rampage inside Al Ibrahimi Mosque, killing 29 Palestinians. Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org

Palestinians protest against the closure of Shuhada Street, Hebron, West Bank, February 27, 2015. Hundreds of Palestinians and internationals gathered to mark the 21st anniversary of the street’s closure. Shuhada was closed by the Israeli army in 1994 following the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre, when Baruch Goldstein, an Israeli settler, killed 29 Palestinians worshippers. (photo: Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org)

Palestinian activists march during a protest marking ten years for the struggle against the Wall in the West Bank village Bil'in, February 27, 2015. Keren Manor / Activestills.org

Palestinian activists march during a protest marking 10 years of popular struggle against the wall in the West Bank village Bil’in, February 27, 2015. (photo: Keren Manor / Activestills.org)

Israeli border policemen arrest an Israeli protester during a protest marking ten years for the struggle against the Wall in the West Bank village Bil'in, February 27, 2015. Yotam Ronen / Activestills.org

Israeli border policemen arrest an Israeli protester during a protest marking 10 years of the struggle in Bil’in, February 27, 2015. (photo: Yotam Ronen / Activestills.org)

Muhammed Khatib, a Palestinian activist with the Popular Committees in Bil'in, stands near his photo taken in 2005, at an Activestills exhibition during a protest marking ten years for the struggle in against the Wall in the West Bank village Bil'in, February 27, 2015. The exhibition presented photos taken by Activestills photographers during the protests in the last ten years in the village. Shiraz Grinbaum / Activestills.org

Muhammed Khatib, a Palestinian activist with the Popular Committees in Bil’in, stands near his photo taken in 2005, at an Activestills exhibition during a protest marking 10 years of struggle in Bil’in, February 27, 2015. The exhibition presented photos taken by Activestills photographers during the protests over the last 10 years in the village. Shiraz Grinbaum / Activestills.org

Palestinian youth play pool in the West Bank village of Bil'in, February 9, 2015. Oren Ziv / Activestills.org

Palestinian youth play pool in the West Bank village of Bil’in, February 9, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv / Activestills.org)

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PHOTOS: Activists re-establish Tel Aviv social protest tent http://972mag.com/photos-activists-re-establish-tel-aviv-social-protest-tent/103566/ http://972mag.com/photos-activists-re-establish-tel-aviv-social-protest-tent/103566/#comments Sun, 01 Mar 2015 17:31:10 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=103566 Photos by Oren Ziv / Activestills.org

Four years after the 2011 social protest movement brought hundreds of thousands of Israelis into the streets, the tents are back on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard.

Approximately 200 people re-established the tent protest Sunday evening, in a demonstration against the high cost of living and housing in Israel.

Activists re-establish the protest tent on Rothschild Boulevard, three years after the 2011 social protest movement, Tel Aviv, March 1, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Activists re-establish the protest tent on Rothschild Boulevard, three years after the 2011 social protest movement, Tel Aviv, March 1, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Shay Cohen, who organized the protest, told +972 Magazine:

“I have a baby at home, but we need to go to the streets — otherwise nothing will change. I call on everyone who is sitting at home to join us. I am 40 years old and have no apartment.

Activists re-establish the protest tent on Rothschild Boulevard, three years after the 2011 social protest movement. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Activists re-establish the protest tent on Rothschild Boulevard, three years after the 2011 social protest movement, Tel Aviv, March 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

“Two weeks ago, I was speaking with a few friends about what I wanted to do for my birthday. We agreed that we cannot celebrate without a bit of rage and sadness. Four years after the movement that we all took part in, the price of housing went up, and it seems that the political establishment is simply apathetic toward the things that matter to Israeli citizens.

+972's Yuval Ben-Ami plays guitar at the re-established protest tent on Rothschild Boulevard, Tel Aviv, March 1, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

+972′s Yuval Ben-Ami plays guitar at the re-established protest tent on Rothschild Boulevard, Tel Aviv, March 1, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Activists re-establish the protest tent on Rothschild Boulevard, three years after the 2011 social protest movement, Tel Aviv, March 1, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Activists re-establish the protest tent on Rothschild Boulevard, three years after the 2011 social protest movement, Tel Aviv, March 1, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

“Politicians are speaking about Iran and the Islamic State while we cannot make a decent living and have no solutions for housing.”

Related:
Where is the social protest movement in the Israeli elections?
A failed revolution: Why Israel’s next social protest will be a violent one

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PHOTOS: Israel cuts off Palestinian power twice in one week http://972mag.com/photos-israel-cuts-off-palestinian-power-twice-in-one-week/103478/ http://972mag.com/photos-israel-cuts-off-palestinian-power-twice-in-one-week/103478/#comments Sat, 28 Feb 2015 16:20:48 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=103478 Photos and text by Ahmad Al-Bazz

At the height of a harsh winter season, the Israel Electric Company cut power to two major Palestinian cities in the West Bank twice over this past week. Nearly 650,000 people were left without power for an entire hour in the middle of the day in Jenin, Nablus and 18 villages in the area.

Vendors in Nablus are seen in the middle of a major power outage. (Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Vendors in Nablus are seen in the middle of a major power outage, February 25, 2015. (Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

The decision comes as a response the Palestinian Authority’s unpaid debt to the company, which totals some 1.9 billion shekels ($483 million). However, the Palestinian electricity company in the north of the West Bank claims that the numbers Israel provided are inflated, and that the decision to cut the power supply is strictly political, coming on the heels of the Israeli government’s decision to withhold the PA’s tax revenues. It is worth noting that according to the Oslo Accords and the Paris Protocols, the Palestinian Authority is required to buy its electricity from Israel.

A vendor in Nablus uses a candle in his store, after Israel Electric Company deliberately shut down power to the city and the surrounding area. (photo: Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

A vendor in Nablus uses a candle in his store, after Israel Electric Company deliberately shut down power to the city and the surrounding area, February 25, 2015 (photo: Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

The Adalah Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights urgently contacted the CEO of Israel Electric Company and the head of the Civil Administration, demanding them to refrain from disconnecting West Bank cities from electricity. According to Adalah, cutting power leads to the violation of various constitutional rights, especially the right to life and health, and emphasized that these violations are only exacerbated by the fact that power was cut during a cold spell and an especially harsh winter.

In her letter to the Israel Electric Company and the Civil Administration, Attorney Sawsan Zaher from Adalah wrote that the Palestinian Authority’s debt to the electric company does not justify taking steps such as cutting off power from hundreds of thousands of people — especially in light of the fact that Israel Electric Company is the main source of power to the West Bank. Zahar further emphasized that, “since the West Bank is under full Israeli control and occupation, it has the obligation to maintain a decent life for the civilian population and take into account its well-being. Violating this obligation is a violation of Israel’s responsibility as an occupying power under both Israeli and international humanitarian law.

Adalah further noted fact that the CEO of the Israel Electric Company did not call to disconnect debtors in Israel due to difficult weather conditions, stating that “the reasonable conclusion is that disconnecting Palestinians from power was intended as collective punishment, which joins a list of steps taken against the Palestinian Authority in other realms.”

On Thursday, the Israel Electric Corporation agreed to stop cutting power to the Palestinian Authority in exchange for the Israeli government’s promise to use some of the Palestinian tax revenues it has been withholding to partially offset the PA’s debt.

This article was first published on +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it in Hebrew here.

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PHOTO: Settlers build Star of David on Palestinian land http://972mag.com/photo-settlers-build-star-of-david-on-palestinian-land/103466/ http://972mag.com/photo-settlers-build-star-of-david-on-palestinian-land/103466/#comments Sat, 28 Feb 2015 14:16:06 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=103466 Settlers built a Star of David made out of rocks on private Palestinian lands in the village of Shweika in the South Hebron Hills on Saturday. The settlers, who live in the illegal outpost Eshtamoa near the village, built the Star of David in order to obstruct Palestinian residents’ sheep from grazing, and as a crude way of marking territory.

Star of David built by settlers in West Bank (photo: Guy Hircefeld)

Star of David built by settlers in West Bank (photo: Guy Hircefeld)

The army prohibits Israelis from entering the valley below the outpost since it is recognized as private Palestinian land. Therefore, the fact that they were able to build this giant Star of David indicates that the IDF is clearly not enforcing the order.

Last year, settlers from this outpost badly assaulted a Israeli Ta’ayush activist in this same spot.

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PHOTOS: Pepper spray and arrests as Bil’in marks decade of struggle http://972mag.com/photos-pepper-spray-and-arrests-as-bilin-marks-decade-of-struggle/103430/ http://972mag.com/photos-pepper-spray-and-arrests-as-bilin-marks-decade-of-struggle/103430/#comments Sat, 28 Feb 2015 10:42:17 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=103430 Text by Haggai Matar
Photos by Yotam Ronen, Shiraz Grinbaum, Miki Kratsman / Activestills.org

Nearly 1,000 protesters — Palestinians, Israelis and internationals — marched to celebrate 10 years of popular struggle in the West Bank village Bil’in. Soldiers responded with tear gas, pepper spray and arrests. One Palestinian was badly wounded. Meanwhile, activists marked 21 years since the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre, and called to open Shuhada Street to Palestinians.

Palestinian, Israeli and international activists march during a protest marking ten years for the struggle against the Wall in the West Bank village Bil'in, February 27, 2015. (photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Palestinian, Israeli and international activists march during a protest marking ten years for the struggle against the Wall in the West Bank village Bil’in, February 27, 2015. (photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Approximately 1,000 protesters, most of them Palestinian, 100 Israelis and dozens of international activists took part in a large protest in Bil’in on Friday, marking ten years of popular struggle against the wall, the settlements and the occupation. Meanwhile, hundreds marched in Hebron to mark 21 years since the Cave of the Patriarchs Massacre, and demanded that the Israeli army open Shuhada Street to Palestinian traffic.

Over the last ten years, Bil’in has become an international symbol of popular, nonviolent resistance to the occupation, the settlements and the separation barrier. The village’s main road was decorated with photographs taken by Activestills, who have accompanied the struggle since day one. Decorations made of spent tear gas canisters were also hung. By 10 a.m., members of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee — who lead the struggle in Bil’in — were joined by committee members from other villages; Israeli activists; journalists; members of the Joint Arab List MK Dov Khenin and Aida Touma-Sliman; and member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Mustafa Barghouti.

Muhammed Khatib, a Palestinian activist with the Popular Committees in Bil'in, stands near his photo taken in 2005, at an Activestills exhibition during a protest marking ten years for the struggle in against the Wall in the West Bank village Bil'in, February 27, 2015. The exhibition presented photos taken by Activestills photographers during the protests in the last ten years in the village. (photo: Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org)

Muhammed Khatib, a Palestinian activist with the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee in Bil’in, stands near a photo of him taken in 2005, at an Activestills exhibition marking ten years of popular in the West Bank village Bil’in, February 27, 2015. (photo: Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org)

The march to the separation wall began shortly after noon, using the same route the residents have taken week after week for the past decade. The original separation fence kept some 1,950 dunams (480 acres) of Bil’in’s land on the Israeli side, for the purpose of expanding the Modi’in Illit settlement. The High Court, however, ruled that the fence must be moved, and after four years of waiting, the Israeli government built a new wall that only swallows some 1,300 dunams (320 acres) of the village’s land.

Friday’s protest was lead by a group of Palestinian scouts, who carried Palestinian flags and drums. They were followed by the demonstrators, who sang songs and chanted against the wall, the settlements and the occupation. As opposed to previous weeks, when Israeli soldiers greeted the protesters and tried to put down the demonstration at the site of the old route of the fence, this time soldiers waited behind the new wall. They began firing tear gas as the first demonstrators came closer to the wall.

An Israeli Border Policeman arrests a Palestinian activist during a protest marking ten years of popular struggle against the wall in the West Bank village Bil'in, February 27, 2015. (photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

An Israeli Border Policeman arrests a Palestinian activist during a protest marking ten years of popular struggle against the wall in the West Bank village Bil’in, February 27, 2015. (photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

At once the entire valley was flooded with tear gas, forcing most of the protesters to retreat to a nearby hill. A group of 150 protesters tried to push their way through past the tear gas in order to reach the wall. A group of them carried flags and held flowers, while the younger Palestinians threw stones at the soldiers.

Israeli border policemen arrest an nonviolent Israeli protester during a demonstration marking ten years of popular struggle against in the West Bank village Bil'in, February 27, 2015. (photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Israeli border policemen arrest an nonviolent Israeli protester during a demonstration marking ten years of popular struggle against in the West Bank village Bil’in, February 27, 2015. (photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

An Israeli border policeman uses pepper spray against a protester during a demonstration marking a decade of popular struggle against the wall in the West Bank village Bil'in, February 27, 2015. (photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

An Israeli border policeman uses pepper spray against a protester during a demonstration marking a decade of popular struggle against the wall in the West Bank village Bil’in, February 27, 2015. (photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

The exchange of tear gas and stones went on for an hour. Eventually the soldiers began shooting both live “tutu” bullets as well as rubber-coated ones. A group of Border Police soldiers crossed the wall, used pepper spray against nonviolent protests, and arrested three Israelis (including one who was holding flowers) and two Palestinians. One young Palestinian was badly wounded in his head by a rubber bullet and was evacuated to a nearby hospital. Several others were lightly wounded. At the end of the protest, the activists vowed that their struggle will continue as long as the wall prevents them from reaching their land.

A Palestinian protester holds up a cross decorated with spent tear gas canisters during a demonstration marking 10 years of struggle in Bil'in. (photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

A Palestinian protester holds up a cross decorated with spent tear gas canisters during a demonstration marking 10 years of struggle in Bil’in. (photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

As Bil’in marked ten years of popular struggle, dozens of Palestinians, Israelis and internationals protested in the heart of Hebron, marking 21 years since Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Muslim worshippers in the Cave of the Patriarchs. Ever since the massacre, the Israeli army has severely restricted the movement of Palestinians in the city. The goal of the demonstration was to reach and demand the opening of Shuhada Street, which previously served as a main road and central economic hub of the city. The protest was organized by the Youth Against Settlements group, as well as by the Committee to Save Hebron, which is made up of different left-wing Palestinian political parties in the city.

Israeli soldiers arrest a Palestinian man during a protest against the closure of the Shuhada street to Palestinians, in the West Bank city of Hebron, February 27, 2015. (photo: Miki Kratsman/Activestills.org)

Israeli soldiers arrest a Palestinian man during a protest against the closure of the Shuhada street to Palestinians, in the West Bank city of Hebron, February 27, 2015. (photo: Miki Kratsman/Activestills.org)

Palestinians protest against the closure of Shuhada Street, Hebron, West Bank, February 27, 2015. Hundreds of Palestinians and internationals gathered on Friday marking the 21th anniversary of the street's closure. (photo: Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Palestinians protest against the closure of Shuhada Street, Hebron, West Bank, February 27, 2015. Hundreds of Palestinians and internationals gathered on Friday marking the 21th anniversary of the street’s closure. (photo: Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Palestinians protest against the closure of Shuhada Street, Hebron, West Bank, February 27, 2015. (Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Palestinians protest against the closure of Shuhada Street, Hebron, West Bank, February 27, 2015. (Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Soldiers and Border Police began firing stun grenades and tear gas at the protesters even before they were able to reach the street. Many of the demonstrators retreated, while the youth began throwing stones at soldiers from nearby roofs. Clashes continued for nearly an hour, while the marchers tried to find alternative routes into Shuhada Street. However, they were blocked by the soldiers every time. Three young Palestinians were moderately wounded by live fire.

This article was first published on +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it in Hebrew here.

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Stop giving Netanyahu publicity http://972mag.com/stop-giving-netanyahu-publicity/103345/ http://972mag.com/stop-giving-netanyahu-publicity/103345/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 15:52:26 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=103345 The best way to object to Netanyahu, his Congress speech and his policies, is to ignore him.

Since the Netanyahu Congress speech episode began last month, the press, and specifically foreign press, has been flooded with items on the Israeli prime minister. Not a day has gone by without a headline about Netanyahu’s lavish spending, incompetence regarding the housing crisis, his assault on media and academics, and of course his incitement against centrist political rivals.

Netanyahu has redefined the phrase, “bad publicity is good publicity,” since none of this appears to be hurting Netanyahu in the least at home. As Gershom Gorenberg previously wrote,”I’ve come to realize that the focus on him is a strategic success for the prime minister’s election campaign. It distracts voters’ attention from minor questions such as the Palestinians, peace, housing prices, and poverty.” Attacking Netanyahu hasn’t helped either, which Herzog and Livni’s Zionist Camp has learned. And this is why, for example, Israeli news site Ynet (whose owner, Noni Mozes, is anti-Netanyahu) has decided to make the high cost of living and labor disputes the top headline every day for the past few weeks — rather than explicitly attack the prime minister.

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It also has yet to be seen how this position hurts him vis-a-vis diplomacy with the U.S. Sure, Democrats have condemned the planned speech, while others have gone as far as to boycott it, and yes, it will be great to see the room half empty when he gives his speech. But I am talking about real consequences, such as economic pressure that could force the Israeli leader to change his policies. Until that happens, Netanyahu will continue to act with impunity, going so far as to turn down a closed-door meeting with Democrats, which he called “partisan. Remember, this is coming from the prime minister who is blatantly identified with the Republican Party, and who openly supported Mitt Romney in the last U.S. presidential election.

J Street, the DC-based liberal Zionist lobby group that supports postponing the speech until after the elections, published a large ad Thursday morning in the New York Times condemning the planned speech. The ad, along with their “Bibi doesn’t speak for me” petition, both included a large photo of the the prime minister. Why give the man more publicity? Why make it about him when we should be talking about the issues? This is exactly what he wants.

J Street ad in the New York Times.

J Street and others —  Democrats, American Jews, activists and media outlets — who oppose Netanyahu and everything he stands for, should be focusing their attention on the issues that are important to them, rather than the person mishandling them.

In the countdown to his speech in Congress, Netanyahu is only getting increasingly more publicity, which will likely peak with over-saturation on the day of the speech. It would be great to just ignore Netanyahu completely, the way some Democrats have decided to not attend his speech have done.

The best way to express objection and utter disgust with Netanyahu is to ignore him. Who’s with me?

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Palestinian activist explains the Israeli elections http://972mag.com/palestinian-activist-explains-the-israeli-elections/103336/ http://972mag.com/palestinian-activist-explains-the-israeli-elections/103336/#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 12:49:49 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=103336 Bil’in protest leader Abdullah Abu-Rahme: If Israelis must decide between Labor and Likud, they might as well just vote for Liberman instead.

Bi'lin Palestinian popular resistance leader Abdullah Abu Rahme (Activestills)

Bi’lin Palestinian popular resistance leader Abdullah Abu Rahme (Activestills)

The residents of the West Bank village Bil’in are in close contact with the Israeli state. For the past ten years, they have been waging a popular struggle against the separation barrier that has cut them off from most of their land, while withstanding heavy oppression from the army, including arrests, tear gas, raids on the village, and more. As non-Jewish subjects of military rule in the occupied territories, the residents of Bil’in have no right to vote in the elections, and thus cannot decide who will make the up the next government that will decide their fate. However, some of them know very well who they would like to see in the Knesset.

“We hope that the Joint List succeeds, and that it will be the third largest party in the Knesset. It is simply wonderful that the Arab factions are running together,” Abdullah Abu Rahmah, a central organizer of Bil’in’s nonviolent protests, told +972. “I also hope that Meretz succeeds, despite the fact that they are losing their strength. I hope that the Palestinians on the ‘inside’ [Palestinian citizens of Israel, H.M.] go out and vote, because anyone who does not vote only strengthens the right.”

Abu Rahmah, who was recognized by the European Union as a Human Rights Defender, was recently levied a fine and a suspended sentence after being convicted last October of interfering with the work of a soldier for an incident in May 2012, when he stood in front of a bulldozer that was clearing land to build the separation barrier near Ramallah.

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“Today there are over 600,000 settlers, and their influence on Israeli politics is only growing,” says Abu Rahmah, “The answer to this is the Joint List and Meretz, who I hope will get seven seats so that Gaby Lasky is elected.” Lasky is a human rights attorney who has worked on many cases pertaining to Palestinian and Israeli anti-occupation activists, including that of Abu Rahmah. “It is true that Lasky supports us as an attorney, but we need her in the Knesset alongside Dov Khenin.”

“It is necessary to have a large bloc of leftists and Arabs. And yet, if Labor wins… it won’t be so good. There is no real difference between Labor and Likud, in this sense we much prefer Likud. Labor has better relations with the international community, but they are no different when it comes to policies. They do not promote peace, they build settlements, they build walls and they go to war. And yet they get legitimacy from the world. We might as well have Liberman, who only damages Israel’s international relations. Mahmoud Abbas has been gaining more support than Netanyahu one the past few years, and if Herzog or Livni win, it will only delay the necessary pressure on Israel.”

This article was first published on +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it in Hebrew here.

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