+972 Magazine » News http://972mag.com Independent commentary and news from Israel & Palestine Thu, 11 Feb 2016 17:13:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8 Demolitions leave dozens of Palestinians without homes or water http://972mag.com/demolitions-leave-dozens-of-palestinians-without-homes-or-water/116955/ http://972mag.com/demolitions-leave-dozens-of-palestinians-without-homes-or-water/116955/#comments Thu, 11 Feb 2016 16:42:38 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=116955 Recent wave of home demolitions has left dozens of Palestinians in the Jordan Valley without a roof over their heads just days before a rainy weekend.

Photos and text by Keren Manor and Oren Ziv / Activestills.org

A demolished home donated by the European Union, Fasayl, Jordan Valley, West Bank, February 11, 2016. (photo: Activestills.org)

A demolished home donated by the European Union, Fasayl, Jordan Valley, West Bank, February 11, 2016. (photo: Activestills.org)

Israeli authorities accompanied by bulldozers demolished dozens of structures in several Palestinian villages in the Jordan Valley on Thursday.

The demolitions, which affected the al-Farisiya and Betardel communities, respectively, came a day after Israeli authorities demolished seven homes and six structures in two other villages in the area, leaving 71 Palestinians homeless.

Palestinians build a temporary shelter for their animals following demolitions in Karzalya, Jordan Valley, West Bank, February 11, 2016. (photo: Activestills.org)

Palestinians build a temporary shelter for their animals following demolitions in Karzalya, Jordan Valley, West Bank, February 11, 2016. (photo: Activestills.org)

According to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, this is the largest wave of demolitions in the Jordan Valley in recent memory. Over the past few weeks, Israel has stepped up its demolitions in Area C of the West Bank, under full Israeli military and civil control.

Wednesday’s demolitions began in the village Jiflik, where authorities destroyed five homes and a water pipe connected to 50 houses, leaving 300 Palestinians disconnected from the water grid.

Authorities then moved to the village of Fasayil, where they demolished a home provided by the European Union following a previous demolition last year, as well as an animal pen and a bathroom.

The belongings of a Palestinian family seen following demolitions in Karzalya, Jordan Valley, West Bank, February 11, 2016. (photo: Activestills.org)

The belongings of a Palestinian family seen following demolitions in Karzalya, Jordan Valley, West Bank, February 11, 2016. (photo: Activestills.org)

In the tiny Karzaliya community, located next a spring approximately three miles from Route 90, Israeli authorities demolished two homes, a structure for animals, and a restroom. On their way out, the Israeli army built a ditch and piled up rocks in order to block the dirt path that connects the community to the main road. The Karzaliya community was demolished three times last year.

The army also demolished two tents in the village of Al-Miksar.

A Palestinian boy stands beside his family's belongings following demolitions in Karzalya, Jordan Valley, West Bank, February 11, 2016. (photo: Activestills.org)

A Palestinian boy stands beside his family’s belongings following demolitions in Karzalya, Jordan Valley, West Bank, February 11, 2016. (photo: Activestills.org)

The Israeli authorities argue that the demolitions take place only when Palestinians build illegally — that is, without building permits — or in live-fire areas. This, despite the fact that some of these communities own the land, and the vast majority of them have been living in the area since before the occupation of the West Bank in 1967.

As a rule, Israel does not allow Palestinians to build in Area C — which makes up more than 60 percent of the West Bank. In the past, the army has admitted that creating live-fire training zones in the West Bank is intended, among other things, for the purpose of expelling Palestinian communities.

In recent months it seems that the state is pressuring Palestinian residents of Area C to leave. Last week, the army demolished dozens of homes in Firing Zone 918 in the south Hebron Hills. The demolitions were halted midway following an intervention by the High Court of Justice. In January, the IDF began training in a live-fire zone in the northern part of the Jordan Valley, forcing two more communities to leave their homes during the training.

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

Newsletter banner

]]>
http://972mag.com/demolitions-leave-dozens-of-palestinians-without-homes-or-water/116955/feed/ 0
Israeli Polls: Jews want to ignore the conflict, Arabs think nothing will change http://972mag.com/israeli-polls-jews-want-to-ignore-the-conflict-arabs-think-nothing-will-change/116918/ http://972mag.com/israeli-polls-jews-want-to-ignore-the-conflict-arabs-think-nothing-will-change/116918/#comments Wed, 10 Feb 2016 15:58:16 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=116918 The majority of Jewish Israelis think the international community will impose some sort of ‘substantial pressure’ on Israel soon. But they are disinclined to let such criticism affect the country’s policy.

A section of Israel's separation wall in the West Bank. (Activestills.org)

A section of Israel’s separation wall in the West Bank. (Activestills.org)

A majority of Israelis see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an existential problem, according to January’s monthly Peace Index survey conducted by Tel Aviv University and the Israel Democracy Institute. Indeed, a stabbing a day and a war every two years is no way to live. Yet Israeli Jews regularly vote for parties who perpetuate the same policies, and rarely protest Israel’s military rule over the Palestinian people in any significant numbers.

Spoiler: recent surveys do not solve the puzzle. But they do highlight some of the competing attitudes driving Israeli political behavior.

[tmwinpost]

When asked if the conflict can continue more or less like today without threatening Israel’s security or existence, 52 percent of the public disagreed in the Peace Index poll. Among Jewish respondents, fully 61 percent disagree that Israel can live with the conflict as it is today.

Arab respondents (the survey asked just a small sample) saw things very differently: over three-quarters think Israel can continue to live with the status quo. They probably base this on the last 50 years, when Israel has experienced regular injury to its security and existence in the form of wars, terror attacks and perceived international de-legitimization — and nevertheless essentially maintained its grip over the Palestinian people.

Indeed, the Jewish sense of the conflict as a grave threat barely translates into support for changing policies. The backbone of the occupation is Israel’s martial law over Palestinians in the West Bank, implemented through the army and the military courts, whereas Jews in the same territory live under civil law. But when asked about this “unequal application of the law” (referring to the U.S. Ambassador’s recent statement), half of Israeli Jews justify the situation; 40 percent oppose it (the 10 percent remainder who said they don’t know are unlikely to be agitating for change). Among the self-defined right wing, fully two-thirds justify this situation. More striking is that fact that among Jews in general, only 40 percent believe that “unequal application of the law” is the case today and a majority of 53 percent say this is not the case. Yet this is among the most basic facts of the situation – which are are not hidden, but apparently rarely seen.

International pressure

If Israeli Jews do not see the need to change policies of their own accord, will international pressure change anything? Half of Jews do not believe the world will treat Israel like South Africa; 39 percent say it will. Twice as many Arabs (50 percent) believe the world will soon treat Israel like South Africa as those who do not agree (24 percent), according to the Peace Index.

A slightly higher majority, 56 percent of Jews, think the international community will impose some sort of “substantial pressure” on Israel soon. But they are disinclined to let such criticism affect Israeli policy. The same portion of Jews – 56 percent — say Israel should not take international criticism too seriously, for an obvious reason: when asked if such international criticism takes Israeli and Palestinian interests into account equally, fully 82 percent of Jews say it does not. It’s clear which side Jews think the international community favors. Judging from Israel’s (lack of) policy change so far, the majority of Jews will get their wish.

Again, Arab respondents in the Peace Index express the opposite results: nearly 70 percent think Israel should take international criticism seriously, but precisely 70 percent see very low chances that significant pressure will actually happen. Once again, Arab respondents appear to interpret critical measures to date as toothless, and express low hopes for change, apparently based on experience.

What to do about the land?

What then do Israelis think should happen with the entangled people and territories? In recent months, the notion of annexation is increasingly part of the national and media discourse. Government ministers and settler leaders alike now discuss it routinely.

The Peace Index asked if Israel ought to finally annex the territories following nearly 50 years of occupation. Israeli Jews were in a dead heat: 45 percent said that it should, and 45 percent said it shouldn’t. The remainder simply didn’t know. The survey did not ask Arabs. But this general finding accords with a Makor Rishon/Maariv poll from early January showing that 44 percent of the full sample (Arabs and Jews, but only 500 in total) support the gradual extension of Israeli law to “the territories in Judea and Samaria,” although in that Internet poll, 38 percent were opposed and 18 percent didn’t know.

That percentage drops somewhat when the Makor Rishon survey gave greater detail, specifying “all territory in Judea and Samaria” and dropping the word “gradual” – 38 percent support that and nearly half (46 percent) oppose it. Similarly, the idea of annexing Area C (more than half the territory of the West Bank containing most of the settlements) is supported by 34 percent, and 47 percent oppose it.

Annexation is definitively viewed as a right-wing policy: 61 percent of the right in the Makor Rishon survey supported extending Israeli law to all the territory. Typically, young respondents mirror the trends on the right: 60 percent of them support this policy. Between 58 percent and 67 percent of the self-identified left-wing respondents, reported Makor Rishon, opposed applying Israeli civil law to the territories, depending on which specific question was asked.

Democracy?

If Israeli law were extended to all people in the West Bank, there would be de facto annexation. In that case, would Israelis support full democracy, including voting rights? The Peace Index didn’t ask. But it does show that that a strong majority, two thirds of Jews, said that Israel’s hold over the territories today does not prevent it from being a real democracy (76 percent of Arabs think it does prevent democracy). By this logic, one wonders if annexation of the West Bank without voting rights would bother Israelis either.

Even in the more democratic part of the region – “Green Line Israel” – the ingredients and values of democracy are waning. In a January survey for IDF radio among Jews only, 45 percent said they do not support equal rights for Arab citizens of Israel and just 43 percent supported equal rights. The two-point gap is within the margin of error but it does not bode well that more were opposed to equal rights than supportive. Perhaps one slight silver lining is that only about one-fifth (roughly 20 percent) of Israelis define themselves as left-wing in most surveys, and even fewer among Jews. Therefore, a large portion of equality-supporters must hail from the center or the right.

Jews are still apparently concerned for democracy. In the IDF radio poll, a strong majority, 69 percent, say that Netanyahu’s multiple ministerial positions harms Israeli democracy. Twice as many Jews prefer Israel to be more democratic than Jewish (33 percent), compared to those who wish it was more Jewish and less democratic (17 percent). But in a survey of Israeli Jews for the pro-Netanyahu paper Israel Hayom, over 90 percent supported some sort of action against Arab parliamentarians who met this week with the families of terrorists – either expelled from Knesset or prosecuting them. This week, the MKs were suspended, so the respondents (partially and temporarily) got their wish.

In my reading of public opinion, the various findings reflect a consistent central narrative in the Israeli (Jewish) public mind: the conflict is awful, but it is primarily the Palestinians’ fault and there is nothing Israel can do to change the underlying cause. We keep our sanity by trying not to think about it or know too much. Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. Settlements and politics have totally obscured the Green Line, but we can draw it again every time we wish to point out how democratic the country is, looking here and never there. We erase the line at all other times. There is some concern for the democratic institutions of society such as concentration of executive power; but the moment Palestinians or Arabs are brought into the debate, the principles related to democratic governance vanish.

In the coming days I will write an update of Palestinian public opinion based on recent surveys. The sample information for the surveys cited here as made available in media reports appears below.

Peace Index: n=600 (Jews and Arabs), telephone survey, 26-28 January 2016. Data collection: Midgam Research. Margin of error: +/-4.1 percent

IDF Radio: n=503 (Jews only), published 19 January, no methodology or margin of error reported.

Maariv/Makor Rishon: n=511 (Jews and Arabs). Data collection: Panels Politics.  Published 8 January 2016. No methodology or margin of error reported.

Israel Hayom: n=500 (Jews only). Published 8 February, 2016. No methodology reported. Margin of error: +/-4.4 percent.

]]>
http://972mag.com/israeli-polls-jews-want-to-ignore-the-conflict-arabs-think-nothing-will-change/116918/feed/ 1
EU politicians to Israeli MKs: NGOs aren’t enemies of the state http://972mag.com/eu-politicians-to-israeli-mks-ngos-arent-enemies-of-the-state/116882/ http://972mag.com/eu-politicians-to-israeli-mks-ngos-arent-enemies-of-the-state/116882/#comments Tue, 09 Feb 2016 18:23:52 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=116882 Fifty MEPs send an open letter to their Israeli counterparts urging them to abandon legislation that singles out European-funded human rights and peace NGOs while not touching right-wing organizations.

By Davide Lerner

Members of the European Parliament during a vote at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. (EU Photo)

Members of the European Parliament during a vote at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. (EU Photo)

Dozens of members of the European Parliament published a harshly worded open letter to all members of the Israeli Knesset on Tuesday regarding the controversial “NGO law,” a new bill that selectively imposes transparency requirements on those largely left-wing associations receiving more than half of their funding from abroad. The bill passed the first of three readings in the Knesset late Monday night.

[tmwinpost]

The letter, promoted by UK Labour MEP Julie Ward, calls on the Israeli Knesset to reject the legislation. “We strongly urge you to be brave and strong in upholding Israel’s pluralist democratic values,” a passage of the letter says. “Human rights and peace-building NGOs serve as watchdogs for democracy, not enemies of the state.”

Asserting that the occupation is not an internal Israeli matter, the letter notes that the EU “funds the Palestinian Authority, without which [Israel's] administration of the Palestinian Territories would not be viable.”

The document has been signed by 50 MEPs, but Julie Ward’s assistants claim many more asked to support it after the deadline had passed. The majority comes from leftist groups like the Greens and the Gue/Ngl, which includes parties like Syriza (Greece), Podemos (Spain) and Sinn Féin (Ireland). Also the center-left Socialist and Democrats group, the second biggest in the Parliament after the center-right European People’s Party, expressed its support with 11 signatures. No MEPs from mainstream right-wing groups, let alone Nigel Farage’s “Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy,” have agreed to co-sign the letter.

The document comes amid a period of great tensions between Israel and the EU, peaking with the European Commission’s interpretative notice on labelling last November. The decision to label Israeli settlements products enraged the government of Benjamin Netanyahu, whose diplomatic efforts to block the move were however fruitless. In a letter to European Parliament President Martin Schulz at the time Netanyahu complained of an anti-Israeli “double-standard,” quoting “nearly 200 territorial disputes worldwide” which have not been subject to trade limitations of sorts. Specifically, he insisted on the case of Northern Cyprus which came under Turkish control in 1974.

Underlying the periodic standoffs between EU officials and members of the Israeli government is Israel’s shift to an unprecedented cultural hegemony of the right. As Noam Sheizaf wrote late last year, the right has become the “zeitgeist” of Israeli democracy. Illiberal moves like the NGO bill have suddenly become permissible as representative of “the will of the people,” Sheizaf wrote. A creeping tyranny of the majority seems to be breeding in the Holy Land.

As progressive views of the conflict are crushed or altogether banned, EU institutions grow weary of repeating the two states mantra while Israel turns it into an actual pipe dream on the ground. Likewise, Israeli policy-makers grow weary of seeing the Green Line quoted in EU legislative documents as they try to erase it by presenting the occupation as a “fait accompli,” a non-negotiable “fact on the ground.” For this very reason the directive on labelling was perceived as a huge blow, although inconsequential in terms of Israeli exports to the EU. While still reluctant to scale-up its use of market power to pressure Israel, the EU was enshrining opposition to the occupation into documents of near-law.

The latest letter from the European Parliament, which specifically addresses the “Transparency Bill,” warns that “all the European funds and benefits that Israel enjoys is based on Israel’s commitment to human rights, democracy, end of occupation, and the peace process, leading to a viable and just two-state solution.” Diplomatic warnings are increasingly pointing in the direction of market measures, while Israel pivots ever further to the right.

Davide Lerner is an Italian journalist who has written about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on publications like “l’Espresso”, Italy’s first weekly, and TPI, a fast-growing international politics online magazine. He currently lives in Brussels.

]]>
http://972mag.com/eu-politicians-to-israeli-mks-ngos-arent-enemies-of-the-state/116882/feed/ 2
Knesset hearing on unflattering press coverage looks like ‘witch-hunt’ http://972mag.com/knesset-hearing-on-unflattering-press-coverage-looks-like-witch-hunt/116858/ http://972mag.com/knesset-hearing-on-unflattering-press-coverage-looks-like-witch-hunt/116858/#comments Tue, 09 Feb 2016 12:58:06 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=116858 Chairwoman Tzipi Livni asks government agencies to present examples of ‘biased reporting,’ suggestions for legal and diplomatic tools for countering unflattering news coverage. Foreign Press Association slams the very premise of the hearing.

Tzipi Livni (photo: Yotam Ronen / activestills)

Tzipi Livni (photo: Yotam Ronen / activestills)

The influential Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense subcommittee held an urgent hearing on Tuesday on “legal warfare with respect to foreign media coverage – coverage which in the long term erodes the legitimacy of [Israel's] fight against terrorism” (Emphasis mine).

[tmwinpost]

Subcommittee chairwoman Tzipi Livni asked representatives of various government agencies, among them the Government Press Office, Prime Minister’s Office, Defense Ministry, Border Police and IDF to bring specific examples of “biased, one sided reporting against soldiers and police following terror incidents” and to suggest diplomatic and legal steps to counter the phenomenon.

The Knesset committee requested that the Foreign Press Association — which represents some 400 journalists from a wide range of outlets including The New York Times, Reuters, Associated Press, and CBC and Financial Times — also attend the hearing. Ironically, the “invitation” also asked them to present examples of their own biased, errant reporting, in what can only be understood as an indictment of their work.

In response, the FPA drafted a letter that challenged the very idea of holding such a hearing and emphasizing the level of influence the government already has on reporters.

“May we state first that we disagree with the premise of the hearing – it presupposes two things: that the foreign media are biased and that that supposed bias undermines Israel’s ability to quell terrorist attacks. We do not agree that the foreign media are biased, and the legitimacy of Israel’s campaign against terrorism is entirely determined by how Israel conducts that campaign. It has nothing to do with the foreign media.”

The letter goes on to list the variety of recourses the Israeli government already has for filing legal and other complaints regarding foreign reporting and admits that there are isolated incidents in which inaccurate or poorly worded headlines are drafted — but by editors sitting in their offices abroad, and these are quickly corrected when necessary.

The letter closes by stating: “A free and open media is the bedrock of a democratic society. Parliamentary subcommittee hearings that start from the premise that the foreign media is biased tend to look like poorly conceived witch-hunts.”

The hearing was called following a CBS news headline from last week about the murder of Border Police officer Hadar Cohen by three Palestinian assailants. The headline read: “3 Palestinians killed as daily violence grinds on.”

In response, the head of the GPO Nitzan Chen threatened to revoke the credentials of reporters for inaccurate headlines. Following Israeli intervention, the CBS headline was changed to: “Palestinians kill Israeli officer, wound another before being killed.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists issued a statement Monday expressing concern over increasing pressure and interference by the Israeli government on foreign journalists.

Last week, the same Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee held a discussion on violent incidents between security forces and the press, in which Knesset members and the IDF accused journalists of orchestrating events in order to negatively portray Israel.

]]>
http://972mag.com/knesset-hearing-on-unflattering-press-coverage-looks-like-witch-hunt/116858/feed/ 2
Hunger striking Palestinian journalist is dying, lawyer says http://972mag.com/hunger-striking-palestinian-journalist-is-dying-lawyer-says/116849/ http://972mag.com/hunger-striking-palestinian-journalist-is-dying-lawyer-says/116849/#comments Tue, 09 Feb 2016 11:16:20 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=116849 The Supreme Court suspended Muhammad al-Qiq’s administrative detention order but won’t let him return to the West Bank; al-Qiq’s attorney says he will only accept medical treatement in a Palestinian hospital.

By Oren Ziv and Yael Marom

Hunger striking Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq at Emek Medical Center in Afula, Israel, February 8, 2016. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Hunger striking Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq at Emek Medical Center in Afula, Israel, February 8, 2016. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq is on day 77 of a hunger strike protesting his administrative detention, a practice Israel uses to imprison people without having to charge them or bring them to trial.

[tmwinpost]

Al-Qiq is suffering from serious vertigo, has lost most of his sight and hearing, and can barely speak.

Since the High Court of Justice “suspended” his administrative detention last week he has been surrounded by supporters, activists and his legal team. The court did not, however, allow his release and refused to overturn his administrative detention order despite his serious medical condition.

Al-Qiq has said he will continue his hunger strike until he is fully released and allowed to return to the West Bank, where he will agree to medical treatment.

Attorney Hanan Khatib, who was by al-Qiq’s side when +972 Magazine visited him on Monday, reiterated that he is a journalist and that imprisoning him without charge or trial is illegal.

“The [High] Court suspended his administrative detention but unfortunately ruled that he must stay in the hospital in Afula (inside Israel),” Khatibi said.

Al-Qiq rejects that ruling, she added, saying that he will continue to refuse medical treatment until he is brought to a Palestinian hospital in the West Bank.

“He is dying right now,” Khatib added. “As the medical team has noted, he could die at any moment of a heart attack.”

Outside Emek Medical Center in Afula, a few Israeli activists stood demonstrating for al-Qiq’s immediate release from administrative detention. Protests in solidarity with al-Qiq have also taken place in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and elsewhere in the world in recent days.

Demonstrators outside the Emek Medical Center in Afula in solidarity with hunger striking Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq, who is protesting his imprisonment without trial, February 8, 2016. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Demonstrators outside the Emek Medical Center in Afula in solidarity with hunger striking Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq, who is protesting his imprisonment without trial, February 8, 2016. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

According to reports in the Palestinian media over the weekend, negotiations to end al-Qiq’s hunger strike were accelerated in recent days due to his deteriorating medical condition. Israel, according to the reports, is offering to not extend his administrative detention beyond May 1, when the detention order already expires; al-Qiq rejected that offer.

Al-Qiq, 33, from the West Bank village of Dura near Hebron, worked as a reporter for the Saudi news channel “Almajd.” He was arrested on the night of November 21, 2015 when Israeli soldiers arrested him at his home. He was not allowed to make contact with either his wife or his attorney for many days.

Al-Qiq began his hunger strike four days after the beginning of his interrogation, when the latter reportedly understood that his interrogation was politically motivated. Sources close to Al-Qiq state that he was interrogated for “journalistic incitement,” and when he refused to cooperate, he was put in administrative detention for a period of six months.

The Shin Bet claims he is a member of Hamas who was previously jailed several times due to his activities in the organization. His current detention, according to the Shin Bet, came following “founded suspicions of involvement in terror activities with Hamas.”

He has not been charge with committing a crime. His attorneys are not allowed to see the evidence being used to justify his continued administrative detention.

Israel is currently imprisoning without charge or trial hundreds of Palestinians and at least one Jewish Israeli. The authority to issue administrative detention orders is drawn from pre-state colonial laws that are only valid as long as Israel is officially in a state of emergency, which it has been continuously since its establishment in 1948.

A version of this article first appeared in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

]]>
http://972mag.com/hunger-striking-palestinian-journalist-is-dying-lawyer-says/116849/feed/ 1
Israel revokes entry permits for dozens of Palestinian peace activists http://972mag.com/idf-revokes-entry-permits-for-dozens-of-palestinian-peace-activists/116825/ http://972mag.com/idf-revokes-entry-permits-for-dozens-of-palestinian-peace-activists/116825/#comments Mon, 08 Feb 2016 17:46:00 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=116825 Dozens of Palestinians active in joint peace groups will no longer be able to cross into Israel to give workshops on reconciliation and dialogue.

Palestinians enter the main checkpoint separating Bethlehem and Jerusalem. (Activestills.org)

Palestinians enter the main checkpoint separating Bethlehem and Jerusalem. (Activestills.org)

The Israeli army’s Civil Administration, formerly known as the military government, recently informed dozens of joint Israeli-Palestinian peace organizations that it would retroactively revoke entry permits for Palestinian peace activists from the West Bank into Israel.

The change will affect veteran Palestinian activists, many of whom work or even manage peace organizations alongside their Israeli counterparts, and who have led workshops on peace, reconciliation, and dialogue in Israel for many years.

[tmwinpost]

In early January, Lt.-Col. Eyal Ze’evi of the Civil Administration updated the Peace NGOs Forum, which includes dozens of Israeli peace organizations, on the change in policy. Up until that point, Palestinian activists belonging to these groups would use three-month entry permits, which they would renew four times a year.

The Civil Administration — which despite its name is the military arm that manages many aspects of the day-to-day life of Palestinians living in the occupied territories — is charged with issuing entry permits. As part of the change in policy, entry to Palestinians will be limited to 180 days per year, they will not be able to enter the country during the first week following the month in which they entered, and will not be able to appeal a permit request that was rejected for security-related reasons.

The peace groups were surprised not only by the change in policy, but by the decision to retroactively implement the 180-day restriction, which effectively prevents Palestinian activists from receiving new entry permits in one fell swoop. The decision has led these groups to cancel dozens of workshops, speaking events, and dialogue groups scheduled for January and February.

Staff meetings, which generally take place in either Israel or the West Bank, can now only take place in the latter. It is worth mentioning that Israelis can enter Palestinian cities, and that peace and dialogue workshops for people of all ages are continuing on the Palestinian side.

“The whole point of these meetings, in pre-military academy programs and schools, for instance, is that they are joint meetings, which is precisely why this decision makes our activities difficult,” says Uri Ben Assa, from Combatants for Peace. “Our meetings include an Israeli and a Palestinian who tell their personal stories. The Palestinian describes how he used to be part of the cycle of violence — some of our Palestinian activists have been in prison — and how he came to the conclusion that violence is not the way, and that he wants to achieve his rights nonviolently. Young Israelis ask tough questions, which is good, and they receive direct and honest answers while getting another perspective of the situation.”

“If we generally have 10 Palestinians who speak Hebrew and were able to obtain entry permits, now all the work falls on one or two people from Jerusalem. We are forced to cancel our events.”

Pressing on despite the violence

The first signs of a change in policy by the Civil Administration appeared last November. Following a stabbing attack by a Palestinian resident of Hebron who entered Israel with a work permit, the administration froze all entry permits for Palestinians from the Hebron area, including the peace activists among them. Peace organizations see the move as part of the general political atmosphere, which includes stabbing, shooting, and vehicular attacks against Israelis, as well as attacks on left-wing NGOs by the government and right-wing groups.

Activists in the Parents Circle-Families Forum, a grassroots organization of Palestinian and Israeli families who have lost family members to the conflict, believe that there are those who are afraid of the organization’s unique voice.

“Our goal is for people to hear Palestinians talk about their pain and bereavement, who explain how they do not wish to act out of revenge, but rather to promote nonviolence and reconciliation,” explains Doubi Schwartz, the Israeli general manager of the organization. “Today there are moles and different ways of hurting us through bureaucracy.”

Parents Circle Families Forum dialogue tent in Tel Aviv (photo: Henriette Chacar)

An activist with the Parents Circle-Families Forum speaks at a dialogue tent in Tel Aviv. (photo: Henriette Chacar)

Over the past few weeks, the Parents Circle-Families Forum has been forced to cancel dozens of meetings with 20-30 Palestinian activists. Another group of Palestinians that did not receiver permits will not be able to attend a tour of Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust museum, which was meant to provide the Palestinians with an understanding of the Jewish trauma from the Holocaust.

The groups point out that permits for Palestinian activists were already limited to three months, as opposed to six months for Palestinian laborers. The decision will not affect entry permits for all Palestinians, especially in light of the defense establishment’s recent request to grant entry permits to another 30,000 Palestinian workers. Only peace activists will face restrictions.

The organizations have been trying to fight the decision by contacting various people in the Civil Administration as well as members of Knesset. According to a response Schwartz received from the military body last week, the issue is being reevaluated, and the Civil Administration understands that “a comprehensive update often includes mishaps, each of which is assessed and from which we learn what needs to be implemented or changed.” The Civil Administration further clarified that “we have no intention of harming the forum’s activities or the meetings held by different organizations, and therefore we are working tirelessly to reach conclusions.”

The Civil Administration and Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the unit charged with coordinating activities in the occupied territories, issued the following response:

The procedures for obtaining entry permits for different purposes that do not require an extended stay have recently been adjusted, and thus are issued for limited periods. In light of the many requests, the issue is being examined.

Let’s be clear: despite what the official response says, the procedures have not been adjusted. They have been changed completely.

Palestinians and Israelis take part in the yearly alternative Memorial Day service organized by Combatants for Peace. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinians and Israelis take part in the yearly alternative Memorial Day service organized by Combatants for Peace. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

“I am not really sure why this is happening, maybe in light of the security situation, or perhaps it stems from the fear of giving peace organizations entry permits, because who knows what may happen,” jokes Mazen Faraj, the Palestinian general manager of the Parents Circle-Families Forum, who has been entering Israel for the past 10 years and lives in Dheishe refugee camp near Bethlehem. “In my opinion it needs to be the exact opposite: the work of these organizations only helps bring about the end of the conflict, getting to know one another and reconciliation, rather than ignoring reality.”

In addition to the ongoing crisis, these organizations are beginning to prepare for the yearly alternative Israeli-Palestinian Memorial Day, which has taken place in Tel Aviv for the past 11 years. Activists fear that the new policy may end up harming the event. Last year, the Samaria Settler Council tried to cancel the event and called on Defense Minister Ya’alon to rescind entry permits from all Palestinians who were scheduled to take part. “Every year we have trouble bringing people in, and we end up getting only half of the permits we need for the 150 invitees from the West Bank,” says Ben Assa. “Now that things have fundamentally changed, I have no idea what will happen.”

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

Newsletter banner

]]>
http://972mag.com/idf-revokes-entry-permits-for-dozens-of-palestinian-peace-activists/116825/feed/ 3
WATCH: Three days under military closure in Qabatiya http://972mag.com/watch-three-days-under-military-closure-in-qabatiya/116766/ http://972mag.com/watch-three-days-under-military-closure-in-qabatiya/116766/#comments Sun, 07 Feb 2016 11:49:12 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=116766 West Bank town put under closure following last week’s deadly attack on Israeli Border Police officers in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Photos and text by: Ahmad Al-Bazz / Activestills.org

Palestinians protest against the Israeli military's closure of ‪‎Qabatiya‬, near Jenin,  February 6, 2016. (photo: Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Palestinians protest against the Israeli military’s closure of ‪‎Qabatiya‬, near Jenin, February 6, 2016. (photo: Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

After three days of strict military closure, the Israeli army lifted its blockade Saturday evening on the town of Qabatiya in the northern West Bank.

The blockade was put in place last week after three Palestinians from the town carried out a shooting attack at Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate, killing one Israeli Border Police officer and wounding three others. The three Palestinians were immediately shot and killed by Israeli security forces. Many have called the closure on Qabatiya a form of “collective punishment.”

Palestinians carry the body of Ahmed Zakarneh, one of the three Palestinians killed during the shooting attack on Israeli Border Policemen in Jerusalem's Old City, Qabatiya, West Bank, February 5, 2016. (photo: Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Palestinians carry the body of Ahmed Zakarneh, one of the three Palestinians killed during the shooting attack on Israeli Border Policemen in Jerusalem’s Old City, Qabatiya, West Bank, February 5, 2016. (photo: Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

As a result of the closure, each of the town’s entrances was completely sealed off with dirt mounds, preventing passage in or out of the village, home to 20,000 Palestinians. The schools closed their doors and residents were stuck at home, while commercial traffic in the town came to a complete standstill, drastically affecting Qabatiya’s vegetable market — the largest in the West Bank.

Clashes erupted across Qabatiya and last for several days, leaving dozens of Palestinian wounded by live fire and rubber bullets. Three Israeli soldiers were wounded last Thursday night by stone-throwing while carrying out raids in the village.

Palestinians take cover during clashes with Israeli forces in Qabatiya, West Bank, February 6, 2016. (photo: Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Palestinians take cover during clashes with Israeli forces in Qabatiya, West Bank, February 6, 2016. (photo: Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

]]>
http://972mag.com/watch-three-days-under-military-closure-in-qabatiya/116766/feed/ 0
Tel Aviv service offers cleaners priced by ethnic origin http://972mag.com/tel-aviv-service-offers-cleaners-priced-by-ethnic-origin/116723/ http://972mag.com/tel-aviv-service-offers-cleaners-priced-by-ethnic-origin/116723/#comments Sat, 06 Feb 2016 13:58:17 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=116723 Cleaning services are being promoted to potential clients in north Tel Aviv with a flyer that prices its cleaners according to their ethnic origin. The advert also refers to its employees in the feminine only.

A flyer distributed in north Tel Aviv that offers cleaning services according to the ethnic origin of the (female only) cleaner. (Photo: Courtesy)

A flyer distributed in north Tel Aviv that offers cleaning services according to the ethnic origin of the (female only) cleaner.

A service provider offering cleaning and housekeeping in north Tel Aviv has taken the term “human resources” to a whole new level, distributing a flyer that prices its cleaners according to their ethnic origin.

[tmwinpost]

The advert, which was distributed in one of Tel Aviv’s most affluent areas, was first posted on Facebook by political blogger Tal Schneider, who was given the flyer by an acquaintance.

Starting out with a corny infomercial-style list of questions, the ad asks: Do you need a housekeeper? Are you tired of hiring illegal foreign workers and getting fined? Not prepared to have an Arab cleaner for security reasons? Are you tired of employing according to the law and being sued by temporary workers?

The flyer then presents the “solution” to all these unpleasant and onerous problems, by offering “legal only” housekeepers and cleaners, with hourly rates scaled according to the cleaner’s ethnicity.

The cheapest labor comes from employees from African countries, at NIS 49 per hour. Slightly more expensive are Eastern European workers, at NIS 52 an hour. By far the most expensive are Eastern European employees who hold Israeli citizenship, at NIS 69 per hour.

The flyer also refers to the cleaners in question exclusively in the feminine (Hebrew is a gendered language), which in conjunction with the illustrative photo of a serene (and white) woman cleaning a window, adds a healthy wallop of sexism into the mix.

The immediate assumption of many that this is satire designed to highlight the very open and profound racism that runs through Israeli society was unfortunately dispelled, according to national news outlet Mako [Heb], which said it managed to contact an employee of the company to confirm that the ad was indeed real. The employee also reportedly claimed that paying employees different salaries according to their ethnicity is not illegal.

Each time such a brazen and shameful display of casual racism pops up in this country, the immediate response is to compare it to how it would look if another country did the same thing: to imagine, for example, the uproar that would be caused if an American company priced its (female-only) cleaning services according to whether the cleaners were from southeast Asia, say, or African-American.

It’s a valid and tempting comparison to make. But it’s also sad, because it demonstrates just how deep-seated the prejudice is in Israel: people have to be shown other examples of horrendous discrimination in order to understand just how unnatural this state of affairs is. And anyone who may want to console themselves with the idea that this kind of precision racism is not a perfectly normal part of the discourse here need only look back to another mini-incident from a few months back.

Last October, in response to a wave of stabbing and other terror attacks, the council of Tel Aviv suburb Givatayim started looking into the possibility of replacing all their schools’ Palestinian janitorial staff with Eritreans [Heb]. What stood in their way? A previous law passed by the Israeli government that barred the employment of African asylum seekers in the central Israel region.

Underneath all of this, of course, is the unspoken understanding that this kind of manual work is only to be assigned to non-Jews (thus, for example, a fairly prominent lawyer once blithely remarked to me that “Jews are too smart” for this kind of labor).

One more thing: the last carrot the flyer dangles in front of its prospective clients is a special price for a “full day” of 12 hours of work. Human resources, indeed.

Newsletter banner

]]>
http://972mag.com/tel-aviv-service-offers-cleaners-priced-by-ethnic-origin/116723/feed/ 4
WATCH: Israelis and Palestinians join hands to say no to occupation http://972mag.com/watch-israelis-and-palestinians-join-hands-to-say-no-to-occupation/116734/ http://972mag.com/watch-israelis-and-palestinians-join-hands-to-say-no-to-occupation/116734/#comments Sat, 06 Feb 2016 13:09:21 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=116734 For the third time in the past two months, Israeli and Palestinian activists march on West Bank checkpoint to call for an end to the ongoing violence.

Photos and text by Oren Ziv / Activestills.org

Over 200 Israelis and Palestinians marched on the Israeli army’s “tunnels checkpoint” south of Jerusalem Friday to demonstrate against the occupation and the ongoing violence in the country.

Israelis and Palestinians march toward the 'tunnels checkpoint' in the West Bank, in a joint demonstration against the occupation, February 5, 2016. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israelis and Palestinians march toward the ‘tunnels checkpoint’ in the West Bank, in a joint demonstration against the occupation, February 5, 2016. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The protesters began marching from the Husan junction on Route 60 — the southern West Bank’s main north-south artery that connects Jerusalem, Beit Jala, the Gush Etzion settlements, and Hebron — while chanting slogans against the occupation and in support of two states. Some of the marchers held photos of Palestinian journalist Muhammad al-Qiq, who has been on hunger strike for 73 days.

Palestinians and Israelis hold up posters of Muhammad al-Qiq, a Palestinian journalist on hunger strike in an Israeli hospital, during a joint protest at the 'tunnels checkpoint,' south of Jerusalem, February 5. 2016. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinians and Israelis hold up posters of Muhammad al-Qiq, a Palestinian journalist on hunger strike in an Israeli hospital, during a joint protest at the ‘tunnels checkpoint,’ south of Jerusalem, February 5. 2016. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

As the demonstration began, and despite the police blocking traffic for a short while to allow the marchers to pass through Route 60, a number of Border Police officers, some of them masked, arrested two of the march’s Israeli organizers. The police then pushed back against a number of protesters who tried to explain that violent arrest was unnecessary. Meanwhile, Israeli drivers stopped their cars and cursed the protesters.

Israeli Border Police officers violently arrest two of the protests' Israeli organizers, February 5, 2016. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israeli Border Police officers violently arrest two of the protests’ Israeli organizers, February 5, 2016. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The two Israeli organizers were released at the end of the demonstration.

An Israeli soldier flips off Israeli and Palestinian demonstrators during a protest march in the West Bank, February 5, 2016. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

An Israeli soldier flips off Israeli and Palestinian demonstrators during a protest march in the West Bank, February 5, 2016. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

This is the third joint demonstration at the tunnel’s checkpoint in the last few months, organized by “Standing Together,” which includes anti-occupation groups such as “Combatants for Peace” and others.

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

Newsletter banner

]]>
http://972mag.com/watch-israelis-and-palestinians-join-hands-to-say-no-to-occupation/116734/feed/ 3
‘Blacklisted’ human rights groups sing a defiant tune http://972mag.com/blacklisted-human-rights-groups-sing-a-defiant-tune/116705/ http://972mag.com/blacklisted-human-rights-groups-sing-a-defiant-tune/116705/#comments Fri, 05 Feb 2016 16:16:35 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=116705 Amid an unprecedented wave of delegitimization and attacks on human rights groups in Israel, dozens of organizations throw a mini-festival in Tel Aviv, sending a message that they will not be deterred.

Journalist and musician Dror Feuer performs at the ‘Blacklisted’ event at the Tel Aviv port, February 5, 2016.

Journalist and musician Dror Feuer performs at the ‘Blacklisted’ event at the Tel Aviv port, February 5, 2016. (Courtesy photo)

Over a thousand people joined dozens of human rights organizations in Tel Aviv’s port Friday afternoon in order to send a message that silencing, shaming and blacklisting Israelis who oppose — and speak out against — the occupation of the Palestinian territories will not work.

The event, titled “Blacklist,” was as a direct response to a right-wing campaign claiming to “expose” Israeli artists and cultural figures who are involved with or support human rights and anti-occupation organizations. Just a few weeks earlier, another high profile right-wing campaign portrayed human rights activists as “moles,” or agents, of foreign powers.

“Blacklist” was billed as a combination of a show of resilience and solidarity among the organizations threatened by the right-wing campaigns, as well as a celebration of what they do. Among the performers were Mira Awad, Dror Feuer, Leora Rivlin, Rebecca Michaeli, Za’aluk, and dozens of others.

A performer at the ‘Blacklist’ show of human rights and anti-occupation groups, Tel Aviv Port, February 5, 2016.

A performer at the ‘Blacklist’ show of human rights and anti-occupation groups, Tel Aviv Port, February 5, 2016. (Courtesy photo)

But before the fun started, the heads of five leading human rights groups in Israel-Palestine spoke about efforts to silence and delegitimize them and their organizations, and the Israeli government’s increasing reliance on legal measures to undermine human rights groups and activists.

The steps being taken against anti-occupation groups “[are] the result of the Israeli government’s inability to offer a political solution to the security situation, the economic recession, and the growing international criticism of the occupation,” explained Yuli Novak, director of anti-occupation group Breaking the Silence, which collects testimonies from soldiers who have served in the occupied territories.

[tmwinpost]

The right-wing campaign calling human rights groups “moles” was timed to coincide with government-sponsored legislation targeting the funding of human rights groups under the guise of transparency.

“The concept of transparency is being misused in order to undermine our work,” said Tania Hary, executive director of Gisha, an organization that promotes freedom of movement for Palestinians, primarily in Gaza.

Ironically, Hary noted, senior Israeli security officials are in agreement with human rights groups that improving human rights conditions for Palestinians is a matter of Israeli security. “So the fact that we’re being labeled somehow as ‘foreign agents’ is very misleading.”

Jafar Farah, executive director of Mossawa — The Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel, noted that Israeli authorities have taken even harsher steps against Palestinian civil society organizations for decades, but particularly in recent months when they outlawed the Islamic Movement.

“What was done to the Islamic Movement is the future of our organizations,” he said. Building coalitions with Jewish partners, he added, “[is] important for the liberation of the Jewish population from the occupation and for the liberation of Palestinians from the occupation.”

Meanwhile, outside, a single counter-protester greeted attendees filtering into the event, holding a placard with the words “moles” and “traitors” above a list of the human rights and anti-occupation organizations hosting the event.

The winking irony of the event’s title, “Blacklist,” seemed to have been lost on her.

]]>
http://972mag.com/blacklisted-human-rights-groups-sing-a-defiant-tune/116705/feed/ 9