+972 Magazine » News http://972mag.com Independent commentary and news from Israel & Palestine Wed, 22 Oct 2014 20:05:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8 Ultra-Orthodox Jews tear down ‘bat mitzvah’ ads in Jerusalem http://972mag.com/ultra-orthodox-jews-tear-down-bat-mitzvah-ads-in-jerusalem/97905/ http://972mag.com/ultra-orthodox-jews-tear-down-bat-mitzvah-ads-in-jerusalem/97905/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 13:23:49 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=97905 Buses carrying ‘Women of the Wall’ advertisements are vandalized and attacked; until earlier this year the Egged bus company refused to run ads featuring photos of women in Jerusalem.

Unlike the majority of Jewish communities in western countries, most girls in Israel do not usually have bat mitzvah ceremonies. A new Jerusalem campaign promoting the right of girls to have the ceremonies at the Western Wall has been met with violence by ultra-Orthodox elements in the city.

Busses carrying the advertisements, paid for by Women of the Wall, have been vandalized and the posters themselves ripped off of public buses. Half of the ads were vandalized, according to the Egged public bus company’s advertising agency.

The posters, which carry Hebrew text saying, “Mom, I want a bat mitzvah at the motel, too,” also feature photos of a bat mitzvah-aged girl and her mother.

A damaged 'Women of the Wall' ad on an Egged bus in Jerusalem, October 21, 2014. (Courtesy of Women of the Wall)

A damaged ‘Women of the Wall’ ad on an Egged bus in Jerusalem, October 21, 2014. (Courtesy of Women of the Wall)

Police reportedly had to extricate a bus carrying the ad that was attacked by ultra-Orthodox protesters in Jerusalem in recent days.

The marginalization of women in public spaces

At issue is more than just the idea of young women partaking in bat mitzvah ceremonies. Placing images of any women on public advertisements has been a point of serious contention in Jerusalem for years, part of a larger public struggle against pressure from ultra-Orthodox Israelis to marginalize women in public spaces.

For years, Egged, Israel’s most prominent public bus company, had refused to carry advertisements that featured images of women on bus lines in cities with large ultra-orthodox populations like Jerusalem. Ultra-Orthodox communities claim that just displaying photos of women is “indecent.”

Only half a year ago did the company agree — as part of a high-profile court settlement — to begin accepting advertisements featuring women. The settlement was only possible because the state agreed to cover physical damage to Egged’s buses caused by vandalism related to ads featuring women.

Two years earlier, the bus company decided to stop running advertisements featuring any people, men or women, in order to avoid being accused of discrimination while appeasing the ultra-Orthodox community.

Responding to the latest violence and vandalism, Women of the Wall leader Lesley Sachs said, “It is sad to yet again see the ultra-Orthodox citizens take the law into their own hands and use Judaism as an excuse for the use of force, threat and violence against women. We call on ultra-Orthodox leadership to strongly denounce this act of violence and all others.”

One of the young women featured on Women of the Wall’s current ad campaign plans to hold her bat mitzvah at the Western Wall Plaza this coming Friday. Police, however, have many times in the past prevented Women of the Wall from bringing their Torah scroll into the plaza.

The group and other non-Orthodox streams of Judaism negotiated a deal with the Israeli government to build an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall Plaza, although the plan has yet to be fully realized.

Related:
3 women arrested while praying at Western Wall in 24 hours
Supporting roles: Men stand in solidarity with Women of the Wall
‘Why I cannot stand with Women of the Wall’

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WATCH: Reflections on Gaza — from Likud to ‘Women Waging Peace’ http://972mag.com/watch-reflections-on-gaza-from-likud-to-women-waging-peace/97902/ http://972mag.com/watch-reflections-on-gaza-from-likud-to-women-waging-peace/97902/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 11:20:58 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=97902 Over a month after this summer’s devastating Gaza war, small groups of Israelis are starting to reflect on what was and what will be. From a debate hosted by the youth wing of Israel’s ruling Likud party to a new group called Women Waging Peace and the Parents Circle forum of bereaved families, Social TV visits with those who are ready to start talking.

Related:
Channeling loss to stimulate change: 71 days of dialogue
In my name, in your name, in all of our names

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Nine more Jewish families take over Silwan homes in dead of night http://972mag.com/nine-more-jewish-families-take-over-silwan-homes-in-dead-of-night/97864/ http://972mag.com/nine-more-jewish-families-take-over-silwan-homes-in-dead-of-night/97864/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 11:07:48 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=97864 If settling Jews beyond the Green Line in Palestinian East Jerusalem is legitimate, why are organizations sneaking in settlers in the middle of the night?

Nine Jewish Israeli families took over two empty buildings in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem overnight Sunday. According to the NGO Ir Amim, the families took control over 10 housing units in two buildings in the heart of Silwan. They moved in under the auspices of Ateret Cohanim, a settler organization based in the Muslim quarter of the Old City that works to create a Jewish demographic majority in East Jerusalem.

This latest takeover comes less than a month after settlers moved into seven houses in another part of Silwan, also in the dead of night and backed by heavy security forces, courtesy of Elad, another East Jerusalem settler organization. These new moves double the number of Jews currently living in Silwan, according to Israeli media. There were no reports of confrontations during the takeover Sunday night.

Read also: In Silwan, the settlers are winning — big time

According to Haaretz, the buildings were purchased in the last year by foreign companies at the behest of the Committee for the Renewal of the Yemenite Village, which looks to restore the Yemenite community that lived in the area before the establishment of the State of Israel. This is similar to the warped rationale behind moving Jews back into the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah — which exposes the discriminatory practice in which Jews can reclaim lands from before 1948 in East Jerusalem but Palestinians cannot do the same in West Jerusalem — or anywhere throughout Israel.

Silwan, East Jerusalem (image: activestills)

Silwan, East Jerusalem (photo: Activestills)

Speaking at a dedication ceremony for a road in memory of late Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir on Sunday in Jerusalem, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin addressed the situation in the city, specifically alluding to settlements in Silwan:

Jerusalem cannot be a city in which building takes place in secret, or where moving into apartments happens in the dead of night. We must bear responsibility for keeping Jerusalem sovereign.

We need to take the reins and manage Jerusalem in an active and straightforward way, with care and thoughtfulness. I hope that in Yitzhak Shamir’s spirit, we will know how to stand up for our undisputed right over Jerusalem, and through this right, treat her as a sovereign with all the responsibility that comes with it.

Rivlin is essentially saying that there is no reason to move Jews into East Jerusalem in a clandestine manner since Jews have an “undisputed right over Jerusalem.” He does make a point. If East Jerusalem is the legitimate, uncontested capital of Israel, then why are settler organizations sneaking people in secretly at night? The act is incriminating when, according to the president, there is no crime being committed.

This is the same president who recently appeared in a video with a Palestinian boy from Jaffa calling for equality and tolerance, pretty much the only major political voice in Israel doing so — although as head of state his office doesn’t have any actual political power. During the speech, he does indeed go on to invoke the need for Arabs and Jews to be treated equally:

It is no secret that Jerusalem is volatile. Too many violent incidents occur in East as well as in West Jerusalem. This violence, which boils into terrorism, must be stopped, and dealt with severely by the security forces and police. Even at the cost of forcible action against the rioters – whether Arab or Jew.

Jerusalem cannot be governed by groups with an interest to enflame and stoke the fires at their will. We cannot ignore the conscious attempts by different sides to incite Jerusalem’s citizens, against each other. Jerusalem wasn’t divided into tribes. She was not and will not be anybody’s hostage, or political pawn. Jerusalem must be kept as a sovereign city with a responsibility to all its inhabitants, and maintaining the relations between them.

The president wants nothing more than for Jews and Arabs to get along in Jerusalem and at the same time is supporting the continued occupation of East Jerusalem.

In a statement responding to the takeover, Ir Amim wrote:

The entrance of additional settlers in Silwan is another step toward closing the window for a political solution. It is always done with the backing of the authorities, both directly and through the allocation of millions of shekels in security from the state budget.

Related:
In Silwan, the settlers are winning — big time
Elie Wiesel, Amos Yadlin congratulate E. Jerusalem settlers

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For near identical crimes, an Israeli and a Palestinian’s fate couldn’t be more different http://972mag.com/for-near-identical-crimes-an-israeli-and-a-palestinians-fate-couldnt-be-more-different/97869/ http://972mag.com/for-near-identical-crimes-an-israeli-and-a-palestinians-fate-couldnt-be-more-different/97869/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 10:41:26 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=97869 A Palestinian hit-and-run suspect is sent to prison and winds up dead; a Jewish suspected of a similar but deadlier crime in the West Bank is sent home to his family.

By John Brown* (translated by Sol Salbe)

Israeli soldiers arresting a Palestinian man, September 27, 2008. (Photo by Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Israeli soldiers arresting a Palestinian man. (Illustrative photo by Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Three months ago, on July 25, Raed al Jabari, a 35-year-old a father of five, was driving on Route 60 through the West Bank. He apparently fell asleep at the wheel (having earlier taken painkillers). Near the Gush Etzion Junction he hit a woman standing on the road. The woman was slightly injured. Immediately afterwards, he veered sharply back onto the road and turned himself in to Israeli authorities. There he explained what is outlined above.

Al Jabari was arrested and taken to the Ofer military prison. He was brought to the military court within the complex, where in light of these facts, the military judge released him on NIS 8,000 bail ($2140), having decided that he was not dangerous and his action wasn’t a deliberate terrorist act. But those were the days of Operation Protective Edge, and under the cover of the fighting in Gaza, the IDF greatly intensified its repressive actions in the West Bank. Without any additional evidence, the Military Advocate-General decided not to release him and Al Jabari became a “security prisoner.”

On September 9, Jabari was transferred to the Eshel Prison in Beersheba — inside the Green Line Israel — in flagrant violation of international law, which prohibits the transfer of prisoners outside of occupied territory. According to eyewitness accounts, he refused to get out of the vehicle, but was beaten and eventually got out. A few hours later the Israeli Prison Service (IPS) announced he had been found hanged in his cell. His family wasn’t informed of the death. Only after the case was reported in the media and rumors began to reach the family did they contacted the IPS, which at first claimed it knew nothing of the matter, and then confirmed the details. Israeli news site Walla! News reported at the time: “the prisoner who committed suicide, a 37-year-old Palestinian from Hebron, was arrested two months ago during Operation Brother’s Keeper on suspicion of security offenses.”

The findings of the Israeli autopsy have not been published to this date. The Palestinian doctor who was present has been compelled by the court to desist from publishing the results. He did, nevertheless, recommend an additional Palestinian autopsy. I have been unable to get a hold of even those results. However, following the autopsy, Palestinian minister for prisoners claimed that there were no signs of hanging on the body, but that there were signs of violence.

I don’t know which of the accounts is the true one, and for our purposes it does not matter. Either way this is an IPS failure, which followed the military legal regime’s criminal abuse of a person whose only crime, it is reasonable to assume, was of a minor traffic accident, and whose death would be whitewashed using the usual means.

Yesterday, Sunday afternoon, on the same West Bank road near the village of Sinjil, a Jewish Israeli from the settlement of Yitzhar ran over and killed five-year-old Palestinian Inas Shawkat Dar Khalil, also critically injuring four-year-old Omar Asfour. He fled the scene and didn’t summon help. When he arrived at the major settlement of Ofra, he called the police. They sent him home to his family.

The settler — responsible for the death of a child and the critical injuries of another — wasn’t arrested, he was not taken to a military prison, he wasn’t tried without evidence, he wasn’t beaten up, he wasn’t taken away from his family, and he didn’t become a security prisoner.

A Palestinian under similar circumstances who only lightly injured an Israeli woman, had to endure all of that, and died because of it.

Correction:
A previous version of this article mistakenly stated that al Jabari struck the Israeli woman with his car on July 26, when in fact the events took place on July 25, 2014. We regret the error.

John Brown is the pseudonym of an Israeli academic and blogger. Translated from Hebrew by Sol Salbe of the Middle East News Service, Melbourne Australia.

Related:
How Israel’s High Court chooses occupation over international law
Conviction rate for Palestinians in Israel’s military courts: 99.74%

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Most Jewish Israelis oppose Palestinian state, new poll shows http://972mag.com/most-israelis-oppose-palestinian-state-new-poll-shows/97833/ http://972mag.com/most-israelis-oppose-palestinian-state-new-poll-shows/97833/#comments Sun, 19 Oct 2014 13:58:54 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=97833 No poll is perfect, but this one happens to be an accurate reflection of the Israeli government’s policies, much of its rhetoric, and the reality on the ground.

A large majority of Jewish Israeli citizens (74 percent) oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 borders, according to a new poll conducted by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a right-wing think tank. The organization also found that 76 percent oppose a Palestinian state if it means dividing Jerusalem.

The poll surveyed 505 Jewish Israelis, dividing them along their personal political orientation. Three hundred and four identified themselves as right wing, 125 as centrists and 68 as left wing. It is interesting to note that of those who consider themselves “centrists,” 63 percent oppose a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 border, compared with only 19 percent who identify as left.

When it comes to Jerusalem, a not surprising majority of both rightists and centrists oppose conceding East Jerusalem to a future Palestinian state. However, while 51.5 percent of leftists support it, nearly 40 percent of them oppose it. This means that even those who consider themselves left wing in Israel are on the fence about giving up East Jerusalem. From this we can conclude that most Jewish Israelis oppose a two-state solution, and even those on the left are not quite sure about it. It also illustrates that the notion of what is considered “left wing” in Israel has shifted to the right along with the rest of the public.

Palestinian activists lifting the Palestinian flag in the "Bab Al-Shams" village. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills)

Palestinian activists lifting the Palestinian flag in the “Bab Al-Shams” village. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills)

On the issue of the Jordan Valley, a large majority of Jewish Israelis, including those identified as left (42.6 percent), oppose withdrawal for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

The poll, published in Israel Hayom, is obviously meant to serve Netanyahu’s agenda. And while it is dangerous to rely on solely on a single poll to back up any claim, this specific poll – no matter how flawed or skewed – happens to be an accurate reflection of the Israeli government’s policies, much of its rhetoric, and the reality on the ground.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has said time and time again that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel and will never be divided. Members of the Likud party have openly come out against the establishment of a Palestinian state and leaders of both Yisrael Beiteinu and the Jewish Home party could not be more explicit in how much they oppose the notion of a Palestinian state.

Just the other day, Defense Minister Ya’alon said plainly that he is “not looking for a solution, I am looking for a way to manage the conflict and maintain relations in a way that works for our interests. We need to free ourselves of the notion that everything boils down to only one option called a [Palestinian] state.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is welcomed by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon in Jerusalem on May 23, 2013. (State Dept Photo)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is welcomed by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon in Jerusalem on May 23, 2013. (State Dept Photo)

So even though many polls over the years have shown and still show that a majority of Jewish Israelis support a two-state solution based more or less along the 1967 border with land swaps – such sentiment is reflected less and less in the way Israelis vote and talk. This new poll seems to provide a much more honest assessment of the reality on the ground and the reality in the halls of government.

If government policies, government rhetoric, the reality on the ground and polls like this one don’t convince the U.S. government and the rest of the world that Israelis have no interest in negotiating a peace deal that includes a viable Palestinian state, what will?

Related:
Polls: Two-state solution was a casualty, even before the war
After Kerry, only BDS may save the two-state solution
COMIC: Why even god can’t reach a two-state solution

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PHOTOS: Palestinians watch harvest season disappear before their eyes http://972mag.com/photos-palestinians-watch-harvest-season-disappear-before-their-eyes/97741/ http://972mag.com/photos-palestinians-watch-harvest-season-disappear-before-their-eyes/97741/#comments Sat, 18 Oct 2014 11:15:10 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=97741 In the village of Salem, as elsewhere in the West Bank, Palestinians are forced to harvest their olives according to the whims and restrictions of Israeli authorities.

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

Israeli soldiers watch Palestinian farmers harvest olives in Salem village, near Nablus, West Bank, October 9, 2014. Palestinian farmers who have olive groves near Israeli settlements, army bases or bypass roads are restricted in their access to their land. This year, Salem villagers were allowed to harvest their land for only five days.

Israeli soldiers watch Palestinian farmers harvest olives in Salem village, near Nablus, West Bank, October 9, 2014. Palestinian farmers who have olive groves near Israeli settlements, army bases or bypass roads are restricted in their access to their land. This year, Salem villagers were allowed to harvest their land for only five days. (photo: Activestills.org)

As every year in October, Palestinian families in the West Bank head to their groves in order to begin the olive harvest season. The harvest for any given family might take a few days or several weeks depending on the number of olive trees they have.

In the village of Salem, near Nablus, the daily olive harvest routine is for families to go out at 6:00 in the morning and work until sunset. All family members participate in the harvest, from children to the elderly.  The families that have groves near their houses and far from settlements can work freely. Families that have groves near Israeli settlements, military bases or bypass roads can only harvest according to a schedule imposed by Israeli authorities.

This year, Israeli authorities gave only five days to Salem residents who have lands behind the Israeli bypass road and nearby settlement outposts of Elon Moreh. These families have to finish their harvest in this limited time regardless of their number of olive trees.

Some families decided to start harvesting on the days before those dictated by the Israeli authorities’ schedule in order to be able to finish all of their trees. Some succeeded, while others were caught by Israeli authorities and forced to stop working and leave their land. At the same time, other residents said that soldiers forced them to stop the harvest at noon even on days that were supposed to be allowed according to the schedule.

In areas such as these, Israeli authorities allow these farmers to reach their lands only two times per year: Once in April for tilling soil, and again in October for the olive harvest. After months of being prevented from reaching their land, farmers might discover new problems. Some reported that they found dozens of damaged olive trees, which they assume were vandalized by Israeli settlers. Others have discovered new settlement outposts being built nearby. The growth of settlements can mean increased movement restrictions in years to come.

In recent years, the olive harvest has become a time of increased violence by Israeli settlers toward Palestinian residents and their trees. A Palestinian woman harvesting olives in the village of Kfar Yassuf near Nablus was hospitalized earlier this week after being beaten with a stick in a case in which two Israeli settlers were arrested, one of them a minor. But such arrests are the exception. According to the Israeli human rights group Yesh Din, violence against Palestinians and their property during olive harvest season and throughout the year is rarely investigated. Of the 246 files opened by Israeli police in the West Bank monitored by Yesh Din, just four led to indictments, with 223 files closed due to investigative failures. This 96.6 percent failure rate, according to Yesh Din, shows that the ability of Israeli authorities “to identify and prosecute offenders involved in deliberate damage to Palestinian trees is particularly poor, and effectively almost non-existent.”

Farmers head to their lands in the early morning hours to harvest olives, Salem village, near Nablus, West Bank, October 10, 2014.

Farmers head to their lands in the early morning hours to harvest olives, Salem village, near Nablus, West Bank, October 10, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

 

A Palestinian rides a donkey toward olive groves in the early morning hours before the harvest.

A Palestinian rides a donkey toward olive groves in the early morning hours before the harvest. (photo: Activestills.org)

 

A Palestinian family crosses an Israeli bypass road as they head towards their lands for the olive harvest, in Salem village, West Bank, October 8, 2014. Farmers who have groves behind this Israeli bypass road are allowed to enter their lands twice a year: once during olive harvest season and again for tilling soil in April.

A Palestinian family crosses an Israeli bypass road as they head towards their lands for the olive harvest, in Salem village, West Bank, October 8, 2014. Farmers who have groves behind this Israeli bypass road are allowed to enter their lands twice a year: once during olive harvest season and again for tilling soil in April. (photo: Activestills.org)

 

Israeli soldiers watch Palestinian farmers harvest olives in Salem village, West Bank, October 9, 2014.

Israeli soldiers watch Palestinian farmers harvest olives in Salem village, West Bank, October 9, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

 

A Palestinian man harvests olives in Salem village, near Nablus, West Bank, October 9, 2014.

A Palestinian man harvests olives in Salem village, near Nablus, West Bank, October 9, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

 

A new Israeli settlement outpost is seen near Palestinian olive groves in Salem village, near Nablus, West Bank, October 9, 2014.

A new Israeli settlement outpost is seen near Palestinian olive groves in Salem village, near Nablus, West Bank, October 9, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

 

An Israeli soldier watches a Palestinian woman while she harvests olives in Salem village, near Nablus, West Bank, October 9, 2014.

An Israeli soldier watches a Palestinian woman while she harvests olives in Salem village, near Nablus, West Bank, October 9, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

 

A Palestinian child holds freshly harvested olives, Salem, West Bank, October 9, 2014.

A Palestinian child holds freshly harvested olives, Salem, West Bank, October 9, 2014. (photo: Activestills.org)

Related:
PHOTOS: A state-sanctioned ‘price tag’ on Palestinian olive trees
Settler violence: Think of it like burning down a Jewish business

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Instead of voting to recognize Palestine, vote against occupation http://972mag.com/instead-of-voting-to-recognize-palestine-vote-against-occupation/97733/ http://972mag.com/instead-of-voting-to-recognize-palestine-vote-against-occupation/97733/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 07:30:25 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=97733 Opposing Israeli settlements is not necessarily a vote for Palestine.

The British Parliament’s non-binding, purely symbolic vote to recognize the “State of Palestine” on Monday was not as significant as the debate that preceded the vote (read the full transcript here). Several media outlets noted conservative MP Richard Ottaway’s speech, a longtime Israel supporter who expressed genuine indignation with its latest announcement of more settlements as the reason behind his yes vote. As John Cassidy at The New Yorker put it, “for any true friend of Israel, Ottaway’s words will be hard to ignore.”

In fact, Ottoway sounded more like a spouse who has suddenly discovered that his partner has been cheating on him all these years, and is now in a state of utter shock and betrayal:

The annexation of the 950 acres of the West Bank just a few months ago has outraged me more than anything else in my political life, mainly because it makes me look a fool, and that is something that I resent.

That staunch allies of Israel are finally openly criticizing its policies is noteworthy. However, Ottaway’s words reflect that his vote to recognize “Palestine” was not a vote for Palestinian independence or justice, so much as a vote against Israeli leadership, for whom the notion of a Palestinian state is the bane of its existence. As Ottaway noted:

Under normal circumstances, I would oppose the motion tonight; but such is my anger over Israel’s behavior in recent months that I will not oppose the motion. I have to say to the government of Israel that if they are losing people like me, they will be losing a lot of people.

I don’t know what he means by “normal’ circumstances or where he has been for decades as Israel talked peace while directly acting against it. The fact is, Ottaway’s vote was meant to stick it to Israel for making him look like an idiot. Not because he necessarily cares about Palestinians or has any clue what a Palestinian state that he symbolically opted to recognize would look like.

Hundreds of Palestinians gather to watch the speech by Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas in the bid for Palestine's "nonmember observer state" status at the United Nations, projected on the Israeli separation wall in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, November 29, 2012. Hours later, the UN General Assembly voted 138-9 in favor of the upgraded status for Palestine, with 41 nations abstaining. (Photo by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

Hundreds of Palestinians gather to watch the speech by Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas in the bid for Palestine’s “nonmember observer state” status at the United Nations, projected on the Israeli separation wall in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, November 29, 2012. Hours later, the UN General Assembly voted 138-9 in favor of the upgraded status for Palestine, with 41 nations abstaining. (Photo by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

After all, the last thing Palestinians need right now is symbolic recognition; even actual recognition in the Oslo Accords didn’t do anything for them. What they need are concrete steps – the end of Israeli control over their lives, which is why Abbas is turning to the UN to demand Israel end the occupation by 2016 and withdraw from the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Before this happens, there can be no solution, since any forms of negotiation will necessarily take place in a dynamic in which Israel still has lopsided control and thus leverage.

Ottaway’s motive for his vote is highly problematic – not only because he admitted it is more about his own ego than the reality on the ground for those living here, but because it propagates the bogus dichotomy that being “pro-Israel” necessarily means being “anti-Palestinian” and in this case the inverse: that being “anti-Israel” means being “pro-Palestinian.”

This zero-sum dichotomy was created in order to pit Israel’s right to self-determination directly against that of Palestinians, forcing the world to decide between them. And it has been cultivated with great devotion by the hasbara industry and Israeli advocates in the West for decades – exemplified most prominently by AIPAC. Being pro-Israel means supporting the government, supporting settlements, not asking difficult questions and never, ever advocating for Palestinians.

Today the Netanyahu government is pushing that dichotomy harder than ever – taking the issue back to the 1980s, when Palestinian statehood was still taboo and settlements weren’t occupying as much land.  It is why the Israeli peace camp has pushed so hard all these years for a two-state solution and why groups in the U.S. like J Street have made it their motto that being “pro-Israel” means being “pro peace.”

A vote against Israeli settlements is not necessarily a vote for a Palestinian state. But it should be a vote against Israeli occupation, which continues to colonize Palestinian land and resources and violates their basic human rights. During the debate, many MPs expressed the simple but critical notion that opposing settlements and favoring the idea of an independent Palestinian state does not mean being “anti-Israel.” But their vote was misguided.

What they should have voted on is an end to Israeli occupation and settlements, while legislating ways in which they can stop being actively complicit in it.

Related:
World’s delayed reaction to Gaza war kicks in
British Parliament recognizes Palestinian state in non-binding resolution
Labour MPs: Vote yes on Palestinian statehood

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Defense Minister Ya’alon: I am not looking for a solution, I am looking for a way to manage the conflict http://972mag.com/defense-minister-yaalon-i-am-not-looking-for-a-solution-i-am-looking-for-a-way-to-manage-the-conflict/97761/ http://972mag.com/defense-minister-yaalon-i-am-not-looking-for-a-solution-i-am-looking-for-a-way-to-manage-the-conflict/97761/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 13:24:03 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=97761 Moshe Ya’alon is telling it like it is: What you see now in the West Bank and Gaza is Israel’s solution. 

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon looks over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's shoulder at a military exercise, (Photo by Kobi Gideon / GPO)

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon looks over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s shoulder at a military exercise. Ya’alon is the closest minister to Netanyahu since the Gaza war (Photo by Kobi Gideon / GPO)

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon gave a few holiday interviews to the Israeli media. Ya’alon, who has been Netanyahu’s closest partner in the coalition since the Gaza war, was fairly open when he spoke about the Palestinian issue, and a couple of his answers were especially telling.

When asked by the pro-Netanyahu paper Yisrael Hayom whether he sees in Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas a partner for peace, Ya’alon not only rejected the idea, but went on to dismiss the mere notion of “solving” the Palestinian issue. In short, Ya’alon thinks that maintaining control over the Palestinians is in Israel’s national interest, which no “solution” can or should compromise on.

I believe this is the view of most of the Israeli establishment right now. But Ya’alon, as Secretary Kerry learned last year, has a habit of saying what others around him are thinking.

I am not looking for a solution, I am looking for a way to manage the conflict and the maintain relations in a way that works for our interests. We need to free ourselves of the notion that everything boils down to only one option called a [Palestinian] state. As far as I am concerned let them call it the Palestinian Empire. I don’t care. It is an autonomy if it is ultimately a demilitarized territory. That is not a status quo, it is the establishment of a modus vivendi that is tolerable and serves our interests.”

What is interesting in the above quote is the light it sheds on the idea of a Palestinian state: Netanyahu and his government were willing to sign onto something that would be called a state (they can call it the Palestinian Empire for all Ya’alon cares), but never an independent state, the way the world understand this term. So even if the Kerry process would have ended with an agreement, it could not have ended the occupation. And nothing the Palestinians say or do can change that.

Regarding Gaza, Ya’alon has the same idea – maintaining the conflict:

“We withdrew from Gaza. The Gazans chose Hamas, which in turn chose to manufacture rockets instead of exporting strawberries, and for that they are paying a price. It is probably not a permanent and stable solution, but it is important to talk about ‘crisis management’ in regard to Gaza as well as Judea and Samaria [West Bank - N.S.] in such a way that will serve our interests.

I highly recommend checking out Larry Derfner’s feature on the Israeli establishment’s view post-Gaza. I think Ya’alon pretty much confirmed everything in it. As I wrote here before, the Gaza war was part of Israel’s strategy of maintaining the status quo. This is Netanyahu and Ya’alon’s solution.

Related:
War is the new system of governance (and five other Gaza takeaways)
There’s nothing static about the West Bank ‘status quo’

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PHOTOS: Protests in Jerusalem over Aqsa Mosque closures http://972mag.com/photos-protests-in-jerusalem-over-aqsa-mosque-closures/97693/ http://972mag.com/photos-protests-in-jerusalem-over-aqsa-mosque-closures/97693/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 14:23:06 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=97693 Several members of Knesset join protests against heightened restrictions on Muslim access to the holy site while Jewish visits by right-wing activists increase due to Jewish holy days.

Text and photos by Oren Ziv / Activestills.org

Protesters outside the Old City of Jerusalem, October 15, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Protesters outside the Old City of Jerusalem, October 15, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Hundreds of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem and northern Israel demonstrated outside the Old City’s Lions’ Gate early Wednesday morning. Police prevented them from entering Al Aqsa compound.

The protest was against right-wing Jewish activists entering the Aqsa Compound/Temple Mount at the same time that Israeli police are preventing Muslim men from entering the compound to pray. Police have stopped male worshipers under the age of 50 from entering Al Aqsa in recent weeks, particularly during the Jewish High Holidays.

A number of clashes and protests have taken place inside and around the compound in recent weeks, largely focused on visits to the site by Jews, most of whom are right-wing activists; police close the site to Muslim worshippers during such visits.

Anger in East Jerusalem is rising, a local journalist explained to +972, over the combination of the fact that police have been permitting Jews to enter the holy site, which most Palestinians view as a provocation, while at the same time making harsher the restrictions on Muslims who may pray there.

Members of Knesset Haneen Zoabi, Mohammad Barakeh, Ibrahim Sarsour attended the demonstration on Wednesday, and were given permission to enter Al Aqsa Mosque. When a Jewish tour group left, a group of Palestinian women from the protest were allowed to enter as well. Police, however, declared the gathering an illegal demonstration and began pushing the protesters toward the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz, where they used stun grenades and water canons. Police arrested at least four protesters.

MK Haneen Zoabi tries to enter the Aqsa Mosque via the Lions’ Gate, October 15, 2014. Police eventually let her and other members of Knesset enter. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

MK Haneen Zoabi tries to enter the Aqsa Mosque via the Lions’ Gate, October 15, 2014. Police eventually let her and other members of Knesset enter. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

A group of Palestinian women were allowed to enter and pray in the Aqsa Mosque after a Jewish tour group left the site, October 15, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

A group of Palestinian women were allowed to enter and pray in the Aqsa Mosque after a Jewish tour group left the site, October 15, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Protesters outside the Old City of Jerusalem, October 15, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Protesters outside the Old City of Jerusalem, October 15, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Police push protesters away from the Old City toward the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz, using stun grenades and water canons, October 15, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Police push protesters away from the Old City toward the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi Joz, using stun grenades and water canons, October 15, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Mounted Israeli police arrest demonstrators who were protesting the lack of access for Muslim worshipers to the Aqsa Mosque compound, October 15, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Mounted Israeli police arrest demonstrators who were protesting the lack of access for Muslim worshipers to the Aqsa Mosque compound, October 15, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israeli police stand over Palestinians they have arrested at a demonstration against restrictions placed on Muslim men accessing the Aqsa Mosque, October 15, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israeli police stand over Palestinians they have arrested at a demonstration against restrictions placed on Muslim men accessing the Aqsa Mosque, October 15, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

A version of this article was published on +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it in Hebrew here.

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Family life forbidden for migrant workers in Israel http://972mag.com/family-life-forbidden-for-migrant-workers-in-israel/97483/ http://972mag.com/family-life-forbidden-for-migrant-workers-in-israel/97483/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 08:15:52 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=97483 Legal advocates decry Israeli policies toward migrant workers as inhumane and claim that they violate the laborers’ human right to family.

Maris Delusong, a 36-year-old caregiver from the Philippines, is alone at Tel Aviv’s Central Bus Station. She stops at a sale rack outside a clothing store. She looks at the baby clothes, pulls a pink onesie off the rack and runs her fingers over the soft fabric. Her face is sad as she puts the outfit back and moves along.

“It’s hard to be alone,” Delusong says. She found herself drawn to the baby clothes, she says, because “I remember my children. She’s four, the youngest. The eldest is 12.”

Delusong is five months into a five year “deployment”—the term Filipino migrants use to describe working overseas. Delusong takes care of an elderly woman in Kfar Saba. In Israel, wages are much higher than they are in the Philippines and, here, Delusong can save for her family’s future.

But while Delusong can work legally in Israel to earn for her husband and four children, Israeli law does not allow her or other migrants to bring their immediate family with them to the country. This puts tremendous stress on workers, their marriages, and their relationships with their children. The damage to the family can last long after a laborer has returned home.

“If I had a chance to bring them [my husband and children to Israel], I would,” Delusong says.

However, there is no a blanket prohibition preventing all foreigners from bringing family members to Israel. Diplomats, embassy workers, “experts” and such—in other words, white collar workers—can carry spouses and children on their Israeli visas.

Rotem Ilan, Director of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel’s (ACRI) Israeli Children project explains that migrants’ inability to bring their children with them “stems from the [Israeli government’s] fear that they will ‘put down roots’ in Israel… the state’s goal is to prevent them [non-Jewish migrant workers] from ‘putting down roots’ in Israel.” So, to the state, family life becomes a “threat,” Ilan says.

Not only are laborers prevented from bringing their families to Israel, once foreign workers are in the country, the state puts various restrictions on their ability to have children here. If a migrant gives birth when she is four and a half years or more into the 63-month visa Israel issues to most foreign laborers, she may not remain in the country with her child. This means that she must choose between keeping her baby with her in Israel or keeping her legal status and job.

If a woman whose husband is also working in the country gets pregnant before the four-and-a-half-year mark she must “choose between her husband and her baby,” Ilan says. “One of them has to go.”

Israeli authorities arrest a migrant worker and her small child [file]. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israeli authorities arrest a migrant worker and her small child [file]. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Ilan and other critics of Israeli policy towards migrants say that the state’s treatment of foreign workers and their families is inhumane and violates the workers’ human rights, including the right to family. And while recent years have seen small victories for workers and their children, including the naturalization of hundreds of youth who were facing deportation, the state has essentially reversed those gains by coming up with even stiffer regulations.

In 2006, the Israeli High Court struck down a policy known as the “binding arrangement,” which tied caregivers to their Israeli employers, who had the power their legal status. In their ruling against the binding arrangement, the Supreme Court justices likened it to “modern day slavery.”

But in 2011 the Knesset passed a new piece of legislation that human rights organizations refer to as the “Slavery Law.” It limits caregivers’ ability to leave employers by restricting them to three job changes before they lose their visa. It also confines caregivers to pre-determined areas of the country, impinging on their freedom of movement.

Ilan points out that, like the binding arrangement, the “Slavery Law” sometimes prevents workers from leaving abusive employers. “Binding a worker to an employer does not respect [the worker’s] human rights,” Ilan says. Regarding the geographic restrictions placed on workers, she adds, “If we wanted more Israeli teachers in the south of Israel, we wouldn’t say if you don’t teach there, we’ll put you in jail.”

Migrant workers’ children also face imprisonment and deportation. Even though they’re born and raised in Israel, they are denied legal status. “There’s no way to get citizenship or residency if you’re not Jewish,” Ilan remarks.

Although Israel has twice opened “one-time windows” to naturalize “illegal” children, the state lacks a cohesive policy about how to deal with these non-Jews, many of whom speak Hebrew and have never visited their parents’ home countries. At the same time, Israel continues to bring migrants to the country and those workers continue to have babies that the state refuses to recognize. In 2013 alone, some 200 children were arrested and imprisoned before being deported along with their mothers.

Michelle Trinanis, 18, was one of 1,200 children threatened with expulsion in 2009 when Israel announced its intention to deport migrant families. Although the state opened a “one-time window” in 2010 that will lead to the naturalization of 700 of those children — 600 have already received status and, according to Ilan another 100 will receive their IDs — Trinanis was one of the many whose applications were initially denied despite meeting all of the criteria.

After a protracted legal battle, which went all the way to the Israeli Supreme Court, Trinanis finally has an Israeli identity card. In December, she will begin mandatory service in the army — the road to acceptance in mainstream Israeli society.

Although she doesn’t know yet what she will be requested to do in the military, Trinanis is happy and excited to join. “I already fought to stay in the country, so I will fight for the country,” she says.

But she admits that it’s “unfair” that other migrants’ children are not getting legal status. And Trinanis says that she remains conflicted about the issue. She has friends who were not naturalized; she tries to give them the same support and encouragement that others gave her when she was struggling with the threat of deportation.

On the other hand, Trinanis says she understands the state’s reasoning.  “When I was young, I thought ‘why can’t they give anyone a teudat zehut (Israeli ID)?’ I understand now that it’s a big problem [because of] the laws.”

“Israelis,” she explains, “are loyal to themselves.”

Trinanis’s words reflect the government line: for years, Israeli officials have claimed that its policies towards migrants and their families stem from concern about maintaining the country’s demographics and preserving a Jewish state.

Responding to officials’ claims that foreign workers and their children pose a “demographic threat,” Ilan says, “Then the country can’t bring new people. [Israel] can’t have it both ways—the state can’t bring people that are good enough to work for us but not good enough to be a part of us. If you bring human beings to the country, you have to give them human rights.”

Related:
When it comes to migrant workers, Israel’s High Court is all High-Level Babble
Forgotten deportees: Israeli-born children of migrant workers

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