Analysis News

Beyond protest: War and the Israeli Left

This article first appeared in Dissent Magazine.

Many Israelis who define themselves as “on the left” (about 20 percent of the population on a good day) support Operation Protective Edge. It’s a small and lonely subset that is both left wing and opposes the war. Over the last month, this little constituency has faithfully staged demonstrations of a few hundred—with last Saturday’s rally reaching somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000, by organizers’ estimates—and has written articles of protest. But the demonstrators tend to use such general slogans as “Jews and Arabs refuse to be enemies” or “No, no, we won’t let fascism come to pass” (the latter chanted at right-wing counter-demonstrators). The anti-war left in Israel is clearly upset, but it has neither generated a coherent line of critique about the war nor formulated demands or proposals for alternate approaches other than calling for a ceasefire. Its influence, as a result, is severely limited.

There are three main reasons why it is so hard to create an effective opposition line, let alone gather supporters and momentum: the circumstances of this particular war (and the two previous rounds); the general climate of opinion in Israel; and the left’s own weaknesses, including baggage of the distant past.

Israelis protesting the Gaza war in Tel Aviv light candles to commemorate the victims. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israelis protesting the Gaza war in Tel Aviv light candles to commemorate the victims. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

First, the current circumstances make opposition very difficult, on the surface. Hamas is a miserable political regime that imposes religious fundamentalism on Gazans, stifles women, and kills collaborators. It has fired rockets at Israeli towns for over a decade and dragged Gaza into wars that were bound to kill its civilians. Not content with rockets, it has dug tunnels for terrorists targeting Israeli civilians. It is not hard to understand, in these conditions, the case for a forceful response on Israel’s part.

Unless, that is, one considers history before June 30, when the bodies of the three kidnapped Israeli teens were found. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was already outraged by a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation deal made in late April that created an interim technocratic government without Hamas and called for Palestinian elections. That would have meant a more unified Palestine, something Netanyahu has worked...

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How can you possibly oppose this war?

Someone asked me an innocent question: “What is the position of Israelis who are against the war?”

There are obvious answers.

First, this is a disproportionate war that harms huge numbers of civilians. The IDF is bombarding an area that it has already imprisoned by occupation from 1967, and then through suffocating border, movement, import and export control since 2007. Its residents have been stateless since 1948. It is attacking by air, land and sea, while Hamas attacks civilians in Israel through rockets and now through terrorist infiltration, at an increasingly frenzied pace.

Right-wing nationalists attacking left wing activists during a protest in center Tel Aviv against the Israeli attack on Gaza, July 12, 2014. The protest ended with the nationalists attacking a small group of left-wing activists with little police interference. Three activists injured and one right-wing person arrested. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Right-wing nationalists attacking left wing activists during a protest in center Tel Aviv against the Israeli attack on Gaza, July 12, 2014. The protest ended with the nationalists attacking a small group of left-wing activists with little police interference. Three activists injured and one right-wing person arrested. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Second, escalation breeds escalation. The south of Israel has not been at peace for a decade, but in this war, the whole country is under attack. And “Protective Edge” made things even worse for the south; all the Israel casualties so far – as of today two civilian deaths, numerous wounded (including children) and one soldier killed – have been in the south. “Code Red” warnings in Sderot all these years were awful, but death is worse. On a good day, there is suffering in Gaza; now the death and destruction there is indescribable.

Third, most of the stated goals of the war seem impossible to fulfill. Israeli Foreign Minister Liberman’s blustery call to take down Hamas is hot air, unless Israel wants to full-out occupy Gaza (it doesn’t) or watch even more extreme groups take over. Destroying the “infrastructure of terror” also falls apart upon close inspection, since, as I have heard some say, “you can’t kill an idea.” The stated goal of the ground operation is to destroy tunnels into Israel where terrorists have tried to infiltrate over the last few days (following the air war). I certainly support...

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Israel, state of all its victims

Like the failed peace process or the policy of severing Gaza from the West Bank, the plight of the Bedouin in Israel is one more long-term problem that there is just no time to solve.

Two Israeli sisters, 10 and 13, were wounded yesterday by Hamas rocket fire in the Negev. One of them is in critical condition with stomach wounds and underwent emergency surgery in Be’er Sheva, according to Israeli news. Maram and Atir Wakili are Bedouin; their grandfather Ibrahim, interviewed on Channel 10, explained that they live in far-flung areas where they are unable to hear sirens. And if they had heard one, they had no protected area where they could take refuge.

Ibrahim heads a council that represents unrecognized Bedouin villages. These clusters of tents and shacks scattered around the region lack basic infrastructure and services, including water lines and electricity grids, because they do not formally exist. Some have been destroyed by government order dozens of times; after more than six decades of neglect, recent government attempts to formalize their status were roundly criticized by human rights organizations and some Bedouin groups. They argued that the community had not been sufficiently consulted in the process, and that the solutions were coercive and unfair as a result.

A Palestinian child plays among the ruins of buildings destroyed by Israeli air strikes in the 2008-2009 war known as Operation Cast Lead, July 4, 2012. (Photo by RyanRodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

A Palestinian child plays among the ruins of buildings destroyed by Israeli air strikes in the 2008-2009 war known as Operation Cast Lead, July 4, 2012. (Photo by RyanRodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

The plan has been scrapped. The villages remain unrecognized and under-serviced. “We asked the government and the Home Command to provide us protection,” said Ibrahim Wakili, speaking of the rocket attacks. “But to this day, nothing has been done.” He continued, “We don’t want wars, we are against wars. We don’t want our children to die, not in Israel and not in Gaza.”

They are not the first Israelis physically wounded in the conflict. But perhaps because there have been so few, each story stands out. One elderly woman was at home when a rocket landed in her living room, she told reporters from her hospital bed, speaking in Russian through a translator. In Ashdod,...

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Polls: Two-state solution was a casualty, even before the war

Turns out most Israelis support the establishment of a Palestinian state – until they read the fine print.

There is a natural obsession with short-term, immediate details of the situation in Israel and Palestine: where is the siren or rocket or bomb? How many bodies are piling up in Gaza? Israelis’ memory at present seems to go back only a few weeks, to the murder of three teens that they believe set off this cycle.

But for Palestinians, there was life before the Israeli kids were murdered, and it wasn’t good. Many are seething under a reality of no prospects, no citizenship or statehood, rage at their leaders, rage at their occupiers. What both sides share was a realistic lack of hope for the recent negotiations for long-term resolution.

While leaders again proved them right, public support for the two-state solution may become the long-term victim of the accelerated cycles of aggression.

Mahmoud Abbas and Shimon Peres in Jordan, May 26, 2013 (Mark Neiman / GPO)

Mahmoud Abbas and Shimon Peres in Jordan, May 26, 2013 (Mark Neiman / GPO)

Several new surveys paint a dismal picture for this paradigm.

A survey of Palestinians from June by the right-leaning Washington Institute for Near East Policy found that more than twice as many respondents now support “reclaiming all of historic Palestine,” than those who choose “end the occupation and reach a two state solution.” In response to +972’s query, the Institute says this is a new finding compared to similar (but not identical) questions asked in the past, when support for a two state-solution typically ranged between 40-55 percent. Here is the data (n= 1200 Palestinians in West Bank and Gaza, margin of error, +/-3%):

Please state your view about the main Palestinian goal for the next five years

- The goal should be to work toward reclaiming all of historic Palestine from the river to the sea: 60%
- The goal should be to end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and achieve a two state solution: 27%
- The goal should be to work for a one state solution in all of the land, in which Arabs and Jews will have equal rights in one country, from the river to the sea: 10%

Two further questions on this topic...

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Gaza is terrible? Try daily life

Gaza is unlivable and Tel Aviv is surreal. Then there’s all the rest.

I spent today at a meeting of Israelis and Palestinians in East Jerusalem, planned well before the current escalation. Around 7:30 a.m., I was showering when sirens went off, followed by three low booms. Since the shower is about the only comfortable place in the sticky coastal area these days, I didn’t move. It no longer seemed interesting enough to post on social media. At 8:30 a.m. I picked up two colleagues and we drove 38 miles (60 kilometers) from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. With a bit of morning traffic, we arrived just after 9:30 a.m.

H, a Palestinian conflict resolution expert in her 40s from a town near Hebron, was also supposed to attend the meeting. She left home, about 23 miles (37 kilometers) from Jerusalem as the crow flies, in time to be there at 9:30. At 10:30 the organizers began getting text messages from her.

I asked for her permission to publish them here, almost unedited. She agreed on condition that I do not use her full name.

10:30am

“I am still trying to leave Hebron. Dura my home town is closed because of clashes last night after settlers kidnapping a 15 year kid beating him breaking his legs and tossing him way out of main road..Shabab got angry and it was a long night. Will do my best but please know I am trying. Writing after stopping on the side of the road too dangerous! ! Last night in gaza my family lost members of its extended clan!!crazy shit all around!!!!fuck this life I cannot take it anymore.”

Noon

“Ok. I gave up. I am back to Dura. My brother was with me and so he also decided not to continue to Bethlehem. Muhammad Dudeen, the kid who was killed in Dura two weeks ago was a cousin from my mom’s side. My 14 year nephew is talking about martyrism all the time.  My niece who speaks English, French and Arabic is not sure if she wants to leave home to do a one year study abroad. My brother tells me in an angry voice that those who call for another intifada do not know that we want to just live and hear nothing about death unless it is for natural causes! Cancer seems more human than being blown up to pieces while...

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A portrait of the enemy in Tel Aviv

The enemy in Tel Aviv is a shapeless wail in the morning. It has no point of origin, it arises from the air, a warning without warning. A noise from a void.

The enemy is a tremble in coffee number one, a soft boom over bread and butter at the restaurant last night.  It is the grinning diners who twist toward me when I turn toward them: “Keeps things interesting,” they chuckle.

“How is the atmosphere in the South tonight?” asked the anchor on the news  to reporters in the South. “They’re used to it down here,” she gushes. “They’ve gathered all together, it’s almost like a happening of sorts. Would I go so far as to say the atmosphere is nice?  Yes! It’s nice,” she says.

The enemy is a fish tank in the shelter in my neighborhood park. Don’t be so cynical! That’s terrible. It probably means a lot to frightened children. Who wouldn’t be calmed by goldfish swimming circles in cool waters in the summer?

I know about being calmed by watching fish. My first teenage love and I sat at night in the dark, watching water that bubbled and glowed and fish moving silently in the tank in his tiny room, on a kibbutz in the South, 14 kilometers from Gaza. And I never felt so safe.

Late one night we left the kibbutz to pick up someone from a bus station somewhere. He put a pistol on his belt.

“Do you really need that?” I said.

“You never know,” he said.

“It’s not New York,” I said.

It was 1990 and I had stared at the faces of angry people on the subways for years. Here there is no face.

But we know what the enemy looks like: A pistol in his pocket, a siren in the morning. The only people we remember are the frozen photos of boys with bombs, dead already when their photos were found.

What enemy do they see from Gaza?

Ruins of a Palestinian home in the Az-Zaitoun neighborhood of Gaza city, destroyed during an Israeli airstrike, November 23, 2012. (Photo by: Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Ruins of a Palestinian home in the Az-Zaitoun neighborhood of Gaza city, destroyed during an Israeli airstrike, November 23, 2012. (Photo by: Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Related:
Live blog: Escalation in Gaza – July...

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'Our' murderers - what would Arendt and Buber say?

There is soul-searching and there is the self-gratifying appearance of soul-searching. The deception of the latter lies within the words: ‘Tear out these wild weeds from among us.’

Confession: I held out hope, to the last minute, that the murderers of Mohammed Abu Khdeir would not be “mine” – Israeli, Jewish.

The hope that they would belong to some other group, even, god help me, Mohammed’s own people, is primitive. I must acknowledge, helplessly, that at this moment, I felt a greater sense of identification with the presumed killers due to tribal and arbitrary designation of birth: Jewish (assuming none of us are converts by choice). It feels as if their crime reflects on me more than a crime committed by the so-called “other.” As if the “other” is fundamentally different from me.

But I was not surprised. Jews, like every community in the world, contain good and evil people, and hopefully a few really good folks, like Martin Buber. Jews, like every other religious tradition in the world have a culture of goodness, schools of thought that nurture constructive, harmonious values; we also have culture, schools of thought, environments, politics and history too, that nurture violence, devalue human life, twist the straight tree of morality into the crooked timbre of humanity.

——-

On the morning after the news that six Jews have been arrested as the main suspects, descriptions are flying around. The Israeli authorities called them “Jewish extremists”; followed by immediate insistence that they are terrorists, including from security figures such as the Israeli defense minister.

Those distinctions give political insight and have legal consequences. “Jewish extremists” shows that Jewish Israelis have no trouble distinguishing regular people from fanatics when they’re our own. We don’t describe a Palestinian who kills a Jew as “Palestinian extremist.” For most Israelis “Palestinian” is sufficiently synonymous with extremism. Indeed, many Israelis hardly notice Palestinians except to point out acts of violence.

The terrorist label is important because it means the authorities can use extraordinary legal measures rather than due process. But “extraordinary” is misleading: those actions are daily fare for the many Palestinians unlucky enough to go through the military court system. There is much talk of destroying the Jewish families’ homes – from outraged rabbis to the mother of Mohammed Abu Khdeir. That’s precisely because it’s not “extraordinary”: home demolitions and other facets of non-democratic military rule have...

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There is no war of images, only occupation

The right-wing Israel crowd is on a mission to delegitimize every Palestinian activity that goes beyond silent submission to permanent foreign military rule.

Post-modern madness has Israelis very excited, for years now, about the notion that if Israel just “explains” its side of the matter, the world will come to its senses.

There is a deep and pervasive myth that Israel is hopelessly incompetent at communications. Israelis speak of Palestinian propaganda as a well-oiled machine, with tentacles in every news media, lobby groups in the halls of power and pressure groups controlling the minds of students and faculty in universities around the world. Many Israelis seem unaware that operating highly elaborate lobbies, media watchdogs and branding efforts – with generous funding and considerable sophistication – is a long-established Jewish activity. And it hasn’t saved Israel from a deteriorating global image.

Meanwhile, Israelis know that the Palestinian machine is a Svengali spinning lies into narratives that everybody believes. Palestinians’ clever use of film as a weapon exaggerates benign realities of an enlightened occupation by the most moral army into a Hollywood-produced image of hell. Right-wingers so thoroughly believe this that they have developed a nickname for the string of manipulative and manipulated video clips showing Israelis harming Palestinians: “Pallywood.” How to fight the scourge is a national obsession.

In the thick of the terrible escalation this weekend, an item on Israel’s Channel 10 claimed to explore the “stories behind” some of the most damaging videos that have made global rounds. The repulsive footage of Israeli border policemen beating a teenaged Palestinian-American while he is flattened and immobilized (a relative of the murdered youth Muhammed Abu Khdeir) is the very latest; David the “Nahlawi” is another; two weeks before that was  damning footage from Beitunia of soldiers shooting at demonstrators, some of them stone-throwers, resulting in two teenage deaths; before that the M16-whipping of a Danish activist, and the iconic Muhammed al-Dura affair, and so forth. Apparently these incidents are a purely a matter of image, with no connection to each other, only loosely tied to reality at all.

The Channel 10 story was actually about the “National-Zionist news agency” called “Tazpit” (Lookout), established to counter the images drawn from “partial, lying footage of what goes on in Judea and Samaria…” by the “enemies of Zionism,” as if Zionism is a universal value. The organization itself doesn’t say this...

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Five possible consequences of Hamas-Fatah unity

Hamas could be moderated by entering the mainstream, internationally acceptable Palestinian government. Or it could follow the Hezbollah model and slowly reverse Abbas’s legacy.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the swearing in ceremony for the new unity government, Ramallah, June 2, 2014. (Photo: Mustafa Bader/Activestills.org)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the swearing in ceremony for the new Palestinian unity government, Ramallah, June 2, 2014. (Photo: Mustafa Bader/Activestills.org)

The Hamas-Fatah reconciliation is either the end of days, or the dawn over new horizons. The deal is so confusing because it might mean one thing – or else the opposite.  Here are some of the polarized possible outcomes:

1. Fatah will become one with terrorists, OR terrorists were just co-opted by a more moderate political leadership.

Prime Minister Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Liberman look at this as Hamas spreading its terrorist stain over Palestinian politics. They probably fear the example of Hezbollah, which first took part in Lebanon’s elections in 1992, and went on to redefine the country.

The other perspective involves Sinn Fein the political wing of the Irish Republican Army, a terrorist organization. Sinn Fein became a signatory to the Good Friday peace agreement of Northern Ireland. The IRA laid down its arms for the sake of the accords.

Either option is a reality. But unlike Hezbollah, Hamas is not as directly dominated by other states. It is more accountable to its own people.

2. Hamas will get stronger, OR Hamas will get weaker.

The accord came about in part because Hamas was already weakened: opposing Assad for the slaughter in Syria angered Iran, Assad’s patron, and led to a slump in Iranian support for Hamas. Then the group lost its Egyptian patron, Mohammed Morsi, to Tahrir. Tunnels to Egypt closed, gas prices in Gaza soared and desperation grew. The political division is top priority among Palestinians. Hamas’ legitimacy was both eroded and limited.

Hamas surely thinks the move will make it more popular. But popular for what? Not for further isolation and bad alliances. Hamas seems to have concluded that it would be rewarded for political pragmatism, advancing elections, unifying Palestinians around the Fatah agenda of an independent Palestinian state within broad 1967 lines, through diplomacy not arms.

So Hamas as a political force might get stronger. But the meaning of Hamas – what it has...

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Truth, tapes and two dead Palestinians

The raging debate about the death of the Beitunia teens will become eternally self-referential as each side pumps up its own greater narratives. Herein lies perhaps the greatest victory for the stronger side.

Two Palestinian teens were killed last Thursday, Nakba Day. Until yesterday, it was also true that the Palestinian teens were shot with live ammunition by Israeli forces. There is excessive documentation – eyewitnesses, news outlets, still photos and 12 hours of video from the security cameras monitoring the shack-like structures where they were shot, owned by a private Palestinian.

Members of the Palestinian national security forces carry the bodies of Nadim Seeam Abu Kara and Muhammad Abu Da'har during their funeral procession in the West Bank city of Ramallah on May 16, 2014. Abu Kara and Muhammad Abu Da'har were shot dead by Israeli forces during clashes the previous day outside the Israeli-run Ofer prison following a protest commemorating the Nakba. Foreign press published that the two died in a Ramallah hospital after being shot in the chest during a protest to demand the release of thousands of Palestinians held by Israel. (Activestills.org)

Members of the Palestinian National Security Forces carry the bodies of Nadim Seeam Abu Kara and Muhammad Abu Da’har during their funeral procession in the West Bank city of Ramallah, May 16, 2014. Activestills.org)

A week later, the IDF embraced different facts. It is conducting an investigation and here are the theories that have come out so far, according to news reports: the IDF used only rubber bullets, not live ammunition. It is not clear that Israeli forces did it; the youth might have been shot by Palestinian fire.  The youth who were brought to the hospital and died might not be the same youth who were shot. The 12 hours of video that shows them being hit, says an unnamed “senior security figure” to Haaretz, is “very likely fabricated.”

WATCH: Footage shows Israeli army’s killing of two Palestinian teens

These competing theories are like the opening shots (so to speak) in a race of narratives and obsession with angles. What was the direction of the shot? What could the soldiers see from their angle? Is a hospital report saying they were killed by live bullets credible? Should the graves be opened and a body exhumed,...

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The burden, and wall, of Zionism

Zionism has come to refer not to the many ways of building Israel, but to a litmus test. Any answer other than ‘I am a Zionist,’ is akin to being un-American in the 1950s.

I didn’t join a Labor Zionist youth movement at 14 because I thought of myself as a Zionist. Actually I shied away from group identities, bouncing among social cliques at school and staying away from team sports. My parents just didn’t know what to do with me one summer and they heard about a nice Jewish camp, not too expensive.

The Habonim-Dror camp turned out to be a tiny gaggle of barely 100 kids and counselors, some of them bona fide 60s leftovers in the mid-1980s, with a fetish for socialist values and arguments we felt sure were intellectual. When heated discussions went on too long, counselors let us skip team sports. In fact they let us skip for pretty much any reason. Things were a little crazy – one day each summer, the 17-year old campers held a “revolution” and tossed out the (delighted) counselors for 24 hours. There were not a few parental lawsuits.

I was hooked, and determined not to miss the year on kibbutz after high school. My fascination with the idea of Israel was growing and the social bonds were strong. Some of those people became friends for life and a few of us even moved here.

I don’t remember anyone asking me if I was a Zionist, or caring if I had said I wasn’t. We talked about terribly important substance – the socialist ethics of pooling our money to buy cigarettes that some wanted and some (only some!) hated; the concept of tikkun olam; learning the spectrum of left and right political parties in Israel, and how some of them opposed holding “the territories”; we learned about Berl Katznelson and Ahad Ha’am – but I don’t recall any fixation on the label “Zionism.”

An American is an American. A Frenchman is a Frenchman, or woman. Israel too has a dynamic debate about what makes a person Israeli: the declaration of independence says all its citizens are equal regardless of religion, race, or gender. The Right loves to point out that other countries also restrict borders, rights and privileges to people who embody the national identity.

But the parallel to other countries is inaccurate, because Israel has two definitions...

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Dear American Jews: Time to boycott the Conference of Presidents

The Conference of Presidents, a U.S. group comprised of 51 national Jewish organizations, voted earlier this week against admitting the dovish J Street into its ranks. Now, says Dahlia Scheindlin, is the time for American Jews to walk away.

There is something that troubles me while observing current events, forming my political opinions and appropriate responses: it is so easy to judge history and see how things went wrong, but so easy to not to see what is going deeply, terribly wrong in the present. It is so hard to be clear minded and step outside what we take for granted, what seems obvious and normal but is deeply flawed and unjust.

I am easily outraged, but fundamentally anti-alarmist. I often find myself instinctively confident in the big-picture balance of good and evil among human societies.

So when leftists cry “fascism” in Israel sometimes, I never join them. I don’t wait for Holocaust Memorial Day to decry the cheapening of words that have profound and appalling historic facts behind them, which are truly not related to current reality, as horrible as the political situation here is.

But occasionally, that nagging thought returns. Am I too complacent? Would I recognize an authority that has gotten drunk on its power and violent when it feels that power crumbling – for that’s when authorities are most dangerous.  They lack confidence, but have much to preserve, so they lash out against their enemies with blunt instruments.

Thinking about the Conference of Presidents’ vote to reject J Street from its members, I was somewhat gratified to realize that the signs seem screamingly obvious, even on our teacup-sized scale, and I’m not about to miss them.

Naomi Chazan speaking at Jstreet conference (Jstreet/CC BY NC SA 2.0)

New Israel Fund President Naomi Chazan speaking at the J Street conference. (Jstreet/CC BY NC SA 2.0)

The Jewish community life of America as we know it is coming to an end. There are no common causes to rally around. Power has corrupted absolutely and the fat cat leaders of the establishment are enraged that all their money can’t buy ideological loyalty to their perverted ideas of what makes Israel healthy – in the name of which they raise millions that could be going to starving children, or for that matter, Palestinian villages where Israel has 100...

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High Court to state: Give Palestinians a say in planning

Israel’s High Court orders the government to upgrade representation of Palestinians in planning committees. But will the minor changes only serve to legitimize a system based on inequality?

A resident of the Jordan Valley village of Kirbet Makhoul inspects stores of feed for livestock kept in tents built since the village was demolished by the Israeli military, January 22, 2014. Khirbet Makhoul was demolished twice by the Israeli army in autumn of 2013. The army has also prevented humanitarian aid organizations from delivering tents and other forms of assistance to residents. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

A resident of the Jordan Valley village of Kirbet Makhoul inspects stores of feed for livestock kept in tents built since the village was demolished by the Israeli military, January 22, 2014. Khirbet Makhoul was demolished twice by the Israeli army in autumn of 2013. The army has also prevented humanitarian aid organizations from delivering tents and other forms of assistance to residents. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

Israel’s High Court on Monday ordered the state to provide proposals for including Palestinian representatives in planning committees that govern development and land use in Area C (which makes up 60 percent of the territory in the West Bank). The interim decision was made following an appeal by the Palestinian village of Ad-Dirat-Al-Rfai’ya, together with human rights organizations Rabbis For Human Rights, the Israel Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), The Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC), and St. Yves.

Atypically, the hearing lasted a full hour. Oren Yiftachel, a professor of political geography at Ben Gurion University and a former chairman of Israeli human rights NGO B’Tselem observed that Palestinian human rights claims related to the occupied territories are commonly dismissed on the basis of “security concerns.”

During the hearing, the state mainly argued that there was no discrimination against Palestinians, since they are already allowed to submit planning requests to the administrative committees.

But grossly asymmetrical data apparently left the court little room to justify the current situation: over 90 percent of Palestinian planning requests are rejected – over 97 percent in recent years, according to a B’Tselem report. Therefore, they build without permits, and their structures often face demolition orders. According to the report, an average of over 200 structures have been destroyed annually since 2000....

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+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

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