+972 Magazine http://972mag.com Independent commentary and news from Israel & Palestine Sun, 21 Dec 2014 18:39:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8 Settlers sentenced to an unprecedented 30 months over ‘price tag’ attack http://972mag.com/settlers-head-to-jail-for-price-tag-police-denied-access-to-lawyers/100360/ http://972mag.com/settlers-head-to-jail-for-price-tag-police-denied-access-to-lawyers/100360/#comments Sun, 21 Dec 2014 18:15:34 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=100360 Court sentences two West Bank settlers for setting fire to Palestinian-owned vehicles, but not before the investigatory process violated their civil rights.

Two extremist settlers were sentenced to 30 months in prison on Sunday, in what is the first such conviction for a “price tag” attack against Palestinian civilians.

Yehuda Landsberg and Yehuda Savir, both residents of the illegal Havat Gilad settlement outpost in the northern West Bank, were convicted of setting fire to Palestinian-owned vehicles with racist motives last year, reported Shabtai Bendet of Walla! News.

Khaled Abed a-Rahman Dar Khalil inspects the damage inside his home, which was torched by Jewish settlers, Sinjil, West Bank, November 14, 2013. Five children were treated for smoke inhalation. (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Illustrative photo: Khaled Abed a-Rahman Dar Khalil inspects the damage inside his home, which was torched by Jewish settlers, Sinjil, West Bank, November 14, 2013. Five children were treated for smoke inhalation. (Photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The sentence was the result of a plea bargain.

Israeli authorities have been notoriously ineffective in prosecuting settler attacks against Palestinians and their property. According to data from human rights organization Yesh Din, over the past nine years, only 7.4 percent of investigations into such attacks led to indictments.

In an attempt to combat settler violence, the Israeli government has taken a number of steps in recent years, ranging from establishing a “nationalistic crimes” unit in the West Bank district of Israel Police, to declaring groups of “price tag” assailants as “illegal associations,” a label usually reserved for Palestinian groups.

Those declarations serve law enforcement in two main ways. Firstly, declaring a group an “illegal association” opens up criminal charges of belonging to such a group. More relevant to this case, however, is that once a suspect is accused of being a member in an illegal association, their civil rights can be severely curtailed — primarily by allowing police or the Shin Bet to deny them access to legal counsel during the investigation and interrogation process.

Landsberg and Savir were both denied access to attorneys under due to the illegal association accusation, which never materialized into a criminal charge in and of itself.

Read more: Settler violence – It comes with the territory

The pair’s attorney also said they were subject to “undue pressure and abuse under interrogation,” Haaretz reported in February of this year. ”Security forces misled the courts by attributing security offenses to them, thus preventing them from exercising the basic right of meeting with a lawyer,” attorney Adi Kedar told Haaretz.

While police and prosecutors should be commended for bringing violent settlers to justice, the use of draconian investigative tools like denying access to legal counsel is always abhorrent.

One of the aspects of the Israeli military legal system that we at +972 most often criticize is the denial of due process, denial of access to attorneys, unnecessarily long periods in prison while awaiting trial and the coercive use of plea bargains to achieve a near-100 percent conviction rate.

One cannot possibly condemn those practices when they are used against Palestinians and accept their use against Israelis. Civil rights and due process must be blind to nationality, race and type of crime.

A graffiti reading in Hebrew "Gentiles in the land are enemies", seen on a Palestinian bus in the East Jerusalem nighboorhood of Beit Hanina, on March 24.

Illustrative photo: Hebrew Graffiti reading “Gentiles in the land are enemies” is seen on a Palestinian bus in the East Jerusalem neighboorhood of Beit Hanina, on March 24.

Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and especially illegal settlement outposts, inherently bring about physical and structural violence against their Palestinian neighbors — a documented phenomenon that is far more systematic than that which emanates from the violence of individual settlers. The very existence of settlements necessitates land seizures and large swaths of “security zones” that infringe on Palestinians’ access to their agricultural and grazing lands. The use of civilian settler security officers results in an outsourcing of the occupying army’s (the State) monopoly on power to private actors results in impunity for unnecessary and often-times illegal violence against Palestinians.

Meanwhile, the military forces deployed to protect settlements results in restrictions on freedom of movement for Palestinians, and the application of separate and unequal legal systems for Israelis and Palestinians living in the same areas results in an apartheid-like system that has resulted in the imprisonment of over 800,000 Palestinians since the start of the occupation nearly 50 years ago.

It is commendable that Israeli authorities are finally showing signs of seriousness in their treatment of violent settlers. But in order to stop the real settler violence, as detailed above, the only answer is dismantling the settlements themselves, which are all illegal under international law.

Related:
‘Price tag’ attacks: It’s not about the graffiti
Palestinians catch settlers allegedly attempting a ‘price tag’ attack

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Scarlett Johansson, West Bank workers need a Christmas miracle! [satire] http://972mag.com/scarlett-johansson-west-bank-workers-need-a-christmas-miracle-satire/100326/ http://972mag.com/scarlett-johansson-west-bank-workers-need-a-christmas-miracle-satire/100326/#comments Sun, 21 Dec 2014 13:15:20 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=100326 In the wake of SodaStream’s apparent capitulation to BDS, an open appeal to ScarJo to save yet another group of West Bank workers. (Satire)

Text by Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org

Dear ScarJo,

Can I call you ScarJo? It’s been a great year for you: you had a baby, you got married, you turned 30. But I know a painful anniversary is just around the corner. For it was almost a year ago that you put your good name on the line to defend the jobs of SodaStream’s West Bank Palestinian workers.

The controversy surrounding your Super Bowl ad raised much needed awareness of both home soft drink carbonation and also how the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement unfairly singles out Israeli settlements for violating international law when there are so many other Israeli violations of international law to consider.

A Norwegian activist in a Santa suit uses a sledge hammer to smash SodaStream appliances in front of the Norwegian Parliament building in Oslo, December 6, 2014. Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activists have targeted SodaStream, which makes home soft drink carbonation appliances, because one of their factories is located in the West Bank industrial settlement Mishor Adumim. All Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are illegal under international law. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

A Norwegian activist in a Santa suit uses a sledge hammer to smash SodaStream appliances in front of the Norwegian Parliament building in Oslo, December 6, 2014. Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activists have targeted SodaStream, which makes home soft drink carbonation appliances, because one of their factories is located in the West Bank industrial settlement Mishor Adumim. All Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories are illegal under international law. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

As you said at the time (actual quote, not satire), “SodaStream is a company that is not only committed to the environment but to building a bridge to peace between Israel and Palestine, supporting neighbors working alongside each other, receiving equal pay, equal benefits and equal rights.”

Until your brave and accurate words, most people didn’t know that SodaStream’s Palestinian workers are welcome to carry assault rifles when they visit their Israeli neighbors. Or that if Palestinians decide to create a new outpost on any hilltop in the West Bank, it’s instantly given full access to the water and electrical grid. Or that SodaStream’s Palestinian and Israeli workers all take weekend trips together to Eilat to go water skiing.

So strong was your commitment to this “fantastic sanctuary of coexistence” (actual quote) that you were willing to forgo your global ambassadorship with Oxfam to protest that humanitarian organization’s narrow-minded and prejudicial adherence to Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

At the time Oxfam released a statement saying: “We’re sorry to see Scarlett Johansson go, but we’ve got plenty more poverty-fighting star power where she came from. Who can ignore Syrian refugees when they’re being accompanied by Michelle Dockery. … Yes, THE Michelle Dockery. … You know … from Downton Abbey? Lady Mary. The one who married Matthew Crawley…. And then he died in the Christmas special — I cried my eyes out. … That Michelle Dockery. Very famous. And classy.”

As coverage continued to hit major media, awareness of BDS shot up while SodaStream’s profits and stock prices plummeted. You shouldn’t take it personally, ScarJo — those activists had some very clever memes. You were in most of them!

#Sodastream presents their new ambassador Scarlett Johansson! #sharedvalues#BDShttp://t.co/XxZ8LuUtFbpic.twitter.com/rEIfTQWosn

Now SodaStream says it will move its operations across the Green Line to Israel’s Negev desert. The company says the move is purely for “purely commercial” reasons unrelated to BDS. But can you really believe that, ScarJo? You, who chose a paid endorsement deal over a humanitarian NGO? Would the SodaStream you know abandon its Palestinian workers for “purely commercial” reasons?

By the way, targets of BDS citing “purely commercial” reasons for changing policy is like a disgraced politician saying they’re resigning from office in order to “spend more time with their family.” If BDS ever succeeds, you can bet that the Israeli army and settlers will all say they’re withdrawing from the occupied territories in order to “spend more time with their families.”

But ScarJo, I digress.

Now that SodaStream is abandoning its West Bank workers, another group of Palestinian beverage makers desperately needs your help. The Cremisan Monastery, which includes a winery that employs local Palestinians, is threatened by the Israeli separation wall. If built as planned, the wall will cut off the monastery and winery from the West Bank town of Beit Jala, leaving the grapes on one side and the workers on the other!

Palestinians work in the winery of the Cremisan monastery, Beit Jala, West Bank, February 4, 2014. Israel plans to build the separation wall between Cremisan and the rest of the town of Beit Jala. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

Palestinians work in the winery of the Cremisan monastery, Beit Jala, West Bank, February 4, 2014. Israel plans to build the separation wall between Cremisan and the rest of the town of Beit Jala. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

This Palestinian Christian community has tried everything. They’ve filed legal appeals. They’ve petitioned the Pope. They’ve had public prayer vigils every week for three years in the sun, rain and even snow.

So far, no dice.

As years of court battles enter their final chapters, the last hearing in the case came on November 30 — the first day of Advent. As these Palestinian Christians have been waiting for Christmas, they’ve also been waiting for a verdict.

And so ScarJo, now they’re waiting for you.

Palestinian Christians and solidarity activists gather for a Catholic mass to protest the Israeli separation wall that will cut off the Cremisan monastery and winery from nearby West Bank communities, November 18, 2011. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

Palestinian Christians and solidarity activists gather for a Catholic mass to protest the Israeli separation wall that will cut off the Cremisan monastery and winery from nearby West Bank communities, November 18, 2011. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

In your Super Bowl ad you (actually) said, “like most actors, my job is saving the world.” And your past statements about “building a bridge to peace” show that you couldn’t possibly be in favor of walls that divide! Won’t you please use your powers of international celebrity to save Cremisan — and save Christmas for its Palestinian workers?

They’ve already tried the Pope, God and the Israeli High Court of Justice. Who else can they turn to? Michelle freaking Dockery? You couldn’t save SodaStream, but maybe now you can save Cremisan! All they need is a Christmas miracle!

Related:
5 things I learned from the Scarlett Johansson/SodaStream affair
Scarlett Johansson chooses SodaStream over Oxfam
How does SodaStream treat its Palestinian workers when the media isn’t looking?

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Palestinian family in Lydd faces home demolition http://972mag.com/palestinian-family-in-lod-faces-home-demolition/100336/ http://972mag.com/palestinian-family-in-lod-faces-home-demolition/100336/#comments Sun, 21 Dec 2014 12:18:06 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=100336 The Naqib family has been living on their land since before 1948. That, however, didn’t stop the municipality from serving them with an arbitrary demolition order. 

By Rami Younis

After a relative period of calm in which the local authorities have refrained from demolishing homes of Palestinian citizens of Israel, the Lydd (“Lod” in Hebrew, “Lydda” in English) Municipality has returned to threatening residents with demolition. The war in Gaza has ended, and now the authorities have returned to their day-to-day war against Arab citizens.

The aftermath of a home demolition in Lod, Israel, September 2, 2011. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The aftermath of a home demolition in Lydd, Israel, September 2, 2011. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The home belongs to the Naqib family and was built on land that they own, according to the state land registry. The demolition order, which stated that the house was built illegally, was served back in November. The city announced it would carry out the demolition on Sunday, when police arrived on the scene.

Attorney Qais Nasser submitted an urgent appeal to a district court on behalf of the family, along with a request to delay the demolition. The court rejected the request, but delayed the demolition until today (Sunday) at 1 p.m., in order to give the family time to submit an appeal to the Supreme Court. UPDATE (2:45 p.m.): The Supreme Court has delayed the demolition until Thursday.

The Naqib family lives on land near the Ganei Aviv neighborhood, which was expropriated from Palestinian families in a procedure whose legality has been in doubt ever since. The family has lived on the land since before 1948, and the local urban building plan gave a green light for building the new neighborhood years ago. The city, however, has yet to approve a master plan, and even destroyed a house in the 1990s.

According to a map of the urban building plan, one can see that the house was built on land slated for residential construction. Thus, the city’s decision regarding “illegal construction” seems especially arbitrary:

The Lod master plan. (photo: Said Abu Hamed)

The Lyd master plan. (photo: Said Abu Hamed)

Should the Supreme Court reject the request to delay the order, the city will be able to demolish the house at any moment. According to a member of the Naqib family, the order is part of a general trend of political harassment. “The city claims that the house is in the way of the road,” he told +972. “But according to the urban building plan, one can see clearly the house was built on land that was previously approved. How can you view the city’s decision as anything but political harassment?”

Local activists have already met to discuss further actions to prevent the threatened demolition, including mass demonstrations and establishing a protest tent.

Palestinian family in Lod erects a tent where their home used to be, after it was demolished by Israeli authorities, September 2, 2011. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinian family in Lydd erects a tent where their home used to be, after it was demolished by Israeli authorities, September 2, 2011. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

According to activists nearly 80 percent of Palestinians in Lydd live in “illegal conditions” according to the state’s definition, due to the fact that their homes do not have building permits. This situation allows authorities to use the threat of demolition against a large part of the local population, in accordance with the needs of the political establishment.

The author is a Palestinian activist and writer. Read this article in Hebrew on Local Call here.

Related:
House demolitions: Zionism’s constant background noise
Punitive home demolitions are racist — and just plain wrong
Rights groups to High Court: Home demolitions are collective punishment

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Who says Palestinians don’t have a vote in Israeli elections? http://972mag.com/who-says-palestinians-dont-have-a-vote-in-israeli-elections/100317/ http://972mag.com/who-says-palestinians-dont-have-a-vote-in-israeli-elections/100317/#comments Sat, 20 Dec 2014 19:40:47 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=100317 By warning that a Palestinian UN resolution might strengthen Netanyahu, Kerry is actually suggesting that Palestinians can influence Israeli elections — just not in the direction Washington was hoping for.

File photo of U.S. Secretary of State Kerry with Tzipi Livni (Photo by State Dept., cropped)

File photo of U.S. Secretary of State Kerry with Tzipi Livni (Photo by State Dept., cropped)

The United States is trying to scuttle UN Security Council resolutions seeking an end to the occupation under the pretense that it could strengthen right-wing political parties in Israel’s upcoming elections, according to a report in Foreign Policy on Friday.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told a gathering of European diplomats that Tzipi Livni — who recently departed the far-right Netanyahu government to join forces with the centrist Labor Party — warned him that international steps against the occupation risk emboldening the Israeli Right.

“[S]uch a text imposed by the international community would reinforce Benjamin Netanyahu and the hardliners in Israel,” Livni reportedly told the American secretary of state.

It should be noted that at least one of the UNSC resolutions being discussed is a Palestinian initiative, and is not being “imposed by the international community.”

Livni essentially confirmed the story on Saturday, responding to the Foreign Policy article with a statement saying she, “is proud to have preserved key Israeli interests at the Security Council.” Those Israeli interests, she explained, can be safeguarded only “if Herzog and Livni form the next government coalition.”

In other words, in an attempt to scuttle Palestinian diplomatic moves aimed at advancing Palestine’s own political interests, Kerry is quoting Livni in order to warn Europeans that supporting such a move might embolden Livni’s political rivals, all while the secretary of state goes out of his way to declare that Washington is not meddling in Israeli elections.

Makes sense, right?

If we follow Kerry’s logic, it’s not actually the Europeans who run the risk of interfering in Israel’s upcoming elections, but the Palestinians themselves.

Who says that Palestinians don’t have a vote in Israeli elections?

File photo of a Palestinian woman voting in Bethlehem. (Photo by Activestills.org)

File photo of a Palestinian woman voting in Bethlehem. (Photo by Activestills.org)

Of course none of this touches on the absurdity of asking the Palestinians to hold off on their aspirations for equality and national self-determination in order to give the Israelis time to elect a new government that might, if we’re lucky, perpetuate a 20-year-old peace process that has brought far more wars and military operations than peace.

It is worth noting that although it is still early in the Israeli election cycle, none of the leading parties have made seeking peace a cornerstone of their platform. Perhaps, that too, would embolden Netanyahu and the Israeli Right.

Related:
America: The hand that holds the status quo together
Israel’s elections: A referendum on Netanyahu

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How long must Palestinians pay for the Holocaust? [op-ed] http://972mag.com/how-long-must-palestinians-pay-for-the-holocaust-op-ed/100309/ http://972mag.com/how-long-must-palestinians-pay-for-the-holocaust-op-ed/100309/#comments Sat, 20 Dec 2014 17:34:07 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=100309 A man leading an occupying state, a racist state in which mixed marriages are protested, doesn’t get to teach lessons to others. Mr. Netanyahu, stop exploiting the Holocaust at every political opportunity; pick up a book and learn that we weren’t there in those darkest days of European and Jewish history.

By Samah Salaime Egbariya

On the eve of a historical day for the Palestinian people, when the international community has finally figured out that there is no point in waiting for Israelis to recognize their neighbors’ right to independence, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu chose to preach to the Europeans  – to teach them a lesson he himself has yet to learn.

And he is right. There really are people who have not learned a thing; not in Europe, but right here in Israel.

The time has come to put everything on the table and talk about the Palestinians and the Holocaust.

For years we have been keeping our heads down and avoided facing the issue. We were careful never to shout “Nazis” in protests against the occupation, against house demolitions, and on Land Day, when we speak up and resist the oppression and racism against Arabs in Israel. We are forbidden from even approaching that sensitive Jewish wound, the ultimate political trump card. We the Arabs were and still are vulnerable, weak, defeated, and yes – scared we would be blamed for taking part in or even for identifying with the horrors that took place in Europe.

But khalas. Enough. No more. I am no longer willing to carry the burden of the Great Sin on my shoulders. It is no longer possible to punish us in every way possible for nearly 70 years and then hide behind the black curtain of European Jewish history.

The prime minister of a state where rampant racism is raising its head in every corner —under the government’s patronage — has no right to preach to others. When in every city conquered in 1948 – Lydd, Acre, Jaffa – there is a neighborhood called “the ghetto,” meaning the old city where the Palestinian residents were kept and enclosed, you Mr. Prime Minister cannot speak of learning lessons.

In a state where every bill produced in your racist breeding ground reeks of hatred and fear mongering toward “the Arabs” – you don’t get to preach about learning lessons. When thousands of Palestinians begin their days at 2.30 a.m., turning into a single mass of human flesh pushed as one through a metallic sleeve at the end of which stands a soldier, only in order to earn a day’s wages and return home via the same route in the evening, don’t talk about learning lessons.

When in a single month you murdered thousands of innocent Palestinians, you must know that Umm-Muhammad from Gaza, whose four sons were murdered on the beach, does not believe you have learned your lesson. In a country where schools in which Arab and Jewish children study together are set ablaze, in a place where hooligans protest against the marriage of an Arab man and a Jewish woman, no lesson has been learned.

Stop taking every opportunity to wave the flag of Holocaust horrors at every turn of your political career. Go open up the history books and learn that we were not present in Europe at the time and took no part in any anti-Semitic plan. A million and a half Gazans imprisoned for nine years will not create another Holocaust against you or your people, even if Article 6 of the Hamas Charter calls for the annihilation of the Jewish state. Neither will Iran when your democratic state is the only nuclear power in the Middle East.

I expect nothing more of you, Mr. Prime Minister. I am relying on the people who will learn the lessons and choose to reroute the train heading full-speed toward oblivion. Such a shift may be bold and terrifying, but it is the only option left.

Samah Salaime Egbariya is a social worker, a director of AWC (Arab Women in the Center) in Lod and a graduate of the Mandel Leadership Institute in Jerusalem. This article was first published on +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it in Hebrew here.

Read more:
Being a Mizrahi Jew, an Israeli and touching the Holocaust
In Israel, Holocaust obsession prevents real change

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With your support, we can do so much more in 2015 http://972mag.com/with-your-support-we-can-do-so-much-more-in-2015/100274/ http://972mag.com/with-your-support-we-can-do-so-much-more-in-2015/100274/#comments Sat, 20 Dec 2014 13:42:38 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=100274 +972 bloggers
2014 was a bad year in Israel/Palestine.

Immediately after the collapse of peace talks came the kidnapping and murder of four teens – three Israelis and a Palestinian – followed by months of violence. Israel launched the third war on Gaza in six years, which took the lives of more than 2,000 people, the majority of them Palestinian civilians. Mosques, synagogues and schools were attacked. Relations between Jews and Palestinian citizens of Israel fell to an all-time low.

The media generally failed to grasp the nature of these developments, treating them as isolated events or “security” problems. They don’t get that violence and instability are the product of the political status quo. Peace won’t come without justice, freedom and equality.

Throughout this year, +972 Magazine presented a hard-hitting alternative to the dominant media narrative. We documented the effect of the violent escalation on the civilian population, critically examined the line touted by politicians, and highlighted the work of activists and grassroots leaders. We presented a critical view of the dominant discourse, placing a strong emphasis on human rights and democracy.

+972 Magazine was visited this year by millions of readers from all across the world. We launched a new Hebrew site, operated by a collective of Israeli and Palestinian contributors, in partnership with Just Vision and the photographers’ collective Activestills. Stories we broke were cited by local and international publications, such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Haaretz, and more.

With your support, we can do much more: break more stories, expand to more platforms, and reach more readers.

+972 Magazine is a non-profit, which depends completely on grants, donations, and on a community of volunteer bloggers, editors, and translators. We wouldn’t be able to accomplish a fraction of what we do without the support of our readers.

The New Israel Fund has kindly set up a page to make it easy for people like you to make tax-deductible donations to +972 Magazine through the NIF. Alternatively, you can also make a Paypal donation directly to +972 Magazine here.

Click here to make a tax-deductible donation (U.S only)

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Your feedback is just as important to us. Please contact me directly at noam@972mag.com with any thoughts, ideas or questions. You will find contact information for all our bloggers on their channels, and you can contact the site’s editors at info@972mag.com.

To a better 2015,

Noam Sheizaf signature

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PHOTOS: Army fires tear gas, rubber bullets at commemoration march for PA minister http://972mag.com/photos-army-fires-tear-gas-rubber-bullets-at-commemoration-march-for-pa-minister/100284/ http://972mag.com/photos-army-fires-tear-gas-rubber-bullets-at-commemoration-march-for-pa-minister/100284/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 17:58:19 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=100284 Photos and by Yotam Ronen, Oren Ziv / Activestills.org

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Kingdom of Jordan on Wednesday submitted a resolution draft to the United Nation Security Council, which calls for the establishing of a Palestinian state as well as a deadline for the occupation: 2017, two years from now. The proposal, which could be voted on at any time, was drafted by the Palestinian Authority in the aim of breaking the diplomatic impasse in efforts to establish a Palestinian state.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Meir Amor

* * *

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

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

Mubarak Awad. (photo courtesy of Meir Amor)

Mubarak Awad. (photo courtesy of Meir Amor)

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

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

Amor: Does conservative also means opposing nonviolence?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amor: Did they accept your opinion?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amor: Mainly on the issue of redistribution of resources.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Oren Persico / ‘The 7th Eye

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jamal and Basool explain the findings:

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

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

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

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

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

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

WATCH: Palestinian students commemorate Nakba at Tel Aviv University

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read: What do Palestinian refugees want?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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