+972 Magazine http://972mag.com Independent commentary and news from Israel & Palestine Thu, 05 Mar 2015 22:57:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8 Red-Dead pipeline is the wrong answer, politically and environmentally http://972mag.com/red-dead-pipeline-the-wrong-answer-politically-and-environmentally/103812/ http://972mag.com/red-dead-pipeline-the-wrong-answer-politically-and-environmentally/103812/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 21:15:50 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=103812 Pumping Red Sea water into the Dead Sea to save it from drying up ignores environmental consequences, experts warn. Rights groups decry the plan as an ‘attempt to force the Palestinian population to consent to their own dispossession.’

By Keren Simons

A man reads a newspaper while floating in the Dead Sea. (Author unknown, WikiCommons)

A man reads a newspaper while floating in the Dead Sea. (Author unknown, WikiCommons)

Israel and Jordan last Thursday signed a historic agreement to cooperate over their shared bodies of water, in a move to protect the shrinking Dead Sea and to address the looming potable water crisis in the two countries. A pipeline from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea is proposed to refill water in the salt lake, and desalinization plants to be built in Jordan. The Palestinian Authority, a party to the Memorandum of Understanding on replenishing the Dead Sea in December 2013, was not a party to this agreement. The World Bank sponsored this long-awaited plan, hailed as an initiative to promote peace in the region through economic and environmental cooperation, on the understanding that environmental problems have no borders.

The Red-Dead conveyance, however, is far from a perfect plan. Environmental groups have argued that the World Bank environmental impact study does not adequately address serious concerns about the effect on ecosystems in both the Red and Dead seas, nor did it consider alternative proposed plans. Palestinian human rights groups have maintained that the plan is part of a continuum of violations of Palestinian rights to water. MK Silvan Shalom implied the plan was another element to realization of the Zionist dream, saying, “today we realize the vision of Binyamin Ze’ev [Theodore] Herzl, the visionary of the state, who already at the end of the 19th century understood the need to revive the Dead Sea.”

Palestinian rights groups state that the World Bank’s feasibility study and Environmental and Social Assessment study lack transparency, or a mandate given to them by a credible consultative and participatory process. They allege that key concerns brought up by Palestinians on Israeli violations of water rights were deliberately ignored.

The Dead Sea is not actually a sea, but a hypersaline lake, naturally replenished by water flowing into it from the Jordan River. The Jordan, however, has been overexploited, polluted, and diverted, with large parts of the lower river in serious danger of drying up. An estimated 98 percent of the trans-boundary Jordan River has been diverted by Israel, Jordan and Syria for public use before it can ever reach the Dead Sea.

Largely as a result of this, and of the unsustainable mineral extraction activities by Jordan and Israel, the water level of the Dead Sea has dropped dramatically at an average of one meter per year, and the salt lake has split into two separate pools. The receding coastline has led to the formation of dangerous sinkholes in the area. The Red Sea-Dead Sea conveyance project does not address any of these causal factors, instead planning to pipe water from the Red Sea, 180 kilometres away, into the Dead Sea.

Environmental scientists have questioned the reasoning for this, given that this plan does nothing to reverse the damage done to the Jordan River. Additionally, the waters of the two seas are entirely different from each other and the impact of this mix is yet unknown. The introduction of Red Sea water risks layering the waters, leading to the growth of gypsum crystals and algae in the Dead Sea. This could have devastating consequences for Dead Sea preservation and the region’s ecosystem, affecting the health benefits of this heritage site and, consequently, the tourist industry. Another issue is the impact the pipeline may have on the ecosystem of the Red Sea, as coral reefs are highly sensitive to a change in currents, which the pipeline redirection may cause.

Chairman and Jordanian director of Eco-Peace Middle East Munqeth Mehyer noted that the current plan is very different from its original incarnation, and is now more of a desalination project than Dead Sea conservation. To pump “100 million cubic meters of water is an insignificant amount to the actual needs of the Dead Sea,” he said, “especially when there are indications that increasing that much brine will create environmental problems. It is not worth the risk of laying that pipeline and all that money [estimated at $900 million] for such a small amount of water.” It would be more advisable, he explained, to redirect the enormous sum of money to cleaning up the Jordan River, the original source of water to the Dead Sea: “We should not play with nature in this way. The Red Sea is not the right source.”

A feted accomplishment of the agreement between Israel and Jordan is the desalination plant to be constructed in Aqaba, Jordan, a possible solution to water shortages and job creation. This involves a plan to sell desalinated water to the Palestinians, although this would be part of a separate agreement with the Palestinian Authority. In a joint statement in October 2013, Palestinian NGOs expressed their emphatic rejection of the Red-Dead plan as “an unacceptable attempt to force the Palestinian population to consent to their own dispossession.” Israel controls most of the water sources in the Jordan Valley, and Palestinian access to water is restricted and inadequate. Given that the plan does nothing to address the damage to the Jordan River, or to the rapidly depleting Eastern Aquifer, one of the only water sources on which West Bank Palestinians can depend, Palestinian rights groups view the Red-Dead project as an endorsement of the status quo and persistent impunity that accompanies Israel’s inequitable control of water sources in the West Bank.

Keren Simons is an international development professional currently based in London after four years in Israel – Palestine. Tweet @SimonsKeren. Thanks to the Thirsting for Justice Campaign for contributing information. 

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‘You killed my son’: Cop who shot Bedouin man is back on the job http://972mag.com/you-killed-my-son-cop-who-shot-bedouin-man-is-back-on-the-job/103801/ http://972mag.com/you-killed-my-son-cop-who-shot-bedouin-man-is-back-on-the-job/103801/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 16:57:04 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=103801 When Khaled al-Ja’ar called the police to report drug dealers in his neighborhood, he never thought they would kill his son. Now he is turning to Israel’s top court to demand that his son’s killer, who has since been released and put back on the job, be arrested and prosecuted.

By John Brown* and Michal Rotem
(translated from Hebrew by Ofer Neiman)

Khaled, the father of Sami al-Jaar, sits in a mourning tent before his son's funeral, Negev Desert, January 18, 2015. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Khaled, the father of Sami al-Jaar, sits in a mourning tent before his son’s funeral, Negev Desert, January 18, 2015. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

When Khaled al-Ja’ar alerted the police to drug activity taking place in the Negev city of Rahat, he never imagined the night would end with him being severely beaten, handcuffed and humiliated at a police station, several minutes after watching his son die in front of him. Now he is appealing to the Israeli High Court of Justice, demanding that the officer who shot his son be rearrested, and that the officers who assaulted him be interrogated.

On Wednesday, January 14, during a police raid in neighborhood No. 26 in Rahat, an officer from the Rahat police used his side arm to shoot to death Sami al-Jaar to death, a 22-year-old man on his way home from work. About a month later, on February 12, the officer admitted his involvement in the shooting and was arrested for the purpose of interrogation, but released to house arrest a short while later. Two weeks ago, Sami’s father, Khaled, petitioned the High Court of Justice asking for an order nisi, via Adv. Shmuel Zilberman. Khaled is demanding that the officer suspected of killing his son be rearrested until the end of legal proceedings, thereby cancelling his release. In addition, he is demanding that all the officers suspected of assaulting him be interrogated and/or arrested. The petition was filed with the High Court, but while hearings of this type are usually scheduled within a few days, a date for the hearing of this petition has yet to be set. Meanwhile, the officer who killed Sami is back on the job.

The killing of al-Ja’ar triggered a sequence of events from which Rahat is still reeling, but this is just one part of the horrifying story that follows, and has now been revealed in the petition and in our conversation with Khaled al-Ja’ar. Another part of the story involves the violent and racist abuse of Khaled, a former professional soldier in the IDF, whose family lost a son in the 1973 war. Khaled was severely beaten and humiliated at the police station while handcuffed, minutes after watching his son dying in front of him. “Disturbances of public order” — that was the term applied to the events that took place after Sami was killed. But when “order” looks like what we are about to describe, those who violate it may not be the biggest criminals in the story.

The Case

Mourners carry the body of Sami al-Jaar during his funeral, in the city of Rahat, Negev Desert, January 18, 2015. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Mourners carry the body of Sami al-Jaar during his funeral, in the city of Rahat, Negev Desert, January 18, 2015. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

According to his detailed testimony included in the court petition, on the night of the killing Khaled was sitting in his house when he heard shouting from the direction of the school, situated across the road — the target of the police raid. A short while earlier it was he who had alerted the police to the drug dealing taking place in the neighborhood, asking them to take care of it. As the raid was taking place, he saw a policeman seizing his son Sami and hitting him on the forehead with the butt of his gun. Al-Ja’ar then approached the officer and told him that his actions were illegal. In response, the officer hit al-Ja’ar with the gun on his left cheek and told him to leave the scene. In response, al-Ja’ar pushed the officer, defending himself against the assault coming from the former. The officer fell down, cocked his gun, aimed it at al-Ja’ar’s head and told him to leave the scene.


Al-Ja’ar left the scene and began to walk back to his house, but after a few steps he heard two gunshots. The shooting went on and intensified, and shouting was heard in the background, with the residents of the house crying. Two members of the family later testified that the gunshots were aimed at Sami, by an officer who came near the house fence, in contrast to the officers’ mendacious claims that they had only shot in the air.

But the officers present at the scene were not the only ones who lied. Police Commissioner Yoram Levy, commander of the Israeli Police’s Southern District, was quoted as saying that “Sami al-Ja’ar was arrested when he was in a car with drug dealers and was one of the detainees that night. The mob tried to free them, and the officers, who heard shooting in the area, felt threatened. The incident posed a risk to the officers’ lives, and they implemented a getaway procedure during which they fired shots in the air.”

However, Sami al-Ja’ar was not in the car and had nothing to do with the incident, and the shooter was not under any threat to his life.

Bedouin women carry a photo of Sami al-Jaar during a march in the southern Bedouin city of Rahat condemning the death of two residents of the town by Israeli police, Negev Desert, January 20, 2015. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Bedouin women carry a photo of Sami al-Jaar during a march in the southern Bedouin city of Rahat condemning the death of two residents of the town by Israeli police, Negev Desert, January 20, 2015. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The petition recounts how right after the shooting, Sami, having been shot in the stomach, reached the entrance to his house with tears in his eyes, apparently from tear gas used at the scene. He was taken by a relative to the medical center in Rahat, despite attempts by police to block their path, but it was too late. Sami died a short while later.

Detectives from the Rahat station also arrived at the scene. Khaled turned to them and said: “You killed my son.” In response, one of the officers told the others: “arrest him, he hit us.” They arrested Khaled, handcuffed him behind his back, put him in the police van. They made sure to send away the driver, Staff Sgt.-Maj. Aqef el-Huzayel, apparently because he is Bedouin. He was replaced by an officer named Itzik who told Khaled: “You broke my watch which costs NIS 5000 [$1,250], I’ll show you.” One man lost his watch, the other lost his son, but it was the one who had lost a watch who decided he needed to “show” something. With the help of his five friends, he would, indeed.

Read also: Kafr Kanna isn’t Ferguson, it’s much worse

Khaled al-Ja’ar was taken to the police station. He was then taken to the building where the detectives’ offices are situated, and there, Officer Itzik and five additional officers shackled his legs (in addition to the handcuffed), and he was beaten all over his body, including his testicles, by all the detectives in the room, using the butts of their guns, according to the petition. His left arm was broken as a result of the beating. Throughout the beating, the officers cursed al-Ja’ar, calling him “Hamasnik” and “Palestinian,” as well as spitting on him.

Al-Ja’ar recounts that he begged the officers to stop abusing him, but the beating went on. According to the petition, he collapsed to the floor, but even then, the beating, the abuse and the humiliation continued for about 15 minutes, until a Magen David Adom medic entered the room and tried to administer aid. The officers tried to get the medic out of the room, but the latter objected, and finally managed to have al-Ja’ar evacuated to the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, where his arm was put in a cast. Al-Ja’ar remained in custody for three days, until Sami’s funeral. He was released under restrictions only thanks to Talal al-Krinawi, the mayor of Rahat who asked to release him and posted his bail.

Interview with Khaled al-Ja’ar:

So far, not one of the assaulting officers has been arrested, even though el-Jaar managed to identify several of them. The police explained to al-Ja’ar that the officers had not yet submitted their activity reports, and he was not allowed to identify them in a police lineup. This should come as no surprise, especially in view of the way in which the Police Investigations Unit [in charge of investigating the conduct of officers] has functioned in cases of this type. The unit recently closed another case of violent abuse without any indictment. In that case, another resident of Rahat was also beaten after being handcuffed, and the officers even urinated on his head.

Why was the shooter released to house arrest?

On February 12, an officer in the Rahat police station admitted to involvement the shooting which killed Sami al-Ja’ar after a long period in which he denied any involvement. He was arrested the same night, but released the following morning, due to the absence of a report by Israel’s Abu Kabir Forensic Institute. After spending the weekend in a hotel, and following an appeal by the State Attorney, he was rearrested on February 14 for the purpose of interrogation. On February 17 he was released once more to a five days house arrest.

As early as January 21, sources in the Police Investigations Unit stated that there was suspicion of an unlawful shooting. By February 13, a month after al-Ja’ar’s killing and the autopsy, no forensic report had been submitted, and therefore the judge stated that it could not be proven that Sami al-Ja’ar had been killed by a bullet fired at him. Khaled al-Ja’ar added, during our conversation with him, that the representatives of the Police Investigations Unit told him there was a bullet, and that the bullet matched the officer’s weapon. However, even the officer’s admission that he had not fired in the air, along with the testimonies of other officers who were at the scene, did not suffice to keep an officer suspected of manslaughter under arrest.

As part of its coverage of the officer’s release to house arrest, the media reported threats to his life, and the commander of the Southern District had strong words to say about this, At this stage, according to Khaled al-Ja’ar, no one knew the identity of the officer who had shot Sami. While Sami’s father was immediately jailed for three days after the killing of his son Sami, the officer who shot Sami was initially only held for one day.

On Wednesday, the Israel Police Southern District Commander Yoram Halevy announced that the suspected policeman is back at work. With no indictment filed and the internal investigation ongoing, Halevy decided assigned the officer to a position in his own office.

Not all of us support the Rahat officer

The shooting that killed al-Ja’ar was an “unlawful shooting,” according to the Police Investigations Unit. Therefore, we would expect public support for the indictment of this officer after he killed an innocent citizen. However, this case involves a Jewish police officer who killed an Arab-Bedouin citizen, and therefore, the former enjoys support in the form of a Facebook group and posters calling on the public to stand by him.

A sign supporting the shooting officer hangs above an overpass in Beersheba. (Photo by Chaya Noah, the Negev Forum for Coexistence)

A sign supporting the shooting officer hangs above an overpass in Beersheba. (Photo by Chaya Noah, the Negev Forum for Coexistence)

There is no doubt that had the identities of the parties involved been swapped, with the shooting officer being Bedouin and the dead citizen an innocent Jew, residents of Beersheba would not see posters in support of the officer, or a Facebook group by the name of “We are all with the Rahat officer. And you? ” This analogy is of course hypothetical, because al-Ja’ar was the 49th Arab citizen killed by the Israeli Police since the year 2000, a police force that rarely shoots or kills Jewish citizens. This is just another example of the way in which the lives of Arab citizens in Israel are disregarded; reports about their killing by the police are met with complete apathy by the Jewish public in bad cases, and in even worse cases — with shows of public support for the killing officers.

Khaled al-Ja’ar says that as long as the High Court does not set a date for the hearing of his petition, he feels like he is losing his mind. He expects an apology from the district commander who claimed that his son, as well as he, were connected to the drug dealing activity in the neighborhood. He says an apology would relieve the pain to some extent.

Responding to the news that the officer who allegedly killed his son was back on the job, the al-Ja’ar family said it was shocked. The family said the move puts the officer one step closer to walking free and facing no punishment for killing their son.

In the face of police commanders who are trying to defame Khaled and his late son, in the face of a public which supports the shooting officer who killed his son, and in the face of a system which tends to close cases against police officers instead of indicting them, Khaled al-Ja’ar is calling on the public to join his struggle for justice for his late son and for his family (see this Facebook link), and he hopes that the High Court of Justice will set the record straight.

The Negev region police spokesperson issued the following response: “The events are under investigation by the Police Investigations Unit, and therefore we cannot address these questions before the end of the investigation.”

*John Brown is the pseudonym of an Israeli academic and blogger. Michal Rotem works for the Negev Forum for Coexistence and is based in Be’er Sheva. This article was first published on +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it in Hebrew here.

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The road to Palestinian statehood runs through Gaza http://972mag.com/the-road-to-palestinian-statehood-runs-through-gaza/103786/ http://972mag.com/the-road-to-palestinian-statehood-runs-through-gaza/103786/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 12:03:59 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=103786 Irrespective of who wins in Israel’s elections, Palestine will have to deal with the marginalization of its quest for statehood. That process must start by reintegrating Gaza into the Palestinian fold.

By Salam Fayyad

File photo of former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, cropped (By Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk)

File photo of former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, cropped (By Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk)

For Palestinians the quest for statehood begins with Gaza. But wait, is there still active regional or international interest in the cause of Palestinian statehood? I submit that whatever residual interest remains in the possibility of making yet another attempt at reviving the “peace process” finds expression these days largely in the phrase “let’s first see what March 17 brings,” a reference to the upcoming Israeli elections.

I also argue that, irrespective of the outcome of those elections, all concerned, but especially Palestinians, will find themselves having to first deal with what arguably is the worst state of marginalization, both regionally and internationally, to ever befall the quest for Palestinian statehood.

Two main reasons underlie this marginalization. The first relates to the broadening, in the aftermath of the failure of the most recent round of diplomacy, of the base of an already deep sense of skepticism regarding the capacity of the Oslo framework to deliver on its promise after more than two decades of futility. The second relates to the virtually complete regional and international preoccupation with the present and fast-mushrooming threat posed by ISIL and like-minded non-state actors in the region and way beyond it.


Even though the weaker of the two parties in the highly asymmetrical balance of power between the occupier and the occupied, the Palestinians still do have a shot at cracking the marginalization nut if they start from where it matters the most, namely, with Gaza. This happens to be the right choice, both because of the urgent need to deal with the catastrophic human conditions there, but also strategically, given the necessity of reintegrating Gaza into the Palestinian fold as a key requirement on the path to sovereignty.

This reintegration requires taking serious steps towards beginning to manage Palestinian pluralism effectively, with respect to the requirements of both national governance and international engagement. This, in turn, requires the immediate convening and activation of the Unified Leadership Framework (ULF), ensuring that the Palestinian government is fully empowered and representative of the entire political spectrum, and reconvening the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).

The ULF – a hitherto largely dormant forum – consists of leaders of all Palestinian factions, with membership in it not conditioned on acceptance by non-PLO factions of the PLO’s political platform, as amended to comply with the requirements of the Oslo framework. However, by tasking the ULF with collectively informing PLO decisions on matters of high national interest, non-PLO factions, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, are assured of genuine partnership in the Palestinians’ pursuit of their national aspirations, while still enabling the PLO to retain its platform and speak on behalf of all Palestinians.

The government, which is to be empowered to the fullest extent afforded by the Basic Law and the participation and backing of all factions, should be primarily charged with the multi-year dual task of reconstructing Gaza and reunifying Palestinian institutions and legal frameworks across the West Bank and Gaza. And, it should do so with the full accountability that comes with the immediate reconvening of the PLC.

The above measures could set the stage for beginning to make a serious dent on the state of marginalization if they are accompanied by the ULF’s adoption of a time-bound commitment to nonviolence. The ULF would then task the PLO with communicating that commitment to Israel and the international community on behalf of all factions, while working on securing agreement – to be enshrined in a United Nations Security Council resolution – on a date certain for ending the Israeli occupation by the end of the term of that commitment, keeping in mind that it would make sense for that term to correspond to the time needed to unify state institutions and laws after nearly eight years of separation.

File photo of Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Photo: PPO/Thaer Ghanaim - Handout)

File photo of Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Photo: PPO/Thaer Ghanaim – Handout)

Taken together, and with a firm commitment to holding free, fair, and inclusive elections no later than six months before the end of the aforementioned time period, these measures would represent a highly determined act of Palestinian self-empowerment that could be of a sufficient transformative potential as to address, both directly and indirectly, at least some of the basic weaknesses that are either inherent in the Oslo framework, or caused by the expiry of its timeline.

For that potential to be realized, however, continued insistence on the part of the international community on a rigid application of “the Quartet principles” should be abandoned in favor of expecting Palestinian adherence to the less exacting time-bound commitment to nonviolence. For one thing, that is about the most that all Palestinian factions can realistically be expected to agree on; and, for another, the conceptual equivalent to those principles on the Israeli side, namely, acceptance of the Palestinians’ right to statehood, was never formally expected of the various Israeli governments since Oslo.

Palestinian school girls walk across a destroyed part of Shujayea neighborood, Gaza city, November 4th, 2014. Many Palestinians in the Gaza Strip face hard living conditions following the seven-week Israeli offensive during which 2,131 Palestinians were killed, and an estimate of 18,000 housing units have been either destroyed or severely damaged, leaving more than 108,000 people homeless. By: Anne Paq/Activestills.org

Palestinian school girls walk across a destroyed part of Shujayea neighborhood, Gaza city, November 4th, 2014. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Last, but not least, if the cause of peacemaking in the Middle East is to regain traction amid the tidal wave of extremism engulfing the region, it is of paramount importance for the key deliverable of the “peace process”, namely, the State of Palestine, to hold, and fulfill the promise of being a qualitative addition to a region that has long been known for a time-honored tradition of “strong men and weak states.” This should mean, as can only be befitting and worthy of the great many sacrifices and aspirations of the Palestinian people, that the Palestinians’ quest for freedom must be inspired by an overarching vision of a democratic state governed by the rule of law; guided by the universally shared progressive values of equality, liberty, and justice, with full and nondiscriminatory constitutional protection of the unabridged individual and collective rights and privileges of citizenship; and run in full accord with the highest standards of good governance.

With such attributes, the State of Palestine cannot but be seen as an integral part of the longer-term response to the disenfranchisement-and-despair-driven ideology of “rejectionism” that has been the lifeline of extremism and violence in the region for much of this century.

The author is the former prime minister of the Palestinian National Authority. This article previously appeared as a guest blog for The Elders, the group of independent global leaders working together for peace and human rights.

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Israelis, Iranians pay the same price for nuclear ambitions http://972mag.com/israelis-iranians-pay-the-same-price-for-nuclear-ambitions/103783/ http://972mag.com/israelis-iranians-pay-the-same-price-for-nuclear-ambitions/103783/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 11:18:55 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=103783 The discussion surrounding Netanyahu’s Congress speech presumes that Iran does not have a right to nuclear weapons but that Israel does. Another way of looking at things is a nuclear-free Middle East, and an alliance between the oppressed citizens of Iran and Israel.

By Mati Shemoelof

IAF fighter jet during an exercise (photo: IDF Spokesperson)

IAF fighter jet during an exercise (photo: IDF Spokesperson)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trip to the United States, which was ostensibly meant to address the danger of Iran’s nuclear program, has a hidden angle that goes unspoken in the Israeli media.

The discussion surrounding Iran deals mainly with whether the Islamic Republic has nuclear capabilities. This angle does not deal with Israel itself, or with nuclear proliferation of the entire Middle East. In light of the upcoming elections, it is especially important to note the exorbitant price that Israeli citizens pay (a quarter of whom live below the poverty line) for Israel’s choice to be a nuclear power, according to foreign sources. Those same sources claim Israel has Jericho missiles, tactical delivery systems, ballistic missile submarines and nuclear-armed fighter jets, as well as hundreds of nuclear bombs that continue to be developed.


Do nuclear weapons protect Israel? Is the investment worth it? These issues are never spoken about. Preventing the enemy from obtaining similar weapons is practically axiomatic in this country. According to the West, the Jews are allowed to have an unsupervised, unlimited nuclear arsenal with no environmental regulations. Think about the danger such an old nuclear reactor poses to the nearby city of Dimona. Is the reactor carcinogenic for its workers and the people who live in the area? Where does Israel bury its nuclear waste?

According to the West, Israel can have nuclear weapons because of the Holocaust, but the Iranians are dangerous because their previous leaders have called for the elimination of Israel. And here? Both the Right and the Left adopt this premise.

The West encourages Israel to arm itself with nuclear weapons; Germany sells us nuclear submarines; the United States sells us fighter jets. But are the Germans and the Americans aware that Israel’s arms industry, and the generals who control Israeli politics, are actually starving their citizens while they become rich? Are they even concerned by the sale such a dangerous weapon to a third world country such as Israel? Why is there no parity between Israel and Iran’s potential nuclear arsenal?

The Iranian people also suffer due to their leaders’ desire for the doomsday weapon, despite the societal costs that it brings about. Two years before the Arab Spring, the Iranian people tried, unsuccessfully, to revolt against the regime. Here is what Israeli social activist Barak Cohen told the Iranian people on Facebook, with the help of a Jewish-Iranian :

Netanyahu is heading to the United States in order to frighten the world over a nuclear Iran. We want to tell the Iranian people that as opposed to a prime minister who does not represent us, the people here are not in conflict with the Iranian people. We have terrible rulers who use war in order to harm our freedoms, equality and ability to live a decent life. We know that your regime is also terrible, and uses the same tools to harm your ability to live a decent life.

This is not a conflict between the Jewish people and the Iranian people. This is simply two forms of dictatorship that abuse you and us in order to continue ruling. The Jewish holiday of Purim is upon us, and there are Jews in Iran, and we want to say that with the help of God, who is one, just as in Purim our luck changed, we will defeat the dictatorship here, and you will defeat the dictatorship there. With the help of God, we will be able to visit Iran and you will be able to visit us here, and the walls will crumble!

Cohen’s message to the Iranians does not differentiate between Jews and Persians (unlike in Purim, there is no need to kill Haman). This is the same Jewish-Arab message that we sent in 2011 with our letter to the young people of the Arab World who were fighting for freedom. This message is the exact opposite of what the government is doing through its nuclear arsenal, its weapons and its societal abuse. This is the message we need to send to Washington, Iran and the Arab world. A message of social democracy that worries about its citizens, and does not invest everything it has in a doomsday weapon, which only weakens and endangers its own citizens.

Mati Shemoelof is a writer. His first storybook was published by Zmora Bitan PublishersThis article was first published on +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it in Hebrew here.

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The Israel-Palestine Lorde Diaries, chapter 15: The love club http://972mag.com/the-israel-palestine-lorde-diaries-chapter-15-the-love-club/103454/ http://972mag.com/the-israel-palestine-lorde-diaries-chapter-15-the-love-club/103454/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 10:38:59 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=103454 The final chapter, in which we make music.

Part 15 of 15. To read the rest of the series, click here.

The Israel Palestine Lorde Diaries 29

“Yuval, what is your time limit?” Khader asked me online.

There was a time limit. The spring’s succession of guided tours was supposed kick off in two weeks. Once that happened, I would have no more time. ”Why?”

“Because Rasha only comes back on March 23rd, and she really wants in.”

“Where is she now?”

“In the U.S., making friends with Uncle Sam”.

“Okay,” I wrote, “I’m going to talk to Yaron. Our deadline is March 7th, but I think we’ll stretch it for her. Listen,” I added, “I am really, really, really moved that you made contact with her and that she agreed to participate. She’s an amazing artist.”

Yaron was fine waiting. He is easy to appease. Ruthie and I walked over to his house that Wednesday for Shira’s session. She arrived with her husband, Alon, and his accordion. Together, they form the Yiddish duo “The Technicalities.” When the two of them entered, I realized that I had not seen Shira since the whole thing began, more than three months back, and who knows how much longer before that. She has been working the entire time on her countless endeavors.

“I have totally fallen in love with this song,” said the former Lorde-skeptic, which was nice to hear. She even kept referring to “Team” as “the song we all love.” “In essence, it’s an eighties song,” she said, “that’s why we all love it.”

This turned out to be untrue. Not everyone in the room loved “Team,” because not everyone knew it. Yaron staunchly refused to listen to any of the original tracks, put together by Lorde and Joel Little, so that he won’t be tempted to emulate them. It occurred to me that his first encounter with “Team” would be in Yiddish, the so-called dying language of European Jewry, the tongue of my grandparents and their gassed-to-death family members. Yiddish, the thick and sweet German brogue of folk tales and secret modern masterpieces, the tongue of Meah Shearim’s children, who seem to grow up in another era. Team, by Lorde, in Yiddish. This was kind of cool.

The following night was cooler still. Diana Gert, the Russian soprano, came to record “Yellow Flicker Beat”. I love all things Russian that are not politicians. Russian-Israelis were always the local subgroup with which I most easily connected. Over the years, my former-USSR chums have showed me “Hedgehog in the Fog“, fed me shuba and lent me “Moscow-Petushki.” They turned me into a proper Russophile. The nearest to the Lorde madness I experienced in recent years was losing it over Tchaikovsky.

Diana came with a delightful problem that is telling of Russian temperament. The title line, “red, orange yellow flicker beat / starting up my heart” was too beautiful in her eyes. She felt that the word “ognia” (“fire”, chosen by Vladi to stand in for “flicker”), deserved more room and asked if we would stretch the line to emphasize it. I preferred staying faithful to the original, and assured her that her natural passion would deliver all the beauty.

I got to play the guitar. I haven’t written much about the musical side of jamming with Yaron, but he is a bit of a Mr. Miagi. He will throw a mandolin at you and make you play it, or throw a word like “fermata” at you, forcing you to figure out what it means. I am so much more of a musician now than I was when we had that Malawach in November.

Final fence

Having turned off the mic, Yaron drove Diana and myself to the city center. I fell asleep content and woke up thrilled, caught up on all the writing and illustrating, then took a walk to the beach.

Part of the sand was dug out, for renovations of the promenade. That portion of the beach was fenced. Here was the westernmost fence of a land full of fences, walls and invisible boundaries. Some separate physical spaces, others seperate people, some are imposed on us, other we simply adopt. Some can be climbed, others bypassed. Some are impenetrable, but we never knows which, until we try, right?

Beyond this final barrier were the Holy Land’s final few steps, then the vast sea, and beyond it: Rasha, chatting with Uncle Sam. It would be an honor to wait for her, though I never expected a wait. In the end, nothing played out as I expected. Two Mizrahi girls contributed the project’s most European track. The one Palestinian-spirited song turned into a Russian ballad, while our Arabic track was an easygoing stoner hum.

If I learned anything about my country on this journey, it’s that it is never what we think it should be. We want for it to be Israel, and it isn’t quite that — or only that. We wish for it to be Palestine, and it isn’t quite that either. People come here with a certain god in mind, and are overwhelmed with the shrines of other faiths, or accidentally wind up at a BDSM club, or hope for the beach and get trapped in the snow.

When we realize things aren’t as we hoped, we come to the beach and look away, to the world, often to the west, hoping for good tidings that might stir change. It’s our natural position, and a good place to end this tale. But I cannot conclude without turning south-east, (though it is nearly the same distance facing south-west, by a wide arc) and sharing a few words.


Dear Ella,

Israelis are not best known for being polite. We often make fun of our own disregard for the words “please,” “sorry” and “thank you.”

Even now I will not use them all. There is nothing I could ask of you, so “please” is out. “Sorry”, on the other hand, you probably deserve. People around the world flaunt your name for whatever their weird causes are. It’s part of stardom, yet surely isn’t always fun. If I caused you any discomfort, I apologize.

Now the “thank you.” At its best, art makes us conscious of what was there to begin with. Yours made me conscious of your generation’s experience, of your native land, and of many less-easily articulated notions involving rhythm, rhyme and dance.

Poking my head into contemporary fandom, I also grew conscious of gossip and pettiness. I found great writing about your work, but so much talk of appearance and other trivial matters. I guess I hoped to counter that with some substance. My land is full of substance. All I needed to do was aim the loudspeaker to its hills and press play.

The hills returned an echo. I became more conscious also of what was here to begin with. Staying focused on this country’s realities and fighting the good wars (rather than the deadly ones), is impossible to do without good, authentic art. The art you and your creative partners bring the world is such. It helped me and my friends see all of it afresh, and perked all of us up a bit for what is yet to come. Thank you. We needed that.




I’m also grateful to the brave editors of this series in its English form, Mike Schaeffer Omer-Man and Edo Konrad, and to everyone who gave a hand in any way, whether by playing the cello or suggesting Tamer. As for you, dearest readers: Thank you so much for coming along on this strange ride. The first songs are being mixed by Yaron as I write this, and more will pour in later. I’ll post here each one once it’s ready, starting with Royals in French. Enjoy, and may peace and music reign wherever you are.

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The Joint List: The Israeli Left’s last hope? http://972mag.com/the-joint-list-the-israeli-lefts-last-hope/103683/ http://972mag.com/the-joint-list-the-israeli-lefts-last-hope/103683/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 18:15:11 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=103683 In light of the Joint List’s newfound strength, it might be high time for centrist and leftist parties to renegotiate their understanding of what it means to be Israeli.

By Louis Fishman

Hadash chairman Ayman Odeh at a press conference, February 11, 2015. (Photo by Activestills.org)

Hadash chairman Ayman Odeh at a press conference, February 11, 2015. (Photo by Activestills.org)

Much attention has been given to the Jewish-Arab Hadash party’s unification with the Arab parties, which are running in the current election under the name the “Joint List” (not the Arab Joint List, as much of the Israeli press is reporting). Even if this was done in order to ensure the parties pass the election threshold, it has turned into a major force on the Israeli political map, joining together communists, nationalists, Islamists, Arabs and Jews.

If polls are correct, the party could even come in third place, winning between 12 and 15 seats of the Israeli parliament’s 120 seats. While it is hard to imagine that the two expected winners of the elections, the Likud and the Zionist Camp (Labor), will enter in to a unity government, if they do, such a scenario could turn the Joint List into the main opposition party.

As opposed to the past, when most of the Israeli media brushed off the Arab parties as unworthy of election coverage, often even discarding Hadash as “Arab,” despite its Jewish constituency, the Joint List’s strength can no longer be ignored, leading to the obvious conclusion that Israeli Jews will also for the first time have to come to terms with the fact that the Palestinian minority constitutes almost 20 percent of the population.

Israel is a country made up of multiple sectors, divided along ethnic, religious and ideological lines, which leaves the winner of the Israeli election scrambling for the 60 seats needed to form a government. Despite the tough maneuvering to form a government, none of the major parties in Israeli history has ever invited anti-Zionist Jewish-Arab parties to be part of the government, making coalition-building even more difficult.

A chance for change

If this was not enough, in Israel, unlike most democracies where leftist parties adopt the struggle of the minority, the Labor Party also excludes the Arab constituencies. For example, by adopting the name the “Zionist Camp,” and attempting to disqualify MK Haneen Zoabi from running in the election, it made it clear that it does not differ from many in the Israeli Right.


Of course, there is the precedent from the 1990s when Labor leader Yitzhak Rabin relied on the Arab votes in the Knesset to save his government during the critical years of the Oslo accords in votes of no confidence; however, this was met with racist cries in the parliament, demanding a “Jewish majority” be reached on issues related to the peace process.

The exclusion of the Arabs from the political scene highlights the fact that Israeli democracy essentially lacks the basic component of a true democracy, which is a sense of citizenship. In Israel, being an anti-Zionist might get you a seat in the government if you are a Haredi Jew, but for Arabs the door is blocked, under a cloud of racism.

With the newfound strength of the Joint List, it might be high time for the Center and Left parties to renegotiate their understanding of what it means to be Israeli. There is no doubt that it can be an important link in securing a peace deal with the Palestinians, ending almost 47 years of occupation.

For this to happen, however, a new force needs to emerge among the Jewish Left, which will give precedence to the sanctity of citizenship. For years, many in the Israeli Left placed hopes in Meretz. Unfortunately, even when it has been a leader in promoting civic rights, it has failed to provide a transformation to a vibrant democracy.

If the Israeli Left congealed over principles of citizenship, a new dynamic could emerge allowing a future for Jews and Arabs to both express their love of the homeland within the same state structures. In other words, it would not end Israel as a Jewish state but provide its Arab citizens with a path to cultural autonomy — a necessary step in the move toward a citizen-state.

While it is still too early to see whether or not the Joint List will succeed in remaining a single party after the elections, its value should be seen in its creativity to unite opposing factions under the banner of citizenship. There is no doubt that it has captured the imaginations of both Arab and Jewish citizens, introducing an important dynamic that could revitalize the Israeli Left.

After decades of political deadlock, the Joint List is indeed a dynamic force of change.

Louis Fishman is an assistant professor at Brooklyn College, City University of New York and writes on Turkish, and Israeli/Palestinian affairs. His upcoming book is on Ottoman Palestine. He has lived most of his life between the U.S., Israel, and Turkey. Follow him on Twitter: @IstanbulTelaviv He blogs at:http://louisfishman.blogspot.com.

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The lie at the heart of Netanyahu’s speech to Congress http://972mag.com/the-lie-at-the-heart-of-netanyahus-speech-to-congress/103747/ http://972mag.com/the-lie-at-the-heart-of-netanyahus-speech-to-congress/103747/#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 11:50:04 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=103747 You can’t describe a country as he described Iran and believe it will negotiate its own surrender.

First Netanyahu tells Congress that Iran is the modern Nazi Germany – bent on annihilating Israel, nuking America, conquering the world in the name of an evil ideology, and lying all the way to its goal. But then he says America can get this modern Nazi Germany to surrender – to give up its entire nuclear program and let inspectors inspect where and when they want, to give up its foreign policy and stop supporting its Shi’ite allies, to stop threatening to retaliate against an Israeli attack (what Netanyahu calls “threatening to annihilate Israel”), to behave exactly as Israel and the Republican Party want it to behave – and America can get this Iran to surrender without firing a shot! Just by negotiating! And keeping up the sanctions! Think of it – bringing Nazi Germany to its knees – without having to fight World War Two!


No wonder those idiots in Congress were giving him standing ovations. Bibi was promising them the Republicans’ notion of 72 virgins in heaven.

As Isaac Herzog likes to say, Enough, Bibi, enough. He was lying, once again. Bibi doesn’t believe there’s a “better deal” to be had in the negotiations with Iran; the only better deal he believes in is war. That’s what he wants America to do, either with or without Israel – that’s what he’s always wanted: to bomb Iran to its knees. But he knows that won’t fly in the U.S. anymore, so he tells Congress they can successfully demand terms of surrender from Iran in the negotiations – and then, when the Iranians walk away, well, that leaves no option but war! See, he told the Americans to try the old jaw jaw, but those Nazis in Tehran didn’t leave America and/or Israel any choice but war war, as his good friend and supporter Winston Churchill used to say.

Luckily, the Obama administration doesn’t buy this bullshit. It’s just such a shame and disgrace that so many Israelis and American Jews do – or pretend to.

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Netanyahu’s Congress speech: An election stunt, after all http://972mag.com/netanyahus-congress-speech-an-election-stunt-after-all/103716/ http://972mag.com/netanyahus-congress-speech-an-election-stunt-after-all/103716/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 20:12:52 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=103716 Netanyahu didn’t offer any new thinking on Iran, but he might have succeeded in regaining control over elections that were slipping away from him

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to members of Congress at a joint Session in Washington DC, US. (photo: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to members of Congress at a joint Session in Washington DC, US. (photo: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Ever since Speaker of the House John Boehner revealed his invitation to the Israeli prime minister to speak before a joint session of Congress, people have been wondering who exactly is playing who here. Is Bibi risking Israeli-American relations in order to help the GOP score points against President Obama, or did Boehner break protocol — by not informing the White House of the invitation — in order to help Netanyahu in the coming elections? Tonight we got our answer: more the latter than the former.

As far as the international debate on the deal with Iran goes, Bibi’s positions were absurd. Not only did he provide zero alternatives to the deal he is seeking to prevent, he actually asked his biggest ally to walk out of negotiations with Iran, tighten sanctions and wait for regime change. That is not only highly impractical (even if the U.S. is convinced to adopt Netanyahu’s proposed policy, there is little chance Russia or China will do the same), but most chances are that Iran would only intensify its enrichment efforts. In Netanyahu’s playbook, this leads to the military option. Since very few people in the U.S. are anxious to go to war with Iran, Netanyahu actually made selling the deal easier, as the Washington Post  was quick to point out. If even Bibi doesn’t have an alternative strategy to negotiations, the logical conclusion would be to go ahead with the deal. After all, one could always end up going to war if Iran breaks its obligations, and there is no need to do that right now.


Sure enough, the Republicans might have had some fun Tuesday night, especially in seeing all of Israel’s supporters in the Democratic Party moving uncomfortably in their seats. However, I do not think Bibi gave them much to work with; war with Iran does not seem like a winning ticket.

As far as Netanyahu’s political interests are concerned, however, the speech was a major success. Israelis were highly impressed, a sentiment I even heard coming from Bibi’s critics. Likud supporters were practically euphoric, acting as if their quarterback delivered the perfect pass at the last second. This week’s polls were bad for Likud, especially one published several hours before the speech, which gave the party only 21 seats, as opposed to Labor’s 24. Netanyahu’s right-wing/ultra-Orthodox bloc was given 54 seats — the same as the left/center/Palestinian opposition. Netanyahu can still end up prime minister with such an outcome, but the trends are certainly against him. The most troubling aspect, at least as far as Bibi is concerned, is that some of the undecided voters have begun breaking — and not in his favor.

This is where the speech can make a difference. Almost all political strategists expected Netanyahu to get a bump from his trip to Washington, perhaps even two to three seats. If this modest effect takes place (not to mention lasts), it could be enough for Bibi to secure a clear majority in the Knesset, thereby forcing Labor to sit in his government under his own terms. The other option is for him to form a narrow right-wing coalition.

Bibi used every card in the Israeli book — from the Holocaust to ISIS — but what really won over the Israelis was watching him receive countless standing ovations. Recently, Israelis have gotten used to seeing the dark side of Bibi’s imperial style, especially in the wake of the revelations over the Netanyahu family’s expenses, as well as their attitude toward workers in their household. But Congress saw King Bibi at his best, and I think many Israelis appreciated that. It wasn’t the policy but the spectacle that made the difference.

Again, my impression is that this speech was received very differently abroad and in Israel, which means that some of the things that Israelis liked probably alienated everyone else. Right now, however, all Netanyahu cares about is the domestic game. The irony is that if he does win the election, perhaps even thanks to his performance tonight, he will have to deal with the fallout from the speech, which will include a very upset Obama administration.

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There’s no nice way of building settlements in occupied territory http://972mag.com/theres-no-nice-way-of-building-settlements-in-occupied-territory/103560/ http://972mag.com/theres-no-nice-way-of-building-settlements-in-occupied-territory/103560/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 19:28:26 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=103560 Those familiar with the system know that as long as settlement construction continues, the abuse and intimidation of the Palestinian civilian population will be maintained.

By Gerard Horton

Illustrative photo: An activist puts a Palestinan flag on the Separation Wall facing the Modi'in Illit settlement (Photo: Anne Paq/ Activestills.org)

Illustrative photo: An activist puts a Palestinan flag on the Separation Wall facing the Modi’in Illit settlement (Photo: Anne Paq/ Activestills.org)

UNICEF, the UN body tasked with providing humanitarian aid to children in developing countries, recently issued an update on the progress made regarding the treatment of minors held in Israeli military detention. In its 2013 report, Children in Israeli Military Detention, UNICEF reviewed over 400 sworn testimonies collected from minors who came in contact with Israel’s military system, and concluded that ill-treatment “appears to be widespread, systematic and institutionalized throughout the process,” and made 38 recommendations for improvement. Two years on, UNICEF is now warning that “reports of alleged ill-treatment of children during arrest, transfer, interrogation and detention have not significantly decreased in 2013 and 2014.”

Based on new evidence, UNICEF’s 2015 update found, among other things, that 91 percent of minors continue to report having their hands painfully tied; 82 percent report some form of physical violence; 78 percent are not adequately informed of their legal rights; 30 percent sign confessions in a foreign language; and 13 percent are held in solitary confinement while being interrogated.

But does any of this come as a surprise to those familiar with the system? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Last June marked 47 years since the Israeli military imposed martial law on the Palestinian civilian population in the West Bank. The UN estimates that, since then, over 750,000 Palestinian men, women and children have been detained — and in many cases prosecuted — in military courts that have jurisdiction over individuals as young as 12. The types of offenses prosecuted in these military courts range from acts of violence and membership in banned organizations to attending unauthorized protests — the latter of which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.

In order to understand how this system has remained in place for so long, one needs to consider the role it plays in maintaining control over the Palestinian civilian population in the West Bank, and why such control is so important to the military. The answer to this question must be considered in light of Israel’s continued settlement activity (the latest estimates indicate that the number of Israelis living in East Jerusalem and the West Bank is fast approaching 600,000). Whilst there is no serious dispute as to the legal status of these settlements, they do pose a major security challenge for Israel’s military. Consider this: how can any military guarantee the protection of over half-a-million civilians who are encouraged to roam around a conflict zone by the civilian authorities?

Beyond the separation wall, bulldozers expand the Modi'in Illit settlement bloc. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Bulldozers expand the Modi’in Illit settlement bloc. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The way this unenviable military objective is achieved is simple and effective: through mass intimidation and collective punishment. The evidence to support this claim can be illustrated with regard to the manner in which Palestinian children in the West Bank are detained by the army and prosecuted in military courts.

According to the military authorities, 1,004 Palestinian children were detained in the West Bank in 2013. The most common allegation against these children is that they throw stones at soldiers or vehicles carrying settlers. Left unchecked this situation could quickly spiral out of control. The military response is to subject Palestinian communities closest to these incidents to intense military suppression, including day and night raids, as well as to arrest operations.


The military strategy employed is both reactive and proactive. In its reactive form, any and all acts of resistance are responded to with overwhelming force as a means of deterrence. In its proactive form, the military demonstrates its presence in Palestinian villages in order to intimidate the local population so that resistance is not even contemplated. These strategies have been well attested to by former soldiers who have provided video testimonies to the Israeli organization Breaking the Silence. In these testimonies, soldiers describe entering villages at night and firing stun grenades for no other reason than to “demonstrate presence”; entering houses at 3:00 a.m. in order to photograph residents; and ransacking houses in the middle of the night without any prior intelligence that could justify such actions.

In order for this strategy to succeed, all contact between Palestinians and the military must be unpleasant. This form of mass intimidation is what led UNICEF to conclude in 2013 that the ill-treatment of children appears to be “widespread, systematic and institutionalized,” and confirm that nothing has changed in 2015. UNICEF’s report went on to add that “this conclusion is based on the repeated allegations about such treatment over the past 10 years and the volume, consistency and persistence of these allegations.”

Israeli soldiers arrest a Palestinian journalist during clashes near the illegal West Bank outpost of Adei Ad. (Activestills.org)

Israeli soldiers arrest a Palestinian journalist during clashes near the illegal West Bank outpost of Adei Ad. (Activestills.org)

The effect of mass arrests and intimidation of Palestinian villages cannot be underestimated. The Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC) documents cases in which women give testimonies about the terror they experience every time the military enters their village. Ultimately, the strategy is largely successful, with whole communities shutting themselves in out of fear of encountering the military. Another measurement of this strategy’s success can be found in a report published by the U.S. State Department, which noted that in 2012, zero out of approximately 350,000 Israeli civilians living in the West Bank were killed. This is truly an extraordinary military achievement, but one that comes at a huge price for the Palestinian civilians unlucky enough to have had a settlement built next door.

UNICEF’s recent update also highlights a number of legislative and procedural changes that have occurred in relation to the detention of children by the Israeli military over the last two years, and refers to an ongoing dialogue process with the military authorities. However, those familiar with the system know that as long as settlement construction continues, the abuse and intimidation of the Palestinian civilian population will be maintained. Simply put, there never has been, nor will be, a nice way of building settlements in occupied territory.

Gerard Horton is a lawyer and co-founder of Military Court Watch. Gerard has worked on the issue of children prosecuted in the Israeli military courts for the past seven years and is the author of a number of leading reports on the subject. 

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WATCH: Rightists attack Palestinian MK Zoabi and staffer at panel http://972mag.com/watch-rightists-attack-palestinian-mk-zoabi-and-staffer-at-panel/103670/ http://972mag.com/watch-rightists-attack-palestinian-mk-zoabi-and-staffer-at-panel/103670/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 12:23:26 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=103670 Palestinian Knesset member Haneen Zoabi and her media adviser and acting Joint Arab List spokesperson Emilie Moatti were attacked by rightists Tuesday during a panel at the Ramat Gan College of Law and Business. The attackers were identified with extreme right-wing settler Baruch Marzel, who is running with Eli Yishai’s Yachad party.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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