+972 Magazine http://972mag.com Independent commentary and news from Israel & Palestine Sun, 19 Apr 2015 10:41:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8 WATCH: Two conscientious objectors sent to military prison http://972mag.com/watch-two-conscientious-objectors-sent-to-military-prison/105690/ http://972mag.com/watch-two-conscientious-objectors-sent-to-military-prison/105690/#comments Sun, 19 Apr 2015 10:41:51 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=105690 Kaplan served two years in the army before deciding to refuse. The two are expected to serve additional prison terms.

Text by Haggai Matar
Video by Israel Social TV

Two conscientious objectors, Yaron Kaplan and Ido Ramon, were sentenced to 30 and 10 days in prison, respectively, for their refusal to serve in the Israeli army.

For Kaplan, it is his first imprisonment. Until now he served as a conscripted soldier and decided to refuse to complete the final year of his service.

During a protest at the Tel Aviv induction base last week, Kaplan explained that he feels obligated to refuse as a way of outstretching a hand of peace to his Palestinian partners in the struggle for peace and security for both peoples in this land.

For Ramon it is his second imprisonment. He previously declared that he would not serve in the army, “which describes itself as ‘the most moral army in the world’ but rules over millions of people under occupation, violating their most basic rights.”

The two are expected to be jailed again after their release.

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When setting fire to a bilingual school is no longer ‘racist’ http://972mag.com/when-setting-fire-to-a-bilingual-school-is-no-longer-racist/105685/ http://972mag.com/when-setting-fire-to-a-bilingual-school-is-no-longer-racist/105685/#comments Sat, 18 Apr 2015 14:07:11 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=105685 In November 2014, three young Jewish men set fire to a first grade classroom in Jerusalem’s bilingual school. Five months later, the prosecution has decided to drop the clause according to which the act was ‘racially-motivated.’

A teacher inspects the damage in the aftermath of an arson attack that targeted first-grade classrooms at a bilingual Jewish-Arab school near the Palestinian neighbourhood of Beit Safafa, in southern Jerusalem, November 30, 2014. Anti-Arab slogans were scrawled on the walls in Hebrew reading: "Death to Arabs", and "There's no coexistence with cancer."

A teacher inspects the damage in the aftermath of an arson attack that targeted first-grade classrooms at a bilingual Jewish-Arab school near the Palestinian neighbourhood of Beit Safafa, in southern Jerusalem, November 30, 2014. Anti-Arab slogans were scrawled on the walls in Hebrew reading: “Death to Arabs”, and “There’s no coexistence with cancer.”

Nearly five months after Jewish extremists set fire to first-grade classrooms in Jerusalem’s Max Rayne Hand in Hand school, the prosecution has reached a plea bargain with two of the three suspects — brothers Nahman and Shlomo Twito — which would remove the clause stating the arson was racially-motivated.

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I must admit that beyond the anger and frustration, this piece of news caused me to laugh at my own naivety: when the three young men suspected of the attack were arrested — all three of whom are active in the racist, anti-miscegenation group Lehava — I became worried that the system would act severely against them only because this was considered a high-profile case. Don’t get me wrong, I did not take the matter lightly, nor did I think they shouldn’t have received a punishment that fit the crime. Setting fire to a school is horrible, especially when it is clearly driven by ideology, as in this case. But I also thought, and I still think, that the root of the problem goes far deeper than these three young men, who were enlisted into Lehava leader Benzi Gopstein’s poisonous ranks. Gopstein was never indicted.

During the last elections, I joined Gopstein and far-rightist Michael Ben-Ari as they campaigned in Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market. There I spoke with a young Lehava activist [Hebrew], around the same age as the three suspected of the arson. In another time and place, he could have been one of them. “Wise, clairvoyant and frightened,” I wrote about him at the time. How did this teenager, like the other three, find his way into Gopstein’s arms? This question shouldn’t only worry those in the Shin Bet’s Jewish terror department, but Israeli society in its entirety. Their involvement in these activities is also our failure as a society, and this is a failure we continually refuse to pay attention to.

Israeli society does not want, and perhaps is not able, to draw its own red lines. It is possible that the paradox lies in the fact that we cannot expect borderless state to draw its own borders. There are those who believe that taking off the mask of democracy and letting go of our pretension of morality — in a reality that lacks both — is a positive thing. There are, of course, those who claim that the expectation that the Israeli justice system recognize the arson as a hate crime is tainted with hypocrisy, since one of the system’s main roles is to validate the systematic racism of the state itself.

Thousands of people march through Jerusalem in support and solidarity with the Max Rayne “Hand in Hand” bilingual school, which was the target of a racist arson attack a week earlier, Jerusalem, December 5, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Thousands of people march through Jerusalem in support and solidarity with the Max Rayne “Hand in Hand” bilingual school, which was the target of a racist arson attack a week earlier, Jerusalem, December 5, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

But in its decision not to recognize the racist nature of the arson, the system did wrong not only by the victims of the crime, but also by those responsible, and many others like them. A system that is unable to explain to these young people that they are being punished not because they vandalized property, but rather because what they did was racist. This is a system that outlaws Kahanism while paving a path for Kahanists to the Knesset. This is the same system responsible for these arsonists, as well as the ones who will follow.

The punishment isn’t the issue

As I write these words, it is still unclear what kind of punishment the suspects will receive as a result of the plea bargain. It is certainly possible that they will receive a harsh sentence: pleading guilty to arson alone could land them in prison for 15 years. But a harsh sentence without a conviction for incitement to racism is worthless. In fact, the damage it causes outweighs the benefits.

Since that same morning, in which students arrived at the bilingual school while the smell of charred schoolbooks still floated in the air, there has been much support for the school, as well as much condemnation of the attack. However, the students have yet to hear an apology from Channel 1, which broadcasted a deceitful news item [Hebrew] by Itzik Halperin, who claimed that some of the Palestinian students support terrorism, just a few days before the arson. And now, they will most likely hear that the attack on their school was not racially-motivated.

Israeli settlers at the Hebron Jewish settlement's Purim parade on the city's Shuhada Street. Itamar Ben Gvir (L), is dressed as a hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner. February 24, 2013 (Activestills.org)

Israeli settlers at the Hebron Jewish settlement’s Purim parade on the city’s Shuhada Street. Itamar Ben Gvir (L), is dressed as a hunger-striking Palestinian prisoner. February 24, 2013 (Activestills.org)

The students at the bilingual school do not need the court’s approval to call a spade a spade. Our students know how, almost instinctually, to recognize and condemn racism in all its forms. In fact, it is Israeli society that needs to learn this kind of recognition.

Now all we can do is wait and see what kind of punishment the two brothers receive. The third suspect, Yitzhak Gabai, who is being represented by Attorney and far-rightist Itamar Ben-Gvir, refused to take part in the plea bargain, and is currently trying to prove the inadmissibility of the statements he gave to the Shin Bet during his interrogation. It is likely that Gabai knew exactly what he was doing. If Ben-Gvir was able to convince the court that his friend Baruch Marzel is not a Kahanist, I won’t be surprised if at the end of this entire ordeal, the bilingual school will have to compensate Gabai for the anguish he went through while lighting a first-grade classroom on fire.

Read this article in Hebrew.

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Israeli army encloses 7,000 Palestinians in West Bank village http://972mag.com/israeli-army-encloses-7000-palestinians-in-west-bank-village/105675/ http://972mag.com/israeli-army-encloses-7000-palestinians-in-west-bank-village/105675/#comments Sat, 18 Apr 2015 08:53:01 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=105675 IDF openly tells the 7,000 residents of Hizma that they are being collectively punished for the stone-throwing of a few Palestinians.

By Natasha Roth

Soldiers patrol one of the entrances to the West Bank village Hizma. (photo: Tamar Fleishman/B'Tselem)

Soldiers patrol one of the entrances to the West Bank village Hizma. (photo: Tamar Fleishman)

The Israeli army and Border Police closed off both entrances to the Palestinian village of Hizma in the West Bank on Monday afternoon, in response to what the military claimed were incidents of stone-throwing in the area. Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem reported that Hizma’s 7,000 residents were also prevented from leaving the village. A sign in Arabic was posted next to one of the barriers, reading:

To residents of the area: Several of you are responsible for carrying out riots and disturbances of the peace, which resulted in the erection of this barrier. Do not cooperate with them! Stop these actions, which harm your daily lives. For your welfare, and to restore quiet and security to your area, send us any information you have on these disturbers of the pace and their activity in your area to this number: 072-2587990 or to the following email address: Makeitstop2015@gmail.com. Abu Salam, Israel Defense Forces Headquarters.

A sign posted by the IDF in the West Bank village Hizma calls on residents not to cooperate with those 'responsible for carrying out riots and disturbances of the peace,' and asks that they report on those behind the disturbances. (photo: Tamar Fleishman)

A sign posted by the IDF in the West Bank village Hizma calls on residents not to cooperate with those ‘responsible for carrying out riots and disturbances of the peace,’ and asks that they inform on those behind the disturbances. (photo: Tamar Fleishman)

The barriers were removed at midnight on Monday, but were replaced by spikes the following morning. The entrances were finally opened on Wednesday.

According to B’Tselem, Hizma — near the East Jerusalem settlement of Pisgat Ze’ev — has been closed off before after stone-throwing. However, this is the first time that residents have been told they are being collectively punished.

Collective punishment, illegal under international law, is a regular feature of life for Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The poster calling for Hizma’s residents to inform on their neighbors is also reminiscent of the security establishment’s policy of coercing West Bank Palestinians to turn to collaboration. Such a move is intended to sow discord by placing the responsibility for the closure on the heads of a few.

Israeli Border Policemen confront a Palestinian bus driver in the West Bank village Hizma. (photo: A sign posted by the IDF in the West Bank village Hizma calls on residents not to cooperate with those 'responsible for carrying out riots and disturbances of the peace,' and asks that they report on those behind the disturbances. (photo: Tamar Fleishman)

Israeli Border Policemen confront a Palestinian bus driver in the West Bank village Hizma. (photo: Tamar Fleishman)

But perhaps the most telling moment came from an exchange between a bus driver from Hizma and an Israeli Border Police officer during the two-day blockade. Upon seeing two Jewish Israelis enter the village, do their shopping and leave again, the driver asked the officer why he could not do the same. The reply: “Because they’re Jewish. You’re not. That’s why.”

Thanks to Tamar Fleishman for additional reporting on this story.

Natasha Roth, a British immigrant to Israel, is a freelance writer and researcher, and a former coordinator at the ARDC. She can be found on twitter at @NatashaRoth01.

Related:
Hundreds of Palestinians protest collective punishment in E. J’lem
The hard fact is that Israeli repression works
Rights groups to top court: Home demolitions are collective punishment

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PHOTOS: Palestinians mark Prisoners Day, IDF responds with live fire http://972mag.com/photos-palestinians-mark-prisoners-day-idf-responds-with-live-fire/105661/ http://972mag.com/photos-palestinians-mark-prisoners-day-idf-responds-with-live-fire/105661/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 19:14:45 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=105661 Thousands of Palestinians mark Prisoners Day across the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. President Abbas calls for releasing Palestinian prisoners, while Hamas calls for kidnapping Israelis.

By Oren Ziv / Activestills and Haggai Matar

Palestinians, Israeli and international activists march during a protest against the wall, marking Palestinian Prisoners' Day, in the West Bank village of Bil'in, April 17, 2015. The protesters also marked 6 years for the killing of Bassem Abu Rahmah by an Israeli soldiers during a protest in Bil'in in 2009. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinians, Israeli and international activists march during a protest against the wall, marking Palestinian Prisoners Day, in the West Bank village of Bil’in, April 17, 2015. The protesters also marked 6 years for the killing of Bassem Abu Rahmah by an Israeli soldiers during a protest in Bil’in in 2009. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Hundreds of Palestinians, Israelis and international activists marched in the West Bank village of Bil’in on Friday to mark Palestinian Prisoners’ Day. Additional demonstrations took place in Ni’ilin, Nabi Saleh, Kafr Qadum, Ma’asara, as well as in front of the United Nations offices in Gaza. On Thursday, Palestinians also protested outside Ofer Military Prison to show solidarity with Palestinians being held in Israeli jails.

The demonstration in Bil’in began after Friday prayers. The army shot dozens of tear gas canisters well before the protesters could reach the Separation Wall. Most of them retreated, while a few remained and threw stones at the soldiers. At some point, soldiers used live fire (tutu bullets), wounding a young Palestinian in the chest. He was evacuated to a hospital in Ramallah.

Soldiers also used live fire on demonstrators in Ni’ilin, wounding three Palestinians in their legs.

Palestinian activist Mohammad Khatib stands in front of Israeli soldiers during a protest against the wall, marking Palestinian Prisoners Day, Bil'in, April 17, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinian activist Mohammad Khatib stands in front of Israeli soldiers during a protest against the wall, marking Palestinian Prisoners Day, Bil’in, April 17, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

In Bil’in, protesters marched with photos of Bassem Abu Rahmah, who was killed by a tear gas canister shot by Israeli soldiers six years ago this week. Despite video evidence and ballistic analysis, which showed that the canister was shot directly at Abu Rahmah — in contravention of the army’s open-fire regulations — the Military Advocate General decided to close the case for “lack of evidence.”

According to Addameer, a Palestinian NGO that works to support Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli and Palestinian prisons, there are currently 6,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Among them, 434 are being held in administrative detention, which means they have not been sentenced nor stood trial. Of those imprisoned, 23 are women and 163 are minors. Seventeen members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (the Palestinian parliament in Ramallah) are also being held by Israel, as well as 20 journalists.

Protesters carry a Palestinian man who was injured during a protest marking Palestinian Prisoners' day, outside Ofer military prison, near the West Bank town of Betunia, April 16, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Protesters carry a Palestinian man who was injured during a protest marking Palestinian Prisoners’Day, outside Ofer military prison, near the West Bank town of Betunia, April 16, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

More than 800,000 Palestinians have sat in Israeli prisons 1967. Almost every single Palestinian family has been affected in one way or another, making the issue of Palestinian prisoners central to the Palestinians struggle. This past week, the High court rejected a petition by several prisoners who asked to allow them to be allowed to study in the Open University, similar to the other prisoners. The High Court justices ruled that the Israeli Prison Service’s discriminatory policy against Palestinian prisoners is fitting.

In the run-up to Prisoners’ Day, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced that all Palestinian prisoners will have to be released as part of any future peace agreement. Ma’an News Agency reported that top PLO official Hanan Ashrawi said Friday that “We commend their steadfastness, courage and determination in defiance of Israel’s military occupation and system of enslavement and apartheid.”

Palestinian medics treat a youth who was injured by live ammunition shot by Israeli soldiers during a protest against the wall, marking Palestinian Prisoners Day, in the West Bank village of Bil'in, April 17, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinian medics treat a youth who was injured by live ammunition shot by Israeli soldiers during a protest against the wall, marking Palestinian Prisoners Day, in the West Bank village of Bil’in, April 17, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Ma’an also reported that Hamas official Khalil al-Haya said that Israelis must be kidnapped in order to guarantee the release of Palestinian prisoners. “We tell the Zionist enemy: you are all a target for us and the resistance, we will fight you until we finally get rid of you and take as many captives as possible to free our heroes,” al-Haya told hundreds of Palestinians during a rally on the eve of Prisoners’ Day.

Related:
Israeli soldiers arrest feminist Palestinian lawmaker
PHOTOS: 14-year-old Palestinian girl released from prison after 44 days
PHOTOS: Palestinian prisoners, supporters struggle for freedom

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High Court on BDS: Somewhere between terror and Holocaust denial http://972mag.com/high-court-on-bds-somewhere-between-terror-and-holocaust-denial/105656/ http://972mag.com/high-court-on-bds-somewhere-between-terror-and-holocaust-denial/105656/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 11:40:26 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=105656 The High Court decision on the ‘boycott law’ uses the word terror 11 times, likens BDS supporters to Holocaust deniers and quotes a right-wing columnist who makes it his duty to target boycott supporters.

By Yael Marom

Israel's Supreme Court sits as the High Court of Justice, April 1, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills)

Israel’s Supreme Court sits as the High Court of Justice, April 1, 2014. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills)

The justices of Israel’s High Court upheld the controversial “boycott law” Wednesday, giving ground for individuals to sue anyone who calls for a boycott of Israel, or areas under its control (read: the occupied territories).

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But beyond the consequences, questions and political issues that arise from the ruling, there are also a few gems that would be a shame to miss. The word “terror” is mentioned 11 times in the entire verdict. Justice Rubenstein says the word “Holocaust” three times, while the High Court makes two references to the book “Industry of Lies,” by conservative Yedioth Ahronoth columnist Ben-Dror Yemini (known for his articles against the boycott movement, and for attacking leftists for positions they often do not hold). Because the decision is 233 pages long, I decided to pick out the best parts for the readers.

Terrorists

“Thus the call for boycott falls into the category that is known in constitutional literature: the democratic paradox, which allows for limiting the rights of those who seek to enjoy the fruits of democracy in order to harm it. Calling for boycott and participating in it, therefore, can sometimes be considered ‘political terror.’”
(Justice Meltzer, pg. 37)

Holocaust deniers

“Even the boycott against Israel, in its old form, which Israel — as well as other countries, headed by the United States — worked to combat, falls within the realm of freedom of speech; it would be terrible for this freedom of speech to reach its goals. It may be akin to — without comparing — Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic and racist remarks, which in my eyes must enjoy the protection of free speech.”
(Justice Rubinstein, pg. 164)

Pharaohs

“These lines are written on the eve of Passover. In the Passover Hagadah, we read about the same promise made from above to ensure the survival of the Jewish people, despite its enemies — ‘And this is what kept our fathers and what keeps us surviving. For, not only one arose and tried to destroy us, rather in every generation they try to destroy us, and God saves us from their hands.’ There is no problem with the fact that the Knesset passes a law in the struggle against those who try to destroy us.”(Justice Rubinstein, pg. 178)

Racist liars

‘There are those who offer a different name for the BDS movement: Bigoted Dishonest Shameful’
(Justice Amit, pg. 180)

Big Brother

“…There is something Orwellian in the petitioners’ claim that the law restricts freedom of speech. Academic-cultural boycotts constitute silencing in the simplest sense of the word, a monopoly over the entire marketplace of ideas, a clear antithesis to freedom of speech and the idea of a free market of ideas. The cultural-academic boycott of Israel is intended to paralyze and silence political expression, to make one opinion and one ‘truth.’”
(Justice Amit, pg. 189)

Yael Marom is Just Vision’s public engagement manager in Israel and a co-editor of Local Call, where this article was originally published in Hebrew.

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Why the Lausanne deal protects both Israel and Iran http://972mag.com/why-lausanne-is-a-good-deal-for-both-israel-and-iran/105647/ http://972mag.com/why-lausanne-is-a-good-deal-for-both-israel-and-iran/105647/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 10:11:31 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=105647 Israelis don’t seem to understand that the Lausanne agreement will allow them to maintain nuclear ambiguity, while providing Iran with a last-ditch survival strategy to protect itself from a military strike. 

By Shemuel Meir

U.S. Secretary of State Kerry, U.S. Energy Secretary Moniz Stand With Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif and Vice President of Iran for Atomic Energy Salehi Before Meeting in Switzerland, March 16, 2015. (State Dept. photo)

U.S. Secretary of State Kerry, U.S. Energy Secretary Moniz Stand With Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif and Vice President of Iran for Atomic Energy Salehi Before Meeting in Switzerland, March 16, 2015. (State Dept. photo)

The framework agreement between Iran and the P5+1 reached in Lausanne came down on Israeli decision-makers and analysts like a lightning bolt on a sunny day. They were expecting failure in the talks and an anemic press release. Instead, the agreement was announced and detailed information was published about its significant technical parameters that will block Iran’s path to the bomb.

Don’t pay too much attention to reports in the Israeli media about an apparent gap between the U.S. parameters documents published and Iran’s statements. The Iranian declarations don’t contradict the Americans when it comes to the technical parameters. The difference of opinion relates to political and strategic issues — the timing and pace at which sanctions will be lifted.

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This is not an agreement to temporarily delay Iran’s paths to weaponization, that will allow Iran to do develop nuclear weapons in 15 years if it pleases. It is an agreement with permanent supervision and verification mechanisms that will “fold back” and neutralize the dangerous components that could have been used for developing nuclear weapons. The agreement will end the ambiguity of Iran’s nuclear program and will ratify Iran’s status as “a non-nuclear weapon” state under the NPT. What follows is an analysis of the technical outlines of agreement, which is the best way to understand the Iranian story of the last decade.

The core of the heavy water reactor at Arak will be destroyed and and removed from Iran. All of the used nuclear fuel from a new core, which will produce small amounts of plutonium under international supervision, will be transferred out of Iran. There will be no plutonium separation facility. And therefore, it will no longer be possible to produce compact nuclear warheads that can be fitted on ballistic missiles.

Iran can enrich uranium only in one facility (5,000 first-generation, dated centrifuges from Natanz) to a civilian level of 3.6 percent, for making nuclear fuel for a power plant. The second centrifuge facility in Fordo (the underground facility), where in the past Iran enriched to 20 percent (the fastest way to reach military grade enrichment, or the highest level in Netanyahu’s UN diagram), will shut down and be converted to a research center with international cooperation. Uranium-related activities will not take place at Fordo and the site will remain under IAEA supervision. Iran’s remaining 13,000 centrifuges will be transferred to IAEA custody and some will be used to replace the aging centrifuges in Natanz that tend to break down. The advanced centrifuges will not be used for uranium enrichment for at least 10 years but yet undefined “limited research and development” will be permitted in the advanced centrifuges. There will also be a drastic reduction in the amount of lower-level enriched uranium that Iran is allowed to stockpile: 300 kilograms instead of the 8,000 that made people nervous prior to the deal.

The heavy water reactor in Arak, Iran (Photo: Nanking2012, CC)

The heavy water reactor in Arak, Iran (Photo: Nanking2012, CC)

Unprecedented inspection and transparency measures unseen in any other country in the world will be placed on Iran’s low-grade uranium enrichment for civilian purposes. For example, 20-25 years of IAEA inspection on Iranian uranium mines as well as on centrifuge manufacturing and storage facilities. A critical addition to the already existing inspection and of nuclear fuel production in uranium conversion facilities. These are measures that are designed to provide an additional safety belt for the “Additional Protocol” of the IAEA and to prevent the diversion of low-level enriched uranium meant for civilian purposes to parallel secret sites for enrichment to the military grade level necessary for fissile material for a nuclear weapon. Without fissure material, there is no bomb. The main intrusive inspection mechanism to prevent the creation of and stockpiling fissile materials will be the Additional Protocol allowing “any time, any place” IAEA inspections, including at undeclared sites, and with very short notice of mere hours. Despite the emphasis Iran put on the “voluntariness” of the Additional Protocol, it is an obligation FOREVER, as explained by U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz — who is responsible for the nuclear Los Alamos National Lab and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and who was a central player in reaching the agreement in Lausanne. Likewise, Iran will sign the IAEA Modified code 3.1, which is an obligation to declare any new nuclear facility from the moment the concept is conceived — and not 180 days before nuclear materials are moved in, as was required under the previous code. The “updated code” will prevent a repeat of the Natanz and Fordo affairs of 2002 and 2009, respectively.

But commentators in Israel have ignored one important point of the Lausanne agreement. The United States and the P5+1 states did not pardon or “acquit” Iran for past suspicions of “possible military dimensions” and research activities on nuclear weapons (until 2003, when U.S. intelligence assessed that work stopped work on nuclear weapons and has not since been renewed). It was established that Iran will implement “a series of agreed-upon steps” relating to past suspicions that were raised in the appended IAEA report of November 2011. Responsibility for addressing past suspicions will be placed in the IAEA’s discreet professional echelons. As I understand it, it will be similar to how violations in South Korea were addressed (attempts at enriching uranium and separating plutonium in a military framework). The South Korean case took four years for the IAEA to issue an exculpatory declaration. At the end of the process, South Korea signed the Additional Protocol in order to prevent recurring violations. It is important to clarify this point because there have been a number of misguided analyses suggesting that addressing past suspicions should be a pre-condition for a final agreement with Iran.

Read more: How Israel can stop a nuclear arms race in the Mideast

The shock and surprise expressed in Israel about the terms of the framework agreement is likely behind the emergency cabinet meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called just hours after the deal was announced. It is entirely possible that Israel’s surprise was a result of the Americans not passing along classifying information in real time, something American spokespeople hinted at recently. In a conference call with military reporters just 24 hours before the agreement in Lausanne was reached, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon predicted that the negotiations would not result in an agreement. In the cabinet meeting, Netanyahu declared that the Lausanne agreement constitutes an existential threat to Israel and will pave a fast-lane for Iran on its way to a nuclear bomb. As if nothing happened in Lausanne, and “the sea is the same sea — Iran is the same Iran.” One did not get from news reports whether the intelligence chiefs shared the prime minister’s assessment in the emergency cabinet meeting.

Netanyahu wanted to strike while the iron was hot. To erase the significance and the positive developments — the neutralization of Iran’s path toward a nuclear bomb — and to put on the record that Iran is continuing its deception. This time, however, he wasn’t able to shape the public discourse with his usual quotes about a bad deal moving Iran even closer to the bomb. Leading analysts emphasized that the framework agreement was actually a good deal.

Since the agreement, and the initial shock in Israel, the talk of the town in Israeli discourse has been the breakout time, should Iran break the agreement, or after it expires. The agreement in Lausanne — without getting into the various timeframes it details — will not allow any situation in which Iran sprints toward a bomb without it being detected within a number of days.

A sprint toward the bomb, or the breakout time, is the shortest period of time apparently needed for Iran to produce the amount of weapon grade enriched uranium for a first bomb with centrifuges in its possession. In other words, how many months does it need to manufacture and stockpile 25 kilograms of uranium enriched to a 93 percent military grade in its centrifuges. This is not a factual number, but an arbitrary theoretical calculation from David Albright’s right-wing think-tank in recent years, predicting “a bomb within weeks to months.” Albright’s publications have gained widespread popularity among the alarmist camp in recent years. He has presented his predicted breakout time as if it were a factual “metric.” In reality, various researchers have reached different conclusions regarding breakout times. But regardless of the differing calculations of what a breakout time constitutes, it is still problematic because it does not predict the time necessary for actually producing an actual nuclear weapon and fitting it on a missile warhead. Getting there requires additional years of research and development.

The concept of “breakout time” was invented by the Right in the U.S. and has become a game of political football among neo-conservative politicians in the U.S. battling President Obama in Congress. The White House has been dragged behind them. From a strategic standpoint, there is little value in calculations of breakout time to a first bomb. The “breakout” state would need to stockpile a large enough amount of fissure material, in addition to maintaining stockpiles for use after a first nuclear test. That is how every state that sought nuclear weapons acted. And that is what increases the chances of early discovery of such activities, within a very short period of time, of any diversion of low-grade enriched uranium from supervised civilian sites to secret military sites for further enrichment. The intrusive inspection mechanisms of the Additional Protocol make fast breakout almost impossible. Additionally, the Aditional Protocol’s inspection mechanisms alongside the U.S.’s intensive satellite surveillance and radiation detection systems mean that an alarm would be sounded almost immediately in any suspected case of uranium enrichment in any sites not under IAEA supervision. Even in that event there is no strategic value to the concept of a “breakout.”

EU High Representative Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif address reporters following negotiations, April 2, 2015. (State Dept. photo)

EU High Representative Mogherini and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif address reporters following negotiations, April 2, 2015. (State Dept. photo)

Even after the agreement expires, the inspection mechanism of the Additional Protocol is forever — Iran will not be able to divert low-grade enriched uranium (which it is permitted to have) to (forbidden) military sites without it being known very quickly. Iran knows very well that the U.S. intelligence is watching it closely, and that its military is practically positioned on its borders — the 5th Fleet is in the Persian Gulf and the 6th Fleet is in the Mediterranean. That is the answer to those who ask why Iran stopped its suspected military nuclear activities after the American attack on Iraq in 2003.

And to those who ask what Iran wants. Paradoxically for Israelis, Iranian adherence to the NPT and the P5+1 agreement is, in its eyes, an insurance plan against regime change plots and pre-emptive military strikes. Contrary to the general Israeli understanding, having no nuclear weapons is a survival strategy for the Iranian regime that protects it from military strike.

And about Israel. In the past two years my blog has analyzed the framework of what would constitute a good agreement, as well as the positive consequences of an Iranian-P5+1 agreement for Israel’s security. Particularly, removing the threat of new nuclear-armed states in the Middle East. And preempting a nuclear arms race in the region means that the NPT won’t fall apart, and Israel won’t have to change strategy and go from nuclear ambiguity to open nuclear deterrence, which is never be a stable strategy in the Middle East. There is no chance that the United States would allow a non-NPT member state to preventatively strike an NPT member state. Especially after the permanent accord with Iran is reached.

Shemuel Meir is a former IDF analyst and associate researcher at the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University. Today he is an independent researcher on nuclear and strategic issues and author of the “Strategic Discourse” blog, which appears in Haaretz. Read this post in Hebrew here.

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Every day is Holocaust Day in Israel http://972mag.com/every-day-is-holocaust-day-in-israel/105623/ http://972mag.com/every-day-is-holocaust-day-in-israel/105623/#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2015 14:57:21 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=105623 Netanyahu talks about Iran every single day. Today was the one day he shouldn’t have. 

Prime Minister Netanyahu speaks at Yad Vashem during the Holocaust Memorial Day Ceremony, April 15, 2016. (photo: Haim Zach/GPO)

Prime Minister Netanyahu speaks at Yad Vashem during the Holocaust Memorial Day Ceremony, April 15, 2016. (photo: Haim Zach/GPO)

Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel. But if someone had landed here from another planet, they wouldn’t necessarily catch on. They might find it hard to  commemorate the Jewish lives taken in Europe during World War II, and instead be preoccupied with Iran’s nuclear program.

On Thursday night, as businesses closed throughout the country, Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke at Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust museum. Standing on the podium, among the few survivors that are still alive, he took the opportunity to talk about Iran, and why the deal being formulated with world powers to curb its nuclear program is a bad one:

“Just as the Nazis aspired to crush civilization and to establish a ‘master race’ to replace it in controlling the world while annihilating the Jewish people, so too does Iran strive to gain control over the region, from which it would spread further, with the explicit intent of obliterating the Jewish state.”

Never mind that this is an inaccurate and unconvincing comparison. Never mind that everyone on this planet already knows Netanyahu’s position on Iran and the agreement regarding its nuclear program. Never mind that Iran’s support for terrorist groups is bad enough without the need to compare it to Nazism. Netanyahu’s politicization of the Holocaust in an insult to all its victims and those affected by it. As if the genocide of Jews wasn’t a singular and horrible enough historical event that deserves its own place.

At the same event, President Rivlin subtly but explicitly countered Netanyahu’s fear mongering approach, trying to dissociate the Holocaust from the State of Israel and any of the state’s current politics.

“Some mistakenly believe the [establishment of] the State of Israel was compensation for the Holocaust. But there is no mistaken belief more terrible than this. The [establishment of] the State of Israel was not compensation for the Holocaust. It was established out of a love and longing for an ancient homeland by virtue of a dream that came true, a dream that became a reality, not out of fear of annihilation nor hatred for the other.”

Of all days, today should have been the one day in the entire year that Netanyahu took a break from his crusade against the Iran deal, and allowed the Holocaust its rightful place in the state’s collective memory.

As my colleague Orly Noy joked on her Facebook page, “Netanyahu managed to introduce a new holiday into the Israeli calendar: Memorial Day for Iran and Fallen Heroes.”

With Netanyahu, we don’t need Holocaust Day, because thanks to him every day here is Holocaust Day.

Related:
We can no longer deny the Holocaust of Libya’s Jews
Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel: Something’s missing
How Israel can stop a nuclear arms race in the Middle East

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You can boycott anything in Israel — except the occupation http://972mag.com/you-can-boycott-anything-in-israel-except-the-occupation/105600/ http://972mag.com/you-can-boycott-anything-in-israel-except-the-occupation/105600/#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2015 14:06:50 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=105600 The ‘boycott law’ won’t put an end to the BDS movement — its real importance lies in the criminalization of all opposition to the occupation.

A few months ago, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman called for a boycott of businesses owned by Arab citizens of Israel. Such remarks — blunt racism directed at 20 percent of Israelis, regardless of their actions, opinions or political affiliations — are now well-embedded within the Israeli mainstream. Liberman himself is a legitimate coalition partner as far as either Labor or Likud are concerned. Meanwhile, the call to boycott those who profit from the occupation is now officially considered a civil offense. This is the bottom line of the High Court of Justice’s verdict, which approved the Knesset’s anti-boycott law (with the exception of a single article) on Wednesday afternoon.

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The verdict is a 200-page long formidable act of legal acrobatics and eye-rolling. A boycott, the court declares, is a form of discrimination. One of the justices even goes so far as to use the Orwellian term “political act of terror.” Yet boycotting is a very common political act, both in Israel and elsewhere. There are those who boycott shops that sell animal fur, others who boycott restaurants that serve non-Kosher food, people who boycott Turkey due to its politics, and much more. All of the these take place unperturbed in broad daylight, and are often promoted by political parties, civil society organizations and public figures. And this is before we even begin to speak of racially-motivated boycotts that target the Palestinian population — these go unhindered as well. But a boycott of settlements products? Forbidden. The bottom line is that today in Israel, one can boycott anything and anyone, except the occupation.

Justice Meltzer, who wrote most of the verdict, argues that the boycott — and especially the academic boycott — “silences intellectual discourse.” In other words, it is the boycott that hurts democracy and freedom of speech. In the abstract world of the High Court, the occupation is an intellectual issue to be debated rationally in the public sphere. In reality, however, the occupation is a regime that deprives millions of their political rights, thus denying them the possibility of participating in the public decision-making process. If Palestinians had the right to vote and participate in the political sphere that determines their destiny, there would be no need for boycotts.

Israelis have no right to “democratically” decide to deny the rights of millions. Palestinians and Israelis alike have the right to oppose such a decision, regardless of the majority that stands behind it. Boycotts are a nonviolent tool in this political battle, and therefore is among the most legitimate forms of opposition. It is no coincidence that the history of civil rights movements across the world includes countless examples of successful boycotts. The High Court and the Knesset have outlawed one of the most acceptable forms of political action, both in Israel and around the world, in order to sustain the occupation. It’s as simple as that.

BDS graffiti on Israeli separation wall, Bethlehem, West Bank, June 17, 2014. (Photo by Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

BDS graffiti on Israeli separation wall, Bethlehem, West Bank, June 17, 2014. (Photo by Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

This verdict should put an end, once and for all, to the myth of Israel’s “liberal” High Court. Just in recent years, the court has approved the Nakba Law (allowing the state to withdraw funds from institutions that teach about the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948); the “admission panels” law (allowing small communities to reject applicants based on race or ethnicity); The “citizenship law” (forbidding Arab citizens who marry non-citizen Palestinians to settle in Israel with their spouse); and now the boycott law. There were also other troubling rulings, which received little public attention, such as the one allowing Israel to operate quarries in the West Bank, profiting from the little resources Palestinians actually own, in direct violation of international law regarding occupied territories.

A broader historical look shows that the High Court never really tried to prevent any of the major measures Israel exercised in the territories it occupied in 1967. Not the land confiscations, not the settlements, not the torture, not the targeted assassinations and not the building of the separation wall on Palestinian land. However, the court did set some restrictions. In other words, it provided the legal framework for how to confiscate land and then settle it, when to torture and who to assassinate. The court was never a tool in the battle against the occupation, but rather an inherent part of its structure. Its role was to introduce the necessary adjustments between the occupation and the Israeli legal system.

Read more: High Court upholds controversial ‘boycott law’

Now the High Court is taking part in the poisonous turn Israel has taken — the gradual adaptation of a nationalistic, Jewish-ethnic discourse, which promotes segregation and places restrictions on ideas and thoughts. This includes a restriction on discussing the Nakba; on promoting the liberal idea of a state for all its citizens; and on using boycotts as a political tool. Unpopular ideas become illegitimate, and are later outlawed. And it all happens with the support of the High Court.

The occupation has poisoned every Israeli institution, one after the other. Universities are offering courses in propaganda (“hasbara”) while distancing themselves from “anti-Israeli” content, the media is applying more and more self-censorship, and the High Court is going places no Western democracy has been. Israel is changing its own internal code of conduct, all for the sake of maintaining its control over the Palestinians.

The boycott movement wasn’t born in Israel, and verdict will not do much to affect it. If anything, the movement is only likely to gain more ground. But a major transformation is taking place within Israeli society. Judging from the elections results — which the right is interpreting as a clear mandate to execute more of its ideas — this is only the beginning.

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]]> http://972mag.com/you-can-boycott-anything-in-israel-except-the-occupation/105600/feed/ 8 ‘Price tag’ settler argues in court that revenge isn’t a crime http://972mag.com/price-tag-settler-argues-in-court-that-revenge-isnt-a-crime-2/105609/ http://972mag.com/price-tag-settler-argues-in-court-that-revenge-isnt-a-crime-2/105609/#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2015 10:10:27 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=105609 You would think that sentencing a group of Israelis for setting fire to a Palestinian cafe is a positive development. But a closer look shows that the culture of minimizing the seriousness of price tag attacks is alive and strong. 

By Natasha Roth

Illustrative photo of a man being arrested. (Shutterstock.com)

Illustrative photo of a man being arrested. (Shutterstock.com)

Were people’s lives and livelihoods not at stake, it would have been an almost sublime piece of parody. During the trial of four teenage Israeli settlers who set fire to a Palestinian-owned cafe in the West Bank town of Dura, which concluded on Monday, the defendants’ attorneys – as reported by Ynet – brought forth the claim that because the arson was an act of revenge, their clients were not guilty of breaking the law.

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Let’s think about that for a moment. The arson was investigated by the Israel Police’s Nationalistic Crimes Unit in the Samaria and Judea (SJ) District. This body was set up as a response to settler violence, which frequently manifests as price tag attacks – i.e. acts of violent revenge by Israelis against Palestinians and their property.

This act of arson was indeed an act of revenge, against the setting alight of an entertainment complex in the Beit El settlement, a fact that the boys helpfully spelled out on a wall adjacent to the cafe they tried to burn down [Heb].

As one would expect, in court the prosecution highlighted the vengeful nature of the act, as well as the mortal risk it presented. At which point, the defense countered with its declaration that the boys were no criminals, but rather, “simply teens that had their hangout spot burned and decided to get revenge by burning a similar hangout spot in the village which the accused thought the original arsonists came from” (quoted in Ynet [Heb]).

Or in other words, the biblical admonition of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” was produced as a legitimate mitigating factor by the settlers’ attorney, something that would seem to undermine the entire raison d’être of the Nationalistic Crimes Unit. (The convicted arsonists’ lawyers mostly work for Honenu, a self-proclaimed “Israeli Zionist legal aid organization which offers legal assistance to [those] … in legal entanglements due to defending themselves against Arab aggression, or due to their love for Israel.” Honenu has a tendency to take on cases defending Jewish Israelis accused of aggression against Palestinians.)

Aside from the bizarre spectacle of both sides citing the same motive as the reason why their side should win, a few other points about this case are worth noting. Firstly, it is an extremely rare example of a conviction against Israeli Jews indicted for ideological (i.e. nationalistic or hate) crimes.

As per the recent findings of Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din, the rate of indictment for nationalistic crimes is remarkably low; a survey of SJ District Police files investigating attacks against Palestinians and/or their property by Israeli civilians showed that between 2005 and 2014, only 7.4 percent of such cases ended with indictments. Furthermore, since the establishment of the Nationalistic Crimes Unit, the performance of the Israel Police’s SJ District has actually worsened.

In that context, the very fact that there was a conviction at all in the Dura price tag case is significant. The sentence of three months of community service, along with a year of probation and a NIS 500 fine, however, merely reinforces the tired suspicion that when justice is served in hate crimes against Palestinians, it is of a token nature (leaving aside the anomalous 30-month prison sentence for another price tag arson attack handed down to two settlers last December, the first sentence of its kind).

In a plea bargain, the initial indictment for racially motivated arson and damage to property was whittled down to a single charge of arson and the nationalistic aspect of the crime was stricken from the record. So in spite of the rarity of such a conviction, which should be applauded, the culture of minimizing the seriousness of price tag attacks lives on. Not only that, but in terms of deterrence, the negligible sentence will surely serve as an encouragement to those inclined to commit further price tag attacks.

Natasha Roth, a British immigrant to Israel, is a freelance writer and researcher, and a former coordinator at the ARDC. She can be found on twitter at @NatashaRoth01.

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We can no longer deny the Holocaust of Libya’s Jews http://972mag.com/we-can-no-longer-deny-the-holocaust-of-libyas-jews/105596/ http://972mag.com/we-can-no-longer-deny-the-holocaust-of-libyas-jews/105596/#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2015 08:28:19 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=105596 I wanted to believe that my mother’s cries, who for years woke up in the middle of the night, crying in a mix of Arabic and Italian, were not heard by a single writer of Israeli history.

By Yossi Sucary

Holocaust survivors return to Libya from Bergen Belsen concentration camp, 1945. (Yad Vashem)

Holocaust survivors return to Libya from Bergen Belsen concentration camp, 1945. (Yad Vashem)

I wanted the believe that the Nazis’ bullets, which struck the heads of my mother’s 12 and 13-year-old cousins with frightening precision, accidentally missed the history books of the State of Israel.

I wanted to believe that my grandmother, who was taken from the blazing heat of the Sahara Desert, where she lived as a free and loving woman, on a three-year journey that ended in Bergen Belsen concentration camp in snowy Germany, could not be contained in the pages of history of the State of Israel, because her feet were simply too lazy to take her to the Education Ministry and tell the people there about it.

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I wanted to believe that I learned, over and over again, about the 49 people who were murdered during the Kishinev pogrom of 1903, but I didn’t learn a thing about the thousands of Jews from Libya who were massacred by the Nazis in the Jado, Gharyan, Said al Aziz, Bergen Belsen and Birenbach Reiss concentration camps, all due to a silly mistake by a lowly clerk in the Education Ministry of the State of Israel.

I wanted to believe that my mother’s cries, who for years woke up crying in the middle of the night, in a mix of Arabic and Italian, fearing that the Germans were coming to take her, were not heard by a single writer of history, only because it was too soft, and it is her fault that she did not cry louder.

I wanted to believe that when Nachum Goldman, the President of the World Zionist Organization, rejected my aunt Saloma, who asked to receive reparations after her young son was shot at point-blank range by the Germans, he did so because he truly believed his own words: “You have never seen a German in your life, you have an Oriental imagination.”

In fact, I wanted to believe that Israel was not interested in erasing the history of part of its citizenry, but rather was interested in changing what was said about it. This is why I wrote my book “Benghazi—Bergen-Belsen” on black pages — the kind that the State cannot easily scribble on.

That is enough about the past. And now, without a shred of cynicism, I want to believe that despite not having even an ounce of bitterness over these historical distortions, I am very happy that things have changed over the past few years, that justice has been served. That is enough for me.

Yossi Sucary is an author and lecturer on 20th century thought. He received the Brenner Prize for his last book, “Benghazi—Bergen-Belsen.” This post was first published on our Hebrew site, Local Call. Read it here.

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