+972 Magazine http://972mag.com Independent commentary and news from Israel & Palestine Wed, 27 May 2015 19:49:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8 Why can’t Israelis just be nice to each other? http://972mag.com/racism-facebook-trigger-suicide-and-soul-searching/107123/ http://972mag.com/racism-facebook-trigger-suicide-and-soul-searching/107123/#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 17:42:23 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=107123 A manager at the Interior Ministry commits suicide days after being publicly shamed on Facebook for alleged racism against a black Israeli woman. What will it take for us to start treating each other like human beings first?

Last week, a black Israeli woman went to a branch of the Interior Ministry with her small children to renew a passport. She got stuck in various lines, and the versions about what happened (hers, or this one from an eyewitness) differ only in nuances. Frustrated, she spoke to the manager, telling him that she had been given the runaround on the lines because the clerk was racist. He got offended and, according to her, brusquely rejected her accusation (“get out of my face”). According to the manager, he was merely being firm.

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On Wednesday, she wrote an angry Facebook post and asked people to share it. By Friday 6,000 people did so, Channel 10 interviewed her and another popular TV host picked up the story. On Saturday, the manager wrote a lengthy Facebook post expressing how hurt he was at being labeled a racist.

Then he committed suicide.

For a couple of days, Israelis spoke of little else. Everyone knows the rage that wells up when we receive foul treatment from bureaucrats or customer-service agents. There was the race aspect, dovetailing on terrible treatment of Ethiopian-Israelis demonstrating against discrimination recently.

When it turned out that the dead manager was a longtime Shin Bet agent before retiring in his 40s and moving to the Interior Ministry, the political angle exploded. Ugly responses from the Left said “I won’t shed a tear for him” — that his role in propping up the occupation was unforgivable, or that he must have been suicidal because all those terrible deeds at the Shin Bet ate away at his conscience.

Some on the right predictably decreed that the woman had manipulated her racial victimhood. Mainstream media covered the fact that he was active in organizations promoting Arab integration and in the center-left Council on Peace and Security. Those who knew him felt he was simply the wrong target for the accusation of racism.

Protesters sit in the road at a demonstration by Israelis of Ethiopian descent against police in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, May 3, 2015. (Activestills.org)

Protesters sit in the road at a demonstration by Israelis of Ethiopian descent against police in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, May 3, 2015. (Activestills.org)

But sometimes it is not about Israel. Often people are simply not nice enough to one other. I used to think the local version — gruffness or open hostility — was a charming idiosyncrasy, since it harked back to the romantic Israeli mythology. Now I think it’s just inexcusable — here, or anywhere.

It won’t help to wax utopian about human nature. But surely there is something we can do short of overhauling whole institutions of parenting, social interaction, education systems and the particular local culture that contributes to meanness (like, I believe, the Israeli political environment).

A modest suggestion: that we consider our interlocutors as full human beings, with history and vulnerabilities just like us.

Here is a recent anecdote that I thought of — the only real parallel is the aggression.

Not long ago, I was jogging home down a narrow sidewalk on a pleasant spring morning listening to my iPod. At some point, through the music, I became aware of someone’s voice behind me saying “get out of the way.”

I turned around and saw a bicyclist, on the busy sidewalk full of people. “You shouldn’t be biking on the sidewalk,” I told him. He pushed past me and yelled backwards “it’s a shame you exist.” I shot back “do you want to run me over?!” He gave me the finger. It was only as he pulled ahead of me that I saw the child in the kid-seat behind him, who wasn’t visible when the rider was behind me.

My stomach soured and my head rang with the nasty words; my morning was shot. I wondered if I had been unfair. I wondered whether, if he had known I couldn’t hear him at first, he would have been less testy in asking me to move; if I had known first that he was biking with a kid whether I would have been less self-righteous about insisting he ride in the street. And whether if he had known that one spring some years ago, I was knocked over by a cyclist on a sidewalk, which crushed the bone in my wrist, sent me to surgery and put a titanium plate, screws and a suicide scar in my arm, and after two months in a cast and six months of physiotherapy, permanently limited my flexibility, he would have considered riding on the street instead, choosing safe routes.

But we didn’t know those things. Next time there is an altercation, we won’t know the history of the person who we believe has wronged us. Following the suicide, the woman from the Interior Ministry wrote that she has been ill-treated for being brown-skinned for years, and now the first time she decided to write publicly about it, someone was hurt. She expressed terrible sorrow. He didn’t know her history, and she couldn’t have known that he would be suicidal.

But maybe we can guess. If we think of each other first as human beings, we might then remember the experiences and vulnerabilities that go along with that. Perhaps that will help us turn the volume down a notch, especially when we’re heated. And if we can do that for individual interactions, can it get easier on the collective level too?

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BDS is not a Zionist movement http://972mag.com/bds-is-not-a-zionist-movement/107104/ http://972mag.com/bds-is-not-a-zionist-movement/107104/#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 15:07:59 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=107104 The Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is not about the number of states, it’s about a just outcome that guarantees basic rights for everyone.

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)

Liberal Zionists and progressive Jews have a hard time with the BDS Movement. Many liberal Zionists very much want to support the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign as a non-violent vehicle for opposing the occupation. Unfortunately, they quickly find that they have difficulties with its clearly-defined goals and tactics, the way it defines those goals, and sadly, the fact that it is a Palestinian-led movement.

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Coming at the tail end of countless failed peace processes, BDS (short for boycott, divestment and sanctions) is at the helm of an effort to shift the world’s understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict toward a rights-based discourse. For subscribers of this paradigm shift, the Palestinians’ biggest problem is not the denial of national self-determination. Statehood, or the two-state solution, is a means, not an end in itself. Any political structure that grants Palestinians — and Israelis, for that matter — basic fundamental rights and equality is an acceptable outcome.

The liberal Zionist perspective cannot accept such an approach. In fact, it seems some liberal Zionists cannot even register it. In a recent Haaretz op-ed, Bradley Burston demands a set of crystalized goals from the BDS Movement:

I’m just asking for clear goals. And straight talk. I want to know if BDS wants to encourage two states … or if the goal is a one-state Palestine. I believe that a boycott can only work if its organizers are clear about what they want to achieve.

Short of disbanding the country altogether, is there anything that Israel can do, that would satisfy the conditions for an end to the boycott campaign?

 

Burston’s article is astounding in three ways, all of which are symptomatic of the wider, liberal Zionist community that at least partially defines itself with its opposition to the occupation.

Firstly, the BDS Movement has a website. It may not be the prettiest use of HTML in the history of the Internet, but it is easily navigable and states quite clearly what the movement’s goals and demands are. Here, let me Google it for you. Hell, you don’t even need to Google it: the Wikipedia page on BDS has an entire section outlining its goals.

Second is the binary paradigm through which liberal Zionists insist on viewing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and any resolution to it: one state or two states. This is not the fault of any one person. Decades of the Oslo Accords, the Clinton Parameters, Bush’s Roadmap and others have reinforced an irrational overconfidence that there is only one solution to the conflict, the outcome of which was preconceived, and which was more or less drawn to along Israel’s terms alone. And so two-state believers have adopted a “with us or against us” attitude, because it’s either two states or bust.

But the biggest, most astounding problem, is that liberal Zionists have trouble supporting BDS — because it is not Zionist. And they’re right; BDS is not a Zionist movement. It does not prioritize Jewish — or Palestinian — self-determination above all else. It does put national rights on equal footing with concepts like ending the occupation, full civil equality (a state by and for all of its citizens), civil rights, suffrage, and the rights of refugees to return to their homes.

And here we arrive at the real, core issue of the liberal Zionist problem with BDS: Palestinian refugees. The third point in the BDS call to boycott, is a demand that Israel, “[respect, protect and promote] the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.”

For defenders of Israel and opponents of BDS, talking about the right of Palestinian refugees to return is tantamount to calling for the destruction of Israel. As illiberal as it might sound, their vision of liberal Zionism includes such concepts as demographic threats to democracy. (Netanyahu was lambasted for having the gall to speak of that threat on election day.) In other words, guaranteeing electoral results by carefully choosing who gets the right to vote. In the United States it’s called gerrymandering; in Israel it is part and parcel of the national ethos.

That is how the peace process came about in the first place. Around the same time that the Apartheid government fell in South Africa, Israeli leaders realized that what they were calling democracy — a regime under which more than 25 percent of the population is denied civil and voting rights —  would not enjoy international legitimacy much longer. Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres devised a plan to gerrymander Israel’s democracy so that the outcome of its elections, and therefore the character of its regime, could be guaranteed.

Ironically, it is also one of the main reasons that the peace process has failed. The process, characterized by a vastly unequal power dynamic under the aegis of the United States, has always existed within a framework defined by Israel and Israel alone. A true end to the military occupation (Israel has never considered withdrawing from Jordan Valley, the West Bank’s eastern border) and a comprehensive and just resolution to the Palestinian refugee problem have never been on the table. Those two Israeli sticking points have meant that no prospective two-state deal has ever been acceptable for the Palestinians.

BDS takes those two issues, along with full equality for “Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel,” and makes them core demands that must be met in whatever political resolution takes shape. It prioritizes individual human and civil rights over national rights that inherently discriminate along ethno-religious lines. And that, is not Zionist.

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When an entire IDF platoon takes over your roof — for a photo http://972mag.com/when-an-entire-idf-platoon-takes-over-your-roof-for-a-photo/107098/ http://972mag.com/when-an-entire-idf-platoon-takes-over-your-roof-for-a-photo/107098/#comments Wed, 27 May 2015 12:45:45 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=107098 A two-minute video manages to perfectly capture the day-to-day banality of living under a military regime. 

I was able to count 37 soldiers. At least 37. One after another, each with his own weapon and combat vest, they climb up to roof the Abu Haya family’s home — located in the section of Hebron under direct Israeli military control.

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Why? It’s unclear. They don’t speak with the members of the family. Or rather, they don’t explain. They simply utter things such as “close the door,” and “turn off the camera,” all while some of the soldiers are clearly enjoying themselves as they film the family from the staircase.

They ignore Muhammad Abu Haya’s (the owner of the house and the person behind the camera) questions, when he tries to understand what dozens of soldiers are doing heading to the roof of his house.

They reach the top, gather together and get ready for a group photo with a lovely view of Hebron in the background. “Put it on Instagram” says one of the soldiers at the end of the clip. It took the soldiers an hour to leave, according to Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, which uploaded the video to its YouTube channel.

Of course, far more terrible things happen around the world. Even in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, for example, one can talk about the thousands killed in wars over the past few years; or about the kidnapping and subsequent murder of four teenagers; or the violence in the streets of Jerusalem; or Hamas’ execution of Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel during last summer’s war; or even the story of the very same Abu Haya family, when soldiers threatened to arrest a 14-year-old member of the family despite having admitted that he did nothing wrong, all while saying that they would arrest him in the future, regardless of whether or not he commits a crime.

And yet, there is something in the banality, the casual day-to-day aspect of this video that captures an essential component of the story of the occupation, of a military regime that runs the lives of millions of Palestinians in the occupied territories. Something in the lordship, the total blindness of the soldiers who, for no good reason (and without a military order) — without so much as explaining what they are even doing — simply head the roof of the family’s home, armed from head to toe, and pose for a group photo.

WATCH: IDF soldiers threaten Palestinian child with false arrest

I looked at their faces as they climbed the stairs and as they were being photographed together. It doesn’t seem like any of them feels uncomfortable by the situation. It doesn’t seem like any of them are thinking that, just maybe, the roof of a family’s house should remain closed off to them if there is no good reason or special approval to be there.

They most likely don’t think about what it means to be a father, a mother, a 14-year-old boy or three-year-old girl watching nearly 40 soldiers doing as they please and climbing the stairs of your home. Soldiers from a foreign country, from a different nation, armed, threatening, who are there in order to enforce a regime that forbids you from walking on entire streets because the chosen people want them for themselves; that allow the chosen ones to throw stones at you and do nothing to stop it; that with their bodies, weapons and foreign language create a reality in which there are two separate legal systems for people from the same place.

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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WATCH: The Nakba, from a feminist perspective http://972mag.com/watch-the-nakba-from-a-feminist-perspective/107093/ http://972mag.com/watch-the-nakba-from-a-feminist-perspective/107093/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 18:34:04 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=107093 A monthly Social TV panel with Tammi Molad Hayo, Nahed Sakis, Dr. Safa Aburabia and Rawan Bisharat discusses the Nakba as it relates to women, militarism and peace.

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West Bank village wakes up to no water http://972mag.com/west-bank-village-wakes-up-to-no-water/107069/ http://972mag.com/west-bank-village-wakes-up-to-no-water/107069/#comments Tue, 26 May 2015 08:47:51 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=107069 The municipal council of Qarawat Bani Hassan was not warned that their water supply was going to be nearly shut off for days, and attempts to get answers from Israel, through the Palestinian Authority, did not bear any fruit.

Text and photos by: Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org

Palestinian child carries water gallon in Qarawat Bani Hassan village, West Bank, May 23, 2015. According to the municipal council of Qarawat Bani Hassan the portion of a each villager has decreased to two litters per day as the village receive only 97 Cubic meter per hour. The municipal council said the Israeli authorities did not provide the village with answers regarding the situation. Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org

A Palestinian child carries a water container in Qarawat Bani Hassan village, West Bank, May 23, 2015. Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org

Last Wednesday, without any prior warning, the majority of houses in the West Bank village of Qarawat Bani Hassan, near Salfit, woke up to find that they had no running water. Municipal workers checked the village’s main water valve, located on Road 505, a few meters from the illegal Israeli settlement outpost of Ma’ale Israel.

“We discovered that the main water valve was almost shut off, [and locked in place] with a lock and chain in order to limit our portion of water and prevent anyone from increasing it,” said Hosam Asem, the manager of Qarawat Bani Hassan municipal council.

“We contacted the Israeli side through the Palestinian authority but we didn’t get any answers or explanations for such a step,” He added. “It’s odd that the Israelis didn’t inform us beforehand.”

Palestinian checks the main water valve, now almost closed by Israeli authorities, in Qarawat Bani Hassan village, near Salfit, West Bank, May 23, 2015. According to the municipal council of Qarawat Bani Hassan the portion of a each villager has decreased to two litters per day as the village receive only 97 Cubic meter per hour. The municipal council said the Israeli authorities did not provide the village with answers regarding the situation. Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org

A Palestinian man checks the main water valve, now almost closed by Israeli authorities, in Qarawat Bani Hassan village, near Salfit, West Bank, May 23, 2015. According to the municipal council of Qarawat Bani Hassan the portion of a each villager has decreased to two liters per day as the village receive only 97 cubic meters per hour. The municipal council said the Israeli authorities did not provide the village with answers regarding the situation. Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org

The main water valve of Qarawat Bani Hassan village, near Salfit, is seen almost blocked by Israeli authorities limiting the water supply to the village and nearby villages, West Bank, May 23, 2015. According to the municipal council of Qarawat Bani Hassan the portion of a each villager has decreased to two litters per day as the village receive only 97 Cubic meter per hour. The municipal council said the Israeli authorities did not provide the village with answers regarding the situation. Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org

The main water valve of Qarawat Bani Hassan village, near Salfit, is seen largely shut by Israeli authorities limiting the water supply to the village and nearby villages, West Bank, May 23, 2015. Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org

According to the municipal council, the supply of water for each villager has now been reduced to about two liters per day, as all of the neighboring Palestinian villages now receive a total of 97 cubic meters per hour. The four surrounding Israeli settlements, Barkan, Revava, Kiryat Netafim and Ma’ale Israel were reportedly not affected by the crisis.

Those villagers who own small water wells beside their homes decided to put them to use, while others were forced to buy water in tanks from other villages. After four days, 90 percent of the homes were back to being supplied with the normal amount of water. The remainder were still waiting a solution for their problem.

According to Ewash, Palestinians currently utilize no more than 10 per cent of the West Bank’s shared water resources, while Israel exploits the remainder. The coalition of 27 organizations working in water and sanitation in the occupied territories argues that under international law, the water resources should be shared equitably and reasonably by Israel and Palestine. The average domestic consumption rate for Palestinians living in the West Bank is 70 liters per day. The “absolute minimum” recommended by the WHO is 100 liters per day. In Israel, the average is 300 liters per day.

Palestinians check tap water volume in Qarawat Bani Hassan village, West Bank, May 23, 2015. According to the municipal council of Qarawat Bani Hassan the portion of a each villager has decreased to two litters per day as the village receive only 97 Cubic meter per hour. The municipal council said the Israeli authorities did not provide the village with answers regarding the situation. Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org

Palestinians check the water pressure in Qarawat Bani Hassan village, West Bank, May 23, 2015. Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org

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WATCH: IDF soldiers threaten Palestinian child with false arrest http://972mag.com/watch-idf-soldiers-threaten-palestinian-child-with-false-arrest/107067/ http://972mag.com/watch-idf-soldiers-threaten-palestinian-child-with-false-arrest/107067/#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 21:19:37 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=107067 Israeli soldiers have been filmed harassing the boy’s family in recent weeks, using their home as a photo set, raiding it for no apparent reason.

Israeli soldiers in the Palestinian city of Hebron threatened to arrest a 14-year-old Palestinian boy simply for being in the vicinity of people throwing stones last month.

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In a video released by Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem in recent days, Israeli soldiers can be seen detaining the child, Maher Abu Haya, near his family home on April 6, 2015.

In the video, the soldiers argue with the child’s father. At first the soldiers claim that Maher was running away from them with other Palestinian youths who were throwing stones. Quickly, the soldiers change their story and admit that Maher wasn’t running away at all.

“Next time, he’ll pay for it,” one of the soldiers says in Hebrew. “He’ll have a big mess.”

Whenever stones are thrown, a soldier claims, Maher is nearby. The soldier doesn’t seem to comprehend that there might be other reasons than throwing stones for a 14 year old to be standing outside his own home.

“Every time somebody’s throwing rocks we see this kid,” an English-speaking soldier says. “If I see his face again — I don’t care if I see him throw rocks or not, he’s gonna go with us.”

“He’s going to go with me and he’s going to be tied up all night,” the soldier continues threatening Maher’s father. “And he’s gonna get punished and you’re going to need to pay to take him back.”

To sum up, the soldier says that even though the 14-year-old boy has not committed a crime, and even if he does not commit a crime in the future, he will illegally arrest him, keep him shackled all night long, and force his family to pay some sort of bail to release him.

According to B’Tselem, the family has been the target of Israeli military harassment in recent months. The human rights organization released video of soldiers entering the Abu Haya family home for no apparent reason.

Another video shows dozens of soldiers climbing onto the family’s roof, without their permission or even telling them what was happening — to take a group photo.

While Israeli soldiers go to extraordinary lengths to locate and arrest Palestinians who throw stones, the same cannot be said when Israeli settlers do the same thing. The Abu Haya family, whose members are volunteers with B’Tselem, has documented settlers throwing stones — at them and others — right in front of soldiers, who did nothing to stop them, let alone arrest them.

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What Israelis don’t get about attempts to boot Israel from FIFA http://972mag.com/what-israelis-dont-get-about-attempts-to-boot-israel-from-fifa/107062/ http://972mag.com/what-israelis-dont-get-about-attempts-to-boot-israel-from-fifa/107062/#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 14:06:24 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=107062 It is incomprehensible that one of the premier clubs in Israel doesn’t allow Arab players — because they are Arab.

By Asaf Marziano

Beitar Jerusalem soocer club fans celebrate in Jerusalem after the team wins the Israeli championships. Jerusalem, May 14, 2007. Photo: Tess Scheflan/ Activestills.Org

Beitar Jerusalem soccer club fans celebrate in Jerusalem after the team won the Israeli championship, May 14, 2007. (Photo: Tess Scheflan/ Activestills.org)

The head of Palestinian Football Federation, Jibril Rajoub, is attempting to have Israel expelled from FIFA, soccer’s international governing body. The topic has been making headlines in Israel and internationally in recent weeks, coinciding with a visit to the region by FIFA President Sepp Blatter last week.

Despite attempts by Israel, and Blatter, it seems that Rajoub’s initiative might bear fruit. The topic will come up for a vote in FIFA on Friday.

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Rajoub’s stated reasons for wanting to expel Israel from the soccer association are based, among other things, on the fact that Israel often prevents athletes from Gaza — including soccer players — from taking part in sporting events in the West Bank. A prime example of this was when the Israeli government forbade Gazan runners from participating in the Palestine Marathon in Bethlehem in recent years.

Rajoub’s campaign evoked a chorus of reactions in the Israeli media. But don’t let the diversity of nay-sayers fool you: the central argument was monotone and one-dimensional. The topic was presented as a struggle between political forces — a new venue for confrontation among technocrats, bereft of any substantive arguments that get to the root of the issue. This goes for Hebrew-language Israeli media outlets like Ynet, Sport 5, One and NRG.

Even Haaretz dedicated a column to the issue earlier this month, in which Uzi Dann provided a similar point of view. He pondered why the Israeli government doesn’t exert its power at the highest political levels in order to solve this issue before it becomes a tidal wave.

At a certain point, Dann notes that the only country to ever be kicked out of FIFA was South Africa, during apartheid. For a moment it seemed like it was finally OK to make the comparison, but Dan immediately added: “True, it’s not the same thing, but it shows how difficult Israel’s situation is.” This is, not morally but pragmatically.

Palestinian youth protest in solidarity with soccer player Mahmoud Sarsak, who was held in administrative detention for three years. Nablus, 2012. (Photo by Ahmad al-Baz/Activestills.org)

Palestinian youth protest in solidarity with soccer player Mahmoud Sarsak, who was held in administrative detention for three years. Nablus, 2012. (Photo by Ahmad al-Baz/Activestills.org)

Sports commentator Ouriel Daskal suggested a different approach in a column published in the blog Soccerissue. Daskal makes clear that he is a leftist on every other day of the year, but that everything has red lines. He asks, how dare Rajoub exploit the sport in such a cynical fashion — after all, what do sports have to do with politics? He also condemns FIFA’s treatment of Israel based on the logic of, “why are they allowed and we aren’t?”

After all, athletes and civilians are harmed in other places, so why is the focus only on Israel? From here, the road to “everyone is anti-Semitic” isn’t very long. The transition from discriminators to discriminated is complete.

Israeli sports commentators’s blind spot, it seems, lies exactly at the point where we go from oppressed to oppressors: the moment when the media is asked to critique our own actions in the exact same way it critiques actions taken against us. This transition is often missed by the media.

The issues that are out in the open and visible to anybody — (Palestinian) athletes forbidden from taking part in athletic competitions — are never even brought up.

The case of Beitar Jerusalem

In this context, one cannot avoid talking about the Beitar Jerusalem soccer club, and the way the Israeli sports media talks about it.

Beitar Jerusalem is a premier soccer club in Israel that has a real chance of playing in one of the European tournaments next year, and which does not allow Arab soccer players on the team — because they are Arab. This fact alone is nearly incomprehensible.

The Israeli Football Association should be commended for penalizing the team recently after repeated expressions of racism by its fans, but one must wonder about the timing of the move, considering Blatter’s visit and the upcoming FIFA vote.

Beitar Jerusalem fans (Courtesy of beitarfc.co.il)

Beitar Jerusalem fans (Courtesy of beitarfc.co.il)

Meanwhile, the media continues to provide a shallow, trivial and regressive point of view.

For example, during a match between Beitar Jerusalem and Ironi Kiryat Shmona a little over a month ago, Beitar’s fans hurled racist epithets at Kiryat Shmona’s Ahmad Abad. After he scored a dramatic winning goal, he made a finger gesture at the Beitar fans, which only led to more racist slurs yelled at him.

The next day, the sports media talked about how a player who was humiliated for the duration of an entire game pointed his middle finger at the crowd. Abad quickly released an apology to the press.

The media portrayed Abad’s act as leading to the uproar, which could have been easily avoided had he refrained from acting in such a way.

Moreover, it seems that the media’s discussion of racism has somehow been merged with a wider struggle against violence in sports. Despite the fact that violence is an essential component of both, there is still a crucial difference between the two. This merger, which exists in Israel’s sports media, turns racism into just another form of trivial violence — to the degree that violence can be trivial — and one that makes invisible the significant characteristics of racism. This, in turn, hampers a broader and nuanced approach that gets at the root of the problem.

Asaf Marziano is a Master’s student at Bar-Ilan University focusing on the relationship between sports, the media, culture and society. This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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A night of violence in West Jerusalem http://972mag.com/a-night-of-violence-in-west-jerusalem/107054/ http://972mag.com/a-night-of-violence-in-west-jerusalem/107054/#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 08:38:33 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=107054 For years now young Palestinian men have found themselves the targets of groups of Jewish youths roaming the streets of West Jerusalem on weekend nights. As warm weather returns, so are the attacks. One such attack raises the question: who are the police protecting?

By Aviv Tatarsky
(Translated by Ofer Neiman)

Jerusalemites protest against racism in Zion Square on August 18, 2012, two days after a Palestinian youth was seriously injured alongside two others in a mob attack by Israeli youth in crowded central Jerusalem. When paramedics sought to help the injured and get them medical help, bystanders shouted "death the Arabs" and taunted the rescuers, asking "Why do you want to help them? They're just Arabs". (photo: JC/Activestills.org)

Jerusalemites protest against racism in Zion Square on August 18, 2012, two days after a Palestinian youth was seriously injured alongside two others in a mob attack by Israeli youth in crowded central Jerusalem. (photo: JC/Activestills.org)

Thursday night, Zion Square, West Jerusalem. Summer is officially here, and the area that was quite empty during the winter is bustling with thousands of people enjoying a night out. Among them are some Palestinians who have come to partake in “Israelization” — or, at least, that’s how some people have begun describing Palestinians who blend into “Israeli” parts of Jerusalem, adopting modes of behavior that we usually ascribe to ourselves.

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At least one of the Palestinians seems — I don’t know, I didn’t see — to have taken his Israelization one step too far, by chatting up a Jewish girl. Maybe he made her laugh, maybe she almost gave him her phone number. Maybe, as is often the case with guys, he didn’t understand he was not wanted. I have no idea. What I do know is that Israelis don’t want this Israelization.

The Palestinian guy runs frantically past me, and a few seconds later, a bunch of Jews are chasing him. The attempted lynching of Jamal Julani immediately comes to mind, an assault that began with such a chase exactly here three years ago. I start running after them.

We sprint down Nahalat Shivaa (an alley of pubs and restaurants). The Jews pass through the stalls of Kikar Hahatulot (Cats’ Square) and pick up some more friends. The area is full of police and border police, but they seem to be oblivious to what’s going on. The gang runs past two female border police officers. No movement by the latter can be discerned. I stop and tell them: “Do you see this group of people? They are chasing a Palestinian guy, and when they catch him this is going to end very badly.” One of them says casually: “OK.”

From July to December, violent attacks on Palestinians in central Jerusalem took place almost every night. It took the police commanders months to start taking action and provide protection in the area. Only winter and the cold, as the number of people out on the town dwindled, did the violence begin to decline. Have the police forgotten that so quickly?

Obstructing a police officer

But I have no time for being shocked. I run up Hillel Street, and catch up with them near an IDF office. The Palestinian has managed to join a few friends, and just as I arrive, around 20 Jews are attacking five Palestinians. One Palestinians gets whacked in the head. One of the Jews pounces on the group of Palestinians and makes stabbing hand gestures. I have no time to understand whether he is holding a knife or not. Instinctively I start to shout, “Police, police,” and the Jews disperse instantly.

I walk up to the Palestinians. Two of them, completely terrified, shout to me: “What the hell did they want from us?” but in English. It turns out they are Canadian citizens visiting relatives in East Jerusalem. I tell them that’s the atmosphere here now, and that they should be careful. I really don’t want to tell them to get out of the area, but I know I have no better suggestion, and so I tell them in English, “It’s best if you leave quickly.” Down Hillel Street, more or less in front of the indifferent female border police officers, the Jewish assailants regroup around us. Someone tells me: “Call the police again and we will bust you up, too,” but most of them focus on cursing and threatening the Palestinians: “We will fuck you up.”

Now the Border Police officers cross the road and hear the threats by the Jews. “What’s going on here?” One of them wants to know. “He spoke to my sister,” one of the guys exclaims. “I will fuck him.” I conclude that now there can be no doubt as to who is the assailant here and who should be protected. But the Israeli Border Police seem to have standard procedures as to how public order should be reinstated, and the police officers seem to follow these strictly. They order the Palestinians to stand aside and then they demand to see their ID cards. They let the Israelis go on cursing and threatening. Two male border police officers arrive.

I walk up to one of the female border police officers. “Remember me? I saw the incident from its beginning. The Palestinians were attacked.” But she tells me I am obstructing a police officer in the line of her duty and instructs me to go back.

This went on for several minutes. the Palestinians humiliated on the corner, the Israeli citizens threatening violently and the officers “doing their duty.” And then it ended. The Palestinians crammed themselves into a cab and fled the scene. One of the Jews shouted, “come on, guys, let’s a have a good time,” and they dispersed without the Border Police officers saying a single word to them throughout the entire incident.

Aviv Tatarsky is a researcher for Ir Amim and a volunteer with an anti-racism group in Jerusalem. This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

Editor’s note: The Jerusalem Police did not respond to a request for comment.

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[Vid] Wake-up Call: Meet Israel’s new government http://972mag.com/vid-wake-up-call-meet-israels-new-government/107045/ http://972mag.com/vid-wake-up-call-meet-israels-new-government/107045/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 20:57:58 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=107045 The ministers comprising Israel’s 34th government are the most right wing ever, almost entirely oppose the two-state solution, and have a rich history of legislative attacks on human rights organizations and democratic institutions. Ami Kaufman has a wake-up call for you.

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Military court orders feminist Palestinian lawmaker released on bail http://972mag.com/military-court-orders-feminist-palestinian-lawmaker-released-on-bail/107042/ http://972mag.com/military-court-orders-feminist-palestinian-lawmaker-released-on-bail/107042/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 13:12:21 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=107042 The military prosecution is planning to appeal the decision, and may even try to send Jarrar back into administrative detention.

Khalida Jarrar, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and a leader in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, poses for a photo showing an internal expulsion order given to her by Israeli soldiers who invaded her home in Ramallah in the early hours of August 20, Ramallah, West Bank, August 27, 2014. Jarrar was ordered to go to Jericho within 24 hours, but she refused to sign the paper. She is determined to stay in a protest tent in front of the Palestinian Council in Ramallah until the decision is revoked.

Khalida Jarrar, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and a leader in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, poses for a photo showing an internal expulsion order given to her by Israeli soldiers who invaded her home in Ramallah in the early hours of August 20, Ramallah, West Bank, August 27, 2014. 

An Israeli military court rejected the military prosecutor’s request Thursday to detain Palestinian Legislative Council member Khalida Jarrar until the end of legal proceedings. Jarrar was arrest in April by Israeli soldiers. She was first held in administrative detention, although she was later released and sentenced.

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The court found that there is no reason to hold Jarrar in detention until the end of proceedings, and ruled that she would be freed on NIS 20,000 bail. The military prosecutor, however, has three days to appeal the ruling. According to Addameer, a Palestinian NGO that works to support Palestinian political prisoners held in Israeli and Palestinian prisons, representatives from the military prosecution have made clear that they either intend to appeal and/or ask to put her back in administrative detention, which would see her indefinitely detained with no indictment, while her present case is resolved in court.

Jarrar, a feminist activist who works on issues of prisoner rights and belongs to the Palestinian parliament on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was accused by the military prosecution of belonging to a “terrorist organization.” Most of the accusations leveled against her touch on her political activism, which includes participation in demonstrations, visits to solidarity tents with Palestinian prisoners and more.

In a hearing last week Jarrar’s attorney, Mahmoud Hassan, pointed out that some of the incidents mentioned in the indictment took place years ago, and claimed that the army has refrained from arresting her until now, despite having a number of opportunities. This, he claimed, shows that the army does not view her actions as dangerous. The military court adopted Hassan’s line of argument in its ruling Thursday.

Palestinian political activists believe that Jarrar’s arrest stems from the fact that she is one of the more vocal opponents of the Palestinian Authority’s security coordination with Israel, as well as her membership in the PA team that is formulating claims against Israel in the International Criminal Court.

Alongside Jarrar are 16 other members of the Palestinian Legislative Council who are currently being held in Israeli prisons. Nine of them, including Hamas member Aziz Dweik, are in administrative detention, which means they are being held indefinitely have neither stood trial nor been sentenced. Elected officials around the world, including members of the Joint List, have called for Jarrar’s release.

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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