+972 Magazine http://972mag.com Independent commentary and news from Israel & Palestine Sun, 01 Feb 2015 16:27:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8 PHOTOS: Hundreds mourn Palestinian teen shot by Israeli army http://972mag.com/photos-hundreds-mourn-palestinian-teen-shot-by-israeli-army/102148/ http://972mag.com/photos-hundreds-mourn-palestinian-teen-shot-by-israeli-army/102148/#comments Sun, 01 Feb 2015 16:21:35 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=102148 Photos and report: Ahmad al-Bazz / Activestills.org

Hundreds of Palestinians participated today in the funeral of 19-year-old Ahmed Najjar, who was shot to death by the Israeli army on Saturday outside village of Burin, near Nablus. The army claimed that Najjar was about to throw a molotov cocktail on passing cars near the village. Medical sources said Najjar was hit by a live bullet in the throat and died at the scene, while another Palestinian was lightly wounded. According to the army, the incident is currently under investigation.

The army also arrested two Palestinian youths from the village following the incident, Abdulrahman Najjar, 17, and Mohammed Asouss.

Relatives mourn as the body of Ahmed Najjar, 20, killed by the Israeli army, is seen entering Rafedia Hospital, Nablus, West Bank, January 31, 2015. Israeli army shot and killed Najjar injuring another Palestinian in the West Bank village of Burin. (photo: Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Relatives mourn as the body of Ahmed Najjar, 20, who was killed by the Israeli army, is brought into Rafedia Hospital, Nablus, West Bank, January 31, 2015. The Israeli army shot and killed Najjar, and injured another Palestinian in the West Bank village of Burin. (photo: Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

 

Hundreds of Palestinians participate in the funeral of Ahmed Najjar (19 years-old), who was shot to death by the Israeli army on Saturday, nearby his village Burin, Nablus, West Bank, February 1st, 2015. (photo: Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Hundreds of Palestinians participate in the funeral of Ahmed Najjar, who was shot to death by the Israeli army on Saturday, nearby his village Burin, West Bank, February 1, 2015. (photo: Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

 

Palestinians children participate in the funeral of Ahmed Najjar (19 years-old), who was shot to death by the Israeli army on Saturday, nearby his village Burin, Nablus, West Bank, February 1st, 2015. (photo: Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Palestinians children participate in the funeral of 19-year-old Ahmed Najjar, who was shot to death by the Israeli army on Saturday, Burin, West Bank, February 1, 2015. (photo: Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

 

The body of Ahmed Najjar (19 years-old), who was shot to death by the Israeli army on Saturday nearby his village Burin,  is carried by mourners during his funeral, Nablus, West Bank, February 1st, 2015. (photo: Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

The body of Ahmed Najjar is carried by mourners during his funeral, Burin, West Bank, February 1, 2015. (photo: Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

 

Israeli helicopters seen over the village of Burin during the funeral of Ahmed Najjar, West Bank, February 1st, 2015. (photo by: Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Israeli helicopters are seen flying over the village of Burin during the funeral of Ahmed Najjar, West Bank, February 1, 2015. (photo by: Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

 

Hundreds of Palestinians participate in the funeral of Ahmed Najjar (19 years-old), who was shot to death by the Israeli army on Saturday, nearby his village Burin, Nablus, West Bank, February 1st, 2015. (photo: Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Hundreds of Palestinians participate in the funeral of Ahmed Najjar, Burin, West Bank, February 1, 2015. (photo: Ahmad al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Related:
PHOTOS: Thousands take part in Palestinian minister’s funeral in Ramallah
Palestinian non-violent activists: Army violence won’t stop our resistance

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The fraud of Gush Etzion, Israel’s mythological settlement bloc http://972mag.com/the-fraud-of-gush-etzion-israels-mythological-settlement-bloc/102133/ http://972mag.com/the-fraud-of-gush-etzion-israels-mythological-settlement-bloc/102133/#comments Sun, 01 Feb 2015 13:34:47 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=102133 Destroyed by Arab armies during the 1948 War, Gush Etzion was repopulated after Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967. Since then, successive Israeli governments have done everything they can to magnify the mythology of the bloc, while settling Israelis on its privately-owned Palestinian land. 

By Hillel Bardin and Dror Etkes

Bulldozers in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc. (flickr / ☪yrl CC BY-NC 2.0)

Bulldozers in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc. (flickr / ☪yrl CC BY-NC 2.0)

All American children learn the battle cry, “Remember the Alamo!” at some point in their schooling. The story of the Alamo begins in 1836, when white colonists began settling in northern Mexico. They finally drove the Mexican army out, but the army eventually returned and slaughtered all the whites in the Alamo Mission, refusing to even take prisoners. The white army, infuriated by the slaughter of the heroes of the Alamo, returned with a taste for blood. They beat back the Mexicans and subsequently annexed all of northern Mexico, which then became the state of Texas – the largest in the contiguous United States.

Israeli children do not learn about the Alamo, but they do have their own heroes to remember. In the 1940’s, four kibbutzim (Kfar Etzion, Masuot Yitzhak, Revadim and Ein Tzurim) were established southwest of Bethlehem in an area later designated for a Palestinian state by the 1947 UN Partition Plan. It turned out that their location was excellent for intercepting Arab military traffic between Hebron and Jerusalem, so the Haganah and Palmach (pre-state Zionist militias) sent troops and supplies to do just that in the last days of the British Mandate. The battle of Gush Etzion was one of three battles lost by the Jews lost during the war, and its heroes are part of the Israeli pantheon. Even Prime Minister Ben-Gurion said that he could “think of no battle in the annals of the Israel Defense Forces that was more magnificent, more tragic or more heroic than the struggle for Gush Etzion.”

The first incarnation of Kfar Etzion. (photo: Zoltan Kluger/Israeli National Photo Archive)

The first incarnation of Kfar Etzion, before it was destroyed during the 1948 war. (photo: Zoltan Kluger/Israeli National Photo Archive)

While there was debate in 1967 over whether to settle in the West Bank, the resettlement of Gush Etzion was viewed by many Jews as a special case, which derived from the sentimental value over its fate in the 1948 War. On September 27, 1967, Kfar Etzion became the first Jewish settlement in the West Bank, and was re-established on its 1948 ruins. At this point it became apparent that using the name “Gush Etzion” allowed the public to overcome its general resistance to settling Israelis in the occupied West Bank.

This, however, led to the fraud of attaching the name Gush Etzion to areas that had no connection to the original group of settlements – a fraud that was officially endorsed by the Israeli government in 1980, when the military commander of the West Bank officially declared the inauguration of the Gush Etzion Regional Council. From then on, nearly every new settlement between Jerusalem and Hebron was considered to be part of the bloc.

The fraud was then blown up on a national scale. Legal arrangements were made in order to allow Israel to declare privately-owned Palestinian land “state land,” which was then turned over to Jewish settlers for development. Although the decision was denounced by the international community as illegal usage of occupied territory, the state’s legal guile was accepted by Israel’s High Court of Justice, giving the green light for building settlements atop private Palestinian land. In this new and artificially-inflated Gush Etzion, thousands of acres at once belonged to the state, and were subsequently used to establish dozens of new settlements around Bethlehem.

Israeli setters hitchhike at the Gush Etzion junction, next to the Palestinian town of Bethlehem, June 16, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israeli setters hitchhike at the Gush Etzion junction, next to the Palestinian town of Bethlehem, June 16, 2014. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

This crawling land grab continues today. In late 2014, 1,200 acres to both the south and west of Bethlehem were declared “state land” in order to create an Israeli axis that would connect the eastern settlements of Gush Etzion to the Green Line. The expropriation of such a large area is expected to significantly increase the number of Israeli settlers in the area.

Elections in Israel are a time when politicians of all stripes, from Labor to Likud, declare their loyalty to the settlement blocs, and specifically to Gush Etzion. It is time to stop cooperating with Israeli propaganda, which tries to bestow upon the bloc the aura of its long-lost original, as though it were more legitimate than all other illegal settlements.

Hillel Bardin is a retired computer programmer from Hebrew University, living in West Jerusalem. He is an activist in the Combatants for Peace’s Jerusalem-Bethlehem group, specializing in the issue of E-2 (Nahla).

Dror Etkes follows Israel’s land and settlement policy in the West Bank.

Related:
The lie of ‘state lands’: Whitewashing the confiscation of Palestinian land
Demonstrators block Gush Etzion junction in protest against occupation
The one-state plan according to Israel’s top settlement council

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High Court: State can continue restricting Mordechai Vanunu’s freedoms http://972mag.com/high-court-state-can-continue-restricting-mordechai-vanunus-freedoms/102122/ http://972mag.com/high-court-state-can-continue-restricting-mordechai-vanunus-freedoms/102122/#comments Sat, 31 Jan 2015 16:10:12 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=102122 Nearly 11 years after he was released from an 18-year prison sentence for leaking information on Israel’s top-secret nuclear program, Mordechai Vanunu is still prevented from doing just about anything an average citizen can. 

Three High Court justices ruled earlier this week that Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu will able allowed extremely limited contact with foreign nationals, despite allowing the Israeli government to continue and limit almost all of his freedoms.

Nearly a decade after his release from prison, where he sat for 18 years for leaking secrets about Israel’s nuclear weapons program, Vanunu is still unable to leave the country; enter the West Bank; approach border crossings, ports or airports; and is heavily restricted from communicating with foreign nationals. Vanunu is also required to obtain special permission from the Shin Bet in order to meet with a foreigner, which according to several sources is his partner.

Nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, Jerusalem 2009 (Eileen Fleming CC BY-3.0)

Nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, Jerusalem 2009. (Eileen Fleming CC BY-3.0)

Vanunu was employed as a radiation technician at the Negev Nuclear Research Center in Dimona, which according to foreign sources is a facility used to develop and manufacture nuclear weapons. Vanunu was fired in 1985 due to his left-wing political activism. In 1986 he provided extensive details regarding the Negev facility to British Sunday Times reporter Peter Hounam, along with pictures he took without authorization. The Mossad later lured Vanunu to Rome where Israeli agents kidnapped and renditioned him back to Israel. He was convicted of treason and espionage, and sentenced to 18 years in prison – 11 of which were spent in solitary confinement.

Before submitting his previous appeal, Vanunu was completely forbidden from communicating with any foreign nationals. In the appeal, Attorney Michael Sfard claimed that these decade-long restrictions are akin to Vanunu’s social exclusion, since he claims that the vast majority of Israeli citizens do not want to communicate with him. Furthermore, Sfard stated that East Jerusalem (where Vanunu resides) is full of foreign nationals, and Vanunu cannot ascertain whether every person he meets is a citizen or not.

Sfard further claimed that 30 years after the end of Vanunu’s tenure at the Negev Nuclear Research Center, and since the time he passed on classified information to Hounam, his client poses no security threat.

However, in the wake of an appeal hearing in September, the state decided to slightly lessen the restrictions on Vanunu’s communication with foreign nationals:

The appellant is allowed, without prior permission, to have casual, face-to-face conversations with foreign nationals or foreign residents, on the condition that it is a one-time, unplanned conversation that takes place face-to-face in a public space open to the general population, and will be limited to 30 minutes… It must be emphasized that any conversation with foreigners will not be in print or through any means of communication, including the internet.

Vanunu and Sfard claimed that this is a harsh measure that will be difficult to uphold, since it forces Vanunu to measure the length of his conversations with every person he speaks to, and if he has spoken to someone at least once, he must ignore him/her completely after their conversation. Vanunu even announced that he is conceding this “benefit.”

Plutonium separation plant control room at the Dimona Reactor, as photographed and exposed by Mordechai Vanunu (photo: Mordechai Vanunu, http://www.vanunu.com/)

Plutonium separation plant control room at the Dimona Reactor, as photographed and exposed by Mordechai Vanunu (photo: Mordechai Vanunu, http://www.vanunu.com/)

However, the High Court justices decided to adopt the state’s decision to “ease” the restrictions, while approving all other restrictions on Vanunu. The justices established that they give weight to the fact that much time has passed since Vanunu’s crime, and that perhaps in the future the court will further lesson the restrictions placed on him. However, the justices also found that there is room for the state’s “caution,” without going into too much details beyond “the appellant’s history” and his “path,” since his prior convictions justify the steps taken by the state.

The decision comes less than half a year after a petition by Vanunu to the High Court submitted by Attorney Avigdor Feldman. In it Vanunu demanded to leave the country in order to attend a conference in Britain. The petition was rejected outright, despite the fact that 54 members of Parliament signed letter inviting him to the conference. At the time, Feldman told +972′s Noam Sheizaf: “I don’t know of another example or precedent like this.”

Nearly 11 years after his release from prison, the state continues with its vindictive abuse against Vanunu. And if it remains in the hands of the High Court, it looks like the state will continue doing so for years to come.

This article was first published on +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it in Hebrew here.

Related:
Israel renews restrictions on nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu
A way out from under the Middle East’s nuclear shadow

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To fight police violence, address their racism http://972mag.com/to-fight-police-violence-address-their-racism/102113/ http://972mag.com/to-fight-police-violence-address-their-racism/102113/#comments Sat, 31 Jan 2015 12:12:36 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=102113 The killing of a young Bedouin man from Rahat and the death of another during the funeral have deepened the city’s lack of faith in the authorities. Only anti-racism education for police and young people alike can stop the landslide.

By Kher Albaz

Hundreds hold a funeral for Sami Ja'ar in the streets of Rahat. Ja'ar was shot by police officers last week during an operation in the city. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Hundreds hold a funeral for Sami Ja’ar in the streets of Rahat. Ja’ar was shot to death by police officers two weeks ago during an operation in the city. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The Or Commission, which investigated the shooting deaths of 13 Arab demonstrators in October 2000, found serious flaws in the Israeli police’s actions against Arab citizens. The atmosphere within the Israeli police, then and apparently now, can be summed up by one sentence from the committee’s recommendations: “The police must implemented an approach that views Israeli Arabs as Israeli citizens with equal rights.”

The violent events that took place in Rahat two weeks ago, which led to the police killing two residents and wounding of dozens of others, demonstrated that the Or Committee’s recommendations have clearly not been adopted by the police. This should be a red warning light for all of us; the degree of force and violence used against the residents, along with a trigger-happy policy generates a sense of discrimination against the Arab public. And, as if we have not learned anything from the past, we once again find ourselves calling upon law enforcement agencies to launch an investigation into events with such dire consequences.

The protesters have repeatedly voiced complaints about the police’s conduct, and specifically their “trigger fingers,” which has resulted in their loss of faith in law enforcement. If the violent behavior that led to the death of Sami Al-J’aar wasn’t enough, the attempt by the police to besmirch Sami’s name under the false pretext of drug dealing made it clear to the residents of the city that the police have no real intention of seriously investigating the events. The appearance of a police car at the funeral – which violated an agreement signed with the mayor of the city according to which there would be no police presence at the procession – generated a dangerous and needless provocation that led to the death of Sami Alziadna.

Bedouin mourners pray near the body of Sami Ziadna, 43, during his funeral in the southern Bedouin city of Rahat, January 19, 2015. Sami died a day earlier following clashes with Israeli police during the funeral of another Bedouin man who was killed a week earlier by Israeli policemen in the city. (Photo by Activestills.org)

Bedouin mourners pray near the body of Sami Ziadna, 43, during his funeral in the southern Bedouin city of Rahat, January 19, 2015. Sami died a day earlier following clashes with Israeli police during the funeral of Sami Ja’ar, who was killed a week earlier by Israeli policemen in the city. (Photo by Activestills.org)

The feeling in the streets of Rahat is that when it comes to Arabs, the police allow themselves to act in ways they would never against Jewish demonstrators. In addition, following the events there was a complete disregard of context on the part of leading Israeli politicians, as well as one-sided and limited media coverage that made no attempt to pay attention the protesters’ grievances. One way or another, residents have the impression that the actions of the police were guided by ulterior motives. Thus, it would behoove the Minister of Internal Security to announce the establishment of an external investigative committee that would objectively examine the events, reach conclusions and punish those responsible.

The police must take seriously such events and begin a thorough educational process to change ingrained attitudes that view all Arabs as a threat to seeing Arabs as equal citizens of the country. This is a process that requires direct acquaintance with Arab society and without the intervention of so-called “experts on Arab affairs.” This process should not be limited solely to the police but to children and young people in the educational system as well.

Violence and prejudice against Arab citizens is not a recent development, nor is it a result of the last war in Gaza, which led to an all-time low in the relations between Jews and Arabs in the Negev. These are the result of a continuing decline in the educational system’s curriculum that is geared toward shared values, and which has almost completely ceased since the start of the Second Intifada in 2000. Even former Minister of Education Shay Piron, who adopted the motto “the other is me” as the educational system’s yearly theme, will find that most schools prefer to select an other who has a physical handicap rather than an Arab pupil from a school in a neighboring community.

Bedouin men dodge live bullets and tear gas during clashes that erupted in the wake of a funeral, Rahat, southern Israel, January 18, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Bedouin men dodge live bullets and tear gas during clashes that erupted in the wake of Sami Ja’ar’s funeral, Rahat, January 18, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Without education we will march on a one-way street that will only lead to the deterioration of the already-charged relations between the Arab society in the Negev and the police and the Jewish population in the country. Along with the obligation of the police to investigate the tragic results of this episode, I call upon the leaders of the Arab community to calm the population. I call upon all of us to support people from both sides of the conflict who reject racist and violent values. We must demand that the existing local educational programs, like those that bring Jewish and Arab youth together, be adopted as part of a general educational policy on a national level. This is the only way our children will become messengers of a fair, democratic and more equal society. This is the only way we can make sure that events such as those that took place in Rahat in the past week will not happen again in the future.

Kher Albaz is the Co-Executive Director of AJEEC-NISPED – The Arab Jewish Center for Equality, Empowerment and Cooperation. A version of this article was first published in Hebrew on Haokets.

Related:
PHOTOS: Police kill Bedouin man, wound dozens at funeral
Why Palestinian citizens of Israel are no longer safe
Not just escalation: A frightening new era of Jewish-Arab relations in Israel

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A Month in Photos: Police violence, elections and the holy selfie http://972mag.com/a-month-in-photos-terror-police-violence-and-the-holy-selfie/102065/ http://972mag.com/a-month-in-photos-terror-police-violence-and-the-holy-selfie/102065/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 16:17:02 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=102065 Editors’ picks of the top photos from Palestine, Israel and beyond for the month of January. This month, terror attacks in France and Tel Aviv, Bedouin citizens of Israel protest against police violence, Israel’s election campaign gets into full swing, Hezbollah attacks the Israeli army on the Lebanese border and snow falls on the West Bank.

Photos: Oren Ziv, Keren Manor, Yotam Ronen, Ahmad al-Bazz, Faiz Abu-Rmeleh, Tess Schaflan / Activestills.org

Edit: Anka Mirkin, Shiraz Grinbaum / Activestills.org

Palestinian women use their cell phone to photograph themselves outside Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem's old city, January 9, 2015. (photo: Activestills.org)

Palestinian women use their cell phone to take a selfie outside Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City, January 9, 2015. (photo: Activestills.org)

Relatives and members of the Jewish Ethiopian community protest during a march held in memory of Yosef Salamsa, January 4, 2015. Salamsa took his own life after alleged police harassment. This was the first day of a 2-day march from Binyamina town in the north of Israel to Jerusalem.

Relatives and members of the Jewish Ethiopian community protest during a march held in memory of Yosef Salamsa, January 4, 2015. Salamsa took his own life after alleged police harassment. This was the first day of a two-day march from the town of Binyamina, in Israel’s north, to Jerusalem.

A Palestinian worker, holding Israeli work permit, around a fire after crossing the Eyal checkpoint, Between the West Bank city of Qalqilya and Israel, January 4, 2015. Activestills.org

A Palestinian worker, holding Israeli work permit, around a fire after crossing the Eyal checkpoint, Between the West Bank city of Qalqilya and Israel, January 4, 2015. Activestills.org

Palestinian youth stand around a burning tire during the weekly protest against the occupation in the West Bank village of Kfar Qaddum, January 9, 2015. Activestills.org

Palestinian youth stand around a burning tire during the weekly protest against the occupation in the West Bank village of Kfar Qaddum, January 9, 2015. Activestills.org

Israeli activists protest against the harsh conditions in Holot Prison, after wardens at the facility prohibited the detainees from bringing in heaters in the dead of winter Tel Aviv January 10, 2015. (photo: Activestills.org)

Israeli activists in Tel Aviv protest against harsh conditions in Holot Prison for African asylum seekers, after wardens at the facility prohibited the detainees from bringing in heaters in the dead of winter, January 10, 2015. After an emergency court petition, prison authorities promised to install heating in the detainees’ living quarters. (photo: Activestills.org) Read more here.

Youth march in downtown Boston, MA, on January 12, 2015. The march was organized as part of a series of actions responding to recent events in Ferguson, MO and around the USA of racial profiling and other mistreatment by police of people of colour. (photo: Activestills.org)

Youth march in downtown Boston, MA, on January 12, 2015. The march was organized as part of a series of actions responding to recent events in Ferguson, MO and around the U.S. of racial profiling and other mistreatment by police of people of color. (photo: Activestills.org)

Mourners carry placards bearing portraits of the dead as they gather at a cemetery in Jerusalem during the funeral of four Jews killed in an Islamist attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris last week, January 13, 2015. Crowds of mourners attended the funeral of Yohan Cohen, Philippe Braham, Francois-Michel Saada and Yoav Hattab after their bodies were flown to Israel from France. (photo: Activestills.org)

Mourners carry placards bearing portraits of the dead as they gather at a cemetery in Jerusalem during the funeral of four Jews killed in an Islamist terror attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris last week, January 13, 2015. Crowds of mourners attended the funeral of Yohan Cohen, Philippe Braham, Francois-Michel Saada and Yoav Hattab after their bodies were flown to Israel from France. (photo: Activestills.org) Read more here.

Ronen Shoval, a candidate of the Habeit Hayehudi Party, pleads with an LGTBQ activist to leave the room where he is trying to conduct an election conference, Tel Aviv University, Januay 12, 2015. The activists, alongside public housing activists, disrupted the conference in protest of the racist and discriminatory rhetoric expressed by members of the party. (photo: Activestills.org)

Ronen Shoval, founder of right-wing nationalist group Im Tirzu, and a candidate of the right-wing Jewish Home party, pleads with an LGTBQ activist to leave the room where he is trying to conduct an election conference, Tel Aviv University, January 12, 2015. The activists, together with public housing activists, disrupted the conference in protest of the racist and discriminatory rhetoric expressed by members of the party. (photo: Activestills.org)

Michael Ben Ari, leader of Otzma Yehudit nationalist party is accompanied by Benzi Gopstein, head of the nationalist group Lehava, to walk in Jerusalem's Mahane Yeuda market during an election campaign, January 16, 2015.(photo: Activestills.org)

Michael Ben-Ari, leader of Otzma Yehudit right-wing nationalist party is accompanied by Benzi Gopstein, head of the racist nationalist group Lehava whose members have been connected to violent attacks, walking through Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda Market during an election campaign event, January 16, 2015. (photo: Activestills.org) Read more here.

A demolished house in a Bedouin Jahalin community, E1 area, West Bank, January 14, 2015. Israeli authorities demolished houses and structures in the E1 as part of plan to displace the Bedouin community in the area by force. (photo: Activestills.org)

A demolished house in a Bedouin Jahalin community, E1 area, West Bank, January 14, 2015. Israeli authorities demolished houses and structures in the E1 as part of plan to forcefully displace the Bedouin community in the area. (photo: Activestills.org) Read more here.

Ayman Odeh is seen minutes after he was elected to lead Hadash Party in the up-coming March 2015 elections, Nezereth, January 17, 2015. (photo: Activestills.org)

Ayman Odeh is seen minutes after he was elected to lead Hadash Party in the up-coming March 2015 elections, Nazareth, January 17, 2015. Days later, four Arab parties, including Hadash, agreed to run on a joint slate, which Odeh will head. (photo: Activestills.org) Read more here.

Tear gas clouds cover the cemetery of Rahat as Israeli police that burst onto the premises during the funeral of Sami al-Jaar dispersed the participants, Negev Desert, January 18, 2015. Sami al-Jaar, 22, was gunned down during a police drug raid in Rahat last week. During the clashes that followed his funeral, Sami Ziadna, 42, suffocated to death from tear gas inhalation and twenty-two participants were injured. Southern district police commander admitted there was an agreement that no policemen were allowed to enter the cemetery during the funeral. (photo: Activestills.org)

Tear gas clouds cover the cemetery of Rahat as Israeli police attempt to break up protests following the funeral of Sami al-Ja’ar, Negev Desert, January 18, 2015. Sami al-Ja’ar, 22, was gunned down during a police drug raid in Rahat last week. During the clashes that followed his funeral, Sami Ziadna, 42, died from tear gas inhalation and 22 participants were injured. Southern district police commander admitted there was an agreement that no policemen were allowed to enter the cemetery during the funeral. (photo: Activestills.org) Read more here.

An injured man, who was shot in the face, sits on the ground in the cemetery of Rahat after Israeli police dispersed those attending the funeral of Sami al-Jaar, Negev Desert, January 18, 2015. Sami al-Jaar, 22, was gunned down during a police drug raid in Rahat last week. During the clashes that followed his funeral, Sami Ziadna, 42, suffocated to death from tear gas inhalation and twenty-two participants were injured. Southern district police commander admitted there was an agreement that no policemen were allowed to enter the cemetery during the funeral. (photo: Activestills.org)

An injured man who was struck  in the face with a projectile, sits on the ground in the cemetery of Rahat after Israeli police dispersed those attending the funeral of Sami al-Jaar, Negev Desert, January 18, 2015. Sami al-Jaar, 22, was gunned down during a police drug raid in Rahat last week. During the clashes that followed his funeral, Sami Ziadna, 42, died of tear gas inhalation and 22 participants were injured. Southern district police commander admitted there was an agreement that no policemen were allowed to enter the cemetery during the funeral. (photo: Activestills.org) Read more here.

Khaled, the father of Sami al-Jaar, sits in a mourning tent before his son's funeral, Negev Desert, January 18, 2015. Sami al-Jaar, 22, was gunned down during a police drug raid in Rahat last week. Thousands participated in his funeral, chanting slogans protesting the police's use of force against Arab citizens of Israel. (photo: Activestills.org)

Khaled, the father of Sami al-Ja’ar, sits in a mourning tent before his son’s funeral, Negev Desert, January 18, 2015. Sami al-Jaar, 22, was gunned down during a police drug raid in Rahat last week. Thousands participated in his funeral, chanting slogans protesting the police’s use of force against Arab citizens of Israel. (photo: Activestills.org) Read more here.

Talal Al-Krenawi, the mayor of the Bedouin town of Rahat, displays the ammunition used by the Israeli police during clashes yesterday, on January 19, 2015.  Sami Zayadna, 42, was killed during clashes that irrupted when a police car bursted into a closed area where the funeral of Sami al-Jaar was held the following day.  Sami al-Jaar, 22, was gunned down during a police drug raid in Rahat the day before. Activestills.org

Talal Al-Krenawi, the mayor of the Bedouin town of Rahat, displays the ammunition used by the Israeli police during clashes yesterday, on January 19, 2015. Sami Zayadna, 42, was killed during clashes that irrupted when a police car bursted into a closed area where the funeral of Sami al-Jaar was held the following day. Sami al-Jaar, 22, was gunned down during a police drug raid in Rahat the day before. Activestills.org

Bedouins pray near the body of Sami Ziadna, 42, during his funeral in the southern Bedouin city of Rahat, on January 19, 2015. Sami Zayadna was killed during clashes that erupted when a police car burst into the area where the funeral of Sami al-Jaar was held. Sami al-Jaar, 22, was gunned down during a police drug raid in Rahat the day before. (photo: Activestills.org)

Bedouin men pray near the body of Sami Ziadna, 42, during his funeral in the southern Bedouin city of Rahat, on January 19, 2015. Sami Zayadna was killed during clashes that erupted when a police car burst into the area where the funeral of Sami al-Jaar was held. Sami al-Jaar, 22, was gunned down during a police drug raid in Rahat the day before. (photo: Activestills.org) Read more here.

Relatives of of Sami Ziadna, 42, mourn during his funeral in the southern Bedouin city of Rahat on January 19, 2015. Sami Zayadna was killed during clashes that erupted when a police car burst into the area where the funeral of Sami al-Jaar was held. Sami al-Jaar, 22, was gunned down during a police drug raid in Rahat the day before. (photo: Activestills.org)

Relatives of of Sami Ziadna, 42, mourn during his funeral in the southern Bedouin city of Rahat on January 19, 2015. Sami Zayadna was killed during clashes that erupted when a police car burst into the area where the funeral of Sami al-Jaar was held. Sami al-Jaar, 22, was gunned down during a police drug raid in Rahat the day before. (photo: Activestills.org) Read more here.

Bedouins take part in a march at the southern Bedouin city of Rahat, condemning the death of two residents of the town at the hands of the police, Negev Desert, January 20, 2015. The protesters marched from the house of al-Jaar family to Zayadna's house. Sami Zayadna was killed during clashes that erupted when a police car burst into the area where the funeral of Sami al-Jaar was held. Sami al-Jaar, 22, was gunned down during a police drug raid in Rahat the day before. Leaders of Arab citizens in Israel (1.7 million), declared a general strike in protest of recent events. (photo: Activestills.org)

Bedouin take part in a march at the southern city of Rahat, condemning the death of two residents of the town at the hands of the police, Negev Desert, January 20, 2015. The protesters marched from the house of al-Jaar family to Zayadna’s house. Sami Zayadna was killed during clashes that erupted when a police car burst into the area where the funeral of Sami al-Jaar was held. Sami al-Jaar, 22, was gunned down during a police drug raid in Rahat the day before. Leaders of Arab citizens in Israel (1.7 million people), declared a general strike in protest of recent events. (photo: Activestills.org) Read more here.

Israeli medics treat a Palestinian man on a gurney after he stabbed and wounded at least 10 passengers in an attack on a bus in Tel Aviv, January 21, 2015. The attacker struck in the morning rush hour in the center of Israel’s commercial capital before being shot by a passing prison service officer. (photo: Activestills.org) Read more here.

Israeli medics treat a victim of a stabbing attack on a bus in Tel Aviv that left at least 10 people wounded, January 21, 2015. The attacker, a Palestinian from the West Bank, struck in the morning rush hour in the center of Israel’s commercial capital before being shot by a passing prison service officer. (photo: Activestills.org) Read more here.

Right-wing activists taking part in the election campaign of Otzma Yehudit political party are countered by left-wing activists that came to protest the party's fascist and racist agenda, Tel-Aviv's Ha'Carmel market, January 23, 2015. Police pushed away the anti-fascist activists, separating between the two groups, allowing the right-wing activists to continue on their march. (photo: Activestills.org)

Right-wing activists taking part in the election campaign of Otzma Yehudit political party are countered by left-wing activists that came to protest what they termed the party’s fascist and racist agenda, Tel-Aviv’s Ha’Carmel market, January 23, 2015. Police pushed away the anti-fascist activists, separating the two groups, allowing the right-wing activists to continue on their march. (photo: Activestills.org)

Palestinians protest in solidarity with Malak Khatib, a 14-year-old Palestinians girl, who is imprisoned in Israel, Nablus, West Bank, January 27, 2015. Al-Khatib, from Beiteen village near Ramallah, was taken prisoner on December 31, 2014, and was subjected to interrogation and harsh treatment without legal representation. On January 22, she was sentenced to two months in prison and her family was fined 6,000 shekels ($1,523). At the end of 2014, there were 197 children imprisoned by Israel. (photo: Activestills.org)

Palestinians protest in solidarity with Malak Khatib, a 14-year-old Palestinian girl, who is imprisoned in Israel, Nablus, West Bank, January 27, 2015. Al-Khatib, from the Beiteen village near Ramallah, was arrested on December 31, 2014, and was subjected to interrogation and harsh treatment without legal representation. On January 22, she was sentenced to two months in prison and her family was fined NIS 6,000 ($1,523). At the end of 2014, there were 197 children imprisoned by Israel. (photo: Activestills.org) Read more on children under occupation here.

Israeli workers from Vaporjet factory in the southern city of Ofakim strike and protest outside the factory, Negev Desert, January 25, 2015. The workers are holding a strike for over a week now, calling on the management to improve their working conditions and salaries. (photo: Activestills.org)

Israeli workers from the Vaporjet factory in the southern city of Ofakim strike and protest outside the factory, Negev Desert, January 25, 2015. The workers have been striking for over a week now, calling on management to improve their working conditions and salaries. (photo: Activestills.org)

Israeli animal rights activists protest outside Hod Hefer Slaughterhouse, near the town of Hadera, demanding the closing of the facility, January 26, 2015. (photo: Activestills.org)

Israeli animal rights activists protest outside Hod Hefer Slaughterhouse, near the town of Hadera, demanding the closure of the facility, January 26, 2015. (photo: Activestills.org)

Israeli soldiers stand next to a burned-out vehicle loaded onto the back of a truck in the outskirts of the divided village of Ghajar after it was removed from the seen of a Hezbollah missile attack along the Israel-Lebanon border, January 28, 2015. A Hezbollah missile attack killed two Israeli soldiers. Israel responded with air and ground strikes on southern Lebanon, killing a UN peacekeeper. (photo: Activestills.org)

Israeli soldiers stand next to a burned-out vehicle that has been loaded onto the back of a truck on the outskirts of the village of Ghajar, which is half in Israel and half in Lebanon. The vehicle is one of two that were hit by anti-tank missiles fired from Lebanon by Hezbollah, January 28, 2015. Israel responded with air and ground strikes on southern Lebanon, killing a UN peacekeeper. The attack came in retaliation for Israel’s assassination of a Hezbollah commander and an Iranian general in Syria a week earlier. (photo: Activestills.org) Read more here.

Palestinian scouts play music during a ceremony commemorating the birth of Prophet Mohammed, a holiday known in Arabic as Mawlid al-Nabawi, next to the Dome of the Rock in Al Aqsa compound in Jerusalem's old city, January 3, 2015. (photo: Activestills.org)

Palestinian scouts march and play music during a ceremony commemorating the birth of Prophet Mohammed, a holiday known in Arabic as Mawlid al-Nabawi, next to the Dome of the Rock in Al Aqsa compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, January 3, 2015. (photo: Activestills.org)

Public housing activists protest in front of former Minister of Finance, Yair Lapid, for his part in the erosion of welfare infrastructure, January 28, 2015. (photo: Activestills.org)

Public housing activists in front of former Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s home, protesting his part in the erosion of welfare and social infrastructure in Israel, January 28, 2015. (photo: Activestills.org) For +972′s election coverage, click here.

A Palestinian girl plays during a snow storm, West Bank, on January 10, 2015. (photo: Activestills.org)

A Palestinian girl plays during a snow storm, West Bank, on January 10, 2015. (photo: Activestills.org)

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The Israeli government’s election gift to West Bank settlers http://972mag.com/the-israeli-governments-election-gift-to-west-bank-settlers/102057/ http://972mag.com/the-israeli-governments-election-gift-to-west-bank-settlers/102057/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 11:26:04 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=102057 Netanyahu tells supporters at a settlement campaign event that Israel will continue to build in the West Bank, as his Likud party competes with more hawkish parties for settler votes. Erekat calls for boycott, divestment in response.

Construction of illegal settlement units at 'Elkana,' on the lands of the West Bank village of Masha, near Salfit, July 06, 2013. (Photo: Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Construction of illegal settlement units at ‘Elkana,’ on the lands of the West Bank village of Masha, near Salfit, July 06, 2013. The latest construction tender calls for 156 new housing units in the settlement. (Photo: Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Less than a month and a half before general elections, the Israeli government published tenders for 430 new settlement homes in the occupied West Bank on Friday.

The move could be interpreted as a gift of sorts to the right-wing electorate as the ruling Likud party fights for votes with the further-right Jewish Home party headed by Naftali Bennett. While Netanyahu has ruled out a withdrawal from the West Bank, which would necessarily preclude Palestinian statehood. Other prominent members of the Likud and the entire Jewish Home party outright oppose a two-state solution.

The settlement construction tenders are issued via the Housing and Construction Ministry, headed by Minister Uri Ariel of Jewish Home.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue settlement construction this week, speaking to young Likud supporters in the West Bank settlement of Ariel.

“We will not hesitate to stand up and say: we are here, we are staying here, we will build here and cultivate here,” Netanyahu said. “Ariel is a part of the State of Israel, that’s the way it was and that’s how it will be.”

The prime minister also ruled out handing over the central West Bank hill country to the Palestinians, warning of a “second Hamasastan.” Netanyahu put his refusal to withdraw from the West Bank in even clearer terms in July. “There cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan,” he said.

The plans include new construction in the settlements of Adam, Elkana, Alfei Menace and Kiryat Arba, according to AFP.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin is scheduled to attend a dedication ceremony Monday for a new community center in the settlement of Kiryat Arba, which abuts the Palestinian city of Hebron and the Jewish settlement inside the city. Rivlin is a Likud veteran but has put great effort to stay above party politics since assuming the presidency.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat called the latest settlement announcement “unsurprising when viewed in the context of the culture of impunity granted to Israel by the international community.”

Erekat called on the international community to hold Israel accountable, saying the world should “ban all settlement products and divest from companies and institutions linked directly or indirectly with the Israeli occupation and apartheid policies.”

Related:
Israeli government votes to support annexing West Bank settlements
The occupation will last forever, Netanyahu clarifies
Palestinian minister dies after reportedly struck by Israeli troops

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Why Israel picks fights with Hezbollah http://972mag.com/why-israel-picks-fights-with-hezbollah/102044/ http://972mag.com/why-israel-picks-fights-with-hezbollah/102044/#comments Fri, 30 Jan 2015 09:38:11 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=102044 And why it will probably pick another one before too long.

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

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

After Hezbollah’s fatal attack on Israeli soldiers Wednesday, the two enemy sides are in a rare configuration: they’re even. Israel killed six Hezbollah guerrillas and an Iranian general on January 18, so Hezbollah killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded seven more, and now they’re quits, for the time being. They each told UN peacekeepers in south Lebanon that they didn’t want to escalate things anymore, they wanted calm, and that clearly seems to be the case today.

What an opportunity. From this point forward, Israel and Hezbollah could start fresh, they could each decide not to attack the other, and, in theory, this unofficial cease-fire could last indefinitely.

I believe Hezbollah would go for that, for one simple reason – they know Israel is the incomparably stronger side (which is why they absorbed so many Israeli attacks in the last couple of years with very little response, until Wednesday). They know that starting up with Israel would get them bashed up badly. I think Hezbollah’s ally Iran would go for an indefinite, unofficial cease-fire too – for the same reason – and so would their ally Syria.

Unfortunately, I don’t think Israel would accept that arrangement. The strong in this world get away with things the weak wouldn’t dream of trying, and Israel flies spy jets and drones over Lebanon regularly, it blows up sophisticated weapons on their way from Syria to Hezbollah, and it assassinates Hezbollah and Syrian military officers as well as Iranian nuclear scientists and generals.

Would Israel be willing to give up all those prerogatives in return for Hezbollah unofficially putting down its weapons? I don’t think so, because Israel is filled with too much fear and aggression to trust its deterrent power; instead, it trusts the use of force.

And lately Israel has been zooming in on a whole new Hezbollah “threat” it must “defend against”: the organization’s recent military build-up on the Syrian Golan Heights, across the border from Israel.

After the Hezbollah attack, Prime Minister Netanyahu said: “For a while, Iran has been trying, through the Hezbollah, to form an additional terror front against us from the Golan Heights. We are acting with resolve and responsibility against this effort.”

This is Israeli paranoia at work. Hezbollah isn’t gunning for Israel from the Syrian Golan Heights, it’s defending the territory – and its own survival as well as that of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime – from ISIS and the Nusra Front, the latter an Al-Qaeda offshoot.

Even superhawk columnist Guy Bechor made this point in his Yedioth Ahronoth column on Thursday:

This is the last territory still in the hands of the Syrian regime, and this is where Hezbollah has set up a command post and concentrated its forces. What are they doing there? They’ve decided to defend the area at all costs, because if Nusra Front gets across it, they’ll be able to continue north to the Shi’ite and Hezbollah strongholds in the Lebanese valley, turn west toward the Shi’ite areas in south Lebanon, or turn east toward Damascus. …

The sectarian war is more important to these terrorist groups than Israel, and from the standpoint of both the Sunnis [ISIS and Nusra Front] and the Shi’ites [Hezbollah], we are the less threatening enemy.

Yedioth’s center-left star columnist Nahum Barnea made a similar point about Israel’s knee-jerk alarm over Hezbollah’s new deployment. He wrote that Netanyahu’s message that Hezbollah was spreading out across the Syrian side of the border with Israel, and that Israel would carry out all military actions necessary to prevent this, was “adopted immediately by every politician and analyst,” Barnea wrote. He continued:

Let’s assume Hezbollah intends to do this. Is it so terrible? Is it preferable for Israel to sit on the Golan Heights across from the forces of ISIS and Nusra Front? After all, we’re sitting across from them today, from Quneitra [on the Israeli-Syrian border] south, and I haven’t heard that Israel has launched a war against them. Why are we able to go on living across from Hezbollah in Hanita, Metulla, Misgav-Am, Dovev, Kiryat Shmona and Shlomi [near the Lebanese border], but we can’t live across from Hezbollah  in Merom Hagolan [near the Syrian border]?

It’s always about us, we’re always the target, goes the Israeli view, which is why we can’t leave Hezbollah alone even when it’s preoccupied with fighting global jihadists. And out of this same paranoia grows another misperception that causes us to pick fights: the view that the enemy’s weapons are always offensive, meant for attacking us, and never defensive, meant for deterrence or counterattack.

Ari Shavit, star center-left columnist of Haaretz, inadvertently provided a window into this way of thinking in his piece on Thursday.

It’s meant to be a pretty dovish column. He writes, “We must not provoke, we must not act recklessly in a way that could lead to an uncontrollable deterioration. We must not take war-generating steps that could force a dangerous war on Israel.” But at the same time, he sees Hezbollah as being ideologically and perpetually bent on war with Israel:

While many Israelis may harbor understandable guilt over the national Palestinian movement, this is not the case when it comes to the sub-state Shi’ite army in Lebanon. There’s no room for comparison between our peace-seeking democracy and their terrorist totalitarianism. There’s no similarity between our desire to live in peace and their desire to enforce their religious faith by the sword. If we’re forced to go to war against Hezbollah, it will be a war of the sons of light against the sons of darkness, a free society against a fanatical order that threatens freedom.

And because of what he sees as Hezbollah’s scorpion-like nature, Shavit’s conclusion is that “sooner or later a third Lebanon war will break out.” At the same time, though, he says it is “our duty to make every effort to put off the war’s outbreak.”

But the fatal contradiction here is this: If you believe that Hezbollah’s practical goal is to destroy or enslave Israel – an unlikely one considering the imbalance in power between the two sides, which Israel continually demonstrates – then will you forgo the opportunity to bomb the convoys bringing them advanced weapons? Will you pass up a chance to assassinate their key people? Will you stop invading Lebanese airspace to spy on them?

No, you won’t. It wouldn’t make sense. If you believe Hezbollah is working toward conquering or destroying you – that this is not merely their wish, but their concrete goal – it would be suicidal to let them go about their business. So you attack. And by attacking, you violate your principle that “we must not provoke … we must not take war-generating steps that could force a dangerous war on Israel.”

Whatever Israel may say about not wanting to provoke another war with Hezbollah, its superior military strength combined with its bottomless fear will likely lead it, sooner or later, to do just that.

Related:
Israeli soldiers killed in Hezbollah retaliation attack
Israeli air strike in Syria: Lies, aggression — at what cost?

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Don’t call her the ‘Russian candidate’: Meet Ksenia Svetlova http://972mag.com/dont-call-her-the-russian-candidate-meet-ksenia-svetlova/102033/ http://972mag.com/dont-call-her-the-russian-candidate-meet-ksenia-svetlova/102033/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 19:20:37 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=102033 An interview with the latest addition to Tzipi Livni’s ‘Zionist Camp,’ on the heavy price Israel will pay if it can’t solve the Palestinian conflict, how much Russian and Mizrahi immigrants have in common, and whether the Labor/Livni list will consider forming a new government with Netanyahu.

Ksneia Svetlova with Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni (Photo by Louisa Green)

Ksenia Svetlova with Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni (Photo by Louisa Green)

In the Israeli electoral system, party heads often times reserve spots on their parliamentary slates for candidates of their choosing — usually representing geographic regions, people of certain ethnic origins or for women.

It would be a big mistake to reduce Ksenia Svetlova to the “Russian candidate” of the Zionist Camp, the joint list comprised of the Labor party and Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua. Svetlova is a veteran field reporter, very eloquent, a senior Arab world analyst for Israel’s Russian-language Channel 9 and regularly writes for a long list of distinguished international publications.

Svetlova is more knowledgable about Palestinian society and politics than most of the people with whom she is heading into the Knesset, is a doctoral candidate in Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University, speaks four languages, and is the latest in a string of journalists who are making the jump to politics.

Speaking with +972’s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call, Svetlova explains why she believes Tzipi Livni still has the best chance to make peace, what to do with settlement blocs and the price Israel will pay if it doesn’t make peace.

The — likely — future Knesset member discusses how the experience of Russian immigrants to Israel is similar to Jews from Arab countries, reveals her favorite Arab singer and the phenomenon of journalists moving into politics.

Is it strange for you to be on the other side?

It is definitely strange, like starting anything new. I held the microphone on the other side of the camera for so long, so yes, it’s very strange. But I didn’t flinch, it’s a new era in my life. Anyway, journalism will always be there, I hope. It won’t disappear.

What do you think about the trend of journalists going into politics?

It’s something that’s always happened; we know that from French and British politics. After you cover things for so long and criticize what others are doing, it’s very tempting to make the jump and do it yourself.

It’s an expression of despair about the current situation. It would have been very easy for me to continue doing what I was doing up until now. I’m well-known enough, I write for various international media outlets; I’m not dependent on my job for financial reasons or anything else — the opposite. But this is such a critical situation, a situation in which most of my friends who think of themselves as Zionists and served here — both Israeli-born and immigrants — are thinking of emigrating. That’s a huge problem that I never thought we would have to deal with. But I never really wanted to be a politician; I dreamed of being a journalist since I was eight years old.

Is the ‘Zionist Camp’ really the place where your politics and values are?

Yes. However, I have no delusions. It’s a large party and like in any large political party there are drawbacks, things that aren’t done properly, especially in relation to immigrants. As an immigrant, there are things that make my heart skip a beat. In the early 1990s, when we were arriving, there was a campaign going on against the immigration [of Soviet Jewry]: they said they’re all drug addicts, whores, etc., and [former Labor Minister] Ora Namir who sent my parents’ generation to go work picking oranges. But things are changing.

Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog announce a joint slate for the upcoming elections, December 10, 2014. (Photo by Activestills.org)

Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog announce a joint slate for the upcoming elections, December 10, 2014. (Photo by Activestills.org)

What will be your main priority as a Knesset member?

First we’ll have to see what our position is in the next Knesset. I hope that we form the next government, in which case we’ll have more opportunities. But there is also no shortage of important things to do from the opposition.

One of the most important things related to my field of interest is advancing the peace process. We are stuck, and it’s not fair to our people or to the other nation that lives here. If we don’t resolve this conflict we will continue to pay very heavy political, security and economic price.

Tzipi Livni led negotiations with the Palestinians, and failed. What reason is there to assume that this time it will be different?

She ran the negotiations in a government that had a problem with her from the very beginning. It is a process that the entire political echelon must stand behind. It’s not a job for one woman, no matter how successful she is. I hear from the Palestinians that they very much appreciated her, but it’s not a one-man game. Just like soccer, you need an entire team, and now that team exists.

Do you think the Palestinians would be willing to give Tzipi Livni another chance?

I’m sure of it. It’s a fact that they said they will wait until after Israel’s elections to put forth the Arab-Palestinian UN resolution. They wouldn’t be waiting if they didn’t think there would be somebody to talk to on the Israeli side after the elections. It’s true that there is a lot of despondency and skepticism on both sides, but the status quo is beginning to break and we haven’t even seen the tip of the iceberg. It can get a whole lot worse.

There is worrisome radicalization taking place on both sides. A little over a week ago I was in Ramallah and I saw that they recently dedicated Yahya Ayyash Square; a new city square that Abu Mazen named after a Hamas figure. Also in Egypt there is a culture of hatred. We are extolling [Egyptian President] al-Sisi because he is shutting down Hamas’ tunnels — acting on his own interests, by the way, not ours — but at every book fair there are entire shelves of hate-filled books about Israel and Judaism. Does that threaten our peace treaty with Egypt? No. There was never normalization with Egypt, but we have a peace deal that is still standing.

Ksneia Svetlova (Photo by Yasmin Yaira)

Ksenia Svetlova (Photo by Yasmin Yaira)

What are the parameters for ending the conflict, in your view?

Borders are first. A state must have clear and accepted borders that it can defend, both militarily and diplomatically.

Settlement blocs?

I believe that the large settlement blocs will remain under our control.

Including East Jerusalem?

No. There is a lot of “East Jerusalem,” but there are also a lot of layers. Jerusalem was never a city that stretched all the way from Ramallah in the north to Ma’ale Adumim in the south. That’s not East Jerusalem. The Shuafat Refugee Camp is east of Jerusalem, it’s not East Jerusalem.

Do you think it’s wise to be building in the settlement blocs when there aren’t negotiations taking place?

There are people whom the state sent to live there, and therefore, we have a responsibility to them. I know a lot of people, especially new immigrants, who didn’t even know they were beyond the Green Line when they arrived. So we shouldn’t build schools for them? We shouldn’t build them kindergartens? I think the Palestinians also understand the difference between establishing new geographically strategic settlements and building inside settlement blocs that will in any case remain inside the State of Israel.

You are one of very few women who knows the Palestinians better than most of the other candidates in the party, and yet, the slot for a “security expert” is being filled by a man. Is that not frustrating?

On that topic, as opposed to many other issues which I need to learn, like social issues, I absolutely know what I am talking about and I have clear views. On that issue I will certainly make my voice heard; I will have access to the decision makers and I will make sure that I am heard.

How do you think your political views will be received by immigrants from the former Soviet Union?

It’s fair to assume that they will be met with mixed feelings, just like when I expressed them in my coverage and research on the Arab world. But I think that there are more and more people, especially in the younger generations, who are more receptive.

When I went to the south Hebron Hills and filmed Palestinians living without running water in caves because they live in a military firing zone, and then how the children in [the settlement of] Susya have swimming pools, they accused me of putting out left-wing propaganda. But that’s the reality. One of the problems is that there is simply a lack of information. And there are other reasons, of course, like the rejection of socialism, despite the fact that the Labor party has not been socialist for a long time. None of that, however, stopped the Russian population from voting for Yitzhak Rabin in 1992.

The Russian immigrants arrived at a sensitive moment, when everything appeared to begin, and when it all ended. The first checkpoints in the West Bank were erected in 1992, and already in 1994, the first bus bombings began. These are people who came from a relatively stable place and suddenly found themselves in a world where buses explode every day. And they didn’t know what it was like here before that, they didn’t experience the shaky coexistence that preceded that period. They were told that there was nothing here before 1948. That creates fear.

Maybe they didn’t meet Palestinians but they did meet Mizrahi Jews. The mass immigration of Russians was viewed as a threat by many Mizrahi Jews in Israel’s peripheral communities.

In every society, immigration brings out deep-rooted fears because it threatens your place in society. It’s a shame that it didn’t happen earlier, but I see a lot of initiatives and cooperation taking place. I meet with Prof. Shmuel Moreh every two weeks — we are working together to get UNESCO to preserve Jewish sites in Arab countries.

Russian immigrants and Mizrahis have a lot in common despite attempts to turn them against each other: the difficulty of immigration, high levels of poverty, and being stripped of dignity rooted in the cultures we left behind. Where is is all that in Israeli school books? It’s not. Why should we only learn about the Second Aliya (of European Jews).

It’s easier today to be more insistent about preserving your traditions. I, for instance, speak to my children in Russian. It’s important to me that they speak the language. It drives me crazy when I hear about [Jewish Mizrahi immigrants] who were forbidden from speaking Arabic. Why? We live in the Middle East, it’s the language! Or people who were laughed at when they played Farid al-Atrash. It’s beautiful! I prefer Abdel Halim Hafez, but that’s a matter of taste. The attempts to catalogue it as an inferior culture is the same thing they tried to do with the Russians. In Russia, my mother wasn’t able to find work because her passport said she was Jewish. And when we got here we were labeled as Russians, with all of the negative connotations.

And now you find yourself on an election list with the Labor party, the descendants of the Mapai party, which nursed the idea of an Israeli melting pot that was largely responsible for cultural erasure. Do you feel comfortable with them?

Firstly, it’s not the party of Ashkenazi purity. It’s much more diverse. Labor is not the same Labor, just like Likud isn’t the same Likud of Menachem Begin.

What is the first proposed law you would want to work on?

We spoke mostly about issues of security, but I am very interested in dealing with middle-aged immigrants to Israel, regardless of their country of origin, who haven’t been able to retire. These are people who worked every day here, who worked their whole lives in their countries of origin, and they cannot survive on the minuscule pension payments they receive. People are being forced to choose between buying medication and paying their electric bill. I would want to start there, and I believe that we’ll find partners in other parties.

Speaking of partners: Forming a coalition with Netanyahu, yes or no?

I don’t believe that the leaders of the Zionist Camp believe in that, and I hope we won’t need to.

They haven’t ruled out the possibility.

They didn’t rule it out, but the feeling is that we won’t need to. I personally don’t believe that we can move forward together.

A version of this article was first published on +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call. Read it in Hebrew here.

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The Israel-Palestine Lorde Diaries, chapter 5: The future http://972mag.com/the-israel-palestine-lorde-diaries-chapter-5-the-future/100631/ http://972mag.com/the-israel-palestine-lorde-diaries-chapter-5-the-future/100631/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 10:58:22 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=100631 The team gets the hottest recruit this side of the separation barrier.

Read the previous chapters of The Israel-Palestine Lorde Diaries here.

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“He who wishes to fly must first learn to walk,” said Nietzsche, and I say: before teaming up with Palestinians, an Israeli Lorde fan must find Israeli partners. Yaron surprised me with snobbery, and rejected many names we discussed. Only with one did he seem truly confident. Fortunately, she is my personal friend: the super talented Shira Z. Carmel.

Shira is an impossibly diverse artist. Over the years that I have known her, she formed and headed no less than four separate outfits: an offbeat jazz quartet, an accordion duo that only performs Yiddish poetry from the Russian province of Birobidjan, a post-doo-wop trio named “The Hazelnuts,” and an avant-garde brass band. Most interesting to me are her experiments with Israeli songs in the Mizrahi style, which she turns into French Chansons and hip-hop tunes.

A few years ago, when the city of Jerusalem chose Shira to curate an event for an art festival, she decided to pull together a tribute to a pop goddess of her own liking: the inimitable Ms. Beyoncé Knowles. I was invited to participate, and did “Irreplaceable” with a cellist and my angry ex-girlfriend Osnat, who hadn’t spoken to me much since the break up.

Here how it happened: I figured in advance that she would be there, her being a Jerusalemite and a good friend of Shira’s. I dreaded singing about a rough separation with her in the audience, that would just be too awkward, so I invited her to chime in. Osnat agreed and composed a spoken-word piece that dealt entirely with me and what an asshole I am. She rapped it while the cellist and I repeated “to the left to the left.” She and I have been close friends ever since that night. That was my first experience with cross-conflict musical tributes, and it was a grand one.

I wasn’t sure Shira would play along. I knew her to be Lorde-skeptic. She and I used to co-host a radio program together on Israel’s Army radio, a program about travel. I became conscious of Lorde toward the end of the program’s life span, mentioned her on air a few times and was surprised at my co-host’s lack of enthusiasm. “Lorde Lorde Lorde…” she mimicked me.

The commercial Israeli music scene is a tiny aquarium, almost impenetrable to actual talent. It has grown worse since the rise of reality television and its production line of celebrity singers. I figured that for a struggling Israeli musician as able, undiscovered and hardworking as Shira, the notion of Lorde’s beginners’ luck could be depressing. Besides, shira is highly fond of Ruthie, my girlfriend. She may have considered my crush on a pop star a hint of restlessness, and worried that soon I would escape with some Lorde look-alike, causing hurt that would take another Beyoncé tribute to mend.

Goddess Worship

I was not the one to easily surrender, and the very last country to star in our program was good old Aotearoa, better known as New Zealand. Our guest was Michelle Bubis, the only Kiwi Israeli I know, and we kicked off the second hour with “Royals,” which naturally caused me to lose any semblance of appropriate radio conduct.

“This is such a good song!!” I moaned orgazmically, “such a good song!!!”

“Yuval actually stood up from his seat in honor of the anthem,” Michelle notified the listeners.

I collected myself and promised I wouldn’t talk too much about Lorde. I confessed that I was not sure why I like this music so much and why this character fascinated me.

“Could it be because she’s from New Zealand,” Shira offered impatiently, “which would then tie in with our program’s theme?”

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“She is, and that’s part of the deal, but there’s more to it than that. Someone else who’s also from New Zealand gave me some clarity, actually. A couple of days ago I guided a group in Jerusalem for Tel Aviv University. It was a bunch of scholars who research religion. One of them was from New Zealand, a middle aged lady who researches neo-paganism. When we sat down to lunch I brought up Lorde. I asked her how people in New Zealand experience the fact that they now have such an international star.”

“And she said: ‘neo-paganism’,” Shira blurted.

“She said something that has to do with neo-paganism. She said: ‘I like her a lot. I am moved by the fact she is a feminist.’ I mean, this woman’s research is about goddess worship. And I think that is what I like about Lorde myself. She is a smart young woman. You know, teenagers are a defamed demographic. They are always shown to us as this bunch of materialistic, hollow-headed no-goods, who consume trash and create nothing. And when I see a smart, artistic, opinionated teenager I realize this is not the case. Lorde reminds me of the girls who went to high school with me. They were really cool.

I didn’t say everything that follows on IDF radio, but did say some of it and hoped that the rest is implied: if teenagers can be political and groundbreaking, then a future is possible. I am an Israeli, a member of a society that largely gave up on its future. We are taught by our leaders not to look to the future, because they don’t have any future to offer us. Netanyahu is killing our future by building settlements, maintaining a siege, killing any option for peace or normality. He can only get us to support him by making us forget that change for the better is possible, that authentic dialogue and wise compromise can be fruitful. It works for him nicely. My generation is lost, but we have no idea where Lorde’s generation here in this land may take us.

Shira and Michelle applauded when I finished, and the effect lingered. When I called her about “Buzzcut Season,” Shira gladly agreed to participate. She also gave me a lead to a fantastic Palestinian singer, folky songstress Luna Abu Nasser, and her phone number.

Shielded

December has by now aged sufficiently to be wearing Santa’s beard, yet the city remained warm. Winters in Tel Aviv are so temperate, they should really be thought of as mild summers. Sometimes a cold spell does come, bringing rain to double the city’s puddles, where its concrete cubes would get a cubist turn, evoking the European spirit of the city’s elders. Tel Aviv came into its own thanks to the arrival of German Jews in the 1930s. They were not here to realize Zionism, but to escape Hitler. They had little interest in settling the barren hills and creating a “new Jew.” They dreamed of sitting back in their cafe in Munich, sipping a Viennese coffee with lots of whipped cream, while outside it rained.

No rain yet, no wind either. I walked to Yaron’s house, bearing a bottle of whisky for the session, and arrived drenched with sweat. He poured us my scotch, then a single malt from his own fantastic collection, and played me his newest: a Hebrew version of a Hollywood tune called “Baby It’s Cold Outside,” sung with actress Maya Maron. (Find it at the end – the clip with a Hebrew title). It was truly lovely — amazing, in fact. I was surrounded by talent, shielded briefly from the horrors of the region, by an armor of sweet music.

“Shira’s in,” I told him, “and she texted me the number of Luna Abu Nasser, but I can’t call her. This could turn into something, this could take us the next step. We could have a our first Arab singer, but she’s too good, so I’m shy. It’s like having Lorde’s number on my phone. I couldn’t call Lorde.”

“Have some more whiskey,” he suggested.

(To be continued on Monday, February 1st. Meanwhile, be sure to look us up on Facebook)

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American teen beaten by Israeli police is cleared of wrongdoing http://972mag.com/american-teen-beaten-by-israeli-police-is-cleared-of-wrongdoing/101988/ http://972mag.com/american-teen-beaten-by-israeli-police-is-cleared-of-wrongdoing/101988/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 17:20:08 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=101988 The cousin of Muhammad Abu Khdeir’s videotaped beating by Israeli police in Jerusalem led to widespread outrage. He had been arrested and accused of participating in riots.

Tariq Abu Khdeir speaks about his beating at a CAIR panel in the U.S. (Screenshot, CAIR)

Tariq Abu Khdeir speaks about his beating at a CAIR panel in the U.S. (Screenshot, CAIR)

Palestinian-American 15-year-old Tariq Abu Khdeir, whose severe beating by Israeli police while he was in custody last summer was caught on video, has been cleared of all wrongdoing in Israel, the Jerusalem Post reported on Wednesday.

Following his beating, the American citizen was arrested and held under house arrest for nearly two weeks before being permitted to return home to Florida.

The incident took place after Tariq’s cousin, 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir, was burned alive and murdered by Jewish extremists in a Jerusalem-area forest. Protests and heavy clashes took place in East Jerusalem after Muhammad’s murder.

Tariq said he was watching the protests, three days after his cousin was killed, and trying to get away from the violence between Israeli police and protestors when he was chased by three officers, beaten and arrested.

Israeli police said the 15 year old took part in the protests, resisted arrested and was carrying a slingshot to throw stones.

The American Consulate in Jerusalem told the Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that Tariq has been cleared of all wrongdoing and is free to return to Israel to visit his family in occupied East Jerusalem.

Tariq Abu Khdeir’s beating was caught on video, which shows the accused officer and additional officers arresting the boy, with one policeman apparently sitting on Khdeir to handcuff him while the accused officer is seen kicking and punching him repeatedly. A third officer is also seen helping drag Abu Khdeir toward a police vehicle, during which time the accused officer again kicks the boy who appears to be unconscious.

In September, one of the police officers was criminally charged with assaulting a minor.

An internal police investigation found evidence “supporting the guilt of the police officer suspected of severe violent crimes,” according to Israel’s Justice Ministry.

The teen, Tariq Abu Khdeir, said at a press conference in Florida at the time, he thinks the other two Israeli officers should be facing charges in his beating.

“I hope everyone, every officer that took part in my beating is taken to justice,” he said.

Israel police violence has taken the lives of at least three Arab citizens in recent months, leading to significant protests throughout the country. A Bedouin men was shot to death by Israeli police during a raid earlier this month, and another Bedouin man was killed during clashes after his funeral. In November, police shot in the back a 22-year-old Palestinian citizen of Israel while he was fleeing.

Matt Surrusco contributed to this report.

Related:
PHOTOS: Bedouin protest deadly police shootings in Israel
Kafr Kanna isn’t Ferguson, it’s much worse

 

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