+972 Magazine http://972mag.com Independent commentary and news from Israel & Palestine Sun, 05 Jul 2015 20:06:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8 Why is Israel concocting ties between Hamas and ISIS? http://972mag.com/why-israel-is-concocting-ties-between-hamas-and-isis/108572/ http://972mag.com/why-israel-is-concocting-ties-between-hamas-and-isis/108572/#comments Sun, 05 Jul 2015 18:14:21 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=108572 By dreaming up an association between Hamas and Islamic State, Netanyahu hopes Israel will have it easy the next time it goes to war against Gaza.

The head of Israel’s military government in the territories, Maj.-Gen. Yoav “Polly” Mordechai, spearheaded the latest round of Israel’s fantastical, anti-intellectual conflation between Hamas and ISIS this past week. Taking advantage of the horrendous attacks by an ISIS affiliate in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, Mordechai told Al Jazeera Arabic that Hamas is aiding the world’s most terrifying terrorist organization—by bringing its wounded fighters into Gaza for medical treatment.

The attempt to make a connection between the two groups is nothing new. In fact, facts be damned, Israel—and the Netanyahu government in particular—has a rich history of conflating Hamas with whichever evildoers it deems most expedient at the time. Making the ISIS, connection, as Larry Derfner reported in great depth last year, has been Netanyahu’s primary strategy for de-legitimizing Hamas since last summer’s war in Gaza.

Maj.-Gen. Mordechai’s accusations are expedient for many reasons. Firstly, Hamas’s relationship with the Egyptian government has gone from bad to worse since the overthrow of former president Muhammad Morsi. In recent weeks, however, a détente of sorts has begun to take shape, most recently evidenced when Cairo reversed an earlier decision that had declared Hamas a terrorist organization. It is no secret that the current Israeli government believes it is in its interest to ensure that Egypt remains adversarial toward Hamas, and what better way to advance that goal than to tie the latter to ISIS.

Secondly, Netanyahu hopes that the more he can concoct an association between Hamas and ISIS, against which there is an international consensus that any force is justified, then Israel will have an easier time the next time it goes to war against Gaza. Never mind the absurdity of actually comparing the ideology, goals, tactics and identity of the two groups. The only thing more absurd would be to compare ISIS to Iran. In addition to the fact that ISIS is a fanatical Sunni group and the Iranian regime is Shia, Ishaan Tharoor wrote in The Washington Post earlier this year, “Iran’s theocratic rulers are hardly champions of religious pluralism and tolerance, but they are not crazed fundamentalist jihadists, bent on smashing idols and butchering religious minorities.”

ISIS conducting a mass execution in the ancient city of Palmyra, Syria.

ISIS conducting a mass execution in the ancient city of Palmyra, Syria.

But Mordechai’s “proof” that Hamas is supporting ISIS follows in a long line of hasty Israeli-constructed connections between terrorist groups in Sinai and Hamas and other groups in Gaza. In 2011, after a well-planned cross border attack from Sinai left eight Israelis dead, IDF Spokesperson Lt.-Col. Avital Liebowitz offered almost-comical evidence that the Sinai terrorists came from Gaza. Liebowitz’s claims rested primarily on the fact that the terrorists were found to be “using, for example, Kalashnikov bullets and Kalashnikov rifles, [which] are very common in Gaza.” The AK-47, of course, is the most popular assault rifle in the world. A year later we learned that there was never any real connection between those responsible for the attack and the Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees, against which Israel launched an air campaign justified by false information. That mistake nearly led to a war.

There is an even more absurd element to the “evidence” Mordechai used to show a connection between Hamas and ISIS. If bringing wounded fighters into one’s territory for medical treatment constitutes a de facto alliance, then that might put Israel and the IDF into a corner it has a hard time explaining its way out of. Israel, you see, is doing the exact same thing with Jabhat al-Nusra, the Al-Qaeda-affiliated fighters along on the Syrian-controlled side of the Golan Heights. Morally outrageous and shortsighted might be accurate words for describing Israel’s decision to provide Syrian rebel fighters with medical treatment. But, based on that support, to suggest that the Israeli government and the Nusra Front are one and the same would be just as ridiculous as the concocted association between Hamas and ISIS.

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Hundreds march in memorial service for murdered Palestinian teen http://972mag.com/hundreds-march-in-memorial-service-for-murdered-palestinian-teen/108563/ http://972mag.com/hundreds-march-in-memorial-service-for-murdered-palestinian-teen/108563/#comments Sun, 05 Jul 2015 16:28:56 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=108563 ‘Our only demand is that the murderers spend the rest of their lives in jail, so that everyone knows that what they did is unconscionable.’

By Michael Salisbury-Corech

Family members mark a year since the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, Shuafat, East Jerusalem, June 2, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Family members mark a year since the murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, Shuafat, East Jerusalem, June 2, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Hundreds of Palestinians marched last Thursday in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat to mark one year since the abduction and murder of 16-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir. Participants waved Palestinian flags and held posters with Abu Khdeir’s face as they marched from the mosque where he was kidnapped, to the local girls elementary school where a memorial service was held.

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Abu Khdeir was murdered in the early morning of July 2, 2014 by three Jewish men, purportedly as a random act of “vengeance” in response to the murder of three Jewish teenagers by Palestinians in the West Bank. The perpetrators kidnapped Abu Khdeir as he was walking to a neighborhood mosque for early morning prayers, took him to a Jerusalem-area forest, where they beat and burned him alive.

Thursday’s service included speeches from several public figures, including Theodosios (Hanna) of Sebastia from the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, and Adnan al-Husayni, the Palestinian governor of Jerusalem for the Palestinian Authority. The service passed without incident, despite warnings and threats by the Shin Bet and police toward the Abu Khdeir family to delay and even cancel the event altogether.

Palestinians take part in a demonstration in Shuafat, in East Jerusalem, July 2, 2015 to mark the first anniversary of the killing of 16-year-old Palestinian Mohammed Abu Khdeir, who was snatched and burned alive by Jewish extremists in an act of revenge after the abduction and murder of three young Israelis. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Palestinians take part in a demonstration in Shuafat, in East Jerusalem, July 2, 2015 to mark the first anniversary of the killing of 16-year-old Palestinian Mohammed Abu Khdeir, who was snatched and burned alive by Jewish extremists in an act of revenge after the abduction and murder of three young Israelis. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

In an interview with +972′s Hebrew-language sister site, Local Call, Abu Khdeir’s cousin Said said the event was important, especially in light of the pressure to cancel it out of fear that Palestinian youth would throw stones:

“We knew that there would be no clashes, despite all the pressure that was placed on us by the security services. Shin Bet agents came two weeks ago and threatened me and several other family members that if something happens, we would be arrested that same night. The police also wanted us to sign a document promising that nothing would happen. We refused to sign and said that we are organizing the event and don’t want clashes. They pressured us to delay the event to Friday event, when the Jerusalem light rail no longer passes through the village and there isn’t much traffic in the area. We refused.

“The father of the martyr, Hussein Abu Khdeir, said that we would hold the ceremony on the exact date of the murder, and that if we do it on Friday, many people from the West Bank will come after they are done praying at Al-Aqsa, which would only raise the likelihood of clashes.

What are your thoughts on the trial of the suspects?

“We want the three of them to receive life sentences. A life sentence for the kidnapping, a life sentence for the murder, and another life sentence for the trauma this has caused the family. We do not want to see a situation in which the president grants them clemency, or the courts cut down their sentences for good behavior, which means that in a few years time they will be released and continue living their lives.

Hussein Abu Khdeir sits during a memorial ceremony in honor of his son, Muhammad, who was kidnapped and burned alive by three Jewish men a year ago, Shuafat, East Jerusalem, June 2, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Hussein Abu Khdeir sits during a memorial ceremony in honor of his son, Muhammad, who was kidnapped and burned alive by three Jewish men a year ago, Shuafat, East Jerusalem, June 2, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

“Palestinians who take part in terrorism have their homes destroyed, but when Jews do the same nothing happens to their homes. I understand that this is because the state is racist. After all, we are talking about Jews who have rights here.

“I must say that despite all of my anger at the killers’ parents, I do not think it is right to destroy their homes. They shouldn’t have to pay for what their children did. My only demand is that they are convicted and spend the rest of their lives in jail, so that everyone can understand that what they did is unconscionable.”

Michael Salisbury-Coresh is an anti-occupation and public housing activist based in Jerusalem. This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call, where he is a blogger. Read it here.

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PHOTOS: Palestinians climb over the wall into Jerusalem for Ramadan http://972mag.com/photos-palestinians-climb-over-the-wall-into-jerusalem-for-ramadan/108543/ http://972mag.com/photos-palestinians-climb-over-the-wall-into-jerusalem-for-ramadan/108543/#comments Sun, 05 Jul 2015 13:31:30 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=108543 As Palestinians cross over into Jerusalem from the West Bank, an IDF officer shoots dead a 19-year-old Palestinian by the separation wall.

Text by Edo Konrad, photos by Yotam Ronen, Mustafa Bader / Activestills.org

Palestinians cross the Qalandiya checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem on their way to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, on the third Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, July 3, 2015. (photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Palestinians cross the between the West Bank city of A-Ram and Jerusalem on their way to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, on the third Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, July 3, 2015. (photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Dozens of young Palestinians climbed the separation wall in order to reach Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday of last week, the third Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The men took taxis in the early hours of Friday morning to the separation wall at the Palestinian village of A-Ram, just outside of Jerusalem, where they used a ladder to cross over to the Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Hanina. After some of the men made it over, Israeli police officers arrived on the other side of the wall.

Palestinians cross the Qalandiya checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem on their way to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, on the third Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, July 3, 2015. (photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Palestinians cross the Qalandiya checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem on their way to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, on the third Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, July 3, 2015. (photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Palestinians climb over the Israeli Wall to attend the Friday prayer in Al-Aqsa Mosque, in the town of Al-Ram, near the Qalandiya checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem, on the second Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, July 3, 2015. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Palestinians climb over the Israeli Wall to attend the Friday prayer in Al-Aqsa Mosque in the town of Al-Ram, between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem, on the second Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, July 3, 2015. (Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Meanwhile, over 10,000 Palestinians formally crossed through both the Qalandiya checkpoint near Ramallah and Checkpoint 300 in Bethlehem on their way to Jerusalem. While the army generally allows women to cross regardless of age, on Friday they restricted the crossing to women over 30 as well as men over 50, causing much confusion. During Ramadan, Israel generally eases restrictions on Palestinian access to Jerusalem.

Palestinians cross the 300 checkpoint between the West Bank city of Bethlehem and Jerusalem on their way to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, on the second Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, July 3, 2015. (photo: Mustafa Bader/Activestills.org)

Palestinians cross Checkpoint 300 between the West Bank city of Bethlehem and Jerusalem on their way to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, on the second Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, July 3, 2015. (photo: Mustafa Bader/Activestills.org)

Palestinians cross the 300 checkpoint between the West Bank city of Bethlehem and Jerusalem on their way to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, on the third Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, July 3, 2015. (photo: Mustafa Bader/Activestills.org)

Palestinians cross Checkpoint 300 between the West Bank city of Bethlehem and Jerusalem on their way to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, on the third Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, July 3, 2015. (photo: Mustafa Bader/Activestills.org)

As Palestinians crossed over into Jerusalem, an Israeli army officer shot and killed a 19-year-old Palestinian on the other side of the separation wall. According to the army, several Palestinians were throwing stones at an IDF vehicle heading toward Qalandiya checkpoint, smashing the windshield. The brigade commander exited the vehicle and opened fire at the Palestinians, killing Mohammed Sami al-Ksabeh, a resident of Qalandiya refugee camp.

Family members of 17-year-old Mohammed Sami al-Ksbeh mourns during his funeral in Qalandiya refugee camp, near the West Bank city of Ramallah July 3, 2015. A senior Israeli army officer shot and killed Ksbeh who was throwing stones near a checkpoint in the West Bank on Friday, June 3, 2015. (photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Family members of 17-year-old Mohammed Sami al-Ksabeh mourns during his funeral in Qalandiya refugee camp, near the West Bank city of Ramallah July 3, 2015. A senior Israeli army officer shot and killed Ksbeh who was throwing stones near a checkpoint in the West Bank on Friday, June 3, 2015. (photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Family members of Mohammed Sami al-Ksbeh, 17, mourns during his funeral in Qalandiya refugee camp, near the West Bank city of Ramallah July 3, 2015. A senior Israeli army officer shot and killed Ksbeh who was throwing stones near a checkpoint in the West Bank on Friday, June 3, 2015. (photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Family members of Mohammed Sami al-Ksabeh, 17, mourns during his funeral in Qalandiya refugee camp, near the West Bank city of Ramallah July 3, 2015. A senior Israeli army officer shot and killed Ksbeh who was throwing stones near a checkpoint in the West Bank on Friday, June 3, 2015. (photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Hundreds of people attended his funeral several hours after his death, where masked men fired shots in the air as the crowd called for revenge against Israel. According to Ma’an News Agency, Ksabeh had left his home early Friday morning to reach Al-Aqsa Mosque. Eyewitnesses say he was attempting to climb the separation wall when he was shot.

Ksabah is the second Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces in the last week, after forces shot dead a Palestinian man last Friday when he opened fire at soldiers at the Beqaot checkpoint in the Jordan Valley.

Palestinian militants take part in the funeral of Palestinian youth Mohammed Sami al-Ksbeh, 17, in Qalandiya refugee camp, near the West Bank city of Ramallah July 3, 2015. A senior Israeli army officer shot and killed Ksbeh who was throwing stones near a checkpoint in the West Bank on Friday, June 3, 2015. (photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Palestinian militants take part in the funeral of Palestinian youth Mohammed Sami al-Ksabeh, 17, in Qalandiya refugee camp, near the West Bank city of Ramallah July 3, 2015. A senior Israeli army officer shot and killed Ksbeh who was throwing stones near a checkpoint in the West Bank on Friday, June 3, 2015. (photo: Yotam Ronen/Activestills.org)

Related:
PHOTOS: Palestinians cross into Jerusalem for Ramadan
Palestinians cease being ‘threats’ — for a month

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How does Israel’s media fight sexual harassment? With racism http://972mag.com/how-does-israels-media-fight-sexual-harassment-with-racism/108513/ http://972mag.com/how-does-israels-media-fight-sexual-harassment-with-racism/108513/#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 18:18:39 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=108513 An Israeli news site runs a piece about Palestinian men sexually assaulting Israeli women at the beach, begging the question: why is this particular story newsworthy when stories about Jewish men assaulting Jewish women rarely are?

Palestinians from the West Bank enjoy the Mediterranean Sea on the last day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, Tel Aviv, August 11, 2013. The three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. The Israeli army generally issues entry permits to Palestinians during Ramadan, allowing many to visit the beach for the first time. (Activestills.org)

Palestinians from the West Bank enjoy the Mediterranean Sea on the last day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, Tel Aviv, August 11, 2013. The three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. The Israeli army generally issues entry permits to Palestinians during Ramadan, allowing many to visit the beach for the first time. (Activestills.org)

Israeli news site Walla! ran an article [Hebrew] on Friday with the following headline: “Palestinians who come to Tel Aviv’s beaches cannot resist the women.” The article describes how Palestinian men from the West Bank take advantage of their entry permits—which are granted with greater ease during the month of Ramadan in order to allow worshippers access to Jerusalem—to enjoy the beaches of Tel Aviv.

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But if you ask Walla, not all of these men are so innocent. According to the article, one 19-year-old Palestinian from Hebron was detained for sexually harassing two women on the beach this past week.

“We see this phenomenon every year during Ramadan,” said police investigator Yoni Hirshhorn during a hearing over whether to extend the man’s detention. “The Ramadan tourists who obtain permits to pray take trips to Tel Aviv. They come to the beaches of Tel Aviv and some of them cannot help themselves when they see the women, that’s when we receive reports of sexual harassment and assault.”

There is no minimizing acts of sexual harassment and sexual assault, and there is no doubt that every allegation of sexual assault needs to be taken seriously. Men cannot commit violent, gender-based crimes against women and expect to be let off the hook.

But as one scrolls through Walla’s story, which is rife with disturbing, illustrative photos of Palestinian-looking men leering at what are presumed to be white, Jewish women on the beach—one must ask why on earth the editors thought this particular story was worth publishing, when stories about Jewish men assaulting Jewish women rarely are. Does the nationality of the attacker matter for anything other than click bait, not to mention race-baiting? Does it count as news when a Jewish man assaults a Jewish woman?

The other glaring issue is the way the article constructs the Jewish women who are at risk of assault. Walla’s article doesn’t stray too far from the racist, Jim Crow-era construction of the black man as what scholar Christopher J. Metzler calls a “hyper-sexual brute with an insatiable lust for white women.” In fact, Walla’s article only perpetuates the trope according to which white, Jewish women are always in danger of being attacked by the savage brown or black man. This, of course, does no favors to women, and leaves the reader with only two conclusions: Palestinian men must be feared, and Jewish women are the sole property of Jewish men.

Jewish nationalist activists from anti-miscegenation group Lehava protest in Rishon Lezion, August 17, 2014. (Activestills.org)

Jewish nationalist activists from anti-miscegenation group Lehava protest in Rishon Lezion, August 17, 2014. (Activestills.org)

While the former is par for the course in the Israeli media, it is the latter conclusion that has gained traction over the last several years, especially with the emergence of the anti-miscegenation group, Lehava, which tries to prevent marriages between Jewish women and Palestinian men, and urges Israeli women to refrain from associating with “non-Jews.” But while the racism of Lehava is out in the open for all to see, Walla tries to pass off its article as “news.” What happens when we can no longer discern between the two?

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Egyptian TV series shines light on the untold story of Arab Jews http://972mag.com/egyptian-tv-series-shines-light-on-the-untold-story-of-arab-jews/108515/ http://972mag.com/egyptian-tv-series-shines-light-on-the-untold-story-of-arab-jews/108515/#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 15:28:26 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=108515 A controversial new television show gives us a glimpse into Jewish-Muslim relations before Israel’s establishment, as well as a better understanding of those Jews who left Arab countries only to become Israel’s Mizrahim.

By Nadia Naser-Najjab

A recent controversy over a new Egyptian television series has served to highlight one of the central tensions at the heart of Zionist thought. This controversy has arisen in relation to “Haret al-Yahud” (“The Jewish Quarter”), a love story which depicts a romantic relationship between a male Egyptian-Muslim army officer (Iyad Nassar) and a female Egyptian-Jewish character (Mena Shalaby). The series, which is being broadcast during the month of Ramadan, has attracted both local and international media attention.

YouTube screenshot from Haret al-Yahud.

YouTube screenshot from ‘Haret al-Yahud.’

The Israeli embassy in Cairo approvingly observed that the series, which is set in a mixed and multicultural neighborhood of Cairo—and which develops over the period 1948-1954—has broken with the established conventions of the Israeli-Arab conflict and portrays Jews as “human beings.” Nonetheless, after this initially positive appraisal, the series failed to sustain the embassy’s approval, and it subsequently expressed its disapproval of the implication that the foundation of the Israeli state established the basis for many of the hatreds and mutual misunderstandings between Israelis and their Arab neighbors.

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Although the series is undoubtedly interesting in its own right, my interest was primarily elicited by its engagement with Mizrahi Jews—Jews who, in contrast to their Ashkenazi brethren—lived in Arab countries before Israel’s foundation. In a manner that to some degree is comparable to Israel’s indigenous Palestinian population, their status has historically been, and indeed remains, highly complex and contingent.

For instance, in an event which has clear echoes of the Australian state’s forced removal of aboriginal children, hundreds of Yemenite babies and children were abducted in the 1950s, as Shoshana Madmoni-Gerber documented in her 2014 book “Silencing the ‘Yemenite Babies Affair.” In 1994 Rabbi Meshulam stirred the issue of the Yemeni babies and was incarcerated. Institutionalized racism was also frequently a factor in the relocation of Mizrahi communities to slum dwellings and economically disadvantaged development towns.

These events underline the fact that Mizrahi Jews have always been in a problematic relation to mainstream Zionism, a point which is reiterated by the fact that Mizrahi academics and activists have frequently emerged as strong advocates of Jewish-Arab co-existence.

The complexities and contradictions which have accompanied the integration of Mizrahi Jews into mainstream Israeli society appear to be inextricably linked to a Zionist mindset which situates a civilized, modern and liberal “self” in diametric opposition to an atavistic and essentially backwards Arab “other.” Ze’ev Jabotinsky, a key founding figure within political Zionism, encapsulated this viewpoint when he observed that: “Jews, thank God, have nothing in common with the East.” Indeed, it is testament to the influence of the Zionist mindset that those who continue to define themselves as Arab Jews, such as the academic Ella Shohat, frequently feel “obliged to explain the mysteries of this oxymoronic entity.”

Yemenite Jews walking to a ‘reception camp’ near Aden, 1949. (Photo by Kluger Zoltan/Israel National Archive)

Yemenite Jews walking to a ‘reception camp’ near Aden, 1949. (Photo by Kluger Zoltan/Israel National Archive)

The idea that these two are mutually exclusive made it all the easier to present the Jewish homeland as a means of salvation. In addition to the abstract proposition of an essential Jewishness, there was also a more concrete implication that Jews needed to be physically protected from the violence and barbarity of Arabs and Arab society. This was to be a central and recurring theme within, to take just one example, Theodor Herzl’s interpretation of Zionism.

Upon their “return,” Mizrahi Jews found that their “salvation” was subject to various conditions and uncertainties. Far from being saved from Arab societies, they remained, to a considerable extent, trapped within the rigid and inflexible representations which Zionist leaders had previously ascribed to Arabs. David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister, expressed the view that Arab Jews lacked “the most elementary knowledge” and appeared to be without a “trace of Jewish or human education.” Moshe Sharett, in his capacity as a foreign Minister, told the Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister that “We cannot count on the Jews of Morocco to build the country, because they have not been educated for this.” The former Prime Minister Golda Meir, meanwhile, implicitly reiterated this racial hierarchy when she welcomed Soviet Jews with the observation that: “You are the real Jews. We have been waiting for you for 25 years.”

From my perspective, each of the preceding comments simultaneously highlights both a deeply rooted internal racism and Zionism’s inherent hypocrisy. By implication, and this is a point which Haret al-Yahud makes very well, both observations suggest that the Zionist project was as much a cause and embodiment of intolerance as a protection against it.

Jewish immigrants from Yemen at a camp near Rosh Ha’ayin. (Photo: GPO)

Jewish immigrants from Yemen at a camp near Rosh Ha’ayin. (Photo: GPO)

The official Zionist historical narrative, for example, systematically refuses to engage the level of opposition which the Zionist project generated among Mizrahi Jews. For instance, in 1929 the Chief Rabbi of Iraq wrote an open letter which denounced both the Balfour Declaration and the broader Zionist project of which it was part. In this respect it is particularly telling that Iraq’s Jewish community only departed after considerable harassment and intimidation from both the Iraqi government and pro-Zionist underground groups. Israeli sociologist Yehouda Shenhav, a descendant of Iraqi Jews, accordingly observes that the community, far from enthusiastically subscribing to the Zionist project, was left with no alternative but to leave.

Haret al-Yahud seems to have raised two main issues: firstly, it highlights the extent to which Zionism poisoned relations between Arabs and Jews and created the basis for so many of the divisions and mutual misunderstandings that we encounter today. Secondly, by focusing on the specific cultural, social and political situation of Mizrahi Jews, it encourages us to ask precisely how they have been integrated into Israeli society. This emphasis is important both in itself and because it raises broader questions about political Zionism—to observe that this project sustains itself through a prejudice towards “the other” is somehow insufficient and inadequate. However, as the experience of the Mizrahi Jews repeatedly reiterates, it is more accurate to state that this is a prejudice that is so insidious and deeply rooted that it is directed towards the other within itself.

Dr. Nadia Naser-Najjab has a PhD in Middle East Studies and is an Associate Research Fellow at the European Center of Palestine Studies-Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter.

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Surviving the ups and downs: Israel’s first Arab-Jewish school turns 30 http://972mag.com/surviving-the-ups-and-downs-israels-first-arab-jewish-school-turns-30/108503/ http://972mag.com/surviving-the-ups-and-downs-israels-first-arab-jewish-school-turns-30/108503/#comments Sat, 04 Jul 2015 12:40:48 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=108503 For three decades the school at Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam has taught our children how to grow and become adults with a cohesive national and human identity, without fear of the other. Today, however, the future looks as uncertain as ever.

By Samah Salaime (translated by Rivka Einy)

Edi Edlund (left) and Abed Islam, founders of the Neve Shalom/Wahat Al Salam school. (Courtesy of Neve Shalom/Wahat Al Salam)

Edi Edlund (left) and Abed Islam, founders of the Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam school. (Courtesy of Neve Shalom/Wahat Al Salam)

Atop a small mountain in the Latrun area lies the village we chose to establish a small family. Located between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, the Arab-Jewish village goes by the name Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam.

A few weeks ago, the village hosted an emotional and beautiful event to mark 30 years since the opening of the village school. All of us, parents and children, celebrated in the schoolyard to honor the tremendous effort, and the first of its kind: a school that is both binational and bilingual. With us were also members of the school’s founding generation, the ones who were the first to put Arabs and Jews in the same classroom. Those first classrooms had two teachers, Abed and Eti—one Arab and one Jew.

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Back then there wasn’t a set plan—no schedule, curriculum or pedagogical approach. There were no permits that needed to be granted nor any extra supervision, just two brave teachers and the village residents, made up of several families who decided to start the journey together. They believed in their inherent goodness, being good neighbors, speaking two languages, equality, and not being afraid to talk about anything. As for the rest of it, they had no clue what would happen, they simply knew they would figure it out. Every problem has a solution, and those who intend to teach about how to achieve peace there are no shortcuts—they simply need to live together.

Thirty years ago, the HaMishmar newspaper reported that the first ever Arab-Jewish school in the world would open in Neve Shalom, on land donated to its founders by the nearby Latrun monastery. This land did not belong to an expropriated, destroyed Arab village, nor was it state land rife with a painful history. Rather, it was a piece of land free of injustice and guilt, and so atop it we built hope, room by room.

At the whim of the Education Ministry

Today, the school houses approximately 180 students, from kindergarten to sixth grade, in a building located in the heart of the village. During school hours, the main road to the village is closed off in both directions for the sake of the children and their freedom of movement. Until a friend expressed to me how strange it was to close off a main road for eight hours a day, I hadn’t quite grasped just how much the school is prioritized above all else in the village.

Most of the students come from outside the village, from nearby towns such as Abu Gosh, Ein Rafa, Beit Nekofa, Jerusalem, Carmei Yosef, Tzur Hadassa, Kibbutz Gezer, Kfar Oriah, Modi’in, Ramla, Lod, among other places. Thus transportation presents a complicated budgeting and logistical challenge. Sometimes these costs can break the family’s bank, preventing them from continuing to send their children to the school. Unfortunately Israeli citizens lack the right to choose where and how their children will be educated. If as parents you desire different schooling for your children than what you are given, you must pay out of pocket.

The school in its first years. (Courtesy of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam)

The school in its first years. (Courtesy of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam)

Three decades of tireless pedagogical practice sum up the history of the Arab-Jewish conflict rather well. It is enough to walk around the photography exhibition of the school in order to understand that what is happening outside always seeps in—even if we are atop a mountain, somewhat disconnected—the political situation does not bypass us. The schoolchildren hear the army planes on their way to Gaza. Even “price tag” criminals signed our guestbook once. The past 30 years have seen two intifadas, the Oslo accords, a visit by President Clinton, a performance by Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, attacks, and plenty of ups and downs.

There have been times that the government has recognized and subsidized us, and times when we ran from the Education Ministry, like when former Minister Limor Livnat forced upon us a director who wasn’t really interested in peace, leaving us with no money.

There were good days and dark ones too. Sometimes we spoke of Rabin’s assassination, sometimes we spoke of other ideologically- and politically-motivated murders, such as those of Arafat, Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Naji Al-Ali (the famous Palestinian cartoonist), and others.

What do we do on Remembrance Day?

In a country where Israelis and Palestinians live together, work and meet in the supermarket, to be educated together was once considered bordering on the forbidden. Even today relations remain unstable.

When everybody on the outside is talking about peace, we are considered “popular” and “cute,” and the Ministry of Education sends smiley people to take photos of us under our peace arch. When peace goes out of fashion, the very same model of education that emphasizes peace, equality, social justice and democracy is kicked aside in favor of Jewish heritage and Zionism.

Sometimes we are up and sometimes down, but the journey has continued for 30 years based on the belief that there is no other way—and thanks to the donations and volunteer efforts of the sane world abroad. Developing this model comes with many errors and many successes. Debates surrounding what we should discuss and do not were not simple: how do we mark the national holidays of Independence Day and Nakba Day, Land Day and Remembrance Day? You’d be surprised that even in this field there are various fashionable trends, such as the difference between a “narrative” approach and the approach of “managing the conflict,” or whether to separate into various groups during difficult days, or to combine forces, even during times of crisis.

I have learned over the years that we were once more daring. There was a time when our children went to demonstrations and openly opposed the war along with their parents. We used to shout for an end to the occupation and for a peace agreement. We used to see the road more clearly and would go the limit with our young students.

Schoolchildren demonstrate at an anti-occupation rally. (Courtesy of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam)

Schoolchildren demonstrate at an anti-occupation rally. (Courtesy of Neve Shalom/Wahat al-Salam)

The task now is to survive the military operations, wars and manifestations of hatred and racism. It has become a difficult task in the shadow of governments who do all they can to dispossess, colonize and separate—to govern and embitter the lives of millions of Palestinians and to control them in the name of the Jewish state and its security. We no longer even speak of the peace process, which is miserable and wretched. It seems that soon the message of peace, justice and equality among humans will be denounced as an anti-Semitic, not to mention incitement against the state itself.

‘Have mercy on our children’

Eti Edlund, our founding teacher, now a grandmother to children in the school, was left alone after her co-founder, Abed Islam, passed away a few years ago. “We have met many people on our journey,” she says, “academics who have seen beams of light emanate from our institution, and those who view us as a generation of sinners, who would, heaven forbid, have their children intermarry. We have met senior officials from the Ministry of Education who dismissed the idea with a wave of the hand, only to embrace us after nine years of work. We met so called ‘experts’ who believed that teaching two languages simultaneously would harm the development of our children, as well as good friends who took pity on our own children because we would be their teachers.

“We have heard, learned, changed, and continued forward resolutely, eyes wide open and with a willingness to adopt any idea or piece of advice, any bit of help along the way. The goals we set for ourselves were clear and concrete: to bring together two cultures, teach both languages, and create a school where students enjoy learning.”

Photography exhibit to mark 30 years since the founding of bi-national school. (photo: Samah Salaime)

Photography exhibit to mark 30 years since the founding of bi-national school. (photo: Samah Salaime)

During the ceremony I met a mother from Abu Gosh, a graduate of the school whose son is currently in third grade. With tears in her eyes she walked around the exhibit, telling her son how much love, warmth and joy she experienced in the school, and how much she wanted it to continue through high school, rather than end at seventh grade.

Students of a bi-national and bi-lingual school grow to become adults with a cohesive national and human identity, an awareness of their history and that of their neighbors, who are not threatened by the Jewish student on the nearby bench or afraid of a game of hide-and-seek led by an Arab student during recess. They value meaningful learning and know how one can be happy while learning at the same time. And yes—they may even be world’s most naïve people and believe that peace is on its way.

Samah Salaime is a social worker, a director of AWC (Arab Women in the Center) in Lod/Lyd and a graduate of the Mandel Leadership Institute in Jerusalem. This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call, where she is a blogger. Read it here.

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Netanyahu and Obama find a shared interest — screwing the Israeli people http://972mag.com/netanyahu-and-obama-find-a-shared-interest-screwing-the-israeli-people/108491/ http://972mag.com/netanyahu-and-obama-find-a-shared-interest-screwing-the-israeli-people/108491/#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 16:09:36 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=108491 Despite the years of endless clashes of both personality and policy, this dramatic political saga really won’t surprise you one bit.

Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama in the Oval Office, March 2012 (photo: The White House / Flickr)

Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama in the Oval Office, March 2012 (White House photo)

The rather lousy relationship between Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and U.S. President Obama has been the subject of much discussion in recent weeks as former Ambassador Michael Oren brought already ridiculous levels of behind-the-scenes speculation to new lows. Years of public clashes over settlement construction, peace talks, negotiations with Iran, and more, have provided endless fodder fueling public clashes between the two leaders.

There is one area, however, where President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu have suddenly, and perhaps surprisingly to outsiders, found their interests aligned.

[tmwinpost]

American Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro attempted to use his influence to determine the outcome of a fateful vote in the Israeli Knesset this week. It is a rather bizarre political story with surprising actors being asked to play even more surprising roles. It is a story of foreign intervention into questions of domestic Israeli policy in ways that upend the narrative regularly spun by right-wing Israelis. It is a story that shouldn’t surprise anybody, and yet surprised nearly everybody.

The story starts with two of the most common ingredients found in nearly all Middle Eastern dramas: fossil fuels and American economic interests. You see, about six years ago a surprising discovery was made off of Israel’s coast— the largest natural gas reserves in the Mediterranean. Almost immediately, people started talking about the discovery as a game-changer, both geopolitically in the region, but also for Israel’s economy. The gas was supposed to be enough to domestic supply in Israel for decades.

The Tamar natural gas platform (Photo: Noble Energy)

A natural gas platform over the Tamar natural gas field off of Israel’s coast, one of two major gas discoveries made in Israeli waters in recent years by a consortium of companies led by Texas-based Nobel Energy. (Photo: Noble Energy)

Unfortunately for most Israelis, the contracts to search for said fossil fuels were negotiated decades earlier, at a time when nobody took seriously the prospects of actually finding any gas. Thus, as economic incentive dictates, the increased economic risk for the energy companies was contractually offset by massive profit margins in the unlikely situation that gas was discovered. So what did Israel do when gas was discovered? It unilaterally “renegotiated” the contracts to give itself a significantly greater portion of future profits. The energy companies were not happy but they ultimately agreed to the new terms.

In the five years that have passed, all but a few thousand Israelis forgot about the game-changing importance of the gas discovery. People assumed that they, the citizens, were getting ripped off in the whole affair, because, well, that’s the default Israeli position — to assume you’re being ripped off somehow. Yet those concerns consistently took a back seat to more tangible and immediate issues like the price of housing and food, and, you know, wars and boycotts and the ayatollahs.

But let’s fast-forward to today. With surprising attentiveness to at least part of some of the interests of the Israeli people, the Netanyahu government renegotiated a new financial and economic framework for the gas, its distribution, sale, pricing, ownership stakes and competitive guarantees. Except, there was a problem with that last one; Israel’s anti-trust commissioner refused to sign off on the deal. Then, this month, the only man who could overrule the anti-trust commissioner, Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri, refused to do so. So Benjamin Netanyahu did what any good Middle Eastern politician — or rather, any politician at all — would do in such a bind: he declared the natural gas deal a matter of national security, allowing him to overrule the anti-trust commissioner himself and put his plan to a vote.

However, despite a massive haul of 30 mandates in recent elections, Netanyahu only managed to cobble together a razor-thin coalition of 61 out of 120 Knesset seats. Even worse for the fourth-term prime minister, three of his ministers announced that they were recusing themselves from the entire matter because of close personal relationships to stakeholders in the deal. So Netanyahu was short a majority to move his plan along.

Benjamin Netanyahu gives a victory speech on election night, March 18, 2015. (Photo: +972 Magazine)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a victory speech on election night, March 18, 2015. (Photo: +972 Magazine)

This is where it gets interesting. One of the two majority stakeholders in the natural gas deal, along with Israeli firm Delek, is Texas-based Nobel Energy. Now, as we know from then-historian Michael Oren’s fascinating book, Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East: 1776 to the Present, American interests in the Middle East have always been a little bit about religious obsession and a-lot-a-bit about American economic interest. Washington’s relationship with Israel has historically fallen along the religious/ideological end of that spectrum, but that is not to say that economic interests are in any way marginal.

But let’s get back to the Knesset.

Netanyahu was short three votes and the opposition was coalescing around its energetic determination to stop the prime minister’s plan. The only votes in play, it seemed, might be the Joint List, the combined slate of Arab parties. The Joint List, however, is adamantly opposed to everything Netanyahu. Since Election Day, the latter has gone after their and their constituents’ very right to participate in the democratic system. Most recently, the prime minister said nothing when one of his deputy ministers suggested they surrender their citizenship.

Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh stands in front of ultra-Orthodox MKs in the Knesset. (Knesset photo)

Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh stands in front of ultra-Orthodox MKs, Economy Minister Aryeh Deri (bottom-left), and freshman MK Michael Oren (top-left) in the Knesset. (Knesset website)

The thing is, the Joint List doesn’t have any love for Opposition Leader Yitzhak Herzog either. Herzog attempted to disqualify a Joint List candidate from even running in the elections, and just this past week, instructed his entire ‘Zionist Camp’ to abstain from voting on a law that forbids “family unification” for Palestinian citizens of Israel.

So the American ambassador attempted to tip the scales in Netanyahu’s favor by enlisting the one political group that hates him most. Stopping short of confirming the affair, a U.S. embassy statement released to Haaretz emphasized that Washington, “hope[s] that Israel will reach an arrangement that will allow the development of its natural gas resources.”

“We are proud of the contributions that American companies are making to bring cleaner and more efficient energy resources the Israel,” the statement read. “The specifics of any arrangement are, of course, a matter for the Israeli government and people to decide, but we have always been open with our Israeli friends about the economic, security, and commercial benefits…”

On the night of the vote, which was ultimately postponed once Netanyahu realized he had no majority, a spokesperson for the Joint List reassured that, “of course the Joint List will vote against Netanyahu’s policies on [natural] gas.” The slate is “independent and not swayed by pressure from tycoons like the Netanyahu government,” he added.

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A Month in Photos: Global Pride, Ramadan and refugees http://972mag.com/a-month-in-photos-global-pride-ramadan-and-refugees/108471/ http://972mag.com/a-month-in-photos-global-pride-ramadan-and-refugees/108471/#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 12:55:42 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=108471 LGBTQ people and allies celebrate pride while others protest ‘pinkwashing’; tens of thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank head into Jerusalem for prayers during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, some climbing over walls to do so; African asylum seekers bring the theater to their detention center; migrants and refugees commemorate their dead in Europe; Israelis protest racism and the privatization of natural resources.

Photo by: Oren Ziv, Anne Paq, Ahmad Al-Bazz, Yotam Ronen, Faiz Abu Rmeleh
Photo editing: Anka Mirkin, Keren Manor

Israelis take part in the annual pride parade in Tel Aviv, June 12, 2015. (Activestills.org)

Israelis take part in the annual pride parade in Tel Aviv, June 12, 2015. (Activestills.org)

Activists display banners next to Israeli supporters at Christopher Street Day (CSD) parade in Berlin, as part of an action against pinkwashing, Germany, June 27, 2016. The protesters accuse Israel of using LGBTQI rights issues to mask what protesters claim is the "ethnic cleansing and genocide in Palestine." In their call for protest, they write: "Pinkwashing is used extensively by the Israeli government. Israel claims they support LGBTQI rights, in order to divert attention away from their human rights cromes against Palestinians..›e will not allow the Israeli war machine to use LGBTQI rights as a justification for its oppression of others". Every year, Israel has a prominent place in the CSD parade, distrubuting Israeli flags coloured with the rainbow colours. Activists display banners next to Israeli supporters at Christopher Street Day (CSD) parade in Berlin, as part of an action against pinkwashing, Germany, June 27, 2016. The protesters accuse Israel of using LGBTQI rights issues to mask what protesters claim is the "ethnic cleansing and genocide in Palestine." In their call for protest, they write: "Pinkwashing is used extensively by the Israeli government. Israel claims they support LGBTQI rights, in order to divert attention away from their human rights cromes against Palestinians..›e will not allow the Israeli war machine to use LGBTQI rights as a justification for its oppression of others". Every year, Israel has a prominent place in the CSD parade, distrubuting Israeli flags coloured with the rainbow colours. (Activestills.org)

Activists display banners next to Israeli supporters at Christopher Street Day (CSD) parade in Berlin, as part of an action against ‘pinkwashing,’ Germany, June 27, 2015. The protesters accuse Israel of using LGBTQI rights issues to mask what they describe as “ethnic cleansing and genocide in Palestine.” In their call for protest, they write: “Pinkwashing is used extensively by the Israeli government. Israel claims they support LGBTQI rights, in order to divert attention away from their human rights crimes against Palestinians… We will not allow the Israeli war machine to use LGBTQI rights as a justification for its oppression of others.” Every year, Israel has a prominent place in the CSD parade, distributing Israeli flags colored with the rainbow colors. (Activestills.org)

Palestinian youth evacuated by his fellow protesters after suffocating from tear gas, during a protest against settlement expansion, Qaryut village, West Bank, June 6, 2015. The closing of the main road, over a year ago, has forced the villagers to take a longer route, adding 20 kilometres to their journey. According to residents, the road has been closed many times in recent years. (Activestills.org)

Protesters evacuate a Palestinian youth suffering from tear gas inhalation during a protest against settlement expansion, Qaryut village, West Bank, June 6, 2015. The closing of their main access road, over a year ago, has forced the villagers to take a longer route, adding 20 kilometers to their journey. According to residents, the road has been closed many times in recent years. (Activestills.org)

View on Qaryut village, West Bank, June 6, 2015. (Activestills.org)

A view of the Palestinian village of Qaryut, West Bank, June 6, 2015. (Activestills.org)

New housing units at the Israeli settlement of Shilo, Qaryut village, West Bank, June 6, 2015. (Activestills.org)

New housing units at the Israeli settlement of Shilo, Qaryut village, West Bank, June 6, 2015. (Activestills.org)

Palestinians cross the Qalandiya checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem on their way to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, on the second Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, June 26, 2015. (Activestills.org)

Palestinians cross the Qalandiya checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem on their way to pray at the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, on the second Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, June 26, 2015. (Activestills.org)

Palestinian farmers await the opening of an agricultural gate in the separation fence in Falamya village (Gate number 914), West Bank, June 14, 2015. (Activestills.org)

Palestinian farmers await the opening of an agricultural gate in the separation fence in Falamya village (Gate number 914), West Bank, June 14, 2015. The farmers land, although inside the West Bank, is on the Israeli side of the separation barrier. The Israeli army allows them to access their land but only during specific hours when soldiers arrive to open special gates they must apply for permits to use. (Activestills.org)

Activists gather in a cemetery to bury an unidentified migrant from Syria who died in the sea on his way to Europe, Berlin, June 19, 2015. The funeral was held by an Imam as part of a political campaign called “The Dead are Coming,” which is organized by the Center for Political Beauty, a Berlin-based art activist group. The reburial is one of several awareness actions organized by the group. (Activestills.org)

Activists gather in a cemetery to bury an unidentified migrant from Syria who died in the sea on his way to Europe, Berlin, June 19, 2015. The funeral was held by an Imam as part of a political campaign called “The Dead are Coming,” which is organized by the Center for Political Beauty, a Berlin-based art activist group. The reburial is one of several awareness actions organized by the group. (Activestills.org)

African asylum seekers jailed in Holot alongside Israelis preform during a theatre show outside the Holot detention centre in the Negev desert, June 13, 2015. (Activestills.org)

African asylum seekers detained in the Holot detention facility perform alongside Israelis preform during a theater production outside the detention centre in the Negev desert, June 13, 2015. (Activestills.org)

Israeli artists wear a tape over their mouths as they take part in a protest against Minister of Sports and Culture Miri Regev (unseen) upon her arrival to a theatre awards ceremony in Tel Aviv,  June 19, 2015. The protest was held after Regev threatened to cut funding for a children's theatre in Jaffa, after it's director, which is also an actor in Haifa theatre, said he will refuse to preform in the West Bank settlement. (Activestills.org)

Israeli artists wear tape over their mouths to protest against Minister of Sports and Culture Miri Regev (unseen) upon her arrival to a theater awards ceremony in Tel Aviv, June 19, 2015. Regev threatened to cut funding for a children’s theater in Jaffa after it’s director, who is also a professional theater actor, said he would refuse to preform in West Bank settlements. (Activestills.org)

Activist Barak Cohen is seen in the Tel Aviv court, as Rakefet Russak Aminoach, President of bank Leumi, appeals to ban activist Barak Cohen from  protesting near her and her family, June 18, 2015. (Activestills.org)

Activist Atty. Barak Cohen is seen in Tel Aviv court, as Rakefet Russak Aminoach, President of Bank Leumi, appeals to ban Cohen from protesting near her and her family, June 18, 2015. (Activestills.org)

Police arrest a protester during a protest against natural gas privatisation in Tel Aviv, June 27, 2015. Around 4000 people marched in protest of the government's policies regarding the privatisation of natural gas found in the Mediterranean sea. (Activestills.org)

Police arrest a protester during a demonstration against the privatization of natural gas Israel, Tel Aviv, June 27, 2015. Around 4,000 people marched in protest of the government’s policies regarding natural gas reserves found in Israeli-controlled waters in the Mediterranean Sea. (Activestills.org)

Activists protest against the march of far-right Bärgida supporters, in Berlin, June 15, 2015. Bärgida is a xenophobic and Islamobic group, which has gained importance, notably in the West of Germany. The group managed only to gather around 100 persons, among them some neo-nazis, while the activists against their march were around 1000. (Activestills.org)

Activists protest against a march by supporters of far-right group Bärgida in Berlin, June 15, 2015. Bärgida is a xenophobic and Islamobic group, which has gained notoriety, notably in the West of Germany. The group managed only to gather around 100 persons, among them some neo-Nazis, while the activists against their march were around 1,000. (Activestills.org)

Sign reads: "No coexistence with cancer", as right-wingers protest following a stabbing incident in Damascus gate, outside Jerusalem's old city, June 21, 2015. Earlier today, a Palestinian youth stabbed and injured an Israeli border policeman. (Activestills.org)

Rght-wing Israeli activists protest after a stabbing incident near Damascus Gate, outside Jerusalem’s Old City, June 21, 2015. The sign reads: ‘No coexistence with cancer.’ Earlier in the day, a Palestinian youth stabbed and injured an Israeli border policeman. (Activestills.org)

Palestinians mourn during the funeral of Izz Al-Din Bani Gharra, 21, in Jenin refugee camp, West Bank, June 10, 2015. Bani Gharra was shot and killed overnight during an Israeli arrest raid. According to the UN, he is the twelfth Palestinian killed by Israeli forces in East Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza the beginning of 2015, with over 900 injured. (Activestills.org)

Palestinians mourners at the funeral of Izz Al-Din Bani Gharra, 21, in Jenin refugee camp, West Bank, June 10, 2015. Bani Gharra was shot and killed overnight during an Israeli arrest raid. According to the UN, he was the 12th Palestinian killed by Israeli forces in East Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza the beginning of 2015, with over 900 injured. More Palestinians and Israelis have been killed since. (Activestills.org)

Childran cross an open sewage in the Shu'fat Refugee Camp, East Jerusalem, June 2, 2015. (Activestills.org)

Childran cross an flowing, open sewers in the Shu’fat Refugee Camp, East Jerusalem, June 2, 2015. (Activestills.org)

An audience after African asylum seekers jailed in Holot alongside Israelis preformed during a theatre show outside the Holot detention centre in the Negev desert, June 13, 2015. (Activestills.org)

Audience members after African asylum seekers jailed in Holot performed alongside Israelis in a theater show outside the Holot detention center in the Negev desert, June 13, 2015. (Activestills.org)

Protesters block a main road in Tel Aviv during an Israeli Ethiopian protest against police brutality and racism, June 3, 2015. (Activestills.org)

Ethiopian-Israelis block a main road in Tel Aviv during a protest against police brutality and racism, June 3, 2015. (Activestills.org)

Israeli Ethiopians and activists protest against police violence and racism in centre Tel Aviv, June 22, 2015. Protesters blocked roads near Rabin square. Police violently arrested at least 15 activists. (Activestills.org)

Israeli Ethiopians and activists protest against police violence and racism in central Tel Aviv, June 22, 2015. Protesters blocked roads near Rabin Square. Police arrested at least 15 activists. (Activestills.org)

Activists dig mock graves in front of the Reichstag during a march and action in solidarity with migrants and refugees, Berlin, Germany, June 21, 2015. Thousands protested against European restrictive migration policies under the slogan "Refugees are welcomed here". Activists stormed the fences around the Reichstag field and dug dozens of symbolic graves to commemorate thousands of migrants who died on their way to Europe. This action was part of a campaign "die toten kommen" (the dead are coming) organized by the Center for Political Beauty, a Berlin-based art activist group. (Activestills.org)

Activists dig mock graves in front of the Reichstag during a march and action in solidarity with migrants and refugees, Berlin, Germany, June 21, 2015. Thousands protested against what they termed Europe’s restrictive migration policies under the slogan: ‘Refugees are welcomed here.’ Activists stormed the fences around the Reichstag field and dug dozens of symbolic graves to commemorate thousands of migrants who died on their way to Europe. This action was part of a campaign “die toten kommen” (the dead are coming) organized by the Center for Political Beauty, a Berlin-based art activist group. (Activestills.org)

Palestinians climb over the Israeli Wall to attend the Friday prayer in Al-Aqsa Mosque, in the town of Al-Ram, near the Qalandiya checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem, on the second Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, June 26, 2015. (Activestills.org)

Palestinians climb over the Israeli separation barrier to attend Friday prayers in Al-Aqsa Mosque, in the town of Al-Ram, near the Qalandiya checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem, on the second Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, June 26, 2015. (Activestills.org) Israel loosens restrictions on entry permits during Ramadan to allow Palestinians to pray at Al-Aqsa, but men under 40 are not eligible.

Palestinians cross the Qalandiya checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem on their way to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, on the second Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, June 26, 2015. (Activestills.org)

Palestinians cross the Qalandiya checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem on their way to pray at the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, on the second Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, June 26, 2015. (Activestills.org)

Palestinian worshippers pray inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem during the first Friday of the holy month of Ramadan, June 19, 2015. (Activestills.org)

Palestinian worshippers pray inside Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem during the first Friday of the holy month of Ramadan, June 19, 2015. (Activestills.org)

Family of Palestinian hunger striker, Khader Adnan, await in an Israeli hospital following a deterioration in his condition, June 28, 2015. Khader has been on a strict hunger-strike for 54 days, following which his body collapsed. He has broke a deal with the Israeli authorities according to which he will be released on July 12, 2015. After deal was signed he started to receive life-saving medical treatment.  Family and supporter react as Palestinian hunger striker, Khader Adnan, is announced to have broke a release-deal with Israel, June 28, 2015. Khader has been on a strict hunger-strike for 54 days, following which his body collapsed. He has broke a deal with the Israeli authorities according to which he will be released on July 12, 2015. After deal was signed he started to receive life-saving medical treatment. (Activestills.org)

The family of Palestinian hunger striker, Khader Adnan, waits in an Israeli hospital after a deterioration in his condition, June 28, 2015. Khader had been on a strict hunger-strike for 54 days before reaching a deal with the Israeli authorities according to which he will be released on July 12, 2015. After deal was signed he started to receive life-saving medical treatment. (Activestills.org) Adnan is being held under administrative detention, a practice Israel uses to imprison Palestinians without ever charging them with a crime or giving them a chance to defend themselves.

Protester illustrating government weakens regarding energy companies during a protest against natural gas privatisation in Tel Aviv, June 27, 2015. Around 4000 people marched in protest of the government's policies regarding the privatisation of natural gas found in the Mediterranean sea. (Activestills.org)

Protesters attempt to illustrate the Israeli government’s weakness vis-a-vis energy companies during a protest against the privatization of natural gas in Tel Aviv, June 27, 2015. Around 4,000 people marched in protest of the government’s policies regarding the natural gas fields discovered off the Israeli coast. (Activestills.org)

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Call for action: Street campaign remembers Gaza’s ‘obliterated families’ http://972mag.com/call-for-action-street-campaign-remembers-gazas-obliterated-families/108432/ http://972mag.com/call-for-action-street-campaign-remembers-gazas-obliterated-families/108432/#comments Fri, 03 Jul 2015 12:12:10 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=108432 There were 142 so-called ‘obliterated families’ in Gaza last summer — families that lost three or more members in Israeli attacks during the military offensive. Marking one year since the war, the Activestills photography collective wants your help to launch an international street exhibition to bring their faces and names to public spaces in cities around the world.

Activestills street exhibition #ObliteratedFamilies, on Gaza, Marseille, France, May 8, 2015.

Activestills street exhibition #ObliteratedFamilies, on Gaza, Marseille, France, May 8, 2015.

One year on, the Activestills photography collective is launching an international street campaign to the Israeli offensive in Gaza last summer. Activestills is calling on activists — with a downloadable street exhibition kit — to bring the faces and names of Gaza families killed last summer to the streets around the world.

The exhibition, #ObliteratedFamilies, features family photos of those killed and portraits of survivors. Activestills photographer Anne Paq visited more than 50 families in Gaza when putting together the project, which aims to shed light on these families and calls upon people of conscience to demand justice for the victims.

Read also: One year since Gaza: Why there’s no such thing as a ‘precision strike’

More than 2,200 Palestinians were killed in Gaza last summer by Israeli attacks, most of them civilians; more than 500 children were killed. According to the United Nations, 142 families lost three members or more. Some families were wiped out entirely. Some families lost loved ones from three generations — grandparents, parents, and grandchildren.

Siyam family, attacked by 2 missiles launched by drones, Rafah, Gaza Strip, 21.07.2014. 13 members killed. In the photo- Nabil (33), whose arm was amputated following his injuries, stands with his only child who survived, Bader, also seriously injured in the attack. Nabil lost his wife, and 4 of her 5 children. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

The Siyam family, attacked by two missiles launched from drones, Rafah, Gaza Strip, July 21, 2014. 13 members killed.
Pictured: Nabil, 33, whose arm was amputated following his injuries, stands with his only child who survived, Bader, also seriously injured in the attack. Nabil lost his wife, and 4 of her 5 children. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Al Louh Family , attacked by airstrike with bomb, Deir Al Balah, Gaza Strip, 20.08.2014. 8 members killed. In the photo- 7 of the 8 members killed. Photo taken in the room of Iman (17) ( left side on the photo) who was killed by a small block of concrete which flew through the window. Her house is located about 100 meters from the attack site. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Al Louh Family , attacked by airstrike with bomb, Deir Al Balah, Gaza Strip, August 20, 2014. Eight members killed.
Pictured: Seven of the eight family members killed. Photo taken in the room of Iman (17) ( left side on the photo) who was killed by a small block of concrete which flew through the window. Her house is located about 100 meters from the attack site. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Activestills has been staging street exhibitions for the past 10 years as part of its attempts to raise public awareness of issues ignored or distorted by the mainstream media. By using city walls as a platform to exhibit our work, we try to reach wider audiences in independent, unfiltered, and direct ways. We believe that the streets should be reclaimed for political discussion.

Read also: Street exhibition confronts Israelis on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day

The Activestills collective calls upon activists to spread these photos in their communities. A digital street exhibition kit is available online, accompanied by full instructions and ready-to-print photographs.

The collective asks participating activists to upload photos of the street exhibits to Twitter and Facebook, with their location and the hashtag #ObliteratedFamilies, or to send photos by email. Thanks for joining this global campaign to demand justice for these families, to call for end to the blockade on Gaza, and the dismantling of the military occupation and colonization of Palestine.

Al Ghoul Family, attacked by missile,  Rafah, Gaza Strip, 03.08.2014. 9 members killed, including 3 children and 3 women. Photo: Amal Mohammed Al Ghoul, 37, showing the photo of her daughter Malak. Amal lost three children and her husband, killed in the attack. She was injured and had to be treated in Turkey, and now has to take care of her three surviving children. One of them, 7-month-old Ibrahim still has shrapnel in his body and needs further medical treatment. (Anne Paq/Activestills)

Al Ghoul Family, attacked by missile, Rafah, Gaza Strip, August 3, 2014.
Nine family members killed, including three children and three women.
Pictured: Amal Mohammed Al Ghoul, 37, showing a photo of her daughter Malak. Amal lost three children and her husband, who were all killed in the attack. She was injured and had to be treated in Turkey. She now has to take care of her three surviving children. One of them, seventh-month-old Ibrahim still has shrapnel in his body and needs further medical treatment. (Anne Paq/Activestills)

Abu Zeid family, killed by Israeli missiles, Rafah, Gaza Strip, 29 July 2014.  9 members killed, including 3 children. In the photo- Survivor Nidal (3) in his destroyed home. Nidal, whose mother and twin brother were killed during the attack, was only found the next day under the rubble. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Abu Zeid family, killed by Israeli missiles, Rafah, Gaza Strip, 29 July 2014.
Nine family members killed, including three children.
Pictured: Survivor Nidal, 3, in his destroyed home. Nidal, whose mother and twin brother were killed during the attack, was only found the next day under the rubble. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Activestills street exhibition #ObliteratedFamilies, on Gaza, Marseille, France, May 8, 2015. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

Activestills street exhibition #ObliteratedFamilies, on Gaza, Marseille, France, May 8, 2015. (Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

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‘We don’t need a constitution—we have the Bible’ http://972mag.com/we-dont-need-a-constitution-we-have-the-bible/108411/ http://972mag.com/we-dont-need-a-constitution-we-have-the-bible/108411/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 19:06:30 +0000 http://972mag.com/?p=108411 Chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee says every piece of legislation should be ‘compatible with Jewish law.’

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

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

From the moment Israel’s founding fathers declared the independence of their state, Israeli politicians have been unable to agree on a formal constitution. Although the Declaration of Independence stipulated that a constitution be written by October 1, 1948, the 1948 war—as well as the inability of different groups in Israeli society to agree on the purpose and identity of the state—prevented that from happening.

Every so often the idea of a formal constitution is floated by politicians and civil society, but has never come to fruition. Now, it seems, the idea of preparing a constitution is being rendered redundant by the chairman of the Knesset committee charged with, among other things, determining the constitutionality of proposed Knesset bills.

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In an interview with the Israel Hayom daily this week, Nissan Slomiansky, the chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, stated that drafting a constitution is unnecessary, since “Israel already has a constitution, the Bible.”

According to Slomiansky (Jewish Home), Knesset legislation should be “compatible with Jewish law,” adding that “there is no reason why this should not be the case.”

Like the United Kingdom, Israel doesn’t have a written constitution, but rather relies on a set of “basic laws” that were built piecemeal since its founding. These laws deal with the formation and role of state’s institutions; the relations between the different state authorities and branches; and they protect civil rights. Basic laws were given constitutional status in a 1992 landmark decision by the Chief Justice of Israel’s Supreme Court at the time, Aharon Barak. Since then, the Supreme Court has asserted its authority to invalidate provisions of Knesset laws it has found to be inconsistent with a basic law—a reality that Slomiansky’s party is working hard to change.

Slomiansky, a founder of Gush Emunim (a Jewish messianic movement that promoted the settlement of Jews in the occupied territories) and former head of the Council of Judea and Samaria (Yesha Council), is one of the key forces pushing for a major overhaul of the court, an institution that he believes is “disconnected from the will of the people.” In essence, however, his goal is to replace its more liberal justices and allow the Knesset to override Supreme Court rulings that strike down anti-democratic legislation. Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, also from his Jewish Home party, has expressed support in the past for this line of thinking.

Slomiansky and his ilk are unlikely to singlehandedly overturn Israel’s judicial system overnight. But his comments are reflective of the direction Israeli society has taken over recent years. The Jewish Home party has been unapologetic about its desire to give ascendancy to the “Jewish” rather than “democratic” character of the state, and its annexationist aspirations in the West Bank, attacks on human rights NGOsinculcation of religious-Zionist values in the nation’s youth, and its outright racism are all indications that Slomiansky’s pipe dream may be closer than we would like to think.

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