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The hard fact is that Israeli repression works

Iron fist tactics have kept Palestinians down for the last decade, and there’s a strong chance that the harsh measures Netanyahu just outlined will succeed in putting them down again.

Those who oppose Israel’s iron fist tactics against violent Palestinian resistance argue, as a rule, that it’s impractical, it won’t work, you can’t repress a nation forever, and the only solution is to end the injustice that provokes the violence. But this is a sentimental view that comes, I think, from a need to believe that justice always wins in the end. The fact is that Israeli iron fist tactics have worked pretty damn well in keeping the Palestinians down over the last decade, and there’s a very strong chance that the tactics Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu laid out Tuesday night – overwhelming armed force, house demolitions, draconian punishments for rioters and their parents, and more – will work again this time.

The iron fist put down the Second Intifada in 2004/5, and Israel has enjoyed remarkable quiet from the West Bank since then, also from East Jerusalem until this summer. A crucial difference between the first two intifadas and the current violence is that those earlier upheavals were organized; this one isn’t, which makes it much easier for Israel to overcome.

The iron fist has also worked in Gaza since Operation Cast Lead nearly six years ago. Israel has had to “mow the lawn” twice more since then, most recently over the summer, but otherwise the Palestinians in the Strip have been largely harmless in their cage.

What are the chances that this time around, Palestinian resistance will force Israel to begin reversing course, with an eye toward ending the occupation? I think they’re extremely slim. Even though it’s true that the First Intifada led to the Oslo Accords and the Second Intifada led to the disengagement from Gaza, those were different times in a different Israel.

Read also: What Palestinian media is saying about the J’lem violence

Before Oslo, Israel had never tried negotiating peace with the Palestinians, so Israelis were ready to take a chance. Before disengagement, Israel had never tried unilateral withdrawal from occupied Palestinian territory, so Israelis were ready to give that a try, at least behind the broad back of Ariel Sharon.

But the bus bombings of the early 2000s ended Israelis’ belief in negotiations, then the rocketing from Gaza in...

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The difference between Israel’s violent, racist cops and America’s

It’s in how Israel and America, especially their respective leaders, react to these cops’ most outrageous crimes.

Israeli police are not the only ones with a habit of getting trigger happy when they come up against members of a feared and hated ethnic minority. While many Israeli cops (and soldiers) have a tendency toward overkill with Arabs, many American cops have the same tendency with blacks. But there’s a crucial difference – not necessarily between American and Israeli police, but between the way American and Israeli society, especially their leaders, react to such killings.

After police in Ferguson, Missouri killed teenager Michael Brown in August following a struggle, and “Ferguson” became a watchword for American police brutality and racism, Attorney General Eric Holder went to Brown’s family’s home to pay his condolences.

After a private security guard killed Trayvon Martin in July after a struggle, President Barack Obama said, “I send my thoughts and prayers, as well as Michelle’s, to the family of Trayvon Martin, and to remark on the incredible grace and dignity with which they’ve dealt with the entire situation.  I can only imagine what they’re going through, and it’s remarkable how they’ve handled it.” He went on to say, “You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son.”

When video showed Los Angeles police in 1991 beating Rodney King at length and without mercy after a high-speed chase, President George H.W. Bush said, “What you saw, what I saw on the TV videotape was revolting. I felt anger, I felt pain. I thought, ‘How can I explain this to my grandchildren?’”

Compare that to the reactions of Israel’s leaders after video showed Israeli police shooting Kheir Hamdan while he was running away, his back turned to them, after he stabbed at the windows of their police car, and how they dragged his body on the ground and threw it into the back seat, after which he died in the hospital.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rubbed in the insult by threatening Israeli Arabs: “We will not tolerate disturbances and rioting. We will act against those who throw stones, block roads and call for the establishment of a Palestinian state in place of the State of Israel. Whoever does not honor Israeli law will be punished with utmost severity. …

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'New York Times' on Jerusalem violence: What occupation?

Bureau chief Jodi Rudoren’s new article doesn’t even rise to the level of false moral equivalence.

I don’t like to pile on in the left-wing criticism of the New York Times’ coverage of Israel/Palestine; as a rule I find it irritatingly “even-handed,” equating the violence of the subjugator with that of the subjugated, but this, after all, is a big step up compared to the coverage by so many other American media, which simply see the Palestinians as the aggressors and Israel as fighting back in self-defense. But yesterday’s article by Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren about the violence in Jerusalem doesn’t even rise to the level of false moral equivalence; it frames the story completely as one of Palestinians attacking Israelis, now and before, without any provocation from Israel whatsoever.

The story, “In Jerusalem Unrest, Signs of a ‘Run-Over Intifada’ for the 21st Century,” is a long one, but except for one fleeting reference to the “Israeli occupation,” it makes no allusion to Israel’s rule over the Palestinians. It takes the trouble to define the word “intifada” (“shaking off”), but doesn’t say what the Palestinians might want to shake off, except the “status quo,” about which nothing is said.

It asserts that the burning of Mohammed Abu Khdeir was a “revenge attack” for the kidnap-murder of three Israeli teenagers, but doesn’t suggest that the kidnap-murders might have come in revenge for anything.

Rudoren writes that Arafat “directed” the violence of the second intifada, but doesn’t say who was directing the violence of the occupation at the time, because in her article there is effectively no occupation, nor any Israeli violence at all.

The story focuses on the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary, but makes only a passing mention that Israeli police are stationed on it – without making it clear that Israel is in control of the holy site, that Palestinians consider this to be a problem, and that Israeli control of the Temple Mount/Noble Sanctuary may have something to do with the current violence in Jerusalem.

The story ends, however, on an even-handed note with a quote about the extra-political problems faced by both Jews and Palestinians in Jerusalem, what Rudoren calls the city’s “deep challenges” – poverty, ultra-Orthodox Jews who don’t work or serve in the Israeli army, Palestinians who don’t vote in municipal elections.

Bravo. Finally, some “context.”

Related:
How...

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No one left for Bibi to blame – except, of course, Abbas

Israel is in a crisis – the heaviest Palestinian street violence in a decade, the threat of a full-blown third intifada – and here’s how Netanyahu is managing it: by seizing on the last available scapegoat.

Outside of the Netanyahu government and its supporters, does anyone believe that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is inciting the rioting and terror in East Jerusalem? Does anyone think the gunmen and killer drivers and adolescent stone-throwers are taking their cues from Ramallah’s 79-year-old bureaucrat-in-chief? Conversely, does anyone think that if Abbas were to call publicly and repeatedly for an end to Palestinian violence in the capital, it would stop?

This is a ridiculous notion. Yet this is the message that Israel’s big four, Prime Minister  Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, keep flogging after every terror attack in East Jerusalem, and in between as well. Blaming Abbas is the beginning and end of this government’s diplomatic strategy for dealing with the current crisis – the heaviest Palestinian street violence in a decade, the threat of a full-blown third intifada.

After a suspected Hamasnik drove into a crowd on the “seam line” between East and West Jerusalem on Wednesday, killing a Border Police officer and wounding over a dozen other people, Netanyahu said, “the vehicle attack in Jerusalem is a direct result of Abu Mazen’s incitement.” Ya’alon upped the ante, saying, “Abu Mazen’s rhetorical incitement, in which he disseminates lies and hatred against Israel, while praising Palestinian terrorists who harm Jews, are responsible for the bloodshed in Jerusalem.” Bennett decided to outdo everyone, saying Abbas was “the driver of the death car and the terrorists his emissaries.” But he had competition from Liberman, who said, “a leadership such as the Palestinian Authority, which glorifies and encourages terror, creates a ‘terrorcratic’ entity that only leads to more bloodshed.”

First of all, they’re exaggerating about Abbas’ rhetoric. True, he hasn’t helped calm the situation by saying that “settlers … desecrate” the Noble Sanctuary (the Temple Mount to Jews) with their visits; accusing Israel of “declaring war” on the Palestinians by closing the holy site for a few hours for (genuine) security purposes; and heaping blame on the “murderous, terrorist gangs in the Israeli occupation army” for killing Muataz Hijazi, the apparent Islamic Jihad member who tried to assassinate...

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The fraud that is the Temple Mount movement

Following the murder attempt on Yehuda Glick, the claim is being made – and getting a more sympathetic hearing than usual – that he and his colleagues have been leading a civil rights movement for Jews. Don’t believe it.

Ten years ago I interviewed Likud Knesset member Moshe Feiglin in his office in the West Bank settlement Karnei Shomron. On his wall was a framed aerial photograph of the Temple Mount – but the Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock didn’t appear. In their place stood an illustrated, rebuilt Jewish Temple. I’ve heard that this photo and others like it are big sellers in Jerusalem.

Feiglin was at the Wednesday night conference in Jerusalem’s Menachem Begin Heritage Center where Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick was shot and critically wounded by a Palestinian. Also present was Yehuda Etzion, who was imprisoned in the early 1980s for leading a plot within the “Jewish Terror Underground” to blow up the Dome of the Rock. Feiglin wasn’t the only extreme anti-Arab Likud MK at the gathering; Miri Regev and others were there too. The conference was titled “Israel Returns to the Temple Mount.”

Following the murder attempt on Glick, the claim is being made – and getting a more sympathetic hearing than usual (here and here) – that he and his colleagues have been leading a “civil rights” movement for Jews, one whose aim is simply to gain for Jews the same right Muslims have to pray on the Temple Mount, which Muslims worship as the Noble Sanctuary (Haram al-Sharif in Arabic). I heard Housing Minister Uri Ariel fuming on the radio about the injustice of the Israeli-enforced status quo on the Mount (which allows Jews to visit with police permission, but bars them from praying so as not to incite Muslim fears of a Jewish takeover, and in line with rabbinical rulings). The radio interviewer was at a loss to challenge him; no doubt Ariel convinced many listeners that he and the other Temple Mount activists are a bunch of Martin Luther Kings.

This is a great fraud. I’m sure there are some Jews who really only want to be allowed to pray on the Mount without having any intention of bothering the Muslims and their holy places, who genuinely want religious coexistence up there. But they are incidental to the movement. The Temple Mount movement is and always has...

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'Klinghoffer': New York’s Jewish right goes to the opera

Now that ‘The Death of Klinghoffer’ has opened and people are learning what the opera is actually about, the outraged claims made against it are being exposed as hot air.    

Until Monday night, when the “The Death of Klinghoffer” opened at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, people knew it was being attacked by many Jews for supposedly being anti-Semitic and for defending terrorists, and they didn’t know if the accusations were true or false. But now that the opera has opened, and it’s been widely reviewed, and audience members have been interviewed, it’s becoming clear to the mainstream public that pays attention to such issues – and this controversy has attracted a lot of attention – that these claims are total bullshit.

And what should be clear, though it probably isn’t, is that the protest against the opera, the raging campaign to prevent it from being staged at the Met, was not made by “American Jews” or even “New York Jews,” but by the anti-Muslim, anti-liberal, pro-war American Jewish right based in New York – the same people whose word should never be taken for anything.

As the right-wing Orthodox Jewish Press noted helpfully in an article titled “For Grass Roots Klinghoffer Protest, Jewish Establishment MIA”:

Not one mainstream Jewish organization has lent its name or its resources to this effort. …

The mostly small, and some quite tiny pro-Israel organizations which have been working tirelessly to fight the Met’s decision to stage “Klinghoffer” are (this is all of them): Advocates for Israel, AMCHA, Americans for a Safe Israel, the Bridge Project, Citizens Opposed to Propaganda Masquerading as Art, Catholic League, Christians’ Israel Public Action Campaign, Congregation Oheb Zedek, Congregaton Or Zarua, Endowment for Middle East Truth, Hasbara Fellowship, Human Rights Coalition Against Radical Islam, International Committee for the Land of Israel, Israel Forever Foundation, Israel’s Voice, JCCWatch.org, Jewish Action Alliance, Jewish Political Education Foundation, MERCL, Mothers Against Terrorism, One Israel Fund, Rambam Mesivta High School, Shalhevet High School for Girls, Simon Wiesenthal Center, StandWithUs, Strength to Strength, Westchester Hebrew High School, Zionist Organization of America.

This is not to say, though, that it was entirely a fringe effort; a former New York governor and a few local politicians lent their names to the protest. Ronald Lauder, one of the biggest right-wing machers in the world, was on the podium at the rally across from...

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World’s delayed reaction to Gaza war kicks in

A week of encouraging signs augurs revival of anti-occupation cause.

My view of the chances that the occupation will end someday fluctuates between pessimistic and despairing. Since the war in Gaza, I’ve felt the cause was effectively lost; I figured that if the monstrous devastation that Israel visited on the Strip and its people did not light a fire under the world’s ass, then the anti-occupation movement was on a slow boat to nowhere. But just in the last week there have been a number of delayed international reactions (and even one from Israel) to the Gaza war, and they add up to what I see as a critical mass of encouraging signs that is weighty enough, at least, to argue against despair.

The clearest one was the international donors’ pledge in Cairo of $5.4 billion for the reconstruction of Gaza. The Palestinian Authority had only asked for $4 billion; expectations had been for $1.5 billion. This is a serious investment by the world, and a strong demand for change.

It was backed up by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s speech at the conference, in which he blamed the war on the occupation. “We must not lose sight of the root causes of the recent hostilities: a restrictive occupation that has lasted almost half a century, the continued denial of Palestinian rights and the lack of tangible progress in peace negotiations,” Ban said. He followed it up the next day in Jerusalem by slamming Netanyahu’s diplomatic stonewalling and settlement-building in a joint news conference with the prime minister, who was not amused.

There was also the speech at the donors’ conference by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi calling on Israel to accept the Arab Peace Initiative. Sissi is a brutal autocrat, he doesn’t yearn for justice for anyone, but his speech was a sign that he is not in Israel’s pocket as Israelis like to think, and that he may be thinking that championing the Palestinian cause will enhance his prestige and power in the Arab world, which would not be good for the Netanyahu government.

Then there was the vote by the British parliament to recognize a Palestinian state immediately. Prime Minister David Cameron opposed the motion and said it would not change his government’s policy, but again, it sent a message and, coming a week after the new Swedish prime minister, Stefan Lofven, announced that Read More

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The Kurds must not be abandoned again, this time to ISIS

If there are any people on earth who deserve the world’s protection from slaughter, it is the Kurds.

Despite the stereotype of Mizrahi Jews in Israel resenting Arabs because of the way they were treated in the old country, there are plenty of Mizrahim who have good memories of their relations with their former Muslim neighbors. However, there is no Mizrahi community in Israel that feels a kinship with their Muslim former countrymen like the Kurdish Jews do.

Today ISIS appears to be on the verge of slaughtering the people in the town of Kobani, the heart of a Syrian Kurdish area with a population of hundreds of thousands. Kurds are getting killed in riots in Turkey and protesting across Europe to try to prevent a catastrophe. So I’d like to recall what the head of the Association of Kurdish Jews in Israel, Yehuda Ben Yosef, told me in a radio interview on TLV1 on September 21, when the news of the day was that ISIS had taken over some 60 Kurdish villages near Kobani.

What’s happened to the Kurds in the last 100 years is terrible. The Kurds don’t have a minute of silence. What happened today – our heart is with them, and if we can help, medications or food or blankets, we do it. We do everything to help the Kurds in Turkey who ran away from Syria.

We have a good relationship all over the years. People from Kurdistan come to Israel these years and they are our guests and we keep in touch with the people there by telephone, Internet, Facebook. Today some Kurds from Norway are coming to be our guests, Muslims from Norway, coming to the Jewish community in Israel. In Syria we don’t have contact, but what we can do for people in [Iraqi Kurdistan], we do our best to help them.

In August, Ben Yosef led a demonstration of Kurdish Jews outside the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv. I asked him what the message had been. The same as it is now, he said, only now it’s more urgent.

I don’t want to try to go into the geopolitical considerations of Turkey, Syria and the United States, but I do want to say that if there are any people on earth who deserve the world’s protection from slaughter, it is the Kurds. “What’s happened to...

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Dissent in Israel: On the margins, yes, in the mainstream, no

Regarding the controversy over Mairav Zonszein’s ‘New York Times’ op-ed: An ongoing climate of fear and suspicion is not conducive to ‘vibrant democracy.’ It is unfriendly to left-wing protest over security matters.   

Since my colleague Mairav Zonszein published her ballbuster op-ed “How Israel Silences Dissent” in the New York Times several days ago, there’s been – what a surprise – a backlash. There was one substantive counterpoint to the article, though, by self-described leftist Noah Efron in Haaretz, who wrote that the instances mentioned by Zonszein of threats, sanctions and violence against opponents of the Gaza war also disturbed him deeply, then he added:

Good point. So what’s the story – does Israel silence dissent or not?

It does. Not all dissent, of course, and Zonszein never argued such a thing, but what Israel does is prevent dissent from reaching the mainstream. The government in Jerusalem doesn’t do it directly – it doesn’t have to. The deed is done mainly by mainstream economic entities and the mainstream media acting on behalf of their customers, the Israeli Jewish public, which supports every last thing the government does in the name of security, such as Operation Protective Edge.

Read Zonszein’s response: Silencing dissent in Israel – continued

To illustrate: On August 22, a week before the war ended, “7 Nights,” the weekend entertainment magazine in Israel’s leading newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, ran a cover story titled “Prisoners of War” about the same subject Zonszein wrote about, but as a long feature article based on interviews, and with a lot more examples of silencing. An anonymous “senior figure in the [Israeli] entertainment world” said:

“Whoever understands marketing in the Israeli music business knows that today the big money comes from [contracts to perform for] municipalities, state-owned companies, cultural bodies funded by the government and by Mifal Hapayis [the national lottery] whose director is identified with the government. Any expression that is extreme or that contradicts the government’s official position is liable to lead to the cancellation of dozens of performances a year – at cultural events, municipal festivals, Independence Day celebrations, summer concerts and so on. …

Whoever understands is afraid, and whoever doesn’t understand – his managers are afraid. The people around the performer don’t leave him on his own – they brief him: which messages to put across when you’re a guest on [talk shows...

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Accusing Israel of ‘genocide’: Major fail

And deservedly so, because it’s a false accusation. This is not how to fight the occupation, this is how to help strengthen it.

Mahmoud Abbas’ speech last Friday at the United Nations General Assembly gave the highest-profile-ever exposure to the accusation, popular among anti-Zionists, that Israel practices “genocide” against the Palestinians, and that the war in Gaza was a genocidal one. That’s the highlight of the speech that was picked for the headline in any number of major international news outlets; in Israel the speech is already known, and will be forever, as Abbas’ “genocide speech.” That one word seems to have overshadowed everything else he said at the UN podium, which is a pity, because his basic message – that 21 years of internationally-sponsored peace negotiations have screwed the Palestinians, and they will stand for no more – is right and true, and must be heard, in exactly the furious, combative tone he adopted.

If his use of the term “genocide” to describe the occupation and the war in Gaza were truthful but “impolitic,” that would be one thing. But it’s not true – it’s plain false. And on top of that, it’s impolitic in the extreme – it’s politically suicidal, precisely because it’s so clearly false. It’s an Achilles heel in the argument against the occupation. It allows the right wing to sweep aside everything else, in this case every true thing that Abbas said at the UN, and zero in on that one blatant falsehood. It stamps the anti-occupation cause with fanaticism, with reckless disregard for the truth, with hysterical hatred for Israel. That one stupid word.

Using it against Israel may work well to “energize the base” in closed, anti-Zionist circles; it may also get some  college kids to join a protest. But now that Abbas has, for the first time, put the term out in the mainstream, it is so painfully obvious that accusing Israel of genocide is to shoot oneself in the foot, if not the head.

When you accuse Israel of committing genocide against the Palestinians, you are accusing it of deliberately, systematically executing them en masse, hundreds of thousands or millions of them. You’re accusing Israel of an attempt to exterminate an entire people, like the Nazis did the Jews, like the Ottoman Turks did the Armenians, like the Hutus did the Tutsis in Rwanda. That’s what people think of...

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Another Israeli act of military madness in Syria

On Tuesday morning the Air Force shot down a Syrian fighter jet for no good reason on earth.

For the first time in 30 years, a Syrian fighter jet on Tuesday morning strayed over the border with Israel – or rather, over the border with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, which rightfully belongs to Syria. Israeli military officials reportedly think it was an accident. They also think the Syrian jet was on its way to bomb Al-Nusra jihadists on the Syrian side of the border.

The incursion of the Syrian plane lasted two seconds. It got about 800 meters onto the Israeli-occupied side of the border. Then the pilots turned the jet back toward Syria.

So what did Israel do then? What else? It blew the Syrian jet out of the sky. The crippled plane landed on the Syrian side of the border. Thankfully, the Syrian pilots ejected safely.

All the details of the incident point to an Israeli act of incredible recklessness and stupidity.

Yedioth Ahronoth reports that “the IDF thinks the jet crossed into Israel by accident en route to attacking rebel positions on the Golan.” Same story: “According to a military source, the jet entered Israel for a couple of seconds, penetrating a few hundred meters before turning back (bold italics added), at which point it was hit by the Patriot missile.”

But then a few paragraphs later, an IDF officer tells Yedioth: “We identified the Syrian jet at a height of 10-14,000 feet. That’s a height considered comfortable for an attack run. A fighter jet can reach the Sea of Galilee in less than a minute and everywhere else in five.”

Yeah. The Syrian jet is looking to bomb Al-Nusra jihadists on the Syrian side of the border, it strays accidentally onto the Israeli-controlled side for two goddamn seconds, then it turns back toward Syria – and it was a threat to Israel.

The Haaretz story presents the IDF version of the incident a lot more simply: “Although Israel did not see any threat of attack on its own territory from that plane, its policy stipulates that any plane that breaches its territorial authority must be downed to avoid security risk.”

What security risk? That the jet was going to spy on Israel? Israel has been sending spy jets over Lebanon a few times a week for many years – is it okay, from Israel’s...

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Against spy revelations, Israel doth protest too much

The nation’s establishment has called the whistle-blowers of Unit 8200 every bad name, but it has no answer to their charge that information deliberately gathered on innocent Palestinians is used to blackmail them into collaborating.

The 43 refuseniks in Unit 8200, Israel’s legendary high-tech snoops, are this week’s Gideon Levys, this week’s Haneen Zoabis – the focus of patriotic hatred in the land. “Baseless slander” is what Netanyahu called their letter, published Friday in Yedioth Ahronoth, in which they declared they would no longer spy for the occupation.

Aside from being called traitors, the 43 reservists have been called cowards, spoiled brats, cynical political operatives and, as mentioned, baseless slanderers. But neither Netanyahu nor any of the other accusers have answered the whistle-blowers’ most incendiary revelation: that Unit 8200 not only spies on the phones, emails and other devices of militants, but on those of completely innocent Palestinians, hoping to find out their secrets so the Shin Bet can use the information to blackmail them into becoming collaborators.

Interviewing six of the letter’s signatories, Yedioth’s Elior Levy wrote (in Hebrew), “According to them, the Israeli public believes that intelligence is gathered only against those involved in terror. They want to publicize the fact that a substantial portion of the targets they follow are innocent people who are not connected in any way to military activity against Israel, and who interest the intelligence branches for other reasons.”

According to “N.” one of the six dissidents interviewed, “At the base they told us that if we turn up some ‘juicy’ detail, this is something important to document. For instance, economic hardship, sexual orientation, a severe illness that they or someone in their family has, or medical treatments they need.”

“N.” continued:

The army spokesman’s response to these and other specific accusations goes as follows: “The concrete claims made in the report are unknown in the Intelligence Directorate.”

In an interview on TLV1 radio, I asked Noa Levy, a former draft resister who now defends others taking that route, what she thought of the army spokesman’s response. She gave a derisive laugh and said,

In Yedioth, Israel’s leading print journalist, Nahum Barnea, fully defended the truthfulness (though not the judgment) of the dissidents:

One would have expected the military to respond to this claim [of spying on innocent Palestinians to blackmail them into collaborating]...

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Israel's watershed moment that wasn't

Liberals abroad seem to think that for Israel, Operation Protective Edge was a turning point — a wake-up call telling this country that it couldn’t keep going on like this, from war to war to war with no chance for peace. +972 speaks to a number of powerful figures in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s inner circle, past and present, to hear their vision of where Israel is headed following the latest Gaza war.

On the first weekend after Operation Protective Edge ended in a cease-fire, I drove down to Sderot, the original rocket-plagued Gaza-border town and a stronghold of the ruling Right, to hear what people had to say. The idea was to try to gauge Israel’s postwar direction in its conflict with the Palestinians. And since the right-wing calls the shots in this country, the thing to do was listen to right-wingers – on the street, in the media, in the think tanks, in the Prime Minister’s Office.

The car radio was tuned to the Friday morning talk show hosted by Judy Nir Mozes Shalom, wife of Likud cabinet minister Silvan Shalom and a rich, self-satisfied, often-caricatured socialite. She was talking to Boaz Bismuth, deputy editor of Sheldon Adelson’s pro-Netanyahu newspaper Israel Hayom about his recent trip to Turkey.

“Why did you go to Turkey? It sounds vile,” said Shalom, what with Erdogan and all the anti-Semitism. “I had to get permission to visit the main synagogue in Istanbul,” said Bismuth. “What?!” said Shalom, who seemed to think Jews in Istanbul now needed permission from the government to go to synagogue. No, Bismuth explained, he needed permission from a Jewish communal organization to make sure he wasn’t a security threat. And what about that Jewish couple who got murdered? “Purely criminal,” Bismuth explained; they’d evidently been killed by their housecleaners over money, there seemed to be no anti-Semitic motive. “But the atmosphere is tense. The atmosphere is anti-Israeli, which is anti-Semitic,” said Bismuth. “Why don’t the Jews there move to Israel, dammit,” said Shalom. “I hope everyone wakes up in time.”

In the center of Sderot, none of the people I talk to expect the cease-fire to last. They all supported the war as one of no-choice. They all express sympathy for the civilians killed in Gaza, but blame the deaths and destruction on Hamas. Most want peace negotiations with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas but don’t expect anything to...

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+972 is an independent, blog-based web magazine. It was launched in August 2010, resulting from a merger of a number of popular English-language blogs dealing with life and politics in Israel and Palestine.

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