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Israel demolishes Bedouin village al-Araqib for 100th time

Al-Araqib is one of 35 ‘unrecognized’ villages in Israel that authorities refuse to provide with water, electricity or basic infrastructure.

Israeli security forces demolished the Bedouin village of al-Araqib for the 100th time Wednesday morning. It was the second demolition during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, taking place while residents were fasting. The first demolition in the village took place almost exactly six years ago, on July 27, 2010.

Al-Araqib is one of 35 “unrecognized” Bedouin villages in the Negev desert in southern Israel, a definition which means Israel refuses to provide residents with connections to the national water and electricity grids, provide them with health and educational services, or any basic infrastructure.

Despite being citizens of Israel that are supposed to enjoy equal rights, the Israeli government and its agents like the Israel Land Authority and Jewish National Fund have been waging a slow and methodical war of attrition against Bedouin residents of unrecognized villages in an effort to expel them.

As a result, most of al-Araqib’s residents have indeed left over the years to neighboring towns. The tactics used by the state against these citizens is pretty much identical to that which it uses in Area C of the occupied West Bank, where Palestinian residents are deprived of basic services and their homes are repeatedly demolished.

Like countless plots of land in the Negev, al-Araqib was expropriated under the Land Appropriation Law of 1953. The law allowed the state to easily expropriate land for purposes of “development, settlement and security,” with a few ludicrous stipulations: that the land was not in its owner’s possession on April 1, 1952, and that the state use the land for purposes of development, settlement or security, or at least that it needs the land for those purposes.

In reality, the state dispossessed the village residents of their land, and has not once used it for any purpose. The only plans for al-Araqib are to plant a “forest” on its arid land.

Nearby, Israeli authorities are expelling the residents of another “unrecognized” Bedouin village, Umm el-Hiran, in order to build a Jewish town in its place.

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What it means when occupation is the consensus

A major Israeli university revokes a prize intended for Breaking the Silence claiming that its work opposing the occupation ‘isn’t in the national consensus.’ What does that say about Israel as a nation?

Breaking the Silence, an organization of former IDF soldiers who oppose Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians, was supposed to receive the Berelson Prize for Jewish-Arab Understanding from Ben-Gurion University this week, a NIS 20,000 ($5,100) award that the university’s Middle East studies department has given out annually for a quarter century.

However, university president Professor Rivka Carmi decided to overrule the decision and vetoed Breaking the Silence’s award. The reason the university cited is that the organization, which publishes testimonies of soldiers about their military service in the occupied territories, is “an organization that isn’t in the national consensus, and giving it the prize is liable to be interpreted as an appearance of political bias.”

As Haaretz pointed out, recipients of the prize in years past have “include[d] Egyptian playwright Ali Salem; Palestinian poet in Israel, Siham Daoud; the Parents Circle – Families Forum, an organization of bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families; Physicians for Human Rights; a bilingual school in the Galilee; Sikkuy – the Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality; and the Andalus publishing house.” Considering this list, Breaking the Silence does not constitute much more “political bias” than most of the others.

Carmi’s move to deliberately go out of her way and revoke the prize is rare and noteworthy, especially because she is thought of as a liberal and an advocate of academic freedom who has taken the Right to task for opposing those values. This is the same university and the same president who have been the targets of attacks by far-right-wing group Im Tirtzu, which in 2010 threatened to encourage donor boycotts of the university over what it deemed the “anti-Zionist tilt” of its politics and government department.

At the time, Carmi came out resolutely against Im Tirzu, becoming a prominent voice in Israel advocating for academic freedom. In a 2013 oped she wrote, ”a strong Israel is one where everyone’s opinion can be heard without fear, if only to help us learn to articulate why we don’t agree.” This is also the same university that is home to professors like Oren Yitachel and Neve Gordon, whose work inside and outside the classroom highlights Israeli human rights violations and directly opposes Israeli occupation. Gordon has even come out...

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Israeli peaceniks release racist video to 'save Jerusalem'

A new video portrays a ‘nightmare scenario’ in which Jerusalem residents elect a Palestinian mayor.

One would think a group that calls itself “Save Jewish Jerusalem” would hail from the right side of the political spectrum. But when it comes to maintaining Israel’s demographic dominance, it seems there isn’t much of a difference between the Right and Left.

The initiative, which seeks to maintain control over Jerusalem through further disenfranchising its Palestinian residents, released a racist video on Wednesday, portraying a scenario set in 2020 in which an Arab is elected mayor of the city, after its Palestinian residents (nearly 40 percent of the population) decide to vote in municipal elections. Despite having the right to vote, Palestinians have largely boycotted Jerusalem’s municipal elections for the last 50 years in protest of Israel’s occupation and annexation of East Jerusalem.

In the video, which its creators fashioned as a horror-thriller, revolves around a Palestinian political leader trying to convince a group of militants that the only way to get Jerusalem back is to do exactly what Netanyahu warned about on election day last March: go to the polling stations “in droves.”

After years of trying to kill Israeli Jews in a variety of ways, the leader tells the militants that it is time to “beat them using their own weapon: democracy,” and convinces them that every Palestinian resident in the city should take advantage of their right to vote in municipal elections, since they are the majority. (The video assumes that by 2020, Palestinians will constitute over 50 percent of Jerusalem’s population).

The video then shows a Palestinian man armed with explosives and guns walking to a polling station. When he arrives he puts down all of his weapons down and instead wields his new weapon — a blue ID card. The video then flashes to two months later, when the leader of the group has become Jerusalem’s new mayor. The leader is congratulated over the phone with an “Allahu Akbar” and “the Temple Mount is in our hands,” a direct reference to a similar quote by Lt. Gen. Mordechai “Motta” Gur, whose IDF division captured the Old City of Jerusalem in the 1967 War. A large picture of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem is seen behind the new mayor’s desk, straddled by photographs of Netanyahu and Rabin.

The video is offensive and blatantly...

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After Tel Aviv attack, what is going back to business as usual?

Having a daily routine to go back to that is free of violence is a privilege that most Israelis have and most Palestinians do not.

I was out last night in Tel Aviv at a poetry book launch for a good friend when the news flashed on my phone that there was a shooting in the Sarona Market. I got that sinking feeling in my gut and couldn’t take my eyes off Twitter, even as I continued to drink my beer and listen to the recitation of deeply moving and thoughtful contemporary Hebrew poetry.

Life does go on here despite the violence. That’s just the reality. But when I read the statement by Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai that Israelis cannot let such terror “disrupt our lives” and that we should “return to business as usual” tomorrow, I become enraged. Why shouldn’t this disrupt our lives? It did disrupt our lives and will continue to disrupt the lives of many Israelis — among them, the victims, their families and friends, all the people who work in Sarona, all the people who have been there, who live around there, etc. Why should we continue to sip our cappuccinos and beers without being disrupted and disturbed? Why shouldn’t such an act, and so many others like it, cause us to take pause?

The word “disruption” here also dismisses the fact that the lives of so many Palestinians are “disrupted” all the time. The entire city of Yatta, where the two murderers are from — a population of about 65,000 people in the occupied West Bank — is now under military lockdown. This is collective punishment, a mass “disruption” if you will, on top of the already systematic “disruption” of military occupation. No Israeli city, town or settlement has ever been under lockdown after one of its residents committed a violent act against Palestinians.

Mayor Huldai implored us to go back to our routine, back to business as usual. But this is completely misguided. Many people often comment on how remarkable it is that Israelis can just go on with their lives within all the terror. But strength and resilience will not come from trying to push reality aside, disregarding the entire picture and continuing on as if life here is normal. Rather true strength will come from looking critically and deeply at all the factors that go into perpetuating systematic,...

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Border Police assault Arab supermarket employee in central Tel Aviv

Eyewitnesses say Border Police officers attacked an Arab worker in central Tel Aviv after he allegedly refused to show them his identity card. Police: The suspect refused to identify himself and attacked the police officers, biting one of them.

An Arab employee of a supermarket located on the main thoroughfare of Ibn Gvirol Street, opposite Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, was reportedly beaten by plainclothes Border Police officers on Sunday afternoon. According to several eyewitnesses, the motive behind the beating was the employee’s ethnicity.

While it is still unclear what exactly happened, we do have several eyewitnesses who posted statuses on Facebook, one of whom spoke to +972, as well as a report published by Israeli news sites, among them Walla! . According to these sources,  an employee of Yuda Market, a mini-market, went out to dispose of some garbage, when he was approached by a plainclothes officer who, without identifying himself, demanded to see the man’s identity card. When the employee said his I.D. card was inside the store and asked the Border Police officer to identify himself, he and a friend began beating him. More officers and other citizens quickly joined in. The video published by Walla! shows there were numerous people involved in the assault.

This is an excerpt from the Facebook status of Erez Krispin, one of the eyewitnesses:

“His only sin was that he’s not a Jew,” said Kobi Cohen, the owner of the supermarket, to a reporter from Walla! News. +972 has tried to contact Cohen for comment but he has not yet responded.

Israel Police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told +972:

The police response does not confirm or deny the fact that the man is, according to his employer, an Israeli citizen, a Bedouin from a Negev town. This would counter the claim that he was a Palestinian without a work permit Given the number of people seen in the video beating this one man, it is not surprising that some of the policemen were bruised in the fracas.

According to a local Palestinian media outlet, his name is Maysam Abu-Alqi’an. He was reportedly treated at Ichilov hospital, Sunday evening.

Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh responded to the incident, saying that ”Instead of serving and protecting Arab citizens, the police presents a genuine danger to their safety.”

MK Dov Khenin, also of the Joint List, said he has turned to the Minister of Public Security with an...

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WATCH: Israel Prize winner on why he's giving prize money to Ta'ayush

Prof. David Shulman won Israel’s most prestigious prize. He’s giving the prize money to one of Israel’s most dedicated — and persecuted — activist groups. Here’s why.

I often get comments, specifically from family members, that I never write anything positive about Israel. So here is something positive.

Prof. David Shulman, Renee Lang Professor of Humanistic Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who just received the Israel Prize in Religious Studies for his work on Indian languages and culture, decided to donate his prize money (NIS 75,000, or about $20,000) to Ta’ayush, the group of Israeli activists who engage in non-violent direct actions to assist and protect the livelihood of Palestinian residents of the South Hebron Hills against the various hazards of occupation. (Full disclosure: I have been active with Ta’ayush since 2008, know David, and am all also a fan of his writing on Israel/Palestine, for example see here.)

Shulman, who has been active with Ta’ayush for the last 15 years, explains in this video what exactly the group, which was founded at the start of the Second Intifada and has been the target of right-wing incitement in recent months, does.

I think it’s interesting to note that most of the Israeli media outlets who covered the story characterized Ta’ayush  as a “left-wing organization,” (Haaretz in Hebrew), “anti-Israel” (Arutz Sheva) and Haaretz English originally called it “pro-Palestinian” but then changed it to “Israeli group that helps Palestinians.”

I haven’t seen a single outlet call it what it is: an activist group doing humanitarian work in the  West Bank. (Ta’ayush has just opened a new “front” of activism in the Jordan Valley.)

Ta’ayush, as David notes in the video, is not an organization, but a loose-knit group of people who dedicate their Saturdays to activism that affects the reality on the ground for Palestinians who live in Area C and have no representation or rights. You could call it “left-wing” inasmuch as it champions human rights and dignity and opposes Israel’s military occupation.

It is not anti-Israel, unless you think that being pro-Israel means supporting systematic violence and harassment of Palestinian civilians, depriving them of infrastructure and water, of security and schooling, and of the right to a basic livelihood. As for “pro-Palestinian,” this has a zero-sum connotation that it could be “anti-Israel” or somehow against Israeli interests, which is...

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Standing up to the monopoly on mourning in Israel

For those of us who confront the realities of what goes on here every day, especially those of us who cannot escape it, or who make it part of our profession, every day is a form of Memorial Day and Independence Day. That is what we are trying to change.

I went to one of my regular 6:45 p.m. yoga classes Tuesday night, knowing that at 8 p.m., just 15 minutes before the class ended, a siren for fallen soldiers and terror victims would sound. It was Israel’s Memorial Day. I wondered what I would do. I didn’t want to stop and stand in silence, but I also didn’t want to be the asshole that didn’t stand.

We had gotten to a shoulder stand position, usually the last pose before shavasana (the restorative “corpse” pose). The teacher wasn’t sure whether to stop the class or not, so she sort of deferred to us. Those who wanted to got out of their pose and stood. I stayed in the shoulder stand, remaining as erect and still as possible in the position, which is also known as the candle pose, which is fitting considering people light candles for the fallen on Memorial Day.

Being upside down for the Memorial Day siren made perfect sense to me, a metaphor for the tragic backwardness of this place. It enabled me to at once challenge the state’s rites while still respecting those who are gone and those who continue to suffer. After many years, I inadvertently found the way that suited me best.

For me and many other leftists in Israel — those who question what the state is and does, criticize it and engage in actions that challenge it out of a commitment to equality and human rights — Memorial Day and Independence Day are problematic and frustrating. Seeing the flags everywhere and silently following the herd in the state’s rituals doesn’t feel right. There is no self-reflection or humility or questioning — the qualities most needed in 2016 Israel. (Just this morning, Naftali Bennett repeated a statement that has become a government mantra: the IDF pays a heavy price for being the most moral army in the world and no one, no one has the right to preach to this nation on morality and values.)

But not wanting to participate in these rituals because you don’t subscribe to the mainstream narrative...

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For most Israelis, Palestinian lives don't matter

A 24-year-old Palestinian and her teenage brother were shot and killed by Israeli troops after allegedly trying to stab Border Police officers. The police’s version of the events doesn’t add up, but nobody in Israel, including the media, feels the need to ask questions. 

The facts are still unclear, in fact very unclear: the exact number of knives found, the number of bullets shot, the number of meters distance, why exactly they were there. But even if we accept Israel Police’s highly terse account of the events, we are still left with a bottom line: Two Palestinians, Maram Salih Hassan Abu Ismail, 24, and her younger brother Ibrahim Salah Taha, 16, were shot and killed on the spot by Israeli forces at the Qalandiya checkpoint on Wednesday, while posing no immediate threat to anyone. Even if we accept the police version that the woman attempted to stab them, there is still no justification for shooting the teenager, who the police themselves claim was not brandishing a weapon or close enough to present a threat.

We also know that Israeli mainstream media barely covered the story, didn’t send any reporters to gather eyewitness testimonies and didn’t speak to any Palestinians. A Haaretz report mentions that Palestinians claim that “Israeli forces fired numerous bullets at the two and prevented medics from treating them.” Of course, whether and when medics were able to treat the victims shouldn’t be a matter of Palestinian claims. There are plenty of cameras at what is the busiest checkpoint in the West Bank, there is video footage, probably from several angles. The footage should clarify this, and other aspects that are not a matter of opinion. But Israel Police has not yet released any footage. According to a report in Local Call, police have in the past been quick to release video footage – when it corroborates their version of the events.

According to Israel Police spokesperson Luba al-Samri, two suspects – a woman and a youth – approached the vehicular path (instead of the pedestrian path) leading through the military checkpoint and walked towards Border Police officers stationed there, the woman with her hand in her bag and the youth with his hands behind his back. Officers ordered them to halt several times and they began to turn back before the woman threw a knife at an officer. Police and security guards then shot the two,...

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In Israel, BDS is winning

The first ever anti-BDS conference in Israel brought together politicians of all stripes to show their commitment to the fight against boycotts. In doing so, however, they showed just how effective the boycott movement really is.

Israel’s best selling newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, and its online platform Ynet, hosted a conference Monday in Jerusalem’s Convention Center dedicated entirely to combatting the BDS movement. The very existence of the spectacle — the first national conference of its kind co-sponsored by StandWithUs and attended by over a thousand people — gave BDS (short for boycott, divestment, and sanctions) more attention in Israel than it could have ever hoped for.

It was a tell-tale sign that the global movement to boycott Israel has become significant enough to warrant such an event, whose speakers included President Reuven Rivlin, senior Knesset ministers, members of the opposition, World Jewish Congress head Ron Lauder and comedian Roseanne Barr. (There were, of course, no speakers at the conference who represent or support BDS).

The cognitive dissonance became clear the moment the conference began. Yedioth Ahronoth Editor-in-Chief Ron Yaron told the crowd that the power of BDS cannot be underestimated, and that Israel does not want to find itself in the position Apartheid South Africa was in 5 t0 10 years’ time. Yaron immediately caveated that there is no connection between Israel and South Africa. Public Security and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, who oversees government efforts at combating BDS, opened by saying that people should not “overemphasize” BDS.

Speaker after speaker stepped up to the podium and said, in the same breath, that although BDS is succeeding, it is not a success; that it is not a threat but must be taken as a serious threat; that it has not negatively impacted Israel’s economy but that Israel must allocate more of its budget to fighting it. Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz said (Heb) that Israel should engage in “targeted civil eliminations” of BDS leaders with the help of Israeli intelligence, intentionally using language that plays on the Hebrew term for “targeted assassinations.” Tzipi Livni, meanwhile, said that it is really trendy these days to “be vegan and hate on Israel.” At one point, World Jewish Congress head Ron Lauder compared efforts at implementing economic boycotts of Israel to the Nuremberg Laws, while Roseanne Barr, the keynote speaker of the conference, called the BDS movement “fake-left” and “fascist.”

While the BDS movement and its most dominant spokesperson,...

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VIDEO: Israeli soldier executes unarmed, wounded Palestinian attacker

Maybe even worse than the murder itself is the fact that no one in the vicinity seems at all moved by it.

WARNING: This post contains a highly graphic video and images.

An IDF soldier was filmed shooting a Palestinian in the head at close range in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of occupied Hebron Thursday, after he and another Palestinian reportedly stabbed a different soldier, lightly wounding him.

Most Israeli media outlets initially went with the usual headline, “Soldier stabbed, assailants killed.” A few hours later, however, video of the incident was released showing that the Palestinian man was already shot and lying on the ground wounded, presenting absolutely no threat to anyone at the time he was shot in the head, murdered.

The video was captured by local Palestinian resident Emad abu-Shamsiyah and distributed by B’Tselem.

Minutes earlier, before the start of the video, the two young Palestinian men, Abed al Fatah a-Sharif and Ramzi al-Qasrawi, reportedly stabbed a soldier in the Hebron neighborhood. They were shot in the aftermath of the stabbing.

In the video, which begins only after the stabbing already took place, an Israeli soldier can be seen shooting the injured Sharif in the head as he lies on the ground. The soldier is facing the camera with Sharif in between.

In a separate video we have deemed too graphic to upload, a prominent settler from Hebron can be heard telling soldiers, “this dog is still alive.”

No one in the vicinity seems bothered or surprised at all by the shooting — neither the soldiers nor a couple of police officers present nor the medical teams seen treating the wounded soldier. They completely ignore the two wounded Palestinians (al-Qasrawi is lying several feet behind a-Sharif, and can be seen at the end of the video). This total apathy reflects not only the regularity of such incidents of stabbings and responsive shootings, but also the culture of impunity in which IDF soldiers feel free to shoot and kill Palestinians against the IDF’s own rules of engagement.

The Israeli military immediately sought to distance itself from the murder. Israeli security forces have been accused by Palestinians and others of unnecessarily killing Palestinian stabbing suspects since the latest wave of violence began. Israel has consistently denied the practice, although senior ministers have in recent years given what many interpreted as...

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American Jews should protest AIPAC, not Trump

AIPAC has never cared about Israel’s disregard for civil and human rights. So why should it care about Trump’s?

Republican Presidential hopeful Donald Trump has been making headlines for weeks as he wins primary after primary across the U.S.

But over the past few days he has also been making headlines in the Jewish-American press for a different reason: the mounting opposition to his scheduled address to AIPAC’s annual conference this Monday. (Hilary Clinton and Joe Biden will also be speaking there, Cruz and Kasich have also reportedly confirmed their presence and Bernie Sanders was invited, but it is unclear whether he will attend.)

Two East Coast rabbis created an ad hoc group, Come Together Against Hate, that is organizing a silent walkout of Trump’s speech. Another group calling itself Jews Against Trump has launched an online petition calling on AIPAC to rescind its invitation, according to a report in Think Progress.

The Reform Movement, meanwhile, has criticized Trump for his “hate speech” and implied in a press release that it would oppose his presence at AIPAC, but did not make clear how.

On its Facebook page, “Come Together Against Hate,” which at the time of writing had nearly 1,000 members, states: “We support AIPAC and the importance of continuing to build a strong U.S.-Israel partnership and we denounce hatred.” The group goes on to state: “We are committed to saying that Donald Trump does not speak for us or represent us, and his values are not AIPAC’s values.”

On the site JewSchool, Sarah Brummer-Shlay writes: “By allowing Donald Trump to speak at a major Jewish event, we have turned our backs on marginalized communities. It is that simple. We are not neutral, we are complicit.”

What all these groups and individuals rallying together against Trump have in common is the visceral confidence that Republican frontrunner defies their Jewish values and does not represent the larger American Jewish community. That his incendiary speech and anti-immigrant rhetoric is a red line. That even if he is currently the Republican presidential favorite, he doesn’t deserve a podium at an American Jewish event, much less the largest and most high profile one in the community.

But what exactly are AIPAC’s values? Its mission statement is devoid of values. It does not talk about equal rights or freedoms. Rather, it is “to strengthen, protect and promote the U.S.-Israel relationship in...

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Israelis can only ignore Gaza for so long

Try as it may, the Israeli government will never be able to detach Palestinian human rights from its own security situation.

This week marks exactly one and a half years since the last Gaza war, although most of the time the tiny strip of land barely exists in the Israeli public consciousness. Now that the possibility of another round of fighting has emerged, Gaza is back in the headlines.

Recent weeks have seen multiple reports by the Israeli military on Hamas’s attempts to re-build its tunnel infrastructure, with some tunnels already projected to have been dug into Israeli territory. Israeli satirical comedy show Eretz Nehederet recently poked fun at the situation with a sketch featuring an Israeli resident of a Gaza border town who complains about the insufferable noise caused by the drilling below her kitchen. A Hamas militant then pokes his head up from under the dirt, asking the Israeli why she hasn’t yet offered him a cup of coffee. Business as usual.

As if the tunnels weren’t enough to remind us that the 2014 Gaza offensive failed to provide Israelis with security — and that’s without even getting into its lasting effect on the Palestinians — the head of Israeli Military Intelligence, Herzl Halevi, told a closed-door meeting by the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday that Gaza is on the brink of economic collapse. Despite Hamas’s genuine efforts to restrain violence, Halevi said, the situation in Gaza is so bad that it could lead to more violence. In other words: Israel’s blockade policy is not working.

Various Israeli proposals to build a seaport in Gaza, a Hamas demand during ceasefire negotiations, are now resurfacing as a way to try and avoid another conflict. The idea is to provide some form of life raft to stave off the Strip’s total collapse. The IDF and several Knesset members openly support such measures, claiming it will provide jobs and incentives for Hamas to maintain “quiet.” Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ya’alon are firmly against the construction of a port due to “security concerns.” Any outsourcing of security, they claim, still runs the risk of weapons smuggling.

However, it is clear that  Gaza appears in Israeli public discourse solely when there is a fear of violence. For mainstream Israel, Palestinian suffering exists only when it is attached to some kind of threat. Israelis generally don’t care about the humanitarian...

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Knesset hearing on unflattering press coverage looks like 'witch-hunt'

Chairwoman Tzipi Livni asks government agencies to present examples of ‘biased reporting,’ suggestions for legal and diplomatic tools for countering unflattering news coverage. Foreign Press Association slams the very premise of the hearing.

The influential Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense subcommittee held an urgent hearing on Tuesday on “legal warfare with respect to foreign media coverage – coverage which in the long term erodes the legitimacy of [Israel's] fight against terrorism” (Emphasis mine).

Subcommittee chairwoman Tzipi Livni asked representatives of various government agencies, among them the Government Press Office, Prime Minister’s Office, Defense Ministry, Border Police and IDF to bring specific examples of “biased, one sided reporting against soldiers and police following terror incidents” and to suggest diplomatic and legal steps to counter the phenomenon.

The Knesset committee requested that the Foreign Press Association — which represents some 400 journalists from a wide range of outlets including The New York Times, Reuters, Associated Press, and CBC and Financial Times — also attend the hearing. Ironically, the “invitation” also asked them to present examples of their own biased, errant reporting, in what can only be understood as an indictment of their work.

In response, the FPA drafted a letter that challenged the very idea of holding such a hearing and emphasizing the level of influence the government already has on reporters.

“May we state first that we disagree with the premise of the hearing – it presupposes two things: that the foreign media are biased and that that supposed bias undermines Israel’s ability to quell terrorist attacks. We do not agree that the foreign media are biased, and the legitimacy of Israel’s campaign against terrorism is entirely determined by how Israel conducts that campaign. It has nothing to do with the foreign media.”

The letter goes on to list the variety of recourses the Israeli government already has for filing legal and other complaints regarding foreign reporting and admits that there are isolated incidents in which inaccurate or poorly worded headlines are drafted — but by editors sitting in their offices abroad, and these are quickly corrected when necessary.

The letter closes by stating: “A free and open media is the bedrock of a democratic society. Parliamentary subcommittee hearings that start from the premise that the foreign media is biased tend to look like poorly conceived witch-hunts.”

The hearing was called following a CBS news headline from last week about the murder...

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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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