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Omissions, half-truths, lies: Ambassador Oren in Foreign Policy

In a  piece recently published, Israel’s Ambassador to Washington Michael Oren rejected claims regarding anti-democratic trends in his country, and compared the legal status of Palestinians in the West Bank to that of American citizens in Washington DC and the U.S. territories. A response.

Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren Visits Annapolis. Oren enjoys high credibility among Jewish elites and the Washington establishment (photo: Jay Baker / CC BY 2.0)

When Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu appointed Professor Michael Oren – a historian and researcher at the conservative Shalem institute, author of a popular book on the 1967 war – as his ambassador to Washington, he was probably hoping to capitalize on the latter’s name-recognition and credibility, especially with the political establishment and the Jewish elites. And indeed, as criticism of the occupation and of various Knesset legislative initiatives intensified, Prof. Oren has published numerous articles in leading publications, defending his government policies. In doing so, he has enjoyed the credibility of the scholar, while doing pure political advocacy work.

Ambassador Oren’s latest’s piece, titled “Israel’s Resilient Democracy,” is a good example of this fact. I decided to review some of the main problems with this text, due to the considerable attention it received, as well as the credibility people give to Professor Oren’s work.

Prof. Oren opens by citing some of the criticism over his government and its policies, before declaring his intention in writing this piece in an academic-like tone:

…are the allegations justified? Is Israeli democracy truly in jeopardy? Are basic liberties and gender equality — the cornerstones of an open society — imperiled? Will Israel retain its character as both a Jewish and a democratic state — a redoubt of stability in the Middle East and of shared values with the United States?

These questions will be examined in depth, citing comparative, historical, and contemporary examples. The answers will show that, in the face of innumerable obstacles, Israeli democracy remains remarkable, resilient, and stable.

So let’s go in depth.

_______________

One of Ambassador Oren’s major points is that democratic principles were upheld in Israel and minority rights were respected even in times of war. He writes:

Israeli democracy is distinguished not only by its receptiveness to public opinion but, perhaps most singularly, by its ability to thrive during conflict. Whether by suspending habeas corpus or imprisoning a suspected ethnic community, as the United States did in its Civil War and World War II, embattled democracies frequently take measures that depart from peacetime norms.

What Michael Oren doesn’t say is that Israel didn’t have to change its laws in wartime because it adopted upon inception – and still retains – the British Mandate’s emergency regulations, which allow the state to shut down newspapers, detain people in secrecy and/or without trial and much more at any given moment. The state of emergency was never lifted.

Furthermore, in the last 45 years (amounting to two-thirds of the country’s history), the Palestinian population in the occupied territories has been under military law, which grants the state even more power.

Israeli legal scholars I consulted on this matter tended to agree that habeas corpus, mentioned above, does exist under military occupation (due to the Supreme Court’s extended jurisdiction), but they also said that in the military court system, this fact is all but meaningless. Over the years, Israel has held between hundreds and thousands Palestinians under administrative detention at any moment (the current number is roughly 300), without trial. Detainees under administrative detention are brought before a military judge – an officer in uniform – only after seven days; the evidence against them is confidential and the hearing takes place behind closed doors. They are not tried, so they have no real way to defend themselves. At times, Israel also held Palestinians as “enemy combatants,” with even fewer rights. There is one person held with this status even now.

Even when Palestinians are brought to trial, the burden of proof resting on the prosecution in Israel’s military courts is extremely low, and the result is an astonishing 99.7 conviction rate. (It should be noted that the conviction rate in the Israeli criminal system is also in the high 90s; that’s not an excuse, but rather a different problem.) Again, these are not temporary measures, but the permanent system under which all Palestinians – including hundreds of minors – are tried. Their Jewish neighbors living in the settlements are tried in Israeli courts, where they enjoy full rights as citizens.

Professor Oren knows all this. He also knows, but somehow fails to mention, that upon its creation in 1948, Israel placed all of its Palestinian citizens under military rule, which was lifted only in December 1966. The six-month period that lasted from that date to the Six Day War comprises the only time in Israel’s history when a majority of the Arab population under its control was not subject to military rule.

“The litmus test for any democracy is its ability to protect the rights of its minorities,” writes Oren. But does subjecting millions of people – the largest minority under the state’s control – to the arbitrary and often abusive control of the army, and be that “the most moral army in the world,” constitute a success in this test?

_______________

The following paragraph is probably the most upsetting for me as an Israeli. Ambassador Oren writes:

In fact, Israel has tolerated acts that would be deemed treasonous in virtually any other democracy. Ahmed Tibi, who once advised PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat and recently praised Palestinian “martyrs” — a well-known euphemism for suicide bombers — serves as a member and deputy speaker of the Knesset.

Context: Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi (Raam-Taal / United Arab List) was recently accused by a rightwing watchdog group of giving a speech more than a year ago in which he praised suicide attacks on Israeli civilians. When the full video of the speech was released, it turned out that Tibi was referring to Palestinians who were killed in protests and to civilians who lost their lives. The version released by the watchdog group was heavily edited to create a false impression.

As a result, journalist Ben-Dror Yemini of Maariv and The Jerusalem Post, a well-known critic of the Arab Knesset members and one of those who broke the shahid (martyr) story, retracted his accusation both on his blog and in the printed paper. Yemini even went on Israeli public radio, saying: “I admit I was wrong. We owe an apology to [MK] Tibi.” The leading Israeli paper Yedioth Ahronoth also published an apology for running this story in its printed edition. (correction/update: Yedioth apologized for the same accusation but on a different occasion, not the affair mentioned here. Mr. Tibi claimed that Dan Margalit, senior pundit for Israel Hayom, also backed down from these accusations, but I wasn’t able to find a link ) 

Not only did MK Tibi never praise suicide bombing, he is extremely consistent in denouncing the killing of Israeli civilians. Tibi is also a passionate critic of Holocaust denial in the Arab world, and can often be heard saying that “there is nothing more immoral than Holocaust denial.” There are two options here: Either Prof. Oren knowingly repeated a blood libel against the deputy speaker of his own Knesset, or he failed to fact check the issue before repeating those accusations. Both cases say something of the nature of Prof. Oren’s work, and demonstrate how easy it is to demonize Palestinians in Israel today.

_______________

In the very same paragraph, Oren writes:

Israeli Arab parties routinely call for dismantling the Jewish state, yet only one party was ever barred from Israeli elections: Kach, a Jewish party that preached hatred of Arabs.

So many problems in one sentence: Israeli Arab parties call for a “state for all its citizens,” meaning equal rights for everyone; “dismantling the Jewish state” is not on the platform, to the best of my knowledge. And there is a difference between the two positions. Second, an Arab party called Al-Arth was in fact prohibited from participating in the elections to the 6th Knesset (a famous case and a strange factual omission, coming from a historian). It is also worth noting that Israel’s Central Elections Committee disqualified Arab parties Balad and Raam-Taal from participating in the last elections; the decision had to be overruled by the High Court. At the same time, the committee has stopped disqualifying former Kach members from participating in the elections, and one of them – Michael Ben Ari – is even serving in the current Knesset. These facts are omitted from Ambassador Oren’s article.

_______________

The main rhetorical method Ambassador Oren uses is citing one or two pieces of criticism against Israel – usually placing them out of context, ignoring the heart of the matter – and then responding, preferably by citing praise Israeli democracy won in the past.

Take, for example, the part in the piece is titled “Democracy’s Litmus.” Oren deals here with two issues, and briefly touches on a third. He writes about (a) the NGO bill intended to heavily tax the support of foreign governments to local human rights organizations, (b) the issue of sexual equality in Israel and (c) the infamous boycott law.

Issue B is a red herring. Its sole intent is to divert attention from more structural faults. Nobody seriously argues that the (very real) problem of sexual inequality, evident especially in ultra-religious circles, is what lies behind the recent criticism against Israel. The question marks around Israel’s democracy have to do with the occupation and the status of the Palestinian minority. By “answering” the criticism regarding sexual equality, Ambassador Orem tries to blur the center of the debate, and makes the people voicing concerns – or criticism – look less serious, if not completely ignorant.

Regarding the NGO bill, Oren writes:

European governments contribute more to NGOs in Israel than to similar groups in all other Middle Eastern states combined. Eighty percent of those funds are directed toward political organizations that often oppose the government’s policies or, as in the case of Adalah and Badil, deny Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish state.

The first figure Ambassador Oren cites is an oral estimate given to a journalist by rightwing professor Gerald Steinberg, head of the highly politicized group NGO Monitor. The second number – the 80 percent allegedly directed at opposition organizations – simply does not appear in the text Ambassador Oren is linking to, so there is no way of verifying it. Even so, Ambassador Oren conveniently forgets the important part: European support for government-sponsored Israeli institutions, such as universities, exceeds the support for human rights NGOs. The support for several NGOs is part of an engagement with Israeli civil society, from which all Israelis benefit.

In all likelihood, this – and not “the keen debate” regarding the law Oren mentions – was the reason Netanyahu froze the bill. According to some sources who were involved in the behind-the-scenes discussion, foreign diplomats made it clear to the prime minister that if the bill was to pass, support for all civil society in Israel, and not just the human rights NGOs, would likely suffer.

As for the  third issue – the boycott law – Ambassador Oren abandons the attempt to find equivalents in other Western democracies. After all, even the Knesset’s own research institute didn’t come up with any. He concludes the debate with a remark (hope?) that “the Supreme Court may yet pass judgment on the bill.”

Ambassador Oren also writes:

To call Israeli democracy into question because of one suggested bill that never made it into law is unjust. Democracies consider many laws, some of them imperfect, without compromising their democratic character. In Israel, as in America, legislation is tabled, deliberated, and often rejected without impugning the democratic process. In fact, that is the democratic process.

It’s not “one bill.” The erosion of democratic rights of Israeli citizens (Palestinian residents, it should be remembered, never had any) has to do with many recent and not-so-recent initiatives: The boycott law, mentioned above, which limits effective political opposition to the occupation; the Nakba law, intended to prevent Palestinians and Palestinian institutions from remembering their national catastrophe; the segregated communities law, allowing small municipalities to reject applicants based on race and religion; the legislation in process regarding the Supreme Court, meant to limit juridical supervision of government actions and Knesset legislation; and the Citizenship Law, forbidding Arab citizens from bringing Palestinian spouses to live with them in Israel, and ultimately breaking up families.

This partial list is mostly from the recent Knesset. It doesn’t include the structural discrimination of the Arab minority in citizenship procedures or in acquisition of land – for example the fact that the JNF, a quasi-government agency, controls 13 percent of the land in Israel and leases it only to Jews.

Regardless of all of Ambassador Oren’s mistakes and omissions, by discussing one law, one bill, and one unrelated issue, he is not engaged in an effort to answer real concerns over Israeli policies, but quite the opposite: He is part of an effort to hide, dismiss or blur them.

______________

“Anomaly or Non-Democracy” is the title of the part in Oren’s piece dealing with the occupation. Israel’s ambassador to Washington opens with a quote from Peter Beinart, before moving on to his response (the fact that Beinart got the Jewish and Israeli mainstream to discuss the occupation again is perhaps his greatest achievement):

“Israel,” argues Peter Beinart, “is forging … an entity of dubious democratic legitimacy” that bars “West Bank Palestinians … from citizenship and the right to vote in the state that controls their lives.” Beinart’s reasoning is based on the assumption that the West Bank Palestinians are denied democratic rights, legal recourse, or any say in their future, and that Israel has taken no serious measures to facilitate Palestinian statehood.

In reality, the majority of the Palestinians in the West Bank reside in areas administered by the Palestinian Authority. Together with the Palestinians living under direct Israeli control, they vote in the Palestinian elections. These were scheduled for January 2010, but have been delayed by the Palestinian leadership — not by Israel. The Palestinian inhabitants of East Jerusalem, for their part, have also voted in the Palestinian elections.

Similarly, the legal situation in the West Bank cannot simply be reduced to democracy or non-democracy. Palestinian law applies to those Palestinians living under Palestinian Authority auspices. In Israeli-controlled areas and for Palestinians arrested for security offenses, Israeli military law, based on British and Jordanian precedents, is enforced. Such a patchwork might confound any democracy…

The denial of citizenship and all subsequent rights to Palestinians is not an “assumption” but a reality. Had Oren provided the entire story for his examples, this would have been clear.

As Oren says, Palestinians did get to vote for their elected council. International monitors stated that the procedures were fair and clean, but Israel didn’t recognize Hamas’ victory and imprisoned its elected officials. This is the reason elections weren’t held again – Israel will not let one of the two major parties participate. Regardless of what we might think of Hamas and the way to deal with it, the elections that took place and those that didn’t were the proof that Israel has the final – one might say only – word in the procedure. If this is a democracy, Ambassador Oren and the rest of the world have very different views of the word.

Furthermore, the president of the Palestinian Authority holds the title of an international leader but not the authority of so much as a United States mayor. Israel collects taxes for him (and keeps the money when it doesn’t like his attitude); Israel controls the territory between and around Palestinian cities and has the final word on every road that Palestinians want to built; Israel invades  Palestinian towns and villages and carries out arrests; Israel controls the resources, and even electromagnetic frequencies. The PA was established under the Oslo Accords as a temporary body for the duration of the negotiations on the final agreement between Israelis and Palestinians, which were supposed to end in 1999. The sole sovereign in the West Bank is Israel. Palestinians have no say over their future. Correction: They have no say over their present.

Yet Ambassador Oren writes:

The existence of partially democratic enclaves within a democratic system does not necessarily discredit it. Residents of Washington, D.C., are taxed without representation, while those in the U.S. territories — Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands — cannot vote in presidential elections. Anomalies exist in every democracy, and Israel’s is not voided by the situation in the West Bank.

I am not very fond of comparing countries to one another, let alone Israel and the United States – which are different in almost every way, from political culture to legal system to civil society tradition – but this is the analogy that lies at the heart of Ambassador’s Oren’s text, which intends to portray Israel as a tiny America, a bastion of civil rights in a hostile and strange environment.

So, following the ambassador’s suggestion, let’s imagine the Palestinians as the equivalent of American citizens living in Washington DC or in U.S. territories. But let’s take this analogy all the way: Imagine that those citizens are under military control, where no warrant is needed to invade their houses at night and arrest them. Let’s imagine that 7 percent of all prisoners are currently held without trial for months and years. That everyone, including children, are tried by military tribunals. That complaints of torture – there have been more than 700 of these in the previous decade – could be sealed at the order of an internal security officer.

Let’s imagine those citizens surrounded by walls and fences and a system of dozens of roadblocks, some of them permanent with many appearing and disappearing every day, between the various suburbs and towns, so a route that could take 10 minute to drive regularly turns into a journey of hours. Let’s imagine them unable to relocate or travel abroad without a special permit, notoriously hard to obtain, from the military authorities.

And on top of this, they can’t vote.

And now let’s imagine this unique situation applied to a third of the population under the United State’s control – say 100 million – for two-thirds of the country’s history, meaning over 150 years. This would be the proper analogy, if we were to follow Ambassador Oren’s logic. It doesn’t sound very democratic.

_____________

There are many other problems, half-truths and misrepresentations in Ambassador’s Oren text. I didn’t touch here on his interpretation of the collapse of the diplomatic process (“Prime Minister Netanyahu has made the two-state solution the cornerstone of his diplomatic platform” – seriously?), nor his claims regarding the state of the Christian minority under Israeli control (see more here). In one of my future posts I might touch on the implications of some of the deeper arguments he makes – for example Israel being a unique historic case and at the same time a “classic” Western democracy.

Except for the story involving MK Tibi, in which the ambassador to Washington helped spread a slanderous lie about his own parliament’s deputy speaker, one could argue that Ambassador Michael Oren is simply doing the job he was hired to do. Yet this much should be clear: Professor Michael Oren would not have dared to submit his Foreign Policy article to a proper academic review. It is a propaganda piece in the service of the occupation – not “analysis”  - and it should be treated as such.

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  • COMMENTS

    1. AYLA

      slam dunk.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Danny

      Bravo, Noam! Superb analysis. Michael Oren is nothing more than a shameless propagandist for Israel’s despicable government and its criminal policies – and not a very good one at that. Israel seems to think that the entire world is dumb and can be easily fooled with nothing more than a shoddy op-ed in a major media channel, preferably by a “professor” or a “doctor”. Israeli hasbara seems to revolve around the (false) idea that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will accept it as truth. To me and many people around the world, the opposite is the case: the more I read crap like this Oren piece, the more I reject Israeli hasbara.

      Reply to Comment
    3. Anonymous

      America occupies Afghanistan and Iraq. Last time I checked the Afghanis and Iraqis can’t and could never vote in America’s elections. That seems a better analogy than the author’s.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Sinjim

      Excellent work, Noam!
      .
      Unrelated note: it’s spelled Nakba, not Naqba.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Jack

      Israel is not a democracy. If anything its a ehtnocracy. Reason why Israel want to portray iself as a democracy is because its candy for your ears in the western world, every time Israel using this argument is to distance itself from the arab/muslim world and trying to align itself with western democratic states. Something Israel is not.
      -
      1. Ethnic cleansing was a vital part of the zionist dream. Ethnic cleansing is not democratic. Cleansing people just because they belong to another ethnicity is not only immoral in our modern time its also partly racist. Racism and democracy is of course not compatible
      -
      2. Keeping millions of people outside of their homes with force is not democratic.
      -
      3. Saying Israel is a state for jewish people is a contradiction with being a democratic state which is the other title Israel want to use. In a democracy every person is a equal, thats not the case with Israel.
      -
      4. Using terror (which undiscrimentely civilians), house demolitions (just because the people inside the house happens to be non jews), having a blockade (giving rise to poverty, humanitarian crisis and using collective punishment on the same people they have runned out from their original homes) is not democratic.
      -
      I also find it ironic Oren condemn Ahmed Tibi, taking in regard that Israel had former terrorists and war criminals elected as premier, president.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Nilus

      @Danny
      I think you are wrong when you say that the world can’t be fooled. Sure, you and I aren’t, but in my humble opinion many people are fooled by exactly those distractions, omissions and the twisting of facts that Oren uses. I think he and his hasbara-friends are doing a pretty good job in fooling the world. Don’t forget that the vast majority of people won’t research the issue in depth as we do and therefore his arguments will sound perfectly fine to them. I’ve recently read Dershowitz’ “The case for Israel” and I must say that those guys like him are indeed really good in making a case. After all they are highly educated and trained in doing exactly this. If I wouldn’t have read many other critical books and articles on the subject and toured the middle-east, I would have probably believed this nonsense, cause it all makes perfect sense when you read it. And how many of the thousands who read Oren’s piece will end up reading a fine rebuttal like Noam’s? I’d say not many. Believe me, they really know what they do! Unfortunately. Cause in the end of the day it ain’t in the interest of neither the Palestinians nor of most Israelis. But that’s a different story…

      Reply to Comment
    7. Jack

      Anonymous,
      US dont annex Afghanistan nor Iraq.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Jogortha

      Danny,

      I’d say, Israel doesn’t care much what the world thinks, but it cares deeply about what Americans think.

      Reply to Comment
    9. William Burns

      Oren’s really bad at writing this stuff. Mostly its just laughably idiotic. Makes me wonder how much of the six-day war book was ghosted.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Aaron the Fascist Troll

      Interesting article. Like you said, Oren is just doing his job, except for the part about repeating discredited falsehoods about Tibi (assuming he did, I don’t know anything about that story). I don’t think anyone expects peer-reviewed, academic-quality articles coming from an ambassador, whatever his academic background.
       
      The most interesting thing to me was Oren’s defense of Israel as a democracy given the status of Palestinians in Judea and Samaria. He didn’t say that they were under temporary military occupation, hence not part of the Israeli polity and not relevant to Israel’s democratic character. (Lots of democracies have been military occupiers.) Instead, he emphasized the Palestinians’ civil rights, pointing to the territories’ “partially democratic” nature and even comparing the residents to residents of Washington, DC. That the Israeli ambassador uses this justification should be very encouraging to one-state supporters, and very scary to the rest of us.

      Reply to Comment
    11. Danny

      True, Israel’s hasbara is mostly aimed at American ears. But even there it is failing. Hillary Clinton reportedly was shocked by what she saw upon traveling through the West Bank, reportedly telling one of her aides that it “looks like apartheid”. As for president Obama – we all know what he thinks of Netanyahu (along with Sarkozy and Merkel). We are witnessing real cracks in Israeli-American and Israeli-European relations, and it is fools like Oren that are called upon by Israel’s reactionary government to put their fingers in the cracks like the little Dutch boy. If it wasn’t so sad, it would be comical.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Rodrigo

      Noam, This is a completely legitimate criticism except that it seems to be based on the flawed underlying presumption that the West Bank and Gaza are a part of Israel. Prolonged Israeli control over those territories doesn’t change the underlying fact that these territories are not a part of Israel and Israeli responsibility for their residents is limited. This should be explicitly obvious considering that you never mention Gaza or its residents in your article.
      .

      However, every criticism of internal Israeli policy is legitimate but without your flawed assumption vis-a-vis the West Bank does very little to undermine Oren’s underlying argument that Israel is a vibrant democracy.

      Reply to Comment
    13. delia ruhe

      I never admired this guy as an historian, and I like him even less as a diplomat. Bibi sure has him jumping through all the hasbara hoops. He’s making a fool of himself.

      Reply to Comment
    14. aristeides

      This is like the joke about the Soviet Union – “we pretend to work and they pretend to pay us.”

      .
      Oren pretends to tell the truth, and the world’s politicians pretend to believe him. Privately, they all know they’re talking about the naked emperor’s clothes. But anyone who steps out of line and tells the actual truth gets sent to the pillory like Gunter Grass.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Naftali

      Great piece! The only thing I am not sure about is whether Ambassador Oren really deserves the title professor (as it is used in Israel) – He does not hold the academic rank of a professor in any Israeli Academical Institute – his permanent position was a senior fellow at the conservative Shalem Institute and he was a visiting professor in several prestigious universities.. although after reading this – I have no doubt – he will get tenure at Ariel College (when it becomes University)

      Reply to Comment
    16. jeremy milgrom

      אַל תַּעַן כְּסִיל כְּאִוַּלְתּוֹ // פֶּן תִּשְׁוֶה לּוֹ גַם אָתָּה. עֲנֵה כְסִיל כְּאִוַּלְתּוֹ // פֶּן יִהְיֶה חָכָם בְּעֵינָיו (משלי כ”ו 5-4).

      It’s good he exposes the slander against Ahmed Tibi, and Noam’s right on all other fronts, but to be honest, no reader of +972 ever imagined that Ambassador Oren was delivering anything but propaganda; thus, the exercise of responding to “our man in Washington” — yes, since Noam and I and some of the other contributors of talkback are Israeli citizens, we ruefully claim him as “ours” — is an exercise in futility.
      The biblical proverb cited above (from the Book of Proverbs 26:4-5) captures the dilemma: on the one hand, you want to respond to the deceitful emptiness of the article to set the record straight and remind him that he hasn’t pulled the wool over the eyes of all, but in the process, civility requires the writer to describe the ambassador as a historian, which is rather a stretch, and we all end up feeling degraded by the encounter.
      That said, Oren’s piece pales in comparison to the drivel that surfaced this week in response to Guenter Grass’ poem; I could use another week without hametz!

      Reply to Comment
    17. klang

      Iranian Chief of Staff Gen. Seyed Hassan Firouzabadi, declared Saturday April 7: “Iran will bulldoze and destroy the illegal Zionist nest.”

      Reply to Comment
    18. Thank you Noam, for having the stomach to slog through Oren’s obvious, tedious lies.

      “Noam, This is a completely legitimate criticism except that it seems to be based on the flawed underlying presumption that the West Bank and Gaza are a part of Israel. Prolonged Israeli control over those territories doesn’t change the underlying fact that these territories are not a part of Israel and Israeli responsibility for their residents is limited. ”

      But it controls their daily lives. The situation in Gaza is indeed different. There Israel controls mainly from the outside. In the WB it’s from the inside. Of homes. At 2am.

      Reply to Comment
    19. A

      So diplomats lie and tell half-trues. They use unverified stories and don’t bother to correct themselves later. Whats new about that? The world media coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a propaganda race for a long time, especially over the last decade. There is no Israeli or Palestinian official that cares for the truth when writing or speaking in world media, only PR matters. Oren is no exception.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Jack

      A,
      On what major topic does palestinians lie about?

      Reply to Comment
    21. Greythorn

      “The leading Israeli paper Yedioth Ahronoth also published an apology for running this story in its printed edition.”

      Your link points to a 2002 Seventh Eye commentary and isn’t related to the 2012 Tibi incident. Is this a mistake?

      Reply to Comment
    22. sh

      Superb. Thanks +972.

      Reply to Comment
    23. @GREYTHORN: corrected, thanks.

      Reply to Comment
    24. jgarbuz

      Where is the independence for the Republic of Lakotah? The Lakotah Sioux declared independence in December 2008! They are a truly indigenous people, not like the ARabs who occupied the Jewish homeland in 638 AD. Puerto Rico is not independent after 112 years of occupation. Guam and Samoa are not independent. The people in those territories cannot vote for US COngress nor the presidency. And those people recognize the right of the American state to exist, whereas the Arabs do not recognize the right of the JEwish state to exist. Israel did not go out to occupy. Israel was repeatedly attacked before 1967, and the Arabs did not create a Palestinian state from 1949 and 1967! Why didn’t they? Judah and Samaria are ancient Israelite lands, and Israel must retain full control over them as long as the Arabs will not accept Israel as the rightful Jewish homeland and only then might Israel grant the Palestinians a degree of independence, to the extent ISrael’s physical security will allow for it. The more the Arabs will accept and respect Jewish sovereignty, the more the Jewish state will allow for Palestinian Arab sovereignty in their section of the land.

      Reply to Comment
    25. andrew r

      “Where is the independence for the Republic of Lakotah? The Lakotah Sioux declared independence in December 2008! They are a truly indigenous people, not like the ARabs who occupied the Jewish homeland in 638 AD”

      You might want to look up what Russell Means (A Lakota activist) has to say about that.

      http://www.russellmeansfreedom.com/2009/the-truth-about-palestine-and-israel/

      Reply to Comment
      • dogday

        Any scholar, and most any lay person, who has read Oren’s book about 1967 knows very well that he is no historian or scholar. It is a travesty of lies and distortions. Oren is exactly what he looks like — an empty-headed blank faced fool of no accomplishment. On the bright side, it was the foolishness of his book that led me to activism against the Zionist state.

        Reply to Comment
    26. Avi Cohen

      The whole part with Tibi is based on the fact that most Israelis are not aware of the complex meaning that Shahid (martyr) and Shahada (martyrdom) have in Islam. What we in Israel consider to be a suicide bomber is referred to on the other side as a Shahid who died in a “amaliyya istishhadiyya” or in Arabic:
      عملية استشهادية
      The concept of Shahid is much wider than this. It can cover anyone who dies for the cause of Jihad without actively seeking his or her own death (i.e. children who are killed from Israeli missiles). For reference check out one of Hamas’ websites: http://alqassam.ps/arabic/operations1.php?sub_operation=1

      Anyway, I think the response above to Oren’s article is good. Kol hakvod!

      Reply to Comment
    27. Sean Eaglewood

      Oren is not a professor and never was. He is hardly a doctor (PhD).

      Reply to Comment
    28. Alon Lekah

      Sean Eaglewood is right – Dr Michael Oren is no “Professor”.

      Reply to Comment
    29. Eitan

      Omissions, half-truths and lies would be a far more appropriate title for this shameless article. The primary problem with it is the way that it is so close to the truth but dances around the edges in order to prove the author’s point. Starting with the rights given to Palestinian detainees. The initial assumption is that they are all innocent and Israel is simply arresting them out of spite. Sheizif assumes that there is no good reason for closed trials of enemy combatents. He assumes that the high conviction rate comes from rubber stamps as opposed to quality police work. He assumes that the people who are in detention should not be. The prisoners do have habeus corpus. He insinuates that Palestinians haven’t been able to vote or represent themselves since 1967 but that isnt true. The vast majority of Palestinians in Judea and Samaria live in areas a and b which are under PA control. They vote in PA elections and most of them don’t ever see Jews. They, in all but the most extreme circumstances (suspected terror attacks and the like) are free to live their lives under the auspices of the PA.
      Now if we want to talk about omissions, Sheizif simply states that from 48 to 66 the Arab citizens of Israel were under martial law. First of all this is false. Certain areas with a large concentration of Arabs was put under, de facto, martial law. Arabs living in predominantly Jewish areas were not (from around the early 50s). A quick trip to wikipedia could have told him that (as could any actual reputable source). Anyway he provides no context or backstory. He neglects to mention that the war of independence was really a war between Jewish villaiges and their Arab neighbors. Many of the Arabs who stayed in Israel were enemy combatents who openly wanted to destroy the state. It is not at all unreasonable to ensure that they do not have the ability to hurt anyone within Israel. Of course, martial law went on for a very long time and it became increasingly hard to defend. At that point, led by Meir Vilner and other Jews a campaign to end this martial law succeeded in ending it.
      About Ahmad Tibi. Here Sheizaf does a hacket job to any semblance of journalistic integrety. The speech he gave was at an event called Palestinian Martyr Day. While Tibi did ensure to say that the Shahada to which he reffered were non-violent, the event he spoke at made no such distinction. By gracing it with his presence he implicitly gave (what he could) legitamcy to it. The fact that Tibi does not deny the holocaust is a red herring and unnecessary to the article. Are we supposed to be impressed that he does not deny the Holocaust? What a strange point to bring up. Anyway, none of this negates the primary point Oren attempted to make which was that Israel tolerates way more dissent from certain members of its parliament than other countries would.
      Sheizaf claims that there is a difference between calling for the end of the Jewish State and claling for a state of all its citizens. Is it not obvious that a state of all its citizens (if the majority of the citizens were not only not Jewish but anti-Jewish) would cease to be a Jewish State? Just because Raam-Taal, Balad and Hadash use the wording of “state of all its citizens” as opposed to “destruction of the Jewish state” does not mean that they do not seek it. In fact they do. About Al-Arth (a better transliteration would be, in my mind, El-Ard) Sheizaf again engages in duplicity. El-Ard was never banned as a party from participating in Israeli elections. El-Ard was banned as an organization in 1964. Elections for the 6th Knesset occured in 1965. The party was not banned and Michael Oren was telling the truth. It is like saying that Al-Qaida was banned from running in the US elections when the organization Al-Qaida is itself banned. This is an important distinction especially because he is criticizing Oren on such a pedantic point that Sheizaf should know better than to be intellectually dishonest. True, There was a challenge to the supreme court about running but the supreme court threw the case out. If Sheizaf wants to be intellectually honest he must make sure to tell the whole story.
      Sheizaf’s part about the NGO law is hokum. Pure speculation without any merit. Of course he assumes that the reason Netanyahu shelved the law was out of self-interest. He has nothing to back this up. He conjures motivations out of thin air. Anyway, is he seriously faulting Israel for laws that it simply proposed and did not pass? What kind of commentator is he? He is angry at Israel for discussing (and ultimately not passing) a law he disagrees with. He won! and he is still using this to defame Israel. It’s absurd. It’s like criticizing the state of Illinois because two of its state representatives proposed separating from Chicago (forming its own state of Illinois but without Chicago). It’s ludicrous. One could criticize Illinois if the law passed but it did not. Yes, the boycott bill is a bad bill but it is practically unenforceable (it was not enfored against Ahmed Tibi for example (Alex Miller said he would but never actually did)).
      Sheizaf proceeds to list a few more laws that he claims are undemocratic. He is wrong. The Nakba law makes sense. It doesn’t stop anyone from mourning anything. It simply states that public funds should not go towards Nakba commemoration events. That is reasonable. Why should Israel fund events that lament its creation? I’ve heard of self-hating Jews but never self-hating countries. I’m pretty sure the communities law didn’t pass (but I am not positive) but if it did it cannot be enacted because the Supreme Court already ruled in the Kaadan case that race or religion cannot be criteria for entry into a community. And the Citizenship law did break up some families. But the alternative would be a mass influx of Palestinians into Israel which could lead to a state in which Arabs comprise a majority and therefore the end of the Jewish State. If given the choice between national suicide and separating a few families it is obvious what any rational state would do. Furthermore it does not necessearily separate families. Arabs can always move to Judea and Samaria. Its just not automatically granting citizenship across the green line.
      About whether or not Palestinians have a vote. Sheizaf contradicts himself. He claims that the elections were not democratic because one of the parties was banned. But previously support was expressed for banning Kach and there was even criticisism that a former Kahanist (Michael Ben-Ari) was still allowed to run. If one of the parties is evil and will cancel democracy, banning it does not negate democracy, electing it does! Yes Israel has control over Judea and Samaria. But the whole point of the Oslo Accords was to end this. However the Palestinians decided against peace and chose suicide bombings and now they complain that they don’t have autonomy! Every time they get more autonomy they get more violent. Before the P.A the first intifada was mostly rock throwing. After the PA was created the second intifida featured suicide bombings. After Israel ethnically cleansed Gaza of its Jews, the Gazans responded by firing rockets with the intent of killing as many civilians as possible. And the complaint is that they don’t have enough autonomy!!! Obviously the current situation is not the optimal one. Everyone would prefer two states living in peace but this is ridiculous. We have to consider the alternatives. The P.A didn’t even negotiate with Israel until the very end of the settlement freeze. Is this something that a true peace partner would do? With this assumption that they are not a true peace partner (which is quite clearly borne out by the history of Palestinian rejectionism (remember the PLO was founded before the “occupation” what were they trying to liberate?)) The choice becomes between two evils, continue with the status quo or withdraw and let a hostile nation that wants us dead have free reign to do as it wishes exist right next to Israel. Why should Israel hang itself? Isn’t it more moral for Israel to wait until they have a partner that does not glorify terrorists (such as Amna Muna) than to give them a knife and turn their back? It would be absolutely immoral for Israel to force its citizens to suffer through more violence at the hands of crazed fanatics than to wait until the people who want to control our neighbor don’t want us dead.
      Shaizaf finishes off with a tour-de-force comparison of Judea and Samaria to Washington D.C and uses all the ommissions and half-truths he can. In his analogy the citizens of Washington D.C have, as their stated goal, been attempting to destroy the United States for years. They have blown themselves up in crowded American malls and hijacked American busses and crashed them. They routinely lead chants of death to americans and also continuously kill their own citizens for the most backwards of tribalistic reasons such as honor killings or killing suspected collaberators. These would be the reasons that Washington would be under military control in his analogy. Does he really think that Israel enjoys being their policeman? That Israel wants to spend so much money on defense to ensure that their busses won’t explode? Of course Israel wants peace. Israel has been paying the price for Arab rejectionism for 64 years. Yet instead of wallowing in self-pity as the Palestinians do, Israel has made something of itself. They have developed and grown and their economy is now one of the envies of the world along with their brilliant high-tec industry, to say nothing of defense.
      To sum up, for a supposedly nuanced carefully checked critique, this piece had far too much B.S, half-truths, false equivalencies and gaps in logic to be considered anything more than a satire.

      Reply to Comment
    30. SHAME, noam !

      ISRAEL, Jewish Nation, had started with a lot less than Gazan/Arab people!

      Zionists do much for his people & World,
      what do hamas / fatah for its residents & World ?

      Once again: RESPECT, ISRAEL!

      Reply to Comment
      • dogday

        Israel was colonized by Europeans mainly, people with “Western” educations. Israel is also subsidized on a permanent basis by both public and private sources, including extraordinary US Aid. Israel continues to thrive on subsidies and plundering of other peoples property and rights. Germany, also, provided much technology and wisdom to the world: Should we overlook the Holocaust because of these valuable contributions?

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