The debate over the state of Israeli democracy (or the rise of fascism) is code designed for lefty Zionists. Others don't get it, and it may even do more harm than good. Some thoughts following Haaretz's interview with Prof. Ze’ev Sternhell. There has been growing discussion over the last few weeks regarding the risk of fascism in Israel and the dangers to Israeli democracy, most recently in an extensive interview by Prof. Ze’ev Sternhell in Haaretz. I hold Sternhell in high regard, and his book, The Birth of Fascist Ideology, is among the few required readings in my undergraduate degree I actually remember in some…Read More... | 16 Comments
MK David Rotem unabashedly stopped a vote that would apply Israel’s freedom of information act to the World Zionist Organization’s (WZO) “Settlement Division,” an extra-governmental organization that receives 100 percent of its budget from the State of Israel and is responsible for much of the settlement building in the West Bank. Why would he do such a thing? When asked by opposition MKs Zehava Galon and Ahmed Tibi, the chairman of the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee made no effort to hide his agenda: “I want to stop you from getting information to use in [petitions to the High…Read More... | 3 Comments
And nobody objects. I was listening on the radio to the prime minister's speech in the Knesset on Wednesday for the 18th anniversary (on the Hebrew calendar) of the Rabin assassination, and it just struck me how far we’ve come in this country. Bibi Netanyahu is now preaching to Israel the lessons of Rabin's murder. And nobody says anything. Members of the Rabin family sitting in the Knesset, whatever they were thinking, didn’t say a word. Neither did the MKs of the Labor Party or Meretz, or MK Ahmed Tibi or anybody else who lived through that time and understands…Read More... | 11 Comments
After a stormy night session, the coalition was able to pass the necessary amendments and election laws that would make it more difficult to topple a government and eliminate small factions. Left-wing and Palestinian members of Knesset protested the legislation in 'silent speeches.' Ultra-Orthodox MK Eichler spoke to the Arab public in Arabic, saying 'we are with you.' (video below) During the last session of the Knesset before its summer recess, the coalition was able to pass a first reading of the “governance legislation,” - an amendment to Israel's Basic Laws - which would make it more difficult for the…Read More... | 33 Comments
Who are the leading Arab candidates in the upcoming Knesset elections? Who is trying to ban them from running, and how? How did such attempts end in previous elections? How many Palestinian citizens can vote in the Knesset elections, and how many are expected to vote? A Q&A by the human rights organization Adalah answers those questions, and more. By Adalah [At the bottom of the document you will find the viewing option bar, which will allow you to zoom in or out. If you still have troubles reading or in case you don't see the embedded document at all,…Read More... | 6 Comments
On Monday, the eve of Nakba Day, I attended a book launch for the memoirs of five elderly Holocaust survivors who emigrated from Europe to Canada after the Second World War. The event took place in the main sanctuary of a large, well-established Conservative synagogue in a prosperous area of Toronto, very much like the one I attended as a child in Vancouver. Canadian and Israeli flags hung from flagpoles at either side of the pulpit. The director of the non-profit foundation that edits, publishes and distributes the memoirs gave an eloquent speech; this was followed by a series of…Read More... | 25 Comments
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. 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,…Read More... | 32 Comments
UNITED NATIONS -- (Breaking) MK Ahmed Tibi entered the UN Media Centre this morning, shortly before President Abbas was scheduled to speak, and was greeted like a rock star by the assembled Israeli and Arab media representatives. Speaking in Hebrew, Arabic and English, Dr. Tibi gave several quick interviews to various radio and television shows. Shortly before he went on air with Israel Radio, he told the producer in Hebrew that he had read President Abbas's speech and had it on his iPhone.Read More... | 2 Comments
By Libby Lenkinski & Noam Sheizaf For a month now, Israel has been going through an unprecedented upheaval. What started as a small protest at the heart of Tel Aviv over housing costs, turned into a nation-wide call for social justice, which had brought hundreds of thousands to the streets. Some feel that this unexpected event marks an opportunity for a radical transformation of the political debate in Israel; others are not so sure. Critics of the protest pointed to the fact that most of the protesters come from the secular upper middle class; that they lack a clear political…Read More... | 11 Comments
Much will be said in the coming weeks, maybe even years, about the House Committee on UnIsraeli activities, approved yesterday by the Knesset. Roi Maor and Yossi Gurvitz both have excellent posts - Roi on the more optimistic side, Yossi closer to the end of days. While my own estimate lies somewhere between these two poles, I was stricken not so much by the proposal, but by how blatant and naked in its purpose it was. In some ways, this week has elicited some of the most unintentionally honest statements from our politicians in a while. Take MK Faina Kirschenboim's…Read More... | 2 Comments
I have a new piece in Foreign Policy, discussing the relations between Jewish and Arab MKs and their perspective on the one state solution. Interviewed are Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud), Deputy-Speaker Ahmed Tibi (Raam-Taal), and MK Hanin Zoabi (of Balad and of the Gaza flotilla fame). Naturally, I don't think they're all talking about the same "one state" solution; but if we get to a situation where the main argument is about which kind of a one state is most desirable, this will be after tremendous shift in Israeli and regional politics. For now, the fact they are talking…Read More... | 1 Comment
Sarit Hadad, an Israeli pop singer of Mizrachi extraction, just released a new single. The song, actually a cover of a Lebanse pop hit of the 1970s, is called “Do You Love Me” and it seems that the answer is, “Some of us do, but a lot of us really, really don't.” For every fan who praises the song, there is someone who says it's awful for one or all of the following reasons: it sounds Arab; it sounds Mizrachi; it's a pathetic rip-off of an old Lebanese pop song and what's wrong with Hebrew music, anyhow; and, Sarit Hadad…Read More... | 5 Comments
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