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  • The Israeli government's election gift to West Bank settlers

    Netanyahu tells supporters at a settlement campaign event that Israel will continue to build in the West Bank, as his Likud party competes with more hawkish parties for settler votes. Erekat calls for boycott, divestment in response. Less than a month and a half before general elections, the Israeli government published tenders for 430 new settlement homes in the occupied West Bank on Friday. The move could be interpreted as a gift of sorts to the right-wing electorate as the ruling Likud party fights for votes with the further-right Jewish Home party headed by Naftali Bennett. While Netanyahu has ruled…

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  • Film review: A documentary explores Israeli attitudes to the Nakba

    The eponymous scene of On the Side of the Road, a documentary that explores Israeli attitudes toward the Palestinian Nakba, or catastrophe, occurs midway through the film on an unpaved road just outside the West Bank settlement of Ariel. Interrupted by a curious Israeli family out for a pastoral drive, director Lia Tarachansky stops to answer their questions about what she is filming (“what TV channel will it be on?”). As they drive on, the children waving and smiling their good byes, Tarachansky stands alone on the side of the road and suddenly bursts into tears. “I mean, everyone I…

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  • Can a settler be against the occupation?

    Is it possible to oppose the occupation from within the settlements? Does one become a settler because of their race, religion, political views, ideology, or just by living beyond the Green Line? One settler sets out to find answers, and you might just be surprised with what she has to say. By Orit Arfa People who’ve read my op-eds in Arutz 7 might think that publishing an article with such a title — in such an outlet — means I've defected from the cause of the “settlements.” (I know, they’re Jewish communities.) I have defected — from dogma, party lines,…

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  • McDonald’s ruins chances for a Tarantino moment in West Bank

    As a result of McDonald’s Israel decision not to open a branch in the settlement of Ariel, here’s a discussion we’ll never hear, unfortunately. Jules Winnfield: Okay, so, tell me about the outposts. Vincent Vega: So what you want to know? Jules: Well, building is legal there, right? Vincent: Yeah, it's legal, but it ain't a hundred percent legal. I mean, you can't walk on to a mountain, put a flag, and start buildin’ away. They want you to build on hilltops or certain designated places. Jules: Those are outposts? Vincent: Breaks down like this, okay: it's legal to build…

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  • McDonald's turns down offer to open restaurant in West Bank settlement

    The Israeli financial daily Calcalist reported this morning (Wednesday) that McDonald’s has turned down an offer to open a restaurant in the settlement of Ariel, beyond the Green Line. The local contractor for McDonald’s in Israel is Omri Padan, one of the founders of Peace Now. McDonald’s-Israel has confirmed the report in Calcalist. A representative of the company, who is in charge of marketing shops for the new mall in Ariel admitted that some other chains will also be absent from the project, despite its relatively low rental fees. According to Tzachi Nachmias, several companies who deal with Europe or hold franchises in international brands…

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  • In controversy over Peres remarks, Israeli 'center-left' pays lip service to two-state solution

    The recent controversy over remarks made by President Peres regarding negotiations with Palestinians exposes how the 'center-left' pays lip service to the two-state solution, while still preferring a one-state solution with Jewish supremacy. During the current election campaign, two of the most popular party leaders identified with the center-left have done almost everything in their power to avoid saying anything left-sounding on the Palestinian topic. Yair Lapid, leader (and personification) of Yesh Atid, and Shelly Yechimovitch, head of the Labor party, have often tried to position themselves to the right of this issue (Yachimovitch saying nice things about settlements, Lapid opposing…

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  • Israeli minister aptly compares Ariel settlement with Falklands

    Last Tuesday, it became official: the IDF (following approval from Defense Minister Barak) recognized the academic center in the settlement of Ariel as a full-fledged university. International condemnation soon followed. A UK minister, for instance, expressed disappointment regarding Israel’s decision, and labeled it an obstacle to peace. In response, Israeli Education Minister Gideon Saar (Likud) argued that “[o]ur connection to Ariel is at least as strong as the UK’s connection to the Falkland Islands.” This comparison is quite apt because Ariel, like the Falklands, is the product of a colonial enterprise, meant to place a metropolitan population amidst a weaker…

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  • +972's Person of the Year: The Settler

    The settlement movement registered major victories this year on various fronts. Its representatives are reaching new heights in politics, the judiciary and the media. One out of five residents east of the Green Line is a settler. The expansion of settlements continues unabated, and - most importantly - settlers are in full control of the Israeli national narrative. In 2012, as more and more observers declared the death of the two-state solution, the settler became the new normal. By Lisa Goldman and Mairav Zonszein For decades, the settler movement and Israel’s secular, largely Ashkenazi urban elite have been playing a game of…

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  • Government laughs in the face of economic desperation

     A review of the year of social protests - just hours before the demonstration planned against the government's budget - yields bad news: The government has offered shallow solutions and deepened the roots of economic inequality.  Last year's social paradox During last summer's social protests, outsiders and curious journalists repeatedly asked me how to explain that Israel has such excellent economic indicators, but so much discontent. Not being much of an economist, but knowing something about public opinion, I looked at how people experienced their lives here – micro versus macroeconomics. Despite apparently excellent macro indicators, most individual families weren't…

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  • University accreditation for W. Bank college - a step towards one state

    Blithely ignoring a bitter academic and political controversy, the Committee for Higher Education (CHE) in Judea and Samaria voted Tuesday evening to grant the Ariel University Center of Samaria (also referred to as Ariel College) the status of a fully accredited university. After a few more formalities, the West Bank institute, established in 1982, is expected to be accredited beginning this autumn. Along with the Ariel Cultural Center, this decision drives home Israel's permanence in the West Bank. It also represents the bizarre military takeover of academia – since formally the IDF commander of the Central Command, the highest authority…

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  • J Street, undaunted by reality: Interview with Jeremy Ben-Ami

    "It's much easier to sit at home and lob criticism through blogs and tweets, and post that this isn't changing the world overnight. But political change happens one step at a time...If you're sitting on the sidelines critiquing the runners, I have no respect for you. Get in the race, show you can run it faster, show you can get to the finish line, prove you have better ideas." -J Street Executive Director Jeremy Ben-Ami Flush from the success of its third annual conference, J Street stands at tough crossroads. Its first two years of heady success as the receptacle…

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  • September journey part 2: What are the chances?

    Staying on the move in Israel and the Palestinian Territories through a month of trial. First excursion: Beit Shean and Tel Al-Baida. First experience: Uncertainty. . . Tel Aviv has become such a carnival of protest this summer, that leaving it can be a bit of an emotional zig-zag. On the sherut, or minivan bus, to the city of Afula, I experience my first downwards zig, on learning that the rest of the country may not be quite as much of a rebellious paradise. . Twenty-two year-old Palestinian-Israeli Amjad sits next to me. By the time we reach his town…

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  • The Palestine Papers: An end to the myth of Israel's generosity

    Instead of going through the commentary on the recently released "Palestine Papers," I suggest readers start by checking out some of the documents themselves. Even for those suspicious of the "generous Israeli offer vs. Arab rejectionism" narrative of the 2008 talks as I was, some of the documents are quite shocking. Take, for example, this meeting, in which the Palestinian side learns that the Israeli negotiators wouldn't agree to use 1967 borders even as a starting point (h/t Matt Duss): Udi Dekel (Israel):     As you know, our guiding principles are UNSC Res. 242, the need for boundaries that can provide…

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