When establishing the Knesset’s Palestinian democratic party, the founders of Balad had to shift their discourse and terminology: from the liberation of Palestine and the establishment of one inclusive democratic state, to the reinvention of Israel as a democratic state, the party's secretary general writes. But has such a shift paid off? By Awad Abdelfattah On the eve of the 2009 Knesset elections, as I stepped off a platform following a political debate, an Israeli journalist approached me. "Is it true that you don’t vote,” she asked, “even though you are secretary general of a party that takes part in elections?”…Read More... | 45 Comments
The new legislation will benefit medium-sized parties like the settlers’ Jewish Home and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid, while increasing the influence of big money on politics. The Knesset approved today (Tuesday) several changes in its elections and governance laws. Among other things, the changes will make it more difficult to challenge the government in a vote of non-confidence, and set the threshold for entering the Knesset at 3.25 percent, or roughly four Knesset seats. The legislation is a joint initiative by Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party and Avigdor Liberman’s Israel Beitenu (which united with Netanyahu’s Likud party prior to the…Read More... | 28 Comments
Despite recent improvement in the economic situation of Palestinian citizens of Israel, many remain suspicious of the Israeli government and its motives. Palestinians must look back at the legacy of the black American struggle for equality, drawing on lessons that they can use to further their own cause. By Robert Cherry Thanks to Israeli government efforts, there has been a substantial improvement in the economic wellbeing of its Palestinian citizens. Whereas in the period 1997-2005, after adjusting for inflation, Palestinian family income declined, during the next six years it rose by more than 7 percent. By contrast, Jewish family income…Read More... | 52 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
It would do wonders for equality and integration, and Israeli Arabs seem willing to volunteer, but they're being pounded from both sides by Arab and Jewish nationalists. In principle, I don’t think there would be anything unjust in going so far as to draft Israeli Arab youths to do a year or two of civilian national service in hospitals, schools, etc. – even though there is a well-known, deeply entrenched pattern of discrimination against Arab citizens in this country. If it’s unjust to draft them to do national service in an old-age home, it’s much more unjust to force them…Read More... | 24 Comments
For one Palestinian citizen of Israel, interrogations by the Shin Bet are a routine which include delays and harassment for no apparent reason. By Awad Abdel Fattah I was fortunate this week. I had a quick and easy crossing from Jordan back into Israel. No delays, no questions, no invasive body searches and no lengthy rummaging through my luggage. The border guard sitting next to the computer took my passport, opened it and looked at the screen, presumably to check for any special alert. Unlike previous occasions, she didn’t leave her seat and disappear into another room to take instructions on…Read More... | 26 Comments
Khalil Gharra has been taking part in daily vigils in support of hunger striking Palestinian prisoners. After arresting him in the middle of the night, police fail to present any evidence against him, and he is released without bail. Shortly after midnight on Sunday, armed plainclothes policemen entered Khalil Gharra's room in the dorms at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The detectives waved a warrant at Gharra and another friend who happened to be there. They searched his room, confiscated a couple of laptops and threw Gharra in a cell at the infamous Russian Compound in Jerusalem. This wasn’t the first time Gharra…Read More... | 38 Comments
The counting of the votes has ended, and we now have the official results for the 2013 Knesset elections. In the last 24 hours Naftali Bennett’s Jewish Home party has won one more seat at the expense of the United Arab List. The rest of the map is unchanged. Here are the full results: Likud Beitenu 31; Jewish Home 12, Shas 11; United Torah Judaism 7; Yesh Atid (Yair Lapid) 19, Kadima 2, Hatnuah (Livni) 6; Labor 15; Meretz 6. Hadash 4; United Arab List 4; Balad 3 Notable changes from the previous elections: Jewish Home, associated with the settlers,…Read More... | 6 Comments
It doesn't feel good or empowering to give up my right to vote. It feels mostly shitty, and maybe that is how it is supposed to feel. But as long as it is not an inalienable right for those who live under the same governmental roof, it is absolutely alienable to me. I just returned from the voting booth in Tel Aviv. Voting is such a private matter, and at the end of the day, nobody except the person voting knows who he/she voted for. My voting experience today, however, wasn't a private matter. And it wasn't an enjoyable or empowering…Read More... | 23 Comments
The Arab League has called on Palestinian citizens of Israel to vote in Tuesday’s parliamentary elections. The unprecedented move by the multi-national Arab group, which in the past supported the Saudi Peace Initiative with Israel, comes as a voter turnout among the Palestinian citizens of Israel – roughly 20% of the Israeli population – is expected to drop yet again. A decade ago three-quarters of Arab-Israelis voted. In the last election, only half did. The majority voted for Arab parties, which are historically excluded – and their voices with it – from coalition-formed governments. Some Arabs end up voting for…Read More... | 23 Comments
The absence of the occupation - the single most important issue which dominates life of Jews and Palestinians in this country - from the Israeli election campaigns, reflects a national existential crisis, and could render the entire democratic process meaningless. Israelis will go to the polls in four days to determine their future, along with that of several million Palestinians who are under Israeli control. This is the inherent paradox in the Israeli system: a majority voting again and again not to allow a very large minority to participate in its political system. One can view Israel as a democracy…Read More... | 17 Comments
It's not what the Jewish majority likes to believe. A common Jewish Israeli criticism of Arab Knesset members is that they do a disservice to their constituents by focusing on high politics, mainly the Palestinian issue, instead of dealing with bread-and-butter economic issues that would really help them. (There may be something self-serving about this line of criticism, but who knows?) Last week I went to Jedeida-Makker, an Israeli Arab village a couple of miles inland from Acre, to hear Balad MK Haneen Zoabi give a campaign speech. The residents, including the local council head, indeed told her that she…Read More... | 42 Comments
The televised spots sponsored by Israel's different political parties will begin airing tonight (Tuesday). Yesterday, the Central Election Committee banned Balad's clip (below) for "mocking the national anthem." The clip shows right-wing legislators (Avigdor Lieberman, Michael-Ben Ari, Danny Danon and Aryeh Eldad) singing the Israeli anthem to an Arabic tune. Recently, the Central Election Committee, the governmental body full of representatives of various Knesset parties, disqualified Balad MK Haneen Zoabi from participating in the elections. The decision was recently reversed by the Supreme Court. According to Israeli election law, parties cannot buy television spots, and air time is allocated for free in…Read More... | 17 Comments
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VIDEO: Four minutes of terror in Shuja'iyah as Palestinians flee their homes amid intense bombardment http://t.co/a1p83FYydO by @lisang
The Telegraph publishes the names of 132 Palestinian children killed so far in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge http://t.co/2h1Gj1Pjx3
RT @lisang: No more foreign journalists in or out of Gaza via Erez, announces Israel's Gov't Press Office (via @glcarlstrom & @HughNaylor).…
Israeli military kills 50 Gazans; International airlines halt flights to Israel http://t.co/DXKHl8v2t5 by @edokonrad
'Whether Palestinian or Israeli, I mourn death wherever it strikes' http://t.co/QlQJT2AFOX
Despite their heavy losses, Gazans continue to support Hamas. Why? http://t.co/felLZmd42h
Abusive interrogations, preemptive arrests suggest that tactics of occupation have crossed the Green Line http://t.co/HYNccWkqXX