Could the Jewish state ever be lead by a class of non-military politicians? Until there is a peace agreement with the Palestinians, it seems unlikely. And even then, who knows? By Thomas G. Mitchell Historically there have been two types of Israeli leaders who have been willing to give up territory to the Arabs in exchange for peace. The first type consists of conservative civilian politicians who distrust and fear the Arabs, but who, because of foreign pressure or opportunity, are willing to make peace under the right circumstances. Examples of these are Golda Meir in 1974, Menahem Begin in 1977-79 with…Read More... | 12 Comments
David Ben Gurion
After being expelled and relocated in the 1950s, the residents of Umm al-Hiran are about to lose their homes once again - this time to make way for a Jewish national-religious settlement. (This post has been updated.) The Israeli government on Sunday made one of its most outrageous decisions in recent years (and there is no shortage of those, as you know). The cabinet held a special session in Sde Boker - the Kibbutz in which David Ben-Gurion is buried – to approve plans to build a new Jewish town (along with several others - all for Jews) in the northeast…Read More... | 37 Comments
Between 1949-1967 there was a radio station that united West Bank Palestinians and Jerusalem Jews. It wasn't interested in propaganda or demagogy, only playing the most popular Western and Arabic music. A brief history of Radio Ramallah and the legacy it leaves behind. By Niros* Last Saturday night, while walking on Tel Aviv's Ha'aliya Street, a man from Ramallah turned toward me and my partner. He and three of his friends were a little drunk and in a good mood. It seemed that they had just returned from some Tel Aviv club. He spoke to us first in Arabic before…Read More... | 1 Comment
First the moderate Judaism of Mizrahi Jews was trampled and some of them were pushed into an extreme orthodox practice that originated in Europe. Then the Mizrahi Jews were blamed for Ashkenazi-originated orthodoxy, and now MK Ruth Calderon reinvents moderate Judaism as if none of this has ever happened. By Avraham H. Muthada (Translated from Hebrew By Iris Barner) Ruth Caldreron’s maiden speech in the Knesset (Hebrew) left a mark in our memories and amazed the Israeli public. Ever since, the secular Midrashas (seminaries for women) she represents are sprouting up everywhere and are presenting a refreshing, new Jewish discourse.…Read More... | 6 Comments
‘We are progress and modernization, freedom and equality, ‘peace and love.’ And they, what are they?’ On the history of the painful relationship between the Israeli Left and Mizrahim. By Ron Cahlili (Translated from Hebrew by Orit Friedland) The common wisdom is that Mizrahim and the Left are like oil and water, and that the two shall never meet. This is odd, because a lot of the immigrants who came to Israel from Islamic countries in the 1950s, and from Iraq and Egypt in particular, were Communists. That is, lefties. Thanks to them, says Sami Michael [prominent Israeli writer of Iraqi…Read More... | 8 Comments
Bibi will be the lamest of ducks in his next and last term as PM. Hold the applause, though – what's rising up to take his place is worse. If, as expected tomorrow, Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu gets in the low-30s in Knesset seats, this election will mark the beginning of the post-Netanyahu era. Bibi will remain as prime minister as long as the new government survives, but he will be a lame duck, helpless to rein in the demagoguery and wild initiatives of the quasi- and not-so-quasi-fascists in his coalition. He will watch the chasm widen between Israel and the West, Israel…Read More... | 55 Comments
Six or seven years ago, I was sitting in Tel Aviv's Cafe Ginzburg with a man I admire deeply. Mikhael Manekin was then, along with Yehuda Shaul, one of heads of Breaking the Silence. BTS was still a budding organization at the time, made up entirely of Israeli soldiers who participated in the occupation and sought to document and inform of its atrocities. The organization was expanding its activities. Manekin came to Tel Aviv to brainstorm on organizing tours for Israelis and foreigners in Hebron. "I would like to bring authors there," he told me. "I feel that authors have…Read More... | 2 Comments
Perhaps the greatest myth about Israel is the one the New York Times subscribes to: that it started out as a 'liberal' country committed to 'human rights.' An examination of the early days demonstrates that the country led by Ben-Gurion and Mapai was no progressive picnic. Recently, the New York Times was bemoaning the declining state of democracy in Israel. My colleague Dahlia Scheindlin noted several errors in the facts cited by the paper. I was more struck by the concluding passage: "One of Israel’s greatest strengths is its origins as a democratic state committed to liberal values and human…Read More... | 50 Comments
The supremacist organization Lehava published a video on its website yesterday showing two former Palmach fighters from the Hagana, boasting about how they castrated Arabs upon orders from David Ben-Gurion himself. It's an old clip taken from a documentary made in 2010 called "Nevelot" (bastards). The movie tells about the lives of two men, Meir Lavetovsky and Yitzhak Weinstein, who were the inspiration for a TV show that went by the same name and also based on a book by Yoram Kaniuk. I did not see either the movie nor the documentary. I could not find much information about the two, but…Read More... | 15 Comments
An excerpt of Gershom Gorenberg's book published on Slate promises to shed more light on the Palestinian refugee question, but ends up blurring Israel's part in creating it Slate has published a few experts of Gershom Gorenberg's book, "The Unmaking of Israel." I like Gorenberg very much, and I think he is doing a very important job regarding the Israeli settlements (check out his excellent blog for more). Still, I haven't read his book yet (I hope to review it here sometime in the future), so I don't know if the provocative title of the published piece, The Mystery of 1948:…Read More... | 22 Comments
Israeli authorities are attempting to impose new censored textbooks in Palestinian schools in East Jerusalem. Jalal Abukhater provides a sample of the changes and argues that censorship of Palestinian heritage and history is illegal, ineffective and dangerous. Students and parents are mounting protests. By Jalal Abukhater While the mainstream media has been dominated by big stories, others are not getting enough attention. For example, Israel’s Jerusalem Education Administration (JEA) recently decided to enforce the use of new, censored textbooks in all private schools in East Jerusalem. The JEA is a joint body of the Jerusalem municipality and the Israeli Ministry…Read More... | 83 Comments
“As the New Left unleashed upheaval across the industrialized world in those heady years of the late 1960’s, an Israeli variety did emerge, but instead of Weathermen and student revolutionaries, in Israel arose the settler movement.” By Ellis Weintraub JERUSALEM — With a thick grey beard and a wild bushy head of hair, pinned to which rests a yarmulke slightly askew, Gershom Gorenberg looks like he might have just descended from a West Bank hilltop, or perhaps emerged from the depths of Hebron’s militant settler community. But Gershom, an Israeli-American historian and journalist and himself an Orthodox Jew, has written…Read More... | 12 Comments
By Eyal Clyne On Monday 27 June, Rabbi Dov Lior was arrested by the Israeli police for refusing to report for questioning about his religious sponsorship of a book advocating racism and war crimes (i.e. “permitting” the killing of civilians in Gaza, according to Halacha). For decades many Israeli rabbis have often openly promoted violence and racist practices: some under the auspices of the army, the autonomous state-funded education system, local authorities and municipalities, and pre-military-religious schools; but this is the first time that a rabbi may be held accountable. The real story, however, began only after his release later that day.…Read More... | 4 Comments
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