Netanyahu now has the same number of seats as his main coalition partner, Yair Lapid. This leaves him at the mercy of his arch-rival, President Reuven Rivlin, if the coalition would need to be reshuffled without new elections being called. Up until mid last month, Netanyahu's coalition enjoyed a reasonably obvious hierarchy. The Likud-Beitenu list led with 31 seats; Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid followed with 19; Naftali Bennett's Jewish Home barely caught up with 12; and Tzipi Livni's Hatnua closed the list with 6. This classical enough arrangement suffered its first blow in mid- July, when Avigdor Liberman unilaterally broke…Read More... | 3 Comments
The slow crumbling of Netanyahu's political prestige reached its nadir on Tuesday, when his own heir apparent Gideon Sa'ar turned against him to elevate arch-rival Reuven Rivlin to presidency. Reuven Rivlin's victory in the presidential elections on Tuesday was a resounding one, but nowhere near as resonant as Benjamin Netanyahu's defeat - a domestic political defeat to match his 2013 failure to stop Iran-U.S. rapprochement, which yanked the rug out from under his foreign policy. Rivlin and Netanyahu weren't running against each other. Quite the contrary, Rivlin was the candidate of Netanyahu's own party, Likud, adored by the party's rank-and-file…Read More... | 6 Comments
Sadiq al-Sadiq was returned to Israel earlier this month after finding himself being sent -- against his will -- back to Sudan, from where he fled persecution and genocide. Sadiq is just one of hundreds or thousands of Sudanese who have been pressured to leave Israel. Interior Minister Gideon Sa'ar, who is responsible for the asylum seeker population in Israel, has made it clear that he intends to empty the country of African asylum seekers. "If we treat this [problem] like liberals, we'll lose the country," he has said in the past. Earlier this month, one Israeli activist confronted Sa'ar…Read More... | 4 Comments
African asylum seekers held a press conference Tuesday in south Tel Aviv, where they announced that they will continue their "Strike For Freedom" until further notice. Representatives of the community from Sudan, Eritrea and Central African Republic spoke in both Hebrew and English about why they have been on strike and holding protests, and outlined their demands. The speakers at the press conference all repeated several messages: that the African refugee community is made up of human beings fleeing slavery, danger and war; they are not scary, as the government likes to portray them; the protests are non-violent; there are…Read More... | 17 Comments
African asylum seekers are holding their second of a three-day national protest. On Monday, thousands of asylum seekers, most of whom are employed by hotels and restaurants, went on strike and held large rallies in front of Western and African embassies. The protesters are calling on the international community to make sure Israel respects its commitments under the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, thus ensuring that the Israeli government ceases rounding up and imprisoning asylum seekers without trial, and that it releases inmates already held under the revised anti-infiltration bill. In a press release sent on Sunday , the protest…Read More... | 20 Comments
While most Israelis were focused on the latest war on Gaza or the last election, verbal incitement, physical attacks, incarceration without trial and forced deportation of Africans continued unabated. A timeline of Israel's war on African asylum-seekers between November 2012 and May 2013. By David Sheen Last Thursday, May 23, 2013, marked exactly one year to the day when a thousand Jewish Israelis ran rampant through the streets of Tel Aviv, smashing and looting African-operated businesses and physically assaulting any dark-skinned person they came across. Sadly, the Israeli economic, political and religious establishment - who were in large measure responsible for…Read More... | 9 Comments
If Yair Lapid's party takes over the Education Ministry, it could bring an end to the Greater-Israelization of the country's schools and universities. After 45 years of occupation and no end in sight, it would be better for Israel to have a completely right-wing/ultra-Orthodox government than a right-wing/centrist one with Yair Lapid, Kadima and possible other fig leaves. A purely hardline government would attract more opposition, especially abroad, while a right/center amalgam will fool a lot of people into thinking things aren't so bad. In short, a Bibi/Lapid government is more beneficial to the occupation than a Bibi/Yishai government -…Read More... | 13 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
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…Read More... | 19 Comments
The crackdown on Ben-Gurion University’s Department of Politics and Government may seem unprecedented, but a closer look reveals an ongoing campaign to challenge academic freedom in the university and beyond. By B.N.* While the attacks on the Department of Politics and Government of Ben-Gurion University are being viewed by many as an unprecedented measure, infringements of academic freedom in Israeli-controlled areas are common. They are often part of the regime of military occupation in the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza. Today, such infringements in the occupied territories include limitations on students’ and faculty’s access to academic institutions through checkpoints and…Read More... | 14 Comments
The government ministries have set their goals for 2012. It's good to know the Education Ministry has got its priorities straight. With so many people dealing with Iran, it’s a wonder anything actually gets done in this country. But yes, next week the CEOs of all of the Israeli government’s ministries will present the goals they set for the year 2012. (Not to be the eternal party-pooper, but shouldn’t this have been done in late 2011? Just a tad before 2012...? Oh well, what do I know about running a country.) But anyway, amidst all the bombs and rockets flying…Read More... | 18 Comments
The Ministry of Education reprimands a school for sending its pupils to the Human Rights March The Ministry of Education sent a reprimand (Hebrew) to the principal of the ‘Ar’ara high school, which sent its pupils to the Human Rights March held earlier this month. The letter sent by the ministry complained, inter alia, that “the pupils were carrying signs against racism, house demolitions, etc., which is contrary to the Director of the Ministry's communiqué.” The ministry further promised an investigation. In the school’s reply, the teachers quoted Minister of Education Gideon Sa’ar’s communiqué on the International Human Rights Day: “It…Read More... | 2 Comments
Israelis and Palestinians obviously have competing "historical truths" or narratives, but if we are to cultivate a next generation on both sides that can tolerate each other, shouldn't we be teaching the conflicting narratives as a bridge towards reconciliation, and not as a weapon with which to crush the other? Speaking at an education conference in Tel Aviv on Sunday, Israel Minister of Education Gideon Saar addressed the question (Hebrew) of teaching the Palestinian narrative in Israeli schools for the first time explicitly. He asserted (predictably) that Israel's Ministry of Education will never permit the instruction of the Nakba or anything related to…Read More... | 14 Comments
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Assault on Gaza
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