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
It appears not much has changed since Operation Cast Lead, when opposition leader Haim Oron tragically decided to support the military offensive. Rather than apologizing and giving evasive answers to the media, the Left, led by the failed opposition leader, should be standing up to yell 'enough!' By Elinor Davidov It took seven days of "Operation Brother's Keeper" for the leaders of the Israeli Left in the opposition to say, sofly, that there is a problem with the current military operation, with its goals and with its implementation. For the first time, a week of collective punishment, a closure on the…Read More... | 10 Comments
In a now-infamous radio interview, the nation’s Public Enemy No. 1 made it clear she disagreed with the kidnapping of the three Israeli boys. But that part has been edited out of the story by every major news medium except 'Haaretz.' Once again, Knesset member Haneen Zoabi, a Palestinian from Nazareth, is Public Enemy No. 1 in Israel. The Knesset just gave her a bodyguard because of all the death threats she's been getting, and she's being investigated for incitement. Everyone is convinced she endorsed the kidnappings of the three Israeli teenagers. I was convinced, too, after I heard the…Read More... | 48 Comments
From up close, a wall can seem smooth, unbreakable and infinite – it is the only thing in sight. The wall, a wall of despair or a wall of separation, is real. But by taking a few steps back, either physically or spiritually, cracks in the wall can come into sight. By Moriel Rothman I’ve been in the U.S. for almost two weeks now, and I’ve begun to see cracks in the "Despair-Wall" that I wasn’t seeing – or wasn’t able to see – 14 days ago. When I boarded the plane departing from Ben Gurion International Airport, it was with feelings of darkness, of…Read More... | 4 Comments
It is not considered racist in Israel to discriminate against 20 percent of the population and the millions more living in the occupied West Bank. It is considered the self-determination of the Jewish people. The few words Yair Lapid said to the press the day after the election that made his Yesh Atid party the second largest in Israel, are still troubling me. Ami Kaufman mentioned it in his post, but I think it merits a bit more attention, since while we in Israel may be desensitized and no longer shocked, it really is quite disturbing. Those following news here…Read More... | 122 Comments
UPDATE: Scroll to bottom for corrections. New York -- For Yael Berda, the unexpectedly strong showing of Yair Lapid and his Yesh Atid (There is a Future) party in Israel's recent national elections is no reason for centrists or liberals to celebrate. Lapid's party labels itself centrist, she says, but its domestic and security policies are so similar to the right wing parties' that it will only serve to bolster their agenda. The neophyte politician is from Israel's wealthy Ashkenazi elite, which identifies with Europe and the United States. "In that cultural sense," she said, "You can call Lapid a…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
Israel has gone to great lengths to remove mention of the Nakba - the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948 - from textbooks, public discourse, and the public space. But as state efforts to ban Nakba commemorations increase, so does interest in the issue, with more and more Israelis believing that dealing with the matter is a prerequisite to ending the conflict. This short clip surveys this year's particularly dramatic Nakba Day events. This video was produced by Israel Social TV, an independent media NGO working to promote social change, human rights, social justice and equality, and to mobilize its viewers towards activism.Read More... | 44 Comments
Haneen Zoabi, an MK from the Balad party, speaks to Elsa Rassbach about Land Day and her relationship as a Palestinian to Zionism and citizenship. By Elsa Rassbach Since the 1980s, Palestinians have marked every March 30 with protests to celebrate Land Day. The day commemorates the first widespread struggle of Arab Israelis against processes of land confiscation intended to create Jewish majorities in certain communities. The marches and general strikes began in the Galilee in 1976, and resulted in the killings of six unarmed Arab citizens of Israel. Solidarity protests spread to the occupied West Bank, Gaza and the refugee…Read More... | 55 Comments
Israel sees its Arab citizens as a security threat, and their leaders are increasingly under attack. While cooperation and political participation once seemed feasible, systematic discrimination has led to an untenable situation. Balad's secretary general on missed opportunities and grim predictions. By Awad Abdelfattah More and more voices among the 1.2 million Palestinians in Israel have been asking whether Israel is trying to redefine the rules of the game that have governed the relationship between the state and the Palestinians since 1948. In recent years, and especially since the outbreak of the second intifada in October 2000, Arab citizens have…Read More... | 19 Comments
Knesset Member Anastassia Michaeli of Israel Beitenu is fast developing the distinction of committing the most violence during active Parliamentary duty. In previous episodes, she actually attacked people, including MK Haneen Zoabi of Balad - once while the latter was speaking at the Knesset podium. Two days ago, however, she gave a more sophisticated performance, an elegant and now famous water-toss aimed at Labor MK Raleb Majadele. The video below uncovers the true source of her inspiration. It's so nice to know that our Parliamentarians have the relevant experience for the demanding job of running the country. Mom's arrived!No matter…Read More... | 14 Comments
From Bahrain to Tunisia, at demonstrations, in interviews and in their own writing, they repeat, “We will not be quiet.” In their refusal to view the rights of women as a cause separate from civil rights, human rights and pro-democracy activism, female Arab protestors have taken feminism to a new level. By Lisa Goldman During the January 25 uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak, two women from vastly different backgrounds worked side-by-side at Tahrir Square, organizing the distribution of donated food and medical supplies. One was a secular, feminist attorney who wears slim jeans and has her hair done at one…Read More... | 5 Comments
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