Yesterday morning's air strike in Syria was apparently the latest instance of Israeli aggression posing as self-defense. No Israeli public figure I'm aware of has spoken out against yesterday morning's attack on an arms convoy transferring weapons (reportedly not chemical ones) from Syria to Hezbollah, which, according to foreign news agencies, was carried out by the Israel Air Force. Everybody here is scared - look what's happening in Syria, there's chemical weapons up there, the country's breaking up. "The entire area is raging and we must be prepared and strong and determined in the face of any possible development," Netanyahu…Read More... | 74 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
+972 Magazine's Haggai Matar was recently awarded the 2012 Anna Lindh Mediterranean Journalist Award in the Online Media Category for his 12-part series "The Wall, 10 years on," which was first published on +972. The series surveys Israel's separation wall in the West Bank, or what Haggai calls the "biggest, most expensive and most influential construction project in Israel’s history." Haggai shared the 5,000 euro prize with Sophie Chamas (Lebanon), whose piece also won. Click here for the entire project: The Wall: 10 years on / Haggai Matar The award was first launched by the Anna Lindh Foundation in 2006 to recognize the role…Read More... | 7 Comments
On the 30th anniversary of the Sabra and Shatila massacre, a Jewish American nurse who provided humanitarian aid in a Beirut hospital recalls her first encounter with IDF soldiers. Today, she asks them to take a few moments during the Jewish New Year to remember. To the IDF soldiers who were at Sabra and Shatila, September 2012 will mark the 30th anniversary of the massacre at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Beirut. In 1982, the first day of Rosh Hashanah coincided with the final hours of that horrific event. This year, the first day of the Jewish New Year, September 16,…Read More... | 4 Comments
Israelis are ever so sensitive to threats from "the other side," be it Palestinian militant groups or Iran's leaders. It's understandable; nobody likes vows to wipe his or her country off the map. Yet for some reason, the same people become tone-deaf when it's Israel that threatens its neighbors. A well-known example is Israel's current foreign minister's offer - made in a meeting with foreign ambassadors! - to bomb the Aswan Dam in case of a confrontation with Egypt, causing the flooding of vast areas around the Nile. Except for some feeble condemnations, Lieberman paid no political price for his words, and Binyamin…Read More... | 98 Comments
When "Yossi and Jagger" appeared 10 years ago, I found it both heartrending and groundbreaking. Opening up the still-taboo subject of homosexuality in the army, the film provided a sharp critique of the militarist-machoist complex that reigns over Israeli society in general. It exposed simply but precisely how that complex is the source of various social ills that touch the lives of many ordinary Israelis. The central plot revolved around the secrecy of gay life, but the film smoothly incorporated low-volume sub-plots that exposed the other sinister consequences: the exploitation and abuse of women, the alienation of parents from their…Read More... | 5 Comments
From Haifa to the Lebanese border, but I mean all the way to the border, via two self proclaimed republics and a Persian paradise. The train rolls north from Haifa, through an industrial hell I'd rather not describe, and I anyway already did, when passing here on the September Journey). I'm not staying here, I'm headed for a pretty place. Outside the ancient city of Acre is the tomb of Bahá'u'lláh, the Persian-born founder of the Bahá'í faith. Bahá'u'lláh was brought to Acre as prisoner by the Ottomans and kept in a cell in the city's grand crusader castle. He…Read More... | 22 Comments
In the past, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has denounced the desecration and vandalism of mosques and Muslim cemeteries. But the destruction of Muslim religious properties in Israel is, in fact, institutionalized and has a long and sometimes shocking history Jewish settlers torched a mosque near Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on December 15. Earlier that week, Jewish rightists set fire to a mosque in Jerusalem. They scrawled graffiti on the walls reading “Mohammed is a pig,” and “A good Arab is a dead Arab.” Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat condemned the desecration of the religious site. Prime Minister Benjamin…Read More... | 12 Comments
By Mahdi Sabbagh Following the inspiring yet tragic events of May 15th, when many Palestinians in various countries demonstrated to mark Nakba Day, and the general build-up to that day, I have been attempting to make sense of the protests, Israel’s brutal response and the political connotations and media craze that followed; not so much from an ‘international relations’ political perspective but from a cultural-political perspective. The following reflection centers on the internal narratives and realities of the Palestinian people. It does not address the relationship between the Palestinian and the Israeli narrative; which would be a constructive exercise for…Read More... | 5 Comments
Israeli policy (unlike Hamas or Hezbollah) is not intended to maximize civilian casualties. Yet it does intentionally target civilians: it is intended to produce maximal civilian distress, while avoiding mass civilian casualties. In discussions about the Israeli-Arab conflict, one of the perennial issues is the targeting of non-combatants. The reactions to the brutal murders in the settlement of Itamar, and the collective punishment of the nearby Palestinian village Awarta (where the alleged killers live) have exemplified the concern many feel about the lack of distinction between those involved in hostilities and uninvolved civilians. Even more attention has been given to…Read More... | 17 Comments
I am deeply moved by the events in Tunisia. The uprising is proof, once again, that liberty and justice are indeed for all: for Americans under Jim Crow, for the Chinese in Tiananmen Square, and for Tunisians too, these truths are self-evident and universal. Tunisia is a great riposte to racist arguments that the Arab/Middle East mentality is not built for democracy and is hard-wired only for force. I wonder if people realize how often that argument is raised here. The dramatic sight of young people harnessing technology to rise up in Lebanon and Egypt seems to be a ripple…Read More... | 15 Comments
Sarah Palin, an American conservative celebrity, has used the term 'blood libel' to tar critics of her incendiary rhetoric, following a deadly shooting in the US. Did she borrow the phrase from Israeli discourse? Here, it stands for the idea that any accusation against Israel must be a lie. To admit any wrong is to justify violence against Israeli civilians, and the denial of their right for self-determination. After all, does not Israel itself justify violence against civilians and the denial of Palestinians' right for self-determination, on the basis of wrongs committed by its neighbors? Israel, like many other countries…Read More... | 1 Comment
A war between Israel and its neighbors could be triggered by an Israeli miscalculation. Recent statements by Israeli Generals, warning of an upcoming conflict – the worst yet, according to them - may act as a self-fulfilling prophecy Foreign observers of the Middle East have lately begun to sound the alarm about the possibility of a large scale war breaking out between Israel and its neighbors. Le Monde, for example, warns: This deadlock [in peace negotiations] is forcing the Israeli army to draw up plans for further wars based on the “security concept” – that anyone who refuses to accept…Read More... | 7 Comments
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