With chants of “Death to Arabs” and “Mohammed is dead” in the background, the 30-something couple spoke earnestly, their faces worried. “As far as I’m concerned,” said the woman, an economist who didn’t want to be named, “I came to a funeral. The father is in mourning. I’m here to support the family in their pain with our presence.” They have come to a grimy parking lot outside a tacky mall in Rishon LeZion, deep in the center of Israel, to protest the wedding of an Arab Muslim Israeli and an Israeli woman born Jewish, who converted to Islam. The…Read More... | 11 Comments
This week: Border Police bloopers in Bil'in, asylum seekers in Tel Aviv, Palestinian activists launch campaign in the Jordan Valley, anti-Arab graffiti in Silwan, ultra-orthodox Jews against the draft in Jerusalem, a far-right politician hands out award for McCarthyism in Israeli schools, and solidarity outside Holot 'open' detention center.Read More... | 3 Comments
Far-right former MK Michael Ben-Ari and notorious Hebron settler Baruch Marzel hold an award ceremony for a high school student who tried to have her teacher fired for expressing "left-wing" views. A very strange ceremony took place in the small town of Kiryat Tivon, in northern Israel on Sunday. Former Knesset member Michael Ben-Ari gave momentarily famous high-school student Sapir Sabah the “Jewish State Award” at an event attended by a variegated mix of hardline settlement leaders, followers of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane and anti-African refugee activists from south Tel Aviv. Outside, a group of local residents protested the…Read More... | 22 Comments
After deciding to visit a few wildcat Jewish settlements in the West Bank, I felt anxious. Will they recognize us for the Tel Aviv leftists that we are? Will they become enraged at our questions? Might we face violence? Arriving at the settlement gate, however, I am struck by just how much the place resembles the kibbutz I lived on just a few years ago. But by the end of our journey, it becomes clear that we are not welcome. By Edo Konrad The first and only time I had ever spoken to an ideological settler was during the summer…Read More... | 30 Comments
Netanyahu is most likely to form his next government around the religious and the secular middle class, represented by election victors Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid. The coalition will concentrate on domestic reform and will only strengthen the status quo on the Palestinian issue. Also: Did Israelis really move left? Seven takeaways from the elections. 1. The future government At the time of writing, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s base of Orthodox and right-wing parties has 60 Knesset seats – the same as the potential opposition. Estimates are that the Jewish Home party will finish with another seat at the expense…Read More... | 22 Comments
The last polls ahead of Tuesday’s election have been published. Netanyahu’s Likud-Beitenu joint ticket could lose as many as eight seats, but the right-wing coalition he is projected to lead is still strong. Meretz is trending up, while Livni is losing support. We have updated out Poll Tracker with the surveys published over the weekend. Election laws forbid publishing polls in the days immediately prior to the vote, so this is likely the last round of numbers we will see from the various polling firms, at least publicly (the parties continue to conduct internal polls sometimes). This pie represents the…Read More... | 5 Comments
This has got to be one of the more disgusting videos I’ve seen. The Otzma LeYisrael party, headed by ultra-right wing MKs Aryeh Eldad and Kahanist Michael Ben-Ari have posted their first campaign video to be shown on Israeli TV on YouTube (according to Ben-Ari’s Facebook page). The televised election campaigns kick off Tuesday night, when Israelis can watch the official pitches from the political parties running for Knesset, every evening until the elections. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMtvF8-WgSk The first part of the video is text in Hebrew, blaming Arabs for not paying taxes such as income tax and Arnona (a municipal property…Read More... | 46 Comments
Despite a demonstration led by MK Michael Ben-Ari calling for mass deportations, and alongside a heavy police presence, south Tel Aviv's immigrants celebrated the new year. As 2012 came to an end, the situation of the thousands of migrant workers and asylum seekers in Israel remains as uncertain as ever. As a grim reminder of the past year and an omen for what is yet to come, MK Michael Ben-Ari and his extreme-right supporters held another protest calling for the immediate expulsion of all "infiltrators" as a supposed solution to all of South Tel Aviv's problems, leading to the deployment…Read More... | 1 Comment
There are two new elections polls out, both following the trends of the last few weeks. First, Netanyahu's right-Orthodox bloc is pulling ahead, now polling 67.5 seats in our average (out of the Knesset's 120). As I argued when the elections were called, it's clear that no candidate but Netanyahu will be able to form the next government. But another story is unfolding before our eyes, and that's the rise of the extreme right. The National Religious Party – traditionally the political home of the settlers – is now polling at around 13 seats. The more extreme Otzma LeYisrael, led…Read More... | 13 Comments
If a campaign ad inciting against Arab citizens of Israel is deemed illegitimate, then why not the party responsible for it, or any of the myriad Knesset members who have also engaged in similar forms of incitement as well, whether against Africans, Palestinians, the LGBT community or Israeli leftists? Israel's Central Election Committee disqualified an ad campaign last week by a new party called Otzma Leyisrael (Strength to Israel), citing that it singles out and incites against the Arab sector in Israel and is therefore racist. The campaign ads, posted on buses and billboards across Israel, included the word "loyalty" in Arabic,…Read More... | 28 Comments
Four polls have the right-Orthodox bloc winning between 63 and 65 Knesset seats, making it impossible for any candidate to prevent Netanyahu from securing another term in office. Four new election polls were released in the last couple of days. (Five if you count Haaretz, but I don't.) They all tell the same story. In fact, it's incredible how consistent the polls are, and how stable they seem. No political maneuvering, nor the recent escalation in the south, has affected the overall picture: Netanyahu's bloc – consisting of ultra-Orthodox parties and the right, has a solid Knesset majority. Bibi will…Read More... | 9 Comments
It is reassuring to know that in Israel everyone can have their voice heard. Thus, an Israeli anti-war demonstration held last Thursday was countered by a rally supporting the military operation in Gaza by Israeli forces. But there should be a limit on free speech, especially when some of those voices are calling for violence against others. In developed societies, incitement to violence is a punishable offense. Israel's standards should be no different. During Thursday's rally, right-wing Israeli member of Knesset Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) is seen encouraging the chanting crowd with phrases like, "leftist traitors," and "leftists out." He then…Read More... | 8 Comments
MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union), who recently chose Col. Shalom "Rifle-butting" Eisner as his man of the year, is now inciting to violence. After the attack by militants that killed an IDF soldier near the Egyptian border on Saturday, he suggested killing the "infiltrators" with a bullet to the head. This, according to Ben-Ari, because the terrorists waited for the soldiers to give the refugees water. The IDF denies [Hebrew] Ben-Ari's claim, saying the incident has nothing to do with refugees. Despite the military's refuting Ben-Ari's claim, the Foreign Ministry is still holding fast to the false water story. Here's what Ben-Ari wrote…Read More... | 15 Comments
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