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Why do the U.S. and EU still let Israel sell arms to Burma?

Economic sanctions were lifted but an arms embargo remains. What good is an arms embargo if Washington and Brussels allow their ally Israel, along with world powers like China, to keep selling arms to Burma?

By Eitay Mack

In light of the atrocities being perpetrated against the Rohingya Muslim minority in Burma, many in the European Union and in the U.S. have denounced Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, expressing deep disappointment with her conduct. In fact, their denunciations and disappointment should be addressed to themselves. As in other parts of the world, Europe and the U.S. have chosen to return to business-as-usual at the first opportunity, whitewashing the crimes of the past, evading a true accountability process, and ignoring the structural problems in Burma.

Without absolving Aung San Suu Kyi of her moral and political responsibility for the atrocities, one should note that from the beginning her formal role in Burma was nothing but a facade for a fictitious democratic process. She was not given effective control of the state’s security forces or a chance to advance real reform. Around 25 percent of seats in the parliament are reserved for the military, which is in charge of the Ministries of Border, Defense and Home Affairs, as well as appointing numerous civil servants.

The ongoing ethnic cleansing waged against the Rohingya is exceptional in its tremendous scope, but not with respect to the Burmese security forces and their allied militias’ patterns of action. For decades, the burning of villages, looting, collective punishment, population transfer, rape, torture, murder and forced disappearance — the denial of basic human and civil liberties — have been daily tools of the Burmese regime in areas of internal conflict. The EU and the U.S. know this full well, yet in September 2016 the Obama Administration concluded the lifting of economic sanctions that had been imposed on Burma. The EU did so as early as April 2013. The lifting of sanctions included no clear timetable for a transition to true civil government in Burma, nor did it include the requirement to investigate or indict those responsible for the crimes committed there. The latter were allowed to retain their power, and some of them are complicit in the ongoing crimes against the Rohingya.

In spite of the lifting of economic sanctions, the European Union and U.S. have maintained an arms embargo on Burma. But what is the...

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Conscientious objector sentenced to 10 days behind bars

Hadas Tal refuses to serve in the Israeli army due to her opposition to the occupation.

By +972 Magazine Staff

An IDF disciplinary body sentenced conscientious objector Hadas Tal to 10 days in military prison for her refusal to be conscripted. When she completes this latest sentence, Tal, 18, from Kibbutz Yifat, will have served a total of 60 days behind bars.

Military conscription is mandatory for most Jewish Israelis.

Before heading to prison for the first time, Tal said she knows her refusal will not end the occupation, but that she believes “it is important not to let this system continue existing without resistance. The refusers who sat in prison before me did not end the occupation, but there is great significance to our acts — in raising awareness and creating public conversation.”

In a written statement brought before the army’s conscientious objectors committee, Tal wrote: “No role — even if the specific role is nonviolent and can be viewed as a ‘moral’ one, can justify [military] service whose main activity is violent.”

“I refuse to take part in the IDF, a violent military framework, which I vehemently oppose,” she wrote. “I refuse to take part in any organization that represents violence and acts violently, which is why it is important for me to note that just as I refuse to enlist in the IDF, I would not enlist any other army; not the Swiss army, not the American army, not the Swedish army, etc.”

Tal joins conscientious objector Noa Gur Golan, who has served 87 days in prison, and who was recently sentenced to another 30 days, as well as Ofir Averbuch, who has spent 130 total days in prison. In his declaration, Averbuch wrote that his choice to refuse is not a way to evade responsibility for ensuring the safety and security of those who live in this country:

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Palestinian reconciliation could work this time. Israel must support it

The current Palestinian reconciliation agreement looks like it could actually hold, largely due to regional and internal changes over the past few years. What does this bode for the peace process? A former minister in the Palestinian government explains.

By Ashraf al-Ajrami

This is not the first time the two large Palestinian political movements, Fatah and Hamas, have come to a reconciliation agreement. There is a great deal of skepticism about whether it will succeed, particularly following the failure of previous reconciliation agreements. However, many feel that this time the two parties are serious, and success is possible.

This is based on a number of reasons, first and foremost the recent change in Hamas’ leadership. In its most recent internal elections, the movement chose a young leadership composed of charismatic and influential figures, among them several who spent time in Israeli prisons, like Yahya Sinwar, who was elected to party’s top post in Gaza. One of the first things the new leadership did was to take a hard look at reality in the Gaza Strip. It came to the conclusion that the Hamas regime has failed: living conditions are impossible; the situation cannot last much longer and may even end in conflagration. These leaders have a patriotic and pragmatic way of thinking vis-a-vis the population of Gaza.

Moreover, the situation in the Arab world has changed dramatically following what was deemed the “Arab Spring.” The rise and fall of political Islam was followed by the demise of the Muslim Brotherhood’s regime in Egypt, the failure of the Ennahda in Tunisia, and the developments in Syria following the victory of Bashar al-Assad and his allies, Russia and Iran.

Hamas agrees to two states

The regional problems have an influence on the states who supported radical Islamist groups in Syria and other places (such as Egypt) — first and foremost Qatar. Furthermore, Turkey has its issues with the United States, the Kurds, and with the EU, the latter of which refuses to allow it into the union. The dominant axis in the region is currently led by Egypt, the Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, with Egypt playing a significant role.

Donald Trump’s ascent to the White House is yet another change on the international stage. The American president will not reconcile with political Islam, nor will he try to form an alliance with Islamist movements, as the Obama administration did. On the contrary, he views these movements...

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The slow death of Israeli citizenship

As the Right consolidates its power over nearly every sphere of Israeli politics, it is slowly turning citizenship into a matter of ideology. Non-Jewish citizens aren’t the only ones who will suffer.

By Marzuq Al-Halabi

The concept of citizenship in Israel has always suffered from significant inadequacies, whether due to the Law of Return or to state policies that make acquiring citizenship an extremely difficult feat. The current situation, for example, allows the state to claim that Bedouin citizens in the Negev aren’t citizens at all and that their blue ID cards were issued to them by mistake, even if they and their tribe were here long before the establishment of the state. Moreover, the situation allows the state to convince its High Court of Justice to uphold, time and time again, a law that restricts Palestinian spouses on both sides of the Green Line from family reunification.

The same goes for foreign workers and asylum seekers — they are good for doing work that Israelis aren’t willing to do, yet we must prevent them from obtaining citizenship at all costs, while denying them human rights. Furthermore, the state has thus far succeeded at convincing the High Court that there is no such thing as an “Israeli nation.”

Analyzing the current state of Israeli citizenship is no less problematic. Citizenship, after all, is not a formal issue limited to identification cards and papers. There are various layers of Israeli citizenship: one for Jews and one for Arabs; one for veteran citizens and one for immigrants; one for those who live in the center of the country and one for those in the periphery; those who are rich and others who are not. Arab citizens in Israel will justifiably claim that the principle of equality — a foundational principle in any democracy — does not apply to them in many aspects of life, thus infringing upon their rights.

In fact, “equality” does not appear in legislation, nor in any of Israel’s basic laws; it exists only in a number of landmark High Court rulings. Moreover, discrimination against Arabs and other groups exists under the guise of bypassing citizenship through national institutions that privilege Jewish citizens. Even the Law of Return gives preference to a Jewish person living abroad over the Arab in Israel.

If we look at the concept of fundamental citizenship as it pertains to the allocation of resources — material,...

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WATCH: Settlers attack Palestinian farmers near radical outpost

Soldiers put an end to the attack following the intervention of a human rights worker.

By Eli Bitan

Israeli settlers attacked a group of Palestinian farmers outside the West Bank city of Nablus Wednesday afternoon. According to Israeli NGO Rabbis from Human Rights, the settlers came from the direction of a newly-established settler outpost, Megini Ha’aretz, not far from where the farmers were tending their fields.

The incident came to an end after Rabbis for Human Rights field worker Zacharia Sada intervened on behalf of the farmers. Soldiers who arrived on the scene detained one of the attackers for questioning. No one was injured.


Eli Bitan is a journalist in the ultra-Orthodox press in Israel, and is a blogger on Local Call, where this post was first published in Hebrew. Read it here.

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Connecting Sukkot and the fight against home demolitions

Around the world, dozens of communities are organizing activities to draw the connection between Sukkot — a holiday in which Jews commemorate the physical insecurities experienced by their ancestors — and the need to protect Palestinian villages in danger of destruction by Israel.

By Micah Friedman

Israeli demolitions have left 256 Palestinians homeless in the West Bank this year. Two hundred and fifty-six souls were driven from the safety of their homes, forced into internal exile. Since 2006, 5,849 Palestinians living in Area C, under full Israeli military control, have lost their homes due to demolitions.

Now, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has openly declared his intent to wipe out the West Bank villages of Khan al-Ahmar and Susya by mid-2018. Inside the Green Line, the Israeli government is trying to evict the residents of the Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran, in order to build the Jewish town of Hiran on its remains.

Over the past week, Jews worldwide have been celebrating the holiday of Sukkot, which calls upon Jews to recognize the fragility of our lives. We commemorate the physical insecurities experienced by our ancestors as they left Egypt for the Promised Land by spending one week dwelling in the sukkah, an impermanent structure incapable of protecting us from rain.

In fact, as Orly Noy wrote in these pages, these sukkahs are “not so different from the dilapidated shacks that house the residents of Khan al-Ahmar, from which the state is trying to expel them.” Yet unlike Israeli Jews, who leave the sukkah for the safety of their home at the end of the week, Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as Bedouins in the Negev, are routinely denied the right to build even a simple structure as flimsy as a sukkah.

Around the world, dozens of communities are organizing activities to draw the connection between Sukkot and the need to protect Palestinian villages in danger of destruction. Here in Israel, Torat Tzedek—Torah of Justice, a new human rights NGO led by Rabbi Arik Ascherman, is organizing a pair of gatherings to learn about home demolitions and demand that Israeli authorities cancel all impending demolition orders.

On Tuesday, we will gather in Jerusalem in a sukkah built by “Achvat Amim” for an evening of learning about Israeli home demolitions. The following day, Torat Tzedek and other Israeli organizations will lead...

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Thousands of Israeli, Palestinian women 'wage peace' in the desert

The march by Israeli and Palestinian women, demanding that both peoples’ leaders do more for peace, was set to culminate with a protest outside Netanyahu’s residence.

By +972 Magazine Staff

Thousands of Israeli and Palestinian women marched through the West Bank along the Dead Sea on Sunday, part of more than two weeks of a “Journey to Peace” by an organization called Women Wage Peace.

The march, which was held under the banner, “We’re not stopping without an agreement,” was meant to culminate with a protest outside the Israeli Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem later Sunday evening.

Smaller events have been taking place throughout Israel and Palestine for the past two weeks.

Last year a similar march was held in the same area near Jericho. In 2015, Women Wage Peace fasted (in shifts) outside the Israeli Prime Minister’s Residence for 50 days, to mark one year since the 2014 Gaza war.

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From denial to recognition: There is no 'humane' occupation

As Israelis, as Jews, as human beings, we must confront the daily reality that takes place throughout the occupied territories. And in doing so, we must face ourselves.

By Frima (Merphie) Bubis


As we began building our sukkot, the Yom Kippur reading from the Book of Jonah echoed in my head: “How can you be sleeping so soundly!” (Jonah 1:6). As though I myself heard the captain crying out, over the roar of the raging storm to the prophet fleeing his mission, as he hid away, asleep, below deck.

Other moments in the story flash through my mind, as though in fast-forward: how Jonah was thrown into the stormy sea and found himself “in the fish’s belly three days and three nights” (Jonah 2:1); how after he had agreed to his mission and went to the city of Nineveh to rebuke the people, he was surprised to see that “the people of Nineveh believed God. They proclaimed a fast, and great and small alike put on sackcloth” (Jonah 3:5); how the prophet refused to accept God’s mercy on the people of Nineveh and “begged for death, saying, ‘I would rather die than live’” (Jonah 4:8); and finally, how change came only at the last moment, after the Lord had rebuked him: “You cared about the plant, which you did not work for and which you did not grow, which appeared overnight and perished overnight. And should not I care about Nineveh, that great city!” (Jonah 4:10-11).

Perhaps only then did he finally see how blind he’d been, and finally understood his purpose and the true meaning of being a prophet.

Three years ago, I was still spending Yom Kippur in uniform. I served as a soldier in the Civil Administration — the military body that is entrusted with controlling and monitoring the Palestinian population in the occupied territories. I was part of a huge bureaucratic apparatus and saw how us soldiers frequently presented orders and enforced rule. I learned with time about the vast spectrum of everyday arbitrary actions that are concealed behind the headlines that have long since become familiar to us.

For example, I learned how we prevented dozens of Palestinian farmers from harvesting their olive trees because of their proximity to Israeli settlements. Or alternatively, a conversation that the brigadier general held with soldiers about the sacred concept of “proportionality” in order to reemphasize the open-fire regulations after...

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Jewish students feel unsafe on campus? A new study says otherwise

A new study published by Stanford University reveals that Jewish students feel safer on university campuses when they refuse to conflate their Jewish identities with unequivocal support for the State of Israel.

By Oren Kroll-Zeldin

In recent years numerous studies have created the impression that university campuses across the United States are a hotbed of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel sentiment. These studies describe Jewish student experiences on campus, painting an alarming portrait of a politically unsafe climate for Jewish students who are ill equipped to deal with these challenges.

A new study published by Stanford University Graduate School of Education contests these beliefs, arguing not only that campuses are a safe place for Jewish students, but also that students are alienated by the very nature of the debate on anti-Semitism and the Israel-Palestine conflict. This groundbreaking new qualitative study, called “Safe and on the Sidelines,” is based on a 10-month study of Jewish students on five campuses across California, and highlights the subtleties of the experiences of Jewish students and emphasizes student voices to uncover a far more complex picture of Jewish life on campus – particularly regarding the complexities of the political debate they face on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Contrary to what we often hear about Jewish experience on campus, the report argues that “students reported feeling comfortable on their campuses, and, more specifically, comfortable as Jews on their campuses.” Furthermore, the report finds that student safety is partially predicated on students’ refusal to conflate their Jewish identities with unequivocal support for the State of Israel, as students argue that they feel unsafe only when an attack on Israel becomes an attack on the Jewish community. In the study, less than 10 percent of respondents articulated the belief that anti-Israel sentiment is, by definition, anti-Semitism.

The report’s analysis provides other essential elements that help us more deeply understand Jewish student experiences on campus. First, the students who were interviewed expressed only limited amounts of anti-Semitism and discomfort. Those that did encounter discomfort “traced it either to the carelessness of student speech or to tensions within campus debates about the Israel-Palestine conflict,” not to targeted or intentional anti-Semitism. Second, students struggle with Israel. Though many feel an affinity to the Jewish state, they say its politics and policies are at odds with their own political values. Third, the divisive nature of the debate on campus about the Israel-Palestine conflict...

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IDF jails conscientious objector for 30 days over her refusal to enlist

By the end of her fourth stint in military prison, Noa Gur Golan will have served 104 days for refusing to take part in the occupation.

By Yael Marom

The Israeli army sentenced conscientious objector Noa Gur Golan to her fourth stint in military prison on Monday, this time for a period of 30 days, over her refusal to serve in the IDF.

By the end of her latest term, she will have served a total of 104 days behind bars. Gur Golan, 19, from Netanya, has appeared three times before the army’s conscientious objectors committee, which has repeatedly rejected her claim that she is a pacifist who refuses to serve in any army.

Gur Golan published the following status on her personal Facebook page just prior to her latest appearance before the committee:

“Anyone who has gotten to know me recently knows that public refusal, and in general going to prison, is the last thing I thought would happen. I honestly thought that I would walk into the committee, regardless of how threatening it was, and would find my way into the hearts of the four aggressive men who sat there (and one woman who didn’t say a word), and if not the first time, then the second time. And if not the second time then when I ask to see the committee the third time…

I will go back for the fourth time, because even when the barbed wires look threatening, and they remind me that I am in prison, I know I did the right thing. I know tat if I was given the privilege and the strength to say no, I know that I was given a responsibility, and I will fulfill it.

Two additional conscientious objectors are set to appear at the IDF induction center in Tel Hashomer, where they will declare their refusal to serve in the IDF and are expected to be sent back to military prison. One of them is Hadas Tal, 18, from Kibbutz Yifat, who ha served a total of 50 days for refusing to serve in the occupied territories and take part in the occupation.

The second is Ofir Averbuch, 18, from Tzofit, who has sat for five months in prison and will likely serve another term. Averbuch made his refusal public only after serving 130 days. In his declaration, he wrote that his choice to serve is...

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Give the people what they want: Palestinians take a step toward unity

With Russian involvement, American support, and Israel’s tacit agreement, the Palestinians are taking active steps toward national reconciliation.

By Menachem Klein

While all eyes were on the horrific massacre in Las Vegas on Monday, an interesting development took place in the Gaza, whose magnitude goes beyond reconciliation between the rival Fatah and Hamas factions.

As opposed to previous attempts at national reconciliation, this time the Russians are involved. A Russian representative is taking part in reconciliation talks in Gaza. Not long ago, a Hamas delegation visited Moscow, and it is likely that what we are currently seeing was spoken about in Russia’s capital. Both Hamas and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas have a long-term relationship with Russia, whose involvement in reconciliation should be seen as part of its increased presence in the region. It turns out that Russia is involved not only in Syria, which it has viewed as a strategic ally since the days of the Cold War. Israel has no leverage in Russian politics, like it does in America; with a lack of American involvement in the region, Israel won’t be able to take advantage of the competition between the powers.

Israel tacitly agreed to the reconciliation efforts, certainly in its first stages, and allowed a Palestinian delegation to travel through its territory on its way to Gaza. One can assume that the reason is the dire humanitarian condition in Gaza, which Israel is prominently responsible for. Israel worries that the harsh reality in Gaza will bring about a violent conflagration. One can imagine tens of thousands of Palestinians marching to the border with Israel, or crawling out of a tunnel dug from Gaza into Israel with signs reading “Bread — work.” The Israeli government has rejected proposals to relieve the situation in the Strip through projects that Hamas can take credit for, such as building a major seaport under international oversight. Israel has long ago learned that the price of re-occupying Gaza will be too high, and that Abbas will never agree to come riding in on an IDF tank. Israel has no choice — it must agree to allow Abbas into Gaza as part of national reconciliation efforts.

The U.S. is also among the supporters. Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s Middle East advisor, published a message of support for a national unity government, writing that it will ease the dire situation in the Strip. He also repeated the Quartet’s conditions, laid out...

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Sanders stands with Palestinian activist. More politicians must do the same

On trial in an Israeli military court for nonviolently opposing the occupation, the odds are stacked against Palestinian human rights defender Issa Amro. With the support of U.S. progressives like Bernie Sanders, he might just stand a chance.

By Maya Garner

It is a big deal when high profile American politicians like Bernie Sanders stand up for a Palestinian. After a nearly year-long trial in Israeli military court, and fresh out of PA custody just weeks earlier, Issa Amro traveled to the United States to meet with his supporters in Washington last week. Earlier in 2017, Sanders and dozens of other Senators and members of Congress called on the State Department to monitor Amro’s military trial. This degree of support is a rare expression of solidarity for Palestinian rights. However, Israel seems willing to put its international reputation on the line in order to put Amro behind bars.

The charges the Israeli army brought against Amro all relate to his nonviolent activism, and most sound ridiculous, like “participating in a demonstration without a permit,” and “verbal assault,” the latter for allegedly calling a soldier “stupid” while being detained. Issa Amro, whose work has been recognized by the EU and the UN, adheres strictly to nonviolence as a methodology of resistance. He is a human rights defender who refuses to compromise on his principles. He refuses to accept anything less than full rights for the Palestinian people. As a Palestinian, any action against the occupation carries the cost of detention, arrest, beatings and military prison.

With an astounding 99.74 percent conviction rate in Israel’s military courts, Amro is effectively guilty by default just by virtue of being Palestinian. When Sanders and the other members of Congress wrote letters in support of Amro, they also expressed their doubts that the Israeli military is capable of issuing a fair and impartial verdict in the case. Many of the prosecution’s witnesses contradict each other, and soldiers were even seen laughing about it in the courtroom. But the judge and military court system need little convincing; the trial is a theater production and the outcome is almost guaranteed conviction.

Issa Amro’ is somewhat of a special case, however. The courtroom has been packed to the brim with representatives of European embassies and the U.S. consulate. That international attention is not only exceptional; it is Amro’s only protection.

Bernie Sanders...

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'Israeli police stormed Al-Aqsa mosque, beat 100 worshipers,' complaint says

After Israeli authorities removed controversial metal detectors from Al-Aqsa, Israeli police entered its main mosque, beat worshipers and medics, frogmarched over 100 detainees through the Old City and stuffed them into a city bus, according to a complaint filed by 10 of those arrested.

By Yael Marom

Ten Palestinians recently filed a complaint with Israeli Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department, Israel’s equivalent of an Internal Affairs unit, demanding it launch a criminal investigation against officers who brutally attacked Muslim worshipers inside a mosque at Al-Aqsa two months ago.

The police version

On Thursday, July 27, the Waqf, the Jordanian Islamic trust that manages the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount as part of a half-century-old arrangement with Israel, announced that worshipers should return to the site, Al-Aqsa Compound. Israel had just removed metal detectors from the entrance to the site, one of several measures Israeli authorities implemented after three Palestinian citizens of Israel killed two Border Police officers there. The metal detectors, along with other steps amounting to collective punishment against Palestinian residents of the Old City of Jerusalem, were lifted after more than a week of mass civil disobedience and popular struggle. Palestinians celebrated their rare victory but Israel’s security forces, it seems, had a different idea and warned of possible rioting. The mainstream media unquestioningly bought into to police narrative.

Thousands arrived to take part in the noon prayers that Friday. Dozens were wounded by police who attacked them in the Old City’s narrow alleyways leading to the mosque. Afternoon and evening prayers took place without incident. At around 10:30 p.m.  police, using a megaphone, ordered the remaining worshipers to end their prayers and evacuate the premises. The worshipers complied.

Later that night, police reported that dozens of young Palestinians had locked themselves in al-Qabli mosque, the main mosque in al-Aqsa compound, and refused the police orders to exit. The police further claimed the youth also ignored Waqf officials, who urged them to cooperate. Thus, according to the police (and various media outlets that reported the events as told to them by police): “Police forces entered the mosque where the youth had barricaded themselves and attempted to remove them. A number of youth, who began rioting and clashing with the police, were arrested and taken in for questioning.”

The worshipers who were inside al-Qabli Mosque that night tell a different story.

The...Read More

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