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Why Hamas is staying out of Israel’s fight with Islamic Jihad

Israeli security and political coordination with Hamas has served mutual interests for many years. Now Hamas is hoping to stay out of the current fighting in order to potentially expand its political power in the West Bank.

By Menachem Klein

The new round of fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad in Gaza gives one the impression that there is an unwritten agreement between Israel and Hamas. This is not exceptional in relations between enemies with common interests. Syria and Israel, for example, once had an understanding regarding the red lines of the latter’s involvement in Lebanon.

A knowledge of recent history is necessary in order to understand the delicate dance between Israel and Hamas. In 2007 Hamas ousted Fatah, which then ruled Gaza under strongman Mohammed Dahlan. In response, Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza, hoping it would bring down the Hamas regime, either through external pressure or by inciting an internal Palestinian revolt. That strategy failed: Hamas remains in power until today.

Israel changed its policy of overthrowing Hamas around 2010, opting instead for a type of co-existence. The government decided to institutionalize the separation between Gaza and the West Bank, gradually annexing parts of the latter while reaching practical agreements with Hamas. Israel refuses to allow Hamas a foothold in the West Bank, which is one of the primary reasons for its security coordination with Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority.

Israel thus strengthens Abbas’ rule while increasing suspicion and hostility toward Hamas, but it has also reconciled itself to perpetual Hamas rule in Gaza. It uses classic divide-and-conquer tactics to control Palestinians on both sides, while understanding that should Hamas fall, the vacuum could be filled by one of the ISIS-aligned groups based in Sinai. Israel needs a stable relationship with Hamas in order to keep ISIS out of Gaza.

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The coordination with Hamas was suspended in 2014, after Palestinian militants abducted and killed three Israeli boys in the West Bank. Israel accused Hamas of being responsible, ignoring its denials, and re-arrested Palestinian prisoners who had been released as part of the deal to release Gilad Shalit. That set in motion a military confrontation that ended the same way earlier rounds of fighting did — with the re-affirmation of previous strategic understandings, including easing the blockade, expanding Gaza’s fishing zone, and allowing money from Qatar into...

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New VR app circumvents Israel's travel bans, takes viewers across Palestine

Palestine VR offers virtual tours across six regions in the West Bank and Gaza, allowing viewers to ‘see the reality on the ground’ themselves.

By Jaclynn Ashly

Israel’s separation wall snakes around Bethlehem’s Aida refugee camp in the West Bank. Solidarity graffiti is spray-painted all over the concrete slabs. Black water tanks, some of which are riddled with bullet holes, dot the roofs of the tightly-compacted homes. A military watchtower, equipped with a surveillance camera, protrudes from the barrier.

“For people who have never visited a refugee camp, they might have an image that it’s just rows of tents,” said Munther Amira, a social worker and human rights activist in the camp. Israel has arrested Amira many times, including in 2017, during a nonviolent demonstration against President Trump’s declaration to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and in support of Ahed Tamimi. Strapped with a selfie stick, he is now inviting viewers on a virtual tour of the camp, which is home to some 3,000 Palestinian refugees — including their descendants — who were displaced during the war that preceded the establishment of the State of Israel.

Israel has barred many from seeing Aida Refugee Camp, by denying entry to Palestinian refugees who were expelled from historic Palestine in 1948 and to foreign activists.

A new app is attempting to challenge this. Palestine VR takes viewers on a 360 virtual tour of the West Bank and Gaza. The app is available on smart phones; users can use virtual reality headsets to create a more immersive experience.

Salem Barahmeh, the 30-year-old executive director of the Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy (PIPD) — the NGO that developed the app — said the inspiration for the idea came when Israel decided in August to bar Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian American, and Ilhan Omar from entering Israel. The two congresswomen were planning to participate in a landmark delegation to the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, but were denied entry because they have expressed support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

“We wanted to bring that tour they [the congresswomen] were supposed to participate in and the people they were supposed to meet to the broader world,” said Barahmeh. The app, which was released on Oct. 30, “is an immersive way to come to the place, hear from the people and really get a glimpse of the Palestine...

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What if Israel had decided to expel the settlers of Hebron?

After Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Palestinians in the Cave of the Patriarchs, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin could have taken action against the settlers of Hebron. Instead he put the Palestinians of the city under closure. The consequences of that decision reverberate until today.

By Amiram Goldblum

Following the Cave of the Patriarchs Massacre on Feb. 25, 1994, in which Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein murdered 30 Palestinian worshippers and wounded 120 others in Hebron, then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin found himself with several ways to respond. The West Bank was boiling over and the security establishment was predicting Palestinians would carry out reprisal attacks. Rabin had to act quickly.

Using provocations in order to elicit retaliation from the Palestinians has been a cornerstone in the settlers’ methods of expanding their control. This time — even according to his own wife — Goldstein’s goal was to drive a stake through the Oslo Accords with a massacre that would inevitably bring about a devastating response.

This wasn’t the first time: the Hadassah Convoy Massacre, in which Arab forces killed 77 Jewish doctors and nurses on April 13, 1948, came four days after Zionist paramilitary militias, Irgun and Lehi, committed the infamous massacre in the village of Deir Yassin. The settlers have internalized and improved upon the method.

Rabin’s government could have taken steps to instill calm and strengthen moderate Palestinian leadership during the 40 days of mourning that followed Goldstein’s rampage. Expelling the settlers of Hebron from the city would have proven that the Israeli government acts with determination and can prevent the large-scale reprisal actions that we have witnessed since April 1994, after 40 days of mourning. And there were good reasons to kick them out: ever since they entered the city in 1968, Hebron’s settlers have been a violent group that has caused severe damage in a city with a historically moderate political leadership.

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Yet the plan to remove the settlers was shunned after Prof. Ehud Sprinzak, an expert on terrorism and one of Rabin’s aids, convinced his boss that their evacuation could lead to a civil war. In the meantime, 10 more Palestinians were killed and hundreds more were wounded by the Israeli army in demonstrations that erupted following the massacre in Hebron. Rabin would later wonder aloud before Dennis Ross, the U.S. envoy to the Middle East at...

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The Mizrahi author whose book Mahmoud Abbas wants to distribute

Ishaq Bar-Moshe started writing books in Arabic two decades after he emigrated from Iraq to Israel. It was a radical choice, given that the language aroused deep antipathy in Israel  — but Bar-Moshe was undeterred.

By Naomi Niddam

A few weeks ago, a representative from the office of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called Idit Shemer, an Israeli author, in Jerusalem. “We want to print a few copies of “Departing Iraq,” by Mr. Ishaq Bar-Moshe,” said the voice on the phone. “Abu Mazen [Abbas’s nickname] is interested in distributing them at a conference for Arab leaders, which will take place soon in the West Bank.”

Why is the PA’s president interested in a book by a Jewish Israeli writer?

The answer lies in language: Ishaq Bar-Moshe wrote in Arabic. His first important work was published in Israel during the 1970s, and he chose to write it in literary Arabic (Fusha). When he immigrated from Iraq in 1950 at the age of 23, he already spoke Hebrew and wrote fluently in English, but always felt most at home writing in Arabic. Bar-Moshe passed away in 2003.

“How do you think he would have responded to Abu Mazen’s request?” I ask Shemer, his daughter.

“He would have been very happy,” she said. “My father was a man of dialogue and of co-existence. In literary terms, his book is very important. It was his dream to see his book, which he wrote in Arabic while living in Israel, read by Arabs living across the Middle East and the Palestinian Authority.”

The anonymous voice on the phone from Ramallah was Ziad Darwish, a member of the PLO’s Committee for Interaction with Israeli Society. A few days ago, he invited Bar-Moshe’s family to Ramallah.

“President Abbas is very interested in Arab Jewry, and particularly in Iraqi Jewry,” confirmed Darwish. “He wants to distribute Bar-Moshe’s book because it is a first-person account of Iraqi Jewish life. The president believes it is important to raise awareness among Arab leaders of the Jewish communities that lived in their countries,” he adds.

“Arab Jews were an integral part of the Arab world and they held very important positions. Some Jews describe their experience of living in Arab countries as hellish, while some Arabs claim that Jews in Arab lands conspired against the governing regimes in their...

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Israel killed 222 Gaza protestors since 2018. Only one soldier has been indicted

As Othman Hiles began climbing the Gaza fence, an Israeli soldier opened fire and killed the unarmed 14-year-old. The soldier’s sentence? Community service.

By Eyal Sagiv

Two women and a teenage boy stand close to the fence separating Gaza from Israel, waving Palestinian flags. Four other teenagers approach. One of them, 14-year-old Othman Hiles, is wearing a white shirt and dark pants. He goes up to the fence, touches it, walks along it for a few yards, and touches it again. He puts his foot on the fence and starts to climb. As his second foot reaches the fence, a shot is fired. Hiles is hit in the chest and falls.

A month after Hiles was killed, Israeli Military Advocate General Sharon Afek ordered an investigation into the incident. More than a year later — after Afek had ordered another 10 investigations into the killing of Gazan demonstrators at the hands of Israeli soldiers — the military announced that the soldier responsible for Hiles’ death had been convicted in a plea bargain of “exceeding authority in a manner that endangers human life and health.” The army sentenced him to a month of military labor, a four-month suspended sentence, and demoted him to the rank of private.

We will never know what happened during the MAG Corps meetings the year Afek and his people decided to investigate the deaths of only 11 Palestinian demonstrators, indict only one soldier, agree to an absurd plea bargain and, most importantly, leave the IDF open-fire regulations essentially unchanged.

Not that it really matters. What matters are the facts: Hiles, only 14, was killed more than a year ago on July 13, 2018. What matters is that he was captured being shot on video while climbing the perimeter fence opposite Gaza City during one of the weekly protests held by Gazans almost every weekend since late March 2018. What matters is that since the protests began, Israeli security forces have killed 222 demonstrators and wounded around 8,000 with live fire. What matters is that 45 of those killed were minors, 28 of them under the age of 16, and that most of those killed or wounded were unarmed and were not endangering the soldiers, who were armed and well-protected behind an electronic fence dozens of yards away. There were lookouts, jeeps, crowd control measures, and occasionally, tanks.

Two hundred twenty-two people were...

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The unbearable heaviness of finding freedom outside Gaza

‘I have developed a strange belief that things might go wrong. I am afraid that I will be questioned or stopped. I am seriously unable to believe that I have the right to move.’

By Salsabeel H. Hamdan

For a Palestinian, Gaza is a place from which escape is nearly impossible. Israel has, for the past 13 years, denied all but a tiny number of applicants the right to travel outside the congested, blockaded strip of land that is often described as the world’s largest open-air prison. For those fortunate few who manage to attain a permit to depart, the extreme shock of life outside Gaza is almost unbearable. Freedom is painful: it triggers the release of long-suppressed emotions, and the realization that a lifetime of unending psychological trauma has rendered them unable to normalize the understanding that their lives can be free of fear, scarcity, and helplessness.

Aamer Arouqi, 26, a Palestinian journalist, said that finding asylum in Belgium felt like being released from prison. “It was my first time ever to see, talk, and touch other human beings outside Gaza!” During his first six months in Belgium, Aamer suffered from intense culture shock, as he grappled with his emotional pain. He was haunted by what he described as “a scarcity mindset,” or the inchoate sense that he needed something he did not have. “I still feel the blockade around me, and a sense of limitation, even in my thinking.”

“The first time I heard the sound of a civilian plane I thought it was an Israeli warplane coming to bomb Gaza,” said Aamer. He was sleeping at the time; the sound jerked him awake, screaming as though from a nightmare. After that, he found that his whole body seized up every time he heard a plane flying overhead. Eventually, he moved to an apartment that was further away from the airport.

Ahmed Almassri, 25, won a scholarship to study in Australia. His first experience of seeing a civilian plane shocked him with the understanding of how deeply his life in Gaza had distorted his perceptions. “For me [the plane] symbolized death, but for others it meant a new life,” he said.

The memories, the shared traumas and worldview anchor these young people in the home they have left behind. “It deforms you and your perceptions forever but you can’t help feeling attached to Gaza, especially if you have family...

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Palestinian families fight for relatives' remains held by Israel

A recent Supreme Court ruling has rubber-stamped Israel’s policy of withholding the bodies of Palestinians killed by its security forces.

By Miriam Deprez

Mohammad Elayyan discovered through a Facebook post that his 22-year-old son, Bahaa, had been shot dead by Israeli forces after allegedly carrying out a stabbing and shooting attack in East Jerusalem in October 2015. It would be another 325 days before he saw the body.

“From that moment on, the agony and the long journey of struggle and pursuit of getting my son out of an Israeli refrigerator to be buried began,” Elayyan recalled, as he joined scores of other Palestinian families fighting to have their relatives’ remains returned.

The Israeli government has, since 1967, applied a policy of withholding the bodies of Palestinians killed by its security forces. There are currently more than 250 bodies being held in Israeli morgues and cemeteries, according to the Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC), which is currently fighting for the release of 116 bodies.

This policy has stopped and started several times over the decades, in response to widespread criticism. However, a Supreme Court ruling handed down on Sept. 9 declared that Israel now has the legal right to hold on to the bodies of Palestinian suspects, “based on considerations that take into account state security, civil order, and the need to negotiate for the return of the bodies of Israeli soldiers,” stated Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. The organization considers the ruling one of the Supreme Court’s most “extreme” since Israel’s establishment in 1948.

The ruling contravenes the Geneva Convention, which states that parties involved in an armed conflict must bury the deceased “if possible according to the rites of the religion to which they belonged and that their graves are respected, properly maintained, and marked in such a way that they can always be recognized.”

According to Issam Aruri, director of JLAC, the bodies are used as bargaining chips with Palestinian political factions such as Hamas, who are currently withholding the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed during the 2014 Gaza war.

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“The policy was decided that they will keep the bodies for [a] possible exchange of Israeli soldier bodies that are held in Gaza,” said Aruri. “Those bodies...

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Israeli army arrests Palestinian feminist lawmaker, months after her release

Khalida Jarrar was last released from Israeli custody in February, where she was held for 20 months without charge or trial.

By Jaclynn Ashly

Dozens of Israeli soldiers arrested Khalida Jarrar, a prominent Palestinian left-wing lawmaker and activist, after raiding her home in central Ramallah city in the occupied West Bank overnight on Thursday.

Suha Ghassan, Jarrar’s 29-year-old daughter, was the only other person at home with her mother during the raid. She said she woke up to the sounds of walkie-talkies used by soldiers outside. Jarrar’s husband, Ghassan, was in Jordan at the time — the first time Israel had allowed him to travel abroad in 60 years.

According to Suha, the soldiers began slamming their front door with the butt of their guns. “We told them not to break the door and that we would open it,” she recounted. “There were so many soldiers; I’m not sure how many because I lost count, but there were at least 20-30 soldiers just inside the house.”

A military commander sat down in the family’s living room and asked them “provocative” questions, said Suha. The commander asked Jarrar if she had prepared her bag yet, insinuating that Jarrar should have known Israeli authorities would be after her.

The soldiers then separated Suha from her mother, who was brought into another room to change her clothes. After a prolonged period of demanding to see her mother, Suha was allowed to say goodbye and give her mother a hug before Jarrar was escorted outside and led into an Israeli army jeep.

It’s not an uncommon scene for the former member of the dormant Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). Jarrar has been arrested before, in 2015 and 2017. She was last released from Israel’s Damon prison in February, after nearly two years under administrative detention — the controversial Israeli policy of imprisonment without charge or trial, used almost exclusively against Palestinians. This form of detention is based on undisclosed evidence that even a detainee’s lawyer is barred from viewing, and can be renewed indefinitely for three-to-six month intervals.

Jarrar is one of Palestine’s most distinguished and popular politicians. She has served as a fierce women’s rights activist for years, both inside and outside Israel’s prison walls, which included successfully advocating for women prisoners to take secondary school matriculation exams while serving their sentences in Israeli prisons. When she was last incarcerated, she headed courses on international law and human...

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Israel is turning Palestinian students into criminals

Israeli authorities have arrested at least 64 Palestinian university students since the start of 2019. That number is only growing.

By Jaclynn Ashly

Earlier this month, Mais Abu Ghosh, a student at Birzeit University in the West Bank, sent a letter to her family from Damon Prison in northern Israel.

“I love you so much,” Abu Ghosh wrote. “I am fine as long as you and those whom I love are fine […] You are in my mind and my spirit.” She asked her family to send greetings to her university friends and to her professors, “with no exceptions.” She added: “I am with another family now. All difficulties will pass.”

Israeli forces arrested Abu Ghosh in late August. She is one of dozens of Palestinian students who have been detained over the past three months, in a heightened crackdown on students across the occupied West Bank.

According to data collected by Right to Education, a grassroots campaign aimed at defending education in Palestine, Israeli forces have detained at least 64 university students since the start of this year. Eighteen of the detainees are students at Birzeit — the second-largest university in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli authorities routinely arrest politically active Palestinian students, but rights groups say the numbers have increased with the current crackdown.

Escalation in arrests

A spokesperson at Addameer, a Palestinian prisoners’ rights organization, told +972 that Israel has been targeting an increasing number of Palestinian students since the start of 2019. There are currently 260 Palestinian high school and university students in Israeli prisons.

Of the 18 Birzeit students who were arrested in August, Israel has released only three. All of them were taken from their homes during overnight army raids, with Israeli soldiers using “excessive force” in the course of making the arrests, according to Addameer.

Most of the detained Birzeit students are still under interrogation, which could last up to 75 days or be extended to another 90 days. Three of the students have been placed under administrative detention – a policy inherited from the British Mandate, by which Israel holds detainees indefinitely, without charge. It is used almost exclusively against Palestinians.

Addameer has expressed “serious concern for the well-being and health” of the student detainees, noting that many have been prohibited from seeing lawyers and have been subjected to “torture and ill-treatment.”

According to Right to Education, 80...

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Jewish-Arab partnership as an antidote to Jewish supremacism

We need to redefine Israeli politics. No more left and right, liberal or conservative, religious versus secular. Instead: a new partnership of Arabs and Jews, working side-by-side to combat Jewish supremacism.

By Meron Rapoport and Ameer Fakhoury

Israel has been at a political dead end for many months, particularly since the most recent national election in September. The outgoing prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has only 55 of the 61 mandates required to form a governing coalition. Benny Gantz, the head of the Blue and White party, says he wants to form a “liberal unity government” with Likud and Avigdor Liberman, but he, too, lacks the necessary 61 seats, and thus far he has not succeeded in detaching any of the 55 mandates from Netanyahu’s bloc. Lieberman is determined to take Netanyahu down, but if he were to join a center-left coalition, he would torpedo the political career he built on far-right secular nationalism and hatred of Arabs. So, he is sitting on the fence.

The only way out of this paralysis is a minority government coalition composed of Blue and White, Labor-Gesher, and the Democratic Camp, with the support of the Joint List — and without Liberman. Blue and White, however, is not quite ready for this move. Nor are its potential political allies prepared to bridge the gaps between their disparate views. 

This situation encapsulates the argument for creating a new political movement that is based on shared values. Instead of continuing to define as right or left, liberal or conservative, religious or secular, we need a political and civil society partnership between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel who share a commitment to combating Israel’s greatest national threat: Jewish supremacism.

This Arab-Jewish partnership need not be connected to any single political party. All its potential adherents would need is a shared understanding that a truly democratic government and an end to the conflict requires equal citizenship for Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel, and that a political partnership between the two peoples will have a mobilizing influence both on Israel and on the entire region between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.

Given today’s political map, such a movement could be represented by a partnership between the Joint List, Labor-Bridge and the Democratic Camp. There are significant ideological differences between each of these parties, but they all share...

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The GOP has mainstreamed white nationalist anti-Semitism

One year on from the Pittsburgh shooting, it’s clear that the Trump administration and the GOP, along with their media boosters, have helped create the climate for lethal white nationalist anti-Semitism to thrive.

By Ben Lorber

One year ago last Sunday, a white nationalist committed the deadliest attack against Jews in American history, killing 11 worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

As for many American Jews, that day will remain etched in my memory forever — a mixture of disbelief, shock, fear, and grief. The identity of the shooter, however, was not a surprise: a white nationalist committed to the movement’s core belief that Jews are the chief orchestrators of “white genocide” — the “great replacement” of whites in America by non-white immigration and the forces of multiculturalism.

The shooter’s anti-Semitism didn’t rise in a vacuum. The dog-whistle rhetoric against George Soros and “globalists” voiced by the Trump administration, right-wing politicians and Fox News in the days leading up to the shooting helped create the climate that motivated the shooter to take action.

Days after the shooting, Vice President Mike Pence explicitly denied that Trump’s scapegoating rhetoric had played any role. Six months later, after another white nationalist shot up a synagogue in Poway, killing one, right-wing leaders — from Trump Jr. to Ted Cruz  — repeated this ploy, rushing to point the finger at progressives instead of white nationalists. For Jews still mourning the Pittsburgh massacre, these added injuries were an outrage.

We’re all used to this pattern by now. White nationalists continue to commit deadly attacks against Jews, immigrants and other minorities, while right-wing leaders continue to deflect from this reality, and instead falsely portray progressive leaders and social movements, from Ilhan Omar to the Women’s March, as the chief threats to American Jews. Now, more than ever, we need to understand and confront the threats posed to Jews and other minorities, and multiracial democracy as a whole, by white nationalism and the forces of Trumpism.

It is with this in mind that my organization, Political Research Associates, has just released a new report, “Taking Aim at Multiracial Democracy: Antisemitism, White Nationalism and Anti-Immigrant Racism in the Era of Trump,” in collaboration with Bend the Arc, a progressive Jewish advocacy group. The report highlights growing white nationalist anti-Semitism in...

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The settlers who beat me didn't care that I am an observant Jew

The settlers of Yitzhar beat me with crowbars and threw a stone at my head that split open the skin. Then they set fire to the olive groves.

By Isaac Johnston

On October 16 a group of approximately 15 masked Jewish settlers, armed with metal crowbars and rocks, attacked volunteers from Rabbis for Human Rights as they helped the Palestinian residents of Burin harvest their olives. I was one of those volunteers.

The attackers hit me on my back and shin with crowbars, and threw a stone at my head that split open the skin, causing a wound that required four stitches. Even as we yelled that we were leaving and pleaded with them not to harm us, they continued to attack. Then they set fire to the olive grove.

I always wondered what the reaction of my own community would be if something like this happened to me.

As an American Jew who is critical of Israeli government policies, I have experienced verbal attacks. In high school, because I supported J Street, some of my fellow Jews accosted me and spat out verbal epithets; they called me a kapo or a self-hating Jew, comparing me to Hitler or Mussolini.

But I never imagined my fellow Jews attacking me physically — let alone during the holy days of Sukkot.

Before the incident in Burin, I imagined my criticism of Israeli policies might lead to my being held back for extra questioning at Ben Gurion Airport, or to some other type of verbal harassment. I wondered whether the Jewish institutions in which I had been raised, and which influenced my views and life path, would issue a statement if that happened. If the Jewish day schools I attended would comment publicly; or if Hillel, to which I dedicated the last four years of my life, would condemn anything Israel did. I wondered if the Chicago Jewish community would speak up.

Last week’s incident was one of 150 documented violent attacks committed in 2019 by residents of Yitzhar, which is only one of several radical settlements in the West Bank. This attack was meant to terrorize the volunteers and local Palestinians. The perpetrators did not target our heads to kill, but rather our kneecaps and legs to injure. They did this to indicate that they are the lords of the land — even if that title is exacted at the price of beating an 80...

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The judge who designed the legal foundations of Israel's occupation

No one personifies the Zionist dissonance more than Meir Shamgar, the former president of the Supreme Court who died last week. He created the legal provisions for the protection of personal rights, while enshrining Israel’s rule over the occupied territories.

By Michael Sfard

Meir Shamgar, the former president of the Supreme Court of Israel, died on Oct. 18 at the age of 94, having left an indelible signature on the Israeli legal system, which he shaped and defined. After an illustrious career as military advocate general and attorney general, he was appointed to the Supreme Court — first as a judge in 1975 and then in 1983 as its president. It was in that position that he presided over the most critical transition in the court’s history since the founding of the state.

Shamgar is largely responsible for the Israeli judiciary’s reputation as a professional and independent body, which is committed to protecting individual freedoms within the Green Line. Together with his then-deputy Aharon Barak, who succeeded him as president of the Supreme Court, Shamgar shaped an activist judiciary that imposed the rule of law on the executive branch, establishing the judiciary’s power to invalidate Knesset legislation in cases where it violates the State of Israel’s Basic Law. He led a constitutional revolution, which political actors are today attempting to crush.

Over the past week, his many colleagues and close friends have described him as a great man of towering intellect and deeply held ethical values who shaped the foundations of a liberal, democratic, advanced legal system; and as the most significant and powerful gatekeeper of the Israeli governmental system.

This description is correct, but incomplete. As we know, a witness must tell not only the truth, but the whole truth. And the whole truth is that Shamgar headed two judicial systems — not just one.

In tandem with the protections he implemented for the important rights and freedoms dear to the Ashkenazi middle class of the time (freedom of expression, freedom from religious coercion, the battle against government corruption), Shamgar turned the Supreme Court into an ally of the security establishment, ready to assist in strengthening and deepening the other legal system Israel has created – the one that governs the occupied Palestinian territories and the settlement enterprise. In that section of Shamgar’s court, attorneys and judges utilized (and continue to utilize) their valuable knowledge and skills to...

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