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'It is easy to be a terrorist, it's much harder to pursue peace'

Eight months after she was sent to prison for filming her daughter slap an IDF soldier, Nariman Tamimi speaks about her time behind bars, the case for international pressure on Israel, and the way her family is treated by the Israeli media. ‘They know that Ahed is not a terrorist. If we wanted to be terrorists, we would be the exact opposite of who we are.’

By Oren Ziv

A day after Ahed and Nariman Tamimi’s release from prison on Sunday, media outlets, friends, and activists continued to flood the family in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. Despite a decision not to permit one-on-one interviews, since Tuesday morning reporters from major international media outlets have stood in a giant tent outside the home, waiting to interview Ahed.

The questions have been nearly identical: how was prison? How does it feel to come home? What is your message to the Palestinian people? What are your plans for the future? Yet very few have shown interest in Ahed’s mother, Nariman, who was arrested hours after her daughter, and who also spent eight months in prison. On Sunday the two were released, but not before they were held for hours in a Israel Prison Service facility and then an IDF jeep, where they had their eyes covered until they were finally set free at the entrance to their village. I was the first to interview Nariman following her release.

On the day of their arrest, as Ahed and her cousin Nur confronted the IDF soldiers who entered the Tamimi family’s yard, Nariman decided to turn on the camera and live stream the incident on Facebook. “I began broadcasting so that everyone can see what happened here,” Nariman says as we sit in her yard. Between questions she gets up to welcome the guests who continue to stream in at all hours of the day.

“If you take a regular video, people will say it is staged, that it’s a lie. But when it happens live it is reality,” she adds. When I ask her about the prosecution’s claim that the live stream was meant to urge more people to come confront soldiers, she says that Nabi Saleh is so small that there is “no need for live broadcasts to let people know that the army has invaded the village.”

I first met Nariman in 2009, when the villagers of Nabi Saleh began demonstrating against the takeover of their spring by the settlers...

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A rotten system, not just rotten apples

Settler violence against human rights activists is not the work of a few ‘rotten apples,’ but rather a government-backed strategy that could have dangerous consequences. We should be taking it deathly seriously.

By Libby Lenkinski

Over the last few weeks, the settlers in the West Bank city of Hebron have ramped up their harassment of Breaking the Silence activists who lead tours of the city for Israelis and internationals alike. Two weeks ago, settlers threw paint at tour leader Frima Bubis as she was guiding a group of Birthright walk-offs, and on Sunday a right-wing activist physically assaulted Breaking the Silence founder Yehuda Shaul during a tour.

It is convenient for some observers, and certainly for the Israeli government, to regard these acts and these individuals as aberrations, extremists – just a few rotten apples. I wish that were the story.

In fact, the reaction to these events has proven that they are not aberrations; that they are, in fact, enabled by the Israeli authorities. Though the individual who assaulted Yehuda was arrested, questioned, and released, Israel has consistently refused to take the ongoing problem of settler violence seriously and use the tools available to properly deal with it.

Imagine for a second what it would look like if the Israeli government did take settler violence seriously. We would likely be seeing law enforcement stepping in to arrest violent settlers caught on videotape taunting and assaulting Shaul, Bubis, and Breaking the Silence Executive Director Avner Gvaryahu. We would see increased state-provided security for Breaking the Silence tours to ensure their safety. We would see criminal due process, investigation, charges, and sentencing. Each and every member of Knesset who believes in the rule of law would speak up and make clear that this behavior is unacceptable. We’d see coverage of violent incidents on every major media channel and condemnation from settler and religious leaders.

None of this is happening. Why? Because the assault on Yehuda was not the work of a rotten apple, it was the effect of a rotten system that needs to be fixed.  Some will say it’s no big deal, that we have bigger fish to fry — but they are wrong. Here are three reasons why:

1. The real story is the occupation. Yehuda does not want attention following the assault. Here’s what he posted on Facebook after the attack:

This isn’t uncommon for people who know the...

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Palestinian poet sentenced to five months in prison

Dareen Tatour was convicted of incitement to violence and support for terrorism in her poetry. She has spent the last two years under house arrest.

By Oren Ziv

An Israeli court sentenced Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour to five months in prison Tuesday for incitement to terrorism and violence over poems she published on her personal Facebook page. She will enter prison on August 8th and will serve for less than two months with credit for time served.

“This is a court of the occupation,” Tatour said following her sentencing at Nazareth Magistrate’s Court. “This is a racist state, and the Jewish Nation-State Law only proves that apartheid exists here. This will not deter me; I am not the first prisoner and I won’t be the last, I will continue.”

“I was arrested and put on trial because of the Arabic language, and I call on the entire Arab public to continue writing and expressing itself in our language,” she said.

Tatour’s lawyer, Gaby Lasky, said following the sentencing: “The prosecution asked for a 15-26 month sentence. The court was satisfied with five months including time served, which means she only has two months left in prison. We believe that poetry is not a crime, and thus will appeal the ruling.”

Tatour, who hails from the village of Reineh near Nazareth, was convicted of incitement to terrorism and violence this past May over a poem she wrote titled “Qawem Ya Sha’abi, Qawemhum” (“Resist my people, resist them”), as well as two other posts on social media.

She was arrested in October 2015, after which she spent three months in jail before being placed under house arrest. Tatour’s house arrest, which began in January 2016, included various restrictions. At first she was held at her brother’s home who lives in Kiryat Ono, a suburb of Tel Aviv. Only after a legal struggle was she permitted to return to her parents’ home in Reineh, near Nazareth. Her family was forced to disconnect the internet at home, and Dareen was forbidden from using the computer. For months she was forced to walk around with an ankle monitor.

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Yes, Corbynism poses a threat — but not to Britain's Jews

Smearing Jeremy Corbyn as an anti-Semite has become a popular hobby among members of the British establishment — perhaps because what he stands for is a direct threat to their ideological and economic interests.

By Matan Kaminer

Last week, Haaretz columnist Anshel Pfeffer accused UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of being both anti-Semitic and stupid. He is wrong on both counts. Against enormous odds and powerful political enemies, Corbyn has made a case for socialism that has enthused millions of people, a case that may well bring him to Downing Street soon. He has done so by building a multi-colored coalition that welcomes Jews as well as members of Britain’s many other minority groups.

Despite the boldness of his bottom line, Pfeffer admits that he has “never quite been able to work out whether Corbyn is an anti-Semite himself.” That Pfeffer’s evidence should be so weak is telling; as an expert on British politics — and no friend of Corbynism — he would certainly seize on any proof of this claim if such existed.

Pfeffer is not alone. Smearing Corbyn as an anti-Semite has become a popular hobby among the British establishment, including portions of the Labour Party as well as the Conservatives. And yet nothing has stuck. The most serious evidence used to substantiate the claim is Corbyn’s previous support for an artist whose mural was erased for containing anti-Semitic themes back in 2012. This support was apparently based on a superficial glance at a photo on Facebook; the mural was indeed anti-Semitic, and Corbyn, then a backbench member of Parliament, should have known better. He has acknowledged this and apologized.

The most recent edition of the smear campaign has blown up around the Labour Party’s adoption of the definition of anti-Semitism proposed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Association. You read that right: the definition was adopted, not rejected. What Labour’s National Executive Council omitted from its Code of Conduct were some of the examples laid out in the IHRA document. As close Corbyn ally and British Jew Jon Lansman points out, three of the four types of anti-Semitic behavior covered by these examples – accusing Jews of being more loyal to Israel than their own countries, holding Israel to higher standards than other countries, and comparing it to the Nazi regime – are all covered by the code. The only example...

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How Israel betrayed its most loyal minority

The Nation-State Law, which enshrines supremacy for Jews in Israel, has made it clear to the country’s Druze population that we are not equals. So why don’t we demand it be abolished completely?

By Dalia Halabi

The Jewish Nation-State Law has been a watershed moment for Israel’s Druze population and its relationship to the Jewish state and its institutions. The law clearly states that there is no such thing as an “Israeli” citizenship; that this land is home to those who were born Jews, as well as those who were not born to the “chosen people.”

Over the past few days, I have heard many from my community reel in real anger, pain, and disappointment. How could it be that after so many years of unconditional sacrifices on their part, the country that they so believed in returns the favor with a racist law that removes the Druze from the equation and defines them as not belonging to their homeland? How does one deal with such a slap to the face, and how can we accept this new reality, enshrined in law, which defines the supremacy of the Jewish people as lords of this land, while denying the rest of its residents — including the Druze — the basic right to feel a deep connection to this place? Could it be that the alliance they struck with the Jewish state is slowly being shattered?

The responses by Druze members of Knesset, former and current high-ranking IDF officials, council heads, and religious leaders were quick to follow. They all shared one common demand: fix the law so that it ensures equality for Druze citizens. They did not, heaven forbid, demand it be abolished entirely. As long as we as a group remain protected from this law, we won’t have a problem with it. As long as we ensure that it does not infringe on our rights, we won’t oppose it.

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This kind of discussion is not only strange, it is immoral. We must demand that the law be rescinded for good, since it harms all of us: Arabs and Jews, Druze and non-Druze. I cannot fathom that we cannot discuss the fact that this law is a disaster for all of us, and how, once again, we Druze are unable to break through the boundaries and unequivocally oppose what is happening here.

These are undoubtedly difficult days — not only in Israel, but...

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Meet the poet whose words Israel considers terrorism

After being convicted of incitement to terrorism, and just before she is handed her sentence, Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour opens up in a personal interview about her Kafkaesque trial, the struggle of Palestinian citizens, and why she is a real poet, despite what her critics may claim.

By Oren Ziv

On Tuesday, July 31, at 11 a.m. Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour will be sentenced before a Nazareth court. For nearly three years, Tatour has been under house arrest in her family home in the village of Reineh. She is not allowed to use the internet.

Tatour was convicted of inciting terrorism and violence this past May over a poem she wrote titled “Qawem Ya Sha’abi, Qawemhum” (“Resist my people, resist them”), as well as two other posts on social media. The prosecution has asked for a sentence of between 15-26 months.

“Today I know what true freedom is,” Tatour tells me when we meet in her home. “It is true that I am imprisoned and this is very difficult, but I feel as if I have ripped off many chains in many aspects of my life,” says the woman who has become one of the symbols of Israel’s “Facebook arrests” in the West Bank, Jerusalem, and inside Israel. “I feel like I have broken through all the restrictions on me, from my society, my environment, and the occupation, even as I am in detention. In my eyes, this is the real victory.”

As we sit in her room, where she spends most of her time, Tatour tells me everything that has happened from the moment she was arrested in the early hours of October 11, 2015, when police raided her home and took her in for interrogation. “My dream came true,” she tells me. “My poems were heard across the world, and many more people now know the story of Palestinians in ’48 (Palestinian citizens of Israel – O.Z.) — how we live here inside the occupation. They say we have rights. It is true that we have IDs and citizenship, but no one knows how we suffer under this regime.”

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“It is true that I pay a personal price,” she adds, “but I passed on the message to the entire world, and this is no longer my personal story. I am talking about an entire society that...

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New anti-Semitism definition denies Palestinians’ right to challenge oppression

Those attacking the UK Labour party for its newly adopted definition of anti-Semitism are contributing to the silencing of Palestinian voices, the potential criminalization of their struggle against racist Israeli policies, and the negation of their demands for freedom and equality.

By Laila Naheel and Hussein Samih

A furor over a newly adopted definition of anti-Semitism has erupted within the British Labour Party and UK media in recent weeks, with Jewish groups alleging that the definition does not go far enough because it omits certain criticisms of Israel as constituting examples of anti-Semitism.

Absent from these discussions, however, is a crucial voice: that of Palestinians. And as a result, Palestinians are once again being denied the means to express their opposition to the brutality of Israel’s policies and practices.

Anti-Semitism, like all forms of racism, remains a significant problem in British society and must undoubtedly be addressed head-on by the Labour party.  It runs completely counter to any fight for liberty, justice and equality. This is well understood by Palestinians, whose struggle is intrinsically tied to the fate of all oppressed communities including, and especially, the Jewish people.

As has been widely-written, the definition of anti-Semitism adopted by Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) — which is the working definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) — and its examples of anti-Semitism suffer significant problems and shortcomings. Despite this, and contrary to claims made against the party, the NEC endorsed the IHRA’s definition in full, but only excluded four of the eleven examples of anti-Semitism that accompany it.

The four omitted examples relate to: 1) Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel; 2) Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis; 3) Applying double standards to Israel by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation; and 4) Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.

There is little dispute as to the accuracy or utility of the first two examples – something which is reflected in the new Labour party guidelines. Yet there is arguably still some debate to be had as to whether these in themselves, without knowledge of intent, can always be defined as anti-Semitic. While it is at the discretion of the Labour party to determine...

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Israel sent an average of 29 Palestinians a month to admin. detention last year

As of May 2018, 440 Palestinians were being held in Israeli prisons without charge or trial, according to new data. Administrative detention orders can be renewed indefinitely, without any way for the prisoner to defend themselves in court.

By Yael Marom

Israeli authorities sent an average of 29 Palestinians a month to prison without charge or trial last year, according to new data provided by the Israel Prison service to B’Tselem. Over the past decade there was not a single month in which Israel held fewer than 150 Palestinians in administrative detention.

According to the data, as of May 2018, Israel was imprisoning 440 people in administrative detention, without charge or trial, among them two women and three minors.

Three of those people being held in administrative detention are currently on hunger strike, according to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club. One of them, 30-year-old Hassan Shuka, has reportedly been on hunger strike for 54 days. Another administrative detainee, Mahmoud Iyad, has reportedly been on hunger strike for 22 days, and a third, Anas Shadid, for nine days.

Administrative detention is a practice which Israel uses to detain Palestinians (and occasionally some Jews) without charge or trial — indefinitely.

Administrative detention orders are reviewed every six months, but the detainees are not told of what crimes they are being accused or shown the evidence against them. The result is that it is virtually impossible to defend oneself against an administrative detention order.

Under international law, administrative detention should only be used in the most extreme cases.

In most modern legal systems, police or prosecutors release suspects when they don’t have enough evidence to charge them with a crime. In Israel, especially when the suspect is Palestinian, prosecutors and security forces find other ways to keep them behind bars.

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Several years ago, at the height of mass hunger strikes by Palestinian prisoners, a senior Israeli security official confirmed that the state uses administrative detention in many cases out of laziness and when it just hadn’t bothered to collect enough evidence.

Then-public security minister Yitzhak Aharonovich recommended to security officials at the time that administrative detention be used “only if there is a need and not in all cases,” an implicit admission that the practice was being applied in far more cases than the exceptional, extreme circumstances in which international...

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I don't need a law to remind me of my inequality

I do not need the Jewish Nation-State Law to remind me that I am not equal to my Jewish friends. And yet, I was born here, I grew up here, this is my homeland. I have no intention of going anywhere.

By Yasmeen Abu Fraiha

Write it down, I am an Arab woman
Born to this land
I am Palestinian
My parents are Palestinian
And my ancestors are Palestinian

My mother and her family were expelled from their home in 1967, when she was only eight, so that the army could use it as a military outpost. My grandmother was beaten by IDF soldiers when she returned one night to ask for blankets to protect her seven children, who were forced to sleep outside, from the cold. My father grew up in dire poverty, with no access to water or electricity, while new, affluent Jewish towns were sprouting up around him on his ancestors’ land. This history is part of me, and no law will change that.

I do not need the Jewish Nation-State Law to remind me that I am not equal to my Jewish friends. I am reminded of this on every drive to Ben Gurion Airport, during which I undergo rigorous security checks because of my last name. I am reminded of it by every landlord who hears my father’s accent and suddenly decides that the apartment is no longer relevant. Every time my brother tells me that he was asked to show his ID at the entrance to his university campus, even though his friends are never asked to do the same. I am reminded every time I am asked “You’re Arab? Wow, you don’t look Arab! No worries, we are all human,” and every time I receive stares when I speak in Arabic.

I do not need the Jewish Nation-State Law to remind me that Arabic is not the official language of the State of Israel. I am reminded every time I see poor translations published by government ministries and authorities. Every time I enter a bookstore and cannot find books in Arabic. I am reminded of it every time I discover that yet another important medical document was not translated into Arabic, or when there are no Arabic subtitles on television.

Racism and inequality is not a political issue, it is personal. When my mother cannot be buried in the place she lived...



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For many Gazans, the sea is the only escape from the siege

By Amjad Yaghi

GAZA CITY — At around sunset, the main road along Gaza’s seaside promenade, the Corniche, grows crowded with people, cars, and street vendors. Families sit on plastic chairs from home, children run and play, and young men gather to share and cast away their worries. And there are the vendors, trying to make ends meet.

This is where people go to escape.

It is summer, and the people of Gaza are fleeing the heat and the darkness of their houses, otherwise inescapable due to the dire electricity crisis. On the beach they can find light and fresh air, a temporary refuge from life under an ever-tightening siege and the dire economic situation it has created.

For the past 12 years, the people of Gaza have had nowhere to relax except the sea. Yet even that has been taken from them. Due to the electricity crisis, untreated sewage and waste water is pumped directly into the sea, causing pollution that affects 75 percent of Gaza’s coastal waters. Palestinian environmental and health authorities have warned residents against entering the water in all of three specific locations. A five-year-old boy died last year after swimming in the Gaza sea.

Shelter for the unemployed

Every evening at 7 p.m., Mohamed al-Tanani walks from his house in Al-Shati refugee camp to the Sheikh Ijleen neighborhood in western Gaza City, where many of the city’s restaurants and cafes are located. Instead of heading to a cafe, he sits on a sidewalk near the street vendors who sell food and drinks at affordable prices.

Al-Tanani, 25, graduated with a degree in business administration in 2015, yet has since been unable to find a job. In fact, he is one of the quarter million young people in the Gaza Strip who are unemployed. According to a recent report published by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, 255,000 people in Gaza are unemployed — an unemployment rate of 49 percent.

“We in Gaza have no life. I have almost lost hope,” al-Tanani says. “My day starts at night when I am by the sea, where I let my thoughts and cares drift away. I go there to feel some light that we do not have at home. I drink coffee or tea and smoke shisha, and at midnight I go back home. In the morning, I look online for any job opportunities, but it...

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Tisha B’Av and the mainstreaming of the Temple discourse

The further Israel moves from a solution to the conflict, the more it finds itself in need of the symbols of the religious right. As long as liberal Israelis do not fully renounce the sanctification of blood and land, they will be unable to present a real alternative.  

By Yudith Oppenheimer

I have not adhered to halakha in my daily life for years now, but in spite of this I do fast on Tisha B’Av. I am often asked if I am mourning the destruction of the Temple and the answer is both yes and no.

Yes, I identify with the historic Jewish consciousness of destruction, exile and catastrophe that are associated with this date. No, I do not hope for the building of a third Temple. The Temple sacrificial ritual and the Cohanim autocracy, subject to sharp internal criticism prior to the destruction of the Temple, gave way to the Talmudic give-and-take which valued the multiplicity of opinions and debate.

Even if the Romans had not destroyed the Temple, Judaism would have eventually abandoned it, and if not, God forbid, Jewish culture would have atrophied. A number of anti-Temple sects had already developed prior to the destruction, one of which was to become the largest religion in the world. However, due to the catastrophe of its destruction, the Temple became the locus of future redemption.

Post-Temple Judaism managed, for the most part, to embrace the tension between the longing for the Temple as a utopian symbol, and the solid foundations of halakha, moral teachings and interpretations grounded in everyday life. However, there were also periods of messianic foment and attempts to speed up the redemption, almost all of which came to disastrous ends.

Zionism was a daring attempt to harness the messianic tension for social-political action in — and not outside of — history. From the outset this involved walking a thin line because, as Gershom Scholem and others stated, the land of the Bible, its landscapes and language, were largely inseparable from the loaded values and symbolic images with which they were imbued.

The more Zionism invested in denying the existence and presence of the Arab inhabitants of the land, and later in maintaining the occupation, the more it needed the array of sanctified justifications that seemingly granted it exclusive ownership of the land. Thus, the Temple reappeared and took up its place as a foundational Zionist symbol.

It would...

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LGBTQ Israelis hold mass strike, protests demanding equality

A discriminatory surrogacy law sparks mass protests by LGBTQ Israelis, tens of thousands of whom take part in a nationwide general strike. Some 80,000 fill Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square.

By +972 Magazine Staff

The Israeli LGBTQ community staged a nationwide strike on Sunday to protest discrimination and inequality, sparked by a new law to ease surrogacy regulations that left male gay couples without the ability to use a surrogate to have a child.

An estimated tens of thousands of members of the community joined the one-day strike to protest the law, tying the action to the broader discrimination many members of the LGBTQ community face.

More than 50 companies and businesses expressed their support for the strike and the protests, among them the local offices of Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft. Some companies said they would enact policies to help their workers become parents via a surrogate, regardless of sexual orientation.

Thousands blocked traffic on the streets of Tel Aviv Sunday morning before shutting down one of the country’s busiest freeways. Hundreds more protested in Jerusalem, where several people were arrested.

On Sunday night, an estimated 80,000 LGBTQ Israelis and allies filled Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square at a mass protest which capped off the day’s demonstrations and actions.

Thousands also took to the streets in the south Tel Aviv neighborhood of Florentin on Sunday evening for a separate demonstration, protesting the stabbing of a 23-year-old sex worker early last week, which left her in serious condition. The attacker was arrested and could be indicted on charges of attempted murder.

According to LGBTQ activists, Sunday’s strike and protests hearkens back to the 2011 social justice protests, in which hundreds of thousands of Israelis took to the streets to demand reforms over growing economic disparities. Many in the community have openly criticized the government for using LGBTQ rights in order to paint Israel as a haven for queer people in the Middle East, while simultaneously opposing legislation that would grant them full equality.

Prime Minister Netanyahu initially pledged his support for a change in the surrogacy law, proposed by MK Amir Ohana, an openly gay member of Netanyahu’s own Likud party, which would have allowed male gay couples to use a surrogate. (Lesbian couples are now allowed to use surrogates.) However, Netanyahu ended up voting against the measure, reportedly under pressure from ultra-Orthodox members of his government. Until the law was updated on Wednesday, the right to surrogacy had only been...

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With new laws, Netanyahu is hijacking Judaism as we know it

The leader of the largest Jewish population in the world is consciously abandoning modern Jewish identity in order to usher in a new Judaism. What kind? Just look to the Jewish Nation-State and Holocaust law.

By David Sarna Galdi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised the ire of the Jewish world earlier this month when he went on national television to announce his support for an amended version of the controversial Polish Holocaust Law, a gimmick invented by Poland’s anti-democratic government to gain favor with its right-wing base.

The law effectively endangers free discussion about the Holocaust and presents a white-washed narrative of Polish behavior during World War II: that Polish authorities and most civilians went out of their way to save Jews, and that the betrayal of a Jew by a Pole was a rare anomaly.

Politicians from across the Israeli spectrum hurled attacks at the prime minister. Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust museum, voiced official dissent, while Israel-Prize winning Holocaust historian Yehuda Bauer delivered the most biting indictment, calling the law a “betrayal,” and a “complete lie.”

Just weeks later, Netanyahu pushed the controversial Jewish Nation-State Law through the Knesset, despite tremendous public and institutional backlash. The law is common sense on its surface, re-stating Israel’s Jewish character. It deviously leaves out, however, any commitment to equal rights, legalizes preferential settlement-building for Jews, and downgrades Arabic’s status as an official language of the state.

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Put simply, it is a gratuitous ultranationalist attack — a racial law institutionalizing discrimination against Israel’s minorities, specifically Arabs, who make up 20 percent of the population. Before it passed, thousands of demonstrators gathered in Tel Aviv to protest. An alliance of 14 American Jewish organizations officially voiced their disapproval and political figures on all sides opposed the law.

The timing of these two seemingly-unrelated pieces of legislation exposes Netanyahu’s quiet coup: a calculated, radical revision of what it means to be Jewish.

Abandoning Judaism

Jewish identity has drastically changed twice in history. First, when exile turned the Hebrew nation into a displaced, scattered minority susceptible to both anti-Semitism and successful assimilation in the diaspora. Jews began...

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