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'We'll build a new country': Sudanese refugees celebrate Bashir's downfall in Tel Aviv

Celebrations erupt on the streets of south Tel Aviv as Sudan’s dictator steps down after 30 bloody years in power. Despite what appears to be a military takeover, Sudanese asylum seekers in Israel believe their revolution will win out. 

By Edo Konrad and Oren Ziv

Mutasim Ali didn’t have much time to talk when we met in his south Tel Aviv office Thursday morning. The Sudanese Army had just announced that Omar al-Bashir, who has ruthlessly lead Sudan for the last 30 years, was preparing to step down, and Ali had a party to plan.

After all, for Ali and for the approximately 7,000 Sudanese asylum seekers in Israel, al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in Darfur, is the very reason they fled their homeland. Al-Bashir’s downfall feels like it could bring them closer to the day he and hundreds of thousands of Sudanese refugees worldwide can return to their homes.

As a university student, Ali was persecuted and imprisoned for demonstrating against the regime, prompting him to flee to Israel. His home in Darfur was burned down by pro-government militias, and his family still lives in a displaced persons’ camp.

“This is one of the most exciting days of our lives,” says Ali, who has since become a lawyer and is one of the leading activists for refugee rights in Israel, as we leave the office and head across town to meet other Sudanese asylum seeker friends.

“On the one hand, there is nothing more beautiful than watching our people rise up against this dictatorship. On the other hand, I can’t help but feel jealous that I am not out there in the streets with them,” he says, his eyes nearly welling up with tears.

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There are thousands of Sudanese asylum seekers in Israel, where they have found safety but not refugee protections, do not hold legal status, and lack many basic services and rights. Ali is the only Sudanese national to have been recognized as a refugee by Israel. The government has invested great time in resources in finding ways to deport African asylum seekers and in lieu of that, to making their lives miserable here. Those who were able have left for more welcoming countries, but most will tell you their real dream is to return home.

“I have been...

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Why the Zionist left died this week

Stuck in a Zionist paradigm, Israel’s mainstream left-wing parties are unable to put forth a vision of equality and inclusion for all in Israel-Palestine.

Tuesday’s election results were obvious to anyone paying attention. Although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party and rival Benny Gantz’s Blue and White won the same number of Knesset seats, Gantz has already conceded to Netanyahu, acknowledging that he does not have enough partners to form a governing coalition. Netanyahu will form a government with his “natural allies,” among them the far-right and ultra-Orthodox parties.

One of the most important stories that has been largely overlooked, however, is the spectacular implosion of the Zionist left. Tuesday’s election results, in which Labor plummeted to a record low of six seats, is as close as ever to a coup de grace. The Zionist Left, which includes the liberal Meretz party, is now reduced to just 10 seats in the 120-seat Knesset.

Labor and Meretz lost voters to Gantz’s “anyone but Bibi” campaign. But there is something far more fundamental at play here: neither party has been able to come up with a compelling vision because they are unable to grapple with two issues that haunt Israeli society: the dark legacy of 1948, and five decades of military rule in the occupied territories.

They are afraid because Netanyahu has shifted the discourse so far to the right that discussing the occupation has now become a taboo. Because those who want to talk about human rights violations in the West Bank or Gaza are now labeled traitors. Because talking about the Nakba or the fate of Palestinian refugees is beyond the pale.

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There are, of course, other reasons for the downfall of the once-dominant liberal parties. For much of the past two decades, with the demise of the peace process that it once led, Labor has attempted to position itself as a centrist party with a dovish pedigree, abandoning left-wing politics altogether. While Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin reached out to Arab citizens in the early 90s — the Arab parties helped ensure he could push through the Oslo Accords while keeping his government intact — any talk of a real alliance with Israel’s Palestinian community has never been on the table.

Beset by years of accusations that it was too Ashkenazi-dominated, that it was corrupt, and that it did too little...

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IDF puts Palestinians under closure as Israelis go to the polls

While Jewish Israelis will be able to move freely in and out of the occupied West Bank, millions of Palestinians — even those with entry permits issued by the Israeli army — will be on lock-down.

As millions of Israeli citizens head to the polls to vote on Tuesday, the Israeli army will put Palestinians in the West Bank under complete closure and will seal the Gaza Strip entirely. Movement within the West Bank should not be affected.

This means that as Israeli citizens living in settlements across the occupied territories may move freely back and forth across the Green Line separating Israel and the West Bank, millions of Palestinians are barred from doing so.

Even those tens of thousands of Palestinians who have permits to work inside Israel every day — primarily in construction and maintenance jobs — will not be allowed to go to work that day. Unlike Israelis, for whom Election Day is a paid holiday, they will not be compensated for the one-day leave imposed on them by the Israeli military.

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, for whom leaving requires months-long processes of applying and waiting for an Israeli military permit, which is often denied, will be entirely stuck.

The closure is scheduled to begin at midnight Monday, April 8, and end at midnight on April 9. The army says it will make humanitarian and medical exceptions on a case-by-case basis out of humanitarian basis.

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Palestinians living in the West Bank and most in East Jerusalem — 2,953,000 in total — are not eligible to participate in Israel’s democratic system. That same system, which others get to vote in, rules nearly every aspect of their lives, decides where they can or cannot travel, where they can live, whether they can hold political protests, where they may or may not build, and in some cases even what they can and cannot say. The nearly half a million Israeli settlers who live in the West Bank are not only subject to a different set of laws, they have the right to vote in elections that can change those policies if they have grievances.

In the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army decides what goods may be imported and exported, where fishermen can fish, how much electricity is available on a daily basis, who can enter...

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Win or lose, Netanyahu has already cemented his legacy

In his 10 years in power, Netanyahu has engaged in race-baiting against his own citizens, declared the occupation a permanent feature of Israeli reality, and shifted both the national and international conversation on Palestine. It is time to acknowledge that these are no mere trends — but his very legacy.

Ten years after he was elected prime minister, it is nearly impossible to imagine an Israel without Benjamin Netanyahu at its helm. An entire generation of Israelis has come of age in the Netanyahu era, and much of what young Israelis have internalized about politics, about their identity, and about Israel is the result of the legacy he has already left behind — regardless of whether he is re-elected.

In 10 years of Netanyahu’s rule, the prime minister has emboldened and been emboldened by some of the most extremist elements in Israeli society, engaged in race-baiting against his own citizens, cozied up to authoritarian and anti-Semitic leaders around the world, meddled in the internal politics of Israel’s greatest ally, and declared the occupation a permanent, integral feature of the Israeli reality.

What he’s done differently, whether deliberately or unwittingly, is lay out in the open what previous prime ministers thought best to not openly acknowledge or declare. Israeli leaders have always been lenient toward Jewish radicals, implemented undisguised discriminatory policies against Palestinian citizens, struck deals with despotic regimes around the world, and entrenched the settlement enterprise in the occupied territories.

One of the most defining features of Netanyahu’s legacy, however, is the way in which Israeli civil and political discourse has changed on his watch. To understand the way he has changed Israel, one must first understand the ways in which Netanyahu himself was transformed by the office. While he was always viewed as an outsider in Israeli politics, even within his own party, for years the prime minister retained a certain outward respect for Israel’s minorities, the rule of law, and democratic norms.

That all changed around the last elections, says Amir Fuchs, who heads the Israeli Democracy Institute’s Defending Democratic Values Program. “Some believe Netanyahu was always against the Israeli judicial system and the rule of law — but that’s simply not true,” Fuchs explains. “Before 2015, the prime minister spoke out against attacks on the courts by politicians to his right, while surrounding himself with Likud moderates such as Benny Begin and Dan Meridor or rivals from the political center such as Tzipi...

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What Israelis aren't, but should be talking about in these elections

Could these elections bring about the end of Netanyahu’s rule? Why isn’t anyone talking about half a century of occupation? And do these elections even matter, anyway? +972 and Local Call writers open up on what’s at stake this time around.

Reading much of the Israeli and international press, one might get the impression that the upcoming Israeli elections are solely a referendum on the last 10 years of Netanyahu’s rule. That might be partially true, but there are no few number of issues that aren’t being talked about, and there are stakes — and stakeholders — not being accounted for by most observers.

In order to better understand where our attention should be, I spoke with a number of writers from both +972 Magazine and Local Call, representing various positions in Israeli and Palestinian societies, about the issues they think we need to be talking about, whether these elections matter, and why nobody is talking about the occupation.

But first, what everyone is talking about — Netanyahu. The mainstream consensus holds that these elections are a referendum on the prime minister, and his only serious challengers’ primary platform consists of very little beyond ousting him.

There is no such consensus, however, on what the consequences of ending the reign of Israel’s second-longest serving prime minister would be.

For Amjad Iraqi, there is a danger for the anti-occupation movement in simply replacing Netanyahu, often viewed in progressive and international circles as the man responsible for everything they object to about Israel, with someone seemingly more palatable.

“Part of what has helped expose people to the facts on the ground here and understanding the depth of the occupation and racist policies is Netanyahu, his anti-democratic trends, and his similarities to Trump and other authoritarian leaders,” Iraqi explains.

A victory for Netanyahu rival Benny Gantz, viewed as stately and more moderate than the prime minister, could lead to the erosion of some of the international pressure on Israel today. “Once that pressure is lifted, you lose a lot of the hard work that has been [done over] the past 10 years.” But Netanyahu the individual leader isn’t the problem,” Iraqi adds. “It’s the [entire] Israeli political spectrum.”

For Noam Sheizaf, Netanyahu’s downfall could be a watershed moment for Israeli politics. The prime minister’s reign has relied on “a powerful coalition between ultra-Orthodox, national-religious, the old right-wing elite, and Mizrahi Jews and Russian immigrants...

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Palestinian peace activist denied entry to U.S. for speaking tour

Osama Iliwat was supposed to speak to synagogues, churches, and universities across the United States about the power of nonviolence and bringing an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Instead he was sent back to Palestine.

A Palestinian peace activist was denied entry to the United States last week after being extensively questioned by American border authorities about his political affiliations and about the funders and leadership of the group for which he works. Iliwat was supposed to join a Jewish-American member of the organization for a speaking tour in synagogues, churches, and university campuses across the United States.

Osama Iliwat, a 42-year-old from Jericho, in the West Bank, had a valid visa for the United States and had been admitted into the country on numerous occasions before last week.

Iliwat, a former Palestinian Authority police officer who grew disillusioned with the violence of the Second Intifada, joined Combatants for Peace in 2014 as its Jericho-Jerusalem coordinator. Today, he serves as one of the organization’s public speakers, delivering talks to Israelis, Palestinians, and international audiences on nonviolence as a path toward reconciliation. He has never been convicted of a crime and Israel even gave him a general entry permit that allows him to cross into the country whenever he wants.

During his interrogation at New York’s JFK airport, Iliwat was repeatedly asked about Combatants for Peace and about his political affiliations. In a telephone interview with +972 upon returning to the West Bank, Iliwat said that interrogators focused most of their questions on the organization’s activities, asking for information about the its founders, their political beliefs and affiliations, how often Iliwat speaks to them, and whether they have spent time in Israeli prison. Iliwat said the interrogators also asked him about the West Bank tours Combatants for Peace organizes, and which Palestinian political movement he supports.

Combatants for Peace was formed in 2006 as an organization founded by both former Israeli soldiers and Palestinian armed fighters committed to nonviolent action against the “Israeli occupation and all forms of violence.” The group leads tours of the West Bank, supports various communities in the West Bank who face violence from settlers and the Israeli army, and has put on an alternative memorial day event for the past 11 years. While the former Israeli soldiers in Combatants for Peace served in an army that receives support from the U.S. government, Palestinian combatants are often seen as former terrorists by both Israel...

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Movement for Black Lives backs leaders hit with anti-Semitism smears

The Movement for Black Lives comes out in support of Black progressive leaders such as Ilhan Omar, Angela Davis, and Marc Lamont Hill, who have been targeted for speaking out in favor of Palestinian rights.

The Movement for Black Lives (M4BL), a coalition of more than 50 organizations representing black Americans, this week came out strongly in support of Black progressive leaders who have spoken out in favor of Palestinian rights and defending them against charges of anti-Semitism they have faced as a result.

Charges of anti-Semitism against progressive black Americans, the movement said in a statement, have been “leveled to silence criticism of the Israeli government, to regulate behavior and to try and mute independent Black political voices that are connected to communities across the country and abroad.”

The last few years have seen an increasing number of prominent Black Americans openly criticizing the policies of the Israeli government. In recent months, that criticism has exacted a price, with American pro-Israel groups accusing figures such as Angela Davis, Michelle Alexander, Marc Lamont Hill, and recently Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, of anti-Semitism.

For Davis, her support for BDS led to a prestigious civil rights award being rescinded following pressure by pro-Israel groups (the decision was later annulled, following backlash). For Hill, espousing freedom and equality for Israelis and Palestinians alike meant losing his job as a CNN commentator. For Omar, it meant facing the wrath of one of the most powerful lobbies in the United States.

“We categorically reject the erroneous assumption that all criticism of the Israeli government is anti-Semitic,” continued the statement. “This strategy, that has included things like firings and public character assassinations of leaders, is intended to undermine, censor and silence Black leadership, while ignoring our movement’s history of internationalism, particularly our consistent condemnation of all forms of anti-Semitism.”

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The attacks, which M4BL likened to the McCarthyist witch-hunts of the 1950s, are part of the right’s attempts to distort the “history of anti-Jewish violence and oppression, then use this misrepresentation as a tool to promote a right-wing nationalist agenda — at home and abroad,”it said.

“[The] long-standing aversion to Black leaders expressing views on foreign policy persists today because of anti-Black racism and a fear of solidarity across movements in this country and abroad,” the statement continued.

This is not the first time M4BL has...

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WATCH: Israeli police snatch Palestinian flags from protesters in Jerusalem

If the Palestinian flag is legal, why do Israeli police view it as such a threat?

In East Jerusalem, the city Palestinians claim as the capital of their future state, waving the Palestinian national flag is becoming verboten. Over the past year, activists have noticed an increase in police attempts to confiscate the flags during demonstrations across the city.

The latest example came earlier this month, during a protest against the eviction of the Sabag and Hamad families from their homes in the neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. A video published by Israeli activist Guy Butavia shows group of Israeli police officers walking into a crowd of Palestinian and left-wing Israeli activists (including +972 writer Orly Noy), many of whom are holding small Palestinian stick flags. The officers proceed to confiscate the flags, one by one.

At first, it almost seems like some kind of game; the protesters appear bemused, as if they know they are actors in some kind of bizarre political theater. Once it becomes clear, however, that the officers are intent on taking every single Palestinian flag in sight — one officer even climbs a tree to get the job done — the demonstrators grow angry. “Why are you so bothered by seeing a Palestinian flag in Palestine?” asks activist Sahar Vardi through a megaphone. By the end of the video, it appears the police have all the flags in their possession.

Prior to the Oslo Accords, Israel considered flying the Palestinian flag — still referred to in Israel as the flag of the Palestine Liberation Organization — a criminal offense. The scene at Sheikh Jarrah was reminiscent of the days of the First Intifada, when videos showed Israeli soldiers removing Palestinian flags from public buildings across the West Bank and Gaza in the years of the mass uprising.

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As part of the Madrid peace talks, Israel recognized the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and in the Oslo years decided there was no longer any public interest in enforcing the ban. Moreover, as Adalah Attorney Mohammad Bassam noted in 2016, the flag is no longer considered the PLO flag, but “is recognized and flies at the United Nations as the official flag of the Palestinian Authority and there is nothing on the law books forbidding one to fly it....

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Tzipi Livni couldn’t save Israel because Israel doesn’t want to be saved

Tzipi Livni, who bid farewell to politics this week, won’t be Israel’s de Gaulle. She will not be the leader that shakes us out of our collective slumber. Today, it is difficult to imagine any other Israeli leader having the desire to even try.

It’s strange to consider that a mere decade ago, Tzipi Livni and her Kadima party won the Israeli elections. Yet 10 years after Benjamin Netanyahu pushed her into the opposition back benches, Livni tearfully announced on Monday that she will not be running for the upcoming Knesset elections. Polls show her Hatnuah party wouldn’t make it past the election threshold and running anyway could potentially siphon votes from a center-left bloc that seeks to overthrow Netanyahu.

Following her resignation, Israel’s liberal commentators commended her undying commitment to a two-state solution to preserve Israel as “both Jewish and democratic.” But beyond the left-leaning intelligentsia, her resignation went on with little fanfare. At a time when the right’s twin policies of endless occupation and creeping annexation go entirely unchallenged, it is hardly surprising that few are rushing to write Livni’s requiem.

After all, in every election since 2009, Livni was a politician who, try as she might, simply couldn’t get things to go her way, jumping from party to party and forging puzzling alliances in an attempt to hold on to political relevancy. Yet when it came to what my colleague Dahlia Scheindlin calls doing the “politics of politics,” Livni failed time and time again.

Had things turned out differently, her life story would have been the stuff Hollywood kitsch is made of: born to right-wing parents who fought in the ranks of the Irgun terrorist group during the 1948 war, Livni went on to serve in the Mossad and become a member of Knesset on behalf of Likud. That is, until she realized the effect the occupation has on Israeli society, and particularly its threat to Israel’s ability to preserve a Jewish majority and still call itself a democracy.

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One would be remiss, however, to view Livni’s departure from politics simply as a bookend to a storied political career. It is also a symbolic moment for a society that has neither a desire to talk about nor consider an end to its five decades of military control over millions of Palestinians. Ten years ago, when Livni was on...

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Settlers to Palestinian laborers: 'Work with human rights groups and lose your job'

Flyers posted in villages near Gush Etzion warn Palestinian laborers they will be banned from nearby settlements should they cooperate with anti-occupation groups.

Settlers in the southern West Bank posted flyers warning Palestinian laborers not to cooperate with Israeli human rights activists or organizations if they want to keep their jobs.

Tazpit News Agency, a settler-aligned English-language news outlet, reported earlier this week that Israeli settlers in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc have been posting these intimidating flyers around Palestinian villages nearby. The flyers threaten to ban Palestinians who cooperate with human rights groups from working in settlements there.

According to the flyer, which was printed in Arabic, Palestinians who want to “provide a living” for their families must refuse cooperation with the organizations and people listed. The flyer includes photos and names of prominent Israeli and Palestinian activists, and singles out Ta’ayush and Rabbis for Human Rights, two organizations that accompany and protect Palestinians in the occupied West Bank from threats of settler violence.

settlers

The flyer reads:

“Do you wish to keep working in the settlements? Do you want to provide a living for your families from the Jews? Whoever cooperates with any one of these individuals and organizations (Ta’ayush and Rabbis for Human Rights) will never be allowed to enter the settlements for work. Be warned!”

“On the one hand this is a classic divide and conquer tactic,” says Guy Butuvia, an Israeli activist with Ta’ayush, an Israeli-Palestinian volunteer grassroots group founded during the Second Intifada. “They want to create a division between Palestinians and human rights workers who support the Palestinian struggle to remain on their land, so as not to disturb the land theft that is taking place.”

“On the other hand,” he continues, “over the years, the occupation has made it difficult for Palestinians to make a livelihood, whether it’s by taking their land, resources, water, or strangling their economy. Now those who are forced to work in the settlements are being threatened. This is part of an attempt to limit the rights of Palestinians as well as their access to legal recourse.”

Since the Second Intifada, Israeli authorities have significantly limited the entry of Palestinian laborers into Israel. In West Bank settlements, however, Palestinian workers are able to...

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'To be Ethiopian in Israel is to be constantly struggling for something'

The shooting of Yehuda Biadga reignited tensions between Israel’s Ethiopian community and police, who have long been accused of using a heavy hand against the country’s minorities. ‘Police brutality is a result of racism against black people in this country,’ Ziva Mekonen-Degu says.

For the third time in as many years, thousands of Ethiopian citizens of Israel demonstrated against police violence this week. On Jan. 18, officers gunned down Yehuda Biadga, a 24-year old Israeli of Ethiopian background, who was wandering the streets of his neighborhood in the city of Bat Yam, just south of Tel Aviv.

According to family members, the young man, who suffered from severe PTSD after his release from the Israeli army, was distraught and carrying a knife when he left his home in the evening hours of that fatal day. The family immediately called the police, informing them that Biadga suffered from a mental illness and had not taken his medication, but that he did not pose any danger.

Police took just over 50 minutes to arrive and commence searching for the young man. It was during the belated search that police said one of the officers saw Biadga approaching with a knife and ordered him to stop, but he ignored the officer’s warnings. The officer, who reportedly said he had reason to fear for his life, fired two shots at Biadga’s upper body, killing him. Police officials rejected accusations that the officer opened fire because Biadga was black, claiming instead that the policeman’s life was at risk.

The Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department — an external agency meant to investigate and prosecute officers — has launched an investigation. Police placed the officer on leave, per his request.

The shooting reignited tensions between Israel’s Ethiopian community and the police, who have long been accused of using a heavy hand against the country’s visible minorities, particularly citizens of Ethiopian descent. Over 15,000 Ethiopian Israelis and their supporters marched in the streets of Tel Aviv on Wednesday, blocking the Ayalon Highway, one of the country’s main arteries, and calling for an end to “racist police violence,” which they say is a daily experience for them.

Despite the large turnout, members of the Ethiopian community are in despair over police brutality. Biadga’s killing is just the latest, most extreme incident, says Efrat Yerday, a prominent Ethiopian-Israeli activist, but it is...

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Activists pulled off bus for protesting racial profiling at Israeli hospital

Security guards remove the activists for protesting a new policy that singles out Palestinians on a public bus line in southern Israel.

Security guards at an Israeli hospital detained 10 Arab and Jewish activists Sunday for an act of civil disobedience protesting a policy to single out, remove, and inspect Palestinians on a public bus line in southern Israel.

The activists, from the grassroots protest movement Standing Together, were removed from the bus at the entrance to Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, after refusing to show their identification cards and demanding to know why non-Arab passengers weren’t asked to show theirs.

For several months now, security guards at the hospital have been asking passengers deemed to appear Arab to show their IDs. If they are Palestinian, the guards make them step off the bus and are only allowed back on as it leaves the hospital premises, Local Call first reported last week. The hospital and bus company both confirmed that the new practice is taking place, but insisted it is “carried out respectfully.”

On Sunday morning, a security guard boarded the number 18 bus as it approached the Barzilai Medical Center premises, approached Gadir Hani — a Palestinian citizen of Israel who wears a hijab and is active with Standing Together, and asked for her ID card.

Video footage shows Hani asking the security guard why she was being singled out, and demanded that he ask every passenger to show their ID. The other Arab passengers aboard the bus also refused to present their ID, after which several more security guards stepped aboard.

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When the activists pulled out signs, the guards told them they were being detained and removed them from the bus. A few minutes later, a more senior hospital official arrived and released them.

“This kind of segregation is exactly what those behind the Jewish Nation-State Law had hoped for: to show Israeli society that there is legitimacy for discrimination in all aspects of life between Jewish and Arab citizens in Israel,” said Standing Together activist Uri Weltmann. “We won’t accept racial segregation — not on buses nor anywhere else.”

Standing Together, the activist group behind the protest, published the following video of the protest:

Following the Local Call report on the discriminatory practice, more than 3,000...

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Israel's new 'apartheid road' is about more than just segregation

Israel claims the new road, which separates Israelis and Palestinians by an eight-meter wall, alleviates traffic for settlers while helping Palestinians travel around the West Bank. Human rights activists say it will help create Israeli-only enclaves free of any Palestinian presence. 

Israel unveiled a new segregated highway in the occupied West Bank last week, with a giant eight-meter concrete wall separating Palestinian and Israeli drivers on either side. Labeled the apartheid road by critics, Route 4370’s official reasoning is to alleviate traffic for Israeli settlers commuting to Jerusalem, as well as creating a new way for Palestinians to travel between the northern and southern West Bank.

Yet despite the stated reasoning, anti-occupation and human rights advocates argue that the segregated highway is another way to create Israeli-only areas — free of any Palestinian presence — in Palestine. And it is a sign that Israel, and Israelis, no longer view segregation as something to be ashamed of.

“While in the past there was a major effort to conceal segregation from the Israeli public, today it is now perceived as legitimate,” said Efrat Cohen-Bar, a planner and architect with Israeli NGO Bimkom. “In a country where a new discriminatory law is proposed every morning, one short segregated road no longer excites anyone.”

Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan called the highway “an example of the ability to create coexistence between Israelis and Palestinian while protecting against existing security challenges.”

For Cohen-Bar, the highway cannot be removed from the entire system of segregated roads in the West Bank, which often forces Palestinians to use underpasses so as not to disturb the settler traffic above them. “Highway 4370 should be seen in a broader context as a continuation of [Israel’s] separation policy and the creation of Israeli-only enclaves.”

In the eyes of Daniel Seidemann, an attorney and activist who runs the Israeli NGO Terrestrial Jerusalem, and who has spent the last 20 years monitoring the city’s changing landscape, Route 4370 has a geopolitical dimension as well. The highway, he says, is part of Israel’s long-term strategy of “creating territorial contiguity between Jerusalem and the settlements that surround it,” particularly the highly-contested E1 area, the 12 sq. kilometer area located between Jerusalem and the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumim.

For decades, Israel has hoped to build up the area with settlements, connecting the settlement to Jerusalem and effectively bifurcating the West Bank.

Moreover, says Seidemann, the road is...

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