Analysis News
Visit our Hebrew site, "Local Call" , in partnership with Just Vision.

WATCH: Israel's Eurovision winner gets anti-occupation makeover

A new video parodying Netta Barzilai’s ‘Toy,’ which won this year’s Eurovision contest, criticizes Israelis for celebrating in Tel Aviv as Palestinians just an hour away are being killed by IDF snipers.

Last week three major events occurred in Israel and Palestine. Israel gunned down 60 demonstrators in Gaza as the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem was inaugurated, while tens of thousands of Israelis packed into Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square to celebrate singer Netta Barzilai’s victory at the Eurovision Song Contest. Barzilai had just returned from Lisbon, where she won the annual song competition with her song “Toy,” a pop take down of macho culture, replete with feminist overtones and an irresistible chicken dance.

The song has become a sensation, but not everybody is singing along. A few days ago, Dutch comedian Sanne Wallis de Vries spoofed Barzilai’s video, replacing her lyrics with ones that harshly criticize Israel for its treatment of Palestinians. The Israeli Embassy in the Netherlands lodged an official complaint in response to the Dutch lampoon, claiming that some of the imagery it shows is anti-Semitic.

Nor are all Israelis joining celebrating the Eurovision victory. At Rabin Square, a small group of left-wing activists held a silent vigil to commemorate the deaths in Gaza, for which they were harassed and attacked by passersby. On Wednesday, an Israeli named Adi Granot uploaded her own Toy parody to her personal Facebook page. Like de Vries, Granot replaces Toy’s original words with sardonic lyrics in Hebrew, hinting at the absurdities of holding major celebrations in Tel Aviv even as Palestinians just an hour south are being cut down by Israeli snipers [watch the original Hebrew version here].

“Take a look — a democratic state / Here and there, another Gazan is taken down / And I’m at the square, what do I care? / Boom boom boom boom.”

The chorus continues:

“Because there’s no occupation / There’s no despair / Only a closure without electricity or water / Come to the fence, we will redeem you quickly.”

Granot’s video employs the song as a soundtrack accompaniment to news footage of violence meted out by Israeli forces against Palestinians, juxtapose with scenes of Israelis celebrating and politicians honoring Barzilai’s victory.

Granot wrote Wednesday on her Facebook wall that she wrote her cover of the “excellent song” in the hope that it will shine a light on the “incomprehensible gap” between the celebrations and the shame she feels over Israel’s actions in the occupied territories.

“Last Monday we crossed...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

Living in the constant shadow of settler violence

A recent surge in hate crimes against Palestinians in the West Bank has drawn the attention of both local and international media. But the violence is just one part of the settlement system that is pushing Palestinians to abandon their land.

In the hills of the northern West Bank, nightfall brings back an old fear. For the past two months, Palestinians living in a group of villages near Nablus have woken up to slashed tires, burned out cars, a mosque set ablaze, and racist graffiti scrawled on their property.

The hate crimes, once commonly referred to as “price tag attacks,” are committed by extremist Jewish youth from nearby settlements. Their goal is retributive: to exact a price from Palestinian civilians (and in some cases left-wing Israeli Jews, Christians, and Israeli security forces) for actions Israeli authorities take against the settlers, usually building enforcement in illegally built settlements.

The attacks are sporadic and difficult to combat in real time. The extremists, faces covered, slip into the villages — often times located adjacent to their settlements or outposts — undetected.

In the village of Aqraba, the Sheikh Saadeh Mosque was set on fire before the assailants graffitied the words “price tag” and “revenge” on its walls.

In Urif, extremists spray painted “Death to Arabs” on shipping containers belonging to a local resident and the local quarry was tagged with the words “Fight the enemy.”

In Nabi Saleh, residents woke up to find that settlers had spray-painted “There is no room in the Land of Israel for the Tamimi family,” referring to the Palestinian family whose daughter, Ahed, became a global icon after she was videotaped slapping an Israeli soldier.

“The settler violence does not stop,” says Jafar, a Hebronite who has worked in Urif’s quarry for the past 15 years, as he points to the outposts of Yitzhar, one of the most notoriously radical settlements in the Nablus region, which have metastasized across the Salman al-Parsi mountain range that overlooks the village.

Walking through the valley, it’s clear just how easy and quickly the settlers can clamber down to the village. In an effort to deter such attacks, the quarry workers installed a camera that faces Yitzhar on a utility pole.

SUBSCRIBE TO +972 MAGAZINE'S WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

“Three years ago, the settlers set fire to one of our excavators,” Jafar...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

Palestinian refugees are demanding to be heard. Will we listen?

70 years later, Palestinian refugees are no longer waiting for peace talks to determine their fate. In Gaza, they are actively reclaiming their place at the table.

On a warm spring day in late April 1956, Moshe Dayan, then the IDF chief of staff and Israel’s eminent war hero, delivered an address that would become a central part of Israel’s national ethos. Dayan had arrived at Kibbutz Nahal Oz to eulogize Roi Rotberg, a kibbutz security guard who was ambushed by an Egyptian police officer and a Palestinian farmer, and then abducted into the Gaza Strip where he was brutally murdered. The chief of staff had met Rotberg the previous day during a routine visit to Nahal Oz, as the community was preparing for a number of upcoming weddings. The eulogy took him just half an hour to write.

Rotberg’s murder was especially gruesome, shocking a country that had already seen a tremendous amount of bloodshed and calamity in a short period of time, imbuing the eulogy with a warrior pathos of the kind one would hear from today’s leaders. “Our children shall not have lives to live if we do not dig shelters; and without the barbed wire fence and the machine gun, we shall not pave a path nor drill for water,” Dayan told the crowd. “The millions of Jews, annihilated without a land, peer out at us from the ashes of Israeli history and command us to settle and rebuild a land for our people.”

Dayan’s speech was likened at the time to Israel’s version of the Gettysburg Address, a sober statement of purpose delivered to those who shouldered the burden of carrying on the nation’s mission. But the eulogy also carried a curious secondary message: it was the first public address by a high-ranking member of the Israeli military brass to acknowledge — without reservations — the suffering that Palestinians had endured during the establishment of the State of Israel, as well as the source of their rage:

Let us not hurl blame at the murderers. Why should we complain of their hatred for us? Eight years they have sat in the refugee camps of Gaza, and seen, with their own eyes, how we have made a homeland of the soil and the villages where they and their forebears once dwelt.

Not from the Arabs of Gaza must we demand the blood of Roi, but from ourselves. How our eyes are closed to the reality of our fate, unwilling to see the destiny of...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

How Israel's military courts conspire to keep Palestinians in prison

An Israeli military judge ordered Abdullah Abu Rahme released, saying there was no reason to keep him behind bars. And yet for the next month, the military justice system conspired to keep him in prison.

By Edo Konrad and Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man

Imagine you are arrested for a nonviolent property crime. After a few days in jail, a judge decides that you do not pose a threat to society, that you’re not a flight risk, and so he or she orders you released on bail.

So you post bail and go home, right?

Not if you’re a Palestinian living under Israel’s military regime in the West Bank.

Not if you’re Abdullah Abu Rahme, an EU-recognized “human rights defender” and one of the more prominent Palestinian nonviolent leaders in the West Bank.

Not if the Israeli military prosecution is on record describing your non-violent activism as an “ideological crime” and insists that, despite the judge’s orders, you should be kept behind bars. In the military court system, when the army wants you behind bars, the judge and prosecutor, dressed in identical uniforms, conspire to do just that.

On November 21, 2017, Maj. Ben-Zion Schaeffer, an Israeli army judge at the Ofer Military Court in the West Bank, ordered Abdullah Abu Rahme released on bail. There was no reason to keep him in custody, Maj. Schaeffer ruled. And yet, despite the judge’s order, Abu Rahme wasn’t released for another month.

This is how a Kafkaesque military machine masquerading as a justice system operates.

Abu Rahme was arrested on November 20, 2017. A few weeks earlier he had allegedly been seen on camera trying to pry open the separation barrier during a protest in his home village of Bil’in, which has held weekly nonviolent demonstrations against the wall and the occupation for over a decade.

The day after his arrest, Abu Rahme was brought before a judge at the Ofer Military Court, who agreed to keep him in prison for one day further. Unsatisfied, the next day the military prosecution demanded that the judge keep Abu Rahme behind bars for an additional six days. The judge refused, reiterating that there was no reason to keep Abu Rahme in prison, but nevertheless ordered him held one additional day.

Instead of releasing him then, however, a different military court judge gave the prosecution time to appeal — during which time Abu...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

Dozens of American Jews arrested protesting Gaza violence

From Boston to San Francisco, young activists from IfNotNow demonstrate outside the offices of prominent Jewish institutions and senators, demanding they condemn Israel’s violence against Gaza protesters.

Thirty-seven American Jews were arrested across the United States last week in a series of actions outside the offices of major Jewish institutions and elected officials to protest the ongoing violence against Palestinians at the Israel-Gaza border.

The actions, organized by the Jewish-American group IfNotNow, took place in Boston, New York, Twin Cities, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, and Washington DC, where young Jews demanded statements condemning Israeli violence against the unarmed protesters taking part in the “Great Return March.” Since the march began three weeks ago, Israeli snipers have killed over 30 Palestinians and wounded 1,200 more.

IfNotNow was established in the summer of 2014 during Israel’s war in Gaza by young American Jews. Angered by the overwhelming support of American Jewish institutions for the war, they began organizing actions calling for an end to the war, an end to the occupation, and freedom and dignity for all. Since then, IfNotNow has organized hundreds of nonviolent actions — and, more recently, delegations to Israel-Palestine — with the aim of pushing Jewish institutions to stop supporting the occupation.

The first action took place in Boston on the morning of April 3rd, less than a week after Israeli snipers gunned down 17 Palestinians in Gaza. Activists chained themselves to the Israeli Consulate of New England, read the Mourner’s Kaddish, a Jewish prayer traditionally recited for family or community members who have died, and demanded that Consul General Yehuda Yaakov condemn Israeli violence. Eight activists were arrested.

Eliza Kaplan, 24, who participated in the Boston action, spoke to +972 by phone about the impetus for the actions: “We see the status quo in Gaza to be unacceptable, and we find the IDF’s violence to be horrendous. That is why we are calling on Jewish leaders to condemn it and be a moral voice. If they are not going to be the moral leaders of our community, then IfNotNow will be those leaders.”

SUBSCRIBE TO +972 MAGAZINE'S WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

“My Jewish identity is really important to me,” Kaplan continued, “we are trying to bring our entire community to share the values of freedom for all people and speak out.” Less than a week after the Boston action, seven IfNotNow activists were arrested after blocking the doors of New York Senator Chuck...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

Rights groups: Gaza protests aren't combat, IDF must stop shooting protesters

Israeli human rights organizations demand High Court order the state to revoke the rules of engagement that permit shooting unarmed demonstrators.

After three weeks in which Israeli army snipers have killed dozens and wounded well over 1,200 protesters inside the Gaza Strip, four prominent human rights organizations petitioned Israel’s High Court of Justice on Sunday, demanding that the court order the state to revoke the rules of engagement that permit shooting demonstrators who pose no danger to human life.

The overwhelming majority of those who were killed and wounded by Israeli forces over the past three weeks were unarmed participants in the “Great Return March,” a 45-day series of festivals and protests set to culminate on Nakba Day in mid-May.

The rights groups asked the court for an urgent hearing — before this Friday’s protests.

The rules of engagement that the army has applied to  Gaza permit soldiers to shoot live rounds at demonstrators who are classified as “central inciters” or “central rioters” — regardless of whether they actually endanger human life, according to the petition. Moreover, the regulations allow soldiers to shoot demonstrators who get too close to the border fence, even if they are not posing a danger to anyone.

At least six Palestinian journalists were reportedly among those shot at the Great Return March in recent weeks. One of them, Yasser Murtaja, a photographer for “Ain Media” who was wearing a helmet and vest clearly marked “PRESS” when he was shot, later died of his wounds.

SUBSCRIBE TO +972 MAGAZINE'S WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

The four Israeli human rights organizations behind petition, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), Yesh Din, Gisha, and Hamoked: Center for the Defence of the Individual, argued that there is no prohibition on holding demonstrations in Gaza, and that violence or attempts to cross the border fence should be seen as civil disturbances — not armed warfare. Therefore, the demonstrations are not subject to the laws of war and they do they justify use of live fire.

Michael Sfard, one of several attorneys behind the petition, told +972 Magazine that while he had previously filed petitions regarding the army’s use of live fire, those cases were always done after the fact. The current petition is markedly different, he explained, in that it seeks to affect army policy in real time rather than retroactively.

While the IDF’s open-fire regulations are not publicly available, the army’s actions...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

B'Tselem to Israeli soldiers: Refuse orders to shoot Gaza protesters

Israeli soldiers have a legal obligation to refuse manifestly illegal orders. In a new campaign, the Israeli human rights group says shooting unarmed civilian protesters is just that — unmistakably and patently illegal.

Israeli human rights group B’Tselem will launch a campaign on Thursday urging Israeli soldiers to refuse orders to open fire on unarmed demonstrators. The campaign, titled “Sorry Commander, I cannot shoot,” comes on the heels of last Friday’s events on the Gaza border, in which Israeli snipers shot dead at least 17 Palestinians and wounded hundreds during The Great Return March.

The campaign, which will appear in newspaper ads, comes at a critical moment for the Great March of Return. On the first day of the march, which marked the beginning of 45 days of protests and events to mark Land Day and 70 years since the Nakba, Israeli troops Palestinians killed 17 and wounded 1,400 Palestinian demonstrators.

The demonstrations are set to continue this coming Friday, and Israeli military officials have announced in advance that, like last Friday, soldiers will again use live fire against demonstrators — even if they are hundreds of feet away from the fence. Such orders should be considered illegal, and thus soldiers should absolutely refuse them, said B’Tselem.

In the Israeli legal system, there exists an obligation for soldiers to refuse to carry out manifestly illegal orders. Orders to open fire on unarmed civilians, B’Tselem added, are a case of “unmistakable illegality patently evident in the order itself, it is a command that bears a clearly criminal nature or that the actions it orders are of a clearly criminal nature.”

Like all other countries, B’Tselem said, Israel’s actions are subject to international law and restrictions on the use of weapons, specifically the use of live fire. International law limits the use of live fire to instances involving tangible and immediate mortal danger, and only in the absence of any other alternative. Israel, then, cannot simply decide that it is not bound by these rules, it asserted.

SUBSCRIBE TO +972 MAGAZINE'S WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

View article: AAA
Share article

Videos show Israeli soldiers sniping unarmed protesters in Gaza

Attempts to retroactively portray Friday’s demonstrators as Hamas militants, stone-throwers, or human shields serves only one purpose: to quiet the Israeli conscience.

The Israeli army and Israel’s hasbara apparatus wasted no time blaming the 16 Palestinians killed by Israeli army snipers last Friday for their own deaths. Infographics were released within hours. Talking points distributed. Israel was defending its sovereign border, they said.

Two videos published on the day of the carnage in Gaza, however, show a different story. They appear to show Israeli snipers positioned behind dirt mounds on the other side of the border fence shooting and killing unarmed protesters — carrying neither weapons nor rocks nor Molotov cocktails — who posed absolutely no threat to security forces — or anyone, for that matter.

The first video appears to show Israeli soldiers shooting 19-year-old Abdel Fattah Abdel Nabi in the back as he is running while holding a tire (tires are often burned by protesters across the world, including by Jewish Israelis, to provide smoke screens as protection from security forces).

A second video published the same day appears to show soldiers shooting a Palestinian demonstrator as he gets up following prayers. Like Abdel Nabi, the protester poses no threat to the soldiers.

The Israeli army accused Hamas of published edited or fabricated videos, but at least the top video exists from multiple angles and was witnessed by a number of people. The army also claimed that most of those killed were Hamas militants, but The Washington Post reported that there were no signs of affiliation with the Islamist group at Abdel Fattah Abdel Nabi’s funeral and that his family denied he was in any way connected to the group.

But if the above videos teach us anything, it is that Israel needed no pretext for shooting and killing those 16 protesters. In fact, Israeli generals told the cabinet ahead of time that there would be Palestinian casualties. Attempts to retroactively portray them as Hamas militants, stone-throwers, or human shields serves only one purpose: to quiet the Israeli conscience.

View article: AAA
Share article

An Israeli and a Palestinian slap a soldier. Guess who's still in prison?

A reminder that Israelis and Palestinians who commit the same crime face radically different consequences.

Minutes before an Israeli military judge signed off on Ahed Tamimi’s plea deal last week, something unexpected happened inside Israel’s Ofer Military Court. A Jewish Israeli activist rose from the back benches, approached the military prosecutor, slapped him across the face, and yelled, “who are you to judge her?”

If ever there were an apt example of the glaring disparities between the way Israel’s justice system treats its own citizens versus its Palestinian subjects, it was on full display for the world to see in Ofer Military Court that evening.

Ahed, the 17-year-old Palestinian girl from Nabi Saleh whom Israel arrested for slapping one of its soldiers across the face late last year, had spent the previous three months in prison — repeatedly denied bail by military judges who deemed her a danger to public security. An Israeli Jew would have been released within days, and an Israeli minor within hours, activists argued.

Now we can say with no uncertainty that they are correct.

It was at the end of the sentencing hearing for Nariman Tamimi, Ahed’s mother who was arrested alongside her, that Israeli activist Yifat Doron stood up and slapped the uniformed military prosecutor — a soldier. Just like Ahed did.

She was was quickly arrested.

The next day, police brought Doron before a civilian judge in a civilian court and asked that she be remanded to custody for another five days, arguing that they needed more time to finish the investigation.

Doron, who insisted on representing herself, told the judge that she was not opposed to remaining in jail and that she actually agrees with the police. “Anyone who does not toe the line with your apartheid regime or dares to think in an independent manner does indeed constitute a threat to the police,” she told the court.

The judge disagreed. He ordered Doron released.

The police asked for time to appeal the decision to release her, and Doron spent another night in jail. The following day, Doron was brought to the Jerusalem District Court, where she reiterated that she would not oppose the police’s request to keep her in jail.

“Beyond that,” she added, “I am not willing to play along with your game of democracy for Jews only. You may do as you please.”

Once again, despite the police...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

Even inside Israel, colonialism is far from over

The attempt to bar Arabs from buying land in one of the wealthiest, more liberal towns in Israel is a disturbing reminder of Israel’s colonial past — and present. 

It keeps happening over and over again. A Jewish town somewhere in Israel finds a way to prevent Arab citizens from buying homes, using its swimming pools, or playing on its professional soccer team. The media reports about the discrimination, there is some public outrage, a few left-wing politicians issue condemnations — and yet nothing seems to change.

The latest example came Sunday morning, when Haaretz reported that Sivan Yechieli, the head of the Kfar Vradim municipal council froze future land bids in an area slated for the town’s expansion. The reason? Too many Arabs had won bids in the previous round and were moving into Kfar Vradim, a small town in the Galilee.

In a letter sent to the 5,550 residents of the town, Yechieli explained that while all citizens of Israel are “welcome to live in our town…regardless of religion, race, or gender,” the interest of the majority is to maintain Kfar Vradim as a “Jewish, Zionist, and secular town.” According to Yechieli, the residents have a right to promote their “community interests,” just as Arabs, ultra-Orthodox, and Druze citizens do.

The attempts to bar Arabs from moving to Kfar Vradim seem contradictory when taking stock of the political affinities of the town’s residents. After all, 59 percent of residents voted for the center-left Zionist Union party in the previous elections, while another 17 percent voted for the left-wing Meretz party. These aren’t the Mizrahim in development towns such as Afula, who are often portrayed by the media as rabid Arab-haters. These are the white, brawny, socialist pioneers who worked and protected the land. They are the best and the brightest, we were taught, that Zionism has to offer. Weren’t they supposed to be the good guys?

Yes, but only if we understand “racism” as much of the Israeli population does: a lamentable outcome of a decades-long war fought over a piece of land by two competing national groups. National rivalry, so it goes, engenders poor behavior — racism, discrimination, xenophobia — on both sides of the battlefield. Under this premise, there is no real difference between the Jews of Kfar Vradim who want to keep their town pure, and their Arab neighbors who prefer...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

Knesset bars Arab MK from JVP-sponsored trip to U.S.

MK Yousef Jabareen was supposed to travel across the United States for a series of lectures on the political reality in Israel. The Knesset decided to put the kibosh on the trip — because it is sponsored by Jewish Voice for Peace.

The Knesset has forbidden an Arab member of Knesset from traveling to the United States for a series of lectures. The reason? The trip was to be subsidized by Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), a left-wing American organization that supports pressuring Israel to end the occupation with boycotts, and appears on a government blacklist of groups that support the BDS movement.

“[The decision] is a severe blow to my political freedom as an elected official. This is activity that is a fundamental and integral part of my role as a member of the Knesset opposition,” MK Yousef Jabareen told +972 Magazine on Wednesday. “American opinion is relevant to the political reality in Israel, and it is important for me to try and have an influence there through lectures and conferences.”

The decision is the first time that the Knesset Ethics Committee has enforced a new regulation, created in January of this year, which bars Knesset Members from traveling abroad using funds of groups that appear on the blacklist. As reported in Haaretz, Ethics Committee Chairman Yitzhak Vaknin (Shas) confirmed that the committee asked the Strategic Affairs Ministry for more information on JVP.

Jabareen said he is considering filing a petition to the High Court of Justice against the decision to bar his travel, and to overturn the new Ethics Committee regulations.

Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, who is responsible for compiling the blacklist, issued a response to the committee on March 8th, according to which JVP “is currently considered one of the leading boycott organizations in the United States, declaring its support for BDS as a nonviolent tool that will compel the State of Israel to change its policy and relinquish ‘the occupied territories.’”

Jewish Voice for Peace Executive Director Rebecca Vilkomerson issued the following response:

View article: AAA
Share article

Military dictatorship requires dehumanization

A top military official dubiously declares that a Palestinian teen shot in the head by Israeli soldiers actually just had a bicycle accident. Welcome to a new era of Palestinian dehumanization.

The evidence was there for all to see. Anyone who wanted to know why 15-year-old Mohammed Tamimi, Ahed Tamimi’s cousin, has only two-thirds of his skull intact could find the answer. There was the bloodied rubber-coated bullet doctors removed from his cranium. There were the eyewitnesses who saw Tamimi as he was shot in the head during a demonstration in his village, Nabi Saleh. There were the medical reports and multiple surgeries in a Ramallah hospital. There was the medically induced coma that lasted for a week.

Evidence wasn’t enough. It hardly ever is.

Maj. Gen. Yoav “Poli” Mordechai, the Israeli army officer charged with running the military government that rules over millions of Palestinians in the West Bank, decided to own the narrative Monday night. Mohammed was not shot in the head, wrote Mordechai in an Arabic-language Facebook post. His injuries were the result of a bicycle accident. According to Mordechai, “the boy” confessed under interrogation by both the police and COGAT (the military government). (It’s not clear why COGAT was present for the interrogation of a minor.) The post included an image of a news story about the initial shooting with the words “Fake News” stamped on it in red Arabic text.

The vast majority of the Hebrew-language media, whose raison d’être should be to hold accountable those in power, did no such thing. As my colleague Haggai Matar noted, one by one, Hebrew-language news outlets published Mordechai’s claims almost verbatim, not even paying lip service to the easily attainable documentation and facts that undermine the official narrative.

The humiliation of Mohammed Tamimi is part of a larger war being waged by Israeli politicians and institutions against the Tamimi family ever since his cousin, Ahed, was filmed slapping an Israeli soldier outside her home — shortly after she heard about the bullet that penetrated Mohammed’s skull. The education minister has called for Ahed to be permanently jailed, while a former Israeli ambassador to the United States accused the Tamimi family of being “fake,” even admitting he initiated a secret parliamentary inquiry into whether they are just a troupe of actors.

To call into question the circumstances of Palestinian casualties is par...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

How international performers are unwittingly brought to Israeli settlements

A Honda-sponsored racing event is moved from a settlement into Israel proper. Organizers admit they didn’t inform the headliner that it was in occupied territory, and the racer says he wouldn’t have participated if he had known.

For the past several weeks, the Israeli Motorsports Federation and Honda Israel have been promoting an event featuring a rising international motorcycle racing star and a legendary motorcycle racing team. The catch? The racetrack is located deep inside the occupied West Bank — in an Israeli settlement called Petza’el. Joe Roberts, the main attraction, says he was never told about its exact location.

The event, sponsored by Honda Israel, the Israeli Motorsports Federation (IMSF), and the Ministry of Culture and Sports, was scheduled to take place on February 23-24 on a brand new, state-of-the-art racetrack in the Jordan Valley, an area of the occupied Palestinian territories.

Roberts, 20, one of the rising starts of the MOTOGP world, was named the 2015 MotoAmerica Superstock 600 Champion, and is expected race full-time in the 2018 FIM Moto2 World Championship. The event is also billed to include managers of the LCR Honda team, a legendary motorcycle team founded in 1996 by Italian rider Lucio Cecchinello.

In a series of written correspondence, Roberts told +972 Magazine that the itinerary the Israeli Motorsports Federation sent him made no mention of the West Bank. He said he was explicitly told the race was to be held in Israel.

“I wasn’t given a lot of details in the beginning, other than that the track was in Israel,” Roberts said. “I would not have attended the event had it been in the West Bank.”

Reached by phone last week, Omer Shoshany, CEO of the Israeli Motorsports Federation, insisted that his organization is only interested in promoting motor sports in Israel. Asked whether he considered Petza’el — the settlement with the race track — part of the State of Israel, he responded that any place “where Israel has sovereignty” is considered part of the Israel.

The State of Israel does not consider the West Bank to be sovereign territory, however, and rules it under military law consistent with the international conventions governing occupied territories. The overwhelming majority of the world considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank to be illegal.

Shoshany said he did not feel the need to specify the exact location of the track when inviting Roberts. Asked whether...

Read More
View article: AAA
Share article

The stories that matter.
The missing context.
All in one weekly email.

Subscribe to +972's newsletter