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'World's largest Arabic lesson': A rebuke to the Jewish Nation-State law

Thousands of Israelis attend the event, billed as the world’s largest Arabic lesson, in protest of a new nationalist law that excludes Palestinian citizens of Israel from the national identity and demotes Arabic from its status as an official language.

Thousands of Jewish and Palestinian Israelis took part in what was billed as the “biggest Arabic lesson in the world” in Tel Aviv’s Habima Square Monday evening, an event organized to protest Israel’s new Jewish Nation-State Law, which stripped Arabic of its status as an official language in the country.

The event, organized by a number of coexistence and peace organizations, included a 15-minute Arabic lesson, as well number of musical performances, speeches, and spoken word poetry. The organizations set up booths where they handed out flyers for Arabic lessons, with one booth selling t-shirts that read “I speak Arabic” in both Arabic and Hebrew.

“The idea was to combine Arabic lessons with a large Palestinian cultural event in the streets of Tel Aviv as a response to the Jewish Nation-State Law,” +972 Magazine writer Samah Salaime, one of the organizers of the event, said before the event. “Eventually we settled on a huge Arabic lesson.”

“It is obvious that Arabic won’t disappear, regardless of the law,” Salaime added. “The law is symbolic, but this struggle is about building a shared country and a shared future in this land.”

After a few introductory speeches and a short Arabic musical performance by singer Miriam Tuqan, Salaime took the stage to deliver a fiery speech against the government’s attempts to “destroy the light at the end of the tunnel.”

“We are the binationalists, the bilinguists, we are the dream of the future…we have room for the Palestinian next to the Jews, for the Arab and the Israeli, and for anyone who defines himself as part of this country,” Salaime told the crowd. “We are proud and are well aware of the price we pay for joining together. We do not stand behind a destructive coalition in the Knesset that takes our money for its institutions, its settlements, and its messianism.”

Later, using a playful call and response, Maria Miguel De Pina, an Arabic teacher from Haifa, taught the overwhelmingly Jewish crowd a few useful Arabic phrases such as “I am very happy” and “I love you,” as well as body parts and animal names.

The event also featured performances by...

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When Israel planned 'fantasy' tours to Arab villages under martial law

New documents reveal how Israel’s leaders prepared to celebrate the country’s 10-year anniversary: by bringing tourists to participate in orientalist ‘fantasy’ tours to Arab villages, then under military rule.

If you’re a young Jewish person, chances are you or someone you know has gone on a Birthright trip. If you have gone on Birthright, chances are that as part of the program’s attempt to provide an “authentic” and pluralistic “Israel experience” you spent the night in a Bedouin tent and posed on a camel in the Negev Desert. In short, young Jews are sold a fantasy.

That fantasy did not begin with Birthright. A new trove of documents recently released by the Israel State Archives shows how that Birthright mentality — which exoticizes and puts on display Israel’s Arab citizens — goes as far back as the 1950s, when Israel was preparing to celebrate 10 years of independence.

In 1957, Israeli authorities established a committee to organize Independence Day celebrations for the nascent state’s “minorities” — the official term for Israel’s Arab population at the time — across the country. The documents are full of correspondences between committee members and officials in Israel’s military government, which imposed martial law on the country’s Arab citizens between 1949 and 1966.

The documents are mostly procedural correspondences between various committee members, civilian government officials, and officers in the military government. The correspondences, for the most part, reveal an attempt on the part of the authorities to use the 10-year anniversary as an opportunity to simultaneously better the conditions of the country’s Arab population and show them the benefits of being citizens of the Jewish state.

One letter, dated February 2, 1958, from the Health Ministry to Yaakov Agmon, head of the planning committee, announced the opening of five new health clinics in Arab villages, which were to be inaugurated in honor of the decennial. In a different letter, Agmon himself demands that roads be paved between isolated Arab villages in honor of the anniversary.

But it is a letter from January 6, 1958 from M. Golan of the “Rallies Department” to Agmon that best evinces the hormonal teenage years of the Israeli Orientalist fantasy. In that letter, Golan writes to Agmon about the possibility of tourists joining the festivities in areas under military rule, and how civilian and military authorities can facilitate their enjoyment:

Golan goes on to write that “in...

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Israel's Nation-State Law: 'Apartheid is a process'

With the passage of the ‘Jewish Nation-State Law,’ Israel has constitutionally enshrined discrimination against its Palestinian population. ‘We don’t have to keep looking for policies that resemble Jim Crow,’ says Attorney Fady Khoury.

The Israeli parliament passed the “Jewish Nation-State Law” in the early hours of Thursday morning, defining Israel as the exclusive nation-state of the Jewish people and demoting the official status of Arabic.

Almost immediately, Palestinian politicians and rights groups began speaking of the legislation in the starkest of terms. PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat said the law “turns a ‘de-facto’ Apartheid regime into a ‘de-jure’ reality for all of historic Palestine.

Hassan Jabareen, head of the Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, said the law “features key elements of apartheid” and that by passing it, Israel has “made discrimination a constitutional value and has professed its commitment to favoring Jewish supremacy as the bedrock of its institutions.”

According to Adalah attorney Fady Khoury, the legislation entrenches the identity of the State of Israel as a state for the Jewish people, turning them into the sovereign while excluding the Palestinian population from the same definition of sovereignty.

“The law itself does not mention the word democracy even once,” Khoury explained. “Psychologically, it will have a huge impact on Israelis when they are called to determine what it or isn’t democratic.”

+972 Magazine spoke with Khoury to better understand the apartheid comparison, and why the law is so problematic in general.

[The following interview has been edited for length and flow.]

 People are calling this the ‘apartheid law.’ Why?

“Apartheid in South Africa was a process. It was a system that took years to develop and was built on the work of academics and theologians who had to create justifications for white supremacy. It was system of hierarchy, in which there is one group with all the power and another without any power.

“In Israel, the new law explicitly defines the Jewish people as the only group with the only right to self-determination, while negating the rights of the indigenous people. This creates a system of hierarchy and supremacy. We do not live in a time in which explicit calls for supremacy are legitimate as they were in South Africa, but we are reaching the same result through different language.

“The analogy between Israel and South Africa is not only about separate communities or roads, it...

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Irish senate passes sanctions on Israeli settlements

The law, which still needs to go through the lower house and be signed by the president, would criminalize the import and sale of goods and services that originate in settlements in occupied territories, targeting Israeli settlements but also other occupations worldwide. The vote had been shelved earlier this year after objections by Israel.

The Irish Senate passed a bill on Wednesday to prohibit trade with illegal settlements in occupied territories, including those in the West Bank. In contrast to policies and legislation that differentiate Israeli settlements and excludes them from trade agreements, the Irish bill could be construed as actual sanctions targeting settlement products.

The Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories Bill 2018), which would make dealing in settlement products a criminal offense, was originally scheduled for a vote in January of this year but was delayed after Israel summoned the Irish ambassador at the time. Hours after the vote on Wednesday, it was reported that Israel again has summoned the Irish ambassador over the bill.

The legislature’s lower house will also have to pass the bill before it can go to the Irish president to be signed into law.

The bill seeks to prohibit the import and sale of goods and services originating in settlements deemed illegal under international and Irish law. Ireland imports a number of settlement goods, including agricultural and cosmetic products, including those produced by Ahava.

The bill does not implement a total ban on Israeli goods — only those produced in settlements beyond the borders recognized by the Irish government and international community — the Green Line. It also includes a provision that could include territories beyond Palestine, such as Western Sahara and Crimea.

Put forth by Senator Frances Black, an independent politician, and co-signed by a slew of other Irish parliamentarians, the bill was supported by most parties in the Seanad Éireann, although the ruling Fine Gael party opposed it.

“Those trading with Israeli settlements are complicit in the systematic denial of the Palestinian right to self-determination,” PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat said in response to the vote on Wednesday. “If some countries within the EU are willing to continue encouraging Israel’s culture of impunity, it is time for individual member-states to take legitimate actions like the one approved by the Seanad.”

In the run-up to the debate in the Seanad Éireann earlier this year, the upper house of the...

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As Israel prepares to demolish Bedouin school, activists lay out backpacks for each student

As Israeli authorities prepare to demolish Khan al-Ahmar’s school, a group of activists lay backpacks outside Israel’s Supreme Court — one for each student who may soon find himself without a place to learn. 

A group of Israeli and foreign Jewish activists laid 174 backpacks outside Israel’s Supreme Court in Jerusalem on Tuesday morning as a protest against the impending demolition of the entire village of Khan al-Ahmar, including its school. Each backpack, say the activists, was meant to represent a student who studies at the “tire school” and will be left without a place to learn.

The action, organized by All That’s Left, a collective of anti-occupation activists living in Israel-Palestine, comes less than 24 hours after the High Court issued the second of two temporary injunctions against Israel’s plans to demolish the village and forcibly displace its residents.

The school, built in 2009 out of mud, tires, and clay with the help of an Italian NGO that specializes in ecological structures, serves the Bedouin Palestinian population in the area. Just a month after it opened, the Israeli army ordered it demolished.

Abby Kirschbaum, an activist with All That’s Left, told +972 that the group wanted to bring attention not only to the demolition itself, but the way in which it compromises children’s access to education.

“Everyone can relate to carrying their backpack to school, and we wanted to use an image that shows that these children are real people,” Kirschbaum said. “The backpack is a tool of humanization.”

The activists are planning on donating a portion of the backpacks to the children of the Khan al-Ahmar, complete with a care package.


Members of All That’s Left are among a number of solidarity activists — Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals — who have been spending time in Khan al-Ahmar over the past few weeks, many of them sleeping in the school’s courtyard, in the run-up to the demolition.

The destruction of Khan al-Ahmar and displacement of its residents is part of Israel’s plan to expand its settlements in the E-1 area, a 12 sq. kilometer area located between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim. For decades, Israel has hoped to build up the area with settlements in order to connect the two cities. Doing so would bifurcate the West Bank, leading to what many have described as the nail...

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The demolition of Khan al-Ahmar is more than just a war crime

While the imminent destruction of Khan al-Ahmar is an utmost humanitarian concern and quite possibly a war crime, many are overlooking the strategic importance of this tiny hamlet for the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The residents of Khan al-Ahmar have spent the past several weeks waiting for Israeli bulldozers to arrive to demolish their entire village and forcibly displace all 170 people who live there, a move that human rights organizations and some European governments say would constitute a war crime.

But while the humanitarian situation and legality of the demolition and displacement are of great concern, much of the media coverage and activism on Khan al-Ahmar has overlooked the strategic importance of this tiny hamlet.

Khan al-Ahmar is located in E1, the name of 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 in order to connect the two cities. Doing so would bifurcate the West Bank, leading to what has been described over the years as the nail in the coffin of the two-state solution.

In a statement published late last week, the local European Union’s mission blasted Israel’s plans to demolish Khan al-Ahmar, along with the planned settlement construction in E1, saying they “exacerbate threats to the viability of the two-state solution and further undermine prospects for a lasting peace.”

“This is red flag for key members of the European Union,” explained Daniel Seidemann, an attorney and activist who runs the Israeli NGO Terrestrial Jerusalem, and who has spent the last 20 years monitoring how the city’s changing landscape is making a political solution increasingly difficult. “Should it raze the village despite European engagement, Israel will likely suffer the consequences.”


+972 spoke to Seidemann on Monday about why Netanyahu is willing to jeopardize so much for one tiny village, the geopolitical implications of E1, and how the Trump administration is likely to handle the crisis.

Khan al-Ahmar has been at the focus of the world’s attention for the past few weeks. Why is the Israeli government so intent on displacing such a small community?

“That’s the $64,000 question. Khan al-Ahmar has recently exploded on the front pages, but it has been simmering with a great deal of attention under the radar for a number of years, so...

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'For many young American Jews, the Trump-Bibi axis is the enemy'

There have always been undercurrents of dissent within American Jewry when it comes to Israel. After all, it was progressive Jewish Americans, radicalized by the New Left of the 1960s, who became the avant-garde of the American Jewish Left, demanding that the Israeli government enter into talks with the PLO decades before it became Israeli policy. It was radical American Jews who, just a decade after protesting the Vietnam War, began demonstrating outside Israeli embassies and consulates during the First Lebanon War.

Decades later, we tend to hear a great deal about the changing relationship between American Jews and Israel, whether by those who feel let down by it, deceived by the stories and mythologies promulgated by their own communities, or those who are simply turning away from the Jewish state altogether.

What we hear far less about is progressive American Jews who have chosen to make Israel their home. How do American Israelis, particularly those thought leaders who have helped inform many of the changes bubbling up among their kin back in the U.S., feel about Israel today?

For Bradley Burston, making his Jewish American voice heard has become a mission of sorts — even when no one was really listening. Burston has become one of the most prominent voices of liberal Zionism (he rejects the term, calling himself “more of a post-labeling guy”) through his Haaretz column, “A Special Place in Hell.” Long before IfNotNow, Jewish Voice for Peace, J Street, and Peter Beinart blew the lid off a simmering crisis between American Jews and Israel, his writing served as a refuge for those who felt stranded between their values and Israel.

As Israel’s military dictatorship over the Palestinians grew more entrenched, Burston’s columns became more strident, warning Israelis — and their American Jewish patrons — of its dire repercussions. So it is somewhat incredulous to hear Burston declare that his views about Israel have not changed since 1971. After all, much to his chagrin, his name has become synonymous with a strain of liberal Zionism that has struggled to remain relevant in the Netanyahu era — one that believes in a two-state solution, a Jewish state that respects and empowers its minorities, and a healthy connection to the rest of the world.

Despite the political setbacks and the fading hopes for two states, however, Burston believes that deep down, most American Jews agree...

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Benjamin Netanyahu is a fake supporter of democracy

Israel’s prime minister wants Iranian protesters to know they have his full support in their struggle against their government. The same can’t be said about millions of people under his own government’s rule. 

Benjamin Netanyahu likes to present himself as a fervent supporter of democracy and pro-democracy protests. In fact he is a very selective advocate of democratic struggles, throwing his weight behind protests that align with his agenda even as he rejects those who protest ideas or institutions that undermine it.

This week, for example, he expressed his admiration for anti-regime protestors in Iran who have been demonstrating against the financial distress caused by the decline in the rial’s value. “Can you imagine what your money could do if it was not spent promoting terrorism, in Syria and in Yemen, and instead would be spent to solve air pollution and water scarcity in Iran?” Netanyahu asked in a video published on his Facebook page, calling the Iranian people “the only solution to these problems.”

And yet, just a few days prior, the prime minister didn’t even acknowledge the Israeli families of Yemenite descent who demonstrated outside his home to protest the state’s refusal to address the abduction of Yemenite and other Mizrahi children from their parents during the early years of the state.

Entire families who had their children taken away from upon arrival in Israel marched to the Prime Minister’s Residence in the wealthy Rehavia neighborhood, demanding the government take responsibility for one of the darkest chapters in the country’s history. But when they arrived at Netanyahu’s residence, a giant black curtain had been drawn across its entryway. Israeli officials say the curtain is used whenever foreign dignitaries are brought to the residence for meetings, most likely for reasons related to security or keeping out the media. But for activists fighting to force the government to open the archives on the Yemenite Children’s Affair, the message could not have been clearer.

Other Israeli minorities — who have the support of neither the government nor the opposition — do not fare much better. Ethiopian-Israelis who demonstrated in Rabin Square against police violence three years ago were met with an iron fist. Police forces on horseback put down the demonstration with tear gas, fire hoses, and stun grenades, wounding over a dozen. At the time Netanyahu urged calm, beseeching the demonstrators that “no...

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Boycotting these Israeli companies won't get you on any blacklists

Israelis from across the political spectrum are calling to boycott of two major companies for discriminatory practices against women and Ethiopians. But what about that one boycott Israelis will simply not abide?

Israelis, despite their vociferous claims to the contrary, do not fear the power of boycott. In fact, for many Israelis, boycotting companies that profit off discrimination and racism is an essential part of mobilizing against injustice and fighting for democracy. The past week has provided two salutary examples.

On Monday, the CEO of NICE Systems, one of Israel’s largest software companies, announced his company would boycott El Al after a recent flight from New York to Israel was delayed for over an hour because  some ultra-Orthodox male passengers refused to sit next to women. According to CEO Barak Eilam, “at NICE we don’t do business with companies that discriminate against race, gender or religion.”

The threats bore fruit. Following Eilam’s comments, CEO Gonen Usishkin wrote on his Facebook page that El Al is “an egalitarian company regardless of religion, race or gender,” and that “In the future, a passenger who refuses to sit next to another one will be immediately removed from the plane.”

El Al has a well-known history of forcing women to change seats due to pressure from ultra-Orthodox men. Monday’s controversy occurred almost exactly a year after a Jerusalem court ruled that Israel’s national airline is forbidden from asking women to change seats to accommodate a man who refuses to sit next to her. Eliam’s threats to boycott is a sign that should El Al try to circumvent its legal obligations, “corporate responsibility” would hold it accountable. It stands to reason that other Israeli companies will follow suit.


On Tuesday morning, Ethiopian-Israeli employees of Barkan Wine Cellars, one of Israel’s most popular wineries, arrived at work to discover that they had been moved from the production line to other jobs on site. This occurred after Badatz, the ultra-Orthodox organization that has the mandate to certify Barkan products are kosher, questioned just how Jewish those black workers really are. According to halakha, or Jewish religious law, a wine must be produced by Orthodox Jews in order for it to be kosher.

The decision was immediately condemned by religious and political figures alike. Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef said there is “no explanation for...

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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...

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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.


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

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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...

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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...

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