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Humanitarian crisis looms as Israel cuts Gaza's electricity

The decision comes less than a week after Israel acceded to Mahmoud Abbas’ demand to cut Gaza’s power supply.

The Israeli government announced Monday morning that it had begun cutting the electricity to the Gaza Strip, fulfilling a request by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The Palestinian Authority informed Israel in April that it would cease paying for electricity supplies to the Strip. Israel supplies the coastal enclave with about 30 percent of its electricity at a cost of around 40 million shekels per month, which it deducts from the taxes of the Palestinian Authority. Abbas hopes that the cuts would place enough pressure on Hamas, his ideological rivals who rule the Strip, to relinquish control.

The move by the PA, which also cut government salaries in Gaza and approved a massive reduction in medical aid supplied there, coincides with the 10-year anniversary of Hamas’ takeover of the Strip.

The cuts would leave Gaza with around three hours of electricity a day. Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesperson for Hamas, which rules Gaza said in a statement that Israel would “bear responsibility for the consequences of the reduction.”

According to Gisha, an Israeli NGO that uses legal assistance and public advocacy to protect freedom of movement for Palestinians, Israel has for years been selling 120 megawatts to Gaza — supplied through ten power lines — with each line carrying 12 megawatts. On Monday morning, Israel cut supply on two lines from 12 to eight megawatts. Meanwhile, Israel continues to severely limit entrance of generators and spare parts needed for their repair to Gaza, as well as entrance of transformers and equipment.

Gaza’s sole power plant stopped operating in late April, and ever since the Strip has relied almost entirely on electricity imported from Israel. Without electricity, Palestinians have resorted to flashlights and candles as sources of light in the evening. Others have purchased costly subscriptions to communal generators.

Last Wednesday, a coalition of 16 civil society organizations sent an urgent letter to Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, emphasizing the unlawfulness of the cabinet’s decision under both Israeli and international law. The attorney general has yet to respond, and it is unknown whether there will be further reductions to the electricity supply.

According to Gisha, the consequences of a reduction are likely to be devastating:

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The man on the heels of Israel's settlement enterprise

“The story of the occupation is here for everyone to see,” Dror Etkes mutters, half smiling, as we stand on a hilltop in the West Bank settlement of Haresha. “The problem is very few people are willing to see it.”

The view from Haresha, one of several settlements that comprise the “Talmonim bloc,” approximately 10 kilometers northwest of Ramallah, is spellbinding in both its beauty and scope. Looking west, the foreground is littered with rows of Jewish settlements dotting the arid hills. Beyond them is a row of Palestinian villages — Ras Karkar, Ein Ayub, and Deir Ammar — lined north to south. Even further yet another cluster of settlements hugs the Green Line, effectively cutting off any chance for Palestinian territorial contiguity here.

Talmonim is the logical conclusion of 50 years of military occupation. “This is the backyard Israeli society prefers not to talk about,” Etkes says sheepishly, as he gazes out over the sprawling settlement bloc from the vista point. “If you think Talmonim will stop expanding, you’re a fool.”

Etkes, 48, is one of Israel’s foremost experts on Israel’s land management and settlement policies in the West Bank. For the better part of the last 15 years, he has tracked how the Israeli army seizes and expropriates land, how it declares private plots “state land,” and makes illicit back room land deals.

I spent a day traversing the West Bank with Etkes in order to see, and not just hear or read, the story of how the Israeli settlement enterprise, and the occupation, became what they are today.

The story he tells is not a new one. It’s not difficult, driving through the West Bank, to notice the stark difference between Jewish settlements and the neighboring Palestinian towns and villages. And yet there is something about seeing Israel’s territorial expansion through Etkes’ eyes that puts the entire situation in a far clearer and starker light.

As he drives north on a winding road, Etkes explains that the goal of the Talmonim settlement bloc is two-fold: to increase Jewish presence in the area, breaking up territorial contiguity in what the international community considers a future Palestinian state, and to make it impossible for Palestinians to do just about anything in the West Bank without encountering the Israeli army.

‘In Israel it is very easy to become a settler’

Etkes navigates the roads of the West Bank like the...

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IDF radio commander: Don't call it the West Bank

Yaron Deckel, who heads the third most popular radio station in Israel, orders his staff to refrain from using the term, saying it has been ‘adopted by the Palestinians and the Left.’

The commander of Israel’s Army Radio has ordered his staff to refrain from using the term “West Bank” while on air.

Yaron Deckel, who has served as the station commander since February 2012, sent a directive to his staff in which he said the decision was made since “West Bank” has been “adopted by Palestinians and the Left,” instead ordering them to use the word “territories” (“shtachim”) to describe the land beyond the Green Line.

Deckel is a veteran journalist who over the past five years has pushed the station — often viewed as left-leaning — to the right, including by canceling a number of shows belonging to left-wing hosts and hiring right-wingers. Earlier this year, Deckel fired Khen Elmaleh after she published a Facebook post expressing sympathy for Yacoub Abu al-Qi’an, who was accused by police of deliberately running over an officer in an alleged terrorist attack (al-Qi’an, it turns out, most likely did not carry out a premeditated attack, but was shot and killed by police nonetheless).

Deckel’s directive is not a new one. Army Radio management told ultra-Orthodox news outlet, Kikar HaShabbat, that Deckel was merely issuing a reminder to the staff after one broadcaster used the term “West Bank” on a show. “As part of his job as editor-in-chief, and as he requested throughout his tenure, the Army Radio commander repeatedly requested to use a neutral term that is not biased to any side… even the army uses the term ‘Judea and Samaria’ and not the term ‘West Bank,’ which was adopted by the Palestinian narrative.”

The term West Bank refers to the west bank of the Jordan River (meaning all the land west of Jordan, until the Green Line), and has historically been referred to as such by the Jordanian government. Save for the Israeli government and the IDF, which typically refer to the West Bank by its biblical name (“Judea and Samaria”), the international community, including the vast majority of journalists, have used West Bank to refer to the territory.

There is no doubt that choosing the most accurate terms and phrases to describe reality, especially in one as fraught and violent as ours, can be taxing. But Deckel’s directive has little to do with...

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Settlers building race track inside IDF live-fire training zone

The Israeli army says it ordered work stopped on the RallyCross track, but settler officials are singing a different — and defiant — tune. Several Palestinian communities in the same firing zone have been displaced by the military in recent years.

Israeli authorities have been laying the groundwork for a state-of-the-art RallyCross race track, in what they say is a response to the growing demand for motor sport recreational facilities and areas. The only problem? The track being built is partially inside an IDF live firing zone in the occupied West Bank — a designation Israeli military authorities often use to displace local Palestinian populations.

The RallyCross (timed, largely off-road automobile racing) track is being constructed just north of the settlement Petza’el in the Jordan Valley area of the West Bank, on a large tract of land near Wadi al-Ahmar and Route 505. According to Micky Yohai, a veteran Israeli racer who is behind the project, the 1.2 kilometer long track was supposed to be ready by May 2016. Ultimately, the track is supposed to include a motocross track, a drag strip, and a 3.2 kilometer paved track.

In an interview with Ynet last year [Hebrew], Yohai said the project would begin with a dirt track — the first sign of success of a two-year process with the Jordan Valley Regional Council, headed by David Alhayani, who “is strongly pushing the issue.”

Although Israel rules the West Bank under military law due to its status as occupied territory, Israeli settlers have nevertheless established limited civilian local government institutions, nearly identical to those inside Israel proper, although they are ultimately subordinate to the military government.

Alhayani declined to answer +972 Magazine’s questions on the matter, although last year he told Ynet that the track would provide athletes with the ideal place to race, making no mention of the fact that it would run through an IDF training zone.

“When I say there will be a track in the Jordan Valley, there will be a track in the Jordan Valley,” he continued. “We are going full power on this project … We must not forget that we have an advantage, since we fully cooperate with the police and the army.”

The Israeli army’s Civil Administration, which serves as the military government in the West Bank, told +972 Magazine that it had issued stop-work against the track, and acknowledged that the facility was being built illegally. The decision whether to...

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French lawmakers call on Hollande to recognize Palestinian state

France’s far right may gain ground in the upcoming elections. French parliamentarians are hoping President Hollande acts before he must leave office in May.

The French Newspaper Le Journal Du Dimanche published a letter Monday signed by over 150 French parliamentarians, in which they called on President Francois Hollande to recognize a Palestinian state.

The letter comes on the heels of January’s international summit in Paris, attended by representatives of some 70 countries, which sought to restart the peace process. Neither Israel nor the Palestinians attended the conference.

According to the letter, “the summit provided the international community with an opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to the two-state solution.” The signatories expressed concern over President Donald Trump’s hawkish views — specifically his stated intention to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — as well as over the recently-passed ‘Formalization Law,’ which retroactively legalizes illegal outposts built on private Palestinian land.

The parliamentarians demanded Hollande recognize a Palestinian state before his term comes to an end in May, in light of the fact that both right-wing and far-right presidential candidates are likely to gain significant ground in the upcoming elections, to be held on April 23.

“You said it yourself, Mr. President: ‘Only bilateral negotiations can succeed.’ It is therefore time for these negotiations to proceed on an equal footing, state to state,” write the signatories.

In 2014, France’s General Assembly and Senate voted in favor of a non-binding motion that calls on Hollande to recognize a Palestinian state in 2014 “as an instrument to gain a definitive resolution of the conflict.”

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WATCH: Israeli soldiers arrest Palestinian for filming them

Soldiers arrest a Palestinian man before shooting his brother in the knee with a rubber bullet.

Israeli soldiers arrested a Palestinian volunteer with an Israeli human rights organization before shooting his brother in the knee with a rubber bullet earlier this month.

The incident took place on February 10 in the West Bank village of Adameh near Nablus as Israeli soldiers guarding the settlement of Yitzhar and its illegal satellite outposts fired tear gas at local Palestinian youths who were reportedly taking a walk nearby.

When Ahmad Ziyada, a Palestinian volunteer with Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem and a resident of Adameh showed up and began filming, the soldiers told him leave. Ziyada’s video shows three Israeli soldiers approaching Ziyada on his land. One of the soldiers, who appears to be an officer, repeatedly tells Ziyada to go home. When the latter refuses, the soldier demands to see his ID card. Ziyada tries to explain that he is a B’Tselem volunteer who is standing on his own land, but the soldier has none of it and calls what sounds like his superior to get an OK to confiscate the camera and arrest Ziyada.

The soldier orders one of the other soldiers to chamber a bullet, at which we hear a gun being cocked. The officer then orders Ziyada to sit, pushing him onto the ground. When Ziyada gets back up a few moments later, the officer has his gun pointed straight at him and once again shoves him down the ground. At this point the camera goes blurry, yet we are able to hear the soldier ordering his soldiers to “aim at him!” and “drop him.” Then the camera goes black.

Ziyada’s brother, Mahmoud, arrived on the scene to see soldiers sitting on Ahmad as he lay on the ground, his arms handcuffed. Mahmoud told B’Tselem that there were around five or six soldiers who pointed their weapons at him to prevent him from reaching his brother.

I wanted to see how my brother was doing after seeing him in this situation. The soldier who sat on him grabbed his head and pushed it to the ground. I noticed that he did this as I drew nearer. When I heard my brother scream I yelled that I would stay back. At this point there were two soldiers who were sitting on him, as if he...

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Welcome to the Jewish American dissonance

American Jews view a Muslim ban as a threat to the ideals they cherish, yet they also believe that too many Muslims in Israel is a direct threat to the Jewish people.

In early December, just a month after the election of Donald Trump, American alt-right leader Richard Spencer sat down for an interview with Al Jazeera. Speaking to Kristen Saloomey, Spencer, who brought his white supremacist views along as he was catapulted into spotlight over the past year, railed against the “great erasure” of the “white world,” diversity, and the underrepresentation of American whites in corporate America, among other things.

Spencer has made a career out of adroitly tapping into the teeming rage of a white America after eight years of President Obama. He has successfully suffused public discourse with anti-Muslim, anti-black, anti-immigrant, and anti-Semitic sentiments that at least felt like they were in check under Obama. For years Spencer has been promoting a view of the world undergirded by the belief in both white, European supremacy and its negative: that people of color are not only inferior, they are dependent on the greatness of the master race for any success they may have found. And all this under the cloak of a genteel smile, an affable personality, and a hipster haircut.

The most interesting part of Spencer’s interview, however, focuses on his ideas regarding immigration. While he unsurprisingly opposes illegal immigration and supports Trump’s plan to build a wall on the Mexican border, Spencer is actually far more interested in how “legal immigration” shapes the demographic makeup of the United States.

“The real issue is the demographic change that occurs through legal immigration,” Spencer tells Saloomey. “These people come, they’re here to stay — at least for a long time — they’re coming by the millions, they’re voting, they’re certainly integrated into the welfare system. That is the big problem. We just have to say: this is not your country.”

For liberals, Spencer’s obsession with demography is an affront to the very ideas that underlie their country. After all, they say, the United States was founded on the backs of immigrants. For the alt-right, this means a last-ditch effort at preserving white domination.

Spencer’s view of the world poses a challenge for mainstream American Jewry. The vast majority of American Jews, who lean left and vote Democrat, likely view him as their enemy, and for good reason. On Friday, Spencer retweeted...

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Israeli radio host fired after expressing sympathy for slain Bedouin driver

Is there room in the Israeli public conversation for a Jewish radio program host to express a sense of identification with a Bedouin citizen of Israel?

Israel’s Army Radio fired a program host on Wednesday afternoon after she expressed empathy for a Bedouin man who was shot and killed during what police said was an attempted terrorist attack on them just hours earlier.

Khen Elmaleh was dismissed by Army Radio Commander Yaron Deckel after publishing a Facebook status sympathetic to a Bedouin driver whose car struck and killed 34-year-old police officer Erez Levy. “I would also run over a police officer if I were being removed from my home in order to make room for a town built for those more powerful than me,” she wrote.

Elmaleh was referring to the police shooting of Yaqub Musa Abu Qi’an, a resident of the unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm el-Hiran in the Negev. The incident occurred in the early hours of Wednesday morning as police forces were amassing to preside over the destruction of the village, which the government plans to replace with a town for Jewish citizens of Israel. Police claimed they opened fire on Abu Qi’an after he deliberately drove his vehicle toward a cluster of security forces at the scene.

But local residents and activists at the scene have vociferously denied the police narrative. According to eyewitnesses, Qi’an lost control of his vehicle after police opened fire. A video released by Channel 10 news later in the day appears to back the residents’ version. [Click here for more background on Umm al-Hiran]

Odeh wounded

After he fired Elmaleh, Army Radio Commander Yaron Deckel tweeted that those who support running over police have no place in the radio station. Elmaleh eventually deleted the status of her own accord.

Elmaleh, a prominent Tel Aviv-based DJ who hosts a weekly music program featuring popular Mizrahi and Arabic music, published her status alongside a famous photo of Shimon Yehoshua, a Mizrahi resident of the south Tel Aviv neighborhood Kfar Shalem, which was taken immediately after he was shot and killed by police at a protest against government evictions in 1982. Yehoshua’s home, like that of Abu Qi’an, was at imminent risk of demolition.

Elmaleh’s post was a sincere attempt at putting oneself...

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Court to decide fate of Palestinian villages in 'Firing Zone 918'

Hundreds of Palestinians in the south Hebron hills are living under the fear of imminent displacement because the Israeli army says it wants to conduct live-fire drills on their village lands.

Israel’s High Court of Justice on Wednesday will hear the case of eight Palestinian villages fighting looming demolition and displacement by the Israeli army in an area the military has designated a live-fire zone.

The area in question, Firing Zone 918, has become a flashpoint in ongoing Israeli attempts to push smaller, rural Palestinian communities off their land across the West Bank in the past several decades.

The story begins in the late 1970s, when the Israeli army declared “Firing Zone 918” on an area of approximately 30 square miles in the south Hebron Hills — home to 12 Palestinian villages — ostensibly for military training.

In October of 1999 the army expelled approximately 700 Palestinian residents of the villages, who had lived there in natural and man-made caves – some on a permanent basis, others only seasonally – long before Israel ever occupied the West Bank. The expulsion orders were handed out on the grounds of “illegal residence in a live-fire zone.” In 2000, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) secured an interim injunction in the Supreme Court, managing to halt the displacement, thus allowing the residents to return to their homes.

In 2002, villagers and the army entered court-ordered mediation, in which the army sought to relocate the Palestinian residents to a smaller area nearby. The Palestinian residents refused, however, and in 2005 the process ended without any result.

The situation has remained more or less stagnant ever since. The villagers continue to live in the area under constant threat of expulsion, while the IDF has been forbidden to train with live fire there or damage the residents’ fields, livestock or produce.

In 2012, after years without progress, the state decided to revive the case, while publishing the defense minister’s new position on the issue: the boundaries of the firing zone would be slightly reduced, leaving out four villages previously slated for demolition and displacement. Even under the new plan, however approximately 1,000 men, women, and children would be kicked out of their homes.

More than two years ago the Israeli Supreme Court ordered the army to re-enter mediation with the Palestinian residents of the firing zone. After the mediation broke down, however, authorities...

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Elor Azaria and the army of the periphery

From the army’s perspective, Azaria’s guilty verdict ostensibly answers the critique that it is unable to deal with soldier violence against Palestinians — or that it doesn’t want to. But there is one reason and one reason only that the lowly soldier was indicted to begin with.

An Israeli military court handed down a guilty verdict Wednesday in the manslaughter trial of Elor Azaria, an IDF soldier who shot and killed an incapacitated Palestinian assailant in March of last year. The high-profile trial polarized the country, pitting Israel’s political class against current and former army generals. Much of the IDF’s top echelons decried Azaria for firing a bullet into Abdel Fattah al-Sharif’s head — 15 minutes after the latter was shot and wounded in an attempt to stab soldiers in the occupied city of Hebron.

Much will be said and written about the implications of the verdict. For now, here are some initial observations and takeaways:

1. Azaria was arrested and brought to trial for one reason and one reason only: B’Tselem volunteer Emad Abu-Shamsiyah caught the shooting on camera. The video sparked controversy in Israel and across the world, momentarily shifting the public’s attention to the costs of the Israeli occupation — certainly for Palestinians but also for Israeli society.

In an interview with Al-Monitor, Abu-Shamsiya lamented that Azaria had been turned into a national hero by many segments of Israeli society. “I know that without the footage,” he said, “no one would have been arrested and life would have gone on as usual. After the shooting no one standing around there was bothered by what they had seen.”

2. Azaria’s conviction is a rare exception to the rule. In the vast majority of cases, the army tends to grant impunity to soldiers who kill or harm Palestinians.

In 2015 alone, Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din found that the IDF opened a total of 186 criminal investigations into suspected offenses committed by soldiers against Palestinians. Of these investigations, 120 files were closed, seven led to disciplinary action, and only four (3.1 percent of all files in which procedures were concluded) led to indictments. Twenty-seven of those files (15 percent) were opened following the death of Palestinians at the hands of Israeli soldiers.

There are countless cases of impunity. I recommend reading through John Brown and Noam Rotem’s excellent series, License to Kill, to gain a more complete picture of...

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Photography as protest in Palestine/Israel

“Activestills: Photography as Protest in Palestine/Israel,” edited by Vered Maimon and Shiraz Grinbaum, Pluto Press (2016)

The first time I truly began to grasp the potency of photojournalism was on Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard in June 2011. It was barely a few days after a group of young Israelis decided to pitch tents on the city’s most recognizable thoroughfare, launching what would soon come to be known as the social protest movement.

By the end of that first week, Rothschild began to look like a cross-section of Jewish Israeli civil society, with activist groups from every strain imaginable setting up shop along the boulevard’s outer edges. Zionist youth groups tabled alongside environmentalists who handed out flyers, radical right-wing settlers pitched their tents next to guitar-toting hippies.

I strolled along the boulevard on a balmy summer night when I saw my friend Assaf setting up a booth for Anarchists Against the Wall — the Israeli collective most commonly associated with the nonviolent protests that had cropped up throughout the occupied territories in the mid-2000s. Assaf had just pinned up a clothesline’s worth of glossy A3 photos between two ficus trees, the content of which stood in almost complete contrast to the party-like atmosphere that surrounded us. There were shots of Palestinians and Israelis marching through clouds of tear gas together. Each and every photo included a small, white, block-lettered watermark on the bottom left-hand corner that read: “”

Suddenly a group of twenty-somethings in matching blue shirts approached us. They were members of Im Tirzu, a far-right student group whose raison d’être was to publicly tarnish left-wing leaders and organizations. Before I knew it, a confrontation had ensued. No one was hurt, but the photos were the first casualty — ripped from the clothesline and strewn across the damp grass. That wasn’t mere symbolism; it was a thuggish attempt to censor images that depicted real struggles by real people. To make sure those particular struggles would have no place in the Rothschild festival.

That may have been my first encounter with the power of Activestills, a loose collective of photographers based mostly in Israel and Palestine, but its story started six years earlier with a group of third-year photography students who had been spending their days at protests in Bil’in — the West Bank village that would soon become the flagship of Palestinian nonviolence for years to come....

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Netanyahu: Attacking Israeli journalists on Facebook is 'fun'

Netanyahu tells foreign journalists that using social media to attack local reporters is ‘the most entertaining.’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke honestly, perhaps for the first time, about what has been driving his recent attacks on Israeli journalists during a conference for members of the foreign press in Jerusalem Tuesday evening.

During the Q&A session, one reporter asked Netanyahu about whether confrontations with local journalists are the “best strategy” to engage with media outlets critical of him.

“I don’t know, it’s the most entertaining,” Netanyahu retorted. “It’s fun, I enjoy it.”

Netanyahu, who also serves as Israel’s communications minister, has in recent years designated the media as his arch nemesis. He attacks journalists by name, and often issues long, belabored responses to investigative reports published on his alleged misdoings. Last month, for example, Netanyahu published an unprecedentedly scathing rebuke to veteran investigative journalist Ilana Dayan, after her show “Uvda” aired a segment criticizing the inner workings of the Prime Minister’s Office.

Following the report, Dayan stood before the cameras and read the entirety of Netanyahu’s response (which took over six minutes to read), in which the prime minister accused one of Israel’s most respected journalists of, among other things, being a “left-wing extremist” who does not have “an iota of professional integrity” and is “one of the ring-leaders of the orchestrated attacks on…Netanyahu, which seek to bring down the right-wing government.”

Raviv Drucker, another prominent investigative journalist, has also been the target of Netanyahu’s ire, especially on social media. Drucker has recently published stories on the role of the prime minister’s personal lawyer and relative in a highly controversial deal to buy German submarines, as well as the shady relationship between the prime minister’s son and Australian businessman James Packer.

While Netanyahu views the media as his enemy, his consolidation of power allows him to mold the media landscape to his heart’s desire. His repeated threats to shut down Channel 10, his habit of calling journalists and television executives to complain about coverage of his wife, Sara, his connections with owners of some of Israel’s biggest outlets, and the fact that the country’s most-read newspaper is essentially a daily dedicated to promoting Bibi’s worldview have all had a chilling effect on journalism in Israel. Or as Netanyahu would call it: fun.

Watch Netanyahu’s full response below:

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Israel's culture minister likens wildfires to anti-Jewish pogroms

Miri Regev says current wildfires tearing through are simply a continuation of the massacres committed against Jews in the 20th century.

Miri Regev is the latest leader to join the chorus of Israeli government ministers inciting against the country’s Palestinian citizens over the past week, fueling allegations that Palestinians have been behind the hundreds of wildfires tearing through the country.

Never one to be outdone by her friends on the right, Minister of Culture and Sport Regev published a Facebook status on Sunday morning comparing the fires, which continue to rage across both Israel and the West Bank, to massacres and pogroms against Jews in the 20th century. Labeling the fires “Praot Tash’az” (the Hebrew equivalent of saying “The 2016 Riots,” the word “tash’az” denotes 5777, the current Hebrew year), Regev admonished the “political correctness” of those who believe waiting for the full results of police investigations is, well, the right thing to do. My translation:

The Israeli government will convene in Haifa City Hall in the next few hours to discuss the arsons of the past few days. Political correctness is trying to force us to bury our heads in the sand, while everything around us burns.

The first step is to call the child by its name — this bad child’s name is “Praot Tash’az” and it is an incarnation of the arsons in Fez, Kishinev, Hebron, Hartuv, and Be’er Tuvia.

This time, praise be to God, the Jewish people have a state and a government, and they are not planning on burying their heads in the sand. I will make sure that decisions are made that will lead to stopping the enemy within and beyond.

As Local Call’s Yael Marom noted earlier this week, Israeli politicians and leading media outlets alike jumped at the opportunity to pin the fires on Arabs. Netanyahu made sure to frame the alleged arson as terrorism, and the accused arsonists as terrorists. “Every fire caused by arson, or by incitement to arson, is terrorism,” Netanyahu said. “Anyone who tries to burn parts of the State of Israel will be punished severely.”

Education Minister Naftali Bennett continued the trend, stating: “Only he who the country doesn’t belong to him is capable of burning it.” Several days later, standing with the residents of the West Bank settlement Halamish — where 15 homes were burned down, allegedly as a result of arson — Bennett called the arsonists...

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