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Israel cannot hide the occupation by silencing (or killing) Palestinian journalists

The global solidarity campaign following the blinding of a Palestinian photographer by Israeli security forces is a reminder that try it might, Israel won’t be able to stop Palestinian journalists from telling the story of the occupation.

By Omri Najad

Last Friday, Palestinian photographer Moath Amarnih headed out to document a protest by the residents of Surif in the occupied West Bank. It was the second time in two weeks that they tried to demonstrate against the theft of their land by settlers. Shortly after the nonviolent protest began, a few young men began throwing stones at Border Police officers in the area.

The officers responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, and Amarnih — who was photographing the clashes from a nearby hill — was struck by a bullet in his eye. A 0.22-inch Ruger bullet was likely aimed at one of the protesters or was fired at the ground before ricocheting into Amarnih’s head. He was, at the time, wearing a press flak jacket.

Ever since, dozens of Palestinian and Israeli journalists have joined a campaign in solidarity with Amarnih, photographing themselves with one eye covered.

Surif’s residents have, for the past two weeks, demonstrated against a fence that was built around a large tract of their agricultural land in order to expand the nearby settlement of Bay Ayin. Amarnih’s shooting exposes the criminal flippancy with which Israel’s security forces aim — and often shoot — their weapons at Palestinian photographers in the West Bank and Gaza.

In March 2019, an investigative committee of the UN’s Human Rights Council published a report on Israel’s killing of unarmed protesters at the Gaza fence in 2018. According to the report, Israeli forces shot two Gaza photographers dead, while another 39 journalists were wounded by snipers. These injuries were caused despite the likelihood that the snipers recognized them as journalists, due to their flak jackets. Israeli snipers continue to shoot and wound journalists who documented the protests.


The photographer and his or her camera are often viewed as the enemy by oppressive regimes across the world. In Israel-Palestine, security forces fired rubber bullets at journalists reporting for French media outlet AFP near Ramallah last year, while in places like Syria and Hong Kong, security forces use violence against journalists — particularly photographers.

The Israeli media wants to silence and hide such criticism during wartime. For example,...

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'Our Boys' exposes the Mizrahi-Palestinian fault line

‘Our Boys’ shows that Mizrahi racism has transformed into a real and deadly threat. As the younger generation of Mizrahim, we must accept accountability for and develop a new understanding of Mizrahi-Palestinian relations.

By Moran Habaz

As someone who grew up in Jerusalem and experienced its bloodied streets as a teenager during the Second Intifada, HBO’s “Our Boys” shook my world. It made me reflect not only on that awful time in 2014, but also on the city’s very specific internal makeup. The series manages to capture Jerusalem’s explosive tensions, revealing both the divisions and connections along national, generational and ethnic lines, showing how a point of friction in one area inevitably causes a collapse in another.

The murder of Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir by Israelis that summer was exceptional for its brutality and for the graphic details published in Israeli media, but especially because of the identity of the perpetrators — Mizrahi ultra-Orthodox boys from Jerusalem and its surrounding settlements, some of whom were yeshiva students. Their background was, and remains, surprising.

Mizrahim — Jews whose families immigrated from Arab and Muslim countries — are perceived as the more racist group in Israeli society. But Mizrahi intellectuals and activists will point you to the acute analysis by Palestinian member of Knesset Jamal Zahalka, who makes a distinction between the vocal racism of those who cry “Death to Arabs,” and those who are more “enlightened” in their discourse but in effect oversee the occupation and the expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland — who are predominantly of Ashkenazi (European) origin.

Zahalka’s assessment is all the more thought-provoking for having come from a victim of that oppression. It is especially important within the clichéd discourse on racism in Israel, which invariably relies on the loud Mizrahi right-winger as its poster child.


In “Our Boys,” Shimon or Simon, the Shin Bet operative who led the investigation into the murder of Abu Khdeir, seems to understand Zahalka’s insight. Recognizing that the focus on Mizrahim is a distraction from the true engine of racism in Israel, Simon allocates most of his time and resources toward investigating the terrorism of the mostly-Ashkenazi religious-Zionist settlers. Simon pursues a singular assumption that Abu Khdeir’s killers are to be found among the predominantly Ashkenazi hilltop youth, who burn olive trees and carry out “price tag” attacks.

The repetitive cry of “Death to Arabs” leaves Simon unmoved....

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We made sure Israel couldn't hide the occupation from Eurovision

Israel had hoped to use the Eurovision Song Contest to bolster its international image. We were there to remind the world that there is no business as usual with an occupying state.

By Tanya Rubinstein

Contrary to the forecasts, Tel Aviv was not flooded by tens of thousands of European tourists last week, when Israel hosted the Eurovision Song Contest, as was repeatedly promised over the last year. City leaders hastened to reassure residents that the reason for the relatively small number of visitors had absolutely nothing to do with politics. Instead, they said, it was all economic considerations: Tel Aviv is simply too expensive, and many Eurovision fans preferred to stay home.

We will never know how many deliberately avoided Tel Aviv for political reasons. We do know, however, that many of those who chose to come were exposed to the Palestinian struggle, the occupation, the siege on Gaza, and Israel’s systematic violation of the human rights.

This Eurovision will go down in history as yet another moment that made clear that Israel cannot continue acting as if it is a normal country that does normal things. Every single day last week, Israeli, Palestinian, and international activists held a number of actions inside and outside the Eurovision events, as well as in Tel Aviv, Gaza, Ramallah, and Haifa.

Activists from Israel-Palestine and from across the world organized protests, including the Palestinians who held an alternative song contest in various locations across the country, including in the destroyed village of Sheikh Muwannis — where Tel Aviv University now stands. Activists also held direct actions, a demonstration to commemorate last year’s massacre on the Gaza border, and protest outside the Eurovision finale.


These actions were part of a year-long campaign that called called on artists and tourists to boycott Eurovision in Tel Aviv — to refuse to go along with Israel’s attempts to use the competition to whitewash its crimes against the Palestinian people. These campaigns are a direct continuation of the daily work done by groups that oppose the occupation and struggle for justice.

Between activism on the ground in Israel-Palestine and global campaigns, between Iceland’s gesture of solidarity on live television — even Madonna’s tepid message of co-existence — last week’s activism made clear that there is no such thing as business as usual with an occupying state. It was a testament to the fact that there is a large movement here and across the world that is working together...

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Why Benny Gantz is more dangerous than the Kahanists

Despite taking pride in bombing Gaza to the Stone Age, Benny Gantz is still portrayed by the Israeli media as a dove who wants to end the conflict. Nothing could be further from the truth.

By Tom Mehager

The partnership between the ruling Likud party and the Kahanist Otzma Yehudit party is a prime example of how racism has been legitimized in Israeli public discourse in recent years. If in the past Likud had openly condemned Meir Kahane and his descendants, today those red lines no longer exist.

Even Shas leader Aryeh Deri showed signs of partnering with Otzma’s Itamar Ben-Gvir, something that in the past would have been beyond the pale for his party. All of a sudden, Netanyahu’s now-famous election day warnings of “Arabs going to the polls in droves” have become a terrifying reality. The prime minister has effectively paved the way for unabashed expressions of racism at the highest levels of Israeli society.

Yet the most horrific moment in the current election cycle has undoubtedly been the launch of former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz’s election campaign, in which he bragged about “sending parts of Gaza back to the Stone Age.” In this sense, Gantz and the popular mood he represents, are far more dangerous than the blatant racism of the Kahanists.

They are dangerous precisely because they can be translated far more easily into actual policies that could physically harm the right of people to life, shelter, and access to water, electricity, and infrastructure. If this is how we measure danger, then Benny Gantz is one of the most dangerous people in Israel — far more dangerous than Kahanists such as Ben-Gvir.

It is important to point out the differences between the violence of a political leader such as Gantz and that of Israel’s extreme right parties. While there is widespread condemnation of the far right from all sides of the political spectrum, as well as international community, Gantz represents the Israeli mainstream — proper, moderate, moral, and he has won the support of Israel’s mainstream media outlets, with left-wing parties such as Meretz expressing their support for his candidacy.

Gantz’s comments are reflective of a violence that is legitimate and acceptable in Israel — the kind of violence whose victims we do not talk or care about. If Gantz truly takes pride in carrying out such a criminal policy in the past — and it is clear not only that Israeli society lacks any mechanism or alternative voice to prevent it in the future (since it pays dividends to wide swaths...

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The law to provide Israel's underprivileged schoolchildren with a decent meal

The ‘hot meal law’ was enacted 15 years ago, anchoring the right of hundred of thousands of children to eat one hot meal a day. Yet its still entails some challenges, including expanding it to all children suffering from nutrition insecurity and improving the quality of sustenance.

By Yonit Naaman and Tammy Riklis

In 2004 Israel passed the Hot Meal Law. The law, a result of work done by different parties in the civil society, led by the “Yadid” organization, stated that students in kindergartens and schools under the Israeli Ministry of Education, will be provided with a hot meal daily during long school days. A conference marking 15 years since the law was passed was held at the end of the month; the conference focused on expanding the law’s implementation and the challenges still faced by the state and local authorities.

While the beginning of the project saw only 60,000 of Israel’s school children able to enjoy a hot meal, today the number has already reached 230,000 – under an overall budget of a billion shekels. According to a document published a year ago by the Knesset’s Research and Information Center, in 2015-2016 there were 673 institutions eligible for the program, feeding a total of 235,725 students. In fact, only 458 institutions and 119,145 students participated in the program. According to the Ministry of Education’s data, we learn that this year, 160,000 students and 236,000 pre-schoolers are being fed.

This, of course, is far from enough. According to data from 2016, the number of students suffering from nutrition insecurity is 352,000 out of the 2 million students in the Israeli education system. Hundreds of thousands more suffer from light or mild nutrition insecurity. The law is implemented in only 100 out of 256 local authorities. Why, then, are there still children of low socio-economic status who do not receive a hot meal?

According to a report titled “Food for Thought: On the Feeding Programs in Israeli Schools,” published last year by the National Council for  Nutrition Security in Israel and Yadid, three governmental programs provide hot meals to Israeli students today: the feeding program, the MILAT program, and TZILA. The average cost of meal per student is 12 shekels. Funding for the feeding program is provided by the Ministry of Education with the participation of relevant local authorities, according to the socio-economical cluster to which they belong. Local authorities must first fund 10 percent of the feeding program’s costs, while parental...

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When racism and segregation are perceived as 'legitimate rights'

Protests against Arab families moving into Jewish cities are a reminder that until everyone is free to choose where they want to live, the Israeli regime will remain segregationist and racist at its core.

By Suhad Bishara

Jewish residents of the northern Israeli city of Afula protested last week against the sale of a home to an Arab family and the possibility that the city would have a mixed Jewish-Arab population. I have no doubt that every person who believes in freedom and justice will view this protest as an expression of pro-segregation racism reminiscent of South African apartheid.

The protest comes just a few months after Sivan Yehieli, the head of the Kfar Vradim Municipal Council, announced that his pastoral town must maintain its Zionist-Jewish character after 58 Arab citizens won bids to build their homes in the town.

Let’s make one thing clear: 150 protesters are not an aberration in Israel. They were simply expressing overtly the racist segregation upon which Israel’s land regime was founded. This is precisely how military rule over Israel’s Arab citizens – in effect from 1949 until 1966 – functioned: “cleansing” vast swaths of land in order to settle Jews and to ensure reserves of land that would continue to exclusively serve Israeli Jews.

This “cleansing” process was implemented, among other ways, via the construction of hundreds of new Jewish towns and communities, as well as through the establishment of admissions committees in kibbutzim, moshavim, and other communities.

Yehieli faithfully represents the Israeli planning authorities’ policy aimed at demographically re-engineering the country. He represents an Israeli legal system that refused to allow the implementation of its own decision to allow the internally-displaced Palestinian residents of Iqrit and Bir’im to return to their villages, that gave the green light to the Admissions Committees Law, and that allows the state to uproot the residents of Umm al-Hiran in order to replace them with Jewish citizens – just like during and immediately following the Nakba. And we can expect much more of the same.

It is no coincidence that the proposed nation-state basic law includes a clause that authorizes the state to “allow a community, including those belonging to one religion or nationality, to maintain separate community living.” This proposed basic law will constitutionally and normatively affirm Israel’s policy of segregation. In effect, Arabs’ citizenship will continue to be...

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'Just be grateful you're not gay in Gaza'

As long as Palestinians are deprived of their rights by the occupation, we cannot view the achievements of the Israeli LGBTQ community as an indication of tolerance. 

By Noa Bassel

Every year in June, during Pride Month, the inherent paradox built in to Israel’s political discourse reaches a fever pitch: the more oppressed a social group is, the more grateful it is expected to be for those things that are taken for granted by the rest of the population. Palestinians should be grateful that they can attend university, feminists should be thankful to Israel for not living in Iran, Jewish immigrants from Ethiopia should say thanks that they are not in their home country, and LGBTQ people should be grateful that they can walk the streets (illustrative examples in Hebrew can be found here, here, here and here).

These groups are systematically attacked or discriminated against by the police, the legal system, state institutions, and the labor market. Yet they are required to be grateful for their situation, if only because of the comparisons made to imaginary scenarios in which we were born someplace else, all while maintaining the labels that deem us inferior.

The “grateful” discourse is spread by internet trolls, Knesset members, Supreme Court judges, and some members of the LGBTQ community, and is based on several significant contradictions. First, in every struggle we are required to stop fighting and be grateful for what we have already achieved — which we wouldn’t have achieved in the first place had we stopped to say thank you back then. I am certain that queers in the 1970s could have been grateful that the law criminalizing sex between men wasn’t enforced, that one could always lie to their boss and have a same-sex relationship after bringing some children into the world in the comforts of a marriage.


In the past couple of years we have had to explain why we can’t just be gay in the privacy of our homes, and last week the police required the organizers of the pride parade in the city of Kfar Saba to pay for a wall around the marchers “for their own protection.” Luckily, in each of these instances there were brave people around who were unsatisfied; thanks to them, we now stand proud in the face of men in suits who demand that we thank them.

A more complicated contradiction is in the comparison between LGBTQ rights in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. First, because those who raise the issue never have to substantiate their claims: they all argue that homosexuals are being...

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Human rights groups tell the truth. It is we who refuse to listen

We refuse to listen to what human rights groups say about the West Bank and Gaza Strip because we do not want to admit we are ultimately responsible.

By Assaf David

How does Israel, its institutions, its academy, and its mainstream media, understand the goings on the Palestinian side? Through the crosshairs, of course.

This is not new, but these crosshairs are located in the wider context of Israel’s political institutions. This aspect deserves a closer analysis, since the discourse surrounding these institutions contains a kind of knowledge that molds our consciousness, while erasing knowledge of a different kind.

Are Fatah and Hamas reconciling? Hoards of academics and media figures will analyze every statement, every personality, every move, trying to place them in their political, tactical, or strategic context. Trump, Egypt, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Mahmoud Abbas, Mohammed Dahlan, Haniyeh, Sinwar, Islamic Jihad, Salafi, Sunni, Shi’a.

But life is more complicated than personalities, organizations, and political moves. Haaretz recently interviewed Palestinian-Israeli psychologist Mohammed Masour, who volunteers with Physicians for Human Rights. Mashad travels frequently to Gaza, describing the horrifying reality in the Strip. Chaos rules, disrupting long-accepted customs and behaviors in Palestinian society, including between men and women.

Meanwhile, we stew in our ignorance. The information we are exposed to in academia and the media surrounds Abbas and Dahlan jockeying for power, jihad and Iran, Salafists and Hamas. One tries to screw the other over, some are weaker than others, that’s why they signed an Egyptian-backed reconciliation agreement, but who know if they really mean it.

But what don’t we know? Everything human rights organizations have been persistently telling us for years. All those organizations, silenced by the government and the Knesset at home, yet proudly displayed for all the world to see in the fight over international minds.

Human rights organizations allow us to prove that Israel is the only democracy in the region. And anyone who doesn’t like it can go to Gaza, along with these groups. These are groups that tell us what is happening on the ground. We do not want to see it, hear it, or read it. Take them away from us, because we are uncomfortable with the fact that, in the end, this is our fault.

Yes, our fault. We deny an entire nation its national rights, and in order to ensure that our victory is permanent, we also deny human rights to the individuals...

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Yes, the right of return is feasible. Here's how

Seventy years after the violent displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, it is time to undo the injustice and to enable whoever desires to return as equal citizens to do so, while respecting the rights and identities of all who live in Israel-Palestine.

By Tom Pessah (translated by Yoni Molad)

For millions of Palestinians worldwide, the right of return is a fundamental issue — the most important precondition for resolving the conflict. However, in Israel the matter is raised haphazardly and is not really dealt with seriously. Haokets recently published a series of important documents culled from the state archives, which show how the property of Palestinian refugees was transferred over to the Custodian of Absentees’ Property.

Simultaneously, a debate has been taking place on the pages of Haaretz regarding the most appropriate attitude vis-a-vis the right of return. The contributors come from across the Israeli political spectrum: Ze’ev Binyamin Begin was a member of Netanyahu’s government. Shaul Arieli was a Knesset candidate for Meretz, and has been fighting for years to expose the injustices caused by the construction of the separation barrier. Uri Avnery is the founder of Gush Shalom, who dared to meet with Yasser Arafat in Beirut at the height of the First Lebanon War. Shlomo Sand is a controversial academic whose aim is to shatter the myth of Jewish biological continuity.

Despite this apparent diversity — and the courage displayed by writers who veer away from the public consensus — it is interesting to note that, fundamentally, all the discussants are in agreement. Begin is “pessimistic” about peace because he does not believe the Palestinians will forego the right of return. Arieli proposes to prevent “the demographic threat to Israel’s Jewish identity” through measures such as compensation and resettlement in other countries. Sand offers compensation on the basis of recognizing that ‘this right is antithetical to the to the linguistic and cultural identity that exists in Israel, perhaps to its very existence.” And Avnery suggests absorbing only a limited quota of refugees on the basis that “no one expects Israel to commit suicide and agree to resettle millions of refugees.”

The discourse surrounding the right of return is trapped in slogans about “suicide” and “demographic threat,” dictated by a regime fearful of a real solution to the conflict, and the broad changes that this would entail. Is it not time to exchange these slogans for a serious discussion?

Here are a few...

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The Netanyahu government went off the rails this weekend

In under 24 hours, Netanyahu and his cronies attacked left-wing NGOs, tried to shut down Israel’s public broadcaster, and starting advancing a law that would give the prime minister immunity for corruption charges.

By Yossi Dahan

What transpired in the Israeli government over a 24-hour period this past weekend is nothing short of nauseating.

It began with a scathing attack by Prime Minister Netanyahu on top police officials in response to news reports that police renewed the investigations against him in a number of corruption scandals. Netanyahu attacked the national police commissioner for allegedly leaking details of the investigations.

Immediately after that, on Sunday morning, the government approved a new law, allowing ministries to make certain political appointments bypassing normal civil service norms and bidding processes.

Later that day Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (Shas) proposed shutting down the new Israel Broadcasting Corporation (IBC), in order to fund new settler roads in the West Bank, which Netanyahu floated funding with across-the-board cuts. The interior minister could have solved the budget problem in other ways but it turns out what worries him most these days is the months-old public broadcaster’s low ratings.

It is difficult to know whether Deri’s sudden interest in the corporation’s ratings was the result of an investigative report it aired, according to which Israeli police have gathered enough evidence to indict him and his wife for tax offenses, money laundering and breach of trust.

Netanyahu said that he will consider Deri’s proposal. Comedic relief came from Communications Minister Ayoub Kara, who wrote on Twitter: “I was happy to receive the prime minister’s blessings to shut down the Israel Broadcasting Corporation, an end to wasting public money.” Kara, who is Netanyahu’s puppet in the Communications Ministry, clearly misread the instructions and quickly erased the Tweet, publishing a clarification that mostly likely came from above.

During that same meeting, the heads of the coalition unanimously agreed to establish a parliamentary committee to investigate foreign government funding of left-wing NGOs, and the involvement of those governments in internal Israeli politics. In order to prevent any surprises, coalition head David Bitan proposed the committee be headed by a member of Knesset from his Likud party. Netanyahu supported this move. Meanwhile, Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin updated the coalition heads on the progress of a new government-supported bill to outlaw left-wing NGOs. At the end of that day, it was...

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Netanyahu exploiting south Tel Aviv's hardships to attack asylum seekers

Netanyahu has asylum seekers right where he wants them. He can exploit the hardships of south Tel Aviv residents to continue inciting against the Supreme Court, the media, and human rights organizations.

By Yossi Dahan

After years in which Netanyahu did not set foot in south Tel Aviv, the prime minister came to the area last week for two visits. The first visit was highly publicized, and the second — with Interior Minister Aryeh Deri — was undercover. For Netanyahu, the timing of the visits was perfect: a week after Israel’s High Court ruled that asylum seekers cannot be deported to third countries without their consent, and that consent to do so cannot come from someone who has been jailed indeterminately.

For Netanyahu and his ministers, the ruling was another golden opportunity to paint the Supreme Court justices as disconnected elites who prefer the welfare of “the infiltrators” at the expense of south Tel Aviv’s residents. The prime minister promised the veteran residents he met that he, as opposed to court, will see to the deportation of the infiltrators and “return the neighborhood to the residents of south Tel Aviv.”

Netanyahu’s use of words like “infiltrators” to describe asylum seekers is not coincidental — they are intended to mark them as criminals who crossed the border in order to improve their economic status. And yet he knows these terms are deceitful. Had they been infiltrators or illegal migrant workers, there would be no legal problem with putting them on planes and returning them to their home countries. Israel does not do so because it recognizes them as asylum seekers — a legal term signifying the fact that they left their countries, came to a different one, and declared that their life would in danger should they be sent back.

Out of 40,000 asylum seekers currently in Israel, the vast majority come from Sudan and Eritrea — murderous dictatorships that commit grave human rights violations. Thus the State of Israel, despite jailing and abusing asylum seekers, undertakes a policy of “delayed deportation,” in accordance with the United Nations’ 1951 Refugee Convention, to which Israel is a signatory. According to the treaty, refugees cannot be sent back to a place in which their life or liberty will be in danger. Netanyahu, skilled in the art of incitement and setting different oppressed communities against one another to further his political goals, has no interest in...

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The war on Israeli BDS supporters

Israel’s minister of strategic affairs is gathering intelligence and compiling blacklists on Israeli citizens who support the boycott movement.

By Amnon Portugaly

These days Gilad Erdan, Israel’s minister of public security and strategic affairs, is promoting a new law that would exclude his ministry from governmental oversight. This is a step meant to help fight the BDS movement, while also granting legitimacy to gathering intelligence on Israeli citizens who are involved in the movement to boycott Israel.

In June, Haaretz reported that the Strategic Affairs Ministry, which Erdan heads, would essentially be shielded from certain provisions in the Freedom of Information Law — as decided by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation.

According to the bill, a decision was made in October 2015 by the Ministerial Committee on National Security, enabled the ministry “to fulfill its functions effectively, it is suggested to exclude from the provisions of the Freedom of Information law the ministry’s activities within the framework of the responsibilities imposed on it by the government to lead the campaign against the phenomenon of de-legitimization and boycotts against Israel.”

But why must the battle against BDS organizations be kept away from the public eye? And what does “fulfilling its functions effectively” mean?

Erdan has already established an office in the Military Intelligence Directorate whose job is to gather intelligence on foreign BDS activists. Now it is becoming clear that Erdan wants to expand the surveillance activities of his ministry to include Israeli citizens. In his view, many Israeli citizens are involved in encouraging boycotts of Israel while collaborating with foreign BDS activists.

In fact, the Israeli government has been doing this for quite a while through shadow organizations such as Im Tirzu, Israel Academia Monitor, and the like. Now Erdan and the government are institutionalizing those organizations’ work. Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit and his deputy Avi Licht opposed the move, arguing that the Public Security Ministry does not have the legal authority to gather intelligence and manage databases on Israeli citizens.

The work of the new intelligence office in the Military Intelligence Directorate will likely include dozens of people who will gather and sort through information, and enlisting informants who will pass along information on BDS supporters in Israel and across the world. A kind of spy game that includes the methodical surveilling and categorizing of activists. Establishing databases and blacklists, the criteria of which are unknown. These lists will include citizens,...

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Why it's still important to talk about peace

Israelis may want peace, but they want it on their terms: without Palestinian resistance to the occupation.

By Raef Zreik

The rhetoric of “peace” as a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict blurs the problem at hand: the Palestinians don’t want peace. Peace is viewed as the opposite of war, but the Palestinians are not in a state of war with Israel — they are under occupation and are at war with the occupation. As in any occupation, you have those who are occupiers and those who are occupied. And while war presumes some sort of symmetry, there is nothing symmetrical about the nature of occupation.

Living under occupation leads Palestinians to fight for their freedom, independence, self-determination, and economic prosperity. They want to control their borders and natural resources, and insist on sovereignty over their fate. Peace can — and is meant to — be the result of their struggle, and it can be assumed that a people no longer living under occupation or in refugee camps will have every reason to live in peace. Peace could also be an Israeli demand regarding the end of a process that ensures conflict doesn’t continue after the occupation ends, and that a just solution is found for the refugee problem. But peace — as it relates to quiet, a lack of resistance, and acceptance — cannot exist as a precondition for negotiations; peace can only be a result of the process.

The current Israeli government’s rationale is that the Palestinian Authority must cease all resistance to the occupation. But how can you stop the resistance to the occupation while the occupation still exists? Resistance will end when the occupation is over; conditioning ending the occupation on peace and entering into peace talks is equivalent to making peace while leaving the occupation in place. That is how what we call the “peace process” perpetuates the occupation instead of ending it. If peace — meaning no incitement and no resistance to the occupation — were a precondition for peace negotiations, it’s unclear why Israel would have any desire to enter into peace talks, for in such a scenario it will already have the peace it seeks.

That is the paradox of the Israeli understanding of the logic of occupation: if there is resistance to the occupation, then Israel won’t enter into peace talks with the Palestinians because they are inciting against it. On the other hand, if...

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