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Linda Sarsour: 'We must all commit to dismantling anti-Semitism'

A storm of protest failed to overshadow a diverse, progressive panel on anti-Semitism held in New York, featuring Linda Sarsour and Jewish Voice for Peace head Rebecca Vilkomerson.

In the end, the controversy, threats, protests and endless scandalized op-eds were unable to derail a diverse, progressive panel on anti-Semitism that took place in New York on Tuesday evening. The event, held in front of 500 people at the New School (with a further 1,200 watching via a livestream) was moderated by Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman, and featured Linda Sarsour, Jewish Voice for Peace Executive Director Rebecca Vilkomerson, Leo Ferguson and Lina Morales.

The panel, a collaboration between Jewish Voice for Peace, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ), Haymarket Books and Jacobin Magazine, drew out the complexities of acknowledging and challenging the genuine threat of anti-Semitism from diverse sources, while simultaneously rejecting its exploitation for political gain. In a wide-ranging discussion, the panelists addressed, among many other issues, the intersection of anti-Semitism and other forms of racism, anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, and how anti-Semitism does and doesn’t differ from other forms of racism.

The ferocious opposition the event provoked was primarily due to the presence of Sarsour, who is unceasingly smeared as a Jew-hater, despite consistently speaking out against anti-Semitism, and being a long-time partner of Jewish social justice organizations in New York. Among those decrying her inclusion was Zionist Organization of America head Mort Klein, whose “J’accuse…!” on Breitbart, of all places, belied the fact that he had personally invited Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka to the ZOA’s annual pageant in New York earlier this month.

JVP Deputy Director Rabbi Alissa Wise, introducing the event, warned of potential interruptions, and she proved correct. But ultimately, a feeble protest outside the auditorium and a couple of minor audience disruptions at the end of the evening failed to reflect the storm of outrage that had threatened to overshadow the proceedings.

Instead, what took place was a nuanced, complex, challenging debate, among a panel whose racial, gender and religious diversity added considerable depth to the discussion. It was exactly the kind of conversation our communities on the Left need to be having, and seem to be increasingly willing to have in public: the event followed the publication earlier this month of JFREJ’s excellent primer “Understanding Antisemitism,” as well as...

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How to deal with modern anti-Semitism? The Jewish Left is leading the way

For too long, the Right has claimed a monopoly on fighting antisemitism, especially when it relates to Israel.

It’s been a fraught year for the American Jewish Left. Anti-Semitism continues to be stoked by the president and his inner and outer circles; the institutional Jewish community is openly courting anti-Semites; and verbal and legislative assaults from the Israeli and American right on ‘traitorous’ Jewish anti-occupation and BDS advocates continue to rack up. Meanwhile, Congress recently hosted a debate about anti-Semitism on U.S. college campuses, largely geared toward making criticism of Israel a part of Title VI’s definition of anti-Semitism.

Moreover, a number of incidents at left-wing demonstrations over the summer led to ugly fallouts in which accusations of anti-Semitism on the part of protest organizers provoked hysteria on the Right and divisive recriminations on the Left.

In short, it’s been even more difficult than usual to effectively and insightfully address the issue of anti-Semitism from the perspective of the Jewish Left—even as the need for such a discussion has become increasingly urgent. The degree of misinformation, slander and abuse swirling around—whether from the Jewish Right, the Israeli government, or emboldened neo-Nazis—makes it challenging (and intimidating) to stage a reasoned public conversation.

The unrelenting nature of our present moment adds to these barriers, and the white supremacist rallies that took place in Charlottesville this summer typified that tension: on the one hand, they involved displays of violent and virulent anti-Semitism; on the other, they were about much more than that.

So how do we begin to draw out the complexities of anti-Semitism and understand both its specificities and its intersection with other prejudices—particularly anti-Black racism and Islamophobia? And, moreover, how do we do that from within the Jewish Left, when we often seem to be assailed on multiple fronts under the misguided and dangerous notion that our Jewishness and our politics are incompatible?

Thankfully, Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ) has just put out a new resource that speaks to exactly these questions. In addition to serving as a much-needed refresher for those of us who have been grappling with these issues for some time, it’s also an excellent primer for anyone on the Left who’s just starting to navigate these waters.

Understanding Antisemitism: An Offering to Our Movement grew out of a conversation between iconic writer and activist Aurora Levins Morales and then-JFREJ...

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Challenging racial supremacy — from Charlottesville to Tel Aviv

As long as our recognition of racial supremacy begins and ends with enraged men beating up people of color, leftists, and anyone else they see as a target, we will never approach the reckoning needed to effect meaningful change — neither in Charlottesville nor in Tel Aviv.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA — Three years ago, on a broiling July night, a group of friends and I were sitting outside a cafe in an upscale Tel Aviv neighborhood, trying to ignore the “death to Arabs” chants coming from the square opposite us. It was the middle of the Gaza war, and we had just come from an anti-war protest at a nearby plaza. We’d left quickly as it was winding down; groups of young men had started filtering in, scanning the depleting crowds, their necks taut. It was one of numerous protests at which members of Israel’s far right had assaulted leftists during that never-ending, bloody summer.

The hundred or so far-right counter-demonstrators who had amassed in the square opposite the cafe soon began marching through the city, singing and waving Israeli flags. Quiet returned, and the square again assumed the outward appearance of normality. It’s an ordinary space: benches, a children’s swing set, trees, manicured hedges. Boutique coffee shops line its perimeter. It perfectly encapsulates the Tel Aviv “bubble”—that criticism leveled at a city whose residents are perceived, rightly or wrongly, to have little understanding of the violence that stalks much of Israel-Palestine, or if they do, to at least have the luxury of being largely removed from it.

And yet that square, at least in my mind, would never look quite the same. I used to pass by it on a weekly basis, right up until I left Israel-Palestine in late 2016. And though it was only ever populated by young families and solitary readers, that group of braying young men—jumping up and down, screaming racist epithets—was always there. Winter and summer, rain and shine, night and day, they lurked: an atmospheric disturbance, like looking at the horizon through heat haze. I would walk through the square or sit in it in silence, and hear “death to Arabs” every time.

After I left the country those memories retreated, although they didn’t disappear. They were, or so I had thought, tightly attached to that physical space. But here in Charlottesville, where I moved just a few months ago, those apparitions have...

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Jewish activists arrested for protesting New York pro-Israel parade

New York’s annual, lavishly-funded Celebrate Israel parade was interrupted by scores of American Jewish activists, several of whom were arrested in the process.

Seven Jewish protesters were arrested in New York on Sunday afternoon as over 100 activists disrupted the annual Celebrate Israel parade. The event, which sees thousands of participants march down Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue accompanied by elected officials such as Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, has received nearly $800,000 in funding from the Israeli government over the last seven years.

The counter-demonstrations were held by Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow, who blocked the progress of the parade, unfurled banners in the middle of Fifth Avenue and staged sit-ins. Six of the seven JVP members who were arrested were released later on Sunday, and the last person is expected to be released on Monday.

The purpose of the counter-demonstration was to draw attention to Israel’s 50-year-old occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights, the organization said in a statement. The protest, held under the slogan of “Celebrate Ending Israeli Apartheid,” was also intended to highlight exchange programs between the New York Police Department and Israeli security forces, which JVP calls “an exchange of worst practices that harm communities of color and Palestinians.”

Protesters reported being cursed at, threatened and manhandled by participants in the Celebrate Israel parade, as well as by private security, as they made their way past police barricades to disrupt the march. The activists stalled the progress of the mayor for several minutes, while the LGBTQ bloc in the parade was interrupted by a group of queer Jews, who held up signs saying, “No pride in apartheid” and “Queer Jews for a free Palestine.” Five of the LGBTQ Jewish protesters were among those arrested.

IfNotNow, who unraveled a banner saying “No celebration with occupation” in the middle of the parade, also staged other protests across the country to mark the occupation turning 50 this week.

IfNotNow demonstrators in Washington, D.C., protested outside a gala hosted by Friends of the IDF, which raises millions of dollars a year to for Israeli soldiers during and after their service. Activists read the mourners’ kaddish in memory of those killed as a result of the occupation, and held signs reading “Occupation is not my Judaism” while calling on gala attendees to work against the occupation and be honest with...

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The far-right is wooing LGBTQs for one reason: Islamophobia

From Donald Trump, to Marine Le Pen, to the Israeli government, the far-right is rebranding itself as uniquely equipped to protect LGBTQ communities from homophobia — so long as it is coming from Muslims.

On June 13, 2016, Donald Trump gave a speech in response to the mass shooting at an Orlando LGBTQ nightclub the previous night, in which Omar Mateen murdered 49 people before being killed by police.

“I refuse to allow America to become a place where gay people, Christian people, Jewish people are targets of persecution and intimation [sic] by radical Islamic preachers of hate and violence,” Trump said. “Ask yourself who is really the friend of women and the LGBT community, Donald Trump with actions or Hillary Clinton with her words?”

A number of things jump out from these statements: the assumption that Muslims cannot be victims of religious extremism (a blind spot that extends well beyond Trump); the gall of calling himself a friend of women and the LGBT community when he serially assaults the former and would go on to fill his cabinet with haters of both; and the hypocrisy of listing the groups he believes to be threatened by “radical Islamic preachers of hate and violence,” when he has never acknowledged that all those communities are far more threatened by radical white preachers of hate and violence, whom he has emboldened.

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But Trump’s speech also contained an idea that has been rolling around for more than a decade, and is now more popular than ever: that the far-right, for all its omnidirectional bigotry, is somehow uniquely equipped to protect LGBTQ communities from homophobia — so long as, that is, the homophobia is coming from Muslims.

Geert Wilders, the ultra-nationalist who threatened an upset in the Netherlands’ national elections last March, has long girded his Islamophobic and anti-immigrant policy proposals in an apparent concern for gay rights. France’s Marine Le Pen insisted during her recent presidential campaign that her far-right Front National was the only party that could defend LGBTQs from Islamist violence.

In the U.K., the fascist English Defence League launched an “LGBT Division” several years ago, under the same rubric...

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Israeli forces raid Palestinian-Jewish protest camp for third time in 10 days

Israeli soldiers and police officers showed up at the Sumud Freedom Camp in the south Hebron hills on Monday morning, confiscating and destroying property and detaining three Palestinian activists.

Israeli soldiers and Border Police raided the Sumud Freedom Camp in the south Hebron hills for the third time on Monday morning, destroying and confiscating property and detaining three Palestinian activists. The anti-occupation encampment, built and inhabited by Palestinians, Israelis and diaspora Jews, had already been torn down twice in the past 10 days.

Israeli forces damaged and confiscated two tents, along with items such as mattresses, water and generator cables that were inside a cave at the encampment, according to a press release sent out by the organizers. They also destroyed banners that had been displayed at the camp, and confiscated a car. The three Palestinians who had been detained were released after the raid had finished.

Settlers descended from the nearby radical Havat Ma’on outpost to observe the proceedings, and representatives from Regavim — a pro-settler organization that seeks to obstruct Palestinian building in the Israeli-controlled Area C of the West Bank — were also at the scene.

The raid coincided with the third day of Ramadan. Sami Hureini, a local activist from a-Tuwaneh, told +972 Magazine that activists have been marking the holiday by sitting down together for an iftar each evening, and that Palestinian members of the camp who are fasting have been staying up for the night shift to keep watch, going to sleep at 4 a.m. Monday’s raid occurred shortly after they had gone to bed.

Sumud Freedom Camp, inspired by Standing Rock, is located on the grounds of Sarura, a Palestinian village that was gradually depopulated between 1980 and 1998 due to ongoing army and settler violence. The establishment of the camp on May 19 marked the return of Sarura’s residents to their homes for the first time in nearly 20 years. Mohammad Aamar, the son of one of the residents who had returned to the village, was among those detained on Monday.

The camp is now in its 13th day. Activists have rebuilt after each raid, raising funds to replace and repair damaged and confiscated goods. The coalition of Palestinian and Jewish groups that organized the encampment — local Palestinian committees, the Center for Jewish Nonviolence, the Holy Land Trust, All That’s Left and Combatants for...

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U.S. Jewish activist to undergo surgery on arm broken by Israeli cops

Sarah Brammer-Shlay, whose arm was broken by Israeli police as they forcibly removed her from a Jerusalem Day protest, will be undergoing a $25,000 operation on Thursday.

An American-Jewish activist whose arm was broken by Israeli police as they forcefully dispersed a Jerusalem Day protest last week will need to undergo surgery.

Sarah Brammer-Shlay, 25, was part of a group of American and Israeli Jews who staged a demonstration at Damascus Gate last Wednesday. The protesters, who sat in a row along the entrance to the Old City in order to try and have the annual March of the Flags rerouted, were physically threatened by right-wing Israelis before being removed by Israeli police. In addition to breaking Brammer-Shlay’s arm, police dragged at least one protester away in a headlock.

Brammer-Shlay, a member of American anti-occupation group IfNotNow, told +972 Magazine that the operation would cost $25,000, and is scheduled for Thursday at Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center. She expects to be hospitalized for between two to five days. A fundraising campaign has so far brought in $6,500 in donations, but Brammer-Shlay is unsure that her travel insurance will cover the remaining cost of the surgery.

Israel Police spokesperson Mickey Rosenfeld, responding last Thursday to a request for comment on the incident, did not deny that members of the police had broken Brammer-Shlay’s arm. At the time of writing, the U.S. State Department had not commented on the fact that Israeli cops assaulted an American citizen, to the degree that she will need to be operated on.

Wednesday’s protest against Jerusalem Day, a highly-charged, intensely nationalistic and consistently violent affair, came as well over 100 American Jews are in Israel-Palestine participating in anti-occupation activism. The “Sumud Freedom Camp,” a Standing Rock-inspired protest encampment set up by Palestinians, Israelis and diaspora Jews, is currently in its ninth day, having already been dismantled twice by the Israeli army.

Police and army violence is near-automatic in response to demonstrations by Palestinians, Ethiopian Israelis, and Israeli photojournalists and anti-occupation activists who attend protests in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The presence of diaspora Jews has traditionally stayed the authorities’ hand, but as Jews from around the world head to Israel-Palestine in order to step up their nonviolent activism against the occupation, it seems that the authorities are responding in kind.

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Israeli cops assault American Jewish activists in Jerusalem Day protest

Israeli police forcefully dispersed American Jewish anti-occupation activists, who had gathered in the Old City to protest Jerusalem Day and the March of the Flags.

Israeli police broke the arm of an American Jewish activist and injured several other anti-occupation demonstrators while forcefully dispersing a Jerusalem Day protest in the Old City on Wednesday.

The demonstration, held at Damascus Gate by American and Israeli Jewish activists with IfNotNow, Free Jerusalem and All That’s Left, took place during the March of the Flags, an annual right-wing parade that habitually results in violence against Palestinians from both its participants and the Israeli police units escorting them. The march is heavily funded by the Jerusalem Municipality.

The parade passes through the Old City’s Muslim Quarter, and Palestinian traders along the route are ordered by police to close their shops during the march. IfNotNow organizer Yonah Lieberman told +972 Magazine that Wednesday’s protest was aimed at trying to block the police from clearing out the Muslim Quarter, forcing them to reroute the march.

“[We] decided that it was important to confront the violence of Jerusalem Day head-on,” Lieberman said. “Specifically, [it was] important for us to do all that we could to demonstrate the way that Israeli state violence is used against Palestinians in order to protect right-wing Jewish extremists.”

Around two dozen activists linked arms in front of Damascus Gate, Lieberman explained. He noted that while the group tried to avoid direct confrontation with the march participants, they were “charged at” by right-wing Israelis, before being ordered to move by Israeli police.

Video footage from the protest, shot by Naomi Dann, an activist on the scene, shows police dragging protesters out by their arms and by the neck. Lieberman, who was filmed being carried away in a headlock, can be heard saying, “I can’t breathe” to the police holding onto him.

The activist whose arm was broken, Sarah Brammer-Shlay was evacuated in a Palestinian ambulance — whose operators, in support of the protest, waived the fee for the ride — to the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem. Numerous other protesters were suffering from bruises and the after-effects of being choked.

Neither the Jerusalem Police nor the Border Police responded immediately to a request for comment. Should a response be received,...

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50 things that have been around for less time than the occupation

How much has the world changed since Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory began in 1967?

The occupation, as we are all too well aware, is about to turn 50. It’s difficult to grasp just how significant a period of time five decades is — especially when we’re trying to imagine the durability of a state of affairs that was never supposed to be permanent. But one way we can try and conceive of just how long Israeli military rule has persisted is to look at how much the world has changed since 1967. So here, in ascending chronological order, are 50 things — from inventions to cultural phenomena, international treaties to countries — that have entered our world since the occupation began.

  1. ATMs (June 27, 1967)
  2. Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (1968)
  3. Sesame Street (1969)
  4. The Cleveland Cavaliers (1970)
  5. Email (1971)
  6. Home video games consoles (1972)
  7. Cellphones (1973)
  8. Post-its (1974)
  9. Microsoft (1975)
  10. The G7 (1976 — formed out of the G6, founded in 1975)
  11. Star Wars (1977)
  12. IVF (1978)
  13. Pink Floyd’s The Wall (1979)
  14. CNN (1980)
  15. MTV (1981)
  16. Michael Jackson’s Thriller (1982)
  17. Chicken McNuggets (1983)
  18. Apple Macs (1984)
  19. Super Mario Bros. (1985)
  20. Fox Broadcasting Company (1986)
  21. The Simpsons (1987)
  22. Transatlantic fiber optic cable (1988)
  23. The World Wide Web (1989)
  24. Hubble Space Telescope’s orbit around the Earth (1990)
  25. Republic of Macedonia (1991)
  26. Reservoir Dogs (1992)
  27. The European Union (1993)
  28. Amazon (1994)
  29. DVDs (1995)
  30. USB (1996)
  31. Harry Potter (1997)
  32. Google (1998)
  33. The Matrix (1999)
  34. Camera phones (2000)
  35. Wikipedia (2001)
  36. American Idol (2002)
  37. Tesla Motors (2003)
  38. Facebook (2004)
  39. YouTube (2005)
  40. Twitter (2006)
  41. iPhones (2007)
  42. Android (2008)
  43. WhatsApp (2009)
  44. Instagram (2010)
  45. Snapchat (2011)
  46. Higgs boson particle (2012)
  47. Human stem cell cloning (2013)
  48. Arms Trade Treaty (2014)
  49. Iran nuclear deal (2015)
  50. Paris Climate Agreement (2016)

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Settler shoots and kills Palestinian during West Bank demo

An AP photographer was also wounded by the settler, during a protest in solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike. Eyewitnesses say that an altercation between demonstrators and settlers escalated into stone-throwing by the former, after which the settler drew his gun and opened fire.

An Israeli settler shot and killed a Palestinian near Huwwara in the West Bank on Thursday, during a demonstration in solidarity with an ongoing mass hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners in Israel. The dead man was named by the Palestinian Ministry of Health as Mutaz Hussien Hilal Bani Shamsa, 23, according to Ma’an News Agency.

The settler also shot and moderately wounded Associated Press photographer Majdi Eshtayya.

An IDF statement said that the protest had drawn around 200 Palestinians, some of whom had been throwing stones at passing Israeli vehicles. Photographs published by Walla show what is purportedly the car belonging to the settler in question, with its windshield heavily damaged. Palestinian media reported the demonstration as a peaceful march.

The alleged shooter is a resident of Itamar settlement, near Nablus, who was detained for questioning following the incident. Other settlers on the scene claimed that he had initially fired into the air, while an associate of the man who was with him at the time described the altercations leading up to the shooting as a “lynch attempt” by Palestinians. Ynet, which interviewed the associate, subsequently applied the “lynch” label to a video of the confrontation — which shows a group of Palestinians kicking a civilian car before they’re dispersed by tear gas and shock grenades fired by Israeli soldiers. Walla also labeled the incident a “lynch attempt.”

However, CCTV footage of the lead-up to the shooting, provided to +972 by Rabbis for Human Rights, shows the settler’s car driving toward a crowd of Palestinians blocking the road, who then surround the vehicle. The car stands still for a while, before darting forward and running over several Palestinians. Other demonstrators then start to throw stones at the car.

Ahmad al-Bazz, an Activestills photographer who was on the scene at the time of the incident, described how “demonstrators blocked the road and were approached by a car with settlers in it. The protesters put a flag on the car, pushed and kicked it. The driver continued on his way, and threatened to run over...

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What does the future hold for non-Jews in the Jewish state?

A new book about Israel’s crusade against asylum seekers and undocumented workers strikes at an essential truth about the precarious status of non-Jews in a self-defined Jewish state.

The Unchosen: The Lives of Israel’s New Others,” Mya Guarnieri Jaradat, Pluto Press, 2017.

In a small apartment in south Tel Aviv, a Filipina woman hides her Christmas tree in the hallway, away from the windows, fearing that were someone to spot it from outside she might be found out and wind up being deported. On the outskirts of a park in the same city, prospective employers size up a row of African asylum seekers, trying to determine who is the strongest and therefore who will be the best pick for a day’s cheap labor. In a church not far away, immigration agents burst in and detain an African man, despite his having a valid visa.

These picture postcards from Israel are scattered throughout Mya Guarnieri Jaradat’s new book, The Unchosen: The Lives of Israel’s New Others, published by Pluto Press. The book chronicles, through a blend of assiduous reporting and frank anecdotes, the country’s war on non-Jewish migrants, be they asylum seekers or foreign workers. Jaradat, who is also a blogger for +972, leads us around Israel and takes us in and out of the homes of her subjects, most of whom have congregated in south Tel Aviv — an area with which the author is clearly intimately familiar. Through their experiences, and Jaradat’s personal reflections, we learn about the toll that Israel’s crusade against undocumented workers and asylum seekers takes on its victims. 

Jaradat’s book, the bulk of which deals with the years-long evolution of Israel’s treatment of African asylum seekers, arrives at an all-too-fitting moment. The process feels dishearteningly familiar now: the chaos of an inadequate legal framework to deal with a sudden influx of asylum seekers, which gives way to legislation (and a southern border wall) designed to keep as many people out as possible while hastening the departure of those already arrived. The backdrop is instantly recognizable, too: populist rabble-rousing, media scare stories, ill-fated attempts to blunt structural racism, and shocking episodes of street-level brutality. Zoomed out from the specifics, we may as well be reading about France, Hungary, Slovenia, or even the United States.

Yet these trends began...

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Israeli planes spray herbicides inside Gaza for fourth time this year

Israeli planes have been reported spraying herbicides over land inside the Gaza Strip on four occasions in 2017, including twice in the last two days.

Israeli planes sprayed herbicides inside the Gaza Strip for the second day running on Wednesday and the fourth time this year, according to local farmers and Israeli rights NGO Gisha. A video published on Wednesday, allegedly of the crop-dusting, shows a plane flying low and spraying over farmland.

Palestinians who reported the incident said that the planes had dusted near the Gaza border fence, and the Gaza Ministry of Agriculture is investigating the extent of the damage from the herbicides sprayed over the last two days. Around 840 acres of crops were damaged during the last round of spraying in January 2017, according to Gisha.

The dusting of Palestinian-owned farmland inside the Gaza Strip did not begin this year. As +972 reported at the time, Israeli planes sprayed herbicides over vegetation in Gaza for several consecutive days in December 2015, damaging over 400 acres of crops.

The IDF confirmed to +972 that it was responsible for spraying the farmland, but didn’t elaborate as to why, beyond the amorphous designation of “security operations.” A number of Palestinian farmers have since demanded compensation from the State of Israel for what they cite as nearly $3,000-worth of damage to their crops.

Israeli planes have returned to spray herbicides numerous times since the end of 2015. The government, meanwhile, has contradicted itself over the area it claims to have targeted: despite the IDF’s confirmation to +972, and later to Gisha, that it had sprayed herbicides inside the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Ministry of Defense later claimed in a court hearing on the issue that the work had been carried out by private companies — and only on Israeli territory.

Since 2000, Israel has maintained a no-go area inside the Gaza border fence — formally referred to as the “Access-Restricted Area” (ARA) — which currently reaches 300 meters inside Gazan territory. The army enforces this buffer zone with everything from “less-lethal” weapons to live ammunition and tank fire, making it a particularly deadly stretch of land. Israeli bulldozers also reportedly enter the Gaza Strip on a regular basis to level land inside the ARA.

Farmers and scrap collectors who venture near the border are frequently...

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Accepting the truth about Umm al-Hiran killing isn't enough

The slander and lies that accompanied the lethal shooting of a Bedouin teacher in Umm al-Hiran last month were nothing out of the ordinary. Walking it back won’t be enough.

In the end, it took a looming police internal affairs report for one of Israel’s most senior government ministers to even consider walking back his insistent mislabeling of last month’s double killing in Umm al-Hiran as a terrorist attack. For weeks, even as every single detail of the police’s account of the incident withered in the face of witness testimony and video evidence, Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan — along with the police — stuck to their characterization of events as terrorism, all while baselessly invoking the ISIS bogeyman.

Police instantly labeled the January 18 incident — in which Umm al-Hiran resident and teacher Yaqoub Abu al-Qi’an, ahead of a spate of home demolitions in the village, was shot while driving his car, subsequently losing control of his vehicle and running over and killing police officer Erez Levi — a car-ramming attack, a narrative unquestioningly picked up by the Israeli media.

Yet even as the media narrative began to change, driven by investigations published on +972 Magazine and Local Call, the police doubled down, as did Erdan; weeks later, he was still claiming that he believed it was a terror attack. He also saw fit to call on the attorney general to open an investigation into several Palestinian Knesset members — among them Joint List head Ayman Odeh, himself the subject of a litany of police lies exposed by +972’s Mairav Zonszein, surrounding the events in Umm al-Hiran that day — for incitement to violence and even murder. Meanwhile, at Levi’s funeral, Israel’s bumbling police commissioner, Roni Alsheikh, repeated the unfounded claim that Abu al-Qi’an was a violent radical.

It is extremely unlikely that the lone calls for Erdan and Alsheikh’s resignations will be heeded. In a country where the “complexity” of a situation can be cited as justification for giving a soldier an 18-month sentence for executing a Palestinian, authorities are likely to shrug off what will doubtless enter the books as a little name-calling in the wake of a chaotic incident. And inciting against Arabs has, lest we forget, not typically

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