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In Israel, even Palestinian journalists are guilty until proven innocent

The suspension of a Palestinian journalist by the Israeli Broadcasting Corporation is a reminder that even the most liberal media outlets still view Arabs with suspicion.

Samah Wattad, a Palestinian citizen of Israel and journalist who works for the newly-formed Israeli Broadcast Corporation (IBC), was suspended Thursday after she retweeted an article that expressed support for Basel al-Araj, a Palestinian activist who was killed by Israeli soldiers last week.

The decision to suspend Wattad came after Prime Minister Netanyahu used the occasion to write a Facebook status that accused the IBC of supporting terrorists. Wattad was forced to backtrack and apologize, claiming that she was misunderstood.

Let’s put aside the fact that Netanyahu and Abbas’ security coordination made it possible for Israeli soldiers to enter Ramallah kill al-Araj in the first place. Basel al-Araj was not a “terrorist,” as he was described by the Israeli media. In fact, among many Palestinians he was seen as a leader and an intellectual who supported armed resistance against occupying Israeli soldiers.

Instead, let’s look at a few important lessons we can glean from Wattad’s story, which should be a warning sign for every Palestinian and Jew in this country who believes in freedom of speech and equal opportunities.

The first conclusion we can draw is that Zionist media outlets in Israel can claim that they are liberal and against silencing Palestinians. But at the end of the day, a Palestinian journalist will always be guilty until proven innocent.

Creating the obedient Palestinian

Palestinians in Israel, especially those who work with Jews, have grown accustomed to apologizing. After every armed action against Israeli soldiers or civilians, there will always be a Zionist who demands an apology from the next Palestinian he sees. The Zionist need to abuse Arabs and emphasize the master’s rule over the slave is nothing new.

But what happens when a Palestinian, and in our case a Palestinian woman, dares to retweet something on her personal account, which “proves her guilt,” guilt that clearly stems from the fact that she is an Arab in Israel? She will immediately be burned at the stake, just as “witches” once were. Because what’s better than some racism mixed with old-school misogyny?

Wattad’s retweet presents al-Araj as a romantic revolutionary. But so what? After all, this is what a large part of Palestinians believe. Think about an Israeli journalist who praises an Israeli soldier. Would...

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Israelis post anti-Arab racism online every 46 seconds, study finds

A new study shows that Israeli Jews publushed 675,000 racist posts on social media in 2016 — a dangerous increase from 2015, when only 280,000 such posts were published.

7amleh statistics

Every 46 seconds an Israeli Jew publishes a racist or inciting comment against Arabs on Facebook and other social networks, a new study finds. According to the Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media (7amleh), which published its Index for Racism and Incitement on Social Media last week, 60,000 active Israeli social media users published at least one racist post against Arabs in 2016.

According to the study there were over 675,000 such posts in the previous year, published at a rate of one post every 46 seconds — a dangerous increase from 2015, when 280,000 racist and inciting posts were published.

7amleh’s study also focused on the correlation between remarks made by high-level government officials and the amount of inciting posts. One can see a clear increase in the number of racist posts against Arabs following every inciting remark by a member of the government.

The sharpest spikes in racist posts came following remarks by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against Arab citizens, following the fires that raged across Israel and the West Bank in November 2016, which leaders blamed on nationalistically-motivated arson. Miri Regev’s comments against Palestinian rapper Tamer Nafar and poet Mahmoud Darwish also led to a higher volume of incitement on the internet.

Another sharp increase was felt throughout the trial of Elor Azaria, an Israeli soldier who was found guilty of killing an incapacitated Palestinian in Hebron early last year.

According to the study, the Israeli media serves as the main inspiration for racist posts against Arabs. Much of the hatred and incitement is directed at Palestinian politicians, who are frequently mentioned in both the media and who are incited against by Israeli politicians. MK Haneen Zoabi was the most frequent target of incitement and racism, with 60,000 posts directed at her. Ahmed Tibi was subjected to 40,000 posts, closely followed by the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with 30,000 and Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh with 25,000.


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Shin Bet detains Arab activists — to stop them from attending funeral

Three well-known Bedouin activists were detained and interrogated on the way to the funeral of Yacoub Abu al-Qi’an, who was killed by police last week. Attorney Gaby Lasky: ‘This has all the marks of a police state.’

Israeli police and the security authorities continue to persecute the Arab residents of the Negev. On Tuesday, the Shin Bet detained three well-known Palestinian activists from the area as they were making their way to the funeral of Yacoub Abu al-Qi’an, a resident of the Bedouin village Umm el-Hiran who was shot and killed by police last week.

The three were detained midday in Be’er Sheva while they were traveling by car. “We drove at 10:30 in one car on the main road in Be’er Sheva,” Amir Abu Qweidr told +972. “We reached the traffic light in front of Ben-Gurion University, and stopped at the red. We noticed that our friend was standing near the entrance to the university and was waving at us. All of a sudden, three civilian vehicles approached and surrounded us. A group of men with police hats stepped out of the cars and announced that we were detained for questioning.”

“They took two of us and put us in one of their cars. Our third friend was left in our car, where two police officers joined him. They led us to an abandoned parking lot, there they took us out of the vehicles, searched us, checked our ID cards, and told us once again that they were taking us in for questioning.”

Fady Masamra, 39, is the owner of the vehicle. “After we were detained in the lot, they put my friends in a different car, leaving me in my car. A police officer drove my car like a maniac. It’s an old car and I was seriously afraid that it would break down. I also noticed we were getting close to a police checkpoint (one of many the police erected to make it difficult for people to get to the funeral, r.y.). I explained that I was afraid they would shoot us, since a car hurtling toward a police checkpoint is dangerous. They ignored me completely.”

The three were taken to a nearby police station; they were not allowed to contact their family members or attorneys. Abu Qweidr was the first to be questioned, after undergoing an invasive body search. “They put us in a tin...

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WATCH: The Arab youth mainstreaming Palestinian identity in Israel

Today, many young Arab citizens of Israel are no longer afraid of being proud of their Palestinian identity. Yet there is a general sense that the establishment is trying to prevent them from defining their own identity. What happens when Arabs who take pride in their people want to ‘make it’ into the mainstream? The third and final part in a series on Palestinian identity in Israel. Watch parts one and two.

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Palestinians, it's time to take our fight into the global arena

The non-stop incitement against Palestinian citizens of Israel from both the government and media prove the need for a new kind of resistance.

It’s time for a change of direction. If the Israeli radical left and the Palestinian leadership were strategically smarter about opposing the occupation, they would have made into an artform the incitement, slander and vilification that Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan has been orchestrating this past week against Palestinian citizens of Israel, the residents of the Bedouin village of Umm el-Hiran and a Bedouin man, Yaqub Abu al-Qi’an.

As a reminder, Erdan’s mini-campaign began on Wednesday, when Israeli bulldozers, accompanied by hundreds of police officers, arrived in Umm el-Hiran to carry out demolitions so the village can be replaced with a Jewish town.

Police opened fire on the car of Abu al-Qi’an as he was driving slowly into the village, after which his car struck an Israeli police officer, killing him. Abu al-Qi’an was left to bleed to death. Shortly after, police began using pepper spray and shot sponge-tipped bullets at protesters, injuring — among others — Joint List head Ayman Odeh.

Erdan immediately declared the incident involving Abu al-Qi’an a deliberate car-ramming attack, labeling him a terrorist despite no one yet knowing exactly what had happened (video footage and an autopsy report seem to confirm that Abu al-Qi’an was shot before he accelerated). He then called on Israel’s Attorney General to investigate a number of Palestinian Knesset members, among them Odeh, on grounds of incitement to violence and murder.

The attack on Palestinian citizens, led by Netanyahu and his guard dogs, is an opportunity for Palestinians to take off the gloves and do what should have been done in October 2000: formally approach the United Nations, with the support of what remains of the real Israeli left, and request international protection for Arabs.

All the signs point to the fact that the establishment’s attacks on the Arab public in the name of Zionism (Jewish racial supremacy) will not end with the demolition of houses in Qalansuwa and the beginnings of ethnic cleansing in Umm el-Hiran. Netanyahu announced a few weeks ago that a wave of demolitions was about to commence; his warning augurs another of the Zionist establishment’s many prolonged attacks on Palestinian citizens since the...

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WATCH: Why Arab youth increasingly identify as Palestinian

What makes young Arabs who live in Israel define themselves as Palestinians? How do Israel’s divide-and-conquer policies make it difficult for Palestinian citizens to formulate a unified identity? Part two of Rami Younis and Israel Social TV’s inside look at the changes taking place among Palestinians inside Israel. Watch part one here.

Read more:
WATCH: ‘Israeli Arab’ or Palestinian?
A new activism, a new politics, a new generation of Palestinians in Israel
From Haifa to Beirut: ’48 Palestinians challenge regional isolation

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WATCH: 'Israeli Arab' or Palestinian?

One in five Israeli citizens are Arab — Muslim, Christian, Druze, Bedouin. A 2014 +972 Magazine poll found that the percentage of Arab citizens of Israel who identify as Palestinian has risen dramatically in recent years. Rami Younis and Israel Social TV explore the changing Palestinian identity politics inside Israel. Stay tuned for the next episodes of this series.

Read more:
A new activism, a new politics, a new generation of Palestinians in Israel
From Haifa to Beirut: ’48 Palestinians challenge regional isolation

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How the Israeli Right easily manipulates Palestinians and the Left

Distracted by the ‘fire intifada’ that wasn’t and the progress of the ‘muezzin law,’ the Israeli Left and several Palestinian Knesset members failed to call out the other injustices of the last few weeks. 

It’s easy to condemn the declarations that the recent wave of fires across Israel brought from Israel’s igniter — sorry, inciter-in-chief Benjamin Netanyahu, its lacking-in-culture minister and its minister of uneducation, who all claimed that a “fire intifada” was afoot. And the Palestinians and the Israeli Left did indeed condemn them. We all condemned them. But what comes next?

To tell the truth, I avoided the local news throughout the week that the fires were burning here in Israel, in favor of international news. The wardens of the only democracy on the planet were appearing in my Facebook and Twitter feeds, and I imagined that if I were to tune in to one of Israel’s propaganda channels, I would be faced with a grave and self-important presenter disseminating the lies being dished up by the top levels of the government/police/army.

Leave it, I told myself — I’m still trying to get over the sight of Arabs imitating the muezzin’s call on every website and in all corners of social media. It was a full week before I plucked up the courage to go near a news broadcast, and I was amazed to discover that the tales of the “fire intifada” I had heard from friends had all but vanished from the screen. I had somewhat hoped to get scientific explanations contradicting what I had seen in the Arabic and European press, about the climate change which had caused fires across the world. But that, too, was barely to be found.

Particularly sad, and serious, is that no Israeli media outlets — save for Local Call — provided their audience with a map showing the fires that were raging across the rest of the Middle East. Perhaps the Israeli media, enlisted to support the lies of the prime minister and his entourage, thinks that these fictional Arab terrorists simply said “screw everyone” and began setting fire to the entire Arab world. Okay, that last bit is partly true (see Assad, the Islamic State group, etc). But still. 

As usual, it’s not just the media that failed to address the issue. The Israeli Left and Palestinian citizens...

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Dear Israelis, how would you like your Palestinian?

When the Israeli establishment prevents Palestinians on either side of the Green Line from struggling nonviolently, what other options are left?

So what do all these Arabs do when they aren’t willing to bow before the establishment? The last few days have provided a slew or examples of the Zionist establishment’s attempts to mold the Palestinian who opposes the occupation as someone who is either handcuffed or shot.

Let’s begin with the lie that the media has been spreading over the past week. As my colleague Haggai Matar wrote in these pages, Israel’s “wave of violence” against the Palestinians never went away. A momentary calm in violent Palestinian resistance (a result of “security coordination” with the Palestinian Authority against the Palestinian people) and its resurgence over the past few days helps create a false image of a “wave” that Israel can control. As if the army, the Shin Bet, and Mahmoud Abbas can put a stop to violent attacks.

Let us, then, try and understand why the “latest wave of violence” isn’t going to end anytime soon, despite the temporary letup, and why Israelis will continue to kill Palestinians, even when they haven’t done a thing.

Around this time last year Palestinians were talking about the desperate situation in the West Bank. Aside from those in the PA’s inner circle, the Palestinians there have no real future, and it doesn’t matter how much they study or work hard. And if that’s not enough, Abbas’ security coordination with Israel has long ago put an end to the illusion of institutional resistance to the occupation, as if there was any way to conduct a struggle through the Palestinian Authority. Central political activists in the West Bank see Abbas and Israel as part of the same system of oppression, a notion that has become mainstream among the vast majority of Palestinians. Therefore when there is no one who will put an end to this desperation, people take matters into their own hands.

In other words, Abbas, who strengthened cooperation with Israel over the past few months, is one of the main sources driving these young, suicidal Palestinians. But security coordination is only the tip of the iceberg. The fact that Abbas does’t lift a finger when Palestinians die leads many to view him, and justifiably so, as a collaborator. Attacks on Israel soldiers are in some way an attack on the...

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Palestinians have no role to play in Israel's film academy

Out of the 982 members of the Israeli Academy of Film and Television, there is not a single Palestinian.

I leave my gear with the rest of the production team and go downstairs to take a walk around the village. At the village center I find a bit of shade overlooking the local pub. While sitting and rolling a cigarette, I notice a woman walking by with a garbage bag. “A local,” I think to myself, and decide to rid myself of the boredom that has come to be mixed with depression.

“Excuse me,” I turn to her as cool as I can. “Do you know where the mosque is?”

“What?” she answers in shock. I noticed her blue eyes still in shock when she started to shake her head for quite some time after I asked my question.

She keeps walking. I sit and look at her. She throws a garbage bag right next to the entrance of the pub, before walking inside to say hello to someone. I wondered to myself what bothered her more: the fact that she lied to me, or the fact that she just walked into a mosque that had been stolen from its owners in order to say hello to a friend over a beer, before returning to the stolen Palestinian house she lives in, which has an “art gallery” in its yard. But at least they tell Palestinians to stop building mosques, right?

I always hated the “artist colony” of Ein Hod, established in place of Ein Hud, a Palestinian village whose inhabitants were expelled from their homes. A few weeks ago the director of a movie I am producing decided to drive there and film some shots for a movie about the Nakba. Once we finished I pressed the crew to go back to the car. I’ll only come back here when Ein Hod goes back to being Palestinian, I told them.

The village (which is more of a settlement) is located half an hour from Haifa. Its residents were expelled in 1948, and some of them re-established their village just up the mountain — a village the state refused to recognize until 2005. The whole thing represents the ugliness of the Zionist Left’s ideology. Under the guise of “contemporary art,” Ein Hod’s residents live on the ruins of the lives of Palestinian refugees, in beautiful homes that belonged to others...

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High Court to state: Why won't you recognize Arab village?

Israeli authorities have for years refused to make a decision about Dahmash, leaving its residents without the most basic services and in constant fear of demolitions.

Israel’s High Court of Justice this week granted the state 90 days to explain its decades-long refusal to even decide whether to recognize the Palestinian village of Dahmash, located in central Israel. Being unrecognized means that residents have no legal access to basic infrastructure, planning or zoning mechanisms, and live under constant fear of demolition.

The struggle for Dahmash’s recognition began in 2005 when the state first began issuing orders to demolish a number of homes in the village. Since then, Israeli authorities have carried a number of demolitions, and 10 of its 70 houses currently face imminent demolition.

Dahmash falls under the jurisdiction of the Emek Lod Regional Council, and is a mere 20 minute drive from Tel Aviv. The village has been around since before 1948 (Palestinian historians claim it’s over 100 years old- R.Y), and its residents even have proof of ownership in the Israel Land Registry.

However, the State does not recognize their right to live and build on their land, and does not provide the village with the most basic infrastructure and services, such as sewage, roads, electricity, garbage collection or a post office.

By refusing to rule on Dahmash’s status — whether to declare it an independent municipality or annex it to one of the adjacent cities — the state keeps its residents in perpetual limbo.

As opposed to local moshavim (a type of cooperative agricultural community) whose agricultural lands have been cleared for construction, the only thing the residents of Dahmash can do with their land is grow tomatoes. Despite the efforts by the residents to fight the demolitions, which included demonstrations, a lengthy court battle and funding for a master plan — all construction is still deemed illegal.

The High Court’s decision means that it is unlikely that the demolition orders, which were frozen by the District Court until November 2016, will go into effect. A local activist told +972, “not only do we expect the demolition orders to remain frozen after November 2016, the High Court’s decision likely means the State of Israel will practically be forced to recognize the village as an independent municipal entity, unless it first comes up with another solution within 90 days.”

Following the 1948 war, the state resettled Palestinian refugees from southern Israel in the village. The residents were allowed to build their own homes on agricultural land until the 1990s, but...

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The day I throw out my Palestinian flag

The Palestinian flag is our symbol of resistance to occupation and land theft. Only once we remedy the injustices of the past will we be able to stop waving it.

Last week the joint Arab-Jewish party Hadash and Zionist leftist party Meretz held a joint protest in Tel Aviv against the appointment of Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and the growing extremism of the Netanyahu government. During the demonstration Meretz activists demanded that Palestinian demonstrators refrain from waving their national flag, a move that angered many Palestinian activists.

The controversy over the two flags shows, once again, that the Zionist Left can be many things — but left wing it is not. The protest is an excellent opportunity to use the context of flag-waving in order to explain the way in which the Zionist Left understands its beloved concept of “coexistence,” and to illuminate just why it is not built for any kind of coexistence — except for with itself.

A week ago I sat with with an Israeli friend who is also a well known Israeli public figure for a conversation over beer in Jaffa. The conversation began with her wanting to know why I detest the concept of coexistence. Despite me going on at length with my often tedious explanations, I could tell she was really listening.

Later on, and thanks to a few more beers, the conversation turned to topics that just about any young, secular person could talk about. Then, out of nowhere, my friend looks at me with a spark in her eye and says: “All of a sudden I really get it. I still remember something you said once that has stayed with me: ‘On the day that Palestine is liberated and we are all free, I will be the first one to toss the Palestinian flag.’ Now I really understand. You are exactly like me, only with a burden weighing on your shoulders and an endless pain in your heart.”

She got it. I really do not know what I said to make her understand that our nationalism is a burden that we, as occupied people, must carry with us. That we do not do it out of choice, but rather as part of our historical, moral, and national duty as an occupied people. All of a sudden she understood that despite my “Palestinian militancy,” we want the same things out of life: the...

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Hundreds of academics call to boycott genocide conference in Israel

Academics condemn decision to hold a conference on genocide in Jerusalem at a time when Israel’s actions are ‘being viewed through lenses of ethnic cleansing and genocide.’

Nearly 270 academics from 19 countries are calling to boycott the fifth Global Conference on Genocide, set to take place on June 26-29 at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

In a letter sent to the International Network of Genocide Scholars (INoGS) on May 3, the academics pointed to the hypocrisy of having the conference in Israel at a time when Israel’s actions are “increasingly being viewed through lenses of ethnic cleansing and genocide linked to settler colonialism.”

According to the signatories, there are serious allegations that Israel “committed crimes against humanity” during the 2014 Gaza war. One of the signatories, John Docker, who has written extensively in the fields of genocide and massacre studies claims that such a conference cannot take place in Israel at a time when genocide studies is “actively seeking opportunities to be complicit in Israel’s flouting of international law.”

INoGS has yet to respond to the letter, and the conference is set to proceed as planned. The organizers did not respond to requests by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), an organization that includes Palestinian academics from Gaza who claim that they bore witness to massacres during the summer of 2014. Academics from the U.K., US, South Africa, Brazil, and other countries have previously signed various petitions calling to boycott Israeli academia, and specifically Hebrew University, for its complicity in the violations of Palestinian rights.

On Sunday it was revealed that famed British historian Catherine Hall had refused to accept a prestigious award and $330,000 from Tel Aviv University, also due to its complicity in the occupation. According to a statement published Friday by the British Committee for Universities of Palestine (BRICUP), which supports BDS, Hall withdrew from the prize “after many discussions with those who are deeply involved with the politics of Israel-Palestine.”

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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