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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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Israel's most racist soccer club isn't shouting 'death to Arabs'

Compared to the overt, oft-condemned and penalized racism of Beitar Jerusalem, Maccabi Tel Aviv’s racism is more mainstream. That makes it more dangerous.

An ugly brawl erupted on the soccer pitch on Tuesday at the end of a league match between Maccabi Tel Aviv and Bnei Sakhnin, which is the most successful Palestinian club in Israel. It followed a bad-tempered encounter between the two sides last week for a cup semi-final, when Maccabi player Tal Ben Haim — a decent soccer player but a dreadful sportsperson — disregarded one of the unwritten sporting codes of the game.

While Sakhnin player Ali Ottman was lying on the ground injured, Ben Haim chose to keep playing rather than kicking the ball out of play so that Ottman could be treated, as is custom around the world. Passing the ball to a team-mate instead, Ben Haim went on to score an unsportsmanlike winning goal. The result stood.

(As an illustration, when English team Arsenal scored a controversial winning goal in strikingly similar circumstances during a 1999 FA Cup game against underdogs Sheffield United, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger offered for the match to be replayed. The Football Association agreed.)

But anyone who thinks that the seeds of Tuesday’s scuffle were sown during last week’s match is mistaken. The tensions started much before that, and are a result of Maccabi Tel Aviv’s policies.

Aside from Beitar Jerusalem, which has never had an Arab player and is more readily associated with racism on Israel’s soccer scene, most of the biggest soccer clubs in the country — Maccabi Haifa, Hapoel Beer Sheva and Hapoel Tel Aviv — all have four leading Arab players on their roster. At which club is not a single Arab to be found? Maccabi Tel Aviv. Surprising? No.

It’s worth comparing the two biggest and most supported teams in the land, Maccabi Haifa and Maccabi Tel Aviv. At Haifa, a club whose all-time record goalscorer is Zahi Armeli (yes, an Arab), there are usually at least two Arab players in the starting line-up, with Palestinians sometimes making up half the team that runs out onto the pitch.

Maccabi Tel Aviv, however, takes care to smuggle in the Palestinian players who are prepared to play for them. Maccabi fans have consistently cursed at Arab players on their team, from star acquisitions to graduates of the club’s youth academy. They apply pressure on the club’s...

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The source of Palestinian incitement

Israelis are right, there is dangerous incitement among Palestinians. Here’s what they can do to fight it.

The controversy over the Hebron shooter is the gift that keeps on giving.

By Saturday, we have already stood to learn that the star of last week’s show will not be charged with murder, that a large part of the Israeli public views him as a national hero, and that municipalities will not hesitate to spend taxpayer money on organizing events in support of anyone who shoots a wounded Arab in the head. Lately, we have also geared witnessed to Israelis explaining that the poor shooter was incited by the Israeli leadership, and try to put the spotlight — as well as part of the blame — on the victim, Abed al-Fatah Sharif, who was also incited by the “other side.”

Since those same Israelis are able to come up with these pearls of wisdom through learning about the occupation from Israeli television alone (of course, we must not forget that the Israeli media tells us about everything that happens to the Palestinians), there is absolutely no one better to teach us the ins and outs of Palestinian existence under their regime.

After all, we already know that the way Israelis interpret Palestinian actions — even without ever having spoken to a single Palestinian or, say, basing their knowledge on facts — is always right. So let us just speak about this whole Palestinian “incitement” issue the way it is seen by Israelis.

Yes, there is incitement. There is definitely incitement. It has reached peak levels among Palestinians, and the proof is the hundreds of Palestinians who have been killed since October of last year. If only they would have listened to the Israelis and stopped the incitement, we would go back to the coexistence that was always here, even if it was disrupted here and there (by the Arabs, of course).

Those Israelis are right. What was the young, incited Palestinian thinking to himself when he was sleeping in his home in an incited Palestinian refugee camp or incited Hebron or incited East Jerusalem and is awoken in the dead of night to soldiers yelling in broken, non-inciting Arabic as they pound on the door? What was he thinking to himself when he went downstairs as his mother and sisters cry tears of incitement after the door was broken...

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Why exposing the Hebron murder benefits Israelis

Both the Israeli Right and Left need ‘rotten apples’ like the Hebron shooter in order to justify their Orwellian worldview. 

I waited and waited. Abed Fatah al-Sharif is his name. Not “the Palestinian” or “the terrorist.” I waited and waited for one of Israel’s major media outlets — not including tabloids such as Israel Hayom, Yedioth Ahronoth, or Walla! — but rather Haaretz and Channel 10 to open their items on last week’s the Hebron shooting by including al-Sharif’s name. I am still waiting for something that will likely not come.

It is unsurprising that Israelis will curse and ignore the personal identity of a dead Palestinian who dared to directly challenge the occupation — as if he were born nameless. But how do the majority of Palestinians view the soldier who shot al-Sharif? As a soldier of the occupation, just one of many.

The soldier who shot al-Sharif is just another kid who was brainwashed with hatred and ended up committing a murder. Like every soldier, one can only assume that he would have killed more had he not been caught on camera. The Zionist mentality precludes Israelis from understanding that according to international law, Palestinians have a right to resist military occupation. Israelis are up in arms over one case that leaves no room for doubt, yet in Orwellian fashion they ignore all the other cases in which Palestinians were shot to death — ones that didn’t happen to be caught on camera.

If we are already talking about Orwell, it is unbelievable that Israelis are unable to see through their blinding self-righteousness. Your army will forever be “moral,” while the other side, which fights for its dignity and freedom out of total desperation — to the point where Palestinians choose death over life — will forever be viewed as terrorists. This is how Israelis view reality, and no matter how much we write or speak out — they will prefer to dig their head in the sand. Just like the good people in Orwell’s Oceania.

On blindness

How convenient is it for Israelis to leave the soldier in the lurch, without ever admitting just how badly they need him. They need him because he is the human shield that protects them from themselves — the one who blocks the way to the mirror that’s on the wall. After all, they can always look at this soldier,...

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Palestinians don't need incitement to know they are occupied

Israelis refuse to understand what drives Palestinians to violence. After all, it is far more convenient to dehumanize them than face reality.

There’s something self-righteous about calling Palestinians who violently resist occupation “terrorists,” while referring to the ones occupying them, also violently, as mere “soldiers.” It becomes even more grotesque when the people committing these desperate acts are minors, or even children. Even at the tender age of 11 and 13 they are still terrorists, even in so-called “liberal” newspapers like Haaretz. The fact minors that cannot be held criminally responsible for their actions is suddenly no longer relevant to these alleged liberals.

Nobody wants to understand the motives of people resorting to violence. It is far more convenient to call them names and dehumanize them — it makes facing reality much easier. Everything is easier to handle when you don’t see the other side as human, like you.

It becomes even easier if you convince yourself you are liberal enough because you object to the occupation (of the West Bank and Gaza, of course not the lands occupied in 1948). But such liberalism is not at all progressive or liberal, since it enables believers to ignore their own side’s wrongdoings, all the while blaming the other side for how free-thinking individuals choose to resist.

Many so-called “liberal Zionists” recognize the occupation but refuse to recognize that the horrors caused by their own countrymen are the sole reason for most acts of Palestinians violence. Apparently, they think that if it truly was the occupation’s fault, then all Palestinians would be committing these acts. Again, this demonstrates just how too many so-called liberals see us as one “native” group; they refuse to see that we are a collection of individuals with personal agency and different views of reality. It’s similar to a “they all look alike” attitude combined with painful ignorance of our traumas and experiences.

In fact, there are no shortage of types of experiences, traumas and oppressions under Israel’s occupation. Palestinians living inside Israel, those living in the West Bank, residents of East Jerusalem, and the 1.8 million under siege in Gaza — we all live under different levels and types of occupation.

Not all of us suffer from the same humiliations, and occupation means a different trauma for each of us. A few months ago I wrote in these pages that Palestinians see the wave of recent stabbings...

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