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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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Outlawing the Islamic Movement is a gift to Palestinian citizens

Outlawing the northern branch of the Islamic Movement is yet another McCarthyist step by the Israeli state. But if anyone thinks this will bring an end to the movement, they are dead wrong.

Say what you will about the Jewish state, just don’t say that the only democracy on the planet never stops challenging us. On Monday night, Defense Minister Ya’alon signed an order outlawing the northern branch of the Islamic Movement. Following the decision, the police raided the offices of 17 non-profit organizations connected to the group, confiscated documents and equipment, froze bank accounts, and announced that it would interrogate its leaders, among them Sheikh Raed Salah.

This is yet another McCarthyist decision brought to you by the Zionist establishment, both its left and right wing. And while the Palestinian leadership in Israel is busy condemning the decision, a closer look shows that the security cabinet’s decision is nothing less than a gift to the Palestinian public in Israel.

It is true that the leaders of the movement are going to be persecuted. Truthfully, they have been persecuted for quite a while now. Now the state will only be better able to whip its subjects into shape. Since the leaders of the northern branch previously announced that they would be willing to go to prison (Raed Salah has served time), they will be willing to do so again. But do the threats against the leadership, which represents a sizable portion of the Arab public, mean it will cease to exist? The answer is no. In fact, it will only grow more popular. This step may even wake up a number of Palestinians from their political slumber, providing only more proof of how the state views us.

Whether under or overground, the Islamic Movement will continue to exist. Raed Salah has already announced that he will continue to act as its leader. The state’s attempt at deterrence will not work, for the simple reason that there is an overwhelming feeling of persecution of Arab citizens that has been especially felt over the past few months. When the Palestinian public feels persecuted, it will prefer to unite and put aside its differences (similar to what happened with the formation of the Joint List in the run-up to the last elections). The goal of this decision, which comes in the wake of Netanyahu’s Mufti-Hitler episode and directly Read More

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Music video lambasts recruitment of Palestinians to Israel's army

Prominent Palestinian musicians say recruiting minority ethnic and religious Arab groups into the army is part of Israel’s divide-and-conquer tactics, pushing young Palestinians to ‘side with the occupation’ and shrug off their national and historical identity.

Two prominent Palestinian musicians released a hip-hop music video this week lambasting efforts to recruit young Palestinian citizens of Israel into the country’s army.

The video, by musicians Tamer Nafar and Jowan Safadi and released by the Baladna Association for Arab Youth and Hamleh (The Palestinian Social Media Center), features a group of Israeli scientists sitting in a lab and trying to create a new kind of Arab.

The chorus of the song bemoans how Israel “stripped us of our land, stripped us of our identity, dressed us in boots and military suits.”

“We are struggling not only against Israelization,” says Safadi, who worked on the song with Nafar, a member of famed Palestinian hip-hop group DAM. “We are fighting the ethnic divisions the Israeli establishment is leveraging against us, which has been more prevalent over the past year or two.”


(Click the “CC” button if subtitles don’t appear. A full English translation of the lyrics can be found here.)

Safadi is referring to certain members of the Arab community in Israel, such as Father Gabriel Nadaf, who the government supports as part of its divide-and-rule tactics pushing young people — in this case Christians — into the arms of the Israeli army.

“When Tamer and I wrote this song, we wanted to emphasize two main topics — Israelization and ethnic division,” Safadi continues. “We tried to do it using irony. For example, we wanted to show how in exchange for having our land and rights taken away, we have been compensated with boots and military uniforms.”

“We are speaking directly to ‘Israeli Arabs’ — those same Palestinians who are willing to be ‘Israelis’ even at the cost of shrugging off their national, historical identity and siding with the occupation,” Safadi says.

Nadim Nashif, founder and director of Baladna, says that the song is primarily intended to dissuade Palestinian citizens from joining the army, “as well as against doing national service — we do not distinguish between the two.”

“Army service and national service come from the same place,” Nashif continues. “The fact that the state tries to condition rights on a certain...

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Palestinians aren't trying to go to heaven — they are fleeing hell

Despite what Israeli leaders may have you believe, Islamic fundamentalism is not the driving force behind the latest violence.

“Say a prayer before leaving your house, dress in your best clothing. Brush your hair well, and smile for the camera. You may end up as another poster on the bleeding walls of the city. No one is safe from their guns.”

— A young Palestinian from Silwan, Jerusalem, October 2015.

This quote was written on Facebook a number of weeks ago by a young Palestinian who has been the subject of dozens of arrests and has spent much of his life in jail, due to political persecution as a result of his participation in protests. Pay attention to the wording: the author treats leaving the house as a nearly-suicidal act, viewing death as an inevitable force in the hands of the (Israeli) ruler. For him, the only means of defense is a short prayer before leaving home. This is where the role of religion begins and ends in the collective consciousness of resistance among most young Palestinians.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, sums it up neatly.

The sharper ones among you — that is, those who do not think that the news starts and ends with Channel 2’s cheap propaganda — may have noticed that despite the relative “calm” of the last two weeks in Israel, the West Bank and East Jerusalem have been on fire for over a year. The fact that more than 70 Palestinians were killed in October (among them 15 killed in the Gaza Strip) testifies more than anything to the fact the current resistance to the occupation will not end soon.

Yair Lapid and ISIS

And now to debunk the latest Israeli lie: did all these Palestinians die for Al-Aqsa? The short answer is: no. The longer, less refined answer: Not at all.

Similar to the Second Intifada, the current wave of violent resistance may have begun with Israeli provocations at the mosque, which represents the national symbol of historic Palestine — not merely a religious symbol — but it continues without any connection to what is or isn’t happening there now. We cannot ignore this critical point.

While Palestinians are struggling against the occupation and its injustices, Israelis are struggling to maintain the propaganda machine in the post-Mufti-Hitler era. For Israeli politicians and their spokespeople in...

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WATCH: Lauryn Hill, Angela Davis call for black-Palestinian solidarity

A new video featuring prominent African-Americans and Palestinians calls for solidarity in the face of state violence and supremacy.

On the heels of attacks by both the Israeli army and settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank over the past year, a coalition of African-American organizations have come together to produce a new video promoting black-Palestinian solidarity.

The video, titled “When I See Them I See Us,” juxtaposes the police killings of African-Americans with Palestinians killed by Israeli forces and settlers, and features over 60 major figures in both the black community in America, including Lauryn Hill — who canceled her performance in Israel several months ago following pressure by the BDS movement — actor Danny Glover, author Alice Walker, academic and former Black Panther Angela Davis and public intellectual Cornel West. They are joined by prominent Palestinian figures such as academic Noura Erekat, poet Remi Kanazi, and BDS movement leader Omar Barghouti.

Famed Palestinian hip hop group DAM also makes an appearance in the video. Suheil Nafar, one of the four members of the group, spoke to me about the importance of building solidarity between two oppressed communities. “DAM is in the video for a reason,” he beams. “When we were young, when the music played on MTV was so shallow, we could really identify with Tupac’s music and the videos. We would listen to the songs, then watch the videos, and feel like we were looking at our neighborhoods in Lyd.”

WATCH: Palestinian hip hop group tackles patriarchy in new video

Nafar and his comrades felt that black culture captured that community’s oppression. “As an occupied people,” he continues, “we felt like they were speaking for us too.”

Palestinian-American Remi Kanazi, who recently released his third book of poetry, “Before the Next Bomb Drops,” says the video is not an attempt to “flatten struggles,” but rather “an attempt to come together to challenge the logics of supremacy and state violence that afflict our communities, whether in brutalized Baltimore or bombed out Gaza.”

“If you aren’t speaking up against anti-black racism, structural violence, and the incessant execution of black people in the US, you are actively ignoring systems of oppression affecting millions of people. As we affirm in the video, black-Palestinian solidarity is not a requirement, but a choice,” Kanazi says.

On days where Palestinians are under attack and the end...

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Using Palestinians as a human shield against BDS

In response to the Reykjavik City Council’s — since reversed — decision to boycott Israeli goods until the occupation is ended, Israeli politician Yair Lapid wrote an open letter to the Icelandic people titled ‘The Hypocrisy of Boycott.’ In his oped, Lapid argued that Israel should not be boycotted because doing so would harm its Arab citizens. One of those citizens responds.

(Translated by Ofer Neiman)

Dear Yair,

What is Israeli to you?[1] Actually, no need to answer. The time has come for you to hear what Israeli is to me. So what is Israeli to me? You are. I am referring to the hypocrisy and condescension that accompanies every step you take. What else is Israeli to me? The herd of racists following you, unable to see that the emperor has no clothes, no ideas of substance and nothing of the “new discourse” you claim to have brought into Israel politics.

You begin your article against the boycott, which you published in Iceland after the Reykjavik City Council decided to boycott products from Israel, with an impressive sequence of questions regarding Palestinians living in Israel. “Does the boycott include products made by Israel’s Arab minority which is 20 percent of the population? Does the boycott include the 14 Arab Israeli parliamentarians who sit beside me in Israel’s parliament?” You ask these questions as if you were the champion of protecting our rights. I am baffled as to the source of your insolence and audacity.

Aren’t you ashamed? You embarrass yourself with your cynical use of Israel’s Palestinian citizens as a human shield against the boycott.

What have you ever done for us, Palestinian citizens of Israel? As finance minister you tried to lower housing prices in a populist move by slashing VAT to zero — but only for military veterans. And what about those who did not serve in the army — i.e., Arabs? In their case, you wanted the law to apply only when purchasing an apartment under NIS 600,000 ($150,000). That means you wanted to encourage Arabs to continue living in poverty stricken neighborhoods. As far as you are concerned, if there is no loyalty[2], there should be no reasonably priced housing for Arabs.

What plans have you or your party promoted for the well being of those [Palestinian] residents behind whom you are now trying to hide? You mention in your article the...

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