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'Israelis won't rent to us, they're disconnecting us from electricity'

The Petah Tikva municipality disconnected dozens of apartments where African asylum seekers were living from electricity, the mayor doesn’t like seeing black people in public, and casual racism has a common occurrence. Faisal, a refugee from Darfur, describes what it’s like to live in a city where he is unwanted.

By Yael Marom

The following testimony was sent to us by Faisal, an asylum seeker who came to Israel in 2008, and who now lives in the Israeli city Petah Tikva after spending two years in Holot detention center in southern Israel. His testimony comes on the heels of a new campaign of persecution by the Petah Tikva municipality against foreigners with the wrong skin color.

The current wave of anti-refugee actions began after the municipality announced that in order to decrease the number of “infiltrators” in the city, dozens of apartments that have been split by landlords and are rented to asylum seekers will be disconnected from electricity and water. Mayor Itzik Braverman took to his Facebook page to make the announcement, writing that he had warned that “should the authorities not take every action necessary, the municipality will be forced to take action as it sees fit. The patience of the residents is decreasing in the face of the authorities’ apathy. I do not intend to lend a hand to this apathy, and if necessary I will forcibly prevent the entry of foreign workers to the city.”

These messages came just four months after Babikir-Adham Uvdo, an asylum seeker from Darfur, was beaten to death by two Israeli teenagers. The reason the for the beating: Uvdo dared to speak to a group of Jewish Israelis. The two teenagers kicked him in the head for an hour and a half, leaving him for unconscious. He was found gravely wounded, and was transferred to a hospital where he was pronounced dead after four days. The two boys were indicted for manslaughter — not murder — since the according to the prosecutor, it could not be proven that their intention was to kill Uvdo, and that they were not motivated by racism.

Last week, Mayor Braverman’s threats became a reality, and 30 apartments were disconnected from apartment and water, rendering them unlivable. Dozens of people found themselves in the winter cold without anywhere to live. In the meanwhile, they took showers in the sea.

A day before the mayor’s decree went...

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The Israelis Netanyahu will never meet

Netanyahu’s recent media blitz has left a group of wistful admirers among the journalists he met – the very same journalists who betrayed their constituents, the millions of poor, sick and powerless people Netanyahu doesn’t give a damn about.

By Yael Marom

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s still unexplained media blitz, in which he spent dozens of hours in off-the-record meetings with leading Israeli journalists, turned some of his most ferocious critics into wistful admirers. One journalist after another wrote lengthy columns and Facebook posts, in which they offered their insight into the complex personality of the man they had rarely, if ever, met before.

The fortune that befell these journalists offers an opportunity to recall those who will be spared the dear leader’s charm offensive.

Netanyahu will not meet more than one million Israelis living under the poverty line – as a general rule, he tends to shun minimum wage earners. Neither will he spend time with homeless families, some of whom spent a good part of the last few decades on the waiting list for public housing, including the Givat Amal tenement dwellers who were evicted to make way for real estate mogul Yitzhak Tshuva’s latest ritzy project, or residents of unrecognized Bedouin villages who are still waiting to be connected to water, electricity, sewage and transportation grids.

He won’t meet with patients who have been waiting for months and years for life-saving treatments. He won’t witness the distress of those who fell victim to the deterioration of a once illustrious public health system that now can only meet the needs of rich medical tourists. He won’t meet pensioners who have to choose between food and medicines, or those who desperately yearn for a medical cannabis prescription.

Netanyahu will not be pressured by the media to meet again the family of Avraham Mangisto, who has been in captivity in Gaza for two years. At most, he will dispatch one of his meddling envoys in an attempt to buy more time. All people are equal, except Ethiopian-Israelis who are less equal. He won’t meet the family of Yosef Salamsa, who was a victim of fatal police brutality. Neither will he meet young Ethiopian-Israelis who are, time and again, humiliated by police.

King Bibi won’t visit the family of Amana Yassin, who was murdered by her husband while nine months pregnant, or any other victim of domestic...

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Jailed Palestinian poet: 'I am not a terrorist'

After three months in prison and six months under house arrest, Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour is finally allowed to return home.

By Yael Marom

After three months of imprisonment and another half year of house arrest, Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour returned to her family’s home in northern Israel on Thursday. An Israeli court previously issued a restraining order against Tatour, who was arrested in October 2015 for publishing a poem and a number of statuses on Facebook, preventing her from residing in Al-Reineh, where her family lives.

The court also refused to ease her draconian sentence and allow her to return from Kiryat Ono — where she was sent to house arrest — to her family home.

Tatour, 33, from the Arab village Al-Reineh near Nazereth, was arrested by Israeli police on October 10, 2015 because of a poem she had posted to Facebook, along with a number of other Facebook statuses she published at the height of latest wave of violence between Palestinians and Israelis. She was charged with incitement to violence and identifying with a terrorist organization — all because of her poem.

The main clause of her indictment was based on a poem that she had allegedly posted on YouTube under the title: “Qawem ya sha’abi, qawemhum” (Resist my people, resist them). Another main clause in the indictment relates to a news item, cited in a post on Tatour’s Facebook page, according to which “The Islamic Jihad movement calls for continuing the Intifada all over the [West] Bank…” The same post calls for a “comprehensive intifada.” (Read more about Tatour’s arrest here).

Tatour spoke with +972’s Hebrew sister-site, Local Call, on Thursday morning, and described how she must walk around with an ankle monitor, cannot use the internet, and is under constant supervision at all hours of the day. “I still have not processed everything that is happening, what happened to me and what is yet to come,” Tatour said. “I am not a terrorist! How can it be that my poem turned into an indictment?”

“I am surprised by the state. I am surprised by the fact that it is acting this way with a poet. A poet who wrote her opinion just like everybody else. So many people write so many different things — Arabs, Jews, Christians — but none of them pay the price I am paying. I know there are imprisoned poets in Egypt, Syria, Saudi...

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