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Go ahead Herzog, join the coalition

The fact that the head of Israel’s opposition could soon join forces with Netanyahu may actually bode well for the Israeli Left and Palestinian citizens alike.

The Israeli media has been beside itself this week with the possibility that the head of the opposition Isaac Herzog, leader of the Labor Party cum Zionist Union, may join Prime Minister Netanyahu’s governing coalition, the executive branch of the Israeli government.

Roughly two weeks of chatterbuzz about Herzog-Netanyahu negotiations have yielded the usual five stages of rumors: from denial (“there are no negotiations”); to low expectations (“they’re just talks, they won’t lead to anything”); to portfolio handout speculation (“it’s a done deal, he’s about to get justice minister and communications”); followed by the classic bait and switch (“we didn’t mean it, looks like Lieberman will join instead”); and then finally acceptance (“Herzog can’t turn back now”), as two radio political commentators decreed this morning.

I am not sure why anyone is surprised. Labor has never shied away from sitting in the rightest of right-wing governments in recent years. I remember how many in the Labor camp were shocked when the party joined Ariel Sharon’s government in 2003. Amir Peretz led the party into Kadima’s government in 2006, taking charge of the Defense Ministry and nearly ruining his political rise. The party then joined Netanyahu’s government in 2009 (among the most extreme in Israel’s history) under Ehud Barak, prompting the loss of one of its more promising members, and eventually splitting the party. Labor/Zionist Union actually has some committed people and fresh faces in its faction, but the party as a body seems to have a mind of its own – one with suicidal inclinations.

The failure of this “can’t beat em so join em” move — every single time it is tried — makes apathy an extremely tempting response. Until I realized that there are several excellent reasons Labor should do it (disclosure: In my day job I am a pollster and political consultant, and I have advised on four national election campaigns for Labor, including in 2015):

Be you. Labor should stop pretending to either its voters, members or legislators to be anything other than what it is — a status-quo preservationist institution. If the party breaks (again) – well, when a waiter drops a glass in a Tel Aviv café it is...

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ADL's Armenian genocide recognition sends powerful statement — to Israel

A major Jewish-American organization breaking with Israeli policy, especially regarding Jewish universalism and the Holocaust, is a statement in and of itself.

The Anti-Defamation League, American Jewry’s foremost civil rights organization, has made a powerful statement recognizing the Armenian genocide by the crumbling Ottoman regime in the early 20th century. Last Friday, CEO Jonathan Greenblatt posted a blog on the organization’s website in which he stated:

The statement will certainly be cathartic for Armenian advocates in the diaspora who have made genocide recognition absolutely central to their national identity – even to a fault, as the highly thoughtful Armenian-American writer Meline Toumani has written. But the vast majority of Armenian activists have been frustrated for years by the reticence of ADL’s longtime previous director, Abe Foxman. Greenblatt ended years of just such equivocation under Foxman’s leadership (though the latter eventually used the word in a 2014 speech). The public support of a major Jewish organization could lend clout to the Armenian attempts to attain Congressional recognition, a cause generally stymied by the sensitivity and importance of U.S.-Turkey relations. That’s why Armenian activists watch for such statements with extreme play-by-play attention.

But the recognition may prove to be more important for Jews and for Israel than for Armenians themselves. It symbolizes a crack, and together with similar developments, perhaps seismic shifts in the relationship between diaspora Jewry and Israeli society.

First, the move breaks with Israeli policy. Israel’s government has long resisted formally acknowledging the term “genocide” for the Armenian experience, for what is widely understood to be political interests in Turkey and Azerbaijan, including powerful economic ties.

Foxman mostly mirrored this resistance. He was apparently disinclined to compromise the Jewish monopoly on the Holocaust, and held purported political concerns for relations between Turkish Jews and their government – these are the reasons given by a former ADL regional director and powerful advocate for recognition, who was ultimately fired for his stance on this issue. Or perhaps Foxman didn’t want to expend political capital on the Congressional recognition campaign. Either way, the ADL today is no longer aligned with Israeli policy on this matter.

Next, Greenblatt not only changed course – he did so just over a week after Israel’s commemoration of Holocaust Day. In recent years, the commemorations in Israel have erupted into debates about whether the experience of genocide belongs uniquely to the Jews or has universal lessons or comparable precedents. Rising nationalism has...

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The deeper meaning of IDF general's Holocaust comparison

The deputy IDF chief of staff came under a barrage of criticism for saying trends that prevailed in pre-WWII Europe can be seen in Israel today. But if Israelis took a minute to reflect on his comments, they would realize that they were more solemn than slanderous.

Headlines in Israel are blaring this Holocaust Day over a statement by the Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the IDF, General Yair Golan, comparing trends in Israel to those in Germany leading up to the Holocaust. At the official state ceremony for Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday evening, Golan gave a short speech in which he said, among other things:

“If there’s one thing that scares me about Holocaust memory, it’s identifying revolting trends that took place in Europe in general, and Germany in particular, 70, 80, 90 years ago, and finding evidence of them amongst ourselves, today, in 2016.

After all, there’s nothing easier and simpler than hating the stranger. There’s nothing easier and simpler than fear-mongering and sowing terror. There’s nothing easier and simpler than to become thuggish, morally bankrupt, and self-righteous.” (my translation – the whole speech is here, in Hebrew, courtesy of Haaretz.)

Of course all nuances were destroyed in the media storm that ensued. Many Israelis listening to the news will take away a bastardized version that goes like this: Golan  thinks that trends of hatred in Israel mirror the hatred in Germany that led them to commit genocide. By association, what Israel does today is like what Germany did then. Not surprisingly, the IDF and Golan himself issued a statement on Wednesday clarifying that this is not what he meant.

But reactions were swift, angry, and reached partially across political lines. Right-wing Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked told Israel Radio that Golan was “got things completely wrong.” Elazar Stern, a legislator from Yesh Atid and a retired army man as well as a staunch centrist who has sometimes bucked right-wing narratives, allowed that the spirit of the speech might have been legitimate but that the timing was wrong. The Haaretz reporter and analyst Chemi Shalev wrote a post on Twitter before Golan’s comments, and therefore unrelated: “The attempt to draw parallel outlines between the situation of Jews in the Holocaust to Israel’s situation today verges on Holocaust denial and contempt for Zionism together.” (my translation) But as I noted, the one-dimensional headline...

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Netanyahu responds to Leahy with a strange string of lies

The prime minister shoots off a sharply worded letter to a senior American senator who dared question Israel’s human rights record. That Netanyahu thinks anyone reading it will do anything but howl is worrying sign about his judgement.

In mid-February, Senator Patrick Leahy, together with 10 other Democratic Senators, wrote a letter asking U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to investigate the possible violation of human rights by Israel, as a U.S. foreign aid recipient. The letter, which only made news in Israel on Wednesday, was prompted by suspicions of numerous extrajudicial killings of Palestinian suspected attackers over the last year.

Prime Minister Netanyahu responded to Senator Leahy, and posted this excerpt of his letter on Twitter:

Reading it, I think Netanyahu must know deep in his heart that he is lying his face off, lying obscenely, to the point of absurdity — surrealism. Does it mean that he has, as Solzhenitsyn said, no other means of justifying our violence? That there are no other accurate arguments that effectively justify what happens here?

Reading it more closely, I realized that every single line in the graphic rendition of his letter contains a bald-faced lie, or at best an egregious omission. For those who think I am exaggerating, here is the annotated version:

It did, just last week. And its soldiers executed a 14-year-old girl in 2005 (acquitted). And the Shin Bet executed captured and bound hijackers in 1984. Those are the very obvious cases. There are numerous suspected executions over just the last year, when many were killed for attempted stabbing, killed for being a troubled child, killed for suspicion. There were the two teens killed for demonstrating in Beitunia in 2014 – the IDF closed its investigation into that last case just today. The cases over the last year generally involve at least two, and often a group of heavily armed soldiers killing individual suspects grasping knives, or in one case, a pair of scissors.

The military regime governing the West Bank is not a defensive mission. The soldiers were not present last Thursday in Hebron to defend the State, but in order to enact military rule over a population lacking civil rights under conditions most of us wouldn’t suffer for a day.

The military does of course defend settlers, but the settlers aren’t there to defend Israel either....

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Israeli public opinion solidly backs Hebron soldier

Only one-fifth of Israelis say the prime minister, defense minister, and the IDF chief of staff did the right thing when they condemned the killing. Fully 68 percent believe otherwise.

Based on the condemnations from top levels of the political and defense establishment, it appears that Israelis were actually disturbed by the video of an IDF soldier killing a wounded Palestinian who lay motionless on the ground. The issue still topped the news media on Sunday, with new details emerging: Haaretz reported on early investigations indicating the soldier acted of his own accord, then updated that the soldier had said “the terrorist has to die” before shooting the motionless man, who had been on the ground for approximately six minutes, according to other news reports.

But as +972’s Natasha Roth wrote, the killing of 21-year-old Abed Fatah al-Sharif happened in a climate that largely supports — rather than discourages — this sort of action. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon condemned the attack, but not long ago he and other officials called for the killing of all terrorists rather than have them arrested. The same goes for political leaders from the right and the center, as well as religious authorities. To the public, it appears that killing an incapacitated terrorist six minutes later isn’t so different from killing one in action.

The public is apparently confused and perhaps frustrated with the mixed messages. A female family member of the soldier (they have not been formally identified by the press) who sounded young enough to be his sister spoke to the news. Sobbing and shattered, she pleaded with the country to view the soldier as a hero. Her voice shook with agony; she seemed incapable of understanding how he could be a model child one minute and an enemy of the people the next.

The public is apparently on her side. A poll conducted for Channel 2 showed 57 percent of Israelis opposed his very arrest – not a conviction, not even an indictment. Actually the question asked about the “arrest and investigation” – so we can infer that the majority did not even want the investigation at all.

A plurality of respondents, 42 percent, described his action as “responsible,” while another 24 percent said it was the natural response to the situation. The first response can be qualified because the wording actually stated that shooting was a “responsible action...

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Israel's deepest divide

The religious-secular chasm may be kept at a low boil beneath the unifying factor of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. But more likely, the polarization is one reason why Israel does not take more action to end the conflict.

A recent and vast survey of Israelis by the Pew Research Center showed deep divisions of attitudes within Israeli society. Much of the attention centered on the finding of highly opposed views “not only between Israeli Jews and the country’s Arab minority, but also among the religious subgroups that make up Israeli Jewry,” as Pew’s own Facebook description read.

The survey offers many valuable findings, but the fact that Jews hold profoundly different attitudes based on how observant they are is the least original among them. Among Jews, the level of religious observance (secular, traditional, Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox self-definition) has long explained the most enduring and irreconcilable differences in Israeli Jewish political opinions. It predicts whether an Israeli Jew holds left, center or right-wing attitudes more than any other demographic — this has been true during my own 17 years of polling and all earlier data I know of.

Common perceptions that upper-class people are more left wing, or that Mizrahi and Ashkenazi ethnic background determines whether someone is right or left, respectively, are not totally wrong. But these factors are far weaker and less consistent predictors than religious observance. Isolating either education or income leads to poor correlation with ideology. While there are some broad left-and-right trends among clearly defined Ashkenazim and Mizrahim, those identities are increasingly mixed up after generations of immigration and intermarriage. Measurements vary, but in our own +972 Magazine survey, about 40 percent of Israelis self-identify as neither one – just “Israeli.” Moreover, former Soviet immigrants are largely Ashkenazi, but also largely right wing.

By contrast, the religious-secular split looms large in all data sets. What does this mean in practice?

Secular Jews consistently self-identify as left wing at higher rates — about 32 percent in a poll I conducted for the Foundation for Middle East Peace (FMEP), higher than the national average of 20 percent among Jews and over 10 times more than the three percent among national-religious respondents. Over 80 percent of the latter call themselves right wing. Those ideological labels are the most direct determinant of voting behavior.

On conflict-related policy, seculars invariably support a two-state solution — about three-quarters in a survey...

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There is nothing anti-Haredi about staying in your seat

The attempt to dismantle patriarchy does not necessarily imply hatred for ultra-Orthodox Jews. Rather it is an urgent task that extends to all spheres of daily life. A response to Orly Noy.

My colleague Orly Noy, whose thinking and writing I greatly value, wrote an article entitled “Let’s fight women’s oppression without demonizing ultra-Orthodox.” After reading Orly’s arguments carefully, I found that I disagree with nearly all of them except perhaps the title. I do not support demonizing ultra-Orthodox Jews or any other group. But even my agreement with the title is qualified, since the issue at hand is everyone’s problem.

Orly was responding to a recent case of a woman who is suing El Al with the help of the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), after she was asked to move seats so that an ultra-Orthodox man wouldn’t have to sit next to her. Orly felt that the incident is being exaggerated, treated like an “epidemic.”  She believes that  Anat Hoffman, a longtime activist for religious pluralism, and others opposing this practice paint Haredim as barbaric and anti-Semitic, while presenting themselves as enlightened. She hints that IRAC is using questionable legal tactics, and possibly provoked the woman to sue.

I don’t have the data to know whether the seat problem is a “phenomenon” or not. But I have been asked to move myself.

It was a few years ago, and I had a sprained ankle. Every move on the short business trip to London had been painful. On the return flight, I negotiated for an aisle seat, near the front – more stretching and elevation, less walking. Between summer heat, a crowded plane and the extra effort of shuffling through Heathrow with an injury, I reached my seat tired and grateful, settled in and closed my eyes. The stewardess tapped me. Would I trade seats? A Haredi man seated next to a woman somewhere wished to move, and I was sitting next to a man. For a second, I wanted to cry. It had nothing to do with feeling insulted as a woman or hating ultra-Orthodox. I just hated the thought of moving.

But like Orly, who made a case I generally support for simply being nice, my instinct is to be considerate and accommodating where possible. I reflexively said yes, stifling my overwhelming desire to stay put and dreading the cramped inner seat I was offered....

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Public opinion roundup: Is Palestinian support for violence falling?

A vast majority of Palestinians polled in recent surveys say they or their families have seen a negative economic impact from the latest wave of violence. And while most Palestinians feel deeply alienated from their leaders in both Fatah and Hamas, a strong majority remain committed to the democratic process. Dahlia Scheindlin follows up her analysis of recent Israeli polls.

Four months after the start of the wave of stabbing attacks and killing of perpetrators, Palestinian support for the violence may be waning, according to a recent public opinion survey.

In the first few weeks of October 2015, when a rash of Palestinian stabbing and vehicular attacks began, the Palestinian public displayed a dramatic rise in support for a new intifada, based on survey research. That support climbed from just one-quarter in April 2015, and by October an absolute majority of 63 percent supported an immediate uprising, according to polls by the Arab World Research and Development Center. In December, Khalil Shikaki’s PCPSR study showed that two-thirds supported the use of knives in the “current confrontations,” (although three-quarters rejected the participation of young girls). Similar to the AWRAD data, 60 percent supported returning to an armed intifada in the absence of peace negotiations.

But barely three months later, AWRAD’s data shows a change. In its poll from late January, 54 percent of Palestinians now oppose a third intifada. West Bank respondents are more likely to oppose it: 57 percent compared to 48 percent among Gazans.

These results can be viewed in light of historic patterns. Throughout the prime “Oslo years,” in the mid-1990s, Palestinians opposed violence against Israelis by large margins. As the process waned in the late 1990s, opposition eroded. Palestinian public support for violence reached a peak when the Second Intifada broke out after the Camp David negotiations collapsed in 2000.

In their book where those findings appear, polling experts Jacob Shamir and Khalil Shikaki concluded that Palestinian (and Israeli) public opinion is rational: when diplomacy fails the publics turn to violence as a means of advancing their political interests. Thus it is also significant that in AWRAD’s January data, half of Palestinians believe the current violence will impede progress to a Palestinian state, compared to just 39 percent who believe it will advance statehood.

Further, the heightened cycle of violence these last few months has led Palestinians to feel that their lives are getting worse....

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Israeli Polls: Jews want to ignore the conflict, Arabs think nothing will change

The majority of Jewish Israelis think the international community will impose some sort of ‘substantial pressure’ on Israel soon. But they are disinclined to let such criticism affect the country’s policy.

A majority of Israelis see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as an existential problem, according to January’s monthly Peace Index survey conducted by Tel Aviv University and the Israel Democracy Institute. Indeed, a stabbing a day and a war every two years is no way to live. Yet Israeli Jews regularly vote for parties who perpetuate the same policies, and rarely protest Israel’s military rule over the Palestinian people in any significant numbers.

Spoiler: recent surveys do not solve the puzzle. But they do highlight some of the competing attitudes driving Israeli political behavior.

When asked if the conflict can continue more or less like today without threatening Israel’s security or existence, 52 percent of the public disagreed in the Peace Index poll. Among Jewish respondents, fully 61 percent disagree that Israel can live with the conflict as it is today.

Arab respondents (the survey asked just a small sample) saw things very differently: over three-quarters think Israel can continue to live with the status quo. They probably base this on the last 50 years, when Israel has experienced regular injury to its security and existence in the form of wars, terror attacks and perceived international de-legitimization — and nevertheless essentially maintained its grip over the Palestinian people.

Indeed, the Jewish sense of the conflict as a grave threat barely translates into support for changing policies. The backbone of the occupation is Israel’s martial law over Palestinians in the West Bank, implemented through the army and the military courts, whereas Jews in the same territory live under civil law. But when asked about this “unequal application of the law” (referring to the U.S. Ambassador’s recent statement), half of Israeli Jews justify the situation; 40 percent oppose it (the 10 percent remainder who said they don’t know are unlikely to be agitating for change). Among the self-defined right wing, fully two-thirds justify this situation. More striking is that fact that among Jews in general, only 40 percent believe that “unequal application of the law” is the case today and a majority of 53 percent say this is not the case. Yet this is among the most basic facts of the situation – which are are not hidden, but apparently rarely seen.

International pressure

If Israeli Jews do not...

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Stop asking whether Israel is Jewish or democratic

This isn’t a choice between ‘Jewish or democratic’ — the only question is whether Israel can still become a true democracy.

For some years, the political center-left in Israel has committed itself to the idea of a Jewish and democratic state. For these mostly secular and traditional people, “Jewish” used to mean some sort of cultural character, and democracy meant free and fair elections.

This political camp is deeply committed to the balance between those two ideas and believes that when one overtakes the other, we are lost.

Thus if Israel is too “Jewish,” it risks becoming a halakhic caliphate that makes a secular or flexible lifestyle impossible. Sunday’s revelation that the Education Ministry froze funds intended for organizations promoting religious pluralism is one more worrying sign.

The center-left is just as worried about too much democracy, whose natural end-point is full equality of individual and political rights, representation and opportunity regardless of ethnicity. But liberal Zionists do want Hannukah and they don’t want an Arab prime minister, though they feel impolite saying so. So they support democracy but also its limitation to ensure Jewish political, institutional, cultural, and economic dominance.

To resolve this contradiction the center-left has embraced the cause of a Jewish majority in Israel. Some years ago I asked center-left focus groups what a “Jewish state” meant to them and a consensus quickly emerged: “it boils down to a Jewish majority” — since we agree on so little else about what “Jewish” might mean. Thus the idea of “Jewish and democratic” is more accurately translated to “Jewish majority and a democratic state.”

When it became clear that a peace process didn’t automatically translate into security, the “Jewish and democratic” narrative replaced “peace for security” as the Left’s major justification for the two-state solution, in which an end to the occupation and a return to 1967 borders would guarantee greater numbers of Jews in the state.

Then the Right created one state. With some help from the Left over the years — especially when it came to settlements — the Right has erased the Green Line, and made it unlikely Israel will ever extract itself from the West Bank. The old ‘67 borders have stretched their limbs, normalizing the large settlements blocs outside of Jerusalem, extending conceptually to include Ariel, a settlement of 18,000 people located deep inside the West Bank. Not a day goes...

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How to mourn terror victims as a leftist

Leftists always worry that the Right will exploit violence to advance its political agenda, so we remain silent. The Left needs to learn how to mourn while rejecting the political programs of our leaders — and even the victims.

On Sunday, Dafna Meir, mother of six was murdered in her West Bank home with three of her children nearby, allegedly by a 16-year old Palestinian stabber. On Monday, a young pregnant woman was stabbed in her West Bank settlement of Tekoa; she is in stable condition. These attacks against unarmed civilians are unambiguously, absolutely and completely wrong.

There is no international convention for war or peacetime to condone such acts, and no justification of human morality. Not even the brutal instrumentality of politics defends attacks that are guaranteed to set back any national or collective goals. The occupation did not cause this 16 year old to kill Meir; the proof is that the vast majority of people living under Israeli occupation are not doing such things. The victims must be mourned and the killings condemned on an individual basis.

But there is more than an individual human side. Like it or not, these acts do have political meaning as well and they highlight how key political actors think at present.

As often happens, the Jewish-Israeli Left becomes mealy-mouthed when faced with such violence. I know why: we already know how the violence will be manipulated in the service of the Right, exploited to entrench the conditions we deeply believe perpetuate violence in general. We feel the Israeli media has overdosed on Jewish victimization for as long we’ve been conscious and we see how this is destroying both sides. We hate adding to it.

I believe it is our responsibility to swallow these bitter truths and speak out anyway — Bradley Burston has done so nobly. Disavowing such acts must be part of our embrace of universal humanity as well as an affirmation of our own moral guidelines.

Both Jews and Palestinians who oppose the occupation must be very honest and resist any subtle legitimization of violence against settlers. The creeping sense that settlers are not civilians and they are legitimate targets for violence must be rejected.

I don’t mind being called all sorts of names related to privilege, violence against unarmed settlers is not defensible in any way. Settlement in occupied areas violates international law but it is also a...

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Israel's volunteer thought-police

Right-wing activists have been infiltrating human rights and anti-occupation organizations. The spies did do serious damage, but to a much bigger target than they intended: Israeli society.

Two weeks ago I wrote about a right-wing group trying to recruit people to a “top secret” mission: spying on left-wing organizations in Israel. The outfit was largely a one-man show. I thought it was a colorful but probably not very serious example of the latest “hasbara” antics – propaganda or public diplomacy – gone too far.

I was naïve. Two weeks later, we learned that right-wing impostors have been infiltrating, befriending and filming  left-wing organizations for several years. Israel’s vaunted investigative news program “Uvda” aired a damning story about far left-wing activist Ezra Nawi based on the documentation of such self-anointed spies. Breaking the Silence, the ex-soldiers’ testimonial organization, found another mole who had burrowed into its inner circle as well. The daily newspaper Yediot Ahronot ran a lengthy spread revealing (rather banal) details of a meeting the group held with former director-general of the Foreign Ministry and retired ambassador Alon Liel.

Amir Beit Arieh, the young man who had spied on Breaking the Silence, told Channel 2 this week that the goal was to trap those on the far left “who will stop at nothing,” he says, to end to the occupation.

So infiltration is no longer a threat but a reality. What do we need to know about this, and what does it mean?

Tripping themselves up

First, it’s important to understand who the spies are. Beyond their personal background, Walla news portal reported this week that their organization, “Ad Kan” is funded partly by the “Samaria Settlers’ Committee.” That’s the same group which in 2015 created an eerie youtube ad attacking the foreign funding of left-wing NGOs, replete with Nazi-era anti-Semitic caricatures and a gruesome hanging at the end.

The Committee is also a partially publicly funded organization – so Israeli taxpayers are likely paying to send citizens to spy on each other. How much? The Walla reporter didn’t know yet. Which is odd, considering how important financial transparency is for the Right.

This highlights the next point, that right-wing activists are turning out contradictions that could also be described as screaming hypocrisies. The arrest and indictment of murder suspects in the Duma case led the Right in Israel to express unprecedented concern for human and civil rights. Torture, it turns out, is a bad...

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‘If I hadn’t been inside, it would’ve been over for me’

Witnesses describe panic and near-misses when a shooter opened fire in central Tel Aviv killing two. News channels and social media were rife with rumors and speculation as police urged calm.

Central Tel Aviv’s posh Dizengoff Street was packed with weekend shoppers and people strolling, and drinking coffee or beers Friday afternoon when a gunman opened fire on a sidewalk pub, killing two people and wounded seven others.

The shooter, who had not yet been identified at the time of this report, was still on the loose. Heavily armed police and special forces were conducting house-to-house searches in the area, a search that only expanded into the evening.

CCTV video of the shooting shows a group young people sitting close together at high bar tables as a man emerges into the frame with an automatic weapon and opens fire. Another video, filmed inside a health food store next door, shows the shooter ambling around, picking up some nuts and putting them back, and calmly pulling an automatic weapon out of his backpack, stepping outside and beginning to shoot.

Witnesses said they heard long seconds of rapid gunfire and bolted for cover.

Noga Keren, a 46-year-old investment manager for a philanthropic fund, was at the “Sidewalk” café on the corner of Dizengoff. She pointed to a wooden bench inside the glass-enclosed section of the café. A single bullet hole had pierced the glass. “I was sitting on the bench. If I hadn’t been inside, it would have been over for me,” she said. She and her companions saw a man with a weapon rush around the corner as they hit the ground, then a minute later they fled inside. “It’s a tough feeling,” she said. “you just can’t imagine yourself in a situation like this.”

Alexandre Lambez, a 27 year old visiting from France, said he was in another nearby café when he heard the gunfire, and he was still in shock. His family moved to Bat Yam, a suburb south of Tel Aviv, three years ago and he was here for a wedding. He worried about the implications: “It looks like a dark future,” he said.

An employee in a large drugstore across the street from the shootings said the shop was full of customers, who panicked. Catching her breath as she spoke, she related: “Everyone ran downstairs to the storage room, lots of them,...

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