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Palestinians cease being 'threats' — for a month

During Ramadan, Palestinians are no longer deemed ‘security risks’ or ‘terrorists,’ and are able to visit the holy sites in Jerusalem or the sea in Jaffa.

Palestinians from the West Bank enjoy the Mediterranean Sea on the last day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, Tel Aviv, August 11, 2013. The three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. The Israeli army generally issues entry permits to Palestinians during Ramadan, allowing many to visit the beach for the first time. (Activestills.org)

Palestinians from the West Bank enjoy the Mediterranean Sea on the last day of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, Tel Aviv, August 11, 2013. The three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday marks the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. The Israeli army generally issues entry permits to Palestinians during Ramadan, allowing many to visit the beach for the first time. (Activestills.org)

This week marked the beginning of Ramadan, a month-long celebration during which Muslims the world over fast for 16 hours every day to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad. That’s right: 1.5 billion Muslims across the world choose to starve themselves. To all those who ask where we get our determination and tenacity from, they may find the answer this month. This is bad news for the Islamophobes of the world. The good news for the Islamophobes? We can’t seem to use this determination in a way that actually benefits us.

And in honor of Ramadan, Palestinians from Gaza and the West Bank will no longer be deemed “security risk” or “terrorists.” The commander of the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) announced in an Arabic-language Facebook video (with poor Arabic) that Palestinians will be able to travel to Jerusalem to pray freely, visit their relatives beyond the separation barrier and even see the Mediterranean Sea. Such great news!

The high point of the video was when he announced “Intu btiqdaru truhu al-basat.” Meaning that Palestinians can freely reach the underwear. What? We have access to our underwear!? Finally, God is great, Ramadan kareem, thank heavens. Every Palestinian who wants to is now able to wear and touch his or her underwear without having to go through a checkpoint, undergo a search or receive an entry permit. On my second listen, I realized the commander meant to say “buses” rather than underwear. The Palestinians will directly enter Jerusalem, with prior coordination, after they have signed up (the sign-up period ended as the announcement was published). As long as the Palestinians can flock, in hordes, to visit their land and their mosque, as if they were foreign tourists who received a one-time visa.

#Ramadan Kareem from Major General Yoav ‘Poli’ Mordechai

Posted by COGAT – Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories on Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Is it humiliating when the IDF reminds the Arabs who is boss? Or perhaps this is merely a nice gesture of bringing together members of different religions, especially in a week where a church was burned near Tiberias, and Israel is looking worse and worse in the eyes of the world? After all, a bit of humanity never harmed anyone. I waited for the Palestinian Authority to condemn the humiliation of the buses, but it turns out that everything that happens is coordinated with the PA. I waited for the BDS movement and its response and failed to understand what they want from the poor Palestinians.

The only ones who responded and condemned the move were businessmen and merchants who are afraid that their purchasing power in Ramadan will flee to Jerusalem and only strengthen the Israeli occupier’s economy, and rightfully so. So who am I to judge a family that wants to visit Al-Aqsa on Ramadan or jump into Yaffa’s sea?

Come, friends, come. Ahalan wa sahalan.

Israel Hayom? Yes. Palestine 48? No.

What else happened this week? After secretive and intense consultations, Communications Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that broadcasts by the new “Palestine 48” television station — which began on the first day of Ramadan — would come to an end until further notice. The ministers were concerned, of course, that the Palestinian Authority was funding the broadcasts. It is worth noting that Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and others broadcast from and to Israel without fear of censorship or propaganda from “enemy countries.”

The communications minister didn’t fail to mention the professional work of Israel Hayom, as well as those who support it in Israel and abroad.

Funding for all — except some

Meanwhile, a culture war was taking place in the state’s cultural cowshed. It started when actor Oded Kotler called Likud voters “beasts.” Between East and West, piyutim and jazz, between the bible and the modern literature of the people of the bible, the heated debate continued. In the meantime, the state turned off the valve for Palestinians. It’s always easy to act tough toward the weak.

Culture Minister Miri Regev clarified 30 times over that she received a mandate to decide that the Arabs who want funding from her, “even if they pay taxes, must return to their original culture that us Jews live with in ‘co-existence.'” “I will fund traditional work, Bedouin culture, Druze and Circassians, as well as Arabic culture!” claimed the minister. Come on, will someone please explain to her that all of the above, including her own culture, are part of Arabic culture?

Likud MK Miri Regev (Photo by Activestills.org)

Likud MK Miri Regev (Photo by Activestills.org)

And to all those who don’t fully understand, I will translate Regev so that we understand exactly what she means: “The funding will be given on the condition that the Arabs will be presented as working their land, eating well in the evenings and dancing dabka at the end, and never raising their heads. Otherwise I will break their heads.” Okay fine, so she didn’t actually say that. But hey, co-existence at its best.

In light of all this I decided to write a children’s play on a sheep herder in a Galilee village, who cares for his beasts and looks for a pasture for them on a kibbutz that was established on his land. There, at the top of the mountain, he writes a nostalgic song about the days of “freedom of pasture” before 1948, when his sheep smelled the soft grass without worry. He returns to the village with his herd only to find his children crying: his Jewish wife was kidnapped by Lehava — a racist, anti-miscegenation group — spray-painting the word “hitboleloot” (miscegenation in Hebrew) across his living room. He thinks they must want authentic “tabouleh” (a traditional Arab vegetarian dish that sounds an awful like the word for miscegenation in Hebrew). So with a bucket full of tabouleh he leaves his village and his sheep, and along with his children moves to the big city to find his wife. There he finds himself celebrating in the Pride Parade. The kids are happy, and so is he. He dresses up as a proud Arab in the Holy Land and even takes a photo with the culture minister.

So what do you think? Will the Ministry of Culture and Sports fund my new play?

Liberation takes time

Ethiopian Israelis shout slogans in Rabin Square in center Tel Aviv during a protest against police brutality and racism, May 18, 2015.

Ethiopian Israelis shout slogans in Rabin Square in center Tel Aviv during a protest against police brutality and racism, May 18, 2015.

More news from this week: The case against a police officer who attacked an Ethiopian soldier was closed earlier this week, and an Ethiopian activist said that “There is no problem if they want to throw us back to Africa. Everyone should go back to where they came from. Even the Arab Jews are immigrants. An immigrant society that has the gall to expel us? This is nothing but racism.” I struggled against my feeling of joy. Hundreds of cases of attacks by police and soldiers (by Arab Jews, Ashkenazim, settlers, Ethiopians and even Drzue), all of them take part in making difficult the life of young, innocent Arabs. But the Ethiopian activist’s reasoning, who said that she is ashamed of this racist state, appealed to me, because it may lead her to understand that she is not the only one who has been harmed by racism — that neither her Jewishness nor her skin color will protect her from it. This is the beginning of a process of the oppressed’s liberation from racism — she will eventually reach the root of the problem: a Jewish state that pretends it is democratic. Welcome to the club, here there is no selection.

Samah Salaime is a social worker, a director of AWC (Arab Women in the Center) in Lod/Lyd and a graduate of the Mandel Leadership Institute in Jerusalem. This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call, where she is a blogger. Read it here.

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    1. Bruce Gould

      For the history buffs: this letter appeared in the last issue of the New York Review of Books; I think it’s self explanatory.


      To the Editors:

      In “Einstein as a Jew and a Philosopher” [NYR, May 7], Freeman Dyson stated: “In 1929, when some Palestinian Arabs organized a violent opposition to Jewish settlement and killed some Jews, the British colonial government suppressed the rebellion….” This is the version that Einstein, his biographer, and the reviewer most probably adopted due, primarily, to having been exposed to pro-Jewish media and historiography. In fact, both sides perpetrated murders and massacres spontaneously and simultaneously; and the number of Jewish and Arab casualties was approximately equal: circa 130. This has been definitely established by 1929: Year Zero of the Jewish–Arab Conflict (Jerusalem: Keter, 2013, in Hebrew), by Professor Hillel Cohen of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (three of whose books have been translated into Arabic).

      Henry Wassermann
      Professor Emeritus
      The Open University of Israel
      Freeman Dyson replies:

      I am grateful to Professors Wassermann and Cohen for correcting my mistake, and more importantly, for correcting the widely accepted history of the 1929 Arab Revolt.

      Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        Yea, Bruce.

        When in doubt… conflate…conflate…conflate…

        They both, did it! They both rioted and they both murdered each other.

        Well…duh…of course the Jews hit back because the Jews of Palestine were a new breed. They did not choose to sit back and accept being massacred in pogroms without doing anything about it. But who started the riots and the massacre in Hebron, Bruce????? Of course Bruce will not answer THAT question.

        Now seeing you are such an avid reader Bruce, you might want to read this too…


        “The massacre, together with that of Jews in Safed, sent shock waves through Jewish communities in Palestine and around the world. It led to the re-organization and development of the Jewish paramilitary organization, the Haganah, which later became the nucleus of the Israel Defense Forces.”

        Reply to Comment
    2. Pedro X

      When Did Palestinians Stop Being a Threat?

      Tell me again when the Palestinians with a culture of incitement, hatred and murder stopped being a threat to Israelis?

      On Friday two Israelis were shot by a Palestinian man who had stopped to talk to them. One of the Israelis died shortly after arrival in hospital. The other is in hospital with light to moderate injuries. What crime did the two Israeli men commit? The two young men from Lod had stopped to swim at a spring in Judea and Samaria popular to Jews and Arabs. A Hamas cell has claimed responsibility for the attack and killing and promise more of the same. The cell has named itself after the Palestinians who kidnapped and killed three Israeli teenagers last June. The killer is on the loose being protected by fellow Palestinians as were the killers of the 3 Israeli teens last June.

      On Saturday night Israeli police shot a Palestinian youth armed with a Molotov cocktail bomb as he approached the Israeli community of Psagot. After failing to heed warning shots, he was shot in the legs.

      Today an Israeli border policeman was stabbed in the neck and chest near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem by an Arab from the West Bank. He is in critical condition with life threatening injuries but is the prognosis for his survival is hopeful. The policeman while being stabbed drew his pistol and critically injured the Palestinian attacker before he could attempt to kill anyone else. Meanwhile Hamas has praised the operation as heroic.

      The mayor of Lod, who attended the funeral of the 25 year old Israeli man killed in Judea and Samaria, explained that Danny Goen was killed for one reason, he was a Jew.

      “The city of Lod bows its head in response to the murder of one of its sons, Danny Gonen, in a terror attack at the hands of a vile terrorist murderer,”

      “This heinous act of murder reminds us of the painful reality that atrocities are carried out against Jews, simply because they are Jews.”

      “Instead of dealing with the culture wars plaguing us now we must stand united against our enemies who rise up to destroy us, for among them are those who have only one culture – a culture of murder and terror.”

      Reply to Comment
      • Ben

        But those who also define simply peacefully broadcasting one’s political position on a conflict as a threat, as in the radio station Bibi is trying to block, lose credibility. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t say you wish for moderates and a good faith negotiation with moderates, while defining a moderate radio station (outside Israeli jurisdiction, in that wonderfully sovereign Area A no less) as incitement and going after it like one goes after an Islamic Jihad rocket launch and in fact with much more alarm and alacrity. If you do that then your true intentions are in doubt. It’s telling.

        Reply to Comment