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Free speech

  • +972's Story of the Year: The trial of Dareen Tatour

    The surreal arrest and trial of a Palestinian poet symbolizes a crackdown on free speech, surveillance on social media, and rising authoritarian trends in Israel. +972's Story of the Year for 2017. By +972 Magazine For the past year and half, a strange and disturbing drama has been playing out in a Haifa courtroom. In the defendant’s seat is a poet, on trial for a political poem she wrote, performed, and published on Facebook. Whether she goes to prison for publishing that poem rests largely on how the judge ultimately interprets a few words translated by a policeman whose main…

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  • ‘A legal shield for the Palestine movement in the U.S.’

    The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit last week on behalf of a Kansas public school teacher who, as a condition for taking her job, was required under a new state law to declare that she would not engage in boycotts of Israel. The law is just one in a growing list of measures in recent years aiming to counter the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement in the United States. Political boycotts in the U.S. are meant to be stringently protected under the First Amendment. “The state should not be telling people what causes they can…

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  • Opposing the occupation means being anti-Israel, to Netanyahu

    The Israeli right has worked very hard to erase any distinction between Israel and the occupation — between Ariel and Acre, Hebron and Haifa. Ironically, this is the same thing he accuses Palestinians of trying to do. Since B’Tselem director Hagai El-Ad spoke at the UN Security Council a week ago calling for an end to Israel’s half-century old occupation, the organization has been subject to vicious attacks and delegitimization, including by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. El-Ad's very citizenship has been threatened by a senior member of Netanyahu's Likud party, and thousands of Israelis have incited against him, including death threats. None of…

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  • New anti-boycott law to ban foreign BDS supporters from entering Israel

    A new Israeli law would ban BDS activists from entering Israel and 'regions under its control.' Text and photos by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org Earlier this week, while most international coverage was focused on the escalating violence in the region, Israeli lawmakers were addressing another threat — as they see it — to Israeli security: nonviolent grassroots activism. A new law proposed by MK Yinon Magal of right-wing Jewish Home party would ban entry to foreigners who promote the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement that aims to pressure Israel to comply with international law and respect Palestinian rights. “Anyone who…

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  • Silencing dissent in Israel - continued

    Silencing dissent doesn't only mean directly quashing free speech. Silencing, or a chilling effect, also take place when certain forces in society dominate and monopolize the narrative, deciding what is acceptable, what is fringe and what is mainstream. Judaism for me is a sensibility of collective self-questioning and uncomfortable truth-telling: the dafka-like quality of awkwardness and dissent for which we were once known. It is not enough to stand at a tangent to other peoples’ conventions; we should also be the most unforgiving critics of our own. I feel a debt of responsibility to this past. It is why I…

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  • America can give the Middle East more than money and arms: Inspiration

    New York City is at its spiffiest these days, so much so that sometimes when visiting, especially during these fresh days of spring, I have flashes of being in Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. A hopeless nostalgic, the Technicolor contrast to the lurking, brooding grime of the city I grew up in sometimes tugs at me. But such nostalgia is so last decade and cliché to boot. Now I look behind the illusory romanticism of the New York left behind. I recall the fear that reigned in public spaces, the desperation to avoid eye contact in the vain hope that this would…

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  • Is an attack on Israel an attack on individual Jewish identity?

    A report by a University of California advisory council threatens to limit free speech on its campuses by determining that dissent of Israel can amount to an attack on one's personal identification with the state.  By Tom Pessah In February of this year three members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot were jailed after they performed a song in a Moscow cathedral, calling on the Virgin Mary to “throw Putin out.” The performance was condemned by the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, who felt he was “under attack by persecutors” and called the song “blasphemy.” Charged with “hooliganism…

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