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hagai el-ad

  • The real danger of Natalie Portman

    Israeli leaders are relentlessly hammering home the idea that the kind of political dissent displayed by Natalie Portman is foreign. And dissenters, by definition, are not real Israelis. When Natalie Portman announced that she would not attend the lucrative Genesis Prize ceremony because she opposes Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who was to present the prize to her, reactions in Israel were smoke-out-the-ears hysterical. [tmwinpost] Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan wrote her an impassioned open letter with gimmicky Star Wars references, to help Portman, who starred in the film, understand her mistakes. Jews in Israel and abroad bemoaned her fall into the…

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  • Palestinians in Gaza are reminding us that they exist

    Reality is stronger than any propaganda campaign. It will ultimately break through and penetrate public awareness. By Hagai El-Ad Two million people live in the Gaza Strip. That’s a statement of fact, not opinion. Two million people live like prisoners in a prison built by Israel, and it seems that Israel’s sole vision for their future is to keep them jailed there forever. What happens when the prisoners stage a protest? We’ll just shoot them from the other side of the fence. And if the gunfire looks bad on TV? We’ll send in the prime minister’s advisers in fancy suits…

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  • Hagai El-Ad talks war crimes, forced displacement, and int'l pressure

    B'Tselem's executive director speaks to +972 Magazine about his organization's decision to describe the demolition and displacement of Palestinian villages as 'war crimes,' and the role of international pressure in changing Israeli policy in the West Bank. By Joshua Leifer and Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man The international diplomatic and human rights community often couches its criticism of Israeli policies vis-à-vis the Palestinians in softened, diplomatic terms. For years the U.S. State Department called Israeli settlements “unhelpful.” EU diplomats described the planned forced displacement of entire Palestinian communities as “contrary to Israel’s obligations” under international law. [tmwinpost] There are other words to…

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  • Europe, wake up and smell the coffee

    Netanyahu's Israel openly mocks the values that Europe claims to hold dear. When will European leaders stand up and reject the unacceptable reality of the past 50 years? By Hagai El-Ad European foreign ministers attending Prime Minister Netanyahu’s breakfast in Brussels this Monday may find their thoughts wandering, as the guest of honor once again speaks of Iran, self-indulgent whining of "double standards," and “the only democracy in the Middle East.” Some breakfasts are more difficult to swallow than others. [tmwinpost] And so, given a recent speech by a certain American president, the attending ministers’ thoughts may drift — perhaps…

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  • The ‘diplomatic tsunami’ that never came

    Netanyahu blew a lot of hot air in a Trump-like speech to his party loyalists last week. He did speak one truth, however: the international community can end the occupation if it wants. By Hagai El-Ad Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech to a cheering crowd of party loyalists last week was not geared towards an international audience: it was meant to rally his political base in the face of several high-profile corruption investigations into him and those closest to him. The prime minister slung myriad false accusations against the media and “the left,” taken right from the scripts followed…

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  • When Gaza has no power, we all swim in sewage

    As Netanyahu drinks water from a new Israeli mobile desalination technology with the visiting Indian prime minister, Israel's actual desalination plant, planted firmly next to Gaza, stares down the consequences of Israel's disastrous policies: raw sewage flowing its way. By Hagai El-Ad Last week, the prime ministers of Israel and India posed for a relaxed photo-op together, wading into the Mediterranean Sea on an Israeli beach. The fun day, complete with a demonstration of a new desalination device attached to an ATV, was apparently so idyllic that Netanyahu later enthused on Twitter: "There's nothing like going to the beach with…

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  • A Palestinian’s first-class seat next to Naftali Bennett

    A free airline upgrade leaves a Palestinian sitting next to one of the Israeli government's most right-wing nationalists — who went on to make some revealing comments about Trump, the peace process and his colleagues in the Knesset. By Jamil Dakwar Earlier this month, I was flying home to New York from Atlanta, Georgia after attending a four-day global human rights conference presided over by former President Jimmy Carter. To my pleasant surprise, I was offered a last-minute free upgrade to business class. But my excitement over what was sure to be a luxurious two-hour nap was short-lived. [tmwinpost] When…

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  • Following attacks, B'Tselem donations increase tenfold

    Over 3,700 people have signed on to a call supporting the human rights organization, after the Knesset coalition chair calls to revoke its executive director's citizenship. By John Brown* B'Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad addressed the UN Security Council last week, calling on its members to take real steps toward ending the military dictatorship over the occupied territories, which is nearing its 50th year. [tmwinpost] Following El-Ad's speech, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu published a statement condemning B'Tselem for joining the "chorus of slander" against Israel. It was only a matter of time before thousands of right-wingers took to social media…

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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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  • Netanyahu's coalition whip wants to revoke B'Tselem director's citizenship

    Senior Likud official, angry that Hagai El-Ad demanded the UN act to end the occupation, admits there's no legal avenue to strip his citizenship — at the moment. The Israeli human rights organization says threats won't deter it. How does the only democracy in the Middle East deal with outspoken human rights activists? By threatening to revoke their citizenship, of course. “I examined whether, legally speaking, if I can ask the interior minister to revoke the citizenship of B’Tselem’s executive director,” declared the Israeli parliament’s coalition chair, David Bitan, who serves as the whip for Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party. [tmwinpost] “I checked, and…

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  • 'The occupation is sustainable because the world refuses to take action'

    The following is a transcript of the prepared remarks B'Tselem executive director Hagai El-Ad delivered to UN Security Council members during a special 'Arria-formula' session on 'Illegal Israeli Settlements: Obstacles to Peace and the Two-State Solution' in New York on October 14, 2016. By Hagai El-Ad Members of the Security Council, Ladies and Gentlemen, Before I begin, I would like to express my deep thanks for this unique opportunity of speaking at this distinguished forum and engaging with the members of the UN Security Council. What I’m about to say is not meant to shock you. It is, however, meant to move you. For…

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  • A once-in-a-decade show trial

    The military trial of Elor Azaria is part of a purification ritual, one that takes place every 10 years, as if everything in between is just fine. By Hagai El-Ad Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman was quoted last month as saying that, “we can’t reach a situation in which a soldier has to ask for a lawyer before he heads out on a mission.” His words resonated, as usual, portraying the Israeli political leadership as the defenders of soldiers against those who wish to do them harm — you know, all those jurists with no combat experience who persecute soldiers for…

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  • Home demolitions are organized state violence

    Over the last decade, Israel has demolished over 1,100 Palestinian homes in the West Bank, leaving homeless more than 5,199 people, including at least 2,602 minors. The extensive demolitions are part of a broader Israeli policy of forced transfer. The following speech was delivered at a conference on home demolitions held at the Knesset on July 27, 2016. By Hagai El-Ad Esteemed Members of the Knesset, colleagues from the human rights and diplomatic communities and B’Tselem staff. Thank you for taking the initiative to convene this session and for taking ongoing and important actions in this area. More than 5,000…

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