Category Archives: The pathology of Israeli society

Lieberman: Disloyal Israeli Arabs Should Be Beheaded

Lieberman: Disloyal Israeli Arabs Should Be Beheaded

MK Ahmad Tibi compares Yisrael Beiteinu head’s vision to a ‘Jewish ISIS’; foreign minister also reiterates support for transfer.
http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/elections/1.646076

Ha’aretz, 9.3.2015

Israeli Arabs who are disloyal to the State of Israel should have their heads chopped off, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said at an elections conference at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya this week.

“Whoever’s with us should get everything – up to half the kingdom,” Lieberman said Sunday, in a reference to King Ahaseurus’ pledge to Queen Esther as described in the Book of Esther, which tells the story of the Purim holiday celebrated last week.

But Israeli Arabs who are disloyal to the state deserve a different fate, the chairman of Yisrael Beiteinu said at the “Voting for Democracy – 2015 Elections” election conference, Channel 2 News reported.

“Those who are against us, there’s nothing to be done – we need to pick up an ax and cut off his head,” Lieberman said. “Otherwise we won’t survive here.”

Prominent Israeli Arab MK Ahmad Tibi, who is No. 4 on the Arab parties’ Joint List ticket, suggested a situation like that described by Lieberman would result in a Jewish version of the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

Joint List “will remove racists’ and fascists’ heads only through democratic means – bringing as many [Knesset] seats as possible and active participation in the election,” The Jerusalem Post quoted Tibi as saying Monday. “The stronger we are, the weaker the Jewish Islamic State will be.”

Lieberman also reiterated his position advocating the transfer of at least some of Israel’s Arab citizens.

“There is no reason for Umm al-Fahm to be part of the State of Israel,” Lieberman said about a northern Israeli town populated by Arab citizens of Israel, according to the Channel 2 report. “Citizens of the State of Israel who raise a black flag on Nakba Day – from my perspective, they can leave, and I’m very happily willing to donate them to Abu Mazen,” he said, referring to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
read more: http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/elections/1.646076

The corruption of Judaism: Sacralisation of a wall

http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.774093

Over 1,000 Religious Girls Bused to Western Wall to Overpower Feminist Activists’ Prayer

Orthodox high school girls leave school to shout down Women of the Wall during prayer services at Jerusalem’s Western Wall; Police separate groups, restricting confrontations to verbal attacks.
Judy Maltz Feb 27, 2017 6:41 PM

Women of the Wall was forced to hold its monthly prayer service behind barricades on Monday morning, as busloads of Orthodox high school girls from around the country descended on the Western Wall as part of a show of force against the feminist prayer group.

According to police estimates, somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 Orthodox high school girls, many of them from schools affiliated with the national religious Bnei Akiva movement, filled up the women’s section of the Western Wall. The girls were bused in by Liba, an extreme right-wing organization behind a new campaign to force the government to repeal its plan to create a new egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall for the Reform and Conservative movements, as well as Women of the Wall.

Among the girls taken out of schools to participate in the protest were students from several West Bank settlements.

Police set up the barricade in order to prevent confrontations between the two praying groups in the women’s section. About 120 women participated in the Women of the Wall morning service marking the beginning of the Jewish month of Adar. Their service also included a Bat Mitzvah ceremony for an Israeli girl.

Asked about the purpose of their visit to the Western Wall, a student from one of the religious high schools, who asked that her name not be published, pointed at the Women of the Wall group situated behind the barricades, and said: “We have come to pray that they are ousted from here.”

While many of the girls prayed quietly, others heckled the Women of the Wall worshippers, several shouting at them: “You are animals. You are animals.”

Outside the women’s section, a large group of ultra-Orthodox male protestors congregated, cursing members of Women of the Wall as they entered the holy site. “Wicked women,” they shouted. “You are not Jewish. You are Christian.”

Susan Silverman, a Reform rabbi and the sister of celebrity comedian Sarah Silverman, was kicked in the shin by an ultra-Orthodox demonstrator on her way into the barricaded area. Silverman is a member of the board of Women of the Wall.

Sharing is caring. Spread the word

The prayer service was delayed about 20 minutes because of scrupulous inspections conducted at the security checkpoint at the entrance to the Western Wall. Police requested that all visitors open their coats and empty their bags at the checkpoint. A suitcase bearing special Women of the Wall prayer books was confiscated for about 30 minutes so that each prayer book could be inspected individually.

Inside the prayer areas, the noise reached deafening levels as religious worshippers tried to drown out the sounds of Women of the Wall praying and singing. Several ultra-Orthodox women blew loud whistles, as they held up signs denigrating the feminist worshippers. These whistle-blowers make a regular practice of disturbing Women of the Wall worshippers during their monthly prayer service. Police typically do not interfere with their noisemaking.

Meanwhile, in the men’s section, the morning prayer service was blasted through loudspeakers, creating even further commotion.

As Women of the Wall exited the area at the completion of their service, a human barricade of police officers stood between them and angry ultra-Orthodox protesters, many of them delivering verbal threats against the feminist worshippers.

A spokeswoman for the Jerusalem Police said that despite the tense atmosphere at this morning’s prayer services, they ended without any unusual incidents or arrests. “Our preparations, together with those of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation, allowed Women of the Wall to hold its prayer service in the women’s section as it does every month, despite the large number of high school girls praying there this morning,” said Galit Ziv, the spokeswoman. (The Western Wall Heritage Foundation is responsible for decorum at the holy site.)

Liba, which operates in collaboration with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, last week launched a video campaign condemning the government plan to create a special egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall under the slogan: “The Kotel is the heart of the nation – a heart cannot be split.” The video concluded with a call to supporters to come to the Western Wall for the Rosh Chodesh prayer service to “stop contempt of the Kotel.”

Liba, which describes its mission as “preserving the Jewish character of the State of Israel,” recently published a report claiming to show ties between Reform Judaism and the international Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement against Israel.

Responding to the scene at the Western Wall this morning, Izhar Hess, executive director of the Conservative movement in Israel, said the busloads of students brought to the site “simply to disrupt Women of the Wall” is proof of “how much the ultra-Orthodox right wing has taken over the government’s agenda.”

“I call on Minister of Education Naftali Bennett to summon immediately the principals of those girls schools that sent their students to this political demonstration,” he said, “and I urge Prime Minister Netanyahu to implement the plan for an egalitarian space once and for all to prevent such scenes of hatred at the Western Wall every month.”

The government approved the plan for an egalitarian space in January 2016, but under pressure from his ultra-Orthodox coalition partners, Netanyahu has failed to follow through with it. The non-Orthodox movements and Women of the Wall have take their case to the Supreme Court, where it is now pending.

Police bust women-trafficking, prostitution ring in Tel Aviv

Police bust women-trafficking, prostitution ring in Tel Aviv

Network smuggled Russian and Ukrainian women into Israel and ran brothels in luxury high-rises, investigators charge

The Times of Israel, 29 November 2015

A months-long undercover police investigation has uncovered a women-trafficking and prostitution network in Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan.

The investigation, reported Sunday by Israel Radio, was conducted under the auspices of the Tel Aviv Police and resulted in the arrest of two men suspected of running the trafficking ring.

Additional arrests are expected, the Hebrew-language Walla news site reported.

The suspected ringleader of the group, identified as Leonid Streimer, is a 35-year-old resident of the Tel Aviv suburb of Bat Yam.

The investigation reportedly turned up a complex operation in which the network would locate young Russian and Ukrainian women, some of whom had worked as models, and convince them to come to Israel on tourist visas, promising they would find work amid the difficult economic situations in their home countries.

Once they got to Israel, the women were housed in luxury condominium towers and expensive hotels, where the ring allegedly operated brothels for businessmen and wealthy individuals.

The women would charge significant fees for their sexual services, of which the network operators would get a percentage. A police source told Walla that one woman told investigators she would earn $3,000 or more per week, most of which she would send to her family in Ukraine.

The investigation began following complaints by neighbors in the luxury buildings, who suspected that brothels were being operated near their homes.

In September 2014, police arrested two suspects for running a prostitution ring that consisted of Russian and Ukrainian women brought to Israel on medical tourism visas.

According to the Task Force on Human Trafficking, an alliance of Israeli NGOs, there are 15,000 women working in the sex trade in Israel.

Israel’s sex trade booming

Israel’s sex trade booming
Human trafficking in Israel rakes in more than USD billion a year, findings in annual parliamentary survey show

By Miri Hasson |YNET  23.03.05 , 12:44

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3062297,00.html

TEL AVIV – Thousands of women are being smuggled into Israel, creating a booming sex trade industry that rakes more than USD one billion a year, a parliamentary committee said on Wednesday.

The Parliamentary Inquiry Committee, headed by Knesset member Zehava Galon of the left-wing Yahad party, commissioned the report in an effort to combat the sex trade in Israel. Findings showed that some 3,000 and 5,000 women are smuggled to Israel annually and sold into the prostitution industry, where they are constantly subjected to violence and abuse.

The report, issued annually, said some 10,000 such women currently reside in about 300 to 400 brothels throughout the country. They are traded for about USD 8,000 – USD 10,000, the committee said.

The U.S. State Department ranks Israel in the second tier of human trafficking around the world, saying the Jewish State does not maintain minimal conditions regarding the issue but is working to improve them.

Israel passed a law in 2003 that would allow the state to confiscate the profits of traffickers, but watchdog groups say it is rarely enforced.

Most foreign prostitutes in Israel come from Ukraine, Moldova, Uzbekistan and Russia and many are smuggled in across the Egyptian border.

The committee found that the women work seven days a week for up to 18 hours every day and that out of the NIS 120 paid by customers, they are left with just NIS 20, while the rest of the money is passed on to their traders.

The prostitutes face constant threats of abuse and murder, the report said, and Israeli law does little to help them. Delays in trial dates and prolonged hearings force the women to remain exposed to violence for more than a year until they are called in to provide testimony, and courts rarely collect early testimonies, as permitted by law.

To help combat the problem, the committee recommended that the state prosecutor’s office refrain from making plea bargains with sex traders. It also advised to raise the threshold of punitive measures and pushed for financial compensation for sex trade victims.

Sex Slavery in Israel: Half-Billion-Dollar “Industry” Largely Staffed By Sex Slaves

Sex Slavery in Israel

Half-Billion-Dollar “Industry” Largely Staffed By Sex Slaves

By Dr. Martin Brass

SOLDIER OF FORTURE, October 2002, p. 32.

Israel prides itself as a “beacon of light,” paving an enlightened path for democracy and human rights in a region of dictators, theocracies, tyrants and human rights abusers.

In July 2001, the U.S. State Department placed Israel on a “third tier” list of countries, or worst offenders, of Traffickers in Persons. In the shadows of the “beacon of light” lurks a brutal and inhumane abuse – trafficking of women and children for the sex-slave trade. Israel was on the same list as Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Sudan, Yugoslavia, Bahrain, Greece, Pakistan, Qatar, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and 12 others.

The State of Israel was established in order to give refuge to the Jewish Diaspora that had been mercilessly abused in WWII. Since the end of the Cold War, Israel became a haven for more than one million former Eastern-bloc refugees of largely Jewish descent. What is appalling in light of the above is the involvement of the Israeli government and law enforcement in one of the most horrendous international crimes.

Hookers In The Holy Land

Police raided the Furmis Brothel, one of 250 whorehouses in Tel Aviv. The three-story building was under video surveillance. The police charged through iron gates guarded by armed bodyguards, next storming through the armed guards and iron doors fortifying the elevator, then ascending to the third floor and maneuvering through a narrow corridor where they noticed a suspicious cupboard. Crashing through the cupboard, they found another passage, where they collided with armed bodyguards, then hurtled through a locked door. Tel-Aviv magazine describes the officers’ horror at their find: Ten girls were locked up in a filthy, foul two-room brothel with only mattresses on the floor.

“These girls are kept like dogs.” A Tel Aviv police officer told U.S. News and World Report.

The Palace Club, a seedy brothel in Tel Aviv, was the target of a group of journalists on a fact-finding mission. Down a few flights of dark, stone stairs three girls huddled in a corner of a reception area waiting for johns. Their fat pimp dabbed the sweat from his forehead with a large silk handkerchief. The pimp bragged that his women make 120 shekels for a half-hour, “100 shekels for me, 20 shekels [$6] for them.” If their earnings had to be put into a kitty to pay the tax bill, the girls served as unpaid slaves.

At the Tropicana, in Tel Aviv, according to journalist Michael Specter writing in The New York Times, 20 women share 12 cubicles, working eight-hour day-shifts and 12-hour night-shifts.

One sex-slave, lured by an offer of legitimate work, told Amnesty International that she “had a nervous break-down. A client offering to help me escape turned out to be one of them and I was beaten up by the owners. There was nowhere to run – there were bars on the windows and bodyguards, day and night.”

“The conditions were terrible. One girl was kept to work in the basement for eight months. It was damp there and she got tuberculosis as a result. Most of the girls had different diseases – venereal and others related to their reproductive organs. I do not wish even to my enemies to go through what we went through.”

She escaped by jumping from the first floor of the building. When she returned to help another friend escape, she was arrested in a police raid as an illegal alien. She was afraid to testify against the pimp, who knew the whereabouts of her family in Ukraine.

“Nearly all prostitutes in Israel are Russian [70%], their boss is not. Israelis love Russian girls,” according to “Wake Up or Die,” an organization monitoring sex-trafficking who quotes a chuckling Jacob Golan, an Israeli slave master. “They are blonde and good-looking and different from us.”

“This is a whole industry – recruiting them, bringing them and distributing them to all of the parlors,” said Efraim Fhrlich, former commander of the Tel Aviv vice squad. This “national industry” brings in $450 million yearly. A pimp can earn $50,000-$125,000 per year on pimping one slave. A 10-slave brothel can take in up to 750,000 shekels or $215,000 a month.

The Victim As A Criminal

“Until now, the authorities have addressed this as a problem of prostitution, not kidnapping or trafficking in people,” Knight-Ridder News cites Yael Weisz-Rind, director of Amnesty International Israel. “Trafficked women are effectively treated as criminals by the various Israeli agencies with whom they come in contact, rather than as victims of human rights abuses.”

The Jerusalem Post reports that when pressured, Israeli police Commander Yossi Sedbon, while claiming that fighting the trade in women is a priority for the police, emphasized that only a minority of hookers were kidnapped and forced into prostitution. Sedbon declined to comment on the complaints filed against police chiefs for not addressing the problem.

A poll by the Israeli Women’s Network showed that 44% of Israelis believe all female Russian immigrants provided sexual services for pay. Reuters said that the women are stereotyped as having brought crime and prostitution, while exploiting Israeli laws enabling anyone with a Jewish grandparent to immigrate.

“The fact that most of the women knowingly enter Israel illegally made me think twice,” an Israeli university scholar I met in Jerusalem admitted. She had “a hard time being compassionate for people who break the law … it is even harder to sympathize with women who knowingly come to be prostitutes and then complain about the conditions.” However, after extensive research, she became an advocate for the girls.

“These women were manipulated, kidnapped, threatened, abused, drugged, raped, lied to, and used … the punishment that they receive from the government who sends them back to a dangerous situation in their homeland after long stays in jail does not fit the crime,” she said.

Invitation To An Israeli Hell

“Elderly Jewish women in the Ukraine often lure the girls into the trade,” Specter said. Or, the girls are recruited through “an ad or an unexpected meeting on the street, with a proposition to work abroad as a maid, secretary, showgirl, nanny or waitress.” A typical ad, writes Walter Zalisko, 24-year police veteran, authority on Russian organized crime in New Jersey and New York, seeks ” … pretty woman, under age 40, slender, educated, to work in modern office setting; $600/month; documents and transportation provided.”

Reuters interviewed one girl, starving in Russia, who got caught up in the whirlwind of international crime. Defrauded into working in Israel, she was kidnapped by a pimp, kept in bondage with eight women in two apartments and extorted of her pay.

“I came into this circle and then it was very hard to get out. My papers were fake, I had no money, I had no acquaintances and I was in an enclosed place.” Torn between her fear of physical abuse by her pimp and fear of deportation back to hunger, she did not dare seek help at the police station across the road.

Specter tells the story of a Ukrainian who, after seeing an ad, slipped off a tour boat when it put in at Haifa, hoping to make a bundle dancing naked on the tops of tables. In Israel, she was taken to a brothel, where her boss burned her passport. “I own you,” he said. “You are my property, and you will work until you earn your way out. Don’t try to leave. You have no papers and you don’t speak Hebrew. You will be arrested and deported. Then we will get you and bring you back.” Subsequently, the brothel was raided, and she was jailed.

Megan Goldin interviewed one 18-year-old girl that “has been bought and sold so many times she has lost count.” Admittedly lured to Israel by promises of large sums of money if she turned to prostitution, she said “I never thought I would actually have to do it � I thought once I arrived would find a way to escape and find other work, as a waitress or something.”

She had been flown to Egypt, where with 20 other women aged between 18 and 24, she was smuggled by a Bedouin cross the Sinai desert. The girls were forced to crawl under a barbed-wire border fence in the middle of the night.

Organized crime from the former Soviet Union invested $4 billion dollars in real estate and businesses in Israel in seven years. In a warped marriage based on greed that has no boundaries and no loyalties, Israeli mafias join with Russian mafias to cooperate with Arab Bedouins to smuggle women and children to the “Promised Land.”

The unfenced, unguarded 70-mile Israel-Egypt border allows the Bedouins to navigate through the desert with dune buggies and all-terrain vehicles. Israeli Border Patrols, focused on intercepting terrorists, ignore the Bedouin slave traders.

“It’s horrible,” an Israeli official said. “The women we found had been used along the way (by the Bedouins). After all, their masters had to test their product. They are touched and measured and prodded in heinous ways to ‘ensure the quality of the product.’ Some also bring friends or family to use the women. Then the women have to work for a period of one or more months free of charge to ‘pay for their passage.'”

Going Once, Going Twice

“It’s like a car. It depends how valuable she is,” “Amir,” a Tel Aviv pimp told Reuters. Four of the girls who were valued at lower prices ended up working in the slum area around Tel Aviv’s old central bus station where they were trapped and burnt to death when a religious fanatic torched their brothel, a Jewish weekly said. Girls are traded and bartered for a variety of goods, including drugs.

The girls, many of whom are Palestinian, are displayed naked at pimping auctions going at prices ranging from $4,000 to $20,000, depending on her looks, according to one Tel Aviv pimp.

Chaim Nardi, an Israeli sociologist, links the slave-trafficking to machismo attitudes in Israeli society, which “allow men to consider women their toy.” Most prostitutes suffer from depression, he said.

Prison officials report that 80% of the girls become addicted to drugs, mainly heroin, Israelis’ drug of choice. A vicious cycle of prostitution finances their addiction.

Criminologist Menachem Amir said that three groups – Orthodox Jews, Arabs and the 250,000 foreign workers spike demand.

Arabs and Orthodox Jews have “very strong taboos against sexual connections outside of marriage and therefore go to a place where they can do it more anonymously,” a Tel Aviv pimp, Amir, told Reuters.

Some rabbis, “Wake Up or Die” said, ride bicycles to the whorehouses. “A good percentage of the clients are ultra-Orthodox Jews, pious men whose lives are guided by Halachah (religious law), which tells them when they can or cannot have sex with their wives.”

So, on Thursday (boys night out in Israel) busloads of Orthodox Jews travel from Jerusalem, Haifa, and points beyond to Tel Aviv for a few brief moments of passion in a massage parlor, behind a sand dune, or in an alley. Other customers are accountants, lawyers, policemen, and politicians. “The entire spectrum of Israeli society is keeping the hookers in business,” Detective Shachar, veteran on the Tel Aviv vice detail, said.

“Many of the prostitutes in Israel, especially those of Arab descent, are abused by Jews expressing their ‘racial-nationalist fervor.'” The girls … “find that their Jewish customers only come to them after a Palestinian terrorist act to get their own brand of sexual revenge laced with racial-nationalistic fervor … and they do it with hate and anger.”

Neveh Tirza Prison warden Debi Sagi helped give Hotline for Migrant Workers, the interventionist organization dealing with the problem, better access to the prisoners. Victims share cells with Israeli convicted criminals. Many are detained in police detention centers because of the over-crowded jails, where the conditions are worse. Half are deported penniless.

The pimps’ attorneys often represent the girls, or the pimp might pay 30,000 shekels bail pending her deportation, so that she can go back to work. “These women,” said Nomi Levenkron, senior advocate of Hotline, “who were raped, trafficked and exploited before their arrests, were in fact sold once more, this time by the state itself.”

Israeli Police In The Hot Spot By Hotline

One 18-year-old Moldavian sought refuge in a Tel Aviv police station. Some of the officers, who were her clients, recognized her and called her pimp. She fled. The pimp found her and forced her back to the brothel.

“There are police who just come as clients, those who get special discounts because of their good relationships with the owner of the place and those that inform the owner about police operations,” Levenkron said.

Hotline found police involved in six of 24 cases in 15 months – four cases of policemen warning of impending police raids, one policeman managed a brothel, and another sold a woman to another pimp after her arrest.

Hotline accused the Israeli officials of: arresting pimps at their convenience, and ignoring crimes of notorious pimps who cooperate with the police on other matters; of disregarding the 16-year sentence allowed, and of making “shameful” plea bargains with pimps.

The authorities, according to Hotline, lied about women refusing to testify. Less than 20, of hundreds of women interviewed in two and a half years, had been asked to testify. Of 1,370 files opened between 1998-2000, only 2% were prosecuted.

“N” was arrested when she filed a complaint. The police refused to release her on bail for five days, claiming that her life was in danger because the pimps were too dangerous to be arrested. N’s Israeli boyfriend informed the pimps that the police were looking for them and advised them to turn themselves in, which they did.

Charges were pressed against her two pimps. One of them was declared unfit to stand trial and the other was sentenced on 15 February 2001, to two years in prison, one year on probation and fined $5,000. The prosecutors claimed that N was “rented” for only five days from the time the new law against trade in human beings was approved till her escape, and that her testimony was weak. No charges were pressed against the pimp for rape, managing a brothel and living off prostitutes’ income, although he had confessed.

“V” was arrested in a brothel and sent to prison for three months, waiting for her traveling documents. For a month and a half Hotline was told that there was no evidence to support V’s claims. The day after Hotline notified the Parliament investigation committee, the police decided to cooperate. V named eight people who sold, bought or raped her, giving their addresses. Twenty-two more days passed before the first pimp was arrested. Another pimp had fled the country.

Judicial indifference is compounded by police complicity, Levenkron said.

Amnesty describes treatment of several cases by authorities. Anna, knowingly joining the sex industry, was auctioned twice and taken to work in Haifa, where she was held with two other women in an apartment with bars. She was arrested after a police raid on the apartment. In court the police alleged that Anna had signed statements admitting to involvement in prostitution – but all the documents were in Hebrew. She later discovered that she had been framed – accused of running a brothel.

Tatiana arrived in Israel from Belarus to work as a hotel maid to support her mother and son. The pimp met her, took her to a brothel and told her that she would have to repay her “sale price” and the travel costs. After several failed escape attempts, Tatiana was finally released from the brothel after a police raid – a friend of hers had contacted the Belarus Consulate who contacted the police.

She was taken into custody as an illegal immigrant.

No Rehab for Rahab

On her prison bunk, she found an anonymous note threatening to kill her and punish her family if she squealed. Hotline petitioned the Chief of Police for witness protection, who replied that the Police could not guarantee anyone’s safety outside Israel. She was deported to Belarus despite begging to be flown to Poland or Lithuania and then allowed to cross into Belarus by car. She was reportedly met by a male relative and taken to an unknown location. Tatiana’s subsequent fate is unknown. “I don’t know the outcome of the trial. I only know that Arthur [the pimp] is at liberty I talked to him on the phone …

Arthur knows my address in St. Petersburg and my telephone number because he kept my passport. I have a small daughter, eight-years-old there. He threatened that he would find me in Russia, at home, if I did not do what he wanted me to,” one girl told Amnesty International.

A Jewish weekly interviewed Tel Aviv Police Superintendent Pini Aviram, who heads a special investigative team dealing with the trafficking issue. “My team consists of only five Russian speakers,” he said, frustrated at the lack of manpower.

In June 2000, the Knesset amended a 1997 prostitution law to prohibit the buying or selling of persons. Penalties are doubled if the victim is a minor.

The Knesset’s “feeble efforts” Human Rights Watch said, “were undermined by its failure to provide safe houses, witness protection, legal assistance, relief from deportation, or third-country resettlement.”

Israel has until 2003 to implement “minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking” or face stiff economic sanctions. In June of this year, the State Department bumped Israel up to the second tier, since it is “taking action against sex-trafficking.”

Hotline refutes testimony by the State Department that Israel had taken progressive steps towards halting the trafficking and exploitation of women, their spokesperson saying that Israel is merely acting under U.S. pressure.

Police Deputy-Commander Avi Davidovitch told Jewsweek July 2002 that although the number of trafficked women is growing alarmingly high, few complaints are filed against pimps, and many women either refuse to complain or later retract earlier statements they have made to the police, out of fear of reprisals.

As of July 2002, Washington Jewish Week reports, few pimps involved in trafficking ever face a judge and the majority of prostitutes are deported without being allowed to testify against their pimps.

Slave Trader Turns State Witness

However, “there are certain encouraging signs,” Nardi said. “It appears things are getting better. The Israeli prosecutors are working hard against this phenomenon.”

For example, as a result of one of the biggest stings on slavery in Israel’s history, 18 men involved in drug sales and the smuggling, trafficking and prostitution of women faced trial. The director of the Special Crimes Unit, Deputy Commissioner Menashe Arviv, thinks they will likely receive sentences of between three and 10 years, according to Forward Magazine.

An international lawyer, Dr. Martin Brass is a frequent contributor.

Yes, Netanyahu, Let’s Talk About Ethnic Cleansing

http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.741296
Opinion // Yes, Netanyahu, Let’s Talk About Ethnic Cleansing

Turning Israeli settlers into victims is the prime minister’s most staggering act of chutzpah yet. The only mass ethnic cleansing that took place here was in 1948, when some 700,000 Arabs were forced to leave their lands.
Gideon Levy, Sep 10, 2016 9:48 PM

Israel knows a thing or two about ethnic cleansing. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knows a thing or two about propaganda. The video he posted on Friday proves both points. Here’s the real thing — yet another record for Israeli chutzpah: The evacuation of settlers from the West Bank (which has never happened, and presumably never will) is ethnic cleansing.

Yes, the state that brought you the great cleansing of 1948 and that has never, deep in its heart, given up on the dream of cleansing, and that never stopped carrying out methodical microcleansings in the Jordan Valley, in the South Hebron Hills, in the area of Ma’aleh Adumim and in the Negev, too — that state calls the removal of settlers ethnic cleansing. That state compares the invaders of the occupied territories with the children of the land who clung onto their lands and homes.

Netanyahu proved once more that he is the real thing, the most authentic representative of the “Israeliness” that created reality for itself: Turning night into day, shamelessly and without any sense of guilt, without inhibition.

In Israel, many people, perhaps a majority, will buy these goods. The settlers of the Gaza Strip became “expellees,” their removal “deportation.” Not only is an aggressive and violent action — settlement — legitimate, but its agents are victims.

The Jews as victim. Always the Jews, only the Jews. An Israeli prime minister less brazen and arrogant than Netanyahu would not dare to utter the term “ethnic cleansing,” given the plank in his own eye. Few propaganda campaigns would dare go so far. Yet occasionally, reality intrudes.

And the reality is razor-sharp. The only mass ethnic cleansing that took place here was in 1948. Some 700,000 human beings, the majority, were forced to leave their homes, their belongings, their villages and the land that had been theirs for centuries. Some were forcibly expelled, put on trucks and removed; some were intentionally frightened into fleeing; still others fled, possibly unnecessarily. They were never allowed to return, save for a few, even if only to recover their belongings.

Being barred from returning was worse than the expulsion. It is what proved that the cleansing was intentional. Not a single Arab community remained between Jaffa and Gaza, and all the other areas are scarred with the remains of villages, the vestiges of life. That is ethnic cleansing — there’s no other term for it. More than 400 villages and towns were wiped off the face of the earth, their ruins covered over by Jewish communities, forests and lies. The truth was concealed from Israeli Jews and the descendants of the deportees were forbidden to commemorate them — neither monument nor gravestone, to paraphrase Yevgeny Yevtushenko.

The number of settlers now exceeds the number of expellees. They invaded a land that was not theirs, with the support of successive Israeli governments and the opposition of the entire world, and they knew that their enterprise was built on ice. They and the Israeli governments not only crudely violated international law, which earns no respect in Israel. They also broke Israeli law, with the support of a subjugated judiciary.

Land theft is even a violation of the law practiced in Israel and the territories. When Israelis, and the world, began to become accustomed to this situation, to accept it as inevitable, along comes the prime minister and takes his chutzpah up one more level: The settlers are actually victims. Not the ones they expelled, not the ones they disinherited of their land. In the reality according to Netanyahu, the settlements that were built for the purpose of precluding arrangements with the Palestinians are not an obstacle, and he equates them with the she’erit haplita — the remnants of the Palestinians that remained in Israel, to borrow a term from the aftermath of the Holocaust.

Language can be twisted to any use, propaganda to any moral perversion. Farewell, reality, you’re not relevant here anymore.

Reflections By An ARAB JEW

Reflections By An ARAB JEW

by Ella Habiba Shohat

Irvi Nasawi: Sephardic & Middle Eastern Cultures

Ella Habiba Shohat is Professor of Cultural Studies and Women’s Studies at CUNY. A writer, orator and activist, she is the author of Israeli Cinema: East/West and the Politics of Representation (Univ. of Texas Press, 1989) and the co-author (with Robert Stam) of Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media (Routledge 1994). Shohat co-edited Dangerous Liaisons: Gender, Nation and Postcolonial Reflections (University of Minnesota Press, 1997) and is the editor of Talking Visions: Multicultural Feminism in a Transnational Age, (MIT Press/The New Museum, 2000). She writes often for such journals as Social Text and the Journal for Palestine Studies.
When issues of racial and colonial discourse are discussed in the U.S., people of Middle Eastern and North African origin are often excluded. This piece is written with the intent of opening up the multicultural debate, going beyond the U.S. census’s simplistic categorization of Middle Eastern peoples as “whites.”

It’s also written with the intent of multiculturalizing American notions of Jewishness. My personal narrative questions the Eurocentric opposition of Arab and Jew, particularly the denial of Arab Jewish (Sephardic) voices both in the Middle Eastern and American contexts.

I am an Arab Jew. Or, more specifically, an Iraqi Israeli woman living, writing and teaching in the U.S. Most members of my family were born and raised in Baghdad, and now live in Iraq, Israel, the U.S., England, and Holland. When my grandmother first encountered Israeli society in the ’50s, she was convinced that the people who looked, spoke and ate so differently–the European Jews–were actually European Christians. Jewishness for her generation was inextricably associated with Middle Easterness. My grandmother, who still lives in Israel and still communicates largely in Arabic, had to be taught to speak of “us” as Jews and “them” as Arabs. For Middle Easterners, the operating distinction had always been “Muslim,” “Jew,” and “Christian,” not Arab versus Jew. The assumption was that “Arabness” referred to a common shared culture and language, albeit with religious differences.

Americans are often amazed to discover the existentially nauseating or charmingly exotic possibilities of such a syncretic identity. I recall a well-established colleague who despite my elaborate lessons on the history of Arab Jews, still had trouble understanding that I was not a tragic anomaly–for instance, the daughter of an Arab (Palestinian) and an Israeli (European Jew). Living in North America makes it even more difficult to communicate that we are Jews and yet entitled to our Middle Eastern difference. And that we are Arabs and yet entitled to our religious difference, like Arab Christians and Arab Muslims.

It was precisely the policing of cultural borders in Israel that led some of us to escape into the metropolises of syncretic identities. Yet, in an American context, we face again a hegemony that allows us to narrate a single Jewish memory, i.e., a European one. For those of us who don’t hide our Middle Easterness under one Jewish “we,” it becomes tougher and tougher to exist in an American context hostile to the very notion of Easterness.

As an Arab Jew, I am often obliged to explain the “mysteries” of this oxymoronic entity. That we have spoken Arabic, not Yiddish; that for millennia our cultural creativity, secular and religious, had been largely articulated in Arabic (Maimonides being one of the few intellectuals to “make it” into the consciousness of the West); and that even the most religious of our communities in the Middle East and North Africa never expressed themselves in Yiddish-accented Hebrew prayers, nor did they practice liturgical-gestural norms and sartorial codes favoring the dark colors of centuries-ago Poland. Middle Eastern women similarly never wore wigs; their hair covers, if worn, consisted of different variations on regional clothing (and in the wake of British and French imperialism, many wore Western-style clothes). If you go to our synagogues, even in New York, Montreal, Paris or London, you’ll be amazed to hear the winding quarter tones of our music which the uninitiated might imagine to be coming from a mosque.

Now that the three cultural topographies that compose my ruptured and dislocated history–Iraq, Israel and the U.S.–have been involved in a war, it is crucial to say that we exist. Some of us refuse to dissolve so as to facilitate “neat” national and ethnic divisions. My anxiety and pain during the Scud attacks on Israel, where some of my family lives, did not cancel out my fear and anguish for the victims of the bombardment of Iraq, where I also have relatives.

War, however, is the friend of binarisms, leaving little place for complex identities. The Gulf War, for example, intensified a pressure already familiar to the Arab Jewish diaspora in the wake of the Israeli-Arab conflict: a pressure to choose between being a Jew and being an Arab. For our families, who have lived in Mesopotamia since at least the Babylonian exile, who have been Arabized for millennia, and who were abruptly dislodged to Israel 45 years ago, to be suddenly forced to assume a homogenous European Jewish identity based on experiences in Russia, Poland and Germany, was an exercise in self devastation. To be a European or American Jew has hardly been perceived as a contradiction, but to be an Arab Jew has been seen as a kind of logical paradox, even an ontological subversion. This binarism has led many Oriental Jews (our name in Israel referring to our common Asian and African countries of origin is Mizrahi or Mizrachi) to a profound and visceral schizophrenia, since for the first time in our history Arabness and Jewishness have been imposed as antonyms.

Intellectual discourse in the West highlights a Judeo-Christian tradition, yet rarely acknowledges the Judeo-Muslim culture of the Middle East, of North Africa, or of pre-Expulsion Spain (1492) and of the European parts of the Ottoman Empire. The Jewish experience in the Muslim world has often been portrayed as an unending nightmare of oppression and humiliation.

Although I in no way want to idealize that experience–there were occasional tensions, discriminations, even violence–on the whole, we lived quite comfortably within Muslim societies.

Our history simply cannot be discussed in European Jewish terminology. As Iraqi Jews, while retaining a communal identity, we were generally well integrated and indigenous to the country, forming an inseparable part of its social and cultural life. Thoroughly Arabized, we used Arabic even in hymns and religious ceremonies. The liberal and secular trends of the 20th century engendered an even stronger association of Iraqi Jews and Arab culture, which brought Jews into an extremely active arena in public and cultural life. Prominent Jewish writers, poets and scholars played a vital role in Arab culture, distinguishing themselves in Arabic speaking theater, in music, as singers, composers, and players of traditional instruments.

In Egypt, Morocco, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Tunisia, Jews became members of legislatures, of municipal councils, of the judiciary, and even occupied high economic positions. (The finance minister of Iraq in the ’40s was Ishak Sasson, and in Egypt, Jamas Sanua–higher positions, ironically, than those our community had generally achieved within the Jewish state until the 1990s!)

The same historical process that dispossessed Palestinians of their property, lands and national-political rights, was linked to the dispossession of Middle Eastern and North African Jews of their property, lands, and rootedness in Muslim countries. As refugees, or mass immigrants (depending on one’s political perspective), we were forced to leave everything behind and give up our Iraqi passports. The same process also affected our uprootedness or ambiguous positioning within Israel itself, where we have been systematically discriminated against by institutions that deployed their energies and material to the consistent advantage of European Jews and to the consistent disadvantage of Oriental Jews. Even our physiognomies betray us, leading to internalized colonialism or physical misperception. Sephardic Oriental women often dye their dark hair blond, while the men have more than once been arrested or beaten when mistaken for Palestinians. What for Ashkenazi immigrants from Russian and Poland was a social aliya (literally “ascent”) was for Oriental Sephardic Jews a yerida (“descent”).

Stripped of our history, we have been forced by our no-exit situation to repress our collective nostalgia, at least within the public sphere. The pervasive notion of “one people” reunited in their ancient homeland actively disauthorizes any affectionate memory of life before Israel. We have never been allowed to mourn a trauma that the images of Iraq’s destruction only intensified and crystallized for some of us. Our cultural creativity in Arabic, Hebrew and Aramaic is hardly studied in Israeli schools, and it is becoming difficult to convince our children that we actually did exist there, and that some of us are still there in Iraq, Morocco, Yemen and Iran.

Western media much prefer the spectacle of the triumphant progress of Western technology to the survival of the peoples and cultures of the Middle East. The case of Arab Jews is just one of many elisions. From the outside, there is little sense of our community, and even less sense of the diversity of our political perspectives. Oriental-Sephardic peace movements, from the Black Panthers of the ’70s to the new Keshet (a “Rainbow” coalition of Mizrahi groups in Israel) not only call for a just peace for Israelis and Palestinians, but also for the cultural, political, and economic integration of Israel/Palestine into the Middle East. And thus an end to the binarisms of war, an end to a simplistic charting of Middle Eastern identities.

  • Links:

David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s Segregationist Founder

http://forward.com/opinion/israel/308306/ben-gurion-israels-segregationist-founder/

David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s Segregationist Founder
Seth J. FrantzmanMay 18, 2015

‘The danger we face is that the great majority of those children whose parents did not receive an education for generations will descend to the level of Arab children,” Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, declared at a July 1962 meeting. He was speaking with the head of a teachers federation on the question of whether to segregate “Mizrahi” children, whose parents came from Muslim countries, from “Ashkenazi” children in school.

In the document from the Labor Party archives, revealed recently in Haaretz, a shocking image is conjured up. Did Israel’s first leader really consider segregating Jewish children according to country of origin? Why did he use racially tinged terms of abuse, worrying that Israel would become “Levantine” and “descend” to be “like the Arabs”?

The document is emblematic of a tragic Israeli problem, the legacy of the disastrous policies put in place in the early years of the state that at the time seemed in line with prevailing European concepts but did irreparable harm.

Consider the case revealed on April 9 by author Orna Akad at the blog +972. She related how 23 years ago she went to a workshop at the community of Neve Shalom. “One of the participants in the workshop was also a member of the community’s admission committee… we came up to her full of hope and said proudly that we are a couple, a Jewish woman and an Arab man, and that we would like to register and appear before the community’s admission committee,” Akad said. The woman had bad news: “We are a community which encourages life together in coexistence, but we are opposed to mixed marriage.”

If you are perplexed, you should be. Israel’s small communities have an unusual way of organizing themselves. An “acceptance” or admissions committee regulates almost every single community outside a major town. You can’t just move to a place, you have to ask to be admitted. It is why a May 2012 headline screamed, “Sderot activists win right to move to Kibbutz Gevim.” They didn’t want to be kibbutz members, just to live in an expansion area of the kibbutz. But one committee member had blocked them, reportedly saying, “We are trying to introduce new blood into the community, but new blood needs to match what is already there.” The newcomers were not “attuned to community life.”

  How did some 1,000 communities in Israel become gated communities, so that people who are Arab, Ethiopian or other minorities can be denied the right to live where they want either directly or as result of euphemistic rulings like that they are “not attuned to community”? This is one of the main legacies of 1950s Israel.

Admissions committees created ethnically homogenous Jewish communities (Yemenites in one place, Hungarians in another). Worse, a segregated education system for Jews and Arabs cemented total separation so that 99% of pupils study in either Jewish or Arab schools through the end of high school. The education system was put in place in 1949, but it should have been obvious that “separate development” was a road to future disaster.

David Ben-Gurion is often portrayed as a mythical formative figure in the early years of the Jewish state. In Anita Shapira’s 2014 biography she lionizes him: “He knew how to create and exploit the circumstances that made its [Israel’s] birth possible.” Peter Beinart similarly paints a picture of early Israel endowed with liberal and socialist principles. “Labor Zionists insisted that the character of Jewish life in Palestine, and of the eventual Jewish state, was as important as the state itself.” The well-known author Ari Shavit wrote in his book, “My Promised Land,” that “the newborn state [of Israel] was one of the most egalitarian democracies in the world.” Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen romanticized Israel’s early years as “fighting intellectuals, rifle in one hand and a volume of Kierkegaard in the other.”

There is a massive nostalgia and a total misunderstanding of the nature of the state in those years. Israel was not egalitarian in the 1950s; it was a divided society, in which Arab citizens, having watched the vast majority of their community flee or be expelled from the country in 1948, were kept under military-imposed curfew. It was a society in which security concerns trumped civil rights, in which nationalistic military parades were common, and ethnic and religious divisions were cemented.

The founders of the state saw themselves as embarking on a massive social engineering experiment. As these new documents reveal, Ben-Gurion imagined that the Jews who had come from Arab countries would soon outnumber Jews of European origin — “In another 10-15 years they will be the nation, and we will become a Levantine nation, [unless] with a deliberate effort we raise them…” he said. The country had a responsibility to elevate this population from its many generations of living in, as he disparagingly put it “downtrodden, backward countries.” The disdain for Arab culture was extreme, despite the fact that Arabs in British Mandatory Palestine held high positions, were the intellectual elite of the country and had a sophisticated society.

The discrimination of the 1950s haunts Israel today. It persists in the media, as when Tel Aviv’s Ashkenazi elite is referred to as a “white tribe,” or when Russian immigrants are mocked as having “crime in their blood” and a successful Arab citizen like TV host Lucy Aharish is described in one article as not “dressing like an Arab.” The segregated schools and admissions committees created a balkanized society. Rather than romanticizing the leader who perpetuated these divisions, people should imagine an Israel in the future that reforms the failed legacy. Reduce segregation and encourage diverse communities. Interrogate the past, don’t whitewash it.

Seth J. Frantzman is the opinion editor of The Jerusalem Post.

Israeli soldiers are licensed thugs applying state violence in the West Bank

http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.631735

Israeli soldiers are licensed thugs applying state violence in the West Bank

Even without tear gas grenades and grabbing Ziad Abu Ein by the throat, the presence of IDF troops in Turmus Aya was an act of violence in itself.

By Amira Hass, Haaretz, 15.12.14 3
 
The death of the Palestinian minister Ziad Abu Ein is more evidence of how the violence of the Israel Defense Forces has become normal, an obvious routine, one that is not seen and not changed. We have been busy with “a heart attack or not a heart attack,” we dealt with “suspending security coordination or not suspending security coordination” and with “how the IDF prepares for escalation.” In other words, we have been dealing with what slightly tickles Israeli fake normalcy.

Nobody addressed the naturalness with which a line of IDF soldiers and Border Police and army jeeps set up in a Palestinian field to prevent farmers from accessing their land. There is no criticism of the nonchalance with which the licensed thugs shoot tear gas and stun grenades at old people, women and young people. And why? So they will not come near the unauthorized and illegal outpost of Adei Ad, located on their land.

Even without tear gas grenades and stun grenades, even without grasping Abu Ein’s throat – the presence of IDF and Border Police forces there was pure violence. Every pillbox in the West Bank, every military camp and Civil Administration jeep, and every tractor of the Jerusalem municipality in the eastern part of the city, they are all an inseparable part of the state violence.

The Palestinian Authority was established in 1994 as part of a deal for a period of five years: The Palestinians will not respond to the Israeli state violence, and Israel will gradually reduce the areas in which its licensed thugs apply their violence. This was the practical essence of the Oslo Accords. But the best and brightest of the Israeli forces did everything so that the Palestinians would be portrayed as the agreement’s violators if they respond to Israel’s non-shrinking violence. To shout at a soldier is also a violation of the deal. That is why Abu Ein was grabbed by the throat.

We are now 20 years after. And even if there are pockets of pseudo autonomy with Palestinian policemen (who hide during the IDF’s nighttime invasions), state violence has not retreated, not been reduced. On the contrary – it has only spread, grown stronger and even more arrogant.

The job of the IDF, the Shin Bet security service and the police is to protect the Jewish citizens of Israel, including the settlers in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem, of course). With every settler added to the proud list of preferred citizens, the means of protection must be increased. The settler population is growing, and so does the violence of the state and its institutions. The soldiers are thugs on behalf of the state and the settlers are licensed thieves, thieves on behalf of the authorities.

The land the unauthorized and illegal outposts stole is insignificant compared to the land stolen by the illegal official settlements, the bypass roads, the official institutions (Border Police, police, government, army). This theft is what must be protected. And that is the job of every soldier.

Only a minority among the settlers personally attack and endanger the lives of Palestinians. Only a minority personally abuse and harass the residents of the villages, whose bitter fate has brought them such “neighbors.” The rest of the settlers – their work is being carried out by the IDF’s lawyers and the State Prosecutor’s office, by the clerks and officers of the Civil Administration, architects and contractors, and the thugs in uniform. To be more precise: The settlers are just the well-pampered representatives of the state, its institutions and its mission of dispossession.

The minority that personally does harass is Jewish Israeli, and the IDF is required to protect them. This protection, for all the settlers, is done in two ways. One is passive: When the settlers attack Palestinians, the soldiers are absent or stand to the side. The night before Abu Ein’s death, a large group of Israeli citizens went down from the direction of the Adei Ad outpost and raided the village of Mughayer. They threw rocks at houses and cars, damaged trees and land between Mughayer and its neighboring village of Turmus Aya. The explanation that reached Palestinian authorities: The Israelis claimed a horse had been stolen from them.

The second form of protection is active: arrests, shooting, wounding, killing Palestinians and blocking their access to their land. This is the easy solution for the army: So they will not have to prevent Jews from harming Palestinians, it forbids the Palestinians from working their land.

The history of these attacks and their results – the evaporation of tens of thousands of dunams of land and a source of sustenance for Palestinian villages – is found in the impressive and shocking content of two studies: “The Road to Dispossession: A Case Study – The Outpost of Adei Ad” from Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights; and the Kerem Navot’s (Naboth’s Vineyard) “Israeli Settler Agriculture as a means of Land Takeover in the West Bank” by Dror Etkes in cooperation with Quamar Mashriqi-Assad of Rabbis for Human Rights – Israel. They are required reading for anyone who wants to understand how state violence and the violence of the settlers join together, are dependent on one another, feed each other.

On Wednesday the lawyers of Yesh Din were supposed to present on the land of the four villages the petition they filed that same morning in a demand to evacuate Adei Ad. The response of Adei Ad, as was distributed to some of the journalists last Wednesday, testifies to the alliance between the thugs: “The residents of Adei Ad are busy at the moment pushing back a security incident initiated by Yesh Din. It turns out that this same organization filed a petition with the High Court of Justice this morning against the community. The residents will not be dragged into a provocation, and trust the army to do its job and distance the terrorists from the houses of the community.”

Imploding the Myth of Israel

Imploding the Myth of Israel

http://www.truthdig.com/repor/item/imploding_the_myth_of_israel_20131103/

By Chris Hedges, November 4, 2013
 
Israel has been poisoned by the psychosis of permanent war. It has been morally bankrupted by the sanctification of victimhood, which it uses to justify an occupation that rivals the brutality and racism of apartheid South Africa. Its democracy—which was always exclusively for Jews—has been hijacked by extremists who are pushing the country toward fascism. Many of Israel’s most enlightened and educated citizens—1 million of them—have left the country. Its most courageous human rights campaigners, intellectuals and journalists—Israeli and Palestinian—are subject to constant state surveillance, arbitrary arrests and government-run smear campaigns. Its educational system, starting in primary school, has become an indoctrination machine for the military. And the greed and corruption of its venal political and economic elite have created vast income disparities, a mirror of the decay within America’s democracy.

And yet, the hard truths about Israel remain largely unspoken. Liberal supporters of Israel decry its excesses. They wring their hands over the tragic necessity of airstrikes on Gaza or Lebanon or the demolition of Palestinian homes. They assure us that they respect human rights and want peace. But they react in inchoate fury when the reality of Israel is held up before them. This reality implodes the myth of the Jewish state. It exposes the cynicism of a state whose real goal is, and always has been, the transfer, forced immigration or utter subjugation and impoverishment of Palestinians inside Israel and the occupied territories. Reality shatters the fiction of a peace process. Reality lays bare the fact that Israel routinely has used deadly force against unarmed civilians, including children, to steal half the land on the West Bank and crowd forcibly displaced Palestinians into squalid, militarized ghettos while turning their land and homes over to Jewish settlers. Reality exposes the new racial laws adopted by Israel as those once advocated by the fanatic racist Meir Kahane. Reality unveils the Saharonim detention camp in the Negev Desert, the largest detention center in the world. Reality mocks the lie of open, democratic debate, including in the country’s parliament, the Knesset, where racist diatribes and physical threats, often enshrined into law, are used to silence and criminalize the few who attempt to promote a civil society. Liberal Jewish critics inside and outside Israel, however, desperately need the myth, not only to fetishize Israel but also to fetishize themselves. Strike at the myth and you unleash a savage vitriol, which in its fury exposes the self-adulation and latent racism that lie at the core of modern Zionism.

There are very few intellectuals or writers who have the tenacity and courage to confront this reality. This is what makes Max Blumenthal’s“Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel” one of the most fearless and honest books ever written about Israel. Blumenthal burrows deep into the dark heart of Israel. The American journalist binds himself to the beleaguered and shunned activists, radical journalists and human rights campaigners who are the conscience of the nation, as well as Palestinian families in the West Bank struggling in vain to hold back Israel’s ceaseless theft of their land. Blumenthal, in chapter after chapter, methodically rips down the facade. And what he exposes, in the end, is a corpse.

I spent seven years in the Middle East as a correspondent, including months in Gaza and the West Bank. I lived for two years in Jerusalem. Many of the closest friends I made during my two decades overseas are Israeli. Most of them are among the Israeli outcasts that Blumenthal writes about, men and women whose innate decency and courage he honors throughout his book. They are those who, unlike the Israeli leadership and a population inculcated with racial hatred, sincerely want to end occupation, restore the rule of law and banish an ideology that creates moral hierarchies with Arabs hovering at the level of animal as Jews—especially Jews of European descent—are elevated to the status of demigods. It is a measure of Blumenthal’s astuteness as a reporter that he viewed Israel through the eyes of these outcasts, as well as the Palestinians, and stood with them as they were arrested, tear-gassed and fired upon by Israeli soldiers. There is no other honest way to tell the story about Israel. And this is a very honest book.

“Goliath” is made up of numerous vignettes, some only a few pages long, that methodically build a picture of Israel, like pieces fit into a puzzle. It is in the details that Israel’s reality is exposed. The Israeli army, Blumenthal points out in his first chapter, “To the Slaughter,” employs a mathematical formula to limit outside food deliveries to Gaza to keep the caloric levels of the 1.5 million Palestinians trapped inside its open air prison just above starvation; a government official later denied that he had joked in a meeting that the practice is “like an appointment with a dietician.” The saturation, 22-day bombing of Gaza that began on Dec. 27, 2008, led by 60 F-16 fighter jets, instantly killed 240 Palestinians, including scores of children. Israel’s leading liberal intellectuals, including the writers Amos Oz, A.B. Yehoshua and David Grossman, blithely supported the wholesale murder of Palestinian civilians. And while Israelis blocked reporters from entering the coastal Gaza Strip—forcing them to watch distant explosions from Israel’s Parash Hill, which some reporters nicknamed “the Hill of Shame”—the army and air force carried out atrocity after atrocity, day after day, crimes that were uncovered only after the attack was over and the press blockade lifted. This massive aerial and ground assault against a defenseless civilian population that is surrounded by the Israeli army, a population without an organized military, air force, air defenses, navy, heavy artillery or mechanized units, caused barely a ripple of protest inside Israel from the left or the right. It was part of the ongoing business of slaughtering the other.

“Unarmed civilians were torn to pieces with flechette darts sprayed from tank shells,” Blumenthal writes. “Several other children covered in burns from white phosphorous chemical weapon rounds were taken to hospitals; a few were found dead with bizarre wounds after being hit with experimental Dense Inert Metal Explosive(DIME) bombs designed to dissolve into the body and rapidly erode internal soft tissue. A group of women were shot to death while waving a white flag; another family was destroyed by a missile while eating lunch; and Israeli soldiers killed Ibrahim Awajah, an eight-year-old child. His mother, Wafaa, told the documentary filmmaker Jen Marlowe that soldiers used his corpse for target practice. Numerous crimes like these were documented across the Gaza Strip.”

 

By the end of the assault, with 1,400 dead, nearly all civilians, Gaza lay in ruins. The Israeli air force purposely targeted Gaza’s infrastructure, including power plants, to reduce Gaza to a vast, overcrowded, dysfunctional slum. Israel, Blumenthal notes, destroyed “80 percent of all arable farmland in the coastal strip, bombing the strip’s largest flour mill, leveling seven concrete factories, shelling a major cheese factory, and shooting up a chicken farm, killing thirty-one thousand chickens.”

“Twelve [years old] and up, you are allowed to shoot. That’s what they tell us,” an Israeli sniper told Haaretz correspondent Amira Hass in 2004 at the height of the Second Intifada, Blumenthal writes. “This is according to what the IDF [Israel Defense Force] says to its soldiers. I do not know if this is what the IDF says to the media,” the sniper was quoted as saying.

The 2008 murderous rampage is not, as Blumenthal understands, an anomaly. It is the overt policy of the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who advocates “a system of open apartheid.” Israel, as Blumenthal points out, has not lifted its state of emergency since its foundation. It has detained at least 750,000 Palestinians, including 10,000 women, in its prisons since 1967. It currently holds more than 4,500 political prisoners, including more than 200 children and 322 people jailed without charges, Blumenthal writes, including those it has labeled “administrative detainees.” Israel has a staggering 99.74 percent conviction rate for these so-called security prisoners, a figure that any totalitarian state would envy.

Blumenthal cites a survey of Jewish Israeli attitudes on the Gaza bombing, known as Operation Cast Lead. The survey, by Daniel Bar-Tal, a political psychologist from Tel Aviv University, concluded that the public’s “consciousness is characterized by a sense of victimization, a siege mentality, blind patriotism, belligerence, self-righteousness, dehumanization of the Palestinians, and insensitivity to their suffering.” Bar-Tal tells Blumenthal “these attitudes are the product of indoctrination.” And Blumenthal sets out to chronicle the poison of this indoctrination and what it has spawned in Israeli society.

The racist narrative, once the domain of the far right and now the domain of the Israeli government and the mainstream, demonizes Palestinians and Arabs, as well as all non-Jews. Non-Jews, according to this propaganda, will forever seek the annihilation of the Jewish people. The Holocaust, in which Israeli victimhood is sanctified, is seamlessly conflated with Palestinian and Arab resistance to occupation. The state flies more than 25 percent of Israeli 11th-graders to Poland to tour Auschwitz and other Nazi extermination camps a year before they start army service. They are told that the goal of Arabs, along with the rest of the non-Jewish world, is another Auschwitz. And the only thing standing between Israelis and a death camp is the Israeli army. Israeli high schools show films such as “Sleeping With the Enemy” to warn students about dating non-Jews, especially Arabs. Racist books such as “Torat Ha’Melech,” or “The King’s Torah,” are given to soldiers seeking rabbinical guidance on the rules of engagement. Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira and Rabbi Yosef Elitzur, the authors of the 230-page book, inform soldiers that non-Jews are “uncompassionate by nature” and may have to be killed in order to “curb their evil inclinations.” “If we kill a gentile who has violated one of the seven commandments [of Noah] … there is nothing wrong with the murder,” Shapira and Elitzur write. The rabbis claim that under Jewish law “there is justification for killing babies if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us, and in such a situation they may be harmed deliberately, and not only during combat with adults.”

These narratives of hatred make any act of deadly force by the Israeli army permissible, from the shooting of Palestinian children to the 2010 killing by Israeli commandos of nine unarmed activists on the Turkish boat the Mavi Marmara. The activists were part of a flotilla of six boats bringing humanitarian supplies to Gaza. The Israeli propaganda machine claimed that the small flotilla was a covert terror convoy. Never mind that the Mavi Marmara was in international waters when it was attacked. Never mind that no one on the boat, or any of the five other boats, was armed. Never mind that the boats were thoroughly searched before they left for Gaza. The Israeli lie was trumpeted while every camera, video and tape recorder, computer and cellphone of the activists on board was seized and destroyed—or in a few cases sold by Israeli soldiers when they got back to Israel—while those on the boats were towed to an Israeli port and detained in isolation. The ceaseless stoking of fear and racial hatred—given full vent by the Israeli government and media in the days after the Mavi Marmara incident—has served to empower racist political demagogues such as Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman, a camp follower of Meir Kahane. It has also effectively snuffed out Israel’s old left-wing Zionist establishment.

“In Israel you have three systems of laws,” the Israeli Arab politician Ahmed Tibi observes in the Blumenthal book. “One is democracy for 80 percent of the population. It is democracy for Jews. I call it an ethnocracy or you could call it a Judocracy. The second is racial discrimination for 20 percent of the population, the Israeli Arabs. The third is apartheid for the population in the West Bank and Gaza. This includes two sets of governments, one for the Palestinians and one for the settlers. Inside Israel there is not yet apartheid but we are being pushed there with … new laws.”

As Blumenthal documents, even Israeli Jews no longer live in a democracy. The mounting state repression against human rights advocates, journalists and dissidents has reached the proportions of U.S. Homeland Security. The overtly racist cant of the political elite and the masses—“Death to Arabs” is a popular chant at Israeli soccer matches—has emboldened mobs and vigilantes, including thugs from right-wing youth groups such as Im Tirtzu, to carry out indiscriminate acts of vandalism and violence against dissidents, Palestinians, Israeli Arabs and the hapless African immigrants who live crammed into the slums of Tel Aviv. Israel has pushed through a series of discriminatory laws against non-Jews that eerily resemble the racist Nuremberg Laws that disenfranchised Jews in Nazi Germany. The Communities Acceptance Law, for example, permits “small, exclusively Jewish towns planted across Israel’s Galilee region to formally reject applicants for residency on the grounds of ‘suitability to the community’s fundamental outlook.’ ” And all who denounce the steady march of Israel toward fascism—including Jewish academics—are attacked in organized campaigns as being insufficiently Zionist. They are branded as terrorists or collaborators with terrorists. As a headline in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz read: “The settlers are the real government of Israel.”

“Woody [a law school graduate from New York] became my initial liaison to Tel Aviv’s radical left, introducing me to a loose-knit band of a few hundred anarchists, disillusioned ex-soldiers, disaffected children of ultra-Zionists, queers, academics, and generally idealistic and disillusioned young people who came of age during the Second Intifada when the liberal Zionist ‘peace camp’ closed ranks with the militaristic right wing,” Blumenthal writes. “This tiny band of social deviants comprised the only grouping of people I met who sincerely embraced multiculturalism and who took concrete action against the discriminatory foundations of their country’s political apparatus. Right-wingers and many Jewish Israelis who considered themselves part of the social mainstream referred to members of the radical left as smolinim, which simply means ‘leftists,’ but the word carried a deeply insulting connotation of an unacceptable caste, an Other. As branded social outcasts, inflexible in their principles, disdainful of ordinary politics, and brazen in their racial liberalism they resembled nothing so much as the pre-Civil War abolitionists.”

The late Amnon Dankner, the former editor of Maariv, one of Israel’s major newspapers, Blumenthal notes, denounced “neo-Nazi expressions in the Knesset” and “entire parties whose tenor and tone arouse feelings of horror and terrifying memories.” David Landau, the former editor-in-chief of Haaretz, has called on Israelis to boycott the Knesset “to stand against the wave of fascism that has engulfed the Zionist project.” And Uri Avnery, a left-wing politician and journalist, says: “Israel’s very existence is threatened by fascism.”

The disillusionment among idealistic young immigrants to Israel dots the book. As one example, Canadian David Sheen is recorded as saying that everything he had known about Israel and Palestinians was, in Blumenthal’s words, “a fantasy cultivated through years of heavy indoctrination.” But perhaps what is saddest is that Israel has, and has always had, within its population intellectuals, including the great scholar Yeshayahu Leibowitz, who sought to save Israel from itself.

Leibowitz, whom Isaiah Berlincalled “the conscience of Israel,” warned that if Israel did not separate church and state it would give rise to a corrupt rabbinate that would warp Judaism into a fascistic cult.

“Religious nationalism is to religion what National Socialism was to socialism,” said Leibowitz, who died in 1994. He understood that the blind veneration of the military, especially after the 1967 war that captured the West Bank and East Jerusalem, was dangerous and would lead to the ultimate destruction of the Jewish state and any hope of democracy. “Our situation will deteriorate to that of a second Vietnam, to a war in constant escalation without prospect of ultimate resolution.” He foresaw that “the Arabs would be the working people and the Jews the administrators, inspectors, officials, and police—mainly secret police. A state ruling a hostile population of 1.5 million to 2 million foreigners would necessarily become a secret-police state, with all that this implies for education, free speech and democratic institutions. The corruption characteristic of every colonial regime would also prevail in the State of Israel. The administration would have to suppress Arab insurgency on the one hand and acquire Arab Quislings on the other. There is also good reason to fear that the Israel Defense Force, which has been until now a people’s army, would, as a result of being transformed into an army of occupation, degenerate, and its commanders, who will have become military governors, resemble their colleagues in other nations.” He warned that the rise of a virulent racism would consume Israeli society. He knew that prolonged occupation of the Palestinians would spawn “concentration camps” for the occupied and that, in his words, “Israel would not deserve to exist, and it will not be worthwhile to preserve it.”

But few, then or now, cared to listen. This is why Blumenthal’s new book is so important.

Israeli blood-hounds try to muzzle Palestinian MP

http://electronicintifada.net/content/israel-moves-outlaw-palestinian-political-parties-knesset/13998

Israel moves to outlaw Palestinian political parties in the Knesset
Jonathan Cook, The Electronic Intifada, Nazareth
4 November 2014

The Israeli parliament voted overwhelmingly last week to suspend Haneen Zoabi, a legislator representing the state’s large Palestinian minority, for six months as a campaign to silence political dissent intensified.

The Israeli parliament, or Knesset, voted by 68 to 16 to endorse a decision in late July by its ethics committee to bar Zoabi from the chamber for what it termed “incitement.”

It is the longest suspension in the Knesset’s history and the maximum punishment allowed under Israeli law.

At a press conference, Zoabi denounced her treatment as “political persecution.”

“By distancing me from the Knesset, basically they’re saying they don’t want Arabs, and only want ‘good Arabs.’ We won’t be ‘good Arabs,’” she said.

The Knesset’s confirmation of Zoabi’s suspension comes as she faces a criminal trial for incitement in a separate case and as the Knesset considers stripping her of citizenship.

But Zoabi is not the only Palestinian representative in the firing line. Earlier this year the Knesset raised the threshold for election to the parliament, in what has been widely interpreted as an attempt to exclude all three small parties representing the Palestinian minority. One in five citizens of Israel belong to the minority.

In addition, it emerged last week that a bill is being prepared to outlaw the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, the only extra-parliamentary party widely supported by Palestinian citizens.

Along with Zoabi, the Islamic Movement’s leader, Sheikh Raed Salah, has been among the most vocal critics of Israeli policies, especially over the al-Aqsa mosque compound in occupied Jerusalem.

Death threats

Zoabi was originally suspended after legislators from all the main parties expressed outrage at a series of comments from her criticizing both the build-up to Israel’s summer assault on Gaza, dubbed “Operation Protective Edge,” and the 51-day attack itself, which left more than 2,100 Palestinians dead, most of them civilians.

In particular, fellow members of Knesset were incensed by a radio interview in which she expressed her disapproval of the kidnapping of three Israeli youths in the occupied West Bank, but refused to denounce those behind it as “terrorists.” The youths were later found murdered.

Zoabi faced a wave of death threats and needed to be assigned a bodyguard for public appearances.

During the Knesset debate on her appeal against the suspension, Zoabi said: “Yes, I crossed the lines of consensus — a warlike, aggressive, racist, populist, chauvinist, arrogant consensus. I must cross those lines. I am no Zionist, and that is within my legal right.”

Under attack

Zoabi, who has come to personify an unofficial political opposition in the Knesset against all the main parties, is under attack on several fronts.

Last week she was informed that the state prosecution service had approved a police recommendation to put her on trial for criminal incitement for “humiliating” two policemen.

She is alleged to have referred to the policemen, who are members of the Palestinian minority, as “collaborators” as she addressed parents of children swept up in mass arrests following protests against the Israeli assault on Gaza over the summer.

Faina Kirschenbaum, the deputy interior minister in the government of Benjamin Netanyahu, has also drafted two bills directly targeting Zoabi.

The first would strip someone of the right to stand for the Knesset if they are found to have supported “an act of terrorism,” while the second would strip them of their citizenship.

Because ministers are not allowed to initiate private bills, the task of bringing the measures to the floor of the parliament has been taken up by the Knesset’s Law, Constitution and Justice Committee.

Intentional subversions

Zoabi further infuriated fellow members of Knesset this month when she compared the Israeli army to the Islamic State, the jihadist group that has violently taken over large parts of Syria and Iraq and has become notorious for kidnapping westerners and beheading them.

In an apparently intentional subversion of Netanyahu’s recent comparison of the Islamic State and Hamas, the Palestinian resistance movement, Zoabi described an Israeli Air Force pilot as “no less a terrorist than a person who takes a knife and commits a beheading.” She added that “both are armies of murderers, they have no boundaries and no red lines.”

Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister, was among those who responded by calling Zoabi a “terrorist.”

“The law must be used to put the terrorist — there is no other word for it — the terrorist Haneen Zoabi in jail for many years,” he told Israel Radio.

A poll this month found that 85 percent of the Israeli Jewish public wanted Zoabi removed from the Knesset.

“There is a great deal of frustration among Israeli politicians and the public at their army’s failure to defeat the Palestinian resistance in Gaza,” said Awad Abdel Fattah, the secretary general of Balad, a political party representing Palestinians in Israel. “At times like this, the atmosphere of repression intensifies domestically.”

Silencing all political dissent

The initiatives against Zoabi are the most visible aspects of a wider campaign to silence all political dissent from the Palestinian minority.

Last week, Lieberman instructed one of his members of Knesset, Alex Miller, to initiate a bill that would outlaw Salah’s Islamic Movement.

The legislation appears to be designed to hold Netanyahu to his word from late May. Then, the Israeli media revealed that the prime minister had created a ministerial team to consider ways to ban the movement.

At the same time, the Israeli security services claimed that Salah’s faction was cooperating closely with Hamas in Jerusalem.

After Israel barred the Palestinian Authority from having any presence in Jerusalem more than a decade ago and expelled Hamas legislators from the city, Salah has become the face of Palestinian political activism in Jerusalem.

Under the campaign slogan “al-Aqsa is in danger,” he has taken a leading role in warning that Israel is incrementally taking control of the most sensitive holy site in the conflict.

Last month it emerged that the Knesset is to vote on legislation to give Jewish religious extremists greater access to the mosque compound. Already large numbers of Jews, many of them settlers, regularly venture on to esplanade backed by armed Israeli police.

They include Jewish extremists that expressly want to blow up the al-Aqsa mosque so that a replica of a Jewish temple from 2,000 years ago can be built in its place.

Last week, Yehuda Glick, a leader of one of these extremist groups, was shot and wounded in Jerusalem. In response, Israel shut down al-Aqsa for the first time since the outbreak of the second intifada fourteen years ago. Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, called it a “declaration of war.”

According to the text of Lieberman’s bill, the northern wing of the Islamic Movement “subverts the State of Israel’s sovereignty while making cynical use of the institutions and fundamental values of the Jewish and democratic state.”

It also blames the movement for “an eruption of violence and unrest among the Arab minority in Israel, while maintaining close relations with the terrorist organization Hamas.”

Raising the threshold

The attacks on Zoabi and the Islamic Movement come in the wake of legislation in March to raise the electoral threshold — from 2 percent to 3.25 percent — for a party to win representation in the Knesset.

The new threshold is widely seen as having been set to exclude the three Palestinian parties currently in the Knesset from representation. The minority’s vote is split almost evenly between three political streams.

Zoabi’s Balad party emphasizes the need for the Palestinian minority to build its own national institutions, especially in education and culture, to withstand the efforts of Israel’s Zionist institutions to strip Palestinian citizens of their rights and erase their identity. Its chief demand has been for “a state for all its citizens” — equal rights for Jewish and Palestinian citizens.

Balad’s chief rival is the joint Jewish-Arab party of Hadash, whose Communist ideology puts a premium on a shared program of action between Jewish and Arab citizens. However, its Jewish supporters have shrunk to a tiny proportion of the party. It too campaigns for equal rights.

And the final party, Raam-Taal, is a coalition led by prominent Islamic politicians.

The three parties have between them eleven seats in the 120-member Knesset, with one held by a Jewish member of Knesset, Dov Chenin, for Hadash.

Abdel Fattah said his Balad party had been urging the other parties to create a coalition in time for the next general election to overcome the new threshold.

So far it has faced opposition from Hadash, which is worried that an alliance with Balad would damage its image as a joint Jewish-Arab party. A source in Hadash told Israeli daily Haaretz in late September: “Hadash is not an Arab party, and there’s no reason it should unite with two Arab parties.”

Abdel Fattah said Hadash’s objections were unreasonable given that both Balad and the Islamic faction believed it was important to include Jewish candidates on a unified list. “Eventually they will have to come round to a joint list unless they want to commit political suicide,” he remarked.

Falling turnout

Balad has been under threat at previous general elections. The Central Elections Committee, a body representing the major political parties, has repeatedly voted to ban it from running. Each time the decision has been overturned on appeal to the Supreme Court.

In 2007 the party’s former chairman, Azmi Bishara, was accused of treason while traveling abroad and has been living in exile ever since.

But the representation of all the parties is now in danger from the raised threshold. Over the past thirty years, turnout among Palestinian citizens has dramatically fallen to little more than half of potential voters, as the minority has seen its political demands for equality greeted with a wave of laws entrenching discrimination.

Among the anti-democratic measures passed in recent years are laws that penalize organizations commemorating the Nakba, the Palestinians’ dispossession of their homeland in 1948; that provide a statutory basis to admissions committees, whose function is to prevent Palestinian citizens living on most of Israel’s territory; and that make it impossible for most Palestinian citizens to bring a Palestinian spouse to live with them in Israel.

Uncompromising stance

Last week, Balad MKs boycotted the opening ceremony of the Knesset, following the summer recess, in protest at Zoabi’s treatment.

At a press conference in the parliament, her colleague, Basel Ghattas, warned: “The day is approaching when Arab MKs will think there is no use participating in the political sphere. We are discovering more and more that we are personae non gratae at the Knesset.”

On Facebook, Lieberman responded that he hoped the Arab MKs would “carry out this ‘threat’ as soon as possible.”

The increasingly uncompromising stance towards all the Palestinian minority’s political factions marks a shift in policy, even for the right.

Although no Israeli government coalition has ever included a Palestinian party, and the Nasserist al-Ard movement was banned in the 1960s, Jewish politicians have generally viewed it as safer to keep the Palestinian parties inside the Knesset.

Analyst Uzi Baram observed in Haaretz that even Menachem Begin, a former hardline prime minister from Netanyahu’s Likud party, believed it would be unwise to raise the threshold to keep out Arab parties. If they were excluded, Baram wrote, it was feared “they would resort to non-parliamentary actions.”

“Paving the way toward fascism”

Zoabi petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court against her suspension from the Knesset in early October. However, the judges suggested she first use an arcane appeal procedure before the Knesset’s full plenum to demonstrate she had exhausted all available channels for lifting the suspension.

Israeli legal scholars have noted the irregularities in the ethics committee’s decision to impose a record-long suspension on Zoabi. The committee’s task is to regulate parliament members’ behavior inside the Knesset, not political speech outside it.

Aeyal Gross, a constitutional law professor at Tel Aviv University, warned that the Knesset’s treatment of Zoabi was “paving the way towards fascism and tyranny.”

Gross noted the extreme severity of the committee’s punishment of Zoabi, contrasting it with that of another MK, Aryeh Eldad. In 2008 he called for Ehud Olmert, the prime minister at the time, to be sentenced to death for suggesting that parts of the occupied territories become a Palestinian state.

Eldad was suspended for just one day, even though it was a clear example of incitement to violence in a country where a former prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, was murdered by a right-wing extremist, citing similar justification for his actions.

Tyranny of the majority

The Supreme Court, which has shifted rightwards in recent years, may not be sympathetic to Zoabi’s appeal against her suspension.

In September the court jailed Said Nafaa, a former MK from her Balad party, for one year after he was convicted of visiting Syria in 2007 with a delegation of Druze clerics and meeting a Palestinian faction leader in Syria.

The crime of making contact with a foreign agent is the only one in Israeli law in which the defendant must prove their innocence.

The court may also be wary of making unpopular rulings at a time when it is under concerted attack from the Israeli right for being too liberal.

Ayelet Shaked, of the settler Jewish Home party, which is in the government coalition, has introduced a bill that would allow a simple majority of the Knesset to vote to override Supreme Court rulings.

Human rights lawyers warned that the bill would further erode already limited protections for minority rights.

Debbie Gild-Hayo, a lawyer with the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, warned that protections for minorities from the tyranny of the majority would be in severe jeopardy as a result. “These proposals wish to break down the checks and balances that are fundamental to democracy,” she said.

Zoabi remained defiant. She noted that, while she was being hounded, the legal authorities had ignored genocidal remarks made by Jewish politicians against Palestinians during the summer attack on Gaza.

“They’re putting me on trial over a trivial, meaningless matter, while ministers and MKs who incited to racism and incited to violence and even to murder aren’t being investigated, even after complaints were filed against them.”

She added: “If I am indicted, I’ll turn the hearings into the most political trial in Israel’s history.”


Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are Israel and the Clash of Civilizations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East (Pluto Press) and Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair (Zed Books). His website is jonathan-cook.net.

Racism is the Foundation of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge

http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/18732/racism-is-the-foundation-of-israels-operation-prot

Racism is the Foundation of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge
Jul 30 2014, by Joel Beinin

On 30 June Ayelet Shaked, chairwoman of the Knesset faction of the ultra-right wing ha-Bayit ha-Yehudi (Jewish Home) Party, a key member of the coalition government led by Prime Minister Netanyahu, posted on her Facebook page a previously unpublished article written by the late Uri Elitzur. Elitzur, a pro-settler journalist and former chief-of-staff to Netanyahu, wrote:

Behind every terrorist stand dozens of men and women, without whom he could not engage in terrorism… They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now, this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They must follow their sons. Nothing would be more just. They should go, as well as the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.

Shaked’s post appeared the day the bodies of three abducted settler teens­—Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach—were discovered. It has since received more than 5,200 “likes.”

For over two weeks, Netanyahu and the media whipped the country into a hysterical state, accusing Hamas of responsibility for abducting the teens without providing evidence to support the claim and promoting hopes that they would be found alive, although the government knew that the boys were likely murdered within minutes of their abduction. Their deaths provided a pretext for more violent expressions of Israeli anti-Arab racism than ever before.

The viciousness of Mordechai Kedar, lecturer in Arabic literature at Bar Ilan University, was even more creative than Shaked and Elitzur’s merely genocidal proposal. “The only thing that can deter terrorists like those who kidnapped the children and killed them,” he said, “is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped.” As a university-based “expert,” Kedar’s heinous suggestion is based on his “understanding” of Arab culture. “It sounds very bad, but that’s the Middle East,” he explained, hastening to add, “I’m not talking about what we should or shouldn’t do. I’m talking about the facts.”

Racism has become a legitimate, indeed an integral, component of Israeli public culture, making assertions like these seem “normal.” The public devaluation of Arab life enables a society that sees itself as “enlightened” and “democratic” to repeatedly send its army to slaughter the largely defenseless population of the Gaza Strip—1.8 million people, mostly descendants of refugees who arrived during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, and have been, to a greater or lesser extent, imprisoned since 1994.

Conciliatory gestures, on the other hand, are scorned. Just two days after Shaked’s Facebook post, Orthodox Jews kidnapped sixteen-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir from the Shu‘afat neighborhood of East Jerusalem and burned him alive in the Jerusalem Forest. Amir Peretz (Hatnua) was the only government minister to visit the grieving family. For this effort he received dozens of posts on his Facebook page threatening to kill him and his family. Meanwhile, vandals twice destroyed memorials erected to Abu Khdeir on the spot of his immolation.

The international community typically sees the manifestations of Israel’s violent racism only when they erupt as assaults on the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, or Lebanon. But Israel’s increasingly poisonous anti-Arab and anti-Muslim public culture prepares the ground of domestic public opinion long before any military operation and immunizes the army from most criticism of its “excesses.” Moreover, Israeli anti-democratic and racist sentiment is increasingly directed against Palestinian citizens of Israel, who comprise twenty percent of the population.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman of the Yisrael Beytenu (Israel Is Our Home) Party made his political reputation on the slogan “No Loyalty, No Citizenship”—a demand that Palestinian Israelis swear loyalty oaths as a condition of retaining their citizenship. Since 2004 Lieberman has also advocated “transferring” Palestinian-Israelis residing in the Triangle region to a future Palestinian state, while annexing most West Bank settlements to Israel. In November 2011 Haaretz published a partial list of ten “loyalty-citizenship” bills in various stages of legislation designed to “determine certain citizens’ rights according to their ‘loyalty’ to the state.”

While Lieberman and other MKs pursue legal channels to legally undermine the citizenship of Palestinian-Israelis, their civil rights are already in serious danger. In 2010 eighteen local rabbis warned that the Galilee town of Safed faced an “Arab takeover” and instructed Jewish residents to inform on and boycott Jews who sold or rented dwellings to Arabs. In addition to promoting segregated housing, Safed’s Chief Rabbi, Shmuel Eliyahu, tried to ban Arab students from attending Safed Academic College (about 1,300 Palestinian-Israelis are enrolled, some of whom live in Safed). The rabbinical statement incited rampages by religious Jews chanting “Death to the Arabs,” leading Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy to dub Safed “the most racist city” in Israel. In Karmiel and Upper Nazareth—towns established as part of Israel’s campaign to “Judaize the Galilee”—elected officials have led similar campaigns.

Palestinian Israeli Knesset members receive regular verbal abuse from their Jewish “colleagues.” For example, Hanin Zoabi (National Democratic Alliance), who participated in the 2010 Freedom Flotilla to the Gaza Strip, which Israeli naval commandos attacked, killing nine Turks (one of whom also held US citizenship), has been particularly targeted. In the verbal sparring over the murder of the three teens Foreign Minister Lieberman called her a “terrorist.” Not to be outdone, Miri Regev (Likud) said Zoabi should be “expelled to Gaza and stripped of her [Knesset] immunity.” Other Knesset members—some from putatively “liberal” parties—piled on. [Update: Yesterday—29 July—Hanin Zoabi was suspended from Knesset].

Violence against Arabs in and around Israeli-annexed “Greater Jerusalem” is particularly intense. Much of it is the work of Orthodox Jews. The Jewish Defense League, banned in Israel in 1994 and designated a terrorist organization by the FBI in 2001, and several similar groups regularly assault and harass Arabs. The day of the funeral of the three abducted teens, some two hundred Israelis rampaged through the streets of Jerusalem chanting “Death to Arabs.” The previous evening, hardcore fans of the Betar Jerusalem football club, known as La Familia, rallied chanting, “Death to the Arabs.”  The same chant is frequently heard at games of the team, which is associated with the Likud and does not hire Arab players. Hate marches, beatings and shootings of Arabs, and destruction of their property, long common in the West Bank, have become regular events in Israel-proper in the last month.

The citizenship-loyalty bills, Safed’s designation as “the most racist city,” the attacks volleyed at Palestinian elected officials, and mob violence against Arabs all took place before Israel launched Operation Protective Edge on 8 July. The operation—more aggressively dubbed “Firm Cliff” in Hebrew—constitutes Israel’s third assault on the Gaza Strip since 2008. As of yesterday, 29 July, the Palestinian death toll in that operation has reached over 1,200, the great majority of them civilians. Thirty-two Israeli soldiers and three civilians have also died. Israeli security officials sardonically call these operations “mowing the lawn” because well-informed observers know that Hamas cannot be uprooted and is capable of rebuilding its military capacity. There is no long-term strategy, except, as Gideon Levy put it, to kill Palestinians. Major General (res.) Oren Shachor elaborated, “If we kill their families, that will frighten them.” And what might deter Israel?

[This piece originally appeared in a special weeklong series on the Stanford University Press blog, and is reposted here in partnership with SUP blog. The entire ten-part series can be found on the SUP blog.]

Palestinian Recourse to the International Criminal Court: The Time has Come

http://richardfalk.wordpress.com/2014/07/21/palestinian-recourse-to-the-international-criminal-court-the-time-has-come/

Palestinian Recourse to the International Criminal Court: The Time has Come
By Prof. Richard Falk

[Prefatory Note: “Palestine’s Dilemma: To Go or Not to Go to the International Criminal Court” was published on July 13, 2014 on the website of Middle East Eye, a site I strong recommend to all those with an interest in Middle East issues; this post represents a somewhat revised text, but within the framework of the original; the political plausibility of invoking the Inteernational Criminal Court to investigate allegations of criminality directed at Israel increases with each passing day.]

Ever since this latest Israeli major military operation against Gaza started on July 8, there have been frequent suggestions that Israel is guilty of war crimes, and that Palestine should do its best to activate the International Criminal Court (ICC) on its behalf. The evidence overwhelmingly supports basic Palestinian allegations—Israel is guilty either of aggression in violation of the UN Charter or is in flagrant violation of its obligations as the Occupying Power under the Geneva Convention to protect the civilian population of an Occupied People; Israel seems guilty of using excessive and disproportionate force against a defenseless society in the Gaza Strip; and Israel, among an array of other offenses, seems guilty of committing Crimes Against Humanity in the form of imposing an apartheid regime in the West Bank and through the transfer of population to an occupied territory as it has proceeded with its massive settlement project.

Considering this background of apparent Israeli criminality it would seem a no brainer for the Palestinian Authority to seek the help of the ICC in waging its struggle to win over world public opinion to their struggle. After all, the Palestinians are without military or diplomatic capabilities to oppose Israel, and it is on law and global solidarity must rest their hopes for eventually realizing their rights, particularly the right of self-determination and the right of return. Palestinian demonstrators in the West Bank are demanding that their leaders in the Palestinian Authority adhere to the Rome Statute, and become members of the ICC without further delay. It has become part of the message of Palestinian street politics that the Palestinians are being criminally victimized, and that the Palestinian Authority if it wants to retain the slightest shred of respect as representatives of the Palestinian people must join in this understanding of the Palestinian plight and stop ‘playing nice’ with Israeli authorities.

Such reasoning from a Palestinian perspective is reinforced by the May 8th letter sent by 17 respected human rights NGOs to President Mahmoud Abbas urging Palestine to become a member of the ICC, and act to end Israel’s impunity. This was not a grandstanding gesture dreamed up on the irresponsible political margins of liberal Western society. Among the signatories were such human rights stalwarts as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Al Haq, and the International Commission of Jurists, entities known for their temporizing prudence in relation to the powers that be.

Adding further credence to the idea that the ICC option should be explored was the intense opposition by Israel and United States, ominously threatening the PA with dire consequences if it tried to join the ICC, much less to seek justice through its activating its investigative procedures. The American ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, herself long ago prominent as a human rights advocate, revealed Washington’s nervous hand when she confessed that the ICC “is something that really poses a profound threat to Israel.” I am not sure that Power would like to live with the idea that because Israel is so vulnerable to mounting a legal challenge that its impunity must be upheld whatever the embarrassment to Washington of doing so. France and Germany have been more circumspect, saying absurdly that recourse to the ICC by Palestine should be avoided because it would disrupt ‘the final status negotiations,’ as if this pseudo-diplomacy was ever of any of value, a chimera if there ever was one, in the elusive quest for a just peace.

In a better world, the PA would not hesitate to invoke the authority of the ICC, but in the world as it is, the decision is not so simple. To begin with, is the question of access, which is limited to states. Back in 2009, the PA tried to adhere to the Rome Statute, which is the treaty governing the ICC, and was rebuffed by the prosecutor who turned the issue over to the Security Council, claiming a lack of authority to determined whether the PA represented a ‘state.’ Subsequently, on November 29th the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly recognized Palestine as ‘a nonmember observer state.’ Luis Moreno–Ocampo who had acted in 2009 for the ICC, and now speaking as the former prosecutor, asserted that in his opinion Palestine would now in view of the General Assembly action qualify as a state enjoying the option of becoming an ICC member. Normally, ICC jurisdiction is limited to crimes committed after the state becomes a member, but there is a provision that enables a declaration to be made accepting jurisdiction for crimes committed at any date in its territory so long as it is after the ICC itself was established in 2002.

Is this enough? Israel has never become a party to the Rome Statute setting up the ICC, and would certainly refuse to cooperate with a prosecutor who sought to investigate war crimes charges with the possible intention of prosecution. In this regard, recourse to ICC might appear to be futile as even if arrest warrants were to be issued by the court, as was done in relation to Qaddafi and his son in 2011, there would be no prospect that the accused Israeli political and military figures would be handed over, and without the presence of such defendants in the court at The Hague, a criminal trial cannot go forward. This illustrates a basic problem with the enforcement of international criminal law. It has been effective only against the losers in wars fought against the interests of the West and, to some extent, against those whose crimes are in countries located in sub-Saharan Africa. This biased form of international criminal law implementation has been the pattern since the first major effort was made after World War II at Nuremberg and Tokyo. Surviving German and Japanese leaders were prosecuted for their crimes while exempting the winners, despite Allied responsibility for the systematic bombing of civilian populations by way of strategic bombing and the American responsibility for dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Unfortunately, up to this time the ICC has not been able to get rid of this legacy of ‘victors’ justice,’ which has harmed its credibility and reputation. All ICC cases so far have involved accused from sub-Saharan African countries. The refusal of the ICC to investigate allegations of war crimes of the aggressors in relation the Iraq War of 2003 is a dramatic confirmation that leading states, especially the United States, possess a geopolitical veto over what the ICC can do. The ICC failure to investigate the crimes of Bush and Blair, as well as their entourage of complicit top officials, vividly shows the operations of double standards. Perhaps, the climate of opinion has evolved to the point where there would be an impulse to investigate the charges against Israel even if procedural obstacles preventing the case from being carried to completion. Any serious attempt to investigate the criminal accountability of Israeli political and military leaders would add legitimacy to the Palestinian struggle, and might have a positive spillover effect on the global solidarity movement and the intensifying BDS campaign.

Yet there are other roadblocks. First of all, the PA would definitely have to be prepared to deal with the wrath of Israel, undoubtedly supported by the United States and more blandly by several European countries. The push back could go in either of two directions: Israel formally annexing most or all of the West Bank, which it seems determined to do in any event, or more likely in the short run, withholding the transfer of funds needed by the PA to support its governmental operations. The U.S. Congress would be certain to follow the lead of Tel Aviv even if the Obama presidency might be more inclined to limit its opposition to a diplomatic slap on the PA wrist as it did recently in reacting to the June formation of the interim unity government, an important step toward reconciling Fatah and Hamas, and overcoming the fragmentation that has hampered Palestinian representation in international venues in recent years.

A second potential obstacle concerns the jurisdictional authority of the ICC, which extends to all war crimes committed on the territory of a treaty member, which means that leaders of Hamas would also likely be investigated and indicted for their reliance on indiscriminate rockets aimed in the direction of Israeli civilian targets.There is even speculation that given the politics of the ICC such that crimes alleged against Hamas might be exclusively pursued.

If we assume that these obstacles have been considered, and Palestine still wants to go ahead with efforts to activate the investigation of war crimes in Gaza, but also in the rest of occupied Palestine, what then? And assume further, that the ICC reacts responsibly, and gives the bulk of its attention to the allegations directed against Israel, the political actor that controls most aspects of the relationship. There are several major crimes against humanity enumerated in Articles 5-9 of the Rome Statute for which there exists abundant evidence as to make indictment and conviction of Israeli leaders all but inevitable if Palestine uses its privilege to activate an investigation and somehow is able to produce the defendants to face trial: reliance on excessive force, imposing an apartheid regime, collective punishment, population transfers in relations to settlements, maintenance of the separation wall in Palestine.

The underlying criminality of the recent aggression associated with Protective Edge (Israel’s name for its 2014 attack on Gaza) cannot be investigated at this point by the ICC, and this seriously limits its authority. It was only in 2010 that an amendment was adopted by the required 2/3 majority of the 122 treaty members on an agreed definition of aggression, but it will not become operative until 2017. In this respect, there is a big hole in the coverage of war crimes currently under the authority of the ICC.

Despite all these problems, recourse to the ICC remains a valuable trump card in the PA thin deck, and playing it might begin to change the balance of forces bearing on the conflict that has for decades now denied the Palestinian people their basic rights under international law. If this should happen, it would also be a great challenge to and opportunity for the ICC finally to override the geopolitical veto that has so far kept criminal accountability within the tight circle of ‘victors’ justice’ and hence only accorded the peoples of the world a very power-laden and biased experience of justice.

Israel bans radio advert listing names of children killed in Gaza

Israel bans radio advert listing names of children killed in Gaza

Human rights group B’Tselem will petition Israel’s supreme court after advert was deemed to be ‘politically controversial’
in Jerusale
The Guardian,
Aid agencies said on Wednesday that a child had been killed in Gaza on average every hour for the preceding two days. Photograph: Khalil Hamra/AP

The Israeli Broadcasting Authority has banned a radio advertisement from a human rights organisation which listed the names of some of the scores of children killed in Gaza since the conflict began 17 days ago.

B’Tselem‘s appeal against the decision was rejected on Wednesday. It intends to petition Israel‘s supreme court on Sunday in an effort to get the ban overturned.

The IBA said the ad’s content was “politically controversial”. The broadcast refers to child deaths in Gaza and reads out some of the victims’ names.

In its appeal, B’Tselem demanded to know what was controversial about the item. “Is it controversial that the children [aren’t] alive? That they’re children? That those are their names? These are facts that we wish to bring to the public’s knowledge.”

In a statement, the human rights group said: “So far more than 600 people have been killed in bombings in Gaza, more than 150 of them children. But apart from a brief report on the number of fatalities, the Israeli media refrains from covering them.” By Thursday morning, the death toll in Gaza had exceeded 700.

B’Tselem went on: “IBA says broadcasting the children’s names is politically controversial. But refusing to do so is in itself a far-reaching statement – it says the huge price being paid by civilians in Gaza, many of them children, must be censored.”

Aid agencies said on Wednesday that a child had been killed in Gaza on average every hour for the preceding two days, and more than 70,000 children had been forced to flee their homes. There has also been a spike in the number of premature births.

“The shocking number of children being killed, injured, or displaced in Gaza demands an unequivocal international response to stop the bloodshed,” Save the Children said. “Entire families are being wiped out in seconds as a result of the targeting of homes.”

Dr Yousif al Swaiti, director of al-Awda hospital, said: “We have witnessed many premature births as a result of the fear and psychological disorders caused by the military offensive. The number of cases of premature births per day has doubled, compared to the average daily rate before the escalation.”

Eliminating the Palestinians as a political entity

http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.604392

Eliminating the Palestinians as a political entity

The government is intent on destroying every political entity in the West Bank and turning the Palestinians into a marginalized, fragmented people.

By Yitzhak Laor | 05:28 11.07.14 | 1

Israel’s policies in the West Bank are turning the Palestinian people, at best, into a fragmented, marginalized people deprived of their rights. Photo by AFP
In the midst of events, with all the TV commotion enveloping the current crisis, one tends to forget the crux of the matter, the continuous chain linking it to previous steps – the foiling of negotiations with the Palestinians, refusal to release prisoners as agreed upon, incitement against their unity government and the expansion of settlements.

All of these are part of this right-wing government’s plan to destroy any political entity in the occupied territories, turning the Palestinian people, at best, into a fragmented, marginalized people deprived of their rights.

The conflict is costing little Jewish blood but much Arab blood. In any event, in the absence of significant opposition, Israel is intent on inheriting it all – as few Palestinians as possible, with maximal destruction, despair, poverty and real estate.

The Oslo Accords, with their implicit assent to the settlements, were signed by Israel after 25 years of occupation to the backdrop of the collapse of the Soviet Union, which temporarily left the United States as the sole power in the region. Now, with the gradual disengagement of Washington, the right-wing government and its satellites are planning to rescind not only the Oslo Accords, but to abolish any political entity in Palestine.

This is the strategy carried out by the IDF in its “inter-war campaign.” It calls for a crisis from time to time, a Palestinian yearning for freedom, a few Israeli deaths with some grieving and much unity, with a drive to further break the Palestinians, in the name of deterrence or the Zionist vision. And what if Jihadists arise there on the ruins of the popular resistance movements? Very good! This will only further serve our territorial greed.

The blood is always the blood of innocents. The objective is always to maximize the opportunities for expansion with no internal dissent.

That is how the current crisis began – two youths and a young man were abducted in the occupied territories by terrorists, who come from the occupied nation. These facts were known from the outset, and apparently there was no reason for us to “unite as one nation, regardless of left or right.” We don’t go into around-the-clock televised mode when Israeli hikers disappear in Chile. We don’t gather around in a national grief session when a whole family is wiped out in a traffic accident on the Arava road. Only when it comes to the occupation – in which case a brutal murder is much more effective than a land mine – do we turn into a proud and tearful nation.

The State of Israel is the best military mobilizing officer in the democratic world. Every such crisis is exploited in order to turn the masses into a furious mob, while expanding destruction in the territories. At the head of the mob always appears the fascist leader of the moment, prepared to stoke the flames. This is how we got Ariel Sharon after his visit to the Temple Mount. Avigdor Lieberman acquired his national stature during the bloodbath of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza in December 2008. Now, he and others are vying for the next achievement in the incitement campaign against Israel’s Arab citizens.

It’s a pity that of all times, it is during a crisis, such as during the search for the abducted teens, that the Israeli left stutters. Some among them obediently stand to attention, not comprehending what is actually transpiring in the occupied territories. Some of them actually explained that they would temporarily join the herd, emerging strengthened, since the herd will have sympathized with them. But the herd always smells blood, or reeks of it. Even when it is bloodied itself it will not reverse direction since there is no external force – an organized left that retains memories of past circumstances – that will hit again and again, saying: “Remember what we said? It’s the occupation!”

Gone are the days of street demonstrations attended by both Arabs and Jews, which ceased with “Cast Lead.” Up until the kidnapping crisis people here were occupied with MK Meir Shitreet’s housekeeper and her hush money. This was – for those who need reminding – during the hunger strike staged by administrative detainees. The silence continued during the search for the bodies, the mass arrests, the breaking into Palestinian homes and the torture.

Benjamin Netanyahu is not lying when he casts blame on the Palestinians. They are still there, and hence, as far as he is concerned, they pose an obstacle to peace. We are in the midst of a colonial story. Not the oppression of a nation but its elimination as a political entity. No opposition agenda can bypass this truth.

Israeli bill aims at divide Palestinians along confessional lines

http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/israeli-knesset-passes-bill-differentiating-christian-palestinians-1948-palestinian-communit

Israeli bill distinguishes Christians from 1948 Palestinians

By: Yazan al-Saadi
Published February 25, 2014
 
A Greek orthodox priest guards a chapel built inside the Orthodox Christian monastery of the Temptation near the West Bank city of Jericho, on February 22, 2014. (Photo: AFP- Thomas Coex)
 
Israel’s legislative branch, known as the Knesset, passed a controversial bill into law that defines 1948 Christians Palestinians as “non-Arabs”, Israeli media reported.
 
The new law – passed on Monday with a vote of 31 in favor and 6 against – for the first time differentiates Christian Palestinians from the rest of the Palestinian community, who had survived the 1947-48 ethnic cleansing by Zionist forces, and remained within the 1948 territories.

“This is a historic law. It’s the first time there is separate representation for Christians,” Likud Beytenu coalition chairman Yariv Levin, who proposed the bill, was quoted by the Israeli press prior to the the vote.

“Soon we’ll expand on this and give [Christians] all the separate representation they deserve,” he added.
Previously, Levin justified the bill as “an important, historic step that could introduce balance to the State of Israel, and connect us [Jews] with the Christians, I am careful not to refer to them as Arabs, because they are not Arabs.”

“The community in 1948 will not remain quiet. This is a major move by the forces of occupation and colonization, and there will be mobilizations just like how we saw the creation and continuation of Land Day protests within 1948 lands. We will see protests in the future.”

“We and the Christians have a lot in common. They’re our natural allies, a counterweight to the Muslims that want to destroy the country from within… We will use an iron hand and demonstrate zero tolerance of Arabs who tend to identify with the terror of the Palestinian state,” he added.

According to reports, the law will enforce a separate representation on the Advisory Committee for Equal Opportunity within the Employment Commission, by extending the number of panel members to ten, adding specific seats for the ultra-Orthodox, Druze, Christian, Circassian populations, and others.
 
‘Palestinian Christians are Arabs’
 
CIA statistics put the Arab Christian population living in Occupied Palestine at around 123,000. These people will be directly affected by the new law.

Arab members of the Knesset unanimously condemned the bill as a “racist” act and a “divide-and-conquer” tactic.

“Colonialists try to separate groups of natives. The prime example of this is South Africa,” MK Hanin Zoabi of the Arab political party, Balad, reportedly said to the media after the vote.

“We are the natives here and we have a clear identity, [we] are Palestinians, part of the Arab nation, and your law will fail. Part of the Zionist project is to oppress our identity, but I have the right to speak in the name of Palestinians.”

Khalid Musmar, an official for the Palestinian National Council, told Al-Akhbar,“The Palestinian Christian community will rebuke this before anyone else. The Palestinian Christians are Arab despite the wishes of anyone in the Knesset or otherwise.”

“They have always said they were Arabs and have fought side-by-side with their Muslim brethren, from the times of the Crusades to today. The Palestinian community, in all it’s colors and creeds, is a unified Arab community confronting occupation. They are struggling for a Palestinian nation with Jerusalem as it’s capital. This will not change by the acts of Knesset or anyone else,” the official said.

“The community in 1948 will not remain quiet. This is a major move by the forces of occupation and colonization, and there will be mobilizations just like how we saw the creation and continuation of Land Day protests within 1948 lands. We will see protests in the future.”
 
“If [Israel] wants to do right to the Palestinians in general and Christians in particular,” said Jumana, from the Galilee region of northern occupied Palestine, during a separate conversation with Al-Akhbar, “let them approve the return of the refugees and internally displaced Palestinians from the two Christian villages of Ekrith and Birem, who already have a court ruling allowing them to return to their destroyed villages.”

She added that this law comes at a time when “the government is attempting to make the drafting to the Israeli Army obligatory to Palestinian Christians, [and] this is completely not acceptable, since this is their way of dividing the Palestinian minority and fragmenting the community as a whole.”

In a similar vein, a 1948 Palestinian Christian from Nazareth, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, told Al-Akhbar, “I think [Levin’s comments] are outrageous and untrue. It is part of Israel’s broader attempt to segment and fragmentize the Palestinian community from one another inside Israel. Other examples of this are with the Bedouins and the Druze, and this is part of [Israel’s] attempt to break up what is a cohesive community. It won’t work.”

“I see myself as an Arab and so do other Palestinian Christians. [Levin’s] logic only reaffirms the agenda to separate and break-up minorities within minorities,” she added.

“There should be more representation of Palestinians in Israel in general. Christian Palestinians are just as repressed as Muslims.”

The most moral army in the world

http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.577295

The most moral army in the world

The Israel Defense Forces believes brute strength is the only way to act, yet Israelis refuse to see what Amnesty International and others tell them.

By Gideon Levy |  02.03.14

The most moral army in the world fired an anti-tank missile at the house in which a wanted young Palestinian was hiding. The most moral army in the world ran a bulldozer over the top of the house and destroyed it.

The most moral army in the world used dogs to search the ruins. The most moral army in the world used a drill it calls a “pressure cooker” – a rather disgusting drill it invented for itself.

It happened last Thursday, at Bir Zeit in the West Bank. The soldiers of the most moral army arrived early in the morning for another “arrest operation,” like others that happen every night and which you rarely hear anything about.

It involves sowing fear in villages in the middle of the night, invading houses whose inhabitants – including the children – are sleeping soundly, brutal searches and destruction. Sometimes, like last Thursday, it also ends in death.

All this is happening at a time when terror operations are very limited.

Sometimes these operations are conducted for a true operational need, but also sometimes as a training routine in order to preserve the readiness of the forces and a demonstration of sovereign power toward the residents.

The Israel Defense Forces has also created a heartwarming name for all this: the “Tool of Disruption” – storming a civilian community for the purpose of causing panic and fear, and to disrupt its life – as was once exposed in the military court and by the Yesh Din human rights organization.

In Bir Zeit, it was for three young men who were members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, an organization that is not especially active.

And even as the military correspondents rushed to say, as is their wont, that the IDF claimed the three “had the intention to carry out a terror attack in the near future” – yes, the most moral army in the world is also an army that reads intentions – it is doubtful if they were worthy of death.

But the IDF killed Muataz Washaha, who refused to surrender, claiming he had a rifle – an assassination in the third watch without a ticking bomb, and Israel also accepted this story with a yawn.

That is how the most moral army in the world acts, and how it believes it must act. There is no other way to arrest a young man except for killing him with an anti-tank missile and destroying his family’s home.

As luck would have it, that very same day a professional opinion was released on the true morality of the IDF: Amnesty International published a report, called Trigger Happy, in which it determined that IDF soldiers demonstrate gross contempt for human life, expressed in the killing of dozens of Palestinian citizens, including children. The organization states that this is intentional killing that is possibly even a war crime.

Of course, this did not succeed in breaking the enthusiastic belief of Israelis in the exalted morality of their army. “Go to Syria” is their frequent riposte.

The Foreign Ministry and the IDF explained that Amnesty International suffers a “complete lack of understanding of the operational challenges.”

And in truth, what does Amnesty understand? At the end of last week, the military regime that rules in Myanmar (Burma) halted the activities of the Médecins Sans Frontières organization within its borders, for similar reasons. If it could, Israel would also stop the work of Amnesty and similar groups.

But a respectable citizen does not need Amnesty International to know. Only two days ago, the IDF killed a woman on the Gaza border at Khan Yunis, after conducting another protocol against her – the “Distancing Protocol.” The killing of demonstrators near the fence that chokes the Gaza Strip is routine – what’s to report? It’s just like the firing on fishermen.

In the West Bank, too, protesters, stone throwers, children and young people are shot and killed.

That is how the child Wajih al-Ramahi was shot in Jalazun, about two months ago. Two weeks ago, B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories published its autopsy conclusions: Ramahi was shot in the back, from a range of 200 meters.

This was also the fate of the youth Samir Awad from Budrus, and of dozens of others killed who did not endanger the lives of anyone and were shot to death by a frighteningly easy trigger finger, dying for no purpose.

No one was put on trial for these acts of killing. With Awad, who was shot in the back in an ambush and whose death was documented at the time, the case has been gathering dust for over a year with the military prosecutor.

And all this from the most moral army in the world. Just try to appeal it. Just try to claim that the IDF is the second most moral army in the world – let’s say, after the army of Luxembourg.

‘Ready to play Arabs till the day I die’


http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4350008,00.html

‘Ready to play Arabs till the day I die’


In Kathryn Bigelow’s ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ Israeli actor Yoav Levi steps into shoes of senior al-Qaeda terrorist Abu Faraj al-Libbi. ‘A bin Laden can emerge from the Hilltop Youth as well,’ he says. ‘Extremism is a universal language’


Amir Bogen

Published: 03.09.13, 07:55 Israel Culture

The role Bigelow and Boal wanted Levi to play was Abu Faraj al-Libbi, better known as “al-Qaeda’s No. 3.” In the film he is mentioned as a key figure in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, and during the search he is caught by the American security forces and interrogated.

Spot the differences: Yoav Levi and Abu Faraj al-Libbi (Photo: Reuters)

Levi, an esteemed theater, television and film actor is not insulted: “These are shepherds, cavemen, and I really wasn’t surprised. I am totally a caveman,” he jokes.
 
“One has to be realistic – I’ll never be cast as Brad Pitt’s brother. One has to be able to play a variety of characters, but here there was a match. Indeed, as an Israeli actor I would like to break the glass ceiling of terrorist roles, but I’m ready to play Arabs in Hollywood from now till the day I die – terrorists and non-terrorists, all the types of Arabs in the world. I can play other characters too, but that’s what I am, a type of Arab-Jew.”

Levi graduated from an elite IDF unit, and he says that his military background – which was the richest among the actors on the set – presented a new layer to his portrayal of Abu Faraj.
 
“It’s kind of paradoxical. I have shot and killed people like him, and suddenly I find myself playing such a guy,” he says. “As a soldier, when you look at them through viewfinders, you don’t see human beings, you see targets. A piece of meat you must hit. And when it happens, you’re satisfied.
 
“Suddenly, you’re playing the enemy, you see yourself with that beard, and you say to yourself that you could have been born in a poor neighborhood in Baghdad, and you don’t know what you would have done in their place.”

“In general, I think that people are not attentive enough to their surroundings. Instead of understanding the other side, we are stuck in a circle of an infinite reaction. There must be another way. It’s not that Hamas are Disney characters, but as a start we can stop controlling other people.
 
“In our eyes, a million and a half Palestinians are not human beings – like a million and a half potatoes. We suppress. Extremism is a universal language. A bin Laden can emerge from the Hilltop Youth as well. Both we and the Arabs must pay attention to them.”

A less pleasant part in his relationship with Clarke was the torture scene, in which Levi was hung upside down with a towel on his face, and Clarke (who plays a CIA investigator) poured a large container of water all over him – a form of torture known as “waterboarding.”
 
“I was terrified about this scene,” says Levi. “I felt the water on my face and I had never been so afraid in my whole life. It’s torture from hell. You’re not really drowning, but you feel like you’re suffocating, and it won’t stop. It was difficult; I thought I was going to die. But I kept going, and then I was beaten up in the interrogation.
 
“I didn’t feel that the torture scene had any special value on the set, but it’s possible that as an Israeli I was insensitive to it. It may have seemed like a serious matter to the Europeans and Americans on the team. I think that John McCain and the other critics are pretending to be naïve. The quotes are not the figment of Bigelow and Boal’s wild imagination. They are based on CIA agents’ testimonies. The politicians should back the agents. Sometimes you must get your hands dirty to protect us.
 
“And besides, when you choose to be a radical Islamist, take into account that one day they’ll capture you and beat the hell out of you and maybe even electrocute you. I have no problem with that. I don’t understand what the outrage is all about.”
..
“It’s a bad thing when government officials in a democratic country lash out at those expressing legitimate criticism. It’s very dangerous. A democracy must also fund self criticism. If we keep nurturing the national pride, where will it take us as a society?”

“I’m pleased about the elections – after many years of depression, in which I couldn’t understand people in Israel. I asked myself why can’t they understand that it’s bad and difficult here, and still elect a rightist-haredi government systematically. Are these the smart Jews?
 
“I’m happy because there is some hope. My faith in this place, in this nation, has been restored. I love it and I feel proud, because there was a strong statement that seeks a normal life without all the bullshit. And I’m glad that Bibi got a little blow. He’s still in control but is no longer sitting on the throne.”

The story of the fly

 

The story of the fly

Imagine that you sit in a cafe and a fly drops into your cup. What will you do ?


1 – You are an Englishman: You throw everything – cup and contents – and without a word but showing your displeasure, you leave the cafe.
2 – You are an American: You fish the fly out and drink the coffee.
3 – You are a Chinese: You eat the fly and throw the coffee.
4 – You are a starving Palestinian: You eat the fly and drink the coffee.
5 – You are an Israeli:

(a) You sell the coffee to the American and the fly to the Chinese
(b) You shout that your security is threatened

(c) You accuse the Palestinian to have deliberately put the fly in your coffee
(d) You claim that the Syrians and the Iranians encourage attacks with prohibited swarms of insects;
(e) You link the attack on your coffee to Palestinian terror, human rights violations, the Holocaust, the Diaspora, the Exodus from Egypt and to discrimination against the Arch of Noah.
(f) You order Arafat to immediately prohibit flies from taking off and landing in coffee cups
(g) You reoccupy the West Bank and Gaza, you raze buildings by bulldozer, you cut electricity and water, you humiliate and terrorize civilians, you kill or mutilate anybody who is on your way.
(h) You impose additional military aid on the American government.
(i) You demand from the United States a $50 billion loan, payable over hundred years without interest, in order to buy another cup of coffee.
(j) You get the owner of the coffee-house to promise you free coffee for the rest of your life as compensation.

Israel’s Interior Minister: All African migrants should be jailed

http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/israel-s-interior-minister-all-african-migrants-should-be-jailed-1.430800

Israel’s Interior Minister: All African migrants should be jailed

Eli Yishai tells Army Radio that most African migrants are involved in crime and should be imprisoned, given grants to depart.
By Haaretz | May.16, 2012 | 10:35 AM | 13

Israel’s Interior Minister Eli Yishai said on Wednesday that most of the migrants from Africa are engaged in criminal actions and should be placed in detention facilities. Yishai said that Israel is willing to provide financial assistance for migrants to leave.

In an interview with Army Radio, Yishai differentiated between refugees and asylum seekers, saying that “whoever is considered a refugee, and there are few, can stay. One cannot forsake the security of Israelis.”

Yishai’s comments came in the wake of increased reports of criminal activity among the migrant and refugee community. On Tuesday, four Eritrean asylum seekers were arrested in Tel Aviv in connection with the rape of a 19-year-old woman.

A police patrol sighted a suspicious gathering near the old central bus station in the Neveh Sha’anan neighborhood of Tel Aviv. As they approached they saw several men surrounding a woman who was crying for help, and arrested four suspects. The young woman was taken to the hospital, and later told the investigators that as she was heading home she was attacked by the group of Eritrean refugees. She said she was robbed, and then raped by at least one of them.

Also this week, the Foreign Ministry announced that the international law poses no barrier to deporting all 700 South Sudanese who live in Israel, but the government should examine the situation of every South Sudanese asylum seeker to ascertain whether their lives would be at risk if they were sent back.

The brief, which has been sent to several government agencies in the past few days, will form the basis of the government’s June 3 response to the District Court for Administrative Matters in Jerusalem on whether Israel can lift the collective protection of asylum seekers from South Sudan.