Israel bans novel on Palestinian-Jewish romance, seen as threat to ‘national-ethnic identity’

Haaretz reports: Israel’s Education Ministry has disqualified a novel that describes a love story between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man from use by high schools around the country. The move comes even though the official responsible for literature instruction in secular state schools recommended the book for use in advanced literature classes, as did a professional committee of academics and educators, at the request of a number of teachers.

Among the reasons stated for the disqualification of Dorit Rabinyan’s “Gader Haya” (literally “Hedgerow,” but known in English as “Borderlife”) is the need to maintain what was referred to as “the identity and the heritage of students in every sector,” and the belief that “intimate relations between Jews and non-Jews threatens the separate identity.” The Education Ministry also expressed concern that “young people of adolescent age don’t have the systemic view that includes considerations involving maintaining the national-ethnic identity of the people and the significance of miscegenation.”

The book, published in Hebrew by Am Oved about a year and a half ago, tells the story of Liat, an Israeli translator, and Hilmi, a Palestinian artist, who meet and fall in love in New York, until they part ways for her to return to Tel Aviv and he to the West Bank city of Ramallah. The book was among this year’s winners of the Bernstein Prize for young writers.

A source familiar with the ministry’s approach to the book said that in recent months a large number of literature teachers asked that “Borderlife” be included in advanced literature classes. After consideration of the request, a professional committee headed by Prof. Rafi Weichert from the University of Haifa approved the request. The committee included academics, Education Ministry representatives and veteran teachers. The panel’s role is to advise the ministry on various educational issues, including approval of curriculum.

According to the source, members of the professional committee, as well as the person in charge of literature studies, “thought that the book is appropriate for students in the upper grades of high schools – both from an artistic and literary standpoint and regarding the topic it raises. Another thing to remember is that the number of students who study advanced literature classes is anyhow low, and the choice of books is very wide.”

Another source in the Education Ministry said that the process took a number of weeks, and that “it’s hard to believe that we reached a stage where there’s a need to apologize for wanting to include a new and excellent book into the curriculum.” [Continue reading…]

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In Gaza’s Khuzaa caravans, families fear another winter

Al Jazeera reports: As cold, late-autumn rain poured down on the Gaza Strip last month, Yousef al-Najjar watched as his makeshift home sunk deeper into the mud, its thin laminate floors cracking.

Intended as a temporary solution for residents made homeless by Israel’s 2014 war on Gaza, the static caravans of Khuzaa – a cluster of around 70 tin-sheet homes on the town’s outskirts, paid for by donor nations such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates – are scarcely equipped for another winter. Najjar fears that cold temperatures and increased rainfall will make the homes unliveable.

“We live in a horrible situation,” Najjar, a 47-year-old father of three, told Al Jazeera. “This area of Khuzaa is lower than the rest. When it rains, the water settles here.”

“The [caravans] aren’t insulated, and over time, they have shifted,” he added. “The outside air comes in, then it gets hotter or colder depending on the season. We are provided heaters, but they aren’t effective. Last year, we tried to build fires inside the caravan, but we stopped. We know it’s not safe. What if we fell asleep and it caught fire?” [Continue reading…]

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Black-Palestinian Solidarity: When I see them I see us

‘Black-Palestinian Solidarity’ draws parallels between two…
Palestinian-American poet Remi Kanazi and Mari Morales-Williams of the Black Youth Project 100 interviewed on MSNBC.

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Many Jews refuse to see what is patently obvious: Israel isn’t Jewish or democratic

Rogel Alpher writes: As of November 2015, Israel is not a Jewish state. I don’t understand how there can be any argument over this statement. In the areas under Israel’s control, which include of course East Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria [the West Bank], Israel is a binational state, because two nations inhabit it. This is a simple fact. True, official Israeli sovereignty does not extend over Judea and Samaria, but Judea and Samaria are under Israeli occupation.

If the term occupation irritates you, for purposes of discussion we can replace it with “control” – freedom of action by the Israel Defense Forces throughout Judea and Samaria is the proof of Israeli control over these areas.

Not only is Israel for all intents and purposes a binational state, it is also for all intents and purposes an apartheid state, because it deprives the Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria of their basic rights. Jewish Israeli citizens live in complete blindness. They repress the simple fact that Israel is a binational state imposing an apartheid regime over the Palestinian people living in areas under its control. They continue to think of it as a Jewish and democratic state.

They are not the only ones to repress facts. Many Jews throughout the world do the same. They continue to treat Israel as the Jewish state, that is, their state. Most Jewish citizens of Israel, like most Jews in the Diaspora, deny the fact that Israeli control in the territories has extinguished Zionism. The goal of Zionism was to ensure the existence of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel. However, Israel does not exist as a Jewish state, but rather as a binational state. And it is not democratic, because, as noted, an apartheid regime exists in it.

I apologize that this article is written in language that seems intended for people with comprehension difficulties. But we are dealing here with an attempt to explain simple facts to people who are blind to them.

This attempt is what social media posts call “provocation.” It isn’t. There is nothing provocative about it. The truth is that it is banal. Stating simple, obvious facts that everyone can see is a banal act. The only way to preserve Israeli control over Judea and Samaria and simultaneously maintain Israel’s standing as a Jewish and democratic country is to make the Palestinians disappear, to cause them to evaporate. If there are no Palestinians in Judea and Samaria, Israel will indeed be Jewish and democratic. But there are Palestinians in Judea and Samaria. They are not going to evaporate. That is also a simple fact.

And the Jews of Israel and the world are in denial of that fact, too. The attempt to have them face this fact is also called “provocation.” And thus, to the Jews of Israel and the world, reality itself is a kind of provocation. When life is an illusion, reality is a provocation. [Continue reading…]

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Israeli army unit storms hospital and kills Palestinian

Al Jazeera reports: An elite Israeli military force that operates undercover stormed the al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron and shot dead a 27-year-old Palestinian, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said.

Abdullah al-Shalaldeh was killed by five rounds fired early Thursday after 21 members of the elite unit – known as Mustaarabin – barged into the hospital room of his cousin, Azzam al-Shalaldeh, a ministry statement said.

The commandos wanted to question Azzam – who required surgery after earlier being shot by Israeli security forces – and his cousin tried to prevent them from doing so when the Israelis opened fire. [Continue reading…]

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Hillary Clinton is an enemy of Israel

Gideon Levy writes: Hillary Clinton’s election as U.S. president would ensure Israel’s continued decline and degeneration. And so she is not a friend, but an enemy. She must not be allowed to deceive and present herself as a friend of Israel, as she tried so ingratiatingly to do in an article published in The Forward (“How I would reaffirm unbreakable bond with Israel — and Benjamin Netanyahu”) last week. The tear ducts were targeted as she wrote of how she assisted Magen David Adom in being accepted to the International Red Cross. But she and those like her – false friends of Israel – have been one of the curses on this country for years. Because of them, Israel can continue to act as wildly as it likes, thumbing its nose at the world and paying no price. Because of them, it can destroy itself unhindered.

Whether Clinton believes what she wrote or simply wanted once again to sell her soul for a fistful of dollars from Haim Saban and other Jewish donors, the result is extremely embarrassing. A love letter to Israel, the likes of which no U.S. statesman would ever write to another country. Americans believe “Israel is more than a country – it’s a dream,” she states. Most of the world calls it a nightmare, yet Clinton says a dream. What dream exactly? The dream of tyrannical control over another people? Racism? Nationalism? The killing of women and children in Gaza?

What happened to the Hillary Rodham Clinton who in her youth fought for civil rights and against the Vietnam War, and as a lawyer specialized in children’s rights? Did she not hear what her dream state is doing to Palestinian children? What happened to the glorious career woman who was considered liberal and justice-seeking on her way up? Did she forget it all? Does money buy everything? Or, when it comes to Israel, do all principles suddenly change?

Did the former secretary of state not hear about the Israeli occupation? After all, she didn’t mention it once in her article. This is not the time or place to anger Saban. To Clinton, Israel is a “thriving democracy” and to hell with the violent and totalitarian regime in its backyard. And so Clinton is also an enemy of peace and justice. She doesn’t believe there has been the slightest damage to Palestinian rights. Israelis being stabbed in Jerusalem “appalls” Clinton. Palestinians being unjustifiably shot to death, meanwhile, fails to register with her. They will love her for that on Fifth Avenue. Religious figures who encourage killing are, of course, only Muslim; only Israeli security must be vouchsafed. The synagogues of Manhattan will love that, too. [Continue reading…]

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Refugees helping refugees: How a Palestinian camp in Lebanon is welcoming Syrians

By Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, UCL

Established in 1955, northern Lebanon’s Baddawi refugee camp is home to between 25,000 and 40,000 “established” Palestinian refugees. Like other Palestinian camps across Lebanon, it has long been violent and lawless. This summer, I conducted fieldwork there.

Such camps are outside Lebanese jurisdiction, and have commonly been referred to as “islands of insecurity”. Nonetheless, the established residents of Baddawi camp have offered protection and assistance to tens of thousands of new arrivals from Syria since 2011.

These recent arrivals include Syrian nationals who have fled violence and persecution in their country, but also displaced Syrian-Palestinians and Iraqis. While they are new to Lebanon and Jordan when compared with “established” refugee communities, refugees from Syria are now officially categorised as “protracted” refugees. And for many hundreds of thousands of Palestinian and Iraqi refugees, this is the second, third or fourth time that they have been displaced by conflict.

Baddawi is a stark reminder of the urgent reality of this crisis. We’ve been saturated with stories and images about the refugee crisis (really a protection crisis) in Europe – and yet the vast majority of refugees from Syria are still hosted by Syria’s neighbouring countries. At the end of August 2015, there were 1,114,000 in Lebanon, 630,000 in Jordan and 1,939,000 in Turkey.

[Read more…]

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Lynch mob: Majority of Jewish Israelis want terror suspects killed on the spot even if they no longer pose a threat

972mag.org reports: Over half of Jewish Israelis (53 percent) believe that a Palestinian suspected of carrying out a terrorist attack “should be killed on the spot, even if he has been apprehended and no longer poses a threat,” a new survey shows.

The poll, conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute at the end of October, quizzed Jewish Israelis and Palestinian citizens of Israel on their attitudes toward the current wave of violence sweeping the country.

Respondents were questioned on a range of topics, including their attitudes to punishing perpetrators of terrorist attacks; their level of anxiety over the current situation; and possible underlying causes for the present escalation. [Continue reading…]

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Israel’s descent into jingoistic ‘orgies of feeling’

Neve Gordon writes:  I first understood that something had changed when I received a message to one of my WhatsApp groups saying “Gordon’s girlfriend.” This was followed by the snuff video of police officers shooting Asraa Zidan Tawfik Abed, a 30-year-old Palestinian mother from Nazareth. In the video, Asraa is surrounded by Israeli soldiers who are all aiming automatic rifles at her while she sobs and cries out. She clearly poses no threat whatsoever to those around her, and yet suddenly a police officer nonchalantly walks toward her, aims, and shoots, three times. Asraa falls to the ground, while someone in the crowd shouts, “Daughter of a whore!”

The video went viral, and, like so many Jewish Israeli viewers, the person who sent it to my WhatsApp group obviously found the violence amusing. I watched the disturbing footage several times before answering, “This is what woman hunting looks like.”

Two weeks later, an Israeli state prosecutor admitted that Asraa had had no intention of stabbing anyone, but he also added that the policeman who had gunned her down would not be charged. The message to the security forces was unequivocal: Shoot, no questions asked.

The snuff video of Fadi Alon from Jerusalem was even more horrific, and not only because Fadi was murdered by a police officer as he was trying to flee an angry mob, while Asraa was only wounded, but because the mob surrounding Fadi was caught on film taunting the police officers. They are heard demanding an extrajudicial execution while accusing the security forces of being spineless. Watching the police succumb to the mob, I understood for the first time what it must have meant to be in the Roman Colosseum in the midst of the madding crowd.

And, yet, the current situation in Israel is very different. Unlike ancient Rome, in Israel events are framed by a melodramatic political script that thrives on what Elisabeth Anker, following Nietzsche, calls orgies of feeling. [Continue reading…]

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Israeli border officer threatens Palestinians: ‘We will gas you all until you die’

Muftah reports: An Israeli border officer threatened to “gas you all until you die,” while speaking to the residents of Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem. While the mentality behind the officer’s threat is nothing new to Palestinians, the candor with which he spoke is.

In a one minute video recorded by a camp resident on Thursday, October 29, the officer used the loud speaker on an Israeli jeep crawling down a street in the camp and announced in Arabic: “People of Aida refugee camp, we are the occupation forces. You throw stones, and we will hit you with gas until you all die. The children, the youth, the old people – you will all die. We won’t leave any of you alive.”

“We have arrested one of you,” the officer continued, referring to a twenty-five-year old Palestinian man who was arrested earlier that day. “He is with us now. We took him from his home, and we will slaughter and kill him while you watch if you keep throwing stones. Go home or we will gas you all until you die. Your families, your children, everyone – we will kill you.” [Continue reading…]

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Jerusalem: Why should things not get worse?

David Shulman writes: These days Jerusalem is a sad and scary place. The city center has largely emptied out. Whether you are Jewish Israeli or Palestinian, there is a sense of lurking danger, random, episodic, entirely unpredictable. Although the number of stabbing incidents has decreased over the last few days, in the street you still sometimes look over your shoulder. People, even in extreme situations, manage to create a veneer of normalcy, easily torn away by the next explosion. But the police report a 2,000 percent increase in the public’s demand for handguns, and the government is easing the process of obtaining one. Once people have guns, they tend to use them.

Fear, also hate, makes for a light finger on the trigger, especially in an atmosphere of rabid nationalism that is deliberately fanned by government spokesmen and the prime minister himself. Army intelligence predicts the current violence will get worse; already, Hamas is said to have directed its forces on the West Bank to carry out suicide bombings. And why should things not get worse? As many of us have been saying for years, this situation is the natural and inevitable result of the Netanyahu world.

When it began some four weeks ago, much of the violence was initially focused on Jerusalem and clearly related to events on the Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary, containing the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque), which the Jews call the Temple Mount—the most sensitive spot in the Middle East and always a flashpoint for potential conflict. For the last several months, before the current wave of violence, there has been a small-scale Intifada in Palestinian neighborhoods in the eastern part of the city; young Palestinians have been battling police and soldiers there night after night. These confrontations escalated out of control in September and October largely because of the perceived threat to the Haram, especially the possibility that groups of religious Jews will be allowed to pray there or even to build some synagogue-like structure. There was also the matter of police raids on the Al-Aqsa mosque, allegedly to search for weapons and explosives.

Palestinian fears that the Zionists intend to harm, perhaps destroy, the Haram go back to the very earliest years of the struggle in Palestine, long before the creation of the state. This anxiety is not entirely baseless. Official Israel, under pressure from abroad, has reaffirmed (via mediation by Jordan) its commitment to the existing arrangements on the Haram, still largely run by the Waqf, the Muslim Endowment Board, with only collective Muslim prayer allowed there. But we have a Jewish extremist fringe, led by crazed and vicious men such as Moshe Feiglin—a convicted criminal, a settler, and also, to our shame, a current member of the Knesset—who are continuously trying to establish some form of permanent Jewish presence on the Temple Mount, including a building and ready access to the Haram by these hyper-nationalist fanatics. [Continue reading…]

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Palestinians ‘have become unreasonably reasonable’

Sam Bahour writes: “Give me liberty, or give me death!” Patrick Henry declared in a speech he made to the Virginia Convention in 1775, at St John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia. Fast forward 240 years, and if Israel and the US were able to pin those words to a Palestinian and decry incitement, they would do so in a heartbeat.

Like “terrorism,” “incitement” is a word that works great in conflict zones because it means everything and nothing at the same time. However, its misuse as a justification to perpetrate blatant human rights violations and maintain an illegal state of affairs that contributes to conflict being fanned, not diffused.

Both Israel and the US are guilty of misusing the claim of incitement in an attempt to justify their punishment of Palestinians.

For Israel to point to Palestinian incitement, which does exist, as the source of the present violence across Israel and Palestine is pathetic, at best. After dispossessing Palestinians numerous times and leaving more than half the population locked out of their homeland and scattered across the region to live a life of misery as refugees; after installing a system of institutionalized and structural discrimination inside Israel against the Palestinian Muslim and Christian citizens of Israel who remained in the country after Israel’s establishment; after placing (and pressing) a boot of military occupation on the necks of Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip for the past 48 years; after expanding an illegal settlement enterprise from 100,000 settlers to 580,000 settlers, all the while pretending to be engaged in bilateral negotiations to resolve the conflict; and while Israeli prime ministers and ministers continually claim that no Palestinian state will ever be allowed to emerge, while also claiming Palestinians are everything from snakes to subhuman, Israel has no right whatsoever to even hint at incitement as being a factor in this outbreak of violence.

For the US, be it Congress or the Administration, to ignore history and the facts on the ground and point to Palestinian incitement in a knee-jerk reaction to the current violence is criminal. [Continue reading…]

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A new generation of Palestinian resistance

Yassmine Saleh writes: Over the past several days, Palestinian youth in the West Bank have been exerting their political power — destroying parts of the Separation Wall surrounding the city of Abu Dis with a large hammer, rallying against the attacks on Jerusalemite Palestinians in the Old City, and clashing with Israeli soldiers at checkpoints.

The current wave of youth protest is not an anomaly in the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli occupation and colonization. Palestinian society is a young society. Youths make up a third of the population, with fully 30 percent of people between the ages of fifteen and twenty-nine. In Jerusalem, 35.2 percent of the population is below the age of fifteen. And young people have been the driving force behind recent uprisings, such as the First Intifada in 1987–93 and the Second Intifada in 2000–05.

The First Intifada was a watershed in the history of resistance to Israeli occupation and featured mass forms of popular resistance. People of all ages and social groups united in that struggle against the occupation.

Neighborhood committees started to watch over the security of every neighborhood. When schools and universities were closed under military orders, teachers in every neighborhood gathered students to continue their classes. Agricultural relief committees, founded in the late 1970s and early 1980s, started writing how-to booklets on home-based agriculture to counter the months and weeklong curfews that the Israeli army sometimes imposed on parts of the West Bank.

“Intifada” would come to English as a synonym for “uprising” in its wake.

The uprising today is taking new forms. [Continue reading…]

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Netanyahu considers move that might divide ‘united’ Jerusalem

The Times of Israel reports: ime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering revoking the permanent residency status of East Jerusalemite Arabs in a measure aimed at halting an ongoing spate of terror attacks, many of which have emanated from Arab neighborhoods of the city.

Netanyahu raised the idea in a security cabinet meeting two weeks ago, according to a Sunday report from Channel 2 news.

The proposal came as the security cabinet passed a slew of measures designed to prevent further Palestinian attacks in the current wave of unrest.

“We need to examine the possibility of canceling their residency. There needs to be a discussion about it,” Netanyahu reportedly said.

The proposal would affect some 80,000 people, according to the report.

The idea was met with surprise by some in the cabinet who saw the move as a step toward dividing Jerusalem through ceding control over Arab neighborhoods. [Continue reading…]

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We are lifelong Zionists. Here’s why we’ve chosen to boycott Israel

Steven Levitsky and Glen Weyl write: The West Bank is increasingly treated as part of Israel, with the green line demarcating the occupied territories erased from many maps. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin declared recently that control over the West Bank is “not a matter of political debate. It is a basic fact of modern Zionism.”

This “basic fact” poses an ethical dilemma for American Jews: Can we continue to embrace a state that permanently denies basic rights to another people? Yet it also poses a problem from a Zionist perspective: Israel has embarked on a path that threatens its very existence.

As happened in the cases of Rhodesia and South Africa, Israel’s permanent subjugation of Palestinians will inevitably isolate it from Western democracies. Not only is European support for Israel waning, but also U.S. public opinion — once seemingly rock solid — has begun to shift as well, especially among millennials. International pariah status is hardly a recipe for Israel’s survival. [Continue reading…]

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