“The Most Moral Army In the World,” IDF Slogan
Last week a video surfaced of an Israeli occupation soldier demonstrating the ethical code of the IDF by lording it over an injured child:
The child was let go thanks to the courage of the Palestinian women, but for the Israeli media it was the solider who was the victim:
In the Israeli media, a soldier trying to arrest a minor is the victim, Leehee Rothschild, +972mag – 30 August
The report in the Israeli daily Haaretz starts with the army’s version and only afterwards describes, briefly, the events as seen by the village residents. […]
The reporter does not mention that those involved were members of the same family, or that Mohammad was already injured, or that Ahed and Nariman were hospitalized after being hit by the soldiers. […]
The reporter from the popular news site, Ynet, inserts Israeli army statements alongside a number of paragraphs quoted from an article in the British Daily Mail on the events. They report that the Daily Mail’s coverage is biased against Israel, despite the fact that they heavily rely on it. The article’s headline, “A girl bites a solder: a violent demonstration in Judea and Samaria,” paints a picture in which the village residents are those who cause the violence while the soldiers are the victims of it. […]
The Haaretz report portrays just another Friday in the West Bank through the frame of the Israeli army spokesman. Ynet communicates to the Israeli public that “we are the victims and everyone else is anti-Semitic.”
And a far-right minister who has previously boasted on Israeli television that she’s happy to be a fascist, regrets that the solider didn’t open fire on the woman and, perhaps, the child as well.
Israeli minister says IDF should have fired on unarmed Palestinian protesters for humiliating a soldier, Allison Deger and Philip Weiss, Mondoweiss – 30 August
Israel’s culture minister Miri Regev says that the unarmed protesters should have been shot.
Regev’s twitter account says she was shocked by the incident:
Our soldiers can’t be sent on missions with tied hands
Regev said she wanted to change the army’s policy on the use of live-fire because of the “humiliation” the soldier endured. […]
“Anyone who tries to harm Israeli civilians and soldiers needs to know his blood is in his head,” Regev continued, using a Hebrew expression to convey that the Palestinians who assaulted the soldier are fair game for shooting.
Any Shame Left?
A Picture of a Headlock That’s Worth a Thousand Words, Anshel Pfeffer, Ha’aretz – 31 August
Whatever these men and their immediate commanders are telling themselves, the true underlying reason more soldiers are covering their faces is shame. They know our politicians have put them in an impossible situation where they can never win. No decent person, no matter his politics, wants to go home for Shabbat and see himself online manhandling children and women. Today’s young soldiers are by now a third generation enforcing an occupation that is eating away at our army and our society. Perhaps their shame will one day motivate them to demand real solutions from the politicians.
The above author may be exhibiting wishful thinking and the Israeli conceit to “shoot-and-cry” (i.e. celebrate their power over another people while indulging in feigned agony). This supposed shame and anguish is long running and parallel to Israel’s ever entrenched and growing brutality in the occupied West Bank. The solider’s father feels no shame, but, rather, pride in his son:
Father of IDF Soldier Attacked by Palestinians Says Proud of Son’s Restraint, Ha’aretz – 30 August
“We’re very proud of what we’ve seen, we’re proud of the restraint he exhibited, because if women would have been hurt it would have ended in a completely different way, without a doubt,” the father, Arnon, told the Army Radio station on Sunday.
Separate and Unequal Policing
License to Kill: Stone-throwing while Palestinian could get you killed, John Brown and Noam Rotem (Translated from Hebrew by Ofer Neiman), +972mag – 24 August
On Friday, July 3, Colonel Yisrael Shomer, commander of the Binyamin Brigade, shot two bullets into the back of 17-year-old Muhammad Ali-Kosba, and another in his head. Shomer claimed the boy was throwing stones at his vehicle.
The political establishment was full of praise for the colonel’s conduct due to the “life threatening” situation, stating that he acted “as was expected of him” in such circumstances. […]
This is one side of the equation. The other side is the impressive restraint which IDF officers and soldiers manage to show when these very stones are being thrown at them by Israeli Jews. […]
There is no other way to explain how just three years ago, when rocks were hurled at the vehicle of the Ephraim Brigade commander, wounding him and his deputy, he showed impressive restraint and did not fire even one shot. Another officer managed to control himself and not kill anyone even after he was brutally attacked and the windshield of his car was smashed by ultra-Orthodox Jews in the heart of Jerusalem’s Mea Shearim neighborhood. Givati Brigade officials praised the officer: “This came close to a lynching, but he showed restraint, and did not use his weapon even though he felt threatened when they hurled rocks at his car.” […]
Another example occurred at a demonstration by thousands of ultra-Orthodox men against the new IDF draft policies, when 10 policemen were injured by stone throwing. Restraint sometimes coincides with the protection of the stone throwers, specifically when the latter are Israeli settlers and the targets are Palestinian. […]
In fact, to the best of our knowledge — and following a comprehensive review — it seems that not a single Israeli Jew has ever been shot by the IDF while throwing stones.
Foot-dragging If You’re Palestinian, Too
Israel’s State Attorney’s Office continues foot-dragging in investigation of killing of Samir ‘Awad, B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories – 10 August
More than two and a half years ago, soldiers killed sixteen-year-old Samir ‘Awad. A year and two months later, his father petitioned the High Court of Justice (HCJ) together with B’Tselem, demanding the Military Advocate General (MAG) reach a decision whether to take action against the soldiers involved or close the case. The State Attorney’s Office continues the foot-dragging in this case, repeatedly ignoring interim court decisions.
In its last decision, the HCJ ordered the state to make a final decision on the case by 3 August 2015. Instead, on the very day of the ordered deadline, the State Attorney’s Office told the HCJ it needed more time to reach a final decision and requested to make an additional submission to the court by 10 September 2015, in which it would provide a progress report. Justice Hanan Melcer granted the motion by the State Attorney’s Office and ordered to schedule a hearing.
This motion by the State Attorney’s Office is another instance of the repeated delays by authorities in handling the Samir ‘Awad investigation, as seen in other cases as well. The delays, which in this case have continued even into the proceedings held in the HCJ petition, show that even the mechanisms ostensibly responsible for monitoring the work of the MAG Corps are party to the policy of lack of enforcement in terms of perpetrators of harm to Palestinians.
Read related blog post: “A Reckless and Negligent Act,” Israel’s Justice System
Little Hope for Justice
Never enough evidence to convict ‘price tag’ attackers, Yossi Gurvitz, +972mag – 21 August
At the end of July, a judge in Be’er Sheva District Court acquitted Aharon Sadigorsky, Nethanel Klarman, and Yehiel Lex over the burning of Mahmoud Arnan’s car in the West Bank village of Al Asja near Hebron. […]
Acquittals happen, but this one is particularly galling. One of the accused was arrested while wearing a ski mask; all three were in a car that did not belong to them; the vehicle contained a plastic bottle containing fuel, stones in a sack, a crowbar, gloves, a can of black spray paint, a bag of nails, and a realistic, plastic replica of an M16 assault rifle. […]
The police had suspects in its sights; it had a car under surveillance; it bugged the car; it knew which car the suspects switched to. And yet, after all this effort and investment, police were still unable to obtain the necessary evidence to secure a conviction. […]
The message for Palestinian victims is quite different: don’t waste your time. If the police couldn’t obtain the evidence in this case — when the suspects were in sight and being tailed — what chance does it have when the attacker is unknown and not under surveillance? What are the chances that the police get a conviction for an assault taking place in a field, or on the outskirts of a village – attacks which lack the show-off element of a slogan (which isn’t the crime but rather its attendant) — but which are much more common, when it doesn’t have the benefit of preemptively positioning bugs and cameras?
What are the chances? Unfortunately, we know the answer: 1.9 percent.
Video: Israelis celebrate child slaughter outside hunger striker’s hospital, The Electronic Intifada – 18 August
This video shows Israeli police and right-wing extremists violently attacking and assaulting Palestinians who had gathered outside the hospital where a Palestinian hunger striker is gravely ill.
Holding Israel Accountable
Latin American diplomats: We can be doing more to pressure Israel, Ben White, +972mag – 24 August
Speaking at a conference in London on Saturday, Ecuador’s Minister of Culture Guillaume Long warned that should there be a repeat of the 2014 war, which he described as a “genocide,” then Israel can expect similar, or even more serious, steps from other Latin American governments.
Israel Takes On BDS
Israel’s Military Intelligence Monitoring Dozens of BDS Groups Around the World, Gili Cohen, Ha’aretz – 18 August
The Military Intelligence Research Division’s Delegitimization Department was established as part of the lessons learned after the Mavi Marmara affair in 2010. As Haaretz revealed in 2011, the department focuses on studying the activities of anti-Israeli groups operating overseas, including some that promote sanctions on Israel. […]
Among the overseas organizations monitored by Military Intelligence are dozens affiliated with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, though groups with the same goals working within Israel are not monitored by the department.
Germany unmoved by Israel’s effort to prevent conductor Barenboim from playing in Iran, Ariel Zilber, Jerusalem Post – 27 August
No one can accuse Israel of lacking a sense of irony. A government that likens artist boycotts of Israel in solidarity with Palestinians to antisemitism now calls on its own national to boycott a concert in Iran:
Germany is supporting Israeli conductor Daniel Barenboim’s efforts to bring the Berlin State Opera (Staatskapelle) to Iran for a special performance. […]
Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev demanded on Wednesday that German Chancellor Angela Merkel cancel the discussions about a performance.
Barenboim, an Argentinian- born Israeli, has earned a reputation in recent years as a harsh critic of government policy in the territories.
Regev, a far-right minister who boasted on Israeli TV that she’s “happy to be a fascist,” needn’t have bothered since Iran’s own crude government has denied Barenboim permission to perform.
Report: Iran Won’t Allow Barenboim to Perform in Tehran, Farshid Motahari, Ha’aretz – 28 August
[Iran’s Ministry of Culture] spokesman Hussein Nushabadi rejected the symbolic gesture with the statement: “Iran does not recognize the Zionist regime (Israel) and will not work together with artists of this regime.”
See related article: Israel Fails Its Own Iran Standard
The Other Palestinians
For New Arab Chair of Knesset Panel, Some Unlikely Partnerships, Judy Maltz, Ha’aretz – 18 August
As the Palestinian leadership in the Occupied Territories remains fractures, the Palestinian community in Israel is paying an increasing role in the nation’s politics, which may come to have strong implications for any future Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. While in the past Palestinian citizens of Israel took a backseat to the PLO’s negotiations with Israel, future negotiators may have to consider the interests and status of Israel’s Arab minority.
The Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz reports on the growing visibility of Palestinian lawmakers in Israel’s Knesset:
[Aida] Touma-Suliman, a member of the newly formed Joint Arab List, has made history by becoming the first Arab woman to head an Israeli parliamentary committee. She is also the first Arab member of a non-Zionist party to fill such a role. (Raleb Majadele, of the Labor party, had previously headed the Knesset Interior and Environment Committee.) […]
Though barely a few months into her new job as head of the Knesset gender equality committee, Touma-Suliman is already charting a new and quite radical course. If, in the past, the committee’s agenda was driven by the needs of “privileged middle- and upper-middle class Ashkenazi women ” – as she defines them – that is no longer the case. Under Touma-Suliman’s leadership, the focus has shifted from issues like maternity leave and the status of women in academia and high-tech to the plight of poor and oppressed women from the margins of Israeli society – whether they be Arab, ultra-Orthodox, Ethiopian or Mizrahi.
Born in the USA Yet Still The PA
US passports scoffed at by Israel; US stands by, James Zogby, The Hill – 24 August
The head of the Arab American Institute reports on Israel’s denial of entry for Arab Americans and its policy of categorizing American citizens with roots in the West Bank and Gaza as subjects of the Palestinian Authority and not the United States, and treats them accordingly (i.e. not too well).
After landing at Ben Gurion International airport, George Khoury, 70, and Habib Joudeh, 62, were detained for long hours, subjected to abusive interrogations, insulted by Israeli security personnel, and finally denied entry and forced to purchase, at their own expense, return tickets to the United States. […]
Because both men were of Palestinian descent, Israel would not honor their U.S. passports or recognize the men as American citizens. Both were told they had to acquire Palestinian IDs and then, as Palestinians, enter the West Bank through Jordan.
George’s case is especially instructive. When the Israeli border control agent told him that he could not enter Israel, George attempted to engage the agent saying, “I’m coming as an American citizen.” To which the agent replied “No, no, you belong with the Palestinian people. This is our Israel, this is for the Jews. No Palestinian should come to Israel. You should have gone through the Allenby Bridge.”
When George explained that “I am coming with an American passport and you should honor it,” the agent replied, “How do you want me to honor your American passport? Do you want me to kiss it, to hug it, or to worship it?” […]
The Department of State says that it does not condone Israel’s treatment of Arab Americans. In reality, despite denying Israel’s admission into the Visa Waiver Program, the State Department appears to acquiesce to Israel’s behavior. […]
It is upsetting that both the Department of State “Travel Advisory” and the Consul’s letter acknowledge Israel’s disregard for our citizenship rights and claim to be powerless to hold them accountable for their actions. This acquiescence allows Israel to act with impunity. It also makes our government appear to be complicit in Israel’s behavior.
Boycott of Matisyahu: Anti-Semitic or Holding Extremism to Account?
Omar Barghouti on Matisyahu: ‘Perfectly reasonable to oppose performance by any bigot’, Ben Norton, Mondoweiss – 21 August
The rabidly pro-Israel editorial board of the Wall Street Journal recently opined that the campaign to forbid Jewish-American artist Matthew Miller, who goes by the stage name Matisyahu, from performing at a Spanish festival was reflective of an “explosion of anti-Semitic sentiment on the Continent.” The festival organizers asked Mr. Miller to publicly express his support for a Palestinian state and when he refused, it withdrew its invitation.
The Journal used the occasion to take a swipe at the BDS movement: “Remember the Matisyahu affair the next time proponents of the anti-Israel boycott, divest and sanction movement insist their aim is to promote Palestinian rights, not anti-Jewish bigotry.”
Mr. Miller offered his own protest, “It was appalling and offensive that as the one publicly Jewish-American artist scheduled for the festival they were trying to coerce me into political statements.”
But Mr. Miller was not singled out for being Jewish, but for his public statements in support for Israeli violence and wars and opposition to Palestinian statehood. Mr. Miller clearly has no problem issuing political statements (see below), and it was not an affront let alone a hate crime for the festival’s organizers to request a public statement that would affirm that Mr. Miller’s values concur with the liberal atmosphere of the concert.
Supporters of the boycott argue that although Matisyahu is not involved with the Israeli government, he has done more than just support Israel verbally.
Revealed by the Spanish BDS activists is the fact that “Matisyahu’s lyricist, Ephraim Rosenstien, is himself a settler in an illegal West Bank colony. Rosenstein is associated with Honenu, an Israeli legal organization that defends settler terrorists who violently attack Palestinians to push them off their lands.”
On his official Facebook page, the musician claims he is not interested in politics, writing “My music speaks for itself, and I do not insert politics into my music.”
Does his claim that his music is apolitical stand up to closer scrutiny?
Jewish Studies Professor Charles Manekin argues no. On his blog, the scholar defended the decision to cancel Matisyahu’s performance. Manekin drew attention to a 2012 interview in which Matisyahu rehashed anti-Palestinian propaganda, claiming, “as far as I understand, there was never a country called Palestine.”
Manekin also points out that Matisyahu headlined a “pro-Zionist festival,” and notes that, at the height of Israel’s attack on Gaza in the summer of 2014, Matisyahu posted “on his Facebook page a one-sided defense of Israel’s actions in Gaza by hasbarita [singer] Sara Merson.”
“An artist who has politicized his work should not be surprised if he is called out on it,” Manekin states.
Although Matisyahu may call himself an apolitical artist, the facts appear to indicate he is far from it.
In March, on his official Twitter account, Matisyahu wrote “I fucking love Israel. If you don’t then go suck on a lemon.”
In April, Matisyahu performed at the 2015 Policy Conference of AIPAC, the right-wing pro-Israel US lobbying organization that is invested in Israeli state bonds.
Palestinian journalist and the Electronic Intifada founder Ali Abunimah argued it is not anti-Semitic to boycott Matisyahu.
Abunimah notes that, in a 2012 article in the Washington Post, Matisyahu explained he is “a strong supporter of Israel” and has often recorded and performed in Israel.
Matisyahu also supported Israel’s killing of 10 people on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in 2010, Abunimah reveals. “No other country,” Matisyahu maintained “would put up with the crap that Israel does.”
The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) endorsed Abunimah’s article.
Matisyahu has headlined fundraisers for the pro-Israel group Friends of the IDF, Abunimah indicates, and his music has been used in Israeli state propaganda videos, like “Sunshine Across Israel,” posted to the government’s official Facebook account.
Moving On To Decent People
1,000 Black Activists, Artists, and Scholars Demand Justice for Palestine, Ebony – 18 August
Over 1,000 Black activists, artists, scholars, students, and organizations have launched a statement expressing their solidarity and commitment to ensuring justice for Palestinians. Signatories to the statement span a wide cross-section of Black activists and scholars, including Angela Davis, Boots Riley, Cornel West, dream hampton, Emory Douglas, Mumia Abu-Jamal, Pam Africa, Patrisse Cullors, Phil Hutchings, Ramona Africa, Robin DG Kelley, Rosa Clemente, Talib Kweli, and Tef Poe. 38 organizations signed on, including The Dream Defenders, Hands Up United, Institute of the Black World 21st Century, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, and Organization for Black Struggle.
The statement is printed in full below:
“The past year has been one of high-profile growth for Black-Palestinian solidarity. Out of the terror directed against us—from numerous attacks on Black life to Israel’s brutal war on Gaza and chokehold on the West Bank—strengthened resilience and joint-struggle have emerged between our movements. Palestinians on Twitter were among the first to provide international support for protesters in Ferguson, where St. Louis-based Palestinians gave support on the ground. Last November, a delegation of Palestinian students visited Black organizers in St. Louis, Atlanta, Detroit and more, just months before the Dream Defenders took representatives of Black Lives Matter, Ferguson, and other racial justice groups to Palestine. Throughout the year, Palestinians sent multiple letters of solidarity to us throughout protests in Ferguson, New York, and Baltimore. We offer this statement to continue the conversation between our movements:
On the anniversary of last summer’s Gaza massacre, in the 48th year of Israeli occupation, the 67th year of Palestinians’ ongoing Nakba (the Arabic word for Israel’s ethnic cleansing)—and in the fourth century of Black oppression in the present-day United States—we, the undersigned Black activists, artists, scholars, writers, and political prisoners offer this letter of reaffirmed solidarity with the Palestinian struggle and commitment to the liberation of Palestine’s land and people.
Why Solidarity Matters
The Oppressive Architecture of the West Bank, Molly Crabapple, Vice – 24 August
In Hebron, apartheid is imposed upon the architecture. Palestinians navigate a maze of barriers, fences, and settler-only roads, trapped in discursive loops that can take them kilometers out of their way. Soldiers, most of them bored Mizrahi teenagers, often leave Palestinians languishing at Hebron’s checkpoints for hours. Long waits are the least of the problems created by this network of restrictions—every interaction between soldier and Palestinian civilian can lead to a beating, an arrest, or even a shooting at the hands of the army.
Of course, no such restrictions on movement apply to settlers.
The former main drag, Shuhada Street, is as silent as a corpse. Most Palestinian families have been driven out of Shuhada, either by the settlers or the army. Obscene graffiti joins the stars of David settlers have scrawled across its abandoned storefront.
Checkpoints on either end warn in misspelled Arabic that this road is pedestrian-only—for Palestinians, who can only walk until the last 600 feet. Israelis are welcome to drive.
Settlers have moved into apartments overlooking the shop-lined streets of Hebron’s Old City. From their windows, they habitually throw down rocks, glass, piss, and dirty diapers at the Palestinian merchants beneath them. Merchants have hung nets to catch some of the refuse, but liquids still get through. One vendor showed me his shawls, which have been ruined by rotten eggs. Business is slow here, but shopkeepers persist, out of stubbornness, or pride, or just a desire for something to do.
Many stores are bolted shut. Others are without doors, filled with trash, hidden and closed behind barricades. A playground for Arab kids has been turned into a settlers-only parking lot. According to a2013 report the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, more than 1,000 Palestinian homes adjacent to settlements have been abandoned, and 512 Palestinian businesses have been closed on Israeli military orders. An additional 1,100 businesses have have shut down due to restricted access for customers and suppliers.
Israel rationalizes its policy of separating Palestinians and settlers as a way to keep the peace between the two groups. However, the policy penalizes Palestinians alone, displacing them and restricting their freedom of movement in the name of counteracting “terrorism.”
“We are not the terrorists that they are calling us. We just want nobody to kill us, and to live like anyone else,” Ghassan Jabari, 19, told me.
A year ago Ghassan opened a small pottery shop across from the Ibrahimi Mosque. Despite the tour buses, business is slow. Ghassan, who has no allegiance to any political faction, told me that many Israeli tour operators warn their charges against shopping with him, claiming the money goes to Hamas.
Due to Israel’s siege and repeated wars, Gaza’s child mortality rate has gone up for the first time in decades. The below graphic was shared on the Twitter account Palestine Social.
“Without land, we are nothing”
This video was posted on The Electronic Intifada:
WATCH: Christian, Muslim Palestinians protest separation wall route, Oren Ziv, +972mag – 23 August
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