October 19, 2014
Most Jewish Israelis oppose Palestinian state, new poll shows | +972 Magazine

More bad news for the two state solution:

A large majority of Jewish Israeli citizens (74 percent) oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 borders, according to a new poll conducted by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, a right-wing think tank. The organization also found that 76 percent oppose a Palestinian state if it means dividing Jerusalem.

The poll surveyed 505 Jewish Israelis, dividing them along their personal political orientation. Three hundred and four identified themselves as right wing, 125 as centrists and 68 as left wing. It is interesting to note that of those who consider themselves “centrists,” 63 percent oppose a Palestinian state along the pre-1967 border, compared with only 19 percent who identify as left.

When it comes to Jerusalem, a not surprising majority of both rightists and centrists oppose conceding East Jerusalem to a future Palestinian state. However, while 51.5 percent of leftists support it, nearly 40 percent of them oppose it. This means that even those who consider themselves left wing in Israel are on the fence about giving up East Jerusalem. From this we can conclude that most Jewish Israelis oppose a two-state solution, and even those on the left are not quite sure about it. It also illustrates that the notion of what is considered “left wing” in Israel has shifted to the right along with the rest of the public.

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Filed under: politics israel palestine 
October 15, 2014
Haaretz: Who are the True Jewish Allies of Hamas? | Peter Beinart

This article contains an excellent example of restrictions on speech that the Israeli government imposes on Palestinians living in the Occupied Territories, and how those restrictions drive Palestinians into the open arms of Hamas:

[one] way [Jewish and Israeli leaders] help Hamas is by supporting – either actively or passively – the imprisonment of people like Abdallah Abu Rahma. Rahma is a leader of the Bilin Popular Committee, which, since 2005, has led unarmed protests against the separation barrier that cuts the West Bank village off from 50 percent of its land.

“In Bilin,” Rahma wrote in a 2010 letter, “we have chosen another way. We have chosen to protest nonviolently together with Israeli and international supporters. We have chosen to carry a message of hope and real partnership between Palestinians and Israelis in the face of oppression and injustice.”

Rahma’s wife smuggled the letter out of the jail where he was serving a year-long sentence for “incitement” and organizing “illegal demonstrations.” Under Military Order 101, which Israel issued when it took over the West Bank in 1967, an “illegal demonstration” is any gathering of 10 or more Palestinians that involves “a political matter or one liable to be interpreted as political.”

“Incitement” is defined as “attempting, whether verbally or otherwise, to influence public opinion in the area in a way that may disturb the public peace or public order.” In cases like Rahma’s, according to Human Rights Watch, “The Israeli authorities are effectively banning peaceful expression of political speech.”

Rahma’s case is not unusual. In 2011, Bassem Tamimi was convicted under Military Order 101 for leading illegal protests in the village of Nabi Saleh, which has seen much of its land handed over to the neighboring settlement of Halamish. (He was also convicted of urging children to throw stones on the basis of what Human Rights Watch called “a child’s coercively obtained statement [that] raises serious concerns about the fairness of his trial.”) It was Bassem’s 11th arrest. He had previously been held for three years without trial. Yet at his trial, Bassem called the Israelis who protested with him his “brothers and sisters,” and pledged that “we will still raise our children to love; love the land and the people without discrimination of race, religion or ethnicity.”

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard American-Jewish leaders cite the Hamas charter. But I’ve never heard a single one express concern about the prosecutions of Rahma or Tamimi. Indeed, I’ve never heard major American-Jewish leaders criticize Israeli restrictions on peaceful protest in the West Bank at all.

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October 6, 2014
Red Cross Volunteers: We Witnessed Israeli Soldiers Execute Palestinian Civilians In Cold Blood

From the article:

Volunteers for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) operations in Gaza have testified to witnessing the summary execution of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers during Operation Protective Edge.

Esteemed journalist Max Blumenthal was given unfettered access to the worst hit areas of Gaza during the summer’s onslaught by Israel.  He provided this testimony to the Russell Tribunal on Palestine in Brussels last week, as the world’s leading jurists and civil society members assessed Israel’s culpability for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The executions seemed to fall into two categories: humiliation, and functional.

[…]

Beyond these deaths aimed to humiliate Gaza civilians, or eradicate Hebrew speakers, there were other clear war crimes — including the murder of a mentally disabled man.

At the eastern edge of the central area marked in orange Hebrew letters as “Soccer Field,” I met Mohammed Fathi Al Areer. His home was a virtual cave furnished with a single sofa. In Al Areer’s backyard, four of his brothers were executed. One of them, Hassan Al Areer, was mentally disabled and had little idea he was about to be killed. Mohammed Al Areer said he found bullet casings next to the heads of his family members when he discovered their decomposing bodies.

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October 1, 2014
How Israel Silences Dissent

Mairav Zonzsein, an American-Israeli journalist, writes:

Israeli society has been unable and unwilling to overcome an exclusivist ethno-religious nationalism that privileges Jewish citizens and is represented politically by the religious settler movement and the increasingly conservative secular right. Israel’s liberal, progressive forces remain weak in the face of a robust economy that profits from occupation while international inaction reinforces the status quo. In their attempt to juggle being both Jewish and democratic, most Israelis are choosing the former at the expense of the latter.

[…]

This has allowed the us-versus-them mentality to bleed into Israeli Jewish society. “Us” no longer refers to any Jewish citizen, and “them” to any Palestinian. Now, “us” means all those who defend the status quo of occupation and settlement expansion, including many Christian evangelicals and Republicans in America. And “them” means anyone who tries to challenge that status quo, whether a rabbi, a dissenting Israeli soldier or the president of the United States.

Perhaps this shouldn’t come as a shock.  For most of Israel’s existence, the majority of Israelis have allowed the state, in the name of Jewish sovereignty and security, to violate Palestinians’ basic human rights — including access to water and the freedom of movement and assembly. The state has killed unarmed protesters and then failed to carry out investigations; it has allowed settlers and soldiers to act with impunity; and it has systematically discriminated against non-Jewish citizens. After so many years of repressing those who stand in the way, the transition to targeting “one of your own” isn’t so difficult. Now it is the few Jewish Israelis who speak the language of human rights who are branded as enemies.

Zeev Sternhell, a political scientist and an expert on fascism, believes that “radical nationalism” and the “erosion of Enlightenment values” have reached new heights in Israel. “To grieve for the loss of life on both sides is already a subversive act, treason,” he told Haaretz. Mr. Sternhell has experienced Jewish extremist violence firsthand; in 2008, a settler planted a bomb in his home that wounded him.

Israelis increasingly seem unwilling to listen to criticism, even when it comes from within their own family. Not only are they not willing to listen, they are trying to silence it before it can even be voiced. With a family like that, I would rather be considered one of “them.”

October 1, 2014
An Israeli soldier walks for Palestinians

From the article:

On Thursday afternoon, a sun-burnt and probably  blistered former Israeli soldier will arrive at  Federal Parliament to deliver a petition in support of the Boycott, Divestment and  Sanctions  movement  for the right of Palestinians  to self determination.

University of Wollongong academic Marcelo Svirsky will have  walked for 10 days over 300 gruelling kilometres from Sydney to Canberra   with a petition to draw the attention of federal MPs  to the critical predicament of the Palestinian people in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.

The petition asks the Australian Government to honour  its obligations under international law through boycott, divestment and sanctions of states, institutions and companies which facilitate Israel’s illegal, discriminatory  and cruel policies towards Palestinians.  

Marcelo explains his campaigning as  ”using my love of walking for one of the world’s most socially just causes.  Only international pressure by civil society, based on non-violent means of boycott can change the balance of power and eventually bring Israel to compromise.

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September 22, 2014
israelwc:

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ climate speech disrupted by Palestine supporters http://t.co/ciHEfGcFsu #Gaza #PeoplesClimate http://t.co/NQjyXCZiFS

LTMC: Et tu, Bernie?

israelwc:

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ climate speech disrupted by Palestine supporters http://t.co/ciHEfGcFsu #Gaza #PeoplesClimate http://t.co/NQjyXCZiFS

LTMC: Et tu, Bernie?

(via thepeoplesrecord)

August 30, 2014
What if Hamas fired rockets at Britain? | +972 Magazine

Israeli officials and advocates often ask critics of their foreign policy “what would you do if you had rockets raining down on you?”  This question has a tendency to stump people who aren’t prepared for it.  John Jackson at  +972, however, has provided an excellent response by drawing a parallel to the conduct of the British Government during the worst years of IRA violence:

During the ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland, civilian deaths were caused by the British Army, the Loyalists and Republican paramilitaries. But for the purpose of answering the Israeli question it is useful to look at the major bombing campaigns by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) that took place across England. These campaigns were far more destructive than anything coming out of Gaza. There were approximately 10,000 bomb attacks during the conflict – about 16,000 if you include failed attempts. A significant proportion of them were on English soil.

A time bomb was detonated at Brighton’s Grand Hotel, where Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet were staying for the Conservative Party conference. Thatcher narrowly escaped death, five people were killed (including an MP) and 31 injured. The Queen’s cousin, Lord Louis Mountbatten, his grandson and three others were blown up while fishing off the coast of Ireland. In Manchester city center a 3,300-pound bomb caused £1.1 billion (today’s value) in damage and injured 212 people. The Bishopsgate bombing in the city of London cost £350 million to repair and injured 44 people. And, as those of us who lived through those times will remember, there were numerous bombs in pubs and shops, on high streets and shopping centers, in train stations and on the London underground. The thousands of rockets fired by Hamas over the last month have killed six civilians in Israel, along with 64 soldiers, while the IDF has killed 2,104 Palestinians, including at least 500 children.

Despite the effectiveness of the IRA campaign, it would have been politically inconceivable and morally unjustifiable for the Royal Air Force to bomb the streets and homes of the republican communities in North or West Belfast – the communities from which the IRA came and amongst which it lived. It would have been unacceptable in Britain and, indeed, to the U.S. government at the time. The British army and intelligence services did terrible things in Northern Ireland, but such a wholesale massacre of civilians would have been unconscionable. The answer to the question of what would you do? In Britain’s case at least, faced with a destructive bombing campaign, it did not respond by sending in warplanes to bomb schools, hospitals or terraced houses.

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August 28, 2014
The Economic Viability Of Palestine

Another blogger asks:

With regard to the one state solution post, do you think the areas under Palestinian control would be economically viable as part of a two state solution?

The primary factor for economic viability in a two-state solution involves Israeli control over airspace, water, and land borders of the Palestinian state.  If Palestinians were allowed to (1) trade freely amongst themselves and their neighbors, and (2) develop their land without it repeatedly being destroyed by the Israeli government, then Palestinian territories would be very economically viable.  But so long as we have a situation where the Israeli government gets to decide who or what is allowed into the Palestinian territories, and is also allowed virtually unrestricted authority to destroy Palestinian infrastructure in the name of national security, then a Palestinian state will never be independently economically viable.

I’m not trying to suggest that Israel doesn’t have valid security concerns about what crosses the border with Palestinian territories, or militant operations within them.  However, restricting access to consumer goods and repeatedly destroying Palestinian infrastructure is counterproductive from a security standpoint for Israel: people living in the Palestinian territories feel oppressed because Israel is denying them access to the consumer goods necessary for them to thrive, and also destroying their livelihood.  This creates political resentment towards Israel, which breeds support for militancy and extremism.  So in order for any long-term peace to ever be established, Israel has to be willing to lift trade restrictions, stop blowing up Palestinian infrastructure in a counterproductive effort to fight militants, and give Palestinians complete and unexceptional sovereignty over their putative state.  Anything less will simply be the same emperor in new clothes.

August 28, 2014
Israeli right-wing politician: ‘Annex territories, grant Palestinians citizenship’ | +972 Magazine

A one-state solution from the Israeli right:

The State of Israel should annex Judea and Samaria and grant full citizenship to all Palestinians. Demography is not a numerical predestination, it is an expression of the joie de vivre of the nation. When a nation is happy, its number of children grows, that’s why I’m not scared of demography. Whoever can’t live with Arabs is not a partner of mine.

I trust the Arab public in Israel, it has proved itself. I have no fear of a bi-national state, the solution is not B-class citizens nor high fences. It is a simple and humane solution, Palestinians must be granted full rights and should vote for the Knesset. Whoever truly wants peace, should agree to accept more Arab citizens to his state, and whoever is part of the State of Israel whose borders need to be between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea for many reasons, needs to be a citizen with full rights and obligations.

There is no question that this solution would be a more peaceful resolution if the majority of Palestinians were willing to go along with it.  This is also refreshing to hear from an Israeli nationalist who no doubt wants Israel to maintain its character as a Jewish nation.  In the past, this has meant nothing less than discrimination against Arabs and outright refusal of the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees.  Annexing both the West Bank and Gaza would create a sort of de facto Right of Return, and quite possibly create the dreaded demographic threat to Israel’s Jewish majority, which many feel is necessary to maintaining Israel’s character as a Jewish state.

The problem with this particular one-state solution, however, is that it forces millions of people to accept the sovereignty of a nation that has been oppressing them for decades.  Politically speaking, it’s not very feasible.  In order for a one-state solution to have any chance of working, in my opinion, the new bi-national state would have to be a new state built from the ground up with a bi-national identity.  Everybody will have to feel like they are on equal footing.  It can’t merely be a state for Jews that tolerates non-Jews, but a state built for everyone that lives there.  Simply annexing the West Bank and Gaza, and granting Palestinians full citizenship (whether they want it or not) would probably lead to an open revolt.  Palestinians have to feel that they are not being ruled or conquered, but being given a genuine right to self-determination in the new state.  Without accounting for this reality, a one-state solution will never work.

August 25, 2014
Israelis on Facebook wish death for Holocaust survivors against ‘Protective Edge’ | +972 Magazine

From the article:

The fact that there are Jews who can say this about other Jews—particularly Jews who actually endured what is generally regarded as the most catastrophic event in Jewish history—will never cease to cause me to shake my head.

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