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Holocaust Deniers at Yad Vashem: German Far-right Tour Israel

An Israeli tour like no other, organized by a nationalist, anti-Muslim blog in Germany.

Holocaust denial during a visit to Yad Vashem; a call to blow up the Hassan Bek Mosque while strolling through Tel Aviv’s Carmel Market; and a question about the "Jewish gene” in Beit Hatfutsot, the Museum of the Jewish People. This is what the far-right German version of a trip to Israel looks like.
A writer for the German magazine Neon snuck onto a tour of Israel by supporters of populist anti-immigrant parties in Germany last November. The article, which the magazine published this week, documents the week spent up close with Holocaust-denying, racist and Islamophobic Germans. They describe themselves as Israel supporters, who came to see how “the only democracy in the Middle East” deals with “the Muslim problem” that has gripped Germany recently.
The tour was organized by the popular German blog Politically Incorrect, which is identified with the far-right. The blog invited its readers to Israel for eight days under the title “Modern Israel: Politics, Army, Society and Fun.”
The blog attracts 100,000 readers every day, with Neon correspondent Marco Maurer calling it “the most influential blog in Germany. I visit it from time to time to see what the right is thinking. When I saw the ad for the trip, I thought that a visit to Israel is so politically charged, it’s the perfect opportunity to understand how the right thinks.”
Maurer says he went on the trip with an open mind, to figure out once and for all if the people hiding behind Germany’s extremist websites are anti-Semites, racists or perhaps not as harmful as people think they are.
His conclusions should bother Israelis – mainly those politicians who have drawn closer to the European far-right under the pretense of sharing a common enemy, radical Islam, without understanding that these people are actually also claiming that Germany was not responsible for the Holocaust.
Maurer, a journalist from Munich, pretended to be a doctoral student of Germanic Studies from Frankfurt identifying with Germany’s young, right-wing hipster movement.
The tour organizer is a German who goes by the alias “Merkava” (like the Israeli tank). He claimed in a conversation with the group that Israel is his home. He signs his emails “With Zionist blessings.” He revealed during the trip that he was formerly a member of the far-right, anti-Muslim German Freedom Party.
Merkava told the group at the beginning of the trip why Muslims bothered him. He said his parents were German diplomats in Cairo, where he learned that Muslims “are all misogynists, violent and corrupt.”
The local tour guide, who took the group around Israel, presented herself as the daughter of divorced parents from Germany, and that her grandfather was murdered in Buchenwald.
On the second day of the tour, at Tel Aviv’s Beit Hatfutsot, one of the participants asked the tour guide, “Is there a ‘typical Jew’ genetically?” Later, at a restaurant in central Tel Aviv, “two darkskinned men,” as Maurer put it, entered and a member of the tour group said he would have felt better armed. “A man needs to be able to protect himself from ‘invaders,’” he explained, while eating tabbouleh.
Meet at the mosque
The tour proceeded to the Carmel Market, where participants had free time for shopping. The tour guide made the nearby Hassan Bek Mosque the meeting point. Merkava protested, unclear if he was trying to be funny or serious as he wondered aloud: “Does it have to be there?” Another participant added, “Aren’t we better off blowing it up?”
“I didn’t hear that!” shot back the tour guide.
Over Saturday morning breakfast at their hotel in Tel Aviv, Maurer’s ears caught the following sentence from one of the visitors: “The SS was like an anti-terror organization that worked against socialism.” Members of the group received warm regards from Michael Stürzenberger, a popular blogger and former chairman of the German Freedom Party. He became famous after he called Islam a “cancer” and was fined 1,200 euros ($1,270). He couldn’t make the tour because he had to appear in a Munich court, where he is standing trial for insulting a religion.
“They want to turn us into Muslims,” one member of the group said during a meal. Another participant asked him if he believed that “Muslims will attack us” and he responded, “It will happen.” He backed it up by explaining Muslim “racial” traits. He then added that Germany must “amass weapons” to protect itself from “the enemy taking control.”
The fourth day of the tour began with a bus ride to Tel Aviv’s Hatikva neighborhood. Pointing at African migrants, Merkava said, “The ‘invaders’ already took control of this neighborhood,” and warned that Germans can expect the same thing.
The trip eventually reached Gush Etzion’s Caliber 3 “security training academy.” Tour members think Israeli soldiers are greeting them at the shooting range there because of their fake-IDF fatigues. The itinerary includes playing in a “game” in which terrorists try to take over a market. Participants take them out by shooting them in the head or attacking them with German shepherds. On another part of the range, they fire at simulated targets. “It was fun! Now we’ll be able to shoot at Antifa activists and Arabs,” said one participant, referring to the anti-fascist movement.
The fifth day is the highlight of the tour: a visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. Answering a question about the number of Jewish Holocaust victims, the tour guide explained that “these numbers were proven scientifically.” One of the participants tells Maurer he doesn’t believe the “six million” number is correct, and that the real number of Jews murdered by Germany is 500,000. “The rest died and were murdered by others,” he says. Others in the group threw out a host of conspiracy theories – the main one placing responsibility for the Holocaust on the “American establishment.”
The Politically Incorrect blog describes itself as a news site “against the Islamization of Europe.” The site constitutes a virtual meeting ground for supporters of the anti-Islamic, nationalist Pegida movement, which spreads hatred and incitement against immigrants. German reports about the blog link it to far-right parties like Pro NRW, which is under surveillance by German intelligence agencies. The blog proclaims itself “Pro-Israel” and stressed that it “supports a strong and secure Israel, and admires its values.”
The tour members were a representative sample of the German far-right in the early 21st century. They came from different social, geographic, occupational and political backgrounds. Some of them have voted for the far-left Die Linke party. Others supported Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, and one voted for the Social Democratic Party. Today, most of them are united under the banner of Alternative for Germany, the populist and Islamophobic party.
The group included a 40-year-old supporter of Alternative for Germany, who said he came to Israel to learn “what we can do against the invasion of our homeland.” Group members also called Muslim immigrants “barbarians.” It is no coincidence that they chose Israel for their tour. “They see Israel as an example, because it is in a long conflict with its Muslim neighbors,” says Maurer.
The group also included a 50-year-old woman who is active in the German Freedom Party leadership; a 71-year-old man from Cologne who was a member of the board of directors of a drug company; and a 73-year-old man from Frankfurt who works as a business consultant and was a member of the Federal Convention that elects the German president. The senior member of the group is Jörge Henke, 55, a member of the Thuringian parliament for Alternative for Germany.
The blog called the visit a success, and is already advertising its next trip here, which will take place on May 22-29.
“Solidarity with Israel is not expressed only in words but also in acts,” the announcement about registration stated. The next trip will also include a visit to the “supposedly occupied territories,” including “supposed settlements,” as well as a view of the Gaza Strip – in order to show visitors the truth about the “starvation of the Gaza Strip by Israel.”
Attractions will include a visit to Mount Herzl, “where the brother of Prime Minister Netanyahu, Yonatan, who was the commander of the successful and daring operation to free hostages in Entebbe, is buried in the military section.”

Ofer Aderet

Haaretz Correspondent

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Israel: Settlement Illegally Sought to Tax Palestinians for Synagogue Built on Their Land

State lawyers say Kiryat Arba may not demand municipal tax, which is based on the military’s orders for managing local and regional councils in the West Bank.
The state announced that the Kiryat Arba local council has no authority to demand municipal tax (arnona) from two Palestinian brothers, even though land and a home belonging to one of them lies in the council’s jurisdiction.
The arnona bill was sent to the landowners after they had petitioned the High Court of Justice asking that the authorities remove from their land a structure built illegally by Kiryat Arba settlers. The local council says it learned that the Palestinian brothers owned the land from the state’s response to the petition.
But in the state’s response to a second petition by the brothers, against the arnona charge, the state’s lawyers cited Kiryat Arba’s “lack of integrity in issuing a bill under the circumstances.”
In January 2015, the council sent brothers Abdul Karim and Zaidan Jabari an arnona bill for 176,000 shekels ($45,770). In two separate notices, the brothers were warned that if they did not pay they would be fined and a lien would be put on their land − and a lien in the Land Registry would constitute a sale of the land to the settlement.
The High Court froze the bill until it ruled on the petition, which was submitted by attorney Sliman Shahin.
The state’s response to the petition at the end of last month, submitted by attorney Liora Weiss-Benski, is based on the military’s orders for managing local and regional councils. Both relate solely to Israeli citizens who are residents of the area, Weiss-Benski said.
She quoted a 2004 ruling by then-Justice Eliezer Rivlin stating that these orders are part of “military command legislation that applies only to residents of Jewish communities.”
Similarly, she noted that according to local-council regulations, Israeli civilian tribunals in the West Bank have no authority to adjudicate issues concerning anyone not a settler unless that party agrees to it.
Thus, according to Weiss-Benski, it was clear that “there was never any intent to grant Israeli local governments in Judea and Samaria authority regarding Palestinian residents or Palestinian properties.”
She also cited two settlements that contain “enclaves of private Palestinian land” − Givon Hahadasha, where there are private homes, and Elkana, where there is cultivated agricultural land − and noted that no arnona is collected there.
Kiryat Arba’s Givat Ha’avot neighborhood sits next to the petitioners’ land, and in early 2003 a synagogue called Hazon David was put up on their land. The synagogue has since been demolished by the Civil Administration dozens of times, but the settlers have repeatedly rebuilt it. According to the Behadrei Haredim website, last March the structure was demolished for the 48th time.
During the summer the Civil Administration again demolished a structure that had sprung up on the land, but according to Weiss-Benski, as of December there was another structure at the site thought to serve as a synagogue.
Shahin told Haaretz that as of now a tent serving as a synagogue and a shed had been put up on his clients’ property without permission.
In August 2015, Supreme Court President Miriam Naor canceled the brothers’ earlier petition against the illegal structure on their land, saying it had run its course given that the state demolishes the structure whenever it is put back up.

Amira Hass

Haaretz Correspondent

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Israel Seeking to Strip Residency of 12 Relatives of Jerusalem Truck Attack Assailant

Interior Minister Dery announces he'll have residency status revoked for Fadi al-Qanbar's mother and other family members, in move that sets precedent for future cases.
Israeli Interior Minister Arye Dery announced Tuesday that he will revoke the residency status of 12 relatives of Fadi al-Qanbar, who rammed his truck into a group of soldiers in Jerusalem on Sunday.
The family members received summons to the Population and Immigration Authority Tuesday morning indicating that their residency would be revoked. The letter said that the decision had been made due to the attack and that the family is "suspected of having connections to ISIS" and are a security risk "as long as they remain in Israel."
The mother's summons also said that her residency was being revoked based on a false statement she made at the time she received her status some 30 years ago, when she claimed that she was not marrying as an act of bigamy.
Previous interior ministers have tried on numerous occasions to punish the families of assailants by stripping them of their legal status in Israel. However, the High Court of Justice has stymied most of these efforts. The law does not allow revocation of residency status as a deterrent measure.
Hamoked, the organization providing the family with legal defense, responded to the Interior Ministry's summons, saying that the family did not intend to attend a hearing on such short notice.
In the attack, in the southern neighborhood of Armon Hanatziv, four were killed and some 15 others were wounded. Fadi al-Qanbar was a resident of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal Mukkaber.
The aim of Dery's unusual move is to deter Palestinians from committing attacks because they could result in the loss of their relatives' permanent or provisional status as well as other rights.
Until now, the only Palestinians who have been stripped of their status were assailants who survived attacks, or the spouses of dead assailants who were in the process of applying for permanent residence and meanwhile had family reunification status.
Dery's move would set a precedent because Qanbar’s mother received her status through his father, who is also a permanent resident of Jerusalem. A lawyer told Haaretz it was unclear if she had completed the process and is already a permanent resident or still has family reunification status.
The latter is an interim status accorded to Palestinians from the West Bank who are related to an Israeli citizen or a resident of East Jerusalem, and have themselves applied for citizenship or residency. It allows them to reside in Israel and to work until the application process is completed.
On Monday Minister Dery, who is also head of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, asked MK Yoav Ben-Zur at a party meeting to advance legislation that Dery initiated months ago, aimed at revoking residency status without a hearing.
In a statement Dery said, “This decision signals a new era against terror and terrorists with a status that they exploit to carry out terrible attacks against civilians. From now on there will be no tolerance shown to anyone involved in attacks against Israel, including their relatives.
"From now on," he said, "anyone who plots, plans or considers carrying out an attack will know that his family will pay a heavy price for his deed. The consequences will be harsh and far-reaching, like the decision I made regarding the mother and relatives of the terrorist who perpetrated the attack in Armon Hanatziv in Jerusalem.”
In recent years, the government has frozen thousands of requests by West Bank Palestinians to obtain Jerusalem residency status through the family reunification process.
A year ago, the state sought to stop the family reunification process undertaken by the wife of Ghassan Abu Jamal, who perpetrated an attack in a synagogue in Jerusalem’s Har Nof neighborhood in 2014 and was killed at the scene by police. According to law, a wife of is not eligible to continue the process the moment her husband dies. Thus, the Supreme Court would not intervene if the state sought to strip her of her family reunification status. The residency status of their two children was not revoked, however, because they were born in Jerusalem to Abu Jamal, a resident of Jabel Mukkaber.
The state tried in one instance to stop the family reunification process of the sister-in-law of the Palestinian who perpetrated the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva shooting, in Jerusalem in 2008. However, the court overturned the move and allowed the process to continue.
In other cases, the assailants themselves were stripped of their legal status, but their relatives were not, as in the case of Bilal Abu Ghanem, who survived an attack he committed on a Jerusalem bus in 2015.
Israel also revoked the residency status of three youths who, in 2015, threw stones at passing vehicles, causing the death of Alexander Levlovitz.
The High Court is still hearing a number of related cases. The justices have yet to rule on a case involving stripping the residency of Hamas members of the Palestinian parliament who are from Jerusalem.
The law allows punishing innocent people by demolishing their homes as a means of deterrence, according to emergency regulations from the British Mandate period, but there are no legal grounds at present for revoking residency status as a deterrent measure, says attorney Anat Golan of Hamoked – Center for the Defense of the Individual, which has filed a number of petitions to the High Court concerning such issues.
“The argument that the state has used until today [in such cases],” she adds, “is a security-related argument because that is what the law allows.”

Nir Hasson

Haaretz Correspondent

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Several Israeli Right-wing Activists Arrested for Allegedly Planning Attacks on Palestinians

Gag order has been issued on suspects' names and details surrounding the case.

A number of right-wing activists have been arrested on suspicion of planning an attack on Palestinians. The Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court has imposed a partial gag order on the details of the case, including the identity of the suspects.
Recently, a right-wing activist who is described as a “significant risk” has been freely moving around the West Bank for three weeks, after the restraining order against him expired and no new order has yet been issued.
Yosef Frisman, 22, has been described by the IDF as a person whose violent activities represents a serious danger, but it took the IDF two weeks after the previous restraining order expired to issue a new order; and another five days to deliver it after it was signed. During this period Frisman moved freely about the West Bank.
Anti-Arab activist Itamar Ben-Gvir and Eldan Danino, the lawyers for one of the new suspects, said the Shin Bet security service “is investing all its efforts in chasing after Jewish youths instead of dealing with Arab terror. The feeling is that our client’s rights are being harmed by investigators and the way the Jewish youths suspected of nationalist offenses are being handled is excessive,” they said.

Gili Cohen
Haaretz Correspondent


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Stop Everything You Do and Watch This!!!

January 11, 2017 / Gilad Atzmon

Al Jazeera Investigations - The Lobby EP 1

So that you learn how Israel and its Lobby are plotting against Britain and the Brits.

So you learn about our treacherous MPs who are shamelessly serving a foreign state and its foreign interests.

Ask yourself, how is it that the most important news about the institutional betrayal of our political system is delivered to us by a Qatari TV network? Shouln't it be The Guardian, the BBC or The Daily Telegraph that look into these matters? Is it a coincidence?

The Israeli Embassy told us that Shai Masot was a junior employee. Watch this video and judge for yourself, he seems to run the entire Labour Party.

Britain must probe the activity of the Jewish Lobby and the Israeli Embassy immediately

And if you want to understand why this plot is embedded in Jewish culture just read this.



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Trump says he’ll visit Israel, where he thinks everyone likes him

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said he believes he enjoys “massive” support from Israelis as he announced he would visit Israel before the presidential election, in an interview published by an Israeli daily Tuesday.

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Trump told the free Israel Hayom tabloid that he had not heard of Israelis disliking him, despite a number of recent polls showing Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton as the favored candidate in the Jewish State.

“You are the first person to tell me that there are people in Israel who view me in a negative light, because I enjoy such massive support in Israel,” Trump told interviewer Boaz Bismuth.

His comment came in response to a question on whether he could assuage the fears of Israelis who believe he would be bad for their country for demanding US allies, including Israel, pay for American military assistance.

Trump added, “We are going to defend Israel. Israel will get assistance. Don’t forget that Israel is a bastion of hope for America in the region. Israel is the most important.”

Israel Hayom is owned by Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire business and casino magnate and major Republican donor who last week said he would be backing Trump for the US presidency.

Recent polls in Israel, however, have shown both Jewish and ArabIsraelis consistently prefer former secretary of state Clinton to her likely Republican opponent in the 2016 presidential election.

A poll by the Israeli Democracy Institute released on May 9 showed 40% of Israeli Jews preferring Clinton as president, with 31% backing Trump.

Another recent pollconducted by TNS for Channel 1 television found 42% of Israelis thought Clinton would be better for Israel, with Trump trailing behind at 34%.

This was true despite a majority of those polled believing Trump would have a better working relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Trump to visit Israel ‘soon’

Trump said during Tuesday’s interview that he would be visiting Israel “soon,” without specifying exactly when, responding to reports last week that he would travel to Israel, Russia and Germany after securing the nomination at the Republican National Convention.

Though Trump’s spokesperson denied the report, when asked about it by Israel Hayom, he responded: “Yes. I will be coming soon.”

The presumptive GOP nominee backed out of a visit to Israel last December, in which a controversial meeting was scheduled with Netanyahu.

At the time of the cancellation, Trump was under heavy criticism for rolling out his proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the US, following deadly terror attacks in Paris and California.

“I didn’t want to put him under pressure,” Trump told Fox News, referring to Netanyahu. “I also did it because I’m in the midst of a very powerful campaign that’s going very well and it (the trip) was not that easy to do.”

In a tweet, Trump said he would reschedule a meeting with Netanyahu “after I become president.”Schermata 2016-05-13 alle 14.20.56

Their First Independence Day: Some 30,000 Jews Immigrated to Israel in the Past Year

Among the countries from which they came were Indonesia, New Caledonia and Mauritius.

Since last Independence Day, 29,715 immigrants from more than 90 countries have arrived in Israel, according to the Immigrant Absorption Ministry.
While much attention has focused on the thousands of French Jews seeking refuge in Israel from rising anti-Semitism and a depressed economy, a far greater number of this year’s newly minted citizens hail from the former Soviet Union – primarily Russia and Ukraine.
Immigrant Absorption Ministry figures show that in Israel’s 68th year, a record number of 7,054 French Jews moved to the country. Yet more than double that number – 14,507 – arrived from the former Soviet Union, among them 6,880 from Russia and 6,306 from Ukraine. Taken together, these three countries accounted for more than two-third of all immigration to Israel.
So who are these new Israelis-by-choice who will be celebrating their first Independence Day this week? Where do they live, what do they do, and how Jewish are they? Based on existing government and other data, the following profile emerges:
A large share, it is safe to assume, do not qualify as Jewish according to the criteria of the Israeli rabbinical authorities. The Law of Return grants automatic Israeli citizenship to any immigrant who has at least one Jewish parent or grandparent, is the spouse of a Jew, or has been converted by a rabbi in a recognized Jewish community, regardless of its affiliation. But for the Chief Rabbinate, which controls marriage and burial laws in the country, that is not always good enough.
To be married or buried in a state-sanctioned Jewish ceremony, Israeli citizens must be Jewish according to halakha. That is to say, they must be able to prove that they were either born to a Jewish mother or that they were converted by a rabbi recognized by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate. Of the 1.1 million Jews who immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union during the 1990s, about 350,000 are not halakhically Jewish, and face many ongoing challenges as a result.
Exactly what share of this year’s 14,507 new arrivals are halakhically Jewish is not clear. But figures available in the 2015 World Jewish Population report provide a clear hint – and it probably does not bode well for these new immigrants. According to the publication, the number of individuals living in the former Soviet Union who would qualify for immigration under The Law of Return is close to 900,000 today. However, the number of “core Jews” (a group that overlaps considerably with halakhic Jews) in the former Soviet Union is only 285,900 – less than one–third of the total.
If a similar, or even remotely similar, breakdown exists among the new immigrants, it would mean that the vast majority are not considered Jewish by the powers-that-be in Israel. Since the new arrivals from the former Soviet Union currently account for close to half of the total immigration to Israel, that, in turn, could mean that a significant share of the total do not qualify as Jewish either in halakhic terms.
About 2.5 percent of the new immigrants have opted to become West Bank settlers. According to Immigrant Absorption Ministry figures, 768 immigrants who arrived in the country over the past year moved to Jewish settlements located beyond Israel’s internationally recognized borders. The most popular settlements were Maaleh Adumim (115 immigrants), Efrat (92), Ariel (87), Modi’in Ilit (79) and Beitar Ilit (69).
Among the more hardcore right-wing settlements that succeeded in wooing new immigrants this year were Eli (18), Itamar (8), Bat Ayin (4) and Hebron (2). These settler immigrants were a clear minority, though. Of the top five most popular destinations for new immigrants this year, four were cities on the Mediterranean coast. Topping the list was secular Tel Aviv (3,433), followed by Netanya (3,402), Jerusalem (3,122). Haifa (2,216) and Ashdod (1,657).
Among the new immigrants from the West, a plurality identify as Orthodox. Figures from the Jewish Agency show that among those arriving in Israel this past year, 37 percent were Orthodox, 41 percent traditional, 8 percent Conservative and 4 percent Reform. The remainder were either unaffiliated or identified with another movement.
Immigrants from all the English-speaking countries together were far fewer than those from France alone. According to the Immigrant Absorption Ministry, a total of 4,627 Jews moved to Israel this past year from English-speaking countries. Topping the list was the United States (3,072), followed by Britain (692), Canada (466), South Africa (236), Australia (153) and Ireland (8).
There were also immigrants from places that are hardly known to have Jews. Two of this year’s immigrants cited Indonesia – a country with which Israel does not have diplomatic ties – as their place of origin. Three other individuals came from Cambodia, New Caledonia and Mauritius.
From a demographic perspective, singles outnumbered married immigrants this year and women outnumbered men, especially among those divorced and widowed. Most were also young. Close to 70 percent of immigrants were younger than 45 – the single largest age group being 20-44.
Finally, white collar professionals outnumbered blue collar. Among working age immigrants with a profession, a relatively large share were trained in high-tech, computers, medicine, education, law and accounting.

Judy Maltz
Haaretz Correspondent

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Netanyahu Suggests Israel Bring Back Military Parades on Independence Day

'That's the basis of our independence, those soldiers,' prime minister says at Independence Day event at President's Residence.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested on Thursday that Israel will bring back the military parades on Independence Day.
Sitting with President Reuven Rivlin, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot at an Independence Day event honoring120 outstanding soldiers at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, Netanyahu recalled his childhood in the city.
"There was something of a revival, of independence, and that came across in parades. There were military parades in Jerusalem. I remember seeing a cannon, I saw a tank for the first time. I saw soldiers. It moved me enormously."
"You know what, I have a proposal," Netanyahu said. Turning to Ya'alon and Eisenkot, he said, "My friends, let's renew the parades in Jerusalem. A military parade on Independence Day in Jerusalem - that's the basis of our independence, those soldiers."
When the event's host commented that a military parade could put a strain on Israel's budget, the prime minister said he was confident funds could be found for such proposal. "I'll take care of it," he said.
Military parades on were held annually for 20 years, between 1949 and 1968. The military parade on Independence Day in 1968 was the first broadcast by Israeli television.
A military parade was again held for Israel's 25th independence anniversary in 1973, the final year such a parade was held.
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The Obama Administration Just Gave Warmonger Henry Kissinger The Distinguished Public Service Award

Kissinger has been implicated in some 4 million deaths for genocides in three different countries (at least).
By Melissa Dykes | May 12, 2016

It’s a sick sad joke coming from the Nobel Peace Prize (for nothing) president who is bombing … wait, how many countries is Obama currently bombing again? Seven? Is anybody even keeping track anymore?

Here’s everyone’s favorite humanitarian Henry Kissinger shaking hands with defense secretary Ash Carter at a special ceremony at the Pentagon two days ago where the good bridge trolldoctor got the highest award the Department of Defense can possibly bestow upon a civilian: a Distinguished Public Service Award.
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Carter himself deserves an award for understatement, calling the man who is responsible, directly or indirectly, for the deaths of millions of people in Southeast Asia, East Timor, Bangladesh, and southern Africa, among other places—”unique in the annals of American diplomacy.” Kissinger, Carter said, “demonstrated how serious thinking and perspective can deliver solutions to seemingly intractable problems.” As to allegations of war crimes, “the fact is,” said Kissinger, he and Richard Nixon “were engaged in good causes.”

“Good causes”…? In what nightmare is what Kissinger did “good”?

He’s been implicated in some 4 million deaths for genocides in three different countries (at least).

Of course the White House should be honoring Kissinger, since it runs its endless war by Kissinger’s rules. The right to bomb neutral countries the United States isn’t at war with in the name of national security is now unquestionably accepted across the foreign policy spectrum, as is the right of the White House to engage in extrajudicial assassination at will (Kissinger’s illegal Cambodia bombing set a precedent, but he also lent critical legitimacy by supporting Reagan’s bombing of Libya, George H.W. Bush’s invasion of Panama and Gulf War I, and George W. Bush’s Gulf War II).

And apparently that, in the Pentagon’s eyes, is what constitutes a “pubic service”… murder.

Guess that’s what DoD awards are for, ultimately. So is it the more people murdered, the bigger the award?

In that context, it makes sense Kissinger got the highest, most “distinguished” award they could possibly give him.Schermata 2016-05-12 alle 20.38.14

Dear BDS supporter

We’re urging the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to take the necessary measures to uphold and protect the rights of Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights defenders who campaign nonviolently for Palestinian rights, including through the BDS movement. Please add your name to our appeal now.

Having failed to stop the rise in worldwide support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian freedom, justice and equality, Israel is now launching a desperate and dangerous fight back.

At Israel’s request, governments in the US, UK, France, Canada and elsewhere are introducing anti-democratic legislation and taking other repressive measures to undermine the BDS movement. In France, one activist was arrested simply for wearing a BDS t-shirt. Israel is using its security services to illegally spy on BDS activists across the world.

Israel has just imposed an effective travel ban on BDS movement co-founder Omar Barghouti. This repressive move is being seen as a step towards revoking his residency rights, as Israeli ministers threatened a few weeks ago.

Take action now: Sign our appeal to the UN about Israel’s war of repression on BDS

This follows thinly-veiled threats of physical violence against him by Israeli government ministers that prompted Amnesty to express concern “for the safety and liberty of Palestinian human rights defender Omar Barghouti”.

Israel’s huge campaign of repression against human rights defenders and the BDS movement is designed to shield it from being held accountable for its violations of international law.

At a time when the Palestinian people and people of conscience around the world are commemorating the 1948 Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of most of the indigenous Palestinians, defending the right of human rights defenders struggling for Palestinian inalienable rights is more crucial than ever.

Please add your name to our appeal today and share it widely. We’ll let you know when we deliver the appeal to the UN.

Many thanks,
Palestinian BDS National Committee
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Israelis, Palestinians participate in joint Remembrance Day ceremony in Tel Aviv

The ceremony was organized by Combatants for Peace Movement in cooperation with the Parents’ Circle - Families Forum.

Some 3,000 Israelis and Arabs, including hundreds from the West Bank, participated in the Israeli-Palestinian Remembrance Day ceremony – held for the 11th consecutive year – at the Shlomo Group Arena in the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds.

The ceremony on Tuesday was organized by Combatants for Peace Movement in cooperation with the Parents’ Circle- Families Forum.

The ceremony included speeches by bereaved family members who are active in forums promoting dialogue, reconciliation and nonviolence.

There were also performances and speeches by notable artists including Ohad Naharin, the artistic director and choreographer of the Batsheva Dance Company; Sha’anan Streett, the lead vocalist of Hadag Nahash; and the Arab-Jewish women’s choir Rana. MKs Zehava Gal- On and Esawi Frej of Meretz, and Dov Henin from the Joint List, were in attendance.

The ceremony first took place 11 years ago as an initiative of Buma Inbar, who lost his son Jotam in 1995 while serving with the Golani Brigade in Lebanon. Since then has it provided an alternative for bereaved families to the official ceremonies.

In a meeting before the ceremony, Combatants for Peace activist and co-founder Suliman Khatib said the movement is facing challenges at home.

“The main opponents we have in the Palestinian society are the anti-normalization’ advocates,” he said.

“There will always be people who would prefer to stay in the comfort zone and stick with old habits.” Khatib referred to the inauguration of the Nelson Mandela Square in Ramallah last month, and stressed that “his way is the way of movement – combating without violence.”

Dozens protested outside the ceremony, shouting, “There is no such thing as a Palestinian people,” and, “Traitors,” at the participants exiting the building. Nir, one of the protesters, told The Jerusalem Post he thinks that having such ceremony is unacceptable.

“I am shocked,” he sad. “I can’t believe that on the day that we mourn our soldiers, some of us find it right to mourn the loss of Palestinians.”Schermata 2016-05-13 alle 12.16.39

Amid Israeli Independence Day Celebrations, Thousands of Arabs Rally to Mark Nakba

The event, held near a Negev Bedouin town, is attended by Israeli Arab lawmakers, community leaders and thousands of people displaced from their original villages by the War of Independence.

Thousands of Arab Israelis marked Nakba Day on Wednesday with a march near the Negev Bedouin town of Rahat, the main event of which was a mass vow to preserve Bedouin lands and not to concede the “right of return.”

Nabka Day, which commemorates the flight or expulsion of more than 700,000 Arabs during Israel’s War of Independence in 1947-49, is usually observed on Israeli Independence Day as well as its official date of May 15. The right of return refers to the Palestinian demand that both the original Palestinian refugees and all their descendants be allowed to resettle in Israel.

Wednesday’s event was attended by Arab Knesset members, the heads of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, which constitutes the unofficial leadership of the Israeli Arab community, and thousands of people displaced from their original villages by the War of Independence.

“For the Palestinians, the Nabka isn’t just a historical event, but a personal wound in the heart of every refugee and displaced person,” said Mohammed Barakeh, head of the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, at the event. “People didn’t flee, as some claim, but were uprooted. Yet even if they fled, they fled out of fear and suspicion, due to the crimes that were committed. And this doesn’t cancel out their right to return.”

“What happened in the Nakba was a crime of slaughter and displacement, and it’s impossible to correct this injustice without ensuring the right of return,” he continued. “What’s happening today is clear. Israel is degenerating into an apartheid state, but still, the world praises Israeli democracy.”

MK Ayman Odeh, chairman of the Joint Arab List, sounded a similar note in his speech. “The question of the Nakba isn’t a question of the past, but a question of the future,” he said. “Recognizing the Nakba, this terrible crime, and working to correct the injustice is the only path to true reconciliation between the two peoples.

“I’d like to stress the importance of our being here in the Negev today to mark the Nabka and express our determination to demand recognition of the injustices that were done and achievement of a just solution that will ensure the people’s rights,” he added.

Gadi Algazi, a history professor at Tel Aviv University, told the gathering that anyone who manages to make the public forget the Nakba and the right of return would also be ignoring the Gaza Strip with its large population of Palestinian refugees. It is impossible to talk about a peace agreement without negotiating over the refugee problem and the right of return of the refugees to what is now Israel, he said. 

Sources at the National Committee for the Defense of the Uprooted, which has organized the march in support of the right of return for the past 19 years, said the decision to hold the events in the Negev this year is also meant to convey the message that the Israeli Arab public has concerns about the situation in Israel's south and over government plans to resettle Bedouin living in unauthorized communities in the region.

read more: 2016-05-12 alle 21.06.53

Why Israelis Are Refusing to Send Their Kids on School Trips to Auschwitz

“To take young people there, just before they enlist in the army, and try to create an emotional experience for them – not an intellectual experience, but an emotional experience – and to tell them afterward, both directly and by means of suggestion, that now you understand why we need a strong army and why we can’t rely on others – to me, that’s just not right.”

Critics blame the emotional trauma inflicted on teenagers, the high cost imposed on parents, and the nationalist message at the expense of universal values.More than 20 years ago, a senior Israeli cabinet member came under fire for questioning the efficacy of state-sponsored high school trips to Auschwitz.

The project was barely in its infancy when Shulamit Aloni, then the education minister, expressed her repugnance for young Israelis who “march with unfurled flags, as if they’ve come to conquer Poland.” The death-camp pilgrimages, warned the former leader of the Israeli left, were creating a generation of xenophobes obsessed with the notion of Jewish might, but largely blind to the Holocaust’s universal lessons.

By now, the trips to Poland have become a rite of passage for young Israelis – as much a part of their initiation into adulthood as their service in the military and their post-army treks through Nepal. And current Education Minister Naftali Bennett, the leader of the most right-wing party in the governing coalition, is a big fan.

To be sure, the trips have long been shrouded in controversy. Questions persist about the high costs, the message, and the ability of teenagers to handle the wrenching experience. But until recently, nobody dared be a party pooper.

In 2010, the Israel Arts and Science Academy, an elite boarding school in Jerusalem, became the first high school in the country to stop sending students to Poland. Few paid heed, however, because the academy was a relatively new, small private school – hardly a well-known institution.

But last month, when Tel Aviv’s Gymnasia Herzliya, the oldest Hebrew high school in the country, became the first large public school to buck the trend, the nation took note. Citing the dangerous rise of nationalism in Israel, principal Zeev Degani announced that as of next year, Gymnasia Herzliya would no longer be sending delegations to Poland. Instead, it would find ways to educate its students at home about the Holocaust.

Ironi Alef High School of the Arts, another long-established Tel Aviv institution, is set to vote later this month on whether to follow suit. Indicating a possible domino effect, the head of the national association of high school principals has let it be known, through private channels, that he too supports scrapping the trips.

But Yair Auron, a historian and expert on Holocaust and genocide studies, says it would be premature to speak of a trend. “I would be happy to be proven wrong, but I can’t see it happening as long as we have someone running the Ministry of Education who sees these trips as a way of promoting his nationalist agenda,” says Auron, a professor at the Open University of Israel.

From the moment he stepped into his job seven years ago, Degani, the outspoken and charismatic principal of Gymasia Herzliya, said he had reservations about the trips. But only now did he feel the time was ripe to act.

“As I see it, this is our antidote – and pardon the expression – to the process of fascisization that is taking over politics in this country,” he told Haaretz.

A child of Holocaust survivors, Degani has never traveled himself to Poland “as a matter of principle,” he says, but has always been curious about how his students experienced the trips.

“Year after year, I would ask them what was the most meaningful part of the trip for them, and time and again I’d get the same answer – that the experience had made them more socially cohesive as a group,” he says.

“Well, if the whole point was to make them more socially cohesive, why not just send them all on a trip in Israel to the Negev? It’s a lot cheaper.”

The Israel Arts and Science Academy reached its decision for different reasons. “Because we’re a boarding school, we’re able to interact a lot more with our students and see what’s happening with them on a 24/7 basis,” says the principal, Etay Benovich. “Some of the students went through very difficult emotional experiences when they returned from Poland, which made us realize it wasn’t the right thing for every 17-year-old.”

And not only for that reason are the trips not age-appropriate, says Auron, the historian. “If they could visit Poland at age 30, that would obviously be much better,” he says.

“But to take young people there, just before they enlist in the army, and try to create an emotional experience for them – not an intellectual experience, but an emotional experience – and to tell them afterward, both directly and by means of suggestion, that now you understand why we need a strong army and why we can’t rely on others – to me, that’s just not right.”

Price-rigging and profiteering

At about 6,000 shekels per student ($1,600), the high costs of these often-dubbed “trips for the rich” are a common complaint. (Even though limited government funding is available for needy students, many still can’t afford to participate in the weeklong pilgrimages, which could partly explain why on average less than half of eligible students in a given class end up going.)

No doubt another contributing factor to the recent backlash has been an exposé on price-rigging and profiteering among trip operators. Earlier this year, officials at six leading tour companies, subcontracted by the Education Ministry, were investigated by the police after they had allegedly conspired to eliminate price competition in their niche market.

“If you go on your own – and we checked this out – it costs less than half the price that these companies charge,” says Degani. “The fact that lots of people are making money, and lots of money, off of Holocaust commemoration – that to my mind makes the whole thing illegitimate.”

40,000 participants a year

The government, through the Education Ministry, began sponsoring organized trips to Poland for high school students in 1988. The trips are voluntary, and schools are given considerable leeway in deciding their content, the only requirement being that students visit Auschwitz.

In earlier years, the trips consisted almost exclusively of visits to the sites of the death camps and Jewish ghettos. More recently, lighter elements have been added, including explorations of Jewish life in prewar Poland, folklore evenings and shopping trips.

According to Dani Rozner, the official responsible at the Education Ministry, the number of student participants has been growing constantly, approaching 40,000 annually in recent years, with delegations from 400 high schools around the country.

“As we see it, our main challenge is making sure that all those students participating are emotionally prepared,” he says.

Although the high school history curriculum includes a basic section on the Holocaust, students taking part in the Poland trips benefit from additional enrichment classes and activities, both before setting out and after their return. Degani, the principal of Gymnasia Herzliya, says this was another reason for his objections.

“Next year, all of the students, not just half of them, will learn about the Shoah because we will take a five-day journey around Israel to study about it, and for once, we will do it altogether,” he says.

Not all are as down on the trips as Degani. Eilon Nave, principal of another large high school in central Israel, Ahad Ha’am in Petah Tikva, believes they meld well with his institution’s mission of engaging with marginalized and disadvantaged communities (noting, for example, its collaboration with a nearby Arab school). Like other advocates of the program, Nave says nothing beats the experience of being there to gain an understanding of what happened.

“As a history teacher, I’m a big believer in visiting the sites where major events took place,” he says. “That holds true not only for the Holocaust, but also for the history of the State of Israel.”

And if students return from Poland, as most do, with a greater appreciation for Israel, Nave has no problem with that whatsoever. “I certainly don’t play down that aspect of the trip,” he says.

As for the high costs, he says, well, that’s life. “I’m a kibbutznik, and I can tell you that even on the kibbutz there’s not full equality,” he says. “Some kids at our school can afford electric bikes, and others can’t. The same is true for these trips, but that’s not a reason to scrap them.”

Dr. Eyal Kaminka, director of the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem, says he supports the continuation of the trips – but on condition.

“There is certainly added value in being there physically, and there is certainly a place for these trips in Israel – but just as long as they are done well,” he says. “You need to make sure that the kids who are going have the right motivation and that they’re emotionally prepared because these trips are not a good fit for everyone.”

From his experience in Holocaust education, Kaminka concedes that the trips are not necessarily the best tool for teaching the subject. “What we’ve learned is that nothing compares with meeting survivors and hearing their stories,” he says.

A report commissioned by the Education Ministry, published five years ago, found that the overwhelming majority of students who participated in the Poland trips returned with a deeper appreciation of their Jewish heritage and the need for an independent Jewish state. A smaller share – though still a majority – said they came back with a better understanding of the universal dangers of intolerance and racism.

But those who would conclude, based on these findings, that the trips are nurturing dangerous nationalist tendencies among young Israelis are being hasty, according to Kaminka. “Assessing the long-term effects of these trips is a major challenge,” he says. “Are the participants really more right-wing three years later when they go out and vote? I can’t say that, and I don’t know if anyone can.”

Feeling no ‘wow’

Many students talk about a life-changing experience. Raz Strugano, a student at Ben-Gurion University, calls the trips “an absolute must.”

“Until I went with my school, I stayed away from the subject of the Holocaust because it really scared me, to the point where I couldn’t even watch films about it,” says the Be’er Sheva native who visited Poland with her high school class five years ago. “After being there, I still can’t really fathom what happened, but at least I have a much better idea.”

By contrast, an officer in Military Intelligence says he has many reservations looking back. “I was in 11th grade at the time, and while it was a very powerful experience then, I don’t think I took much away from it, and I honestly don’t think about it that often,” says the officer, whose name cannot be used because he is not allowed to speak with reporters without permission.

“My main problem with the trip was that there was lots of emphasis on the past but hardly any on the future, like how do we apply what we’ve learned to making Israel a better place. The main message I got from the trip was that it’s important to serve in the army and defend the country, and I just didn’t connect to that. I thought it was propaganda.”

Another soldier who asked that his full name not be published also found the trip disappointing. “Sure, there were some very powerful moments, but most of the time I felt like I was walking around a museum with my classes,” he says. “There wasn’t that ‘wow’ feeling I had expected.”

Many Israeli teenagers take the trip not with their high school, but with the youth movement they belong to. Participants in the youth-movement delegations tend to report a more meaningful experience. As Idan, a 21-year-old army commander who went with his socialist Hashomer Hatzair group observes: “Kids who go with the youth movements have a better idea of what they want to get out of these trips. It’s less about being abroad and hanging out with friends for them.”

When the Israel Arts and Science Academy first canceled its trips, many students and parents protested. “It was considered almost a subversive thing to do at the time,” recalls Benovich, the principal. “But they seem to have come around. Last year we had a meeting with 20 parents to discuss whether to reinstate the trips, and only two voted in favor.”

Since the trips were scrapped, the school has designed its own alternative project: a five-day pilgrimage around the country focused on the Holocaust’s effects on different facets of Israeli society. “The kids are involved in choosing the specific content each year, and they also teach part of it,” Benovich says. “They meet with survivors, they study other genocides, they learn about other non-Jewish victims of the Nazi regime. Every year it’s something different.”

Among Benovich’s biggest supporters are Holocaust survivors, one of whom recently wrote him: “It’s enough that I experienced these atrocities. Why should Israeli students have to go there?”

Ruth Bondy, a prominent Czech-born journalist and translator who survived both Theresienstadt and Auschwitz, couldn’t agree more. “Israeli teenagers can learn the same material by spending three days at Yad Vashem at 1 percent of the cost,” the 92-year-old says.

“We’ve reached a situation where the success of these trips is measured by how many children end up crying. My suggestion is that instead of sending our children to mass graveyards, the one organized trip abroad they take through the school system, we send them somewhere beautiful. How about Florence for a start?”

Degani is encouraged by such responses but says he’s still skeptical about whether many will follow his lead. “There’s lots of pressure to toe the line,” he says. “On the other hand, we’ve managed to start a conversation, and that’s important, too.”

The Education Ministry added the following response: “We encourage Israeli students to visit the remnants of Jewish communities in Poland and the sites of the death camps. These pilgrimages are meant to strengthen their connection to the Jewish people and their heritage through the generations. It should be emphasized that these are voluntary, and not required, trips, and every school principal is at liberty to decide whether or not to go.”

read more: 2016-05-13 alle 08.42.23

Top Hezbollah Commander Mustafa Amine Badreddine Killed in Syria

Initial reports blamed Israel for the attack, but signs show that Israel was not responsible for Badreddine's death.

Mustafa Amine Badreddine, one of Hezbollah's highest ranking military commanders, has been killed in Syria.
While initial reports attributed the attack to a covert Israeli operation, signs show that Israel was not responsible for the strike. Israel, which rarely confirms such reports, did not respond to the earlier allegations.
A Hezbollah statement did not say when, where or how he was killed, though it cited Badreddine saying he would return from Syria, where he was stationed, either victorious or as "a martyr."
Describing Badreddine as "the great jihadi leader," Hezbollah announced his death in a statement early Friday, saying he "took part in most of the operations of the Islamic resistance since 1982."
Hezbollah's Al-Mayadeen network first reported that Badreddine, 55, was killed by an Israeli Air Force attack near Damascus' airport on Tuesday.
Local media has since stopped reporting that Israel had a hand in Badreddine's death.
Badreddine was said to have assumed the position of his brother-in-law, Hezbollah commander Imad Moughniyeh, who died in a 2008 assassination in Damascus also attributed to Israel. However, some dispute his official status as the group's military leader, saying he was only in charge of its operations in Syria, as Hezbollah has never publicly named a successor for Moughniyeh, whose son Jihad was also killed in Syria in an attack said to be Israel's doing.
Israel has previously been accused of striking targets in Syria belonging to the Lebanese group and, in April, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemed to confirm Israel struck dozens of Syrian weapons shipments that were en route to Hezbollah.
A U.S. Department of the Treasury statement detailing sanctions against Badreddine last year said he was assessed to be responsible for the group's military operations in Syria since 2011, and he had accompanied Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah during strategic coordination meetings with Assad in Damascus.
For years, Badreddine masterminded military operations against Israel from Lebanon and overseas and managed to escape capture by Arab and Western governments by operating clandestinely.
According to a security official who spoke with Reuters, Badreddine was said to have led Hezbollah's ground offensives in the Syrian border town of al-Qusair in February 2013, a key battle in the group's attempt to aid the embattled Syrian regime.
Even before supposedly taking over the group's military operations in the country, Badreddine was considered a prominent Hezbollah commander, with an illustrious record of crimes and attacks ranging from claims he was the bomb maker behind the 1983 bombing of the U.S.­ Marines barracks in Beirut that killed 241 Americans, to his playing a key role in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, for which he was tried in absentia at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Outrage at his role in the Hariri assassination might have prompted the group to move him away from Lebanon and into Syria.
Badreddine was also sentenced to death in Kuwait for his role in bomb attacks there in 1983. He escaped from prison in Kuwait after Iraq invaded the country in 1990 under the leadership of Saddam Hussein.
His release from jail in Kuwait was one of the demands made by the hijackers of a TWA flight in 1985, and of the hijackers of a Kuwait Airways flight in 1988.
Hezbollah's al-Manar TV said he would be buried at 5:30 P.M. in the southern suburbs of Beirut.

Jack Khoury
Haaretz Correspondent

read more: 2016-05-13 alle 09.08.49

French FM to Meet With Netanyahu in Attempt to Advance Peace Summit

Netanyahu is expected to lambast French initiative during meeting with Jean-Marc Ayrault, but used Independence Day talk to say he has not backtracked on commitment to a two-state solution.French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Sunday to discuss the French proposal for an international peace conference on the Middle East that is causing considerable tension between Jerusalem and Paris.
Netanyahu is expected to harshly criticize the plan at his meeting with Ayrault, while the visiting minister will try to persuade him not to reject it out of hand.
Three weeks ago, the French government sent invitations to more than 20 foreign ministers for a meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Neither Israeli nor Palestinian representatives were invited to the meeting, which was called for May 30.
The meeting’s purpose is to discuss the international peace conference that France wants to host in late 2016. France wants the foreign ministers to set an agenda for the conference and lay down on principles for a resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
In recent weeks, French officials have held talks with all the countries invited to the meeting in an effort to ensure that their foreign ministers attend, with a special emphasis on the United States and Russia. Having U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov there would make the gathering far more serious and significant, whereas their absence would be a harsh blow to the French. So far, however, neither man has confirmed his attendance.
Kerry was in Paris on Monday to meet with Ayrault, and France’s peace initiative was one of the main topics of discussion. Senior Israeli officials briefed on their conversation said Kerry told Ayrault that if the foreign ministers’ meeting were postponed for a few days and the French made some changes in their proposal, Kerry would be more inclined to attend. Ayrault said he was open to making those changes but would have to get approval from French President Francois Hollande, the officials added.
On Thursday, Kerry spoke by phone with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. According to the official Palestinian news agency, Abbas told Kerry that he supports the French initiative and urged Washington to support it as well.
A senior American official who spoke on the condition of anonymity refused to disclose details, saying only that Kerry has been discussing the French proposal with French officials and other relevant parties, but hasn’t yet decided whether or not to attend the foreign ministers’ meeting.
Ayrault is scheduled to arrive in Israel Saturday night. He will meet with Netanyahu on Sunday morning before going to Ramallah in the afternoon to meet with Abbas. Ayrault will leave Israel Sunday evening.
Though Netanyahu has stated publicly that he rejects the French initiative, French diplomats said Ayrault wants to hear Netanyahu’s views in person.
In recent weeks, Netanyahu has spoken out vehemently against the French government and its peace initiative during meetings with other European foreign ministers. Senior officials briefed on these meetings said Netanyahu was particularly outraged by the fact that France voted for a recent Unesco resolution that cast doubt on Jewish ties to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.
“How can they not be ashamed of themselves?” one official quoted Netanyahu as saying. “With a vote like that, they want me to come to a peace conference in Paris and believe that it will be balanced, fair and objective?”
The French claim that they voted for the resolution only in order to persuade the Palestinians to freeze their efforts to get the UN Security Council to pass a resolution against the settlements.
Over the past few days, fierce criticism of that vote has been heard in France as well, including from members of the French government. Prime Minister Manuel Valls, who will visit Israel in 10 days’ time, said on Wednesday that the UNESCO resolution was “unfortunate” and should have been avoided. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said at a meeting with leaders of the French Jewish community that France shouldn’t have voted for the resolution.
At a reception for foreign ambassadors held at the President’s Residence in honor of Israeli Independence day, Netanyahu said that contrary to what many in the international community believe, he has not backtracked on his commitment to a two-state solution. He said he is willing to meet Abbas anywhere, anytime, but Abbas keeps refusing. He also stressed that direct talks are the only way to achieve a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Barak Ravid

Haaretz Correspondent

read more: 2016-05-13 alle 09.20.48

Israel Will Be Ethical, Moral Model for World,’ Says Bennett at Israel Prize Ceremony

Education Minister’s remarks open annual Israel Prize ceremony, where 11 prizes were awarded, including to Prof. David Shulman, who announced cash prize would go to anti-occupation group.Jewish solutions will be found to humanity’s problems, Education Minister Naftali Bennett declared at the annual Israel Prize awards ceremony yesterday.
“The goal of Judaism’s history is to heal a wounded world,” Bennett said in his introductory remarks. “The next generation of Zionism will invert the model: Instead of searching for universal solutions for the problems of the Jews, we’ll find Jewish solutions for the problems of humanity."
Eleven prizes were handed out at the ceremony in Jerusalem, which was also attended by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and Supreme Court President Miriam Naor. The prize winners are Prof. Eviatar Nevo in life sciences; Prof. David Shulman in religion and philosophy; Hadas Ophrat in performance arts; Prof. Yohanan Friedmann in Near Eastern studies; Prof. Yossi Katz in geography, archeology and Land of Israel studies; Prof. Leslie Leiserowitz and Prof. Meir Lahav n chemistry and physics; Nurit Hirsh in Hebrew song and popular culture; Prof. Edit Doron in linguistics; Rabbi Eli Sadan and Maj. Gen. (res.) Doron Almog for lifetime achievement.
Prof. Shulman announced this week he would donate his prize money to Ta'ayush, an NGO that supports Palestinians in the West Bank.
read more:
Schermata 2016-05-13 alle 09.40.18

UN Chief Slams Israel, Calling Them “Gangsters and Hoodlums”

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has criticised Israel in its occupation of Palestinian territories and treatment of Palestinian people, accusing Israeli authorities of being “gangsters and hoodlums”.

Ban Ki-moon declared:

After nearly 50 years of occupation—after decades of waiting for the fulfilment of the Oslo promises—Palestinians are losing hope. Young people especially are losing hope. They are angered by the stifling policies of the occupation.” reports:

Ban Ki-moon moved on to say that it is “human nature to react to occupation.”

“As oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism. So-called facts on the ground in the occupied West Bank are steadily chipping away the viability of a Palestinian state and the ability of Palestinian people to live in dignity.”

He also added that he is against terrorism and both sides should refrain from terrorist acts. He continued:

“We issue statements. We express concern. We voice solidarity. But life hasn’t changed. And some Palestinians wonder: Is this all meant to simply run out the clock? They ask: Are we meant to watch as the world endlessly debates how to divide land while it disappears before our very eyes?”

Ban Ki-moon also said that Israel’s manipulation of the real issue is a “settlement enterprise.”

This is a fair assessment. Let us be clear that Ban Ki-moon has been on the Israeli side for years. But how did the mad man in Tel Aviv respond?

“The U.N. Secretary General’s remarks give a tailwind to terrorism. There is no justification for terrorism,” Netanyahu said. “The secretary general encourages terror instead of fighting against terror. The secretary general forgot what the U.N.’s role is. Terror must not be encouraged for any reason whatsoever.”

Preston James was right in referring to people like Netanyahu as Satan worshippers whose diabolical plan is to control much of the West and perhaps the world—if they can. But there is no way that people of reason will allow that to happen. So, they continue to propagate lies and fabrications as gospel truth. Netanyahu again said:

“The Palestinian murderers do not want to build a state. They want to destroy a state, and they say this openly. They want to murder Jews simply because they are Jews, and they say this openly. They do not murder for peace, and they do not murder for human rights.”

Last March, Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan called Netanyahu’s speech before Congress “bullshit.”

When Netanyahu was running around like wild chickens saying crazy things like Iran was in the process of building nuclear bombs within weeks and months, Israel’s military chief and Lieutenant-General Benny Gantz came out and declared that Iran was “rational” and was not in the process of building any nuclear bomb. In fact, the Israeli military made it very clear last year that Iran was not the most dangerous threat.

The historical record tells us that this is consistent with Iran’s moral position. On the contrary, it is Israel that has been in violation of nuclear weapons policy.

So, the mad man in Tel Aviv lied again. We can predict with certainty that he will lie again in the next few days or weeks. Good luck in proving me wrong.

Do you see why this man should be in a padded cell? Do you see why he is dangerous to society and even to himself?Schermata 2016-05-09 alle 10.27.19

The IDF General Who Challenged Netanyahu’s Suffocating Holocaust Analogies

By pointing to intolerant trends in Israeli society, the deputy army commander deviated from the accepted script of Jews as eternal victims.
I’ve never met the IDF Deputy Chief of Staff with the quintessentially Israeli name Yair Golan, so it’s hard for me to tell whether he’s brave or stupid or possibly both. Golan spent much of his military career in elite paratrooper units and participated in every major IDF campaign since the 1982 war, including house to house combat against Palestinian terrorists as the head of an infantry brigade in the 2002 Operation Defensive Shield, so I suppose his courage is self-evident, though battlefield daring doesn’t always include courage of convictions as well.
Golan’s foolhardiness has become obvious since his bracing Holocaust Day speech on Wednesday at Kibbutz Tel Yitzhak, in which he refrained from casting Israeli society as an eternal victim but warned against the increasing intolerance that could turn it into a potential perpetrator as well. I am assuming that Golan knew that his words would be made public, that he was cognizant of the tremors of shock they would send throughout Israel and parts of the Jewish world, especially on such a sensitive day, and that he was fully aware that within the space of a few hours he would become public enemy no. 1 for Israeli right wingers and self-styled Jewish patriots abroad. If he didn’t know, he’s an idiot, if he did and went ahead nonetheless then he’s a fool, career-wise at least, but more of a hero as well.
Within minutes of Golan’s speech, the right wing spin machine leaped into action, inflating his words, taking them out of context, blowing them up to diabolical proportions. Rather than challenging Golan’s assertion that disturbing trends in Israeli society evoke associations to Germany and Europe in the 1930’s, which is what he actually said, his words were twisted to suggest that he had compared the IDF to the Wehrmacht, Israel to the Nazis and Palestinians, by logical extension, to persecuted Jews about to be carted off to concentration camps. With the ground thus prepared, politicians started piling up on Golan, accusing him of defiling his own IDF, defaming the state and aiding and abetting BDS. The self-induced mass hysteria quickly turned into a virtual witch-hunt, which I can only assume Golan was also prepared for, because it is part and parcel of the ominous trends that he was warning against.
Once again, it was left to Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon to defend the honor of the IDF against hotheaded right wing politicians, as he had in the recent public storm that followed the Hebron killing of a wounded terrorist by an IDF medic. Along with President Reuben Rivlin, Ya'alon is one of the last Israeli politicians who still believe that hawkishness and continued occupation do not have to contradict democracy and a commitment to the rule of law. It is a position that has always been fiercely contested by the left but is now increasingly rejected by the right, for diametrically-opposed reasons: universal human rights and democratic principles are increasingly viewed and portrayed by right wing leaders as subversive concepts used by Israel’s enemies to weaken its hold on its historic homeland. That also sounds familiar to students of mid-twentieth century Europe, but let’s skip that for now.
Golan’s main message, as Netanyahu probably knows, was that the kind of inflamed nationalistic rumble that erupted from the demonstrations in favor of Sgt. Elor Azaria, the soldier who shot the terrorist – which Netanyahu, at best, did nothing to quell – were ugly and dangerous and, yes, reminiscent of darker times. That such rallies, as well as statements made by irresponsible politicians, carry an implicit and often explicit message that killing Palestinian terrorists, no matter what the circumstances, is not only excusable but also desirable (and they’re all terrorists in the end, as everyone knows). And that the IDF’s anachronistic efforts to cling to its old-time leftist and defeatist values of “purity of arms” and to adhere as much as possible to the commonly accepted laws of war and rules of engagement have no place in today’s all-out battle to the death against Israel’s enemies.
In that sense, Golan’s greater sin may have been his direct challenge to the world view presented by Netanyahu himself a few hours earlier at the official Holocaust Day ceremony at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. Netanyahu, of course, is the last person on earth who can object to comparisons between the Holocaust and the present because they are his number one rhetorical weapon of choice, as he amply demonstrated during last year’s debate over the Iran (Munich) nuclear deal concluded by Obama (Chamberlain) with ayatollahs (Nazis) in Tehran (Berlin). But for Netanyahu and, alas, for most Israelis and Jews, Holocaust analogies can only be a one way street: Israelis and Jews are always cast as the victims, no matter what the circumstances, while the rest of the world, whatever its grievance might be, is trying to finish what Hitler, Himmler and Goering had started.
Gas chambers or not, atomic weapons or not, Netanyahu has embedded Israelis in a world in which they are no more masters of their fate than the Jews of Ghetto Bialystok or Ghetto Lvov, a universe in which the village is always burning and the carving knife is eternally on Israel’s neck. It is a suffocating, essentially anti-Zionist message in which the establishment of the state of Israel has done nothing to change the basic condition of the Jews. It depicts a world of danger and darkness, devoid of light or hope, in which Israel is repeatedly abandoned by its duplicitous friends and unfaithful allies, in which Jews around the world are perennially on the lookout for an upcoming pogrom, in which anti-Semitism has somehow broken out once again as a plague for no rhyme or reason, in which even naive college students on American campuses who support a boycott to protest the occupation are an existential danger, in which the only hope for survival lay in eternal vigilance against external enemies and internal backstabbers. It is a world in which the Final Solution is always on the table, a world of perennial conflict between good and evil, a world in which there is no room for mercy, remorse or weak-kneed illusions of peace. Just as it was back then.
By painting such a one-sided world, Netanyahu helps himself, politically, of course, but he also makes it easier for Israelis to feel justified and virtuous. He absolves them of the need for retrospection or for looking in the mirror. He enables them to deny reality and to fail to connect the dots, even if the evidence is under their noses. Just as Israelis - as well as most American Jews, by the way - have mastered the art of ignoring half a century of occupation “beyond the mountains of darkness” and just as they have repressed memories of their blatant indifference to the carnage and casualties in Gaza in 2014, so they are now capable of overlooking the repeated and often well-documented pattern of Palestinian assailants who are killed despite posing no danger, as well as the increasing public displays of dangerous racism and even genocidal agitation in the streets, in football stadiums and, perhaps most ominously, on social media.
There are thousands if not tens of thousands of Israelis who call for ejecting, raping and murdering Palestinians, leftists and even plain old critics of the government, on an almost daily basis. The cry “Death to the Arabs” which reverberates in radical right wing demonstrations as well as football fields has become so routine that no one seems to notice anymore. Just this past Sunday, a gang of 40-50 football thugs assaulted Nadwa Jabber, an Israeli-Arab teacher in a mixed school devoted to coexistence, when she was in her car with her two young daughters outside the Jerusalem shopping mall. “Here are some Arabs,” they shouted, surrounding Jabber, who had stopped at red light, blocking her way, pounding on her car and screaming racist taunts and insults. “It was 15 minutes of pure terror,” she said.
That didn’t seem to bother Netanyahu or his ministers too much. There was no public outcry or demands that steps be taken. But when a senior army officer with a proven battle record and a history of tough and uncompromising aggressiveness towards terrorists accurately points out, as a child in the Emperor’s New Clothes, that such incidents are reminiscent of attitudes towards Jews in Berlin in the 1930’s, as they surely are, that’s when Netanyahu, his ministers and, frankly, most of public opinion - that’s when they become enraged. That’s when they feel a red line has been crossed. That’s when they demand immediate action, or else.

Chemi Shalev
Haaretz Correspondent

read more: 2016-05-06 alle 17.20.51

Not Only Livingstone: Some Jews in the 1930s Also Thought Hitler Aided Zionism

When the Nuremberg Race Laws were passed in 1935, some ultra-Orthodox Jews believed they would help the effort to prevent intermarriage.

A leading ultra-Orthodox Israeli newspaper declared this week that Israel is responsible for anti-Semitism throughout the world. Yated Ne’eman wrote, “The State of Israel, which was established to solve the problem of anti-Semitism, has become the main cause of anti-Semitism. The Jews of the world are suffering not because of their religion, but because of the State of Israel and its policies!”
With regard to the statement by former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, who was suspended from the British Labour Party for saying Hitler “supported Zionism, before he went mad and ended up killing 6 million Jews,” the daily, which belongs to the Lithuanian (non-Hasidic) branch of ultra-Orthodoxy, stated, “It is terrifying that blood-soaked Europe is once again proving that its land has not yet covered the blood of the holy martyrs.”
But the conflating of the interests of Zionism and the Nazis, mainly for propaganda purposes, didn’t begin with Livingstone. Had he wanted, the Labour Party member could have called upon some Jewish sources – even ultra-Orthodox ones – which at the time thought Hitler’s actions were making an indirect contribution to the Zionist movement.
For example, Dos Yiddishe Tagblatt – a Polish-Jewish newspaper identified with the ultra-Orthodox community – reported in 1935 (after the Nuremberg Race Laws were passed) about a “session of the Reichstag in Nuremberg and speeches by Hitler and Göring.” The article’s subhead noted that with the Nuremberg laws “Hitler made the Zionist flag kosher.” It was referring to the fact that the Jews had been banned from raising the German flag, but were allowed only to raise a flag “in Jewish colors.”
That headline was found in the National Library in Jerusalem recently by Dr. Hanan Itzhaki, the rabbi of Efrata College in Jerusalem. He was doing research for a lecture on the 70th anniversary of the passing of the Nuremberg laws. Itzhaki collected headlines from Poland and Germany, including responses of confusion or exploitation of the events for anti-Zionist propaganda.
He found, for example, that Der Israelit – the German-language newspaper of Agudath Israel – negated the existence of a “Jewish flag” (i.e., Zionist flag). At the same time, it responded with some sympathy to the race laws because they contributed to the Orthodox effort to increase separatism and prevent intermarriage.
According to Itzhaki, as opposed to other newspapers in Poland (and like the German newspaper), Dos Yiddishe Tagblatt didn’t protest the Nuremberg Race Laws.
“All the Jews at the time were already suffering from Hitler, and of course they didn’t like him. But the race laws didn’t shock Haredi [ultra-Orthodox] society at first; perhaps the contrary. After all, the thing that threatens them most is assimilation,” said Itzhaki. He added that the use of the term “kosher” was not an accident. It was intended, he said, to goad the Zionists and to tell them, “Look who your rabbi is. Look who the man is who makes you kosher.”
The phenomenon was also present in Palestine. In the newspaper Doar Hayom, in an issue from September 1935, a writer by the name of S. Schwartz wrote an article entitled, “Out of the bitter comes the sweet.”
The article called on readers not to be “given over only to feelings of insult” following the passing of the Nuremberg Race Laws by the “Berlin devil.”
According to Schwartz, the poet Haim Nahman Bialik had more than once “in conversation compared the Hitler regime to the regime of Stalin in terms of our national interests. He specifically said that, actually, the former is better than the latter. In spite of ourselves, the Hitler regime makes us Jews and even nationalist and Zionist, while the Stalin regime led Russian Judaism to total assimilation.”
Schwartz wrote that the law prohibiting Jewish children from attending German schools would “bear good fruit, will help us save the unfortunate Jewish youth in Germany from the tortures of hell, and inculcate Jewish education and perhaps Jewish national education in full measure.”
Elucidating what he meant by bitter and sweet, Schwartz said that instead of being insulted, “let us think about possible usefulness here … In fact, if German Judaism had feelings of national pride, it would long ago have stood up and demanded that the government open special schools for the Jewish children, declaring openly that it is inconceivable for them to be educated in the ‘racist’ atmosphere, full of horrors, now in the general schools.” Schwartz wrote that Hitler “is now forcing the Jews of Germany to save their youth and to join … the great Jewish movement now underway throughout the world, creating a new life and assured future for our people.”
Of course, there are enormous differences between the forgotten Jewish writers and British politician Livingstone, although political passions are present in all the interpretations of the events. The differences, for example, are 80 years of history and a historical perspective that some of the Jews couldn’t have in 1935.
But even in 2016, there are some Jews who are nostalgic for the 1930s in Europe. “The natural state of the Jewish people is exile! Its normality is in the pressure cooker of hatred and persecution,” Yeted Ne’eman wrote this week.Schermata 2016-05-07 alle 09.14.30

Yair Ettinger

Haaretz Correspondent

read more: 2016-05-07 alle 09.13.13

MK Lawmaker: If Israel Took Revenge Against Palestinians, Jewish Attacks Could Have Been Preempted

Right-wing MK Smotrich claims that the arson-murders of the Dawabsheh family and the killing of Mohammed Abu Khdeir were private citizens' 'justified aspirations' for revenge.

A leading right-wing lawmaker said Friday that if Israel had pursued appropriate acts of revenge against the Palestinians in the past, it could have prevented subsequent Jewish attacks on Palestinians, including a July 2015 arson attack that killed three members of a Palestinian family.
MK Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) claimed that revenge is an “important and moral value” that must be carried out only by the state, not by citizens taking the law into their own hands.
Smotrich is no stranger to controversy. His past comments include calling for segregating Jewish and Arab birth-mothers, insisting that the Duma arson was not an act of terrorism, and for organizing the anti-gay "Beast Parade" in 2006.
In the post on Facebook on Friday, Smotrich explained that if the state had taken revenge and deterred the Palestinian enemy, it could have prevented later events such as the arson attack on the Dawabsheh family home in Duma, which killed three people, including an infant boy, or the July 2014 immolation of the Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khdeir in East Jerusalem.
Revenge “has certain ways and goals against which it can be turned,” Smotrich wrote. “It is not given to the individual and cannot be aimed at every target identified with the enemy.”
Smotrich also criticized the government for not taking the initiative for reprisals “in legitimate ways.”
“It is possible to assume that if the State of Israel had not erased, under the influence of twisted Christian morality, the word revenge from its lexicon and had done things in legitimate ways and deterred the enemy, we would not have been faced with these harsh incidents of private individuals taking the law and revenge into their own hands,” he wrote.
In his long and carefully reasoned post, Smotrich made clear that the Abu Khdeir and Dawabsheh murders were not the result of racism, but came from justified aspirations for revenge.
“Steps of revenge are improper. ... The murder of the youth Mohammed Abu Khdeir and the murder in Duma (if it was carried out by Jews) are serious and forbidden, but they do not stem from racism – whose meaning is the hatred of the other only because they are different – or from the desire of someone in Israeli society to destroy the Arab people. They reflect anger and a desire for revenge, justified in their own right, on the basis of the hostility and war of annihilation the Arabs are conducting against us,” he added.
Smotrich called such acts of revenge a mistake and even a crime, noting that whoever commits such acts must be punished.
“If the Arabs had not fought against us, not a single Arab would have been killed here. If the Arabs had not murdered us night and day, not a single Jew here would have wanted to harm them. War is a bad thing, and during it we are required sometimes to take unpleasant defensive measures. It happens sometimes that mistakes are made as part of it, and even difficult mistakes that are almost criminal. But it is light years away from racism and apartheid,” wrote Smotrich.
Smotrich also addressed the speech by IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Yair Golan on Holocaust Remembrance Day, in which Golan seemingly compared recent developments in Israeli society to events that unfolded in Europe before the Holocaust.
“Really, truly, there is no connection whatsoever between negative phenomena that occur today in Israel – and which, it seems, the deputy chief of staff referred to – and the Holocaust and its lessons.
“Marking with a yellow star and limitations on movement and place of residence were one of the signs of Nazi anti-Semitism in Germany. Racial segregation on buses and in schools were signs of the unacceptable apartheid policies in the United States and South Africa. Erecting barriers, placing limits on movement and the separation on buses conducted in [the West Bank] between Jews and Arabs for security reasons resulting from the situation of war that exists here, even though from a technical aspect there are similarities between these and the previous examples, are something completely different. That the same sun shone here and in Germany does not mean the Nazis and we are the same,” wrote Smotrich.

Jonathan Lis

Haaretz Correspondent

read more: 2016-05-07 alle 09.28.57

The Difference Between Jewish and Palestinian Terror

The bottom line is that the extent of terror and willingness to use it is greater among the Palestinians than among the Jews.

The comparison between the pre-state underground militias Etzel and Lehi and Palestinian terror first became popular in the 1970s following terror attacks by the Palestine Liberation Organization. The attitude in the Zionist left to that comparison is bound up in a historical paradox: Even leaders of the Labor movement in the pre-state period, who also defined Etzel and Lehi as “terrorists,” rejected the comparison.
The issue came up recently once again following the condemnation of Zionist Union MK Zouheir Bahloul after he compared the actions of Eztel to Palestinian terror. Former Defense Minister Moshe Arens wrote in Haaretz (April 26) that Etzel had not harmed innocent civilians, while B. Michael (Haaretz, May 1) enumerated attacks by Etzel in a challenge to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who denounced Palestinian terror at an event marking the establishment of Etzel. The fact is, the militias did hit Arabs indiscriminately.
However, a deeper historical comparison should persuade even Israelis who show understanding for the Palestinian struggle that there is a difference, which places the Palestinian approach to terror in a more problematic light.
First of all, B. Michael noted a variety of actions without relating to the date or context of their occurrence. Most of the terror attacks he mentions happened between 1936 and 1939 – that is, during the Arab Revolt – and after November 29, 1947, when neither of the national movements had official armies. That is different from a situation in which one group commits one-way terror against civilians.
In addition, historically speaking it is difficult to speak of Etzel as a unified phenomenon, because the organization underwent transformations after it was established in 1931. At its height, after Menachem Begin became its commander in early 1944, the organization tried to avoid harming innocent Arabs, not only out of moral considerations but because of Begin’s (mistaken) assessment that efforts should best be focused on getting rid of the British because the Arabs would not dare rise up after the state was established.
The main difference between the Jews and the Arabs regarding terror as a means of national liberation is in the fact that the issue raised moral and utilitarian debates in the Jewish community of Palestine, which usually ended in a decision in favor of restraint, even in the face of terror attacks. Debates to such an extent against terrorists did not take place in Palestinian society.
It may be said that Palestinian terror has deeper reasons, because from their point of view it is directed not only against an occupier but against an occupier who claims ownership of the land. In contrast, the Jews were fighting for their independence mainly against the British, who did not lay claim to the land and in principle even encouraged the establishment of a national home for the Jews. Hence, the pre-state Jewish community could be judicious in their response toward the Arabs. And still, the bottom line is that the extent of terror and willingness to use it is greater among the Palestinians than among the Jews.
But precisely recognition of this fact raises a more basic question regarding our own times: Why, before the state was established, when the Jews lacked sovereignty and an army, did most of them agree to use restraint – while now, when they are at the height of their power, most Israelis cannot restrain themselves, to the point where they support the killing of a wounded terrorist?

Avi Shilon
Haaretz ContributorSchermata 2016-05-07 alle 09.38.53

read more: 2016-05-07 alle 09.39.49

Palestinian Family Grapples With Siblings' Deaths as Israel Refuses to Release Bodies

The bereaved father of Maram and Tahah is convinced that their double killing at the Qalandiyah checkpoint could have been prevented: 'Even if she had a knife, she was far away from them,' he says as Maram's two daughters still wait for her promised return.

Two little girls with braids, wearing identical brown tracksuits on which an image of the Eiffel Tower glitters. For the past few days, a photograph of the two has been drawing attention in Israel and worldwide in the media and on the social networks.
The two are 5-year-old Sara and 5-year-old Rimas, daughters of Maram Abu Ismayil, 26, who was killed along with her brother, 16-year-old Ibrahim Tahah, on Wednesday of last week at the Qalandiyah checkpoint in north Jerusalem by Border Policemen and private security guards.
The girls’ grandfather, Salah Tahah, tells us that the two don’t yet know their mother is dead, that they are waiting for her to return and bring them sweets, as she promised before she left the house that day. But Salah is almost certainly mistaken: The two little girls are wandering around in a daze in a home that is not theirs, they won’t answer questions about their mother and are hardly talking at all. Their faces reflect deep anguish and consternation. They are being looked after by their grandmother. Their father is not around, either.
Two weeks ago, Maram and her daughters moved back to her parents’ home in the village of Katana. She left home in the wake of a dispute with her husband, Rauf, 27, the girls’ father, who works in a factory in the Atarot industrial zone north of Jerusalem. He has remained in their home in the nearby village of Beit Surik even during the mourning period. (Both villages are in the Ramallah area.)
According to Salah, Maram was supposed to return to her home and her husband at the end of this week. She had suffered a hand injury under unclear circumstances – her father says she was cut in the kitchen – and had also complained of leg pains, caused by blocked blood vessels.
Last Wednesday, she planned to visit Muqassed Hospital in East Jerusalem to have her leg treated. Her intention, her father says, was to pass through the Qalandiyah checkpoint on the strength of medical documents she received from a hospital in Ramallah, where she had gone on March 17. Contrary to earlier reports, she did not have an entry permit to Israel.
It’s difficult to get her father to answer the question of whether it’s possible that his daughter set out to perpetrate a knifing attack at the checkpoint in the wake of the crisis in her personal life. In any event, Salah is convinced that it was both wrong and totally unnecessary for his children to have been killed by the Israeli security people.
“Even if she had a knife, she was far away from them,” he says. “Let’s say she had a cannon – it would have been possible to shoot at her legs and certainly not to shoot Ibrahim, who only tried to evacuate her from the checkpoint.”
The two were apparently 10 to 15 meters from the security people, and Ibrahim was not holding a knife. Couldn’t the many policemen and the guards at the site have overpowered a woman and a teenager without killing them? A serious and disturbing doubt surfaces and becomes even more acute in light of the refusal by the Israel Police to make public the video footage that should shed light on what really happened.
Now doubly bereaved, Salah Tahah tries to maintain composure that shows he is capable of dealing with this pain. He’s a 61-year-old shared-taxi driver who plies the route between his village and Ramallah, for 7 shekels ($1.85) each way. He speaks fluent Hebrew, which he picked up during the period when he worked at a poultry slaughterhouse in Beit Shemesh, driving ritual slaughterers and kashrut inspectors to and from Bnei Brak. His brother worked for 25 years as a janitor in Kibbutz Tzova. The people in this house recall fondly the many guests from Israel who visited them in other times.
Maram had been married for six years. Her father says she was waiting for the results of a pregnancy test. Last Wednesday morning, she told her mother, Fatma, that she was going to the East Jerusalem hospital. Her mother insisted that her younger brother accompany Maram. “We do not let our women go about alone,” her father explains.
Ibrahim, a student in the 11th grade, had been late for school that day and was sent home by his teacher. His fate was sealed: to accompany his sister on her death outing, which became his death outing, too.
They left after 8:30 A.M., taking a shared taxi toward Ramallah and then another one to the Qalandiyah checkpoint. There they started to walk toward the checkpoint in the lane reserved for cars. Salah says his daughter had never been to Qalandiyah and did not know where she was supposed to go.
Before leaving, Maram told her daughters that she would be back around midday and would bring them sweets. Her father, who was driving his taxi at the time, was told by his wife that Ibrahim had been sent home and that Maram had set out for Jerusalem with him.
Last November, the family mourned Yehya Tahah, a cousin of Maram and Ibrahim, who was shot in the head by soldiers while trying to get to work in a neighboring town; there had been a curfew at the time on his village. A photograph of Yehya, who was 20 at the time of his death, now hangs on the living room wall in this house of mourning. His father Yusuf has come to be with his brother as he grieves for his double loss.
Another uncle, Tahah Ksis, the one who worked in Kibbutz Tzova, says that during the tenure of Prime Minister Rabin, none of this would have happened. “It’s all because of Netanyahu. Netanyahu and the Shin Bet,” he says, referring to Israel’s security service.
What, then, happened at the checkpoint? The fact that the police are refusing to release the footage taken by the security cameras there has provoked strong suspicions. In other cases, where publicizing such footage served its interests, the police were quick to do so.
According to a report this week, Border Policemen called out to the sister and brother to stop, and when they kept going, fired into the air. Afterward, Maram apparently threw her bag onto the ground, and possibly also a knife, and was shot and killed by private security guards from a distance of 10 to 15 meters. That was as close as Maram got to them. Ibrahim, who, according to eyewitnesses tried to remove his sister’s body from the site, was also shot to death.
The two lay on the ground, in an embrace, dead or dying – no one bothered to check their condition – for about an hour and a half before being taken from the scene.
Kareem Jubran, field research director for the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, took the testimony of the Red Crescent ambulance driver, who arrived on the scene about 10 minutes after the shootings, at 10:50. The driver told Jubran that he was not allowed to approach the two until 12:20, that he was driven off with threats and that no one went to check the siblings as they lay bleeding on the road. Finally, personnel from Zaka, an Israeli emergency response organization, arrived, placed the bodies in plastic bags and removed them.
“They killed them, they killed them,” says Yusuf Tahah, the father’s brother, “but at least give us the bodies. Tell us where to go and we will bring the bodies. We can’t go on with our lives before burying them.”
The pain at Israel’s confiscation of the bodies is almost as searing here as the pain at the loss of the sister and brother.
Of the three knives the police displayed in a photograph – they were quick enough to make that image public: the knives are apparently not considered “investigation material” – Salah Tahah recognizes only his son’s folding penknife. It has a screwdriver and a bottle opener, he says, and his son used to keep it in his pocket. The knife remains folded even in the police photo. The father does not recognize the other two knives, which are new and identical to each other.
Salah was driving his taxi and had no idea of what had happened, when his brother came toward him, made him stop and told him the appalling news. He let the passengers out and rushed home, where they already had heard.
“The Lord gave, the Lord took,” the bereaved father says now in the Hebrew he learned from hid days at the Beit Shemesh slaughterhouse. He does not add, “Blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Gideon Levy
Haaretz Correspondent

read more: 2016-05-07 alle 12.30.48

Defense Ministry Plans on Establishing New Israeli Settlement in West Bank

The new community is intended for those currently living in the Amona outpost, which is slated for evacuation and demolition by the end of the year.

The Defense Ministry, together with the settlement movement Amana, is planning a new settlement near Shiloh in the northern West Bank. The new construction is intended for the 40 families now living in the outpost of Amona, which is set to be evacuated by the end of the year.
The settlement's architectural plans, obtained by Haaretz, show that it will be built on state lands near the outpost of Geulat Zion, which has been focal point of violence against Palestinians. Geulat Zion was the home of Amiram Ben-Uliel, charged with the arson-murder of the Dawabsheh family in the Palestinian village of Duma. The police frequently carry out demolition orders in the outpost.
The planning of the settlement is meant to dispel opposition to the evacuation of Amona. It will have 139 housing units, and Amona’s secretary general, Zeev Hever, could sell about 90 of them on the open market.
Hever was questioned under caution by the police last month on suspicion of fraud.
Last week, a settler who is cultivating a vineyard on part of the land where the new settlement is to be established was asked to vacate the area by representatives of the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council so that construction work could begin. However, work has not started because of opposition by Amona's inhabitants.
Amona was built in 1997 on private Palestinian lands near the settlement of Ofra. In 2006 it was the site of a violent confrontation during the demolition of nine permanent structures. The outpost has been the focus of a legal battle for the past eight years after a number of the Palestinian landowners petitioned the High Court of Justice through the human rights group Yesh Din.
The state initially pledged to raze the outpost by the end of 2012, but after repeated delays the it announced that only the buildings on lots named in the petition would be demolished. The settlers claimed that they had purchased some of the lots legally, but a number of the documents submitted to the court were found to be forged. At the end of 2014 then-High Court President Asher Grunis ordered the evacuation of the entire outpost in two years, by December 25, 2016.
Following the ruling, Amona's residents launched a protest group and announced that they would not reach an agreement with the state to evacuate the outpost in exchange for alternative housing and financial incentives, such as residents of the Migron and Ulpana outpost in the Beit El neighborhood. The protest group wants a “creative legal solution” to be found for the outpost. One proposed resolution was to expropriate land from its owners and transfer it to Amona. However, so far it seems that politicians are not sympathetic to the residents’ struggle.
In establishing a new settlement, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon wants to send a message to the residents of Amona: Leave quietly and you will receive a new settlement, or don't, and end up without housing. The concern is that Hever might take advantage of the situation to legalize different outposts in the area, such as Esh Kadosh, Kida, Ahiya and others.

Chaim Levinson
Haaretz Correspondent

read more: 2016-05-07 alle 18.48.38

Israel Lobbies U.S. to Soften Tone of Quartet Report on Settlements

Israel is working to prevent the report, to be issued in the last week of May, from mentioning future possible steps by the UN Security Council on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.Israel is working to soften the tone of an upcoming report by the United States and the rest of the members of the Middle East Quartet of negotiators – Russia, the United Nations and the European Union. Israel is mainly concerned that the United States will take a harsher position against the settlements.
The report, to be issued in the last week of May, is expected to harshly criticize Israel over construction of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, according to senior officials in Jerusalem. Among other things, Israel is working to prevent the report from mentioning future possible steps by the UN Security Council on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.
At a meeting in Munich in February, the members of the Quartet announced that they would release a report in a few months on the diplomatic freeze between Israel and the Palestinians. For the first time, the statement included the possibility of cooperation between the Quartet and the UN Security Council.
One reason for the report was the Quartet’s decision to respond to the French initiative to call an international peace conference, which had been announced a few weeks earlier, and to ensure that the French did not take over leadership of the process in the international arena.
Senior Israeli officials and Western diplomats said that the report is expected to be relatively brief, to include a description of the situation on the ground and recommendations of steps that Israel and the Palestinians should take. Sources in Jerusalem said the report will include extensive criticism of Israel, especially about construction in the settlements, as well as restrictions Israel imposes on Palestinians in Area C of the West Bank, which is under full Israeli civilian and military control.
The Associated Press reported on Saturday that the United States has agreed to use a tougher tone in the report than it has in the past in condemning the settlements.
The report is also expected to criticize the Palestinian Authority for incitement against Israel and for not stopping terror attacks against Israel.
Although it is still unclear what the practical implications of the report’s criticism will be, Jerusalem ascribes great importance to it. That is because this is the first time in many years that the international community will be formulating an updated position on the freeze in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and will be doing so almost without taking the parties themselves into consideration.
The report’s conclusions could be used as a basis for a continuation of the French initiative or as a basis for formulating U.S. President Barack Obama’s legacy on the subject of the Palestinians and Israel toward the end of the year. Moreover, the report could also serve as a basis for renewing the peace process after a new president moves into the White House.
A senior official in Jerusalem said that Israel is in contact with all members of the Quartet to try to soften the report. The contacts are being coordinated by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s representative Isaac Molho, who is holding frequent talks on the subject with the American envoy Frank Lowenstein. Senior Foreign Ministry officials are holding similar talks with representatives of the United Nations, the European Union and Russia.
Israel has also conveyed various documents to the Quartet to try to provide information that will soften criticism of Israel or at least increase criticism of the Palestinians.
“The main question is how harsh criticism of the settlements will be,” a senior Israeli official said. “All the members of the Quartet can rally around this issue without a problem,” the official said, adding that Israel wants to avoid a situation in which the United States agrees to harden its position and insert a statement in the report that the settlements are illegal. So far, the U.S. position has been that the settlements are not legitimate and are an obstacle to peace.
The senior official said that Israel wants to prevent any mention in the report of possible future action in the UN Security Council. For example, there is concern in Jerusalem over the possibility that the report will be presented by the Quartet to the Security Council as a basis for discussion and adoption as an official resolution.
Another possibility is that the report will recommend that the Security Council take action over the settlements or in setting out principles for renewing negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, which will relate to borders, Jerusalem, security or refugees.
Over the past few weeks the Quartet report has largely become an American report. UN special envoy Nickolay Mladenov and EU envoy Fernando Gentilini are contributing to the content and recommendations, but Lowenstein is taking the lead in composing the report.
Last Thursday Secretary of State John Kerry met with EU Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini in Washington to discuss the report and its date of publication. Next week the Quartet is expected to meet in Moscow to try to unify the various drafts.
A senior Israeli official said that from the information the Foreign Ministry has received in Jerusalem, the report is expected to be published on May 25, about a week before the foreign ministers’ summit in Paris on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. The French government called the summit as part of its initiative for an international peace conference by the end of the year. The senior official said that the members of the Quartet want to release the report before the Paris summit so they can control its agenda.

Barak Ravid

Haaretz Correspondent

read more: 2016-05-08 alle 12.28.05

U.S. State Department: PA Envoy's Likening of Israeli Soldiers to Nazis 'Deeply Concerning'

'All colonizers, all occupiers, including those who suppressed the Warsaw uprising, labeled those who were resisting them as terrorists,' said Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian Authority's envoy to the UN.

The Palestinian Authority UN envoy’s likening of Israeli soldiers confronting stone-throwers to Nazis putting down the Warsaw uprising was “deeply concerning,” a State Department spokesman said.
Mark Toner responded Thursday to a JTA query about an April 27 press conference by Riyad Mansour.
“Obviously, we would condemn any anti-Semitic remarks very forcefully,” Toner said, noting that he had not yet examined Mansour’s comments, and was basing his assessment on remarks read to him by a JTA reporter. “It’s deeply concerning.”
Mansour, who called the press conference to discuss UN actions on Israel and the Palestinians, attacked Israeli diplomats for their terming stone-throwers “terrorists.”
“All colonizers, all occupiers, including those who suppressed the Warsaw uprising, labeled those who were resisting them as terrorists,” he said.
read more:
Schermata 2016-05-08 alle 14.32.50

Over 5,000 Israeli Bedouin Children Lack Access to Compulsory Preschool

Lack of transportation funding and state's refusal to grant building permits to unrecognized Bedouin communities bar kids' access to preschool.

More than 5,000 preschool-age Bedouin children are not in any educational setting. That, according to an Education Ministry report.
The ministry does not fund transportation to and from preschool for children aged 3 to 5, despite the expansion of the Compulsory Education Law to this age group. In addition, the state refuses to grant building permits to unrecognized Bedouin communities. Consequently, some 5,200 Bedouin children aged 3 to 5 do not have access to preschool. The ministry’s head of education for the Bedouin community, Mohammad Heib, presented these figures to a session of the Knesset Education, Culture and Sports Committee in March.
Heib told Haaretz that 74 percent of the Bedouin children who are not in preschool live in the jurisdiction of the Neve Midbar and al-Kasom regional councils. These regional governments, which were established in 2012, include many Bedouin communities that are not recognized by the national government.
Heib said the data were presented to Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who responded to a question from the floor of the Knesset.
In a letter to Bennett, Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Uri Ariel, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz and Union of Local Authorities in Israel chairman Haim Bibas, education committee chairman Yakov Margi demanded a resolution to the problem. The Knesset member from Shas called the figures “shocking.”
“The situation is difficult,” says Ziyad Nasasra, a teacher and father of five, including 3-year-old Talab, who lives in the unrecognized village of Alsara. “I go to work in the morning and even if I want to take the boy to preschool I can’t. Sometimes he cries when he sees his big brothers going to school in the morning. He has nothing to do, he has no framework.”
Nasasra says that as an educator he can see the difference between a child who went to preschool and the children in his village, “who don’t even know how to hold a pen.”
An unrecognized Bedouin village in the northwestern Negev last week took legal action against the regional council and the state.
In a petition filed against the Education Ministry and the al-Kasom Regional Council in Be’er Sheva District Court, residents of al-Sira demand that children aged 3 to 5 receive the education to which they are entitled by law. Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, submitted the petition on behalf of the villagers on Monday.
The petitioners say the 500 residents of al-Sira include 21 children aged 3 to 5 who lack access to preschool. Their petition states that the regional council and the Education Ministry have failed to provide preschools in the community and that residents cannot afford transportation to the nearest preschool. It’s in Kseifa, 12 kilometers away.
The Interior Ministry has permitted some unrecognized Bedouin villages, such as Tel Arad and Al-Fura’a, to establish preschools in temporary structures.
Despite al-Sira’s unrecognized status, courts have ruled against the state’s demand that the village be destroyed. In 2011 the Kiryat Gat Magistrate’s Court revoked a demolition order issued in 2006, and the Be’er Sheva District Court subsequently upheld the lower court’s ruling on appeal. “To uproot 350 people from their home and render them homeless must be based on a powerful, substantial public interest,” the court wrote in its verdict.
Villagers view the rulings as de facto recognition of al-Sira. “Revoking the demolition orders necessarily implies recognition of the villagers’ rights to at least basic, vital services, such as access to education, especially since the state is obliged to provide free education,” the petition states.
In a statement, the Education Ministry said it will respond to the petitioners in court, adding that it does not pay for the transportation of children between the ages of 3 and 4 anywhere in the country.
The Al-Kasom Regional Council said in a statement that the state’s zoning agencies prohibit new building in al-Sira, but added that “if the policy changes, the council will be happy to advance construction of preschools” in al-Sira.

Almog Ben Zikri

Haaretz Correspondent

read more: 2016-05-08 alle 12.44.08

America Must Tell Israel: Annexing the West Bank Is Our Red Line

Extending civil law to the settlements, as the justice minister is attempting, lays the legal groundwork for Israel to extend its permanent grip over the West Bank. Obama cannot remain silent.

Wake up Obama, it’s time for the U.S. to draw a red line.
Israel is in on the verge of sounding the death knell of the two-state solution. Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is leading a renewed charge to apply Israeli civil law to the West Bank, a move that would indicate more than just “creeping annexation” but a fatal and irreversible change to the status quo.
Such a move would not constitute de jure annexation but rather de facto annexation. It is a step that the United States must oppose and prevent if it ever hopes to keep alive the prospect of a two-state solution.
Washington is often vulnerable in an election year. The USSR invaded Hungary in October 1956 knowing the Eisenhower administration would be unable to respond a week before Election Day. All the more so, a second-term president in his final year can be a lame duck when it comes to foreign policy. We cannot afford to wait.
Changing the legal status quo in the West Bank bears much graver consequences than when Israel extended civil law over East Jerusalem in 1967 and the Golan Heights in 1981. In fact, it would be reminiscent of the first U.S.-Israeli diplomatic crisis, when Israel changed the legal status quo in the Gaza Strip it occupied after the 1956 Sinai Campaign.
After that war, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion thought, perhaps justifiably, that just as the world had accepted Israel expanding its internationally recognized borders from the 1947 partition lines to the 1949 armistice lines, it could do the same in Gaza. Israel made the Israeli lira the only legal currency in Gaza in December, and Ben-Gurion declared in January 1957 that unlike Sinai, Israel would not be evacuating Gaza.
However, the United States did not accept this position, adhering to the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war. Moreover, it considered Israel, along with Britain and France, as the aggressor in the conflict. Israel begged to differ, arguing that Egypt’s closure of the Straits of Tiran constituted a casus belli. Washington continuously pressured Jerusalem, even threatening sanctions, if it would not withdraw.
America won this battle of nerves, and Israel agreed to pull out in March 1957 after a six-month occupation after U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles and Foreign Minister Golda Meir came to a good faith agreement. According to this understanding, the United States pledged that if Israel would return to the 1949 armistice lines, America would consider any future closure of the Straits as a casus belli.
The United States honored that pledge in 1967. It did not pressure Israel to withdraw immediately after the Six-Day War from the territories it had captured following Egypt’s closure of the Straits of Tiran. But it was clear that Israel was not to annex the territories, which would have returned to situation to the post-1956 crisis, and it did not attempt to change the legal status quo in the West Bank or Gaza.
Since then, however, Israel has pushed back against the spirit of the Dulles-Meir agreement, applying civil law in East Jerusalem and the Golan, and settling hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jews in the West Bank. In those cases, Arab residents were offered citizenship or permanent residency. The United States, meanwhile, has sufficed with verbal chidings of Israel, even as the prospects of a two-state solution have dwindled.
Shaked is taking matters in a much more dangerous direction. She wants to apply Israeli law in the settlements to “equalize” conditions for settlers with Israelis inside the pre-1967 lines without extending equal conditions, like labor laws, to Palestinians. Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett can parse words and rightfully claim that there is “a very big difference between annexation and equalizing legislation,” but everyone knows that extending civil law to the settlements lays the legal groundwork for Israel to extend its permanent grip over the West Bank.
President George W. Bush already made one irresponsible deviation from traditional U.S. policy when he legitimized the idea of Israel maintaining parts of the West Bank as part of negotiations. The message of America’s inaction or endorsement of Israeli policies in the West Bank have reinforced and emboldened Israeli leaders to believe that they can take one step after another. Now they believe that they can shift gears from creeping annexation to virtual annexation.
Thus, the Obama administration cannot wait for November. It must publicly draw a red line and remind Israel that changing the legal status quo in the West Bank violates a 60-year understanding that the United States intends Israel to uphold.
If he remains silent and Shaked succeeds in her mission, there won’t be any peace process left to fight for when the next president takes office in January.
Steven Klein is an editor at Haaretz and an adjunct professor at Tel Aviv University's International Program in Conflict Resolution and Mediation. Follow him on Twitter: @stevekhaaretz

Steven Klein
Haaretz Contributor

read more: 2016-05-08 alle 15.02.00

Forget Sykes-Picot: Israel Won't Abandon the Golan to Terrorists

The time has come to drop the fixation with artificial borders drawn a hundred years ago by imperial powers.

The artificial borders delineated by Mark Sykes and Francois Georges-Picot in 1916 haven’t yet died, but like old soldiers they’re just fading away. Iraq is in turmoil, Syria is falling apart and the Islamic State, ensconced in parts of Iraq and Syria, has erased the Iraqi-Syrian border.
Tim Arango, The New York Times’ bureau chief in Baghdad, writes: “it seems fair to ask a question that has bedeviled foreign powers for almost a century: Is Iraq ever going to have a functioning state at peace with itself?”
The same question is undoubtedly being asked about Syria, which was also created in accordance with the Sykes-Picot treaty. The two states are artificial constructs cobbled together by Britain and France – imperial powers once upon a time but by now neither powerful nor imperial.
Still, much of the world seems to have a fixation with the artificial borders drawn on the map of the Middle East at that time – a fixation that does not want to come to terms with the reality on the ground. The United States continues to invest resources in Iraq in a seemingly vain effort to maintain it as a single state incorporating Shi’ite and Sunni Arabs and Kurds. A parallel effort is being made by the United States and Russia to make an arrangement that will reconstitute Syria as it once was.
The carnage goes on, while success seems to escape them. Has the time come to abandon the fixation with artificial borders drawn a hundred years ago?
The same question is pertinent regarding the Golan Heights. The border between British-mandated Palestine and French-mandated Syria was determined by British-French negotiations in 1923 after World War I. It altered the lines defined by the original Sykes-Picot Agreement, moving the Golan Heights over to the Syrian side of the border.
For the next 44 years the Golan Heights were part of Syrian territory, first as part of the French mandate, and after World War II as part of an independent Syria. Then followed Israeli control, in response to the Syrian attack on Israel in June 1967.

Sebastian Scheiner, AP
It is now 49 years that the Golan Heights have been part of Israel. In 1981 the Knesset passed a law incorporating the area into Israel. Although not recognized by the international community, the facts on the ground speak for themselves. Quiet and order reign on the Israeli side of the border, while on the Syrian side fighting and killing has continued for the past five years.
An international refusal to take cognizance of the changes on the ground isn’t limited to Iraq, Syria and the Golan Heights. It includes the insistence that the 1949 armistice lines agreed between Jordan and Israel will determine the borders of a future Palestinian state, and a stubborn refusal to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.
According to the second law of thermodynamics there are no reversible processes in nature. Nothing can return exactly to its original state. This law may not hold in international relations, but the exceptions are few and far between.
Like it or not, Israel is not going to abandon the Golan Heights. The enclave will not be turned over to the terrorists of the Islamic State, Al-Qaida or the Nusra Front, or whoever survives the Syrian bloodbath. Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it seems very unlikely that the armistice lines of 1949 will become Israel’s permanent borders.
The meeting of the Israeli cabinet at Ma’aleh Gamla in the Golan Heights, and the prime minister’s declaration that the Golan will remain a permanent part of Israel were no empty gestures. They were a call to the world to recognize the facts on the ground.
The notion that history’s clock can be set back, that historical processes can be reversed, that arbitrarily delineated borders by outside powers will in time become permanent fixtures, is surrealistic. In time that will be recognized by all.

Moshe Arens

Haaretz Contributor

read more: 2016-05-08 alle 15.06.36

The Criticism-proof Prime Minister of Israel

Leaders are judged on their ability to listen to and implement criticism. Netanyahu’s resistance to being the subject of criticism is additional proof that he is not suited to be premier.On two occasions, Benjamin Netanyahu was elected prime minister soon after a state investigation panel issued a harsh report.
The first was the Shamgar Commission Report on the Assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Published just a few months before the election that brought Netanyahu into office, the report enumerated not only the intelligence and operational failures of the Shin Bet security service and the police, for which the government was responsible. It shied away from laying the blame for incitement on leading political and religious figures.
After the Second Lebanon War, Netanyahu was among the leading figures calling for an investigation, and the panel headed by Judge Eliyahu Winograd fulfilled some of his expectations and undermined the standing of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, which collapsed as the corruption investigations against him heightened.
As prime minister, Netanyahu survived a harsh report by the previous state comptroller over his supreme responsibility for the missteps of cabinet ministers and executive agencies in connection with the 2010 Carmel forest fire disaster. The flames died out, in the absence of robust political forces to challenge the government and its captain.
Netanyahu learned that the criticism of families of the dead can be contained if the government is sufficiently stable. It didn’t occur to him to resign – like Golda Meir after 10 days of protests against the Agranat Commission Report, which ignored her culpability in the Yom Kippur War, or Menachem Begin, who faltered and resigned in the wake of the Kahan Commission Report. Nor was Netanyahu hurt by the wrath of the Turkel Commission Report on the 2010 Mavi Marmara raid.
Under Netanyahu there have been two major military operations in the Gaza Strip. The Pillar of Defense air operation ended after a week, and Operation Protective Edge, a ground operation, was seven times the duration and caused 12 times as many Israeli deaths. It exposed Israel’s impotence against Hamas’ offensive tunnels and its inability to effectively negotiate an end to the combat. There was plenty to investigate – including the implementation of prior investigations from the recent past.
Instead of welcoming any probe aimed at improving future performance, the PM’s aides reacted with hostility to the publication of details from the comptroller’s draft report. The report addressed only performance, not policy.
Since Netanyahu blocked a similar report in the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee last year and the comptroller is moving slowly, the report on summer 2014 is being released shortly before summer 2016, as explosions and tunnels again erode Israel’s deterrence and provoke fear of renewed escalation – despite the new army chief of staff and changes to the inner cabinet.
Leaders are also judged on their ability to listen to and implement criticism. Netanyahu’s resistance to being the subject of criticism is additional proof that he is not suited to be premier.

Haaretz Editorial

read more: 2016-05-08 alle 15.15.39

The Simple Truth About Trump’s Success and Netanyahu’s
Like every society, America and Israel are made up of many stupid people.

Important commentators all over the world are seeking learned explanations for Donald Trump’s phenomenal success. They point to the disconnect between Washington and the lives of average Americans and to the stagnation of the American political establishment. They say that many Americans have lost their faith in politics, which has ceased serving them. They claim that the media has given Trump too broad and generous a stage. They seek premonitions in the TV series “House of Cards.”
All these explanations (even the one that sees a TV series as a self-fulfilling prophecy) have a certain kernel of truth, but they don’t even come close to answering the question as to why so many Americans are voting for a candidate who is destroying the Republican Party, one of the two legs on which the democratic system stands in the United States. Or why they will be votingfor a man whose presidency, any rational and smart person understands, will be a collective suicide attempt by the American people. The distance between the situation of the average American — even if he or she is angry about trade agreements with China, which has hurt incomes, or over workers from Mexico who have taken livelihoods — and the conclusion that Trump is the solution, is a very long stretch, assuming that the average American is rational and smart.
And this is where the simple, more elementary explanation to the Trump riddle comes into play. It looks like his success, despite all attempts by the media, political and financial establishment to stop him, shows that there are many very stupid people in America. And stupid means senseless fools, who are irrational and racist, and have a herd mentality.
The Trump phenomenon is simple — there is no need for complicated explanations. The man talks in huge daily helpings of foolishness. He speaks crudely and he has no idea what he’s talking about. Rational and smart people are certain that this patently obvious fact should have caused him to fail long ago. Instead they are looking for reasons that rational and smart people would support Trump. But their basic premise is mistaken. Nothing can cause rational, smart people to support Trump. Trump supporters are not rational and sensible. They are stupid.
Trump is not stupid. He is rational and sensible. And as such, he is cynically exploiting his correct assumption that there are many stupid people in America. Not only among those dubbed “white trash.” Not only among evangelicals. But among educated people too. Not only men, but women as well. There are very many stupid people there.
This is not a phenomenon unique to the United States. It’s human nature. It’s the nature of any human society. History shows that society is made up of many stupid people, who need smart leadership to do the right thing. Absent such leadership, as in the case of Moses delaying his descent from Mount Sinai, they will dance like fools around the Golden Calf. Trump knows all this. He has sharp instincts. He is an evil, destructive leader, and history shows that such leaders can destroy a nation. Israeli commentators should know all this. The parallel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is obvious.
Who will keep the presidency from Trump? The stupid people are mesmerized by him. Sometimes elections are not between ideologies but rather between stupidity and wisdom, and it can only be hoped that in America there are more smart people than stupid ones. Here, as we know, there are not.

Rogel Alpher

Haaretz Columnist

read more: 2016-05-08 alle 15.22.14

Palestinians Have Never Agreed to Establish a State With Provisional Borders

Yossi Beilin is enthusiastic but twists facts. The Palestinian leadership will not entertain the idea of interim borders that would allow Israel to continue its process of annexing occupied territory.In his opinion piece “Dear Abbas, answer Kerry, and establish a Palestinian state now”, Mr. Yossi Beilin provides several assertions that are not factual, including the allegation that Palestinians had agreed to establish a state with provisional borders in the past.
While the idea of “provisional borders” was an option according to the Road Map, President Yasser Arafat never accepted this formula. Under President Abbas’ leadership, the PLO never accepted such a formula either. President Abbas never declared the acceptance of this frame to Mr. Beilin.
While we appreciate the enthusiasm of Mr. Beilin, a man with proven credentials for pursuing the end of the occupation and a sovereign State of Palestine living side by side with the State of Israel, twisting facts is not the way to move forward.
We have clear concerns based on over 20 years of violated agreements by Israel, and a strong political decision not to entertain the idea of interim borders that would allow Israel to continue its process of annexing occupied territory.
The main obstacle to achieving a two-state solution is the Israeli occupation, therefore it is Israel, the occupier, that has to be pressured in order to end its occupation. Instead, some opt to pressure the occupied, despite the fact that we have already recognized Israel over 78% of historic Palestine. Asking the Palestinians to “compromise over a compromise” is not a sincere formula to achieve a just and lasting peace.
The State of Palestine has been bilaterally recognized by 138 states, it has observer state status in the UN, and resolution 67/19 (passed with 138 votes in favor to a mere 9 votes against) recognizes it according to the 1967 border.
I make use of this opportunity to reiterate our support for the French initiative to have an international peace conference to achieve a just and lasting peace based on international law and relevant UN resolutions, including a free, sovereign and independent State of Palestine on the 1967 border with East Jerusalem as its capital, and a just solution to all final status issues, including for our refugees.
Dr. Saeb Erekat is the PLO Secretary General.

Saeb Erekat
Haaretz Contributor

read more: 2016-05-09 alle 08.38.40

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