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Lieberman Is Right About the Hebron Shooting

Is this the first time a soldier has executed a Palestinian in cold blood, or did the fact that it was caught on film make the difference?

Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avidgor Lieberman is right when he says the “onslaught” directed at the Kfir Brigade solider who executed Abdel Fattah al-Sharif in Hebron last Thursday after Sharif had already been subdued is hypocrisy. In other words, that the Israel Defense Forces spokesman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others who condemned the soldier’s action are hypocrites.
It’s clear, after all, that it is only because a camera documented a soldier shooting a “neutralized” Palestinian in the head that the people at the top rushed to disassociate themselves from the act. “That’s not how the IDF operates,” they said, meaning that the IDF is usually not so negligent as to allow the actions of its soldiers to be filmed so we know that it indeed is how armed Israelis conduct themselves – executing Palestinians suspected of carrying out stabbings when they no longer pose a danger.
Here are the contours of this hypocrisy:
* On September 25, 2015, soldiers in Hebron killed Hadeel al-Hashlamoun. She hadn’t stabbed anyone but had only gone through a checkpoint with a knife. Three bullets hit her lower body and seven her upper body while she was already lying “neutralized.” There was a foreign activist there who took still pictures that were sufficient to prove that Hashlamoun was not a threat to the soldiers. A storm of controversy ensued. An investigation was carried out and findings were released about a month after the beginning of the “stabbing wave.” The commanders found that the soldiers could have arrested Hashlamoun without killing her, but decided that they should not be punished. On November 4, I wrote: “Punishing them would have required punishing other soldiers who ‘felt that their lives were in danger’ and easily took a life.” I should have written “felt and will feel.”
* With the typical egoism of an occupier, the current violent escalation is marked by Israelis as beginning on October 1, when a husband and wife, Eitam and Na’ama Henkin, were murdered near the settlement of Itamar. But for Palestinians and particularly the Hebronites among them, the starting point is the date on which Hadeel al-Hashlamoun was executed in cold blood. And there are also those who mark it beginning from July 31, when the members of the Dawabsheh family were murdered in the West Bank village of Duma.
* In an analysis on Friday in Haaretz, Amos Harel defines the shooting execution in cold blood and writes: “The ... soldier [a combat paramedic] shoots the prone terrorist in the head at very close range. No one standing around [soldiers and settlers] seemed particularly alarmed by what they had just seen.” There are several possible reasons for that: 1) That is the spirit of the IDF in their view; 2) They had already been present or participated in very similar incidents or knew that that’s what everyone does, only without a camera and 3) Despite remarks by IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, the army is not acting to instill the message among soldiers that killings should not happen when life is not endangered.
* Most of those who have carried out the approximately 105 incidents of stabbing, attempted stabbing or knife-wielding since October 3 have been killed by soldiers, policemen and security guards. In all the cases that were not filmed by Palestinians, did the soldiers, police and security guards really act appropriately and had no choice but to kill? In other words, that the hand of God has decided that only what runs counter to the spirit of the IDF is what will be filmed?
* Cameras actually did document the killing on October 29 of 24-year-old Mahdi al-Muhtaseb. He had fled from a soldier he stabbed, was apparently shot in the leg while on the other side of a checkpoint in Hebron and fell to the ground. While on the ground, a border policeman shot him several times until he stopped moving. Palestinians were shocked and alarmed, but the Israelis reacted as if it was the most normal conduct.
* A security official told Haaretz at the time that when Muhtaseb showed signs that he was going to get up, the border policeman shot again. “That is what is expected of a soldier, because who knows? Maybe the terrorist would blow himself up or take out a gun and shoot,” he said. Blow himself up? In the middle of a Palestinian neighborhood? But that’s precisely the line of defense being put forward by the family of the paramedic who executed Sharif in cold blood.
* A smartphone was used on October 4 to film the execution in cold blood of Fadi Alun from Jerusalem, a stabbing suspect who was already lying on the sidewalk after being shot. Palestinians were shocked and alarmed, but the Israelis reacted as if it was the most normal conduct.
* Imad Abu-Shamsiyeh of Hebron, a former volunteer with the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, was the person who filmed the paramedic executing Sharif. He told Haaretz that the solider had demanded that he move away, but he went onto a roof and took the video footage. He is active in the Hebron-based group Human Rights Defenders, but knew nevertheless that he had to turn the video footage over to B’Tselem so the Israelis could not dismiss the filmed evidence as some kind of Palestinian nonsense.
* On Thursday, senior officials expressed shock that army paramedics had not administered medical care to the injured Palestinian. But many reports from the scene of stabbings or knife-wieldings in recent months have contained repeated accounts of the army failing to care for injured Palestinians who lay bleeding until they died. IDF spokespersons dismissed the claims as a common Palestinian fabrication.
One may conclude that the only time there was a failure to provide medical care to Palestinians is when B’Tselem has had filmed evidence. When B’Tselem does not have such evidence, the soldiers are the Righteous Among the Nations.

Amira Hass

Haaretz Correspondent

read more: 2016-03-28 alle 23.57.36

AIPAC efforts against Iran, as reported by Jewish Telegraphic Agency If Americans Knew

Al-Awda, The Palestinian Right to Return Coalition and the ANSWER Coalition are co-sponsoring the National March to Support Palestine and Protest AIPAC. We are expecting hundreds of organizations and individual leaders to endorse this activity and join the effort!

12 Noon: Assemble at the White House
1pm-5pm: March to the Washington, D.C. Convention Center

On March 20, 2016 we aren't just protesting AIPAC but we are being direct about supporting Palestine hence the theme! We are asking people from all over The United States of America to come support justice for Palestine by standing against AIPAC which will be convening in DC on this day! We cannot continue to let AIPAC (which advocates for an illegal foreign entity not on US soil) dicatate our American foreign policy.


Please support our work in making this national rally the great success it deserves! Thank you! Please click on this link to donate:

1-min. video - AIPAC has long been pushing for the US to attack Iran. One more reason to go to the March 20 protest in Washington DC!

Schermata 2016-02-03 alle 15.42.13

Israel Demolishes 23 Homes in Hebron Area to Make Way for IDF Training Zones

Latest development in multiyear battle leaves 60 children, 18 adults without dwellings.
The Civil Administration in the West Bank on Tuesday demolished 23 homes and three outhouses in the southern Hebron hills villages of Jinba and Halawa. According to Israeli activists who reached Jinba by midday, shortly after the demolitions, 78 people had been living in the newly-built homes, including 60 children.
These are two of the 12 villages in the area that have been waging a legal battle for 17 years in an attempt to prevent their evacuation and demolition so they can be used as army training areas. The European Union has been closely following the villagers’ campaign, and has repeatedly stated it would view their evacuation as a coerced uprooting of a protected population, a contravention of international law.
On Monday morning, the State Prosecution and lawyers for the Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), as well as the villagers’ attorney Shlomo Lecker, announced that a bridging process started in October 2013 had failed. To the shocked surprise of residents and lawyers, within hours of informing the High Court of Justice of this development, Civil Administration officials arrived in these two villages and marked 40 dwellings for demolition. Less than 24 hours later they returned, accompanied by the army, and started destroying these structures. They also temporarily blocked a road leading to Jinba and confiscated vehicles and five solar panels.
The bridging procedure, mediated by law professor Yitzhak Zamir, was suggested by the High Court of Justice. The two sides were sworn to secrecy during this process. However, the Society of St. Yves learned that during the procedure the army demanded that residents leave their homes for a few days each month so that military exercises could be held in the area. The residents objected, leading to the termination of the bridging process.
Prior to the process, the state’s position was that residents of eight villages must move to the village of Yatta permanently, allowing them to cultivate their land and graze their sheep in the area at times when the army was not conducting exercises there, namely on weekends and Jewish holidays. Two more periods for cultivation and grazing would also be allowed during the year. Permanent residence in the villages would not be permitted. The residents of four other smaller villages were permitted to remain in the area, according to the state’s position in 2012.
The demolition was interrupted and did not extend to all 40 structures that were slated for demolition after the Society of St. Yves – the Catholic Center for Human Rights – filed a petition to halt the demolitions with the High Court of Justice on Tuesday morning. The court issued a temporary injunction until the state’s reply is received in seven days.
All the structures demolished on Tuesday were newly constructed dwellings, built in 2014 while the bridging process was in progress. They were made of concrete bricks, with corrugated tin roofs. Israel has not developed any construction plans for these villages, which have been there since the 19th century. Thus, any construction there is deemed illegal. However, natural growth and overcrowding have compelled residents to build even without permits.
Fifteen of the demolished structures were in Jinba and the rest in Halawa. Many were built with financing provided by European and other foreign agencies. All 12 villages in the area developed naturally from settlements of cave-dwellers, who had originally inhabited the numerous caves in the area. These outlying areas of the adjacent town of Yatta started developing by the mid-19th century. In some of these villages, stone houses were already built before 1967. The residents always maintained social, family and economic ties with Yatta.
The area around these villages was already declared a closed military zone back in the late 1970s. Only permanent residents were allowed to dwell there. In August and September 1999 most of the villagers received evacuation orders, based on the claim that they were “illegally residing within a live-fire zone.” The authorities informed them that they were deemed “intruders into a fire range.” On November 16, 1999 the army forcibly removed 700 residents, destroying houses and wells, as well as confiscating property. The residents were left without homes or any means of making a living.
Attorney Roni Pelli from ACRI expressed her regret that “the day after the end of the bridging process the army rushed to demolish so many structures, leaving dozens of children, women and men without a roof over their heads in the coldest month of the year.” A defense official told Haaretz that the structures that were demolished and the solar panels that were confiscated “were erected without permits within the firing zone.” He added that “during the bridging process conducted by the Civil Administration to settle the matter of these structures, Schermata 2016-02-03 alle 12.11.17residents were unwilling to reach a settlement, while continuing with their illegal construction. This led to enforcement of the law.”

The Myth That Jews Are Always Victims of Persecution, Occupiers or Not

People should not be judged at a time of grief, but the bereaved families calling for expulsion of terrorists' relatives exhibit the same blindness of most Israeli Jews.
Because there is no official death sentence in Israel, 18 relatives of 17 Israelis who were murdered by Palestinians in 13 separate attacks are demanding that the families of the attackers be punished by “permanent” expulsion. “The real punishment that the murderers deserve is death,” explain the relatives in a letter sent to government ministers and published on news websites. “But Jewish compassion prevents us from resorting to it.” The letter and the demand are also signed by the families of five murdered Jews whose five attackers were killed at the site of the attack.
The letter rightfully points out one central fact: All the means of punishment and deterrence adopted by Israel until now haven’t stopped the wave of solo attacks. Not the killing of the attackers or suspected attackers on the spot nor the demolition of their families’ homes, neither long prison sentences nor restrictions on the family’s freedom of movement.
The letter did not specify to where the families should be expelled, but a report on the Arutz Sheva radio station fills in the blanks and explains that the intention is expulsion from the country. The writers don’t explain if they are demanding that the extended family – aunts and uncles, cousins – be expelled, or only the nuclear family, in other words parents and their children. Nor do they get into details such as how the expulsion should be carried out, by foot marches or by minibus.
But the writers know that “the family that raised the murderer, educated him and taught him to hate Jews and to murder must pay the price, if only because of the deterrence created by such expulsion.” One of the signatories is a rabbi (Yehuda Henkin), and three are wives of rabbis who were murdered (Neta Lavi, Noa Litman and Sarah Don).
The letter is written in the deceptive language that prevails around here, regarding “Jews who are slaughtered because they are Jews.” People should not be judged at a time of grief, but the signatories to the call for mass expulsion of Palestinians are adhering to the myth that is accepted not only by them or bereaved Jewish families – the myth that occupier or not, military power or not, the Jew is always a victim of persecution.
It is not due to their personal pain that their letter excels in its total blindness to the reality of Israeli military, diplomatic and economic superiority that has enabled it for 70 years to expel Palestinians, steal their land, demolish their homes and kill them in accordance with the law, order and democracy for Jews; they are willingly blind to this reality like most of the Jewish Israelis, who choose to deny it. After all, they profit from it.
And in fact Ruthie Hasno of Kiryat Arba, whose husband Avraham was run over and killed, is convinced that those sending the letter are speaking in the name of the general public. She told Arutz Sheva: “The request to expel the terrorists and their families comes not only from the members of the bereaved families but from the entire Jewish people. All the Jewish people are unequivocally asking that all the terrorists and all those who touch Jewish blood be expelled. They have no right and no part in this state.”
Mass expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland and attempts at other mass expulsions have defined Israel since its establishment. Jerusalemites are always at risk of expulsion. From their city and their homeland. By imprisoning 1.8 million Palestinians in a narrow strip, which is not sustainable, Israel is nurturing a desire to emigrate among about 40 percent of the population. This is an indirect attempt at expulsion. Crowding the Palestinians into enclaves A and B in the West Bank is the compromise of the Oslo governments between the ancient desire to expel Palestinians and the diplomatic circumstances that make that impossible.
The present government crosses red lines all the time, with encouragement from below. That’s why the letter should not be dismissed as only a cry of pain by individuals. It’s a dangerous directive by families who are not far from the Israeli mainstream. “Let [Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu do it [expulsion] without fear,” says Ruthie Hasno. “That’s why we voted for him.”
Amira Hass
Haaretz Correspondent

Palestinian Police Officer Opens Fire Near Israeli Settlement, Wounds Three Soldiers

Palestinian assailant, who was killed at the scene, was a member of the Palestinian Authority's security services and the driver of the Ramallah district attorney general; IDF said to restrict entry of non-residents to Ramallah area.
Three Israeli soldiers were wounded in a shooting attack near Beit El in the West Bank on Sunday. One of the wounded is in serious condition, another is in moderate-serious condition and the third was lightly wounded. The assailant, identified as a Palestinian police officer and the driver of the Ramallah district attorney general, was shot and killed.
On Sunday evening, Palestinian officials reported that the Israeli army has restricted the entry of non-residents to the Ramallah area. 
From the investigation into the incident, it appears that a Palestinian car arrived at the DCO checkpoint near Ramallah. An armed Palestinian exited the car and opened fire. A soldier who arrived at the scene shot the assailant and killed him.
The assailant has been identified by Israeli security officials as Amjed Abu Amar, a 34-year-old resident of Jamma'in near Nablus. According to reports in Palestinian media, Abu Amar wrote on his personal Facebook page that "There is no right to life on this land. Sadly I don’t see anything worth living for, as long as the occupation oppresses our souls and kills our brothers and sisters."
News of the shooting was received at the Magen David Adom hotline in Jerusalem shortly after 11 A.M. Paramedics, aided by IDF medical crews, delivered preliminary aid to three soldiers, all from the Givati Brigade. One was seriously wounded from a gunshot to his upper body, and he was evacuated to Shaare Zedek Medical Center, Jerusalem. The second casualty, 31, sustained moderate to serious wounds to his limbs, and the third casualty, 20, suffered light wounds after being shot in the hand. They were both taken to Hadassah University Hospital, Mount Scopus in Jerusalem.
Sunday's attack was the second incident in the current wave of terror that involved a member of the Palestinian Authority's security services. Two months ago, a shooting attack was carried out at the Hizma checkpoint in the West Bank in which a 47-year-old man was seriously wounded and a 20-year-old Israeli soldier was lightly wounded. The Palestinian assailant, who was shot and killed at the scene, was Mazan Hasan Ariva, an intelligence officer in the Palestinian Authority.
On Saturday evening, a 17-year-old Israeli was lightly wounded in a stabbing attack at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem. On Sunday, police detained three minors they suspect carried out the attack.

Netanyahu Vows to Convince France to Renege Threat to Recognize Palestine

France's Fabius said that should its new initiative to organize an international peace summit fail, it would recognize a Palestinian state.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he would work to convince the French to revoke their threat to recognize a Palestinian state from their new initiative to convene an international peace summit. Netanyahu told the government's weekly meeting Sunday that he believes his efforts will succeed.
"You must have heard the proposal emanating from French circles, to convene an international summit with a threat at its end, that if it doesn’t succeed then France in effect will largely adopt the Palestinian stance," he said.
"This serves as an incentive for the Palestinians to come [to such a summit] and not compromise. The essence of negotiations is compromise, and the French proposal, as it was reported, in fact gives the Palestinians the reasons not to do so in advance," he added.  
"I assess that there will be a sobering up regarding this matter," Netanyahu said, adding that "in any event, we will make effort so that there is a sobering up here, and our position is very clear: We are prepared to enter direct negotiation without preconditions and without dictated terms," he said.
France's Fabius announced the initiative on Friday, saying that if the new push to organize an international summitt failed, Paris would officially recognize a Palestinian state. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday that he welcomes the French initiative
"Unfortunately, [Israeli] settlement construction continues," Fabius told a conference of French diplomats in Paris. "We must not let the two-state solution unravel. It is our responsibility as a permanent member of the UN Security Council."
Fabius noted that France hopes the international peace summit will be attended by Israelis and Palestinians, as well as other international actors like the U.S., EU states and Arab nations.
Barak Ravid
Haaretz Correspondent

Israel's Construction Workers' Lives Matter, Too

Five workers have died on Israeli construction sites already this year. Would people care more if they were Jewish, rather than Arabs or migrant workers?

The death of Abu Ras Kasem on Wednesday didn't dominate the evening news, and he wasn't the subject of emotional Facebook eulogies. Kasem, 34, from the village of Ilut, fell into an elevator shaft while working on the renovation of Haifa's Horev Center mall. He was yet another construction worker to be killed at work, the fifth this year. His death indicates that another bloody year lies in store for construction workers.
A day after Kasem's death, work resumed at the site as though nothing had happened.
Last week's stormy weather should have made any responsible contractor halt work and not abandon his workers on the scaffolding – especially since another construction worker, Ashraf Taha, was killed 10 days earlier due to strong winds.

But the developers are pushing to hit deadlines at any cost, and construction workers, including crane operators, report that they are threatened with dismissal unless they continue working – contrary to the Economy Ministry's instructions. The ministry currently has no minister at its helm, and a meager number of inspectors in charge of such a huge area of responsibility cannot do much about the situation. Aside from the fatalities, Israel is paying for the tiny saving in inspectors' wages with the added loss of construction workers who are injured or disabled for life.
Real estate may as well be the Wild West as far as employment and safety are concerned. No contractor or safety inspector has ever spent a single day in jail because of a worker falling to his death. At best, the fines for loss of life are a few thousand shekels – so when it comes to the profit line, real estate developers may consider it worthwhile to gamble with their workers' lives.
More than 30 construction workers, on average, are killed in Israel every year. Most of them are Arabs, but some are foreign workers and Jews. This isn't an act of fate – the odds on a construction worker dying at work in Israel are seven times higher than in Britain. It's hard to believe the Israeli public would accept this so calmly if it knew 300 Jews were going to die for nothing in the next 10 years.
A bill sponsored by MKs Shelly Yacimovich and Orli Levi-Abekasis – both daughters of construction workers – calls to place memorial plaques in buildings for the workers who died while constructing them. This is one bright spot and at least tries to raise awareness about the fate of the construction workers, which is so easily repressed.
However, this is merely symbolic legislation. The state must force employers to report every type of accident and increase the safety laws' enforcement on construction sites by beefing up the inspectors' numbers and equipping them with the right tools. The state must also toughen the penalty against employers who fail to uphold the safety laws, especially when workers are injured and killed.

Haaretz Editorial

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Schermata 2016-01-31 alle 15.59.42

Lunch With Sweden's Foreign Minister, the Woman Israel Loves to Hate

Margot Wallström bears the brunt of Israeli diplomatic bullying, but one day she'll make Israel eat its words.
STOCKHOLM – The devil didn’t wear Prada. The Swedish foreign minister is modestly dressed and her watch is small and old. The most hated woman in Israel is an honest, captivating woman whose integrity is beyond reproach.
Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon compared Margot Wallström to Count Folke Bernadotte (including a nod to the Swedish diplomat’s assassination in Jerusalem in 1948), noting “the latent anti-Semitism that characterizes her, her arrogance, ignorance and thinking about her Muslim constituents’ interests.”
The woman accused of wanting “to fight against the foundations of Israel” says the worst moment in her entire career was when she was accused of anti-Semitism, which she had been raised to combat from childhood.
On Friday, Wallström returned to Sweden from the foreign ministers’ session of the African Union summit in Addis Ababa (which she attended as part of Sweden’s campaign to join the UN Security Council). She went straight from the airport to the Foreign Ministry building, which is protected by an elderly, unshaven security guard.
It is said her protection detail has been beefed up following the recent threats on her life, but Sweden – whose prime minister, Olof Palme, was murdered in 1986 – doesn’t believe in the Israeli style of protecting dignitaries. Only a few code-operated doors separate the street from Wallström’s grand office. Official luncheons are served in the adjacent room. Wine is not served, to avoid the appearance of decadence. The alternative is oversweet apple juice. Unlike most Israeli politicians, Wallström knows how to listen and is eager to learn.
No bodyguard detail could protect Wallström from the wave of vicious attacks she has been subjected to, both in her country and worldwide, since she dared voice a few words of criticism against Israel. This wave, which Israel and its various “friends” are orchestrating, will blow up in our faces one day.
After being named the most popular woman in Sweden in 2006, Wallström’s status has been damaged not only in Swedish public opinion, but in Europe and the world. This is not only because of the recent minor corruption case involving her, but because of what she said about Israel. In Sweden and the European Union, it is still believed that the demand to investigate the deaths of Palestinian knife assailants is too “extreme” a step, which Europe should avoid due to its past baggage.
When Wallström criticized the “medieval-style” penal code in Saudi Arabia last year and a few Arab states recalled their ambassadors in protest, it was said she was sabotaging her country’s foreign relations. But only her criticism toward Israel can really endanger her impressive career.
Jerusalem must itself ask if the bullying techniques practiced against public figures who dare criticize Israel actually work. In the short-term, using the ultimate weapon – accusations of anti-Semitism – may paralyze the Europeans, who are haunted by the shadow of the past.
Israel is taking advantage of this with incredible cynicism. Its goal is clear: to use the character assassination of Wallström as a warning to other statespeople who wish to criticize Israel. But things will blow up, and then Israel will pay the price of its violent extortion.
The aggressiveness of Israel’s representatives and the Jewish establishment – threatening politicians and journalists not to utter a word against Israel – will one day cause the pent-up objection and disgust to burst out in the form of steps against Israel’s reckless behavior.
Ambassadors who work to thwart the invitation of occupation-opposing Israelis to other countries, for example, and the embassies that slander them, make them look like former East German embassies.
Wallström will continue in her own way, simply because she believes in it. She wants to save the two-state solution. Our conversation is interrupted only when a group of Syrian women wants to talk to her on the phone. She is eager to visit Israel and the territories, but Israel forbids it. Wallström will wipe the spit from her face. Maybe Sweden will too, but the day of reckoning is coming.
Gideon Levy
Haaretz Correspondent

West Bank Rabbi: Jews Can Kill Gentiles Who Threaten Israel

Book by Rabbi Yitzhak Shapiro of Yitzhar permits even the murder of babies and children who pose threat.

Just weeks after the arrest of alleged Jewish terrorist, Yaakov Teitel, a West Bank rabbi on Monday released a book giving Jews permission to kill Gentiles who threaten Israel.
Rabbi Yitzhak Shapiro, who heads the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva in the Yitzhar settlement, wrote in his book "The King's Torah" that even babies and children can be killed if they pose a threat to the nation.
Shapiro based the majority of his teachings on passages quoted from the Bible, to which he adds his opinions and beliefs.
"It is permissable to kill the Righteous among Nations even if they are not responsible for the threatening situation," he wrote, adding: "If we kill a Gentile who has sinned or has violated one of the seven commandments - because we care about the commandments - there is nothing wrong with the murder."
Several prominent rabbis, including Rabbi Yithak Ginzburg and Rabbi Yaakov Yosef, have recommended the book to their students and followers.
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Abbas' Successor Will Take a Strict, Harsher Stance Toward Israel, IDF General Warns

Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, coordinator of government activities in the territories, says Palestinian president's succession has become an open discussion in Palestinian Authority.
Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, coordinator of government activities in the territories said Sunday that any potential successor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will adopt a strict, harsher policy toward Israel.
Addressing a conference of Israeli ambassadors from around the world at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, Mordechai said that "since Mahmoud Abbas' latest announcement on his intended resignation, the question of succession has become an open discussion in the Palestinian Authority - it is no longer a conversation that only occurs in whispers," according to sources in the room. "Every leader after Abbas will be required to be more dominant and popular, which means adopting policies that are more harsh toward Israel."
According to sources who attended the talk, Mordechai did not mention any potential candidates who may succeed Abbas. Mordechai also noted that the situation in the West Bank is severe and stressed that the Israeli government and security establishment still regard the Palestinian Authority as a body that Israel can work with. He added that the security establishment's conduct in recent months has been cautious and balanced - therefore, the Palestinian public did not take to the streets and rioting significantly decreased.
During his talk, Mordechai said that there was no Palestinian Authority guiding hand behind the attacks of recent months, but noted the existence of incitement against Israel on Palestinian media.
Later, President Reuven Rivlin took the podium and also discussed the Palestinian issue, the mounting international pressure on Israel, and leveled an implied criticism of the government's policies regarding these issues.
"The power of diplomacy has not depleted, something that today remains evident," Rivlin told the Israeli ambassadors. "It is evident even in the Middle East jungle, and perhaps for a reason. We mustn't let the absence of a diplomatic horizon to condemn us to passivity. It must not be allowed in the current absence of a political process, that we will be condemned to passivity.  The improvement in the state of the relations between the two peoples is a distinct Israeli interest which must go alongside the active and assertive defense of the State of Israel and its citizens."
Rivlin also mentioned the French initiative to convene an international conference on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and said that Foreign Minister Lauren Fabius hinted at it in their last meeting at his residence a few months ago. Rivlin noted that it was his impression that Fabius was coordinating his moves with other countries. "It is proper that the dialogue between us and our close allies on issues relating to the security of Israel and its citizens should be conducted in a direct manner, not above Israel's heads," the president said.

The Nightmare Scenario That Has Worried Israel for Months Sunday’s attack by a Palestinian Authority

Amjad Sakri, the assailant who shot and wounded three Israel Defense Forces soldiers in an attack on a checkpoint north of Ramallah on Sunday morning, is the second member of the Palestinian Authority security services to commit an attack since the current wave of violence began in October.
He was preceded by a member of the PA’s General Intelligence Service – a relative of senior PA official Saeb Erekat – who opened fire on soldiers manning a checkpoint south of Ramallah about two months ago. In both cases, soldiers killed the men.
Both assailants served in jobs that required them to be vetted by the PA intelligence services (Sakri was the driver and bodyguard of the PA’s chief prosecutor). There have also been other cases in recent months in which Israel arrested PA employees on suspicion of helping to plan attacks.
It’s still not certain that a new trend is emerging, although the assailant’s identity is likely to serve as fodder for Israeli public diplomacy in its attacks on the PA and its demands that PA President Mahmoud Abbas stop the terror. In practice, all the relevant Israeli defense agencies – the defense minister, senior IDF officers, the Shin Bet security service and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories – constantly stress the need to preserve the excellent security coordination with the PA and the efforts the PA security services have made in recent weeks, especially against Hamas terrorist cells in the West Bank.
But more widespread involvement in acts of terror by members of the PA security services and the Tanzim (Fatah’s armed wing) is a nightmare scenario that has worried the Israeli defense establishment for months. Together, the Tanzim and security services have tens of thousands of guns, and the PA’s so-called “Dayton Brigades,” trained by U.S. officers, have at least basic combat training.
Yet despite the rise in the number of shooting attacks in the West Bank over the last two months, in most cases the perpetrators resembled the lone-wolf stabbers: They acted on their own, not as part of an organization that gave them orders.
The second scenario that worries Israel relates to Hamas. The organization’s leadership in the Gaza Strip and its West Bank command, which still operates out of Turkey, have ordered operatives in the West Bank to carry out attacks by any means possible.
The Shin Bet and IDF have recently uncovered several Hamas cells that were planning suicide bombings, shooting attacks or kidnappings. Israel has also confirmed a claim by Majed Faraj, the head of the PA’s General Intelligence Service, that the PA has thwarted some 200 attempted attacks against Israel. Most of those arrested were Hamas operatives, whom the PA views as no less a threat than Israel does.
This latest attack also underscores the ongoing failure by the IDF and Shin Bet to stop lone-wolf attacks before they happen. Immediately after the identity of Sunday’s assailant was published, Israeli and Palestinian journalists – and presumably also intelligence officials on both sides – examined his recent postings on social media. In retrospect, it seems they provide hints of his intentions.
Two weeks ago, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said there had been 101 stabbing or car-ramming attacks since the current wave of violence began, and in not one case was there any intelligence warning. Since then, the list of assailants has grown longer, but the number of intelligence warnings remains at zero.
The intelligence agencies are now working hard to try to develop ways of sifting through the enormous mass of social media posts and identifying those that might warn in real time of impending attacks. The problem is how to differentiate between the genuine danger signals and the thousands of other anti-Israel posts.
During the second intifada between 2000 and 2005, the Shin Bet eventually learned to identify potential suicide bombers and arrest most of them before they could strike. But so far, no effective modus operandi has been developed for lone-wolf assailants.
Monday will mark four months since the start of the current round of violence, which the IDF dates from the October 1 murder of Eitam and Naama Henkin, near Nablus. In the past week alone, an Israeli woman was stabbed to death in the Beit Horon settlement; two other civilians and two soldiers were seriously wounded in shooting or stabbing attacks; and another civilian was lightly wounded in a stabbing attack.
The tendency to describe these events as a wave of terror that will quickly pass belies the reality. Even though there have been worse periods in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the current situation in the 
territories is clearly completely different to the one that prevailed until last summer.
Despite upswings and downswings in the number of incidents, what’s happening here is a long-term process whose full ramifications have yet to be felt.
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An Israeli leader’s war on Christianity, calls Christian missionaries “blood-sucking vampires”

A powerful Israeli leader with a charismatic message that resonates deeply with tens or hundreds of thousands of Israelis writes: "Christmas has no place in this our holy land. Evangelicals must not gain a footing here. Expel the vampires from our land before they once again suck our blood." Accused of murdering a Palestinian couple, he has never been charged...

Tikun Olam– December 22, 2015 By Richard Silverstein
Fox News and other far-right media sites and politicians have railed for years about the "War on Christmas" supposedly waged by atheists, liberals and other enemies of the Judeo-Christian tradition. But there is a far more virulent enemy of Christmas and Christianity in our midst. No, you won't find him in a Muslim country, the demon du jour of Donald Trump and the far-right.
Instead, you will find him in the Holy Land, Israel, the birthplace of Christianity. He is Bentzi Gopstein, leader of a Jewish fascist group, Lehava. In his past, he's been accused of murdering an Arab couple a week after the assassination of his mentor, Meir Kahane. No charges were ever brought against him for that crime. Like white supremacists and Kahane himself, Gopstein has adopted fighting Jewish-Arab miscegenation as his political mantra.
Lehava administers a hostel supported with $120,000 in government funding for "wayward women" who've supposedly left relationships with Arab men. In Knesset hearings, Gopstein and his political supporters have cried rivers of tears about impressionable Jewish women being lured into lives of sexual slavery by Arab men who tempt them. They offer reams of claims about the severity of the problem, but never any firm statistics. Nor does anyone ever offer a skeptical view on the matterIn the past year, Gopstein has expanded his attack to include Christianity as well. All of it. He called for the banning of Christianity and the burning down of churches and...lo and behold, a week later the Church of Loaves and Fishes was nearly burned to the ground. Though arrests were made, no one has been charged for the crime, a standard outcome in Israeli police investigations unless massive political pressure is mounted to lay charges and prosecution. Jewish terror even co-opts the security apparatus.
This week, just in time for Christmas, Gopstein let loose his latest barrage against the Church. It's a memorable screed called Defeating the Vampire, combining overwrought rhetoric with a largely-fictional account of Jewish history:
In recent days, I've walked through this land [of Israel] feeling a sense of real disquiet. I'm not talking about the lack of personal security that derives from a government that is impotent against the Arab enemy...but rather a lack of spiritual security, a destruction of the fortress, a disintegration of the Jewish people's line of defense against our most deadly enemy of the past hundreds of years: the Church.
He proceeds to outline the ways in which Christianity has allegedly attempted to exterminate the Jewish people:
Against this [the Church's] unimaginable power stood the Jewish people like a poor sheep surrounded by seventy wolves; like easy prey before all those bloodthirsty animals. The history of the Jews of written in the blood of millions–from the cruel Crusades in which entire [Jewish] communities were wiped out, to pogroms throughout the continent [sic], to countless blood libels, mass expulsions from England, France, Spain and Portugal–all of them were only stations along a cruel journey which our people suffered in Christian Europe. A journey which reached its end in the smokestacks of Auschwitz, a moment over which the Vatican rubbed its hands with glee [sic].
Despite all this, the Jewish people survived...The Eternal Jew stood tall. And when the ashes of Auschwitz piled high and the blood soaked into the fetid soil of Europe–when the the desecration of God's name [the extermination] had reached its peak...God could no longer stand it and raised up out of the smoking embers the State of Israel–a most resounding slap in the face the Church had ever endured.
What was the secret of the Eternal Jew enabling him to survive all these horrors of the Church [sic]? Without doubt, it was the burning faith in the justness of our path, the deep loathing of Christianity which every Jewish baby sucks from his mother's milk...The children of those Jews who were burned like sacrificial sheep, founded the State of Israel, whose very being negated the Church.
...Because we maintain one of the strongest armies in the world the Church has no chance of destroying our bodies...But they place their last hope in the blood-sucking vampire: the missionaries. If they cannot kill Jews, they can still try to convert them...Stores devoted to selling evangelical literature offer their wares to all on Jerusalem's Jaffa Road. Entire settlements are crawling with missionaries. Many businesses are run by them and serve the evangelicals, in many cases camouflaging their intent and without the knowledge of their [Jewish] employees.
That same disgust Jews felt toward Christianity, which was the only thing which saved us during our dark days in Europe, that same disgust has faded in the midst of the good life of the era of democracy. The Christian is no longer perceived as a threatening vampire, but rather as a nice tourist, friendly and a partner in the prevailing western culture we both share.
...In a few days, this cursed religion will celebrate Christmas throughout this land. To our sorrow we can feel this everywhere. You see fir trees in stores. On billboards, you can see flyers inviting the wider public to study about Christianity–right in the heart of Jerusalem.
...How could even the Orthodox and Haredi communities not have raised their voices against this? Could they too have lost the basic Jewish instinct which was the inheritance of our people for hundreds of years? Have they too become trapped in the net of democracy, free speech and the politically-correct brotherhood of man?
Christmas has no place in this our holy land. Evangelicals must not gain a footing here. Expel the vampires from our land before they once again suck our blood. We've already fed them enough.
For those of you who heard echoes of Nazi anti-Semitic propaganda in Gopstein's tropes, you heard well. The notion of the Eternal Jew is of course directly appropriated from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. But the most striking phrase was the notion that Christians are blood sucker-vampires. This is precisely the complaint that echoed in the pages of Der Shtumer: the Jews as leeches sucking the vitality from Europe. In the case of the Nazis, they were more obsessed with money and high finance, claiming Jews controlled world capital. Gopstein sees Christians sucking the blood from the millions of Jews murdered, supposedly by direct command of the Church.
Of course, much of his argument is false and fabricated. I've added [sic] after the ones that are the most farcical.
There will be those who argue that Gopstein is an outlier. He has nothing to do with the real Israel. Everyone sees him as a madman, etc., etc. But that is patently false.
Not only is Gopstein an accused murderer, his followers burned down a Jewish-Arab school in Jerusalem. Other disciples (either direct or indirect) burned the Church of Loaves and Fishes to the ground only a week after he issued a call to undertake such acts. These are not the acts of the sort of lone gunmen who've perpetrated acts of terror lately in the U.S. This is a powerful leader with a charismatic message that resonates deeply with tens or hundreds of thousands of Israelis. It is a message the Israeli political and security echelons have no interest in combatting. Despite calls from the Pope himself and Israeli human rights NGOs for his arrest, he remains free.
It's also ironic that Israel's increasingly authoritarian government considers legislative proposals that would force NGOs receiving foreign funding from wearing a sort of "Jewish star" like ones forced on us by the Nazis, whenever they entered the Knesset. The ironic truth is that rightist NGOs like Lehava, Honenu, Im Tirzu, NGO Monitor, and many others, probably receive far more foreign funding than left-wing NGOs. The major difference is that the latter receive donations from governments and large foundations, while the rightists receive mostly individual gifts. You may be certain that if these bills pass you will not see Ronen Shoval (Im Tirzu) or Gerald Steinberg (NGO Monitor) shuffling through the halls of the Knesset with any scarlet letter on their chests. That fate will be reserved for B'Tselem, Peace Now, New Israel Fund, and their like.
It is truly extraordinary that foreign funders embrace the hate spewed by Gopstein. He's very cagey about where his funding comes from. One source we know for sure is the Israeli government itself. Its social welfare ministry funds projects sponsored by an NGO called Hemla. One of them is the hostel for "wayward girls" mentioned above. Gopstein is the public affairs representative for Hemla and earns a salary from it.
He's told the media that individual donors are directed to give through the Fund for Saving the Jewish People (FSJP). One of these is the Falic family based in Hollywood, FL. This extended family owns Duty Free America, a company which owns duty-free shops around the world.
A Falic-affiliated fund donated $60,000 to FSJP. They donated more than half the funds that Bibi Netanyahu raised for his campaign in the last Likud primaries. They also donate millions to a raft of mostly GOP pro-Israel candidates.
As you can see, the Falics are not outliers. They find the doors of power open in Tel Aviv and Washington DC. They've also endowed Bentzi Gopstein with a seal of approval through their giving to his cause. Instead of six moves of separation from Gopstein to Netanyahu, there is now only one. He is close to the beating heart of Israeli political power.
The Falics offered this deceptive defense of their giving to journalist, Uri Blau:
I am committed to giving tzedakah to causes which I care about deeply, such as the well-being and continuity of the Jewish people and the State of Israel. I believe that it is important for Jews to be connected to our roots, our history and our homeland, and to take care of one another.
I believe in diversity, co-existence and integration, as opposed to "anti-assimilation," but I recognize that this can occur only when each person holds strongly to his or her own ideals, ideologies, religion and convictions. As Tevye succinctly put it in Fiddler on the Roof, "As the Good Book says, 'Each shall seek his own kind.' In other words, a bird may love a fish, but where would they build a home together?" In summary, staying true to one's beliefs can not only give meaning to one's own life, but can influence the conscience of others to make more sound choices and better judgments, including living together in peace and harmony.
Though it's touching to see Mr. Falic quote the words of Fiddler on the Roof, I note he's compared Israeli Jews to birds of prey and Palestinians to fish, their prey. That does seem just about right, though I'm certain the speaker didn't catch the irony. And how Palestinians are supposed to understand from this rhetoric or from Gopstein's Nazi-like speeches that their "consciences should make better judgements...and live together [with Jews] in peace and harmony" is beyond me.
Donald Trump, Islamophobia, and Ethnic Cleansing
I recently posted about Donald Trump's increasingly xenophobic and Islamophobic rhetoric and the tropes it shares with fascist themes. The call for closing our doors to Muslims, even those who are citizens, is extraordinary. Even more extraordinary is that such rampant racism gains him supporters, rather than destroying his campaign for the GOP presidential nomination.
Though it appears in the latest polls that even Bernie Sanders could beat Trump in a one-on-one matchup, and many Democrats relish the prospect of running against him–we should recognize Trump as a watershed candidate. Before him, those whose campaigns were largely based on themes of hate and racism were thoroughly rejected even in their party nomination contest, let alone the general election. George Wallace, while popular, was largely a fringe candidate. Barry Goldwater was trounced by Lyndon Johnson.
Trump is a different animal. He exudes hate, yet his supporters feed off it. It only makes him stronger. The rest of the country waits for a day of reckoning which never comes. His comeuppance never comes. Instead he glides through the campaign season with the cocky air of Rocky, a heavyweight boxing champ. Nothing can touch him.
Bentzi Gopstein's call for ethnic cleansing of Christians and Palestinians from Israel mirror those of Trump here in America. Israel itself is lurching farther and farther toward fascism and outright religious hatred, if not war. Israeli extremists like him thrive on this confrontation. They know the more Jews and Arabs die the closer they are to that final battle between the forces of Light and Dark, between demons (Muslims) and angels (Jews). They know in their hearts that the Jews will win. That they will vanquish their enemies and trample them underfoot. That is the day devoutly and fervently awaited.
Gopstein and Trump represent two poles which attract. They offer the same solutions (though Trump offers them with considerably more salesmanship and panache). The outcomes of their winning their contests will be similar for America and Israel: a disaster of monumental proportions.
I have enough faith in America that it will not make this choice. About Israel, I have far less faith and hope. It is embracing Gopstein's vision with a frightful passion. Whatever ideas of his are not yet mainstream, they will be in a month or a year. This is the same path followed by his rebbe, Meir Kahane.  In the 1970s they thought him a ranting maniac.  Now the maniac’s ideas trip lightly off the tongues of Israeli cabinet ministers and generals.  Fascism no longer lurks in Israel’s  shadows.  It preens and prances through the halls of power.


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Anne Frank's Stepsister: Trump Is 'Acting Like Another Hitler'

If Donald Trump becomes the next president of the U.S. it would be a complete disaster,' Eva Schloss writes in Newsweek essay marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Syrian refugees are suffering in ways similar to Jews in the 1930s and 1940s and U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump is "acting like another Hitler", according to a Newsweek essay by Eva Schloss, the stepsister of Anne Frank.
The essay, commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day, accused Trump of "inciting racism", citing his calls to reject all Muslim migrants to the U.S. based on their religious affiliation as well as his determination to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
"If Donald Trump becomes the next president of the U.S. it would be a complete disaster," wrote Schloss.
Schloss knew Anne Frank before the onset of WWII and the Holocaust and moved to Belgium in 1938 to escape the Nazi regime.
"We were treated as if we had come from the moon," she wrote in Newsweek, comparing her experience to that of today's refugees who she said have a greater difference of culture with Europeans that she did and therefore struggle even more to assimilate.
"I am very upset that today again so many countries are closing their borders," she wrote. "Fewer people would have died in the Holocaust if the world had accepted more Jewish refugees."
Schloss went on to praise Germany for its well-organized response to the current refugee crisis, and pointed a finger squarely at Britain and the U.S., countries which, according to her, are not doing enough to solve the problem.
"This is not just a European problem, it's a global problem," she stressed. "If countries as big as the U.S. and Canada would take in more people, then we would get much closer to a solution."
Schloss expressed a sense of despair regarding the current state of affairs saying that "the situation today is worse than it was under Hitler because at that time all the allies - the U.S., Russia and Britain - worked together to combat the terrible threat of Nazism. If we don't work together, the world will never be able to resolve the threats it faces today.
"We haven't really learnt anything - I'm depressed by the current situation."

read more:

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Hating the Occupation, Not the Jews

Palestinian attackers choose violence as a means of resisting a more pernicious violence, that of the occupation.
The gloomy, cold hall seethed with repressed anger, and the somber faces of the dozens of men sitting there clearly expressed it. This week there was mourning in the remote Palestinian village of Al-Karmil in the hills south of Hebron, after the killing of Rukaiya Abu Eid, a girl not yet 14 years old. She was killed by a guard she tried to stab at the entrance to the settlement of Anatot. On Israeli media she was termed “a 13 year-old terrorist” without the batting of an eyelid.
The grieving father refused to talk to us at first. “What do I have to talk about with the Israelis who killed my daughter?” It snowed on the way there and there was a mist around the mourning hall. Inside there was fury and cold. After a while the atmosphere became somewhat relaxed and the father, Eid, agreed to talk. He pinned his daughter’s desperate act on the reality of life under the occupation. “Every little child sees the crimes,” he said.
In Israel they chose to adopt the girl’s mother’s version, according to which Rukaiya left the house with a knife after a fight with her sister. In Israel they liked this explanation, involving no occupation or other such nonsense. A family quarrel. We had no hand in the unfolding of events. Even the notion that every Palestinian knows that if she only ventures out with knife in hand she’ll be shot to death by Israelis does not shock anyone here.
The dozens of Palestinian male and female youths who set out over the last few months to kill Israelis did not do so “because they’re Jews,” as Israel’s propaganda likes to portray it, with a (routinely) broad hint about the Holocaust and the persecution of Jews.
They set out to stab or run people over by car because they’re conquerors. They set out to kill their conquerors. They chose violence as a means of resisting a more pernicious violence, that of the occupation. They wanted to hurt Israelis, especially soldiers and settlers, because of the occupation, not because they’re Jewish. Their Jewishness has nothing to do with it. For the Palestinians, there’s no difference between a soldier who’s Jewish, Druze or Bedouin and a settler from the tribe of Menashe.
The attempt to present any violent Palestinian resistance as persecution of Jews because they’re Jewish is obviously meant to mobilize the world’s sympathy for the ultimate victim, the one and only, the Jew, while concealing the true victim in the story of Israel’s occupation. The conqueror as victim, and the only victim at that, in a total distortion of reality. This is also intended for internal purposes: Israelis like the role of victim. It unites them, conceals the Palestinians’ true motives, blurs the guilt and rids Israel of its responsibility.
One doesn’t have to justify Palestinian terror to understand this. Nearly every visit to a grieving Palestinian home portrays the same picture. For many years I’ve been amazed at how an Israeli journalist is received there, with no one knowing who he is and who he represents, only hours after the funeral. How would a Palestinian journalist be received in the house of Jewish mourners after a Palestinian terror attack?
The words repeat themselves: “We don’t hate Jews, we hate the occupation.” Sometimes they’ll say, “We hate the government,” and in extreme cases, “We hate the Zionists”. Not the Jews. Forget anti-Semitism and hatred of Jews. Remember the occupation. In most cases, that of 1967, sometimes that of 1948, especially in refugee camps.
The thought that dozens of Palestinians have already set out to commit spontaneous acts of stabbing or car-ramming, with hundreds, maybe thousands or tens of thousands considering doing the same, should have provoked some thinking in Israel. Not the thinking of a victim who is being attacked again, but a consideration of what drives desperate children and adults to do this, in the knowledge that their chances of survival are slim.
But this might only raise questions that Israelis run away from as is from a fire. Little Rukaiya wanted to commit suicide because of her sister, or just to kill Jews because they’re Jews. There’s no other possible explanation.
Gideon Levy
Haaretz Correspondent

Cameron, The Holocaust and Forgetfulness

By Gilad Atzmon
The Jewish Chronicle reported today that David Cameron has marked holocaust Memorial Day by announcing that a new national shoah memorial will be built next to the Parliament.

For a second, I was delighted. I thought that at last our PM had decided to commemorate some of the holocausts the Empire inflicted on millions of innocent people around the globe. The Brits, I thought, should remember the Balfour Declaration and the disaster it forced on the Palestinian people. The holocaust memorial could allocate some space to commemorate the suffering of Indians whose country was divided by the late Empire with tragic consequences. Such a memorial could also serve as a sincere apology for the criminal war we launched against Iraq: this war with no end in sight that has cost the lives of many millions of innocent civilians. And what about the indiscriminate murder of hundreds of thousands of German civilians in an orchestrated air raid campaign to wipe out German cities? Shouldn't Britain commemorate this holocaust once and for all?
Of course, I was totally wrong. Cameron had no intention of commemorating British wrongdoing. Instead, once again, it was the primacy of Jewish suffering to which our PM subscribed. The PM told the Commons during Prime Minister's Questions: "I know the whole House will want to join me in marking holocaust Memorial Day... It is right our whole country should stand together to remember the darkest hour of humanity."
But what is it about the Jewish holocaust that excites our PM's soul?
Forgetfulness. The more we feel for the Jews and their suffering, the less we look in the mirror.
History is thought of as the attempt to narrate the past, but often it is used as an institutional means to conceal our collective shame. The holocaust is the perfect candidate for such a task. The more shameful our past is, the more we cling to Jewish suffering so we can convey a fake image of empathy. The Americans pepper their metropolises with holocaust memorials to conceal their own problematic past; the slaughter of Native Americans, slavery, nuking two cities and wiping out many others with fire bombs. The holocaust memorials help the Americans to forgive themselves. For America, the holocaust is an institutional amnesia apparatus.
Britain is no different. In the last decade the Brits saw the Imperial War Museum reduced into a Holocaust memorial site in spite of the fact that the shoah per-se has little to do with Britain or the empire. Amusingly, the only relevant historical facts that make Britain partially responsible for the destruction of European Jewry are completely omitted from the permanent exhibit. Visitors to the Imperial War/ Jewish Holocaust Museum won't find any evidence that on the eve of World War II, Britain closed its gates to European Jewish refugees and also blocked Jewish attempts to seek refuge in Palestine.
Interestingly enough, Cameron, who vowed to erect a holocaust memorial today is the same British PM who closed Britain's gates to refuges from a criminal immoral interventionist war that was launched by one of his predecessors. Rather than true empathy and genuine ethical thinking, the holocaust memorials are there to promote forgetfulness - a duplicitous image of conscience. PM Cameron, is unfortunately, an exemplary case of the above cynical mode of wrong behaviour.



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Im Tirtzu's New Campaign 'Outs' Leftist Artists, Including Oz and Grossman

After previous campaign singled out members of human rights groups as foreign 'moles,' new campaign will release names of hundreds of artists linked to leftist causes.
The right-wing group Im Tirtzu launched a new campaign singling out Israeli artists associated with leftists groups on Wednesday.
The new campaign, which follows in the footsteps of the group's recent video in which it "outed" individuals associated with human rights groups as foreign "moles," attacks several of Israel's most well-known artists, including writers Amos Oz, David Grossman and A.B. Yehoshua, actor Gila Almagor, and singers Rona Keinan and Chava Alberstein.
Under the banner "moles inside culture," the campaign will mount billboards and will also release a report listing of hundreds of artists considered by the group to be linked to the left.
Matan Peleg, the CEO of Im Tirtzu, told Walla that artists regularly come out against elected officials with "slanderous campaigns," while "hiding the fact that they're members of mole organizations." "The public has all rights to know these details," Peleg said, adding: "We'll not allow mole organizations to throw dust in the eyes of the public."
The preliminary list published by the group divides artists' names according to their activities in different organizations. Thus, the names of artists that took part in a Breaking the Silence event include actresses Sarah von Schwartze and Heli Goldenberg, directors Ofira Henig and Rani Blair, choreographer Ohad Naharin, and curator Gideon Efrat. The artists that according to the group are members of B'Tselem public council are author Amos Oz, actresses Gila Almagor and Rivka Michaeli, artist Dani Karavan, author David Grossman, and Prof. Ariel Hirschfeld. Playwright and director Joshua Sobol and former president of the Jerusalem Foundation Ruth Cheshin appear as members of Yesh Din's public council, and listed as part of the New Israel Fund's international council are poet Ronny Someck, authors Amos Oz and Sami Michael, as well as singer Shaanan Street. 
Writer Ronit Matalon, one of the artists labeled by Im Tirtzu as a Breaking the Silence supporter, called the group "a bunch of hooligans." "The problem is that the more isolated the country gets, the more it is perceived as a leper, it starts attacking itself, with complete lack of understanding. We should show persistent and determined resistance. We should resist and not be afraid."
"I shit on Im Tirtzu's head," said Dror Feuer, a journalist for Globes. "I'm proud to be on the list and proud to have attended a Breaking the Silence event."
Also on Wednesday, one of the founders of Im Tirtzu took to Twitter to defend Joseph McCarthy, who in the 1950s conducted an official witch hunt against communists in the United States. Ronen Shoval was responding to comments on Twitter by Israel Channel 20 editor Avishai Ivri. "[I'm] not familiar with the exact historical details regarding Joseph McCarthy, but you see who is coming out against him currently and you can't help but be in his favor," Ivri said in a tweet in Hebrew. Shoval, who was on the Habayit Hayehudi slate in last year's Knesset election, but was not elected to parliament, commented in Hebrew: "The historical details revealed that in most cases, he was correct."
The two were reprimanded in turn by Meretz Chairwoman Zehava Galon, who gave them a "history lesson" on her Facebook page.

Jordan Reportedly Confirms Ban on Bringing Jewish Religious Clothing Into Kingdom

Kingdom's Foreign Ministry apologizes after Israeli family told to leave 'Jewish things' behind at border, but says ban is due to security reasons, Channel 2 reports.
The Jordanian Foreign Ministry apologized for an incident in which an Israeli family was told by Jordanian border official to leave behind their yarmulkes, Channel 2 reported on Wednesday, but confirmed that it wasn't permitted to enter the kingdom with a tallit or tefillin. 
The apology came after intensive talks between the Israeli Foreign Ministry and Jordan, which started in December after the incident was originally made public by the family in a Facebook post, the report said.
Though the Jordanian Foreign Ministry apologized, it insisted that the ban is meant to protect tourists' safety. According to Channel 2, talks are ongoing on the subject. 
The issue first came to light in December, when a woman described how her family decided to cancel their vacation to Jordan after receiving a discriminatory welcome at the border, where the father and two boys were told to leave behind their yarmulkes and other "Jewish stuff." 
"We prepared thoroughly ahead of time with a perfect hotel and a Jordanian chauffeur," wrote Tamar Gvirtz-Hayardeni on Facebook. "But no one prepared us for the farce that awaited us at the border: The Jordanians took the crocheted yarmulkes off the heads of my two boys and their father and insisted they be returned to Israel!"
Gvirtz-Hayardeni continued in consternation, "We promised to hide them in our bags for the entire trip (as we intended to do anyway)... but the border officials said that 'Jewish stuff' can't be brought into Jordan and that, of course, this was only out of concern for our safety."
According to Gvirtz-Hayardeni, the family was finally convinced that the Jordanian officials harbored an anti-Jewish bias when "an Israeli man was surprisingly brought into the room, accused of brazenly bringing tefillin to Jordan. Then we understood that the Jordanians may want Israelis, but they don't want Jews."
The family subsequently decided to cancel their trip and Gvirtz-Yardeni called on other Israeli travelers to avoid trips to Jordan in light of her experience at the border.

Will Greece Betray the Palestinians?

For 70 years, Greece and Palestine have been close friends and allies. Will short-term economic interests between Greece and Israel lead Greece's leaders to abandon us?
Built on common experience, long-term interests and moral principles, Palestine’s relationship with Greece goes back a long way. Short-term economic gains should not be allowed to damage this deep and precious friendship.
Over the last 70 years, the relationship of Greece and Palestine was that of close friendship and political alliance. Part of our ancestral origin can be traced back to the Greek island of Crete. We raise the Greek flag on all our Orthodox churches, to which most of our Christians belong. We were grateful to Greece for its reception of Yasser Arafat, our leader, and his forces, evacuated from Beirut in 1982 after its long siege by Israel.
As Foreign Minister, I worked very hard to support Greece in the Arab and Muslim world, both economically and politically. The close bond shared between Papandreou and Arafat, and between me and his son George, reflected a long lasting friendship between Palestine and Greece.
As Palestinians, we stood with Greece against the Turkish occupation of northern Cyprus. In my capacity as Foreign minister of Palestine (1994-2005), my instructions were very clear: To stand against any recognition of a separatist state in the North of Cyprus, particularly within the Arab League, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), where we had some moral and political influence. The friendship was mutual and it was not limited to a particular political party. It was a friendship among peoples: Greeks, and Palestinians.
As Greece joined the EU, it became one of our closest allies within the EU, supporting our quest for a peaceful political solution, and standing by us when Israel violated its commitments, whether by continuing to expropriate land and water, destroying the Gaza Strip, or denying us the State we had accepted on 22% of our homeland. Our Greek ally stood by the principles and commitments that brought us together for 70 years.
Lately, and regrettably, this relationship has begun to change. One understands the importance of economic and political interests in the formation and shifts of political alliances. Today, Greece and Israel are linked by certain issues, including natural gas, oil, geopolitical influences, and financial crises. 
We understand. Such connections are not unique to Greece and Israel. However, short-term changes in economic interests and political positions do not change important facts, such as the fact that Israel occupied Palestine, and which of the two countries is being warned against becoming an apartheid state. Changes in economic interests do not change international law, justice and human rights.
Several countries, including the BRICS or France, have common economic and political interests with Israel, but their position the necessity to end the Israeli colonial settlement project, and its military occupation, has not changed.
We were given assurances by the leaders of Greece that their closer relationship with Israel would not change their commitments to Palestine, nor would it adversely affect their historical relationship with Palestine and the extended Arab/Muslim world.
The support of the Greek people to Palestine was reaffirmed by the December vote in the Greek Parliament, attended by President Abbas, of a resolution that unanimously called upon the Greek government to recognize the State of Palestine. The government, however, refused to implement that resolution.
A turning point took place on January 17th during the meeting of the European Union Council of Foreign Relations. This showed a complete change in Greece’s lobbying activities within the EU. On that occasion the Greek Foreign Minister frustrated many of his European colleagues, and almost succeeded on pushing the Israeli line in the Conclusions document, trying to soften language on Israel's colonial settlements in Occupied Palestine.
Statements attributed to Greek leaders, announcing their refusal to implement the EU directive on the labeling of settlement products, were shocking, but they were explained, and corrected eventually. A statement by Mr. Tsipras supporting the Israeli claim that all of Jerusalem was the historical capital of the State of Israel, ignoring Palestinian rights to Jerusalem, were even more shocking. The Greek explanation was that the reference was historical and not political. In Israel and Palestine, everything historical is Political. Though later on a Greek spokesman reiterated their commitment to an independent State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital, the original statement was not retracted. We’re still waiting for an explanation.
News about further military cooperation between Greece and Israel are equally alarming to the Palestinians.
We do not want to abandon our friendship with Greece, nor do we want to see a shift away from the strategic relationships that link Greece to the Arab and Muslim world, particularly with Egypt and the Gulf countries.
I am sure the majority of the Greek people share my feelings about that relationship. We do not change our moral commitments and principles for a temporary shift in economic interests. We expect Greece to remain committed to these shared principles.
Dr. Nabil Sha'ath is the Fatah International Relations Commissioner and former Palestinian foreign minister (1994-2005).
Nabil Sha'ath
Haaretz Contributor
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UN calls on Israel to stop settlement expansion

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has blasted Israel over plans to construct new illegal settler units in the occupied Palestinian territories, calling for an end to the unlawful activity.

“Progress towards peace requires a freeze of Israel’s settlement enterprise,” Ban said in an address to the UN Security Council's periodic Middle East debate at the UN headquarters in New York on Tuesday.

Ban also described the Tel Aviv regime’s continued settlement activities "an affront to the Palestinian people and to the international community."

The UN chief also expressed concern over plans by the Israeli regime to build over 150 new illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and to confiscate 380 acres (154 hectares) of agricultural land in the Jordan Valley near the West Bank city of Jericho.

“These provocative acts are bound to increase the growth of settler populations, further heighten tensions and undermine any prospects for a political road ahead,” he added.

Over half a million Israelis live in more than 230 illegal settlements built since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds (Jeruslaem).

The United Nations and most countries regard the Israeli settler units as illegal.


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Israeli Court Rules Hunger-striking Palestinian Journalist to Remain in Jail

High court says, however, it will continue to follow Mohammed Al-Qiq's health on a daily basis.
The High Court of Justice suspended Wednesday its deliberations on a petition submitted by hunger-striking administrative detainee Mohammed Al-Qiq against his continued detention. The court said it would wait to receive updates about his medical condition before resuming hearing his case. Al-Qiq enters the 65th day of his hunger strike on Thursday.
If his condition deteriorates, the state will inform the court and submit its position on his continued detention.
The decision was made at the end of a hearing before Justices Elyakim Rubinstein, Zvi Zylbertal and Daphne Barak-Erez. The petition focused on two issues: the grounds for the administrative detention, and the petitioner’s hunger strike, which began almost immediately after he was arrested. 
Regarding his administrative detention, the justices ruled after examining classified material that there were grounds for the state’s position that Al-Qiq is suspected of recent military activity; of being involved in the activities of Alkutleh al-Islamiya, a Hamas student group at Bir Zeit University; and of having military connections with operatives in the Gaza Strip. Therefore, with regard to the grounds for detention, the court said, “We saw no basis for intervening in the decisions of the military courts. We got the impression that the intelligence evidence is significant.”
The legal adviser of the Palestinian Prisoners Society, Jawad Boulous, described the decision as “strange,” adding that it meant the court is pressuring the prisoner to stop his hunger strike and doesn’t plan to intervene until he has lost consciousness. “This is an option that is very far from justice,” said Boulous.
At the same time, Physicians for Human Rights accused Wednesday the Ha’emek Hospital in Afula, where Al-Qiq is hospitalized, of blocking a visit by one of the group’s volunteer doctors that was scheduled for Thursday. According to the group’s announcement, on January 11 it had submitted an urgent request to the Israel Prison Service to allow an independent physician to visit him. The request to the prison service was made after the hospital said it was not authorized to approve such a visit.
PHR claims that after the visit was coordinated with the prison service, the hospital said it could not allow the visit because it did not have an appropriate doctor to accompany the visiting physician at the scheduled time. The group argued that not only was the presence of a Ha’emek doctor unnecessary, it contravened privacy rules. “International codes of ethics stress the importance of an examination by an independent physician to creating a trusting relationship with the hunger striker in the effort to reach a life-saving solution,” the group said.
The group also argued that Al-Qiq’s condition is getting worse and that delaying the visit could endanger his life. The group added that over two weeks had passed since its request to the prison service; moreover, under the Patients' Rights Law a hospital must do what’s necessary for the patient to realize his right to see a physician of his choice.
Ha’emek Hospital rejected the criticism, saying the visit had been approved and they had no objections to it; all they had asked was to coordinate it so that the medical team treating Al-Qiq could be available in the ward to answer questions regarding his treatment.

Ownership Dispute of Contested Hebron Settler Homes Could Take 'Years' to Sort Out

Documents indicate buildings, which settlers moved into last week, were purchased from Arab owners in 2008 and then transferred to company owned by former Shin Bet agent.
Officials in the Civil Administration who are examining the purchase of the two buildings in Hebron that Jewish settlers moved into and were evicted from last week say the transaction should be registered with the Civil Administration’s initial registration committee, a process that could take years, Haaretz has learned.
Last Thursday settlers moved into the buildings, which they claimed were purchased by Al-Aydun al-Akarat, a company owned by former Shin Bet security service agent Assaf Nehmad. Israeli security forces removed the settlers the following day, on the orders of Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. He cited their failure to obtain a permit of transaction, as required under the military orders that prevail in the occupied territories.
On Sunday, after several cabinet members protested, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the settlers would be allowed to return after the necessary permits were obtained.
Documents submitted to the Civil Administration indicate that the buildings were purchased in 2008 from their owners (whose identities are known to Haaretz) by the Israel Land Fund, which purchases property from Arabs. In 2012 the houses were transferred to Al-Aydun al-Akarat, which the same year erroneously claimed to have purchased Beit Hamakhpela, near the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron in 2012.
A meeting on the issue is scheduled for Thursday in Ya’alon’s office. Sources in the Defense Ministry say the Civil Administration has not received all the documents it needs to review the transaction permit application, such as the surveyor’s map.
According to Civil Administration planners, in any event registration of the properties must go through the initial registration committee.
The full registration process could take several years. The initial registry committee deliberated for three and a half years on the claims surrounding the purchase of Beit Hamakhpela before determining that its purchase was not proved.
Knesset members Oren Hazan (Likud) and Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) said they were ending their boycott of Knesset votes, called to protest the eviction of the Hebron settlers, after Netanyahu ordered the formation of a new committee for settlement affairs and promised the settlers’ return to the buildings after the purchase documents were sorted out. A number of Knesset votes were postponed as a result of the boycott by Hazan and Smotrich.
“I trust the prime minister to complete the process of approving the sales documents, as he promised,” Hazan
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Schermata 2016-01-28 alle 09.20.18

Obama at Holocaust Memorial: In Face of Rising anti-Semitism, We Are All Jews

U.S. President Barack Obama spoke Wednesday at a special Holocaust ceremony at the Israeli Embassy in Washington D.C., and said that "anti-Semitism is on the rise, we cannot deny it."

"When we see Jews leaving Europe... and attacks on Jewish centers from Mumbai to Kansas; when we see swastikas appear on college campuses, we must not stay silent.

"When any Jew anywhere is targeted, we must all respond as if we are all Jewish... we must all do what we can... we have a responsibility, and as president I will make sure the U.S. is leading the fight against anti-Semitism," the president says.
The event honored four people, including Americans from Indiana and Tennessee, for risking their lives to protect Jews during the Holocaust, and is the first time such an event took place in the U.S.
Opening with a quote from the Talmud, Obama said "Whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world," and praised the "courageous" stories of bravery told before he took the stage. The president further noted his personal experience at Yad Vashem and with survivors, which he said moved him deeply.
"Would we have the courage to act like them?" Obama asked, praising a U.S. soldier who said he was "just doing his job" when he told Nazis soldiers that "we are all Jews."
In face of rising hatred, Obama said that "any attack on any faith is an attack on all our faiths," adding that "we are all indeed Jews."
Obama said the soldier had stayed true to his faith, citing the role his Christianity played in standing up for what was right.
Obama joined Jewish leaders and Yad Vashem officials at a ceremony where the Righteous Among the Nations medals were be presented posthumously. It's the first time the ceremony is being held in the United States. Ron Dermer, Israel's ambassador to the U.S., said Obama's participation "was a worthy tribute to the worthiest among us."
The United Nations has designated Wednesday as International Holocaust Remembrance Day to commemorate the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp in 1945.
Americans Roddie Edmonds of Knoxville, Tennessee; Lois Gunden of Goshen, Indiana; and Polish citizens Walery and Maryla Zbijewski of Warsaw are being recognized by Yad Vashem for protecting Jews from harm during the Holocaust. Yad Vashem, based in Jerusalem, is the world's Holocaust education and research center.
Righteous Among the Nations is an official title awarded by Yad Vashem on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people to non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.
Master Sgt. Edmonds participated in the landing of U.S. forces in Europe and was taken prisoner by the Germans. When the Germans ordered all Jewish prisoners of war to report, Edmonds defied the order by figuring out how to keep the Jewish POWs from being singled out for persecution.
Gunden, a French teacher, established a children's home in southern France that became a safe haven for children, including Jewish children she helped smuggle out of a nearby internment camp. She protected the children when French police showed up at the home.
The Zbijewskis hid a Jewish child in their Warsaw home until the girl's mother could take her back.
Six million Jews were killed by Nazis and their collaborators during the Holocaust.
Last year, Obama said the international anniversary was an opportunity to reflect on progress "confronting this terrible chapter in human history" and on continued efforts to end genocide.
"Honoring the victims and survivors begins with our renewed recognition of the value and dignity of each person," Obama said in a written statement last January. "It demands from us the courage to protect the persecuted and speak out against bigotry and hatred."
read more:

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Following in Obama's Footsteps, Ambassador Shapiro Succumbs to Netanyahu

The American president has given up on changing the situation of Palestinians in the West Bank; now his envoy in Tel Aviv retreats from even describing it.
In 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama told Jeffrey Goldberg that, “My job in being a friend to Israel is partly to hold up a mirror and tell the truth.” It was an odd thing to say. Holding up mirrors to injustice is the job of journalists and human rights activists. American presidents aren’t elected to expose reality; they’re elected to change it. 
But Obama hasn’t changed Israeli reality. Domestically, the political costs have proved too high. So last week at the Institute for National Security Studies conference in Tel Aviv, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro held up a mirror. “At times,” Shapiro declared, “it seems Israel has two standards of adherence to rule of law in the West Bank - one for Israelis and one for Palestinians.” He went on to declare that the United States government is “concerned and perplexed” by Israeli settlement policies “which raise questions about Israeli intentions.”
It wasn’t a particularly harsh mirror. Declaring that, “At times, it seems Israel has two standards of adherence to rule of law in the West Bank - one for Israelis and one for Palestinians” is like saying “At times, Americans drive on the right side of the road.” Israel does have “two standards of adherence to rule of law in the West Bank.” Not some of the time; all of the time. Palestinians in the West Bank live unde military law; Jews in the West Bank live under Israeli civil law. And as the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) explained in a 2015 report entitled “One Rule, Two Legal Systems,” the military law that governs Palestinians “is far more severe than the Israeli legislation applied to [Jewish] settlers, and this discrimination touches upon almost every aspect of life.”
Moreover, the United States is not “perplexed” by Israeli settlement policies. There’s nothing perplexing about them; Benjamin Netanyahu is foreclosing the possibility of a Palestinian state. Between 2009, when he returned to the prime minister’s office, and 2014, population growth in the settlements grew at almost double the rate inside Israel proper, and almost as fast in settlements beyond the separation barrier as in settlements within it. The man Netanyahu has appointed to negotiate with the Palestinians is on record as saying that, “We are all against a Palestinian state.” Netanyahu’s defense minister said in 2014 that, “It is time to free ourselves of the concept that everything leads to a framework that is called a state.” Netanyahu’s deputy foreign minister said last year that, “This land is ours. All of it is ours.” And Netanyahu himself said in 2014 that, “there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan”- i.e. the West Bank.
Nevertheless, Shapiro’s comments were useful. They were useful because Americans are so used to praising Israeli democracy that they rarely stop to notice that in the West Bank, Israel is only a democracy for Jews. For Palestinians, all of who live under Israeli control but without Israeli citizenship, Israel isn’t a democracy. It’s closer to a police state. As the ACRI report notes, “from a legal and practical perspective, the freedom of expression of Palestinians in the West Bank is virtually nonexistent. Military laws define Palestinian vigils and demonstrations as illegal assemblies, army and police forces treat them as a threat, and the vast majority are violently dispersed by security forces, sometimes resulting in fatal consequences.”
This is the reality that Netanyahu wants to ensure Americans don’t discuss. And so his government responded to Shapiro’s comments by slandering the U.S. ambassador as indifferent to Palestinian terrorism. “The ambassador’s statements, on the day when a mother of six who was murdered is buried, and on a day when a pregnant woman is stabbed – are unacceptable and wrong,” declared the Prime Minister’s Office. “Israel enforces the law on Israelis and Palestinians.” Notice the dishonest language. Yes, Israel enforces “the law” in the West Bank. That law just differs depending on whether you’re a Palestinian or a Jew. And why is it “unacceptable” for Shapiro to question Israeli policy on a day in which Israelis die? His comments were both true and shared by many of the Israeli security officials who fight terrorism for a living. Netanyahu, as he so often does, was exploiting Jewish death to win arguments that he can’t win any other way.
It worked. This week Shapiro told Israel’s Army Radio that “the timing [of his comments] wasn’t ideal” and all but apologized to the families of the Israelis hurt in terrorist attacks.  
If you want to understand why most Palestinians long ago lost faith in America’s ability to help end the occupation, this is why. First, Obama gives up on trying to change Israeli behavior and settles for merely describing it. Then, when his ambassador actually does so, in a mild and cautious way, he wilts under Israeli attack. Congratulations, Bibi, you’ve won yet again. And your country, yet again, has lost.

Israel Is So Democratic It Wants to Cut Funding for Those Claiming Otherwise

Culture Minister Regev paradoxical logic proves she doesn’t truly understand what justice, culture and democracy really mean.


Within the framework of the freedom of expression still permitted to journalists, particularly those whose writing is not funded by the public under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture, let’s imagine an imaginary yet plausible scenario: A repertoire theater, partly funded by the public, produces an original play with a plot that takes place in Israel. In it, one of the protagonists claims that Israel is no longer a democracy, since he or she was denied a stipend for claiming – in a drama staged at a supported repertoire theater – that Israel was no longer a democracy.

If Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev succeeds in passing her “cultural loyalty” bill, which aims at giving her and her ministry the authority to fine (i.e. revoke the support of) a cultural institution for a host of reasons, including “the denial of Israel’s democratic nature,” she will be able to punish the creators and stagers of this play. Thus, apparently, she will prove to the world that Israel is a democratic country, since it is preventing a state-funded theater from staging a play that casts doubt on its democratic character.

Before we amuse ourselves with paradoxes provided by a reality which is becoming less amusing with each passing day, let’s get back to the basics. Anyone with some knowledge of art, culture and their history knows that the staging of plays, which requires a location, production resources, a cast of actors and a performance in front of an audience, comes with a price tag. One can obtain the monies for that price from ticket sales, but this makes the creators dependent on audience judgement and tastes. A lot of viewers can bring in a lot of cash, but this requires producers to yield to audience preferences and to a common denominator in public tastes.

Rulers and kings understood this a long time ago, leading them to support ensembles that entertained them and annoyed their rivals. Under these circumstances, artists were dependent on the taste of their ruler, who wielded the purse strings.

With the transition from tyrannical or monarchic regimes to democracies, democratic states, among which Israel considers itself (with its culture minister trying to uphold such an image), took over the role of supporting the arts using public funds. The understanding was that production costs were being defrayed by the public in order to allow artists not to kowtow the vox populi. In many countries, mechanism were set up to create an “arm’s-length” separation between the state and its cultural institutions, to ensure that through public funding artists will have complete artistic freedom to pursue their imagination.

The basis of such a relationship was the understanding that art deals in the imaginary and that events on stage do not necessarily reflect reality. They create an illusion of “what could have been.” No one really dies on stage, blood is only paint, a flag is a prop and the play is not an opinion – even if one character or another expresses an extreme view – but an experience with which viewers contend by proxy. The nature of art is that it examines the limits of what its audience will tolerate.

Cultural institutions need budgetary independence from the taste of their audience so that they can confront viewers with extreme situations, trying thereby to prevent these from materializing. Only someone who doesn’t understand this simple fact can speak of the need for artistic works to concord with the state’s laws.

Ruling circles, whether totalitarian or democratic, have always tended to limit artists through censorship, bans and prohibitions, or by controlling the allocation of budgets. There have always been attempts to limit what was staged in Israel’s theaters. Up to the mid-1990s there was a 1928 law governing public performances, according to which everything was prohibited except plays that were approved by a committee at the Interior Ministry.

Ever since the rescinding of that law, a legacy of the British Mandate, the allocation of budgets by the Culture Ministry has been through an egalitarian and transparent set of criteria, with no interference in content. This way, the state is not a “cash machine,” as claimed by Minister Regev, but a dispenser of the small budget it allocates to supporting culture (less than a thousandth of the state budget, with the target, as in the rest of the world, of striving for one percent) according to criteria that only a well-versed accountant could figure out.

Minister Regev, as well as Naftali Bennett at the Education Ministry, is tirelessly striving to take over the means of production, using them to bend creative freedom to the dictates of the rulers. These are formulated by intimidation and by drumming demagogic cries for compensation and revenge of the Mizrahi periphery on Ashkenazi elites, which purportedly wronged the former. If in the past there was systemic injustice in the cultural sphere, perpetrated by one sector toward another – and this is a loaded, complex subject – its restoration cannot be achieved by revenge, by “doing to them what was done to us,” but by a slow and cautious process of rebalancing.

Regev speaks of “cultural justice” without truly understanding what justice, democracy or culture mean. The new bill proposed by the culture minister is in itself a blatant denial of Israel’s democratic character.

UPDATE: Gag Order Lifted On Case Of Pro-Palestine Activists Caught In Israeli Right-Wing Sting

In an act of entrapment, members of a right-wing NGO recorded a left-wing activist making inflammatory comments about a made-up sale of Palestinian land to Israeli settlers.

Israeli anti-occupation activist in court: 'This is a political arrest'  

SEATTLE (01/25/2016) — Earlier this month, MintPress News reported on the sleazy tactics of Israel’s premier news magazine, “Uvdah,” which aired a segment smearing a leading Jewish human rights NGO that protects the rights of Palestinian farmers.

Two spies from Ad Kan (“No More”), an astroturf settler group created largely for the purpose of mounting this “sting,” infiltrated Ta’ayush. One of the spies, according to an Israeli who is familiar with the infiltrator’s personal circumstances, has a history of mental instability.

They created a hoax land deal for the purpose of ensnaring Ezra Nawi, a prominent Jewish activist. Nawi reported the land deal to the Palestinian Authority, even conceding on camera that the bogus land dealer might be tortured and executed.Schermata 2016-01-26 alle 10.16.52

Read more: UPDATE: Gag Order Lifted On Case Of Pro-Palestine Activists Caught In Israeli Right-Wing Sting

‘Procedural Ruse’ Enables Palestinian Authority to Continue Funneling Foreign Funds to Terrorists

Foreign donors to the Palestinian Authority should not be misled by a "procedural ruse" enabling the continuation of massive funding to terrorists and their families, Israel's deputy foreign minister said on Sunday.

In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Tzipi Hotovely wrote that due to embarrassment caused by a budgetary report compiled by Israel's Foreign Ministry in June 2014 – revealing that the PA's annual payments to terrorists amounted to $75 million, which was 16% of the yearly sum received by foreign donors – the PA altered the way it was doling out the cash to the killers of Israelis.
That same year, according to Hotovely, "The Palestinian Authority passed the task of paying stipends to terrorists and their families to a fund managed by the Palestine Liberation Organization."
This fund, wrote Hotovely, was actually handled by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, and the shift was "purely cosmetic in nature."
Indeed, said Hotovely, a mere four months ago in September, the PA prime minister, Rami Hamdallah, assured that the PA would continue to "provide the 'necessary assistance' to ensure these terror stipends."
As it happens, it was in September that the current surge in Palestinian terrorism, which Israelis have come to call the "knife intifada," began.
Nevertheless, asserted Hotovely, "This procedural ruse apparently calmed the consciences of donor governments that continue to transfer aid. It is difficult to think of another case in which such a forgiving attitude would be taken regarding foreign aid to an entity that sponsors terror."
Hotevely concluded: "Donors to the Palestinians who support peace would do well to rethink the way they extend assistance. Money should go to economic and civic empowerment, not to perpetuate a false sense of victimhood and unconditional entitlement. It should foster values of tolerance and nonviolence, not the glorification and financing of terrorism."


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Haaretz’s Owner Proves Paper Has an Anti-Israel Political Agenda

With a circulation as low as 6% market share of Israeli print media according to recent research, Haaretz is utterly unrepresentative of the Israeli public and political system at large. Yet, Haaretz is still considered by outsiders to be the Israeli equivalent of the New York Times.

To be clear, Haaretz, even with a low circulation, is still a vital part of Israel’s dynamic and democratic free press. But the fraught and often aggressive discourse that characterizes so much of the Israeli debate sounds very different to a foreign audience.

Indeed, Haaretz, through its English-language website, has demonstrated that it is more concerned with its international audience than its domestic Israeli one. Haaretz, unable to exercise any meaningful influence at home, is using its English-language website and print newspaper to encourage external pressure on Israel.

The latest and most prominent example is an opinion piece by the newspaper’s proprietor Amos Schocken, titled “Only International Pressure Will End Israeli Apartheid.”

Schocken’s piece would not be amiss on anti-Israel hate sites such as Electronic Intifada or Mondoweiss. Schocken refers to “nearly 50 years of Israeli apartheid,” and compares Israel to the former South African regime:

The Israeli apartheid regime is also illegitimate, and it is no surprise that the complete identification which the government is creating between Israeli policy and apartheid is causing the world to question not only Israel’s control of Palestinians without rights, but also the legitimacy of the state itself and the whole Zionist idea. If, as in the government’s policy, apartheid is a necessary condition for the fulfillment of Zionism and the existence of Israel, then Zionism and the state are illegitimate.

Schocken is entitled to his opinions, even to the extent of portraying Israel as an illegitimate state. However, he is apparently hell-bent on “weaponizing” his newspaper in order to delegitimize Israel:

Whoever fears Israel’s insistence on maintaining its apartheid regime and understands that there is no chance of eliminating it from within, should view the EU labeling of settlement products, the pressure FIFA has placed on Israel and Brazil’s refusal to accept Dani Dayan as ambassador as encouraging signs. This is a crucial beginning of global action against an illegitimate situation that Israel insists on maintaining, but will be forced to give up. The government will predictably take “appropriate Zionist responses” to this pressure and pass anti-democratic initiatives to suppress and silence Israelis who, understanding that only external pressure will bring change, draw world attention to displays of Israeli apartheid.

Haaretz, for Amos Schocken, is an integral part of this “global action” against “Israeli apartheid.” Where does Schocken draw the line? If labeling settlement products or refusing the credentials of an ambassador are a “crucial beginning,” what exactly is the end game?

For the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign, Israel is also an illegitimate apartheid state that deserves to be destroyed. If Schocken has adopted the narrative and language of BDS, then, presumably, he is content to see Israel as the pariah amongst the nations. Haaretz then becomes the token Jew, much like those small yet very vocal anti-Zionist (and sometimes even antisemitic) Jews who serve as fig leaves for the BDS campaign. After all, if Jews and even a major Israeli newspaper are in favor of boycotting the Israeli “apartheid state,” then this form of assault on Israel’s wellbeing must be legitimate in the eyes of the uninformed observer.

Haaretz is striving not for objective and accurate reporting but for promoting a political agenda. It is incumbent, therefore, that the foreign media see Haaretz as a political entity rather than a primary news source. Using Haaretz as a cover for biased reporting is unacceptable.

While Haaretz is a product of Israel’s vibrant democracy and free press, it also plays a major role in the demonization of Israel. Amos Schocken’s latest opinion piece sadly acknowledges that Haaretz is anything but an unwilling accomplice.



 Schermata 2016-01-26 alle 09.41.28

Bennett Is Building a New Messianic Order - and No One Says a Word

The education minister and his public are restricting freedom, narrowing maneuverability and shattering confidence, in service of shattering democracy. And so far, nobody’s even peeped in protest.
From his position at the Education Ministry, Naftali Bennett is building, upon the ruins of democracy, the foundations of a new messianic and uni-dimensional world to conquer the people’s hearts and mount an assault on the premiership. I gather that the totalitarian aspect of his latest moves won’t deter his faithful, and that his intent to use improper criteria for admitting creative works into schools, will not encounter any special obstacles. How do I know? Because Bennett survived the latest censorship scandal he provoked without a scratch, not even a piece of shrapnel in his butt.
I also guess that Bennett is sanguine about the chances of the controversial aspects of the upcoming reform, by which artists will be expected to declare loyalty to the state and commit to make appearances in the territories. I guess that, based on past experience, he isn’t worried about real opposition, and the prospect of online protests likely to erupt doesn’t phase him. He anticipates that the usual suspects will immediately write their impassioned posts. Some will quote Heine and others will spout Brecht, and some will even replace their profile picture with that of some inspiring revolutionary, because beyond being spineless, snorts Bennett, artists in Israel also tend to think too highly of themselves.
The fact is, when Bennett declared the Jewish art prize, he was merely following in the footsteps of Limor Livnat’s successful pilot to award a prize for Zionist works of art. That loathsome disgrace she initiated and distributed mainly to artists associated with the left-wing camp, has so far been turned down by just one artist, Haim Gouri. But even now that this hoariest of poets has shown the light to past laureates of the prize, they have not arisen as one, returned their prizes to the Culture Ministry and suggested to the minister that she stuff it where that piece of shrapnel went.
In our parts, as Bennett knows, it’s hard to forgo prizes and honors because that’s all there is. Note that about a month ago, a pretty mediocre artist shared his joy at having won the 2015 prize for Zionist works of art with his Facebook friends. He added he wasn’t lacking awareness of the prize’s issues, he was just lacking dignity. “Winning just confirms my understanding that Zionism cannot be appropriated by a given side of the political map and that in the State of Israel, there is no subject that cannot be critiqued,” he wrote. Bennett, I guess, probably split his sides laughing. Every totalitarian takeover attempt has produced collaborators.
Bennett has long been aware of the unconcealed longing of the artists to be sent abroad on behalf of the Foreign Ministry. The stated goal of their mission, to represent Israeli government policy, never stopped the more vocal left-wingers among them, not even when the foreign minister was Avigdor Lieberman. Recently Amos Oz announced, in a move deserving applause, that he would no longer participate in Foreign Ministry events abroad. But his example and that of Gouri just drive home the point that it’s easier to be brave when you are nearer the exit than the entrance.
If you’re thinking of a counter-strategy, forget the illusion of shocking people into enlightenment. Nobody among Bennett’s growing public of supporters is concerned about deteriorating democracy. They’re concerned about the existence of democracy. Igniting the final process of its destruction will require restricting freedom, narrowing maneuverability and shattering confidence. And that is what they’re doing. And so far, nobody’s even peeped in protest.

Palestinian Gas Crisis Spreads From Gaza to West Bank Amid Cold Snap

Liquefied petroleum gas is used by hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses for cooking and heating. Daily consumption is 1,300 tons, but inclement weather caused shipments from Israel to Palestinians to drop to only 500 tons a day.
The cold wave now afflicting Israel obviously hasn’t spared the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. But the latter are facing an additional problem: a shortage of the liquefied petroleum gas used by hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses for cooking and heating.
Two weeks ago, Haaretz reported on the shortage of gas in Gaza. At the time, the Paz Oil company, which supplies LPG to both the West Bank and Gaza, blamed the shortage on inclement weather that had delayed the arrival of LPG shipments to Israel and promised to make up the shortfall once the ships docked.
Instead, however, the shortage has now spread to the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority’s gas and oil administration has therefore been forced to buy gas from other suppliers in an effort to solve the worsening crisis.
Mohammed Abu Bakr, the deputy head of the PA oil and gas administration, told Haaretz from Ramallah that the shortage was indeed due first and foremost to the fact that LPG tankers have been unable to dock at Ashdod Port because of the weather. According to Abu Bakr, Gaza consumes 350 to 400 tons per day, while the West Bank needs almost 950 tons per day. However, in recent weeks the oil and gas administration received only 500 tons for both the West Bank and Gaza.
Gisha, the Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, said that even if there is a shortage of LPG arriving in Israel, there’s no reason why the victims should primarily be residents of Gaza, who pay for their gas in advance. Gisha also noted that the infrastructure at the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza can only handle 280 tons of gas per day. 
Abu Bakr rejected the claim that when the PA doesn’t get enough LPG for everyone, it funnels most of it to the West Bank while short-changing Gaza. He also said Gaza residents’ own behavior is exacerbating the problem, because thousands of them now use LPG rather than gasoline to fuel their cars, which has increased demand for LPG by dozens of percent.
“The minute cars entered the picture, this changed the situation from top to toe,” he said. “Every year, Gaza is demanding an increase [in supply] of tens of percent.”
Sources in Gaza, however, reject the claims that LPG use is exacerbating the problem. They say LPG use for vehicles is limited, and lately local police from the Hamas regime have levied fines on anyone using LPG to operate their vehicle.
Meanwhile, the combination of the cold and lack of gas has forced many farmers to destroy massive numbers of chicks.
The assistant director of the committee for gas station owners and gas suppliers in Gaza, Samir Hamada, told Haaretz the Strip needs on average 350 tons of gas daily. That demand rises to 400 tons during the winter, but the supply has only been at most 250 tons a day recently, and even less in recent weeks.
“There were days when only four or five trucks arrived, each with just 20 tons of gas. What can you do with that?” said Hamada.
Gas station owners reject the claim that the dearth of supplies to Gaza is related to payment or delays in the stations capacity to receive the daily consumption. Mahmoud Aljaban, from the administration over seeing the border crossings, explained that the administration’s headquarters in Ramallah pays for the gas in advance. The Paz gas company, in turn, is supposed to supply the gas to the West Bank and Gaza Strip as per its contract with the Palestinian Authority.  But every time there is a snare, Gazans are the ones who pay the price, he says.
Sources in Gaza say that even if there is no shortage, Paz cannot supply more than 12-13 trucks a day because the gas transfer is made through the Kerem Shalom border crossing, through a single pipeline, which transports the gas from an Israeli truck to a Palestinian truck. There is no available reservoir.
According to Hamada, it was possible to transport gas through a pipeline at the Nahal Oz crossing into reservoirs to avoid a shortage. The gas station owners have been asking for months to lay an additional pipeline to supply gas to the Strip, to no avail.
Sources in Israel stress that there are no security concerns about increasing the gas supply to Gaza. Regarding the idea to lay down an additional pipeline, the Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories commented that the issue is under examination, and when that work is completed the political echelon will make a final decision. It did not say when the work would be completed or who would make that decision.

UNESCO Raps Iran Over Holocaust Cartoon Contest

Organization chief expected to protest directly to Iranian president who is to address body on Wednesday.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization recently filed a serious complaint with the Iranian government over its plan to hold a cartoon contest for caricatures denying the Holocaust.
Haaretz has learned that UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova plans to raise the issue when she meets Iranian President Hassan Rohani, who will be addressing the organization’s staff on Wednesday (January 27), International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
On December 17, Islamic Republic News Agency announced a contest for satirical cartoons relating to the Holocaust, to take place in June in Mashhad as part of the Teheran International Cartoon Biennial that has been held for the past 11 years under the auspices of the Teheran municipality. Organizers told the news agency that the winner will get a prize of $50,000, and added that it was not a display meant to deny the Holocaust or support it, but to enable questions to be asked about it.
Iran has held Holocaust-denying cartoon exhibits before, but the announcement of this year’s contest attracted considerable attention, coming only a month before the nuclear agreement with Iran and the removal of sanctions against it went into effect. Reports on the contest were published in the West two weeks before Rohani’s tour of European capitals, which began Monday when he arrived in Rome and continues tomorrow in Paris.
On January 4, following the reports in the Iranian press, Israel’s envoy to UNESCO, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, wrote to Bokova to bring the planned contest to her attention. UNESCO conducts activities throughout the world to preserve the memory of the Holocaust, combat anti-Semitism and promote Holocaust education.
“I urge you to condemn this contest and the Iranian authorities who enable it,” Shama-Hacohen wrote to Bokova, in a letter obtained by Haaretz. “It is incumbent to condemn this severe act of Holocaust denial, which badly offends the victims and survivors. It is time for UNESCO to demand accountability from the Iranian regime with regard to its malicious rhetoric, Holocaust denial and global negative activity.”
On January 15, Bokova responded, telling Shama-Hacohen that she was “deeply outraged” when she heard that once again Iran was holding a contest, “which makes a mockery of the darkest chapter in the history of humanity.”
Bokova wrote that the cartoon contest would only “further serve to incite hatred, racism, and discrimination. This goes against the objectives pursued by UNESCO to promote greater understanding and knowledge about the Holocaust.”
In her letter, a copy of which also reached Haaretz, she vigorously condemned the contest, saying she had sent a letter about the contest to the Iranian envoy to UNESCO in which she had expressed her deep concern. “I believe that all UNESCO action has never been so important than in these times of turbulence, as we face the rise of violent extremism and barbarous acts of hatred and anti-Semitism.”
Bokova has yet to issue any public condemnation of the cartoon contest, preferring instead to convey her message by diplomatic channels to both Shama-Hacohen and the Iranian delegate, due to Rohani’s planned visit to UNESCO headquarters on Wednesday.  During their meeting, Bokova is expected to register her protest of the contest to Rohani and stress that the organization opposes it.

Israeli Arab Lawmaker Haneen Zoabi Found Guilty of Insulting Policemen Joint Arab List MK to pay fine and apologize, as part of plea bargain.

Joint Arab List MK to pay fine and apologize, as part of plea bargain.
The Nazareth District Court on Thursday convicted MK Haneen Zoabi of insulting a public servant, under a plea agreement reached with the prosecution.
Under the agreement, Zoabi confessed to insulting a public servant, and the prosecution did not charge her with inciting to violence. As part of the deal, Zoabi apologized to the two policemen she had verbally attacked.
During the hearing both sides also made their pre-sentencing arguments before Judge Lili Jung-Goffer. Zoabi’s attorney, Aram Mahamid, told Haaretz that it was agreed Zoabi would pay a fine of 3,000 shekels ($755) and promised not to commit the same violation for the next two years. The state also wants to impose a suspended sentence on Zoabi, but the defense vehemently opposes this. Sentencing is scheduled for February 7.
Early in July 2014, a few days after the killing of Mohammed Abu-Khdeir, Zoabi made offensive remarks to Arab policemen in the Nazareth courthouse, where they were attending remand extension hearings for riot suspects. The statements included, “We should wash the floor with those who collaborate against their own people,” and “They should fear the shabab [young rioters]” and “We should spit in their faces.”
Explaining the state’s request to impose a suspended sentence, prosecutor Raz Walter said, “We are not talking about a slip of the tongue during an argument or a curse spit into the air, but a series of harsh sentences, like a self-contained speech that included a series of rude comments to policemen about their activities.”
He added that a punishment was important “to deter others from using rude words against public servants,” noting that Zoabi is an elected official with influence over a wide public.
Zoabi responded that, “The Israel Police and the prosecution made grand declarations against me at the time, but what’s left is a conviction for insulting a public servant. Usually one isn’t even prosecuted [for this violation] and certainly no one asks for punishments like imprisonment or a suspended sentence.
“I have no issue with any policeman, which is why as far as I’m concerned this case was over long ago,” she continued. “I am a public representative and I act in accordance with the values of justice. What happened, happened.”
Zoabi added she had been protesting the fact that the police were persecuting demonstrators and political activists, and she would continue to protest this.
“It’s not just my right, it’s my obligation,” she said. “The Israel Police and the judicial system conduct themselves one way toward the Jewish public and a different way toward Arabs.”

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