The Jews-Only State


All par for the course in "the only democracy in the Middle East" (from The Guardian):

A controversial bill that officially defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people has been approved by cabinet despite warnings that the move risks undermining the country’s democratic character.

Opponents, including some cabinet ministers, said the new legislation defined reserved “national rights” for Jews only and not for its minorities, and rights groups condemned it as racist.

The bill, which is intended to become part of Israel’s basic laws, would recognise Israel’s Jewish character, institutionalise Jewish law as an inspiration for legislation and delist Arabic as a second official language.


Palestinian students fear for their lives during attack on train car in Jerusalem


We picked up this frightening report from Ya Aini (Arabic), a local news website covering Palestine/Israel.  Last Tuesday evening, November 17, Ahmed Ghazzawi, a medical student at Hebrew University from Acre, was trying to get back to his student dorms when the light rail he was riding on was attacked in West Jerusalem by a mob of “hundreds” of religious Jewish settlers (Kahanists) chanting “Kill them, they’re Arabs”. The Kahanists had assembled for a rally near a rail stop. Ghazzawi was accompanying 5 female students (3 wearing hijabs) when the attack took place.

In Ya Aini ‘s report “We escaped certain death in JerusalemGhazzawi issued an alarming warning.  The following quotes of Ghazzawi’s from the article have been translated from Arabic:

“I swear it’s not from fear, but I want to tell the story through your website as a message to all the Arab students at the Hebrew University to take care, because the situation is really serious….We finished our studies yesterday at a late hour, and we went out [Hebrew University is on the east side of Jerusalem though not in occupied territory], I and 5 female students from the university, waiting for the arrival of the Egged bus to take us to the student dormitories. After about an hour it still hadn’t come, so we had to travel on the light rail.”

“On the way, as we were approaching the Central Station [in West Jerusalem], we passed close to a demonstration by groups of religious settlers, it was really big, there were hundreds of them. Then they started to point with their fingers towards our train and attacked it, and started to kick the train and throw stones and tried to open the doors to get to us, and some of them yelled, “Kill them, they’re Muslim Arabs”. We were the only Arabs there.”

“But they did not succeed in getting into the train and they kept throwing many objects towards us, and our car [rail car] was surrounded by settlers, and the Arab girls started to cry from fear at this terrifying situation. Then suddenly some Jewish religious settlers who were inside the train started to help those who were outside to open the doors, but they could not do it either. At that point the train was able to start moving again and we got to the student dormitories safely.”

“It was a feeling that I cannot describe no matter how much I try to explain to you, the bitter end would have been at hand if not for God and His Mercy..When I looked at the girls whom I swore to God I would sacrifice my life to protect them, maybe this is a feeling that Mahmoud Abbas or Ayman Audeh or … will not have. This is the situation we residents of Jerusalem live every day. Even worse than that, many have been killed in this way. This experience will stay with me for the rest of my life. So please beware, my dear friends.

Ali Abunimah reported a “Hate Rally” of Kahanist Jews that took place earlier in the same day on November 17, outside the court proceedings of a border police officer who was arrested on suspicion of carrying out the killing of Nadim Nuwara on Nakba Day.

Electronic Intifada:

In this video, originally posted in the Facebook group, Israelis can be seen listening to a speech in support of the “magavnik” and shouting sectarian and racist slogans including “medinat yehudim” – meaning a “state for the Jews only.”

The speaker asks that “all the Arabs of Israel die to atone for him [the magavnik].” Many in the crowd answer “Amen.”

There’s no certainty the mob that attacked Ghazzawi and fellow students was an extension of this “hate rally” earlier in the day. But this is the climate in Jerusalem right now, and Ghazzawi’s warning echos “please beware, my dear friends”.

(Hat tip Ofer Neiman)

Some reflections on the 5th anniversary of Kairos Palestine


This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.

What does a Jew from America have to say on the 5th anniversary of Kairos Palestine? The answer is complex and appropriately so.

I will be speaking on this subject in the (un)Holy Land soon but first I share some preliminary ideas before the conference itself. Then after a week or so on the ground I will add, revise or emphasize certain themes more boldly. After all, the ground in Israel-Palestine is always changing and I haven’t traveled there for some years. Unfortunately, the changes are mostly for the worse.

I share these preliminary thoughts as well to add to or help jump-start a discussion that we aren’t having – the next five years of thinking and acting in relation to Israel-Palestine. The conference celebrating Kairos Palestine should be a time of deep reflection, mourning and renewed commitment.

As a Jew, I speak on the state of Israel because it is part of the longer arc of Jewish history, as is Christianity and Islam. Palestine, too, is part of Jewish history, then and now. Even the Bible is at play, here, in the most (un)holy of lands. The complexities of a Biblical and modern landscape that continues to captivate the world are many, even as the people of the land, Jew and Palestinian alike, desire what is most elusive, an ordinary life.

Extraordinary is the word here both for Kairos Palestine and the situation on the ground in Israel-Palestine. In such an extraordinary reality, I would be remiss if I concentrated only on the remarkable success of the document in its five years of existence. Rather I concentrate here on the present situation and look ahead to the next five years. All of us can agree that this is no time for cheerleading.

Is this, then, a time for pessimism? Kairos, that moment of decision, of turning, of conversion where we become more deeply who we are, comes always at the right time, even if it’s too late.

If we are to be honest, we know it is too late – for beating around the bush, proposing illusory solutions or offering a solidarity without sacrifice. Palestinians have experienced decade after decade of political and religious hypocrisy. Yet on the 5th anniversary of Kairos Palestine hypocrisy surrounds us. Intended and unintended, this hypocrisy infects whatever solidarity is offered to the Palestinian people.

Translated Jewishly, Kairos is the prophetic, itself a moment of decision, of turning, of conversion, where Jews become more deeply who we are. Like Kairos, the prophetic comes always at the right time, even it’s too late.

Everyone involved in Israel-Palestine knows in their gut that it is too late. Those on the ground experience it daily. Palestine is surrounded, ground down and expropriated. Even as resistance continues, Palestine is on life-support. Palestine’s governmental and religious leadership know this score, or should. On the 5th anniversary of Kairos Palestine, it is wrong to turn a blind eye to these harsh realities.

Here I offer several points of view on the reality of the situation as I see it on the 5th anniversary of Kairos Palestine. I do so as a Jew, who lives in America but sees Israel as part and parcel of the broad arc of Jewish history after the Holocaust.

Ritualized Solidarity

For me and for Jews everywhere there are now two afters – after the Holocaust and after Israel. By after Israel, I mean after what Israel has done and is doing to the Palestinian people. No Jewish theology can be articulated today without including this second after. For after Israel, as it was after the Holocaust, everything has changed. Without power Jews in Europe were doomed. With Jewish power we have doomed others. The challenge for Jews in Israel and around the world is what to do after the Holocaust and after Israel. What is our witness as Jews today after?

On the 5th anniversary of Kairos Palestine, Palestinian land and life is surrounded by Israeli – Jewish – power. Those who come to the aid of Palestinians, friends of Palestine, are surrounded by Israeli – Jewish – power, too.

Israeli power is a central focus of Kairos Palestine. How do Palestinians shake free of their oppressor? A complementarity focus is the call to the friends of Palestine, the nations of the world, NGOs, the churches and the United Nations, to redouble their efforts on behalf of Palestine. On Israeli power, Kairos Palestine is strong and unrelenting. On Palestine’s friends, Kairos Palestine is generous, including, among others, Jews in Israel and beyond who are working for peace and justice in Palestine-Israel. As expected, Kairos Palestine emphasizes Christian witness and hope. Love in action, a specific Christian witness, with God’s help, can turn the tide.

On Christian love and witness, I am an agnostic listener. With Christian history in mind but as well the present reality, I believe politics is a better bedfellow. Yet the political landscape is dire.

Kairos Palestine’s generosity is real. It is also, at least partially, misplaced.

During the five years of Kairos Palestine’s existence solidarity with Palestinians has increased and taken on a new hue with the parallel success of the BDS movement. Nonetheless, the celebrated victories are overshadowed by defeats. In the last five years, settlements have thickened, the number of settlers continues to grow, land confiscation is increasing. Perhaps the exclamation point of these last five years is the war in Gaza. The reconstruction of Gaza, yet to begin, and with posturing all around, is another, devastating, exclamation point.

The reckoning that Kairos Palestine calls for hasn’t happened. It won’t happen in the near future either.

What we know now and should state openly is what has been evident for decades; the powers that be in the world are uninterested in Palestinian freedom, if one means by that disinterest a willingness to sacrifice on behalf of Palestine. Examples are many. Think of the failed American-brokered peace process, the recently promulgated European redlines, the Arab nations increasingly close relations to the United States and Israel, the limited though heavily invested in divestment battles in the American churches, and the continuing letters of support for Palestinians issued by the World Council of Churches. Have any of these nations, organizations or entities actually sacrificed anything for Palestinian freedom?

If they have sacrificed anything, it is too little and too late. Of course they could seize the kairos moment now. I doubt they will.

When the political and religious rhetoric and lack of action taken is analyzed, we find a “ritualized solidarity.” Ritualized solidarity is as an ineffectual rhetoric that is repeatable for decades and easily updated. Aside from the rhetoric, in Israel-Palestine ritual solidarity enables a status quo that is untenable for Palestinians but which those with status and power inside and outside of Palestine can live with.

Was the recent visit to the Al Aqsa mosque and the statement released by the leaders of the churches here any different? Their heartfelt appeal was interesting and illustrative of the general problem. The statement appeals to Israel as occupiers to restore the worship status quo which, of course, can only continue the downward spiral of Palestinian life. Their statement begs the question of questions: Does freedom of religion matter if the people and the religions are denied political freedom?

In truth, Islam, Christianity and Judaism are all occupied religions here. And the escapist appeal to the Abrahamic faiths is part and parcel of that occupation. Anyone who thinks that Palestine will be rescued by appeals to the Abrahamic faiths should have their head examined. It might be a variant of the much discussed Jerusalem syndrome, though one that achieves status and attracts donors.

Even after the war in Gaza, ritualized solidarity continues. The friends of Palestine mobilized during the Gaza war and as the war continued, with casualties mounting, some upped their rhetoric. Yet during and after Gaza a true reckoning, a renewed commitment, one characterized by sacrifice, remains missing. If Gaza this time wasn’t a kairos moment, what is? But there have been many kairos moments before Gaza. The friends of Palestine have failed repeatedly. After Gaza, they continue to fail.

Proceed down the line with each church denomination, NGO and the United Nations. During and after Gaza, are their changes that are effectual and entail sacrifice?

Think of the American churches response to the war in Gaza. The Lutherans send a letter to President Obama reiterating every policy they have adopted in their past assemblies. The letter reads like a remarkably detailed laundry list. At the end of the letter, the Lutherans have spoken their piece. Every failed policy and plea is back on the table. To fail again? If we cannot blame the Lutherans for failing, we can ask what the Lutherans risk. In my view, the Lutherans have not risked a thing in their Americanness and not enough in their relations with the Jewish establishment in America. Nor do they state honestly where their resolutions would, if implemented within the context of John Kerry’s recent peace process, actually lead.

Think of the Presbyterians in America whose victory in BDS was followed quickly by the war in Gaza. What did the Presbyterians risk? In their BDS vote, the Presbyterians put on a dramatic live-streamed event. But the truth of the matter is that their millions invested in the companies they divested from were only transferred to other for-profit companies. The Presbyterian multi-billion dollar profit portfolio remains untouched. During and after Gaza, have the Presbyterians spoken in a new voice or enhanced their divestment efforts? In short, have the Presbyterians put their dollars where their Gospel rhetoric is?

Recently a sermon was preached in Jerusalem with strong words and honoring a Norwegian doctor and an American rabbi for risking their standing in service to the Palestinian people. Honoring others is important. Nonetheless the question is less about others than the church institutions that would bring honor to themselves by crossing the redlines crossed by those they honor. When will the Gospel preached in Jerusalem be banned by the occupation authorities? Are the churches afraid of their personnel being denied entry, their property being confiscated, their religious services being shut down?

Honoring others has its place. Symbolism has its place. But when the ghettoization and slaughter of innocent populations is occurring as the churches preach justice more is at stake than personnel, property and worship.

Jewish Particularity and the Prophetic

For Jewish voices and Jewish theology, the complexity and complicity is no less. Jews in Israel and beyond remain on both sides of the Empire Divide. The Jewish establishment has hunkered down. The Jewish prophetic, against all odds, continues to explode.

Yet the Jewish prophetic itself is divided within itself. Most prophetic Jews are decidedly secular and universalist, though, of course, in a specifically and undeniably Jewish way. Which means that Jewish dissent is in exile from the Jewish establishment and, for the most part, in exile from itself. This double exile is encouraged, perhaps unwittingly, by Kairos Palestine and its supporters, especially in the BDS movement in Europe and America. The BDS movement emphasizes that Palestine is a Palestinian rather than a Jewish issue. On Israel-Palestine, Jewish particularity has to be checked at the door.

Like Kairos Palestine’s sense of the friends of Palestine, this universality demanded and accepted by many prophetic Jews is generous. It is also misplaced.

The issue of Palestine is hardly a universal one, if there are any truly universal issues. Palestine is a particular struggle, of two particular peoples/identities/destinies, with universal implications. The idea of Jews and Palestinians living together in a democratic secular state is a future vision that has much to recommend itself to Jews, Palestinians and the world. However, to see One-State as the litmus test for involvement in Kairos Palestine or the BDS movement is to miss the mark and the meaning of Jewish dissent. The result is another form of ritualized solidarity.

Jewish dissenters, including those who now form the elite circle of Jewish dissent, publicly appear in an understandable disguise which even they are unaware of. For where does their profound interest in Israel, in Palestine, in Jewish dissent from a secularized Left, come from if not from the Jewish prophetic? And where does the Jewish prophetic come from if not from the root of Jewish particularity and the never-ending Jewish civil war over Jewish destiny?

Make no mistake about it: Jews of Conscience are on the Israel-Palestine scene first and foremost because of their Jewishness. They realize, often without articulating it to themselves or others, that Israel-Palestine is the ultimate test of historic Jewish identity. The Jewish struggle against the oppression of Palestinians is first and foremost the age-old Jewish struggle against idolatry. In Israel-Palestine, Jews of Conscience are struggling against the final assimilation of Jewishness to unjust power.

Should Jews be afraid of admitting this Jewish self-involvement? I, at least, want to state this boldly.

After all, the root of the prophetic, from which even Kairos Palestine as a Christian document springs, is Jewish. Since the contradictions around Israel-Palestine are obvious, this is an almost impossible context in which to discuss Jewish particularity. Nonetheless, Jewish particularity remains and is important to contemplate for Israel-Palestine and the world.

Today, Jews of Conscience embody the prophetic that is the indigenous of people Israel. Others, including Palestinians, shine a bright light on the failure of Jews to live up to our own prophetic heritage. That bright light will not be enough for the Jewish community in Israel or beyond to move beyond its oppressive policies toward Palestinians. Nonetheless, the importance of the embodiment of the prophetic by Jews of Conscience remains crucial. I believe that without that rooted embodiment, the prophetic around the world will atrophy.

Here I think of a Jewish theology of liberation which I originated in the early 1980s, culminating in 1987 with my Toward a Jewish Theology of Liberation. I gave my first lecture on a Jewish theology of liberation in Jerusalem in the spring of 1987, months before the first intifada began.

My lecture developed into quite a scene, with an American rabbi, then living in Jerusalem but now somewhere in Europe, admonishing me that the Jewish prophetic ended with the rabbis. Michael Walzer, the doyen of Jewish ethics even to this day, responded to my lecture with such anger that his hands shook as if he was a victim of early on-set Parkinson’s. Then, the moment of moments, when Rabbi David Hartman, whose center, the Shalom Hartman Institute, I was speaking at, confronted Fr. Elias Chacour at a coffee break. Having told Chacour that he had offended him in Chacour’s positive response to my Jewish theology of liberation, Chacour apologized for the offence. Chacour inquired as to what part of his response offended Hartman. Hartman responded: “Your presence offends me.”

The “offense” committed by Chacour was prefaced by my lecture where I called for a confession by the Jewish people for what we had done to the Palestinian people. I also called for a real two-state solution and reparations for the Palestinian people. A few years later, I spoke, also in Jerusalem, of Jerusalem as the broken middle of Israel-Palestine where two broken people could meet and begin the process of what I called revolutionary forgiveness. Another idea yet to be realized.

No doubt, revolutionary forgiveness is too limited, though the idea that forgiveness with justice is categorically different than forgiveness without justice, remains with me. Others have suggested the need for a revolutionary justice that begins in Jerusalem. Whatever that might mean in actuality is even further from the horizon.

Are both revolutionary forgiveness and revolutionary justice so distant that they too have become ritualized solidarity?

Ritualized solidarity is pie in the sky when translated religiously. Is a Jewish theology of liberation, perhaps, like Kairos Palestine, stuck in a reality that may have once been possible but is now eclipsed?

Clearing the Decks/Collecting Our Witness

Kairos Palestine and the BDS movement cleared the decks. On the 5th anniversary of Kairos Palestine, sensibilities that prevailed before – the Two-State solution, appeals to international law and alike – have faded and correctly so. New, though sometimes recycled, ideas have taken their place. Most prominent among them is the call for a One-State solution and the international pressure for boycotts, divestment and sanctions.

On the Jewish scene, along with the Two-State argument, the Progressive Jewish option, prominent for so long, has diminished. The last five years have seen the demise of Peace Now and Tikkun as movements even tangentially related to reality.

Progressive Jews have been exposed for what they represent, the Left-wing of the Constantinian Jewish establishment in Israel and America.

Yet having been instrumental in clearing the decks, with its Christian focus, in some ways Kairos Palestine is itself a throw-back. Kairos Palestine’s emphasis on the tenets of Christian Zionist fundamentalism as misguided and a wrongful interpretation of scripture and Christian witness is important but to what effect? In the long and complex history of Christianity sorting out orthodox and heretical Christianity has distinct limitations. While correctly addressing a Christianity that is spiritually and politically offensive to Palestinian Christians, it can also stigmatize movements in Western Christianity with close ties to Jews as similarly on the wrong path.

Many supporters of Kairos Palestine in the West are in an increasingly positive relationship with Jews and Judaism as a shared heritage of faith with Christians and Christianity. While Kairos Palestine encourages a just and positive relation between Christians and Jews, the solidarity of Western Christians may be inhibited by Kairos Palestine’s stark and, in the Western Christian sense, sometimes retrograde Christian theology that features elements of Christology they no longer affirm. As difficult as it might be for some Palestinian Christians, in the main, Christian solidarity with Palestinians in Europe and America comes through a solidarity with Jews and Jewish history.

This link with Jews partially represents a moral awakening after the Holocaust in Europe. It is as well pointedly self-interested. After all, it is this now positive entanglement with Jews and Judaism that is the saving grace of the deeply flawed and historically anti-Jewish Christianity of the West. On the Western Christian scene, Jews offer much more than Palestinian Christians. In fact, Palestinian Christians are a point of contradiction not so much in light of the Christian faith but in light of contemporary Christianity’s positive, often romanticized, view of Jews.

Obviously, the Jewish-Christian relationship in the West cuts both ways for Palestine and Palestinians. The interfaith ecumenical dialogue/deal of the post-Holocaust era has enabled the destruction of Palestine. But to think that Western Christians will leave that dialogue/deal in favor of a Christian solidarity with Christian Palestinians is wrong-headed. It is not in the self-interest of Western Christians to make this move. Cultural factors are prominent here as well. The idea that Christian faith trumps culture is mistaken.

So Christian solidarity in the West for those outside the West is limited by culture and self-interest. This means that European and American Christians, including those who support Kairos Palestine and promulgate it, can be friends – up to a point. That point runs through Jews and Israel. This is true on the political scene, too. Any idea that Europe and America will move Israel back, that is force Israel to give up what it has taken already, is mistaken.

Rhetoric notwithstanding, major political movements to chastise Israel in practical terms accept the expanded state of Israel. The redlines of Europe and America – as is true of the United Nations, NGOs and churches – with the more recent addition of the Middle East Arab powers – limit the possibilities for Palestinians to a truncated, dependent, autonomy surrounded by Israeli, Egyptian, Jordanian, American, United Nations and NATO troops.

Strangely enough, BDS, now a marginal political actor on the international scene, if successful, would lead in the same direction. The idea that political actors with economic, political and military power would move beyond Palestinian autonomy is an illusion. It is to mistake rhetoric and hope for reality.

In short, on its 5th anniversary, all political and religious roads lead in a different direction than Kairos Palestine proposes and those leading voices that have emerged during these last five years insist on. There isn’t going to be a Two-State solution or a One-State solution either, unless we consider the situation as it is and will be Israel-identified. The One-State solution with Israel in the lead has been accomplished and, for all practical political purposes, is permanent.

Israel in control from Tel Aviv to the Jordan River is the international consensus that has evolved in the last five years. No political vision inspired by friends of Palestine or a religious witness will counter this consensus. The race against time and more causalities, not Palestinian freedom, is the pressure exerted on Israel. So far, Israel has refused the offer to keep everything it has taken. Because it feels, appropriately so, that it can take more?

What Are Jews (and Christians) To Do With the Reckoning That Won’t Happen?

Does this mean that on its 5th anniversary, the Kairos Palestine witness needs to be cleared away as well? Perhaps it is more realistic to think of Kairos Palestine, with the other documents, movements, hopes and failures of the past, as part of a heritage of resistance that has failed politically but exists in history as a beacon of light. It is a witness that needs to be collected and preserved.

Collecting our witness means that our hope and struggle remains available when the time comes, when history becomes open to another path. No doubt that future path will include parts of the collected witness, though not in the way we anticipated it. Our responsibility is to do the best we can in the time we have been allotted.

That justice-seekers on all sides have failed utterly is part of the burden of our collected witness. Is this failure one of the central lesson our collected witness bequeaths to future generations?

Recent lectures/writing by prominent Palestinians and Jews who are on the cutting edge of the Israel-Palestine issue exemplify the conundrum we are in. Both Ali Abunimah’s recent book, The Battle for Justice in Palestine, and Judith Butler’s 2014 Edward Said Memorial Lecture, “What is the Value of Palestinian Lives?”  though seemingly divided by political engagement and philosophical inquiry, are, in fact joined at the Israel-Palestine hip. Both are deeply apolitical, and though supposedly speaking to the moment at hand, are insufficient and distant from the reality on the ground. In short, Abunimah’s detailed roadmap of the secular democratic One-State solution and Butler’s philosophical category of “grievability” lack political resonance.

Part of Abunimah and Butler’s apolitical sensibility have to do with the situation on the ground where Israel’s power-oriented and oppressive presence exists without any political power to oppose it. Part of their apolitical sensibility has to do with the particularity both thinkers in varying ways subscribe to. In Abunimah’s thought Jewish particularity is absent and Palestinian particularity is subsumed under a universal rubric. In Butler’s lecture, though more in her recent book, Parting Ways: Jewishness and the Critique of Zionism, Jewish particularity is couched in an amorphous framework with little to anchor it, much like her understanding of gender.

Though with or without an emphasis on particularity, political defeat is assured, without particularity – a sense of essence and destiny attached to identity that no matter how much they are properly deconstructed remain – there is no witness for the future. To think that the end of the Palestinian struggle is a democratic secular state with no significant Palestinian identifiers is unworthy of Palestinian sacrifice then, now and in the future. To think that Jews of Conscience, including Butler, are struggling outside the specific and easily locatable Jewish prophetic, trivializes their emphasis on Israel-Palestine. More, it renders their views insignificant and difficult to understand.

The Next Five Years

For those who decry that collecting our witness is hardly enough, the next five years will raise the issue even more boldly. The next five years promise more of the same in the political arena. The next five years will likewise signal the end of justice-oriented Jewish theological reflection as we have known and inherited it.

To a large extent, the demise of Jewish theology and, broadly speaking, Jewish spirituality, has already occurred. Only vestiges of engaged rabbinic and Jewish Renewal sensibilities remain. Holocaust theology as a critical engagement ended decades ago, though the last strands of an unjust politically motivated Holocaust consciousness continue.

Jewish theology and spirituality today is thoroughly infected with imperialism, colonialism, ethnic cleansing and atrocity. This includes the Jewish establishment and the synagogue system that suffered its own demise when Holocaust theology became dominant. Imbued with empire and a colonial mentality what dominates Jewish life is a form of Constantinian or Empire Judaism. Progressive Jews and Judaism, once seen as dissenting voices, have either chosen empire or are journeying with the surviving remnant, Jews of Conscience.

Jews of Conscience are overwhelming secular in orientation and in exile from Constantinian and Progressive Judaism. Though some Jews of Conscience thought their exile to be temporary, attempting to bring the Jewish community into a new configuration and thus pave the way for their return to the Jewish community, it is clear now, and the next five years will make it even clearer, that the exile of Jews of Conscience is permanent. The permanent exile of Jews of Conscience will have a profound effect on the Jewish future.

This understanding of Jewish life comports with the politics of the next five years. Surveying the political situation is instructive and should inform our witness. In the United States, the 2016 Presidential race is about to begin. Despite his obvious feud with Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Obama will soon be a lame duck President, if he isn’t already.

Presidential candidates from both parties will offer strong support for Israel and emphasize the tumult in the Middle East as a clarion call for American military intervention in the region and a strong Israel. Senate and House candidates will echo that vision. At the same time, the midterm elections have featured sweeping victories for the Republican Party. During the next two years, both the House and the Senate will be under their control. Rather than a free Palestine, the danger for Palestinians is that the American administration may try to convince the Palestinian Authority to sign on the American-Israel-Egypt-European Union dotted line with fear that the next administration will be even be worse than the present one.

Though Europe has threatened sanctions and supporters of Kairos Palestine and BDS see this as an important victory, it remains to be seen how and to what extent those proposed sanctions might function. Unknown as well, is whether the United States will pick up any losses Israel incurs, if indeed they are significant. Though individual Israeli entities might be hurt if EU sanctions kick in, to frighten Israel the losses would have to be in the multiple billions. Another unknown and a significant factor is the possibility that certain European countries, themselves impacted by the EU’s sanctions against Israel and, of course, aware of the historic situation of Jews in Europe, might themselves overturn EU policies if sanctions impacted Israel in a significant way. Then there is the European interest, perhaps even dependence in certain sectors, on battle-tested Israeli military equipment. Though the United States is rightly criticized for its dishonest brokering of the Israel-Palestine conflict, Europe’s double dealing on Palestine is legendary.

Contesting the importance of America and Europe’s enablement of Israel’s occupation is the Arab world. The list of problems – and complicity – is too long here for enumeration. But if one thinks of the new dictatorship in Egypt in relation to Gaza, the war in Syria which features multiple players with varying regional agendas, and the posturing of Jordan on the Al Aqsa mosque, not to mention Iraq, Turkey and Iran and their contested role in the region, the place of Palestine and Palestinians is obvious. As much or more than Israel, the United States and Europe, powers in the Middle East region want an empowered Israel to play a positive role in regional stability and in disciplining Palestinians to accept a dependent, truncated, occupied autonomy.

From the friends of Palestine among the churches, NGOs and the United Nations, in the next five years look for more ritualized solidarity. While none of these entities have the power to change the situation of Palestinians for the better, they will continue to place their self-interested presence within Palestine and their relations with the Constantinian Jewish establishments in America and Israel before the needs of the Palestinian people. Or, perhaps more succinctly, they will continue to evaluate their presence in Palestine within the context of their own needs and mission. Though not without value, the reckoning that was needed after the Gaza war hasn’t and won’t take place is telling.

The issue has been raised before but is now more urgent: Are the churches, NGOs and the United Nations, regardless of their stated intentions, change agents for the better or part and parcel of the status quo occupation?

For Jewish theology the end is clear. Any Jewish theology that doesn’t take on the two afters – after the Holocaust and after Israel – is complicit. As well, any Jewish theology that derides Jewish particularity, as if all forms of Jewish particularity lead to racism, colonialism and atrocity, lacks thought and depth. As with Shlomo Sand and others, such so-called secular universalists cannot account for their own existence, thought and resistance. If indeed Judaism and Jewishness is a prison from which some want to escape, as the French writer, Jean Daniel wrote some years ago, it is also the place where the prophetic is found, takes shape and forges its own contextual witness. The question for Jewish life for the next five years is found in the Jewish (prophetic) prison.

What will the Jewish (prophetic) prison yield in the next five years? The Jewish prophetic witness will not liberate the Palestinian people. Nor will it liberate the Jewish people from its own oppressive policies in Israel and beyond. Israel will remain dominant, Palestine, occupied. Constantinian Judaism will grow stronger. The numbers of Jews of Conscience will continue to grow but the majority of Jews, as is true now, will have little to say about Israel-Palestine or Jewish destiny. In Israel and America, Jews will continue benefitting from empire and colonialism as all the affluent around the world do.

On the Palestinian Authority and its enablement of occupation, its future is uncertain. So, too, with the future of Hamas. Palestinian resistance will continue over the next five years both in its insistence and desperation. The collected witness of Palestinian resistance is strong but the casualties over the years has taken its toll. So, too, the diminishment of land and the corruption of Palestinian leadership.

In the next five years, Jewish and Palestinian resistance will be carried forward in the Jewish and Palestinian Diasporas of Conscience. These diasporas have grown over the years in number and in cooperation. Though few have commented on this phenomena, there is a Jewish-Palestinian Diaspora of Conscience forming that includes newly arrived refugees from Israel and Palestine in their ranks. How this diaspora will interact with Israel-Palestine, whether Jews and Palestinians of Conscience can have any effect on the homeland is up for grabs. My own sense is that this community, while continuing to be engaged in the affairs of Israel-Palestine, will be more and more rooted in the broader exilic community of our time now gathering in the New Diaspora. What Jewish and Palestinian particularity will form or even survive there is a question for the next fifty, rather than the next five years.

If this view of the next five years seems pessimistic, it is. Or rather, the arc of the present day is not bending toward justice. Yet history remains open. Palestinian and Jewish resistance to the occupation will continue. The causalities on both sides, different for their diverse contexts, will continue to rise. Collecting our witness is the only thing we can do now and in the next five years. It may hold out another path for the future. When that future will arrive is unknown.

Israel lost the British elite after Gaza onslaught, UK ambassador says


Earlier this week we picked up Frank Luntz’s polling data that Zionism has become a negative word for American elites. Well the process is further advanced in Britain. The, a British Jewish publication, reports the following statements from an appearance by Matthew Gould, Britain’s ambassador to Israel:

[N]o ambassador could have softened the impact of pictures of dead Palestinian children in Gaza which appeared daily on the news during the summer, irrespective of the rights and wrongs of the conflict, [Gould] argued.

“There is no amount of hasbarah or public diplomacy that is going to convince the vast majority of the British public that settlement announcements are a good thing,” [Gould] declared.

“There is no amount of hasbarah… which is going to convince the British public that Israel is the underdog in this conflict.”

Mr Gould expressed fears that Israel was “slowly losing, bit by bit, the elite centre ground of British public opinion”.

The recent parliamentary vote in support of British recognition of a Palestinian state, while it had made no difference to British government policy, reflected “a level of impatience and frustration with what’s happening, with Israeli settlement building and continuing waves of conflict”.

Speaking of English influence leaders who are growing queasy about where Israel is going, Roger Cohen has a column in the International New York Times, “Two Ideas of Israel-Palestine,” that presents the conflicting narratives one gets from an Israeli and a Palestinian about the rising tensions in the land. Cohen presents these two narratives neutrally, as equal and incompatible, but the Palestinian bats last and sounds far more reasonable. I believe anyone who reads these lines from each narrative will have to agree with the Palestinian:

[Israeli:] The Land of Israel was given to the Jews, it’s in the Bible. The West Bank does not exist, nor does the so-called occupation. It’s Judea and Samaria, Jewish land. Get used to it…

[Palestinian:] The Jews say the land is theirs because the Bible says so — and that’s not making this a religious war! If we try moderation, we’re unilateralists; if we resist, we’re terrorists; if we mourn, we are death merchants; if we breathe, we are intruders. They don’t want two states, they want a “peace process” to camouflage colonial rule. Gaza is the way it is because that is the way Israel wants it in order to say, you see, peace with these people is impossible. They have all America, money, nuclear bombs, highways, drones, an army and technology. We have nothing. We are poor. We only have our narrative. But we will fight until we have a state that restores our pride.

Again I insist that a nationalist ideology that has a religious basis is anathema to reconstituted American values; and that the girl gangs in the streets of Jerusalem attacking Palestinians are the fruit of such an ideology. It doesn’t take an elitist to hear this talk and recoil.

P.S. Ami Kaufman finds the Cohen piece too smooth: “I’ve got news for you, Roger Cohen, this… is a rich, armed-to-the-teeth colonial regime that has been stepping on the neck of an oppressed people for 47 years. That’s the narrative. That’s the story.”

Thanks, again, to Ofer Neiman.

Hate attacks in Jerusalem and Israel include one by settler girls


Violence – Jerusalem and Israel

Anti-Palestinian hate attacks in Jerusalem, northern Israel
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 Nov — A spate of anti-Palestinian hate attacks have been reported since late Thursday in Jerusalem and northern Israel, police and Israeli media said. In Jerusalem, four Israeli girls attacked a Palestinian taxi driver with pepper spray in King George Street late Thursday, Israeli police said. Another Palestinian claimed he was also attacked by a group of Israeli girls in the center of the city. Police said they arrested four girls, settlers from the occupied West Bank, and a court ordered that they be banned from Jerusalem for 15 days. In northern Israel, unknown assailants threw acid on the car of an imam in Acre late Thursday. An Israeli police spokesman said they are looking into the background of the incident. Israeli news site Ynet reported that a 53-year-old man was arrested near Haifa after threatening Palestinian workers with a knife. The man was disarmed by one of the workers at the restaurant and police arrested the suspect. Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Friday that Palestinian taxi drivers in Jerusalem have stopped working at night due to verbal and physical assaults … In Jerusalem, where tensions have been rising since the summer, both Israelis and Palestinians say they are increasingly scared about violence in the city. “I now avoid driving into religious Jewish areas, because I’m afraid I’ll pay the price,” Palestinian taxi driver Shadi told AFP. “If I see a Jewish couple, I’ll pick them up — they’re less likely to be a threat. But if it’s three young guys, especially hardline religious men, I don’t take them,” he added. East Jerusalem bookshop owner Imad Muna said he felt more of a target for both Jewish extremists and Israeli security forces.

Palestinian woman run over by Israeli near Shu‘fat
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 21 Nov — A Palestinian was run over by a Jewish settler near the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shu‘fat while she was walking to prayers at a local mosque on Friday, her family told Ma‘an. Suzanne al-Kurd, 29, was struck by a car driven by an Israeli individual and left with bruises all over her legs as she walked in front of the Shu‘fat Mosque, her mother said. The vehicle reportedly accelerated suddenly as al-Kurd crossed the street and hit her directly before speeding off, leaving her lying on the street in pain. Palestinian passersby who were nearby at the time of the incident rushed to her aid after the attack, her mother said, adding that she had been taken to the hospital where she was being treated for bruises and pain in her legs, waist, and arms as well as dizziness and headache. Her mother said her daughter recognized the driver of the vehicle as a Jewish settler because he was wearing a kippah, a skullcap often worn by religious Jews. “The incident was carried out in a deliberate manner because he ran her over and fled at high speed, all because my daughter was wearing an abaya and hijab,” she said, referring to clothes often worn by religious Muslim women.

2 Israelis stabbed in fight with Palestinians in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 21 Nov — Two Israeli Jews were attacked and lightly injured Friday evening in East Jerusalem after “provoking” local residents in the Palestinian neighborhood of al-Tur, witnesses said. Witnesses said that three Israeli settlers were driving in their car in al-Tur, near the Mount of Olives, before suddenly stopping, exiting the car, and “provoking” residents. Clashes then erupted between them and local residents in which two of the three Israelis were stabbed, before they fled in their car. After the incident, witnesses said Jewish settlers attacked several shops in al-Tur and attempted to assault people before they were stopped by locals, which caused further clashes in the area. The two victims, aged 24 and 21, were reportedly walking to a yeshiva in the settlement of Beit Orot, near the Mount of Olives in the middle of a Palestinian neighborhood, when they were targeted. Ynet reported that the two Israeli settlers were injured with “stones, metal rods, and nails” and were treated by paramedics. Police told the site that the two were attacked while walking from the nearby al-Tur neighborhood of East Jerusalem, and that police were searching for the assailants. The incident comes just hours after an Israeli settler ran a Palestinian woman over near Shufat in East Jerusalem as she was walking to prayer. At least four anti-Palestinian hate crimes were reported overnight across Israel and in Jerusalem

Child seriously injured during interrogation in Jerusalem
IMEMC/Agencies 19 Nov — Palestinian human rights groups have reported that a detained Palestinian child from Jerusalem was seriously injured during interrogation at an Israeli interrogation center in Salah Ed-Deen Street, in the occupied city. The WAFA News Agency said the child, Khader al-‘Ajlouni, 16 years of age, was pushed down a flight of stairs at the police station, and suffered serious injuries to his neck, arms and back. It added that the child was transferred to a hospital in the city after becoming unable to move one of his arms and one of his legs.

Vandals deface car of Acre imam who called for tolerance after J’lem attack
Haaretz 21 Nov by Noa Shpigel and the AP — Vandals defaced the car of Sheikh Samir Assi, the imam of the Al-Jazaar mosque in Acre, overnight Thursday, in what the city’s mayor called an unfortunate incident. Police suspect the vandals poured acid on the car, which was parked outside the religious leader’s home. Acre Mayor Shimon Lankri denounced the crime and said he hoped its perpetrators would be apprehended and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. “The residents of Acre, Jews and Arabs alike, have proven they know how to respect one another and to coexist with mutual respect and understanding,” he said. The imam was among clergy representing Christians, Jews and Muslims who met Wednesday near the Jerusalem synagogue where five people were killed in a grisly Palestinian attack to plead for tolerance amid spiking regional tensions.

Amid Jerusalem violence, Arab workers pay with their livelihoods
Haaretz 21 Nov by Nir Hasson — Twenty-seven East Jerusalem bus drivers quit their jobs, other go on strike, after fellow driver found hanged in bus; ‘people are frightened.’ -- Taxi driver Riyad Jatt of the Silwan neighborhood says he stopped to pick up two female passengers near the entrance to Jerusalem Thursday morning. “They asked me, are you Jewish or Arab? When I told them I was an Arab they didn’t get in,” he says, adding that after 20 similar incidents he stopped counting. “One man stopped me outside the municipality, looked at me and said no and got out. In [ultra-Orthodox neighborhood] Mea She’arim two women wanted to get in, saw I was an Arab and walked away.” Palestinian taxi drivers make up at least half the city’s taxi drivers; in a sense, they’re on the very frontline of the confrontation tearing the city apart. It’s hard to find a driver who says he hasn’t been cursed at or beaten up. Since the attack on a synagogue Tuesday, cruising for passengers in West Jerusalem has become a humiliating and even dangerous experience. Many drivers say they’ve stopped working or have given up working at night…
Meanwhile, parents in the religious state school Harel in the Ramot neighborhood demanded that a Palestinian janitor be replaced. “It’s not because he’s an Arab, but he’s a young man — we don’t know what he’s done or where he comes from. I’m not judging; he could be a good person, but he could also be a terrorist,” says Gilad Cohen, head of the school’s parents’ committee. “We’re demanding that he be replaced by a woman so that if something happens, heaven forbid, the school staff — all female teachers but two — can at least react. I get text messages and calls all day from worried parents. One mother wrote: ‘What if he decides to slaughter an entire class? Ten kids will die by the time the security guard shows up.’ On the other hand, some parents are urging us to stop the ranting and raving.”

US media erase Israeli state and settler violence / Rania Khalek
Electronic Intifada 20 Nov — As Tuesday’s grisly murder of five Israelis in a Jerusalem synagogue by two Palestinian assailants continues to dominate headlines, major media outlets are actively erasing the Israeli violence that preceded the attack and the surging anti-Palestinian assaults that have followed. In typical fashion, The New York Times buried information alluding to Palestinian death and suffering in the fourteenth paragraph, while CNN disappeared Palestinians from the discussion entirely. The Washington Post went even further, using the synagogue attack as an opportunity to erase Israeli violence against Palestinians both past and present. Noting that the attack site is located in what used to be Deir Yassin — a Palestinian village destroyed in 1948 after Zionist militias deliberately executed more than one hundred of its inhabitants, including children — the Post rendered the massacre an unproven accusation against Israel. Following an uproar on social media, the Post quietly removed the reference to Deir Yassin from the piece without issuing an explanation or correction. These same media outlets are gleefully painting Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip as heartless monsters based on a marginal celebration that took place in Gaza City … Speaking from Gaza where he is currently stationed, journalist and Mondoweiss contributor Dan Cohen told The Electronic Intifada that there was indeed a celebratory rally organized by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Gaza City but the celebrations were far from widespread. “A small minority celebrated. That’s what being besieged and bombed does to people,” said Cohen

In Israel, only Jewish blood shocks anyone / Gideon Levy
Haaretz 20 Nov — There was a massacre in Jerusalem on Tuesday in which five Israelis were killed. There was a war in Gaza over the summer in which 2,200 Palestinians were killed, most of them civilians. A massacre shocks us; a war, less so. Massacres have culprits; wars don’t. Murder by ax is more appalling than murder by rifle, and far more horrendous than bombing helpless people trying to take shelter. Terror is always Palestinian, even when hundreds of Palestinian civilians are killed. The name and face of Daniel Tragerman, the Israeli boy killed by mortar fire during Operation Protective Edge, were known throughout the world; even U.S. President Barack Obama knew his name. Can anyone name one child from Gaza among the hundreds killed? A few hours after the attack in Jerusalem, journalist Emily Amrousi said at a conference in Eilat that the life of a single Jewish child was more important to her than the lives of thousands of Palestinian children. The audience’s response was clearly favorable; I think there was even some applause … How many Israelis are willing to give a thought to the parents of Yousef Shawamreh, the boy who went out to pick wild greens and was killed by an army sniper? Why is it exaggerating to be upset by, or at least give some attention to, the killing of Khalil Anati, a 10-year-old boy from the Al-Fawar refugee camp? Why can’t we identify with the pain of bereaved father Abd al-Wahab Hammad, whose son was killed in Silwad, or with the Al-Qatari family from the Al-Amari refugee camp, two members of which were killed by soldiers within a month? Why do we reserve our horror for the synagogue and not consider these killings disturbing?

VIDEO: Why is Jerusalem always on edge?
Redress Information & Analysis 17 Nov 3-minute video — It seems like every violent incident in Jerusalem could spark another massive flare-up in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. But what are the policies keeping the city on edge? Aj+Lab’s Dena Takruri explains

Israeli forces storm Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 20 Nov — Israeli forces on Wednesday night broke into the mourners’ tents of the family of Ghassan and Udayy Abu Jamal from Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood who were shot dead after they attacked a synagogue and killed five in West Jerusalem on Tuesday. Witnesses told Ma‘an that the soldiers broke into both the men’s and women’s tents as well as the home of Mahmoud Abu al-Jamal and removed all posters of Ghassan and Udayy. Meanwhile, clashes broke out in the Jabal al-Mukabbir, Sur Bahir, and al-Tur neighborhoods in protest against Israel’s refusal to deliver the bodies of Ghassan and Udayy Abu Jamal to their families for burial. Medical sources said 12 young men were injured by rubber-coated bullets including one seriously injured in Sur Bahir after he was hit in the head. Dozens of others were hurt by tear-gas inhalation. An official in the Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance service in Jerusalem Dr Amin Abu Ghazala said four out of the 12 injured in Sur Bahir and Jabal al-Mukabbir needed hospitalization because they were hit in the head and face.
Local sources in Sur Bahir told Ma‘an that undercover Israeli forces raided the homes of the Nimir and Hammad families and detained three young men after assaulting them and other family members. Ahmad Khader Nimir said Israeli forces broke into his home with police dogs and attacked all his family members including his blind 52-year-old wife causing bruises in her head and arm. She was evacuated to hospital. The soldiers also attacked a young man who suffers from cancer before they detained Tariq Ahmad Khadir Nimir, 30, and his brother Rashid, 24. Israeli forces also ransacked the home of Munir Mousa Hamamd, 33, in Zaquqa neighborhood of Sur Bahir and detained him after beating him.
In al-Tur, young Palestinian men hurled four fire bombs at an Israeli military jeep during clashes near al-Maqasid hospital. Witnesses said Israeli troops stationed themselves on rooftops and showered the area with tear gas. Clashes were also reported in the Silwan and al-‘Isawiya neighborhoods. Residents of Wadi Qaddum area in Silwan told Ma‘an that special Israeli forces carried out a sudden raid in the area firing rubber-coated bullets. As a result, a young man was hit in the abdomen and another in the foot.

PFLP: Israelis will not be safe before Palestinians
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 Nov — The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine on Thursday officially mourned two of its members Ghassan and Udayy Abu Jamal who were killed Tuesday after carrying out an attack on an Israeli synagogue, saying that the attack shows that Israelis will not be safe until Palestinians are. In a statement released by the leftist militant group, Khalil Maqdesi, a member of the central committee, called the attack “a natural response to the ongoing racist policies and crimes of the occupation, and it is the occupation that is responsible for the escalation in Jerusalem and throughout Palestine.” “The PFLP will continue to target every institution of the occupation. No place in Jerusalem should be safe so long as the Palestinian people are not safe. ‘Security’ cannot be built on the backs of the Palestinian people. The only result of the occupation attacks on Jerusalem will be continued and escalating resistance among the Palestinian masses.” Although the statement stopped short of claiming the attack, which left five Israelis dead, it clarified PFLP’s position that “resistance” to Israeli occupation was necessary by any means necessary.

Israel issues demolition order for home of synagogue attackers
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 20 Nov – Israeli police on Thursday issued demolition orders for the home of two Palestinian suspects who killed five Israelis this week in a Jerusalem synagogue. Ghassan Abu Jamal and his cousin Uday, from the Jabal al-Mukabbir neighborhood of East Jerusalem, entered a synagogue armed with a gun, meat cleavers, and knives and killed five Israelis on Nov. 18. The Abu Jamal family said that police summoned Ghassan’s wife and the parents of Uday to an Israeli police station in the neighborhood and issued demolition orders to the families. They have 48 hours to appeal the decision in Israeli courts. Uday’s father passed out after a heated argument with Israeli police officers and was taken to hospital for treatment. The bodies of Ghassan and Uday are still in Israeli custody.
On Wednesday, Israeli forces demolished the Silwan home of Abd al-Rahman al-Shaludi, who killed two Israelis after driving into civilians in Jerusalem last month. The demolition is one of at least six orders issued by the Israeli government to destroy the homes of the families’ of Palestinians who attacked Israelis. On Sunday, Israeli rights group B’Tselem said that punitive house demolitions are “fundamentally wrong” and contravene “basic moral standards by punishing people for the misdeeds of others.”

Israel to demolish homes of 3 Jerusalem attack suspects
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Nov — The families of three Palestinians who are suspected of recently carrying out attacks in Jerusalem received notices on Wednesday that their homes will be demolished. The families of Ibrahim al-Akkari and Muhammad Jaabis — both of whom ran over Israeli pedestrians — as well as Mutaz Hijazi, who shot and injured right-wing Jewish extremist leader Yehuda Glick — all received demolition notices. A Ma’an reporter said that the Jaabis family has said they will appeal the demolition decision, although Israeli authorities’ signaled earlier in November that the homes of any Palestinian who attacked Israelis would have their homes demolished. The news came only hours after the home of Abd al-Rahman al-Shaludi in Silwan was demolished by Israeli authorities, who carried out the demolition as punishment for him driving his car into a group of civilians and killing 2 Israelis in late October. “The Israeli occupation wants to break up our family and displace us. They think that by demolishing the houses of martyrs they will deter the people of Jerusalem and Palestine, but violence begets violence,” his mother told Ma’an earlier on Wednesday.

Israeli forces deliver demolition warrant to Akkari family in Shu‘fat
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 20 Nov – Israeli forces on Thursday morning stormed the home of Ibrahim al-Akkari in Shu‘fat refugee camp in northern Jerusalem and informed the family that their house would be demolished after 48 hours. Al-Akkar, 47 was shot dead after he ran into Israeli pedestrian at a tram stop in Jerusalem on Nov. 5 killing one and injuring 13. His widow told Ma‘an that Israeli troops broke into her home at dawn and handed over an official military demolition warrant. The warrant reads that the family could appeal against the decision within 48 hours. Army engineers drew a map after they measured the area. Fierce clashes broke out after Israeli soldiers raided Shufat camp, according to locals. “Allahu Akbar” was heard through loudspeakers of mosques in the camp as young men clashed with Israeli troops in the streets. Several were hurt by inhaling tear gas which Israeli soldiers fired in all directions.

Israeli spokesman Mark Regev: punitive home demolitions are price to be paid
Middle East Monitor 20 Nov by Ben White — The Israeli Prime Minister’s spokesman Mark Regev has defended the internationally-condemned policy of punitive home demolitions as an appropriate “price to be paid”. Regev’s remarks appeared in an article in The New York Times by the paper’s Jerusalem correspondent Jodi Rudoren, but were subsequently heavily edited. In the original article, Rudoren reported Regev as explaining that “Jewish extremists were not treated similarly because Israeli society does not celebrate such attacks in the way that Palestinians often do.” The full quotation from Regev was as follows: “There is a culture of support within Palestinian society — these people are put up on a pedestal, they become martyrs, they become heroes, they are praised by the Palestinian leadership, their families are embraced, there are also very practical benefits for the family vis-à-vis financial support. In many ways, an action against the house is evening of the playing field. One is saying that by committing a heinous crime, in this case by murdering a baby, there will be a price to be paid.”  The updated version of the piece has Regev justifying the practice on the grounds that “demolitions were a necessary deterrent to offset ‘a culture of support within Palestinian society,’ citing a report showing that the Palestinian Authority paid families of what it calls martyrs nearly $7 million in 2011.” It is unclear why the original remarks were changed by The New York Times.

Jerusalem mayor: Revoke citizenship of terrorists’ families
Haaretz 21 Nov — Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Friday called for Israel to revoke the citizenship of terrorists’ families who support attacks against Israelis. “We must be extremely focused [in or efforts] against evil people, to locate them and deal with them firmly,” Barkat told Army Radio. “I discussed the matter with the prime minister and the cabinet,” he said, “and I think they understand it, and will examine how to revoke the citizenship of terrorists’ families, as well as how to act more decisively against those who incite, cause disturbances and throw stones.”
Barkat also addressed the recent decision by Ashkelon’s mayor to impose a partial ban on Arab construction workers in local schools, saying it reminded him of dark days in Europe during the World War II era. “We cannot generalize in the same way that was done to the Jews 70 years ago,” Barkat said. “Here, in Jerusalem, we have tens of thousands of Arab laborers. We must make a very clear distinction” between terrorists and law-abiding citizens. Barkat urged Jerusalemites to continue employing Arabs, and commended the synagogue where this week’s deadly terror attack occurred for choosing to keep on its Arab workers. Meanwhile, it was revealed that the sister of one of the synagogue attackers works for the Jerusalem municipality, in its social services department. Barkat said she is a “valued, excellent employee” who has worked for the city for more than a decade.
Also on Friday, the head of the Silwan residents’ committee, Fakhri Abu Diab, told Army Radio that demolishing terrorists’ homes, which is meant to be a deterrent, only encourages more terror.

No age bar for Friday prayers at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa
JERUSALEM (AFP) 21 Nov — Israeli police said they do not plan to bar young Muslim worshippers from Friday prayers at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque, for the second week running after months of restrictions.  “So far, restrictions on entry of worshippers will not be imposed,” police spokeswoman Luba Samri said in a statement late Thursday. She said the situation would be kept under review during the night in case a change became necessary. Israel eased restrictions at the flashpoint mosque compound last week after US Secretary of State John Kerry announced agreement on steps to reduce tensions in the city. For months, it had allowed in only older male worshippers, keeping out the age range it identified as more likely to cause disturbances.  The site, which is holy to Jews as well as Muslims, has been the focus of months of unrest in annexed Arab east Jerusalem.  The Palestinians have been infuriated by a far-right Jewish campaign for prayer rights at compound that threatens an ultra-sensitive, decades-old status quo under which Jews can visit but not pray. The violence prompted Kerry to holds a flurry of meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in neighbouring Jordan, after which he announced unspecified confidence-building measures to ease the underlying tensions.

Thousands of Israeli Druze and Jews grieve at funeral for policeman slain in terror attack
Ynet 19 Nov by Kobi Nachshoni —  The Druze police officer who lost his life in Tuesday’s terror attack is being honored by the ultra-Orthodox community, which was hit the hardest in the deadly terror attack on a synagogue, and the community is urging Haredi youths to attend the young officer’s funeral service. The ultra–Orthodox community determined Wednesday that Master-Sergeant Zidan Saif, the Druze policeman who died from wounds sustained in Tuesday morning’s synagogue terror attack was a “Righteous Among the Nations”, and many urged their public to attend his funeral, even arranging free transportation from the Jerusalem International Convention Center. Unlike their Muslim brethren, Israel’s Druze population, also ethnic Arabs, who emerged 1,000 years ago as a sect of Islam with a distinct identity, serve in the army and are in a sense more integrated into mainstream Israeli society. Nonetheless, the gesture is rare for the closed ultra-Orthodox society.,7340,L-4593823,00.html

New video shows Druze cop’s key role in halting Har Nof terror attack
Times of Israel 21 Nov by Marissa Newman — Footage of the fatal Tuesday Har Nof synagogue terror attack, broadcast on Israeli television Thursday, documents the death of Druze policeman Zidan Saif as well as the final moments of the shootout, when the two terrorists were killed by Israeli fire. It indicates that Saif played a key role in ending the attack, firing from outside the synagogue at the terrorists inside, before one of them runs out and shoots him at close range. The video, aired on Channel 2 on Thursday evening, was filmed by a neighbor across the street in the West Jerusalem neighborhood. In it, Saif — a traffic cop who was among the first policeman at the scene — is seen outside the synagogue, shooting into the building at the terrorists.

Israel summons Palestinian pathologist for questioning
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 20 Nov — Israeli police on Thursday issued a summons order to a Palestinian pathologist who attended the autopsy of a bus driver found dead earlier this week. Dr. Saber al-Aloul received an order to go to the Russian Compound detention center for questioning at 10 a.m. on Sunday, he told Ma‘an. The pathologist said that the order was illegal and only a court or the general prosecutor could issued such a demand for a court session, and not a closed interrogation. Al-Aloul attended the autopsy of Yousuf Hasan al-Ramouni, 32, who was found hanged inside his bus at the Har Hotzvim terminal near Jerusalem. Yoav Mordechai, Israel’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories said Tuesday that an autopsy report on the death of al-Ramouni proves it was a suicide and there was “no suspicion of criminal activity.” The victim’s brother, Osama al-Ramouni said the family did not accept the verdict of suicide, saying his body “had bruises on it,” suggesting he had been “tortured” before his death. “My brother had children and was a happy man. It is impossible that he killed himself,” he told AFP.

Violence — West Bank

The Ibrahimi Mosque massacre: 20 years later
Institute for Middle East Understanding – from 27 Feb 2014 — … Early on the morning of February 25, 1994, Goldstein, wearing his army uniform and carrying his army-issued assault rifle, walked past Israeli soldiers manning a checkpoint and into the Ibrahimi Mosque. It was the holy month of Ramadan for Muslims and there were 400 or 500 Palestinian men worshipping. According to reports, once inside, Goldstein observed the scene and waited until those present turned towards Mecca and knelt to pray before opening fire. Twenty-nine Palestinians were killed and some 150 wounded before Goldstein’s victims subdued and beat him to death. According to a report in The New York Times, at least one Palestinian was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers stationed outside the mosque as panicked survivors attempted to flee to safety and others may have died as a result of being repeatedly stopped en route to hospital by soldiers wanting to search the vehicles they were being transported in. In the civil unrest that erupted across the occupied territories, Israeli soldiers killed more than 20 Palestinians and wounded hundreds of others…
Israel clamped down on Palestinian residents of Hebron with severe restrictions on their movements and other measures. Israeli measures taken in Hebron following the massacre include: A round-the-clock curfew was imposed on Palestinian residents.
Israel forcibly divided the Ibrahimi Mosque to create a separate prayer space for Jews with a separate entrance. In addition, the mosque would be opened exclusively for Jews 10 days a year, and Muslims 10 days a year. Palestinian shopkeepers on Shuhada Street in the heart of Hebron were forced to close their businesses, which were welded shut by the Israeli army, under the pretext of securing settlers living on the busy commercial artery. Palestinians were restricted, at first from driving and later from walking as well, on a large section of Shuhada Street, prompting its nickname of “Apartheid Street.” The US government spent millions of dollars through USAID renovating Shuhada Street prior to its segregation, most of which is now reserved for the exclusive use of Jewish settlers. Numerous new Israeli military checkpoints and obstacles to movement were put in place making it difficult for Palestinians to move around the city, including children who must pass through checkpoints to get to school…
Following the massacre, hundreds of Israelis attended a memorial for Goldstein at his gravesite. He was buried in Kiryat Arba, where a shrine to the mass killer was erected, quickly becoming a pilgrimage site for Jewish extremists. In 1999, the Israeli army demolished the shrine, however Goldstein’s grave remains a destination of pilgrimage for his admirers. The marker on his grave, which sits near the Meir Kahane Memorial Park, reads in part: “The revered Dr. Baruch Kapel Goldstein… Son of Israel. He gave his soul for the sake of the people of Israel, The Torah, and the Land. His hands are clean and his heart good… He was assassinated for the Sanctity of God.” At his funeral, Goldstein was eulogized as a hero, with one speaker, Rabbi Yaacov Perrin, declaring that even 1 million Arabs “are not worth a Jewish fingernail, “while attendees shouted, “We are all Goldsteins!” and “Arabs out of Israel!” Following the slaughter, Goldstein was also lauded by Rabbi Dov Lior, who was and continues to be the chief rabbi of Kiryat Arba and one of the most influential figures in the religious Zionism movement, who called Goldstein, “holier than all the martyrs of the Holocaust.”

Israeli forces raid homes in Hebron, look for man they killed in June
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 20 Nov – Large numbers of Israeli military vehicles stormed Hebron city in the southern West Bank on Wednesday evening where troops broke into homes of Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisha. The two were killed by Israeli forces on Sept. 23 on suspicion that they were behind the killing of three Israeli teenagers in the occupied West Bank in June. Father of Amer Abu Aisha told Ma‘an that the Israeli soldiers stole 50,000 shekels ($13,000) and 2,000 Jordanian dinars ($2,800) from his home. He explained that soldiers broke into his home and locked all his family members in one room. The soldiers, he said, damaged the interior of the house while female soldiers inspected his female family members “in a savage manner.”
At the home of Marwan Qawasmeh, Israeli soldiers, surprisingly, questioned Marwan’s widow about his hideout. “I was surprised when the soldiers asked me about the hideout of my husband who they killed in cold blood,” she told Ma‘an. She added that Israeli soldiers locked all her family in one room while they inspected the house damaging parts of its interior.

Israeli settler opens fire on Palestinian near Hebron
HEBRON (Ma’an) 21 Nov — An Israeli settler on Friday evening opened fire at a vehicle being driven by a Palestinian near the village of Beit Ummar north of Hebron. Spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committee in Beit Ummar Mohammad Ayyad Awad said that an Israeli settler driving a white Citroen vehicle heading south towards Hebron opened fire at a taxi driven by a Palestinian as it sat on the side of the road. The settler’s fire hit the body of the car, he said, and the passengers in the car at the time ran to a nearby gas station as the settler sped away. No injuries were reported. Awad added that a group of Israeli soldiers were standing a few meters away from the incident but did not react or try to stop the perpetrator.

Armed settler invades schoolyard in Hebron
HEBRON, Occupied Palestine (ISM, Khalil Team) 20 Nov — Yesterday, at approximately 11:00 in al-Khalil (Hebron) a settler from a nearby illegal settlement approached the Qurtuba school in H2 with a gun [H2 is the area of Hebron under Israeli military civil and security control]. The settler entered the school grounds, terrifying the children with his loaded gun. After some time the settler left but the children were forced to evacuate a building and move to another area of the school. The teachers asked for international presence until school was finished that day. The children were rushed out of school early and internationals and Palestinians stood at a prominent place to ensure the children were safe. Not long after this, a settler attacked a Palestinian and threatened another. The settler threatened to stab a 16-year-old boy and another local Palestinian who tried to film the incident. 40-year-old Jawad Abu Aisha stated, “The settler told Awne (the 16-year-old) that he would bring a knife to stab him. Awne told me and I tried to tell the soldier so he would do something but he did not do anything. When I tried to film the settler he attacked me and tried to break my mobile but did not manage to do so.” Eventually, and after much prompting by the Palestinians, the soldier stepped in and pulled the settler away. Both Palestinians were left badly shaken by the attack

Israeli military post in central Hebron attacked, destroyed
HEBRON (Ma‘an) 21 Nov — Israeli military authorities in the southern West Bank city of Hebron closed a major checkpoint in the city center after it was targeted and burnt by assailants. Israeli authorities said that the military post was set alight by two Palestinian youths despite the fact that it had been surrounded by cement blocks in order to protect it against Molotov cocktails and broken bottles. Emad al-Atrash, a spokesman for the local activist group Coalition of Human Rights Defenders, said that this was the second time locals had burned down the checkpoint, which prevents Palestinians from accessing their homes and shops on Shuhada Street in order to “secure” the area for Jewish settlers. Al-Atrash said that the last time the checkpoint had been attacked, Israeli authorities closed it to Palestinian traffic entirely, forcing hundreds of local residents who are given permission to pass on the street to travel kilometers to go around the thoroughfare.

Israeli forces open fire on Palestinian protests across West Bank
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 Nov — Israeli forces opened fire and injured dozens of Palestinians across the West Bank on Friday, as hundreds marched in a number of cities and villages in protest against the Israeli occupation and recent Israeli violence in occupied East Jerusalem. Israeli soldiers opened fire on rallies in Nabi Saleh, central Hebron, at Qalandia checkpoint and in al-Bireh near Ramallah, in Kafr Qaddum, al-Ma‘sara, Jalazun refugee camp, ‘Aida refugee camp, and in other villages across the West Bank, injuring dozens. Two Israeli soldiers were also reported injured in clashes that erupted following the protests. The protests came after a night of violence in Jerusalem, where two different hate attacks were reported against Palestinians on the basis of their ethnicity, in addition to two other such incidents inside Israel.
‘Day of Rage’ Hundreds of Palestinians marched in a Day of Rage in solidarity with the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the people of Jerusalem in Hebron, where assailants attacked an Israeli military post with a Molotov cocktail earlier in the day. Two Palestinians were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets in clashes with soldiers that followed the protest. An Israeli military spokeswoman told Ma‘n at least 350 Palestinians marched in the rally. [Details of protests follow]

Palestinians briefly detain 2 settlers who planned attacks in Qusra
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 20 Nov – A group of young Palestinian men managed to capture two Israeli settlers on Thursday morning after they entered the northern West Bank village of Qusra. A Palestinian official, who monitors settlement-related activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma‘an that the settlers came from the nearby illegal Israeli outpost Yesh Kodish. He added that dozens of young men from Qusra detained the two for more than half an hour before officers of the Palestinian liaison department took the settlers and handed them to the Israeli liaison department.
The official, Ghasan Daghlas, said that earlier on Thursday Israeli forces delivered warrants to Palestinian citizens in the southern outskirt of Qusra notifying them that six water wells were slated for demolition.He added that clashes broke out in the area between Israeli troops and local young men. No injuries have been reported.

3-month-old baby hospitalized for tear gas inhalation
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 21 Nov — A three-month-old Palestinian baby was treated for tear gas inhalation late Thursday after Israeli forces fired multiple canisters in the village of Beit Liqya west of Ramallah. Hanan Dar Moussa was hospitalized during clashes in the village following an Israeli arrest raid. Tear gas, which is fired routinely by Israeli forces in densely populated Palestinian areas, is potentially deadly for children and the elderly.

Israeli forces shoot, injure 3 Palestinians during clashes in Nablus
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 20 Nov – Israeli forces shot and injured three young Palestinian men during raids on different neighborhoods in Nablus in the northern West Bank, Palestinian security sources said Thursday. They told Ma‘an that six military vehicles stormed the eastern neighborhood of Nablus where they clashed with dozens of young Palestinian men. The sources said clashes were fierce as young men pelted Israeli troops with stones and the soldiers fired back tear gas and live ammunition injuring three young men. The sources identified the injured as Tamir al-Masimi, Hasan al-Masimi and Yusuf al-Adawi. They were all evacuated to Rafedia public hospital in Nablus where medics said their injuries were moderate to light.

Video analysis pinpoints Israeli killer of Palestinian teen
Electronic Intifada 21 Nov by Ali Abunimah — A sophisticated and compelling analysis of video and other evidence has pinpointed the Israeli occupation soldier who shot and killed seventeen-year-old Nadim Siam Nuwara six months ago. Meanwhile, an occupation soldier arrested in Nuwara’s killing is being treated as a hero by thousands of Israelis. Nuwara was shot dead in cold blood by an Israeli soldier in the occupied West Bank village of Beitunia on 15 May during protests marking Nakba Day, the commemoration of the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Another teen, Muhammad Abu al-Thahir, sixteen years old, was shot dead at almost the same spot, the same day, in the same manner. The analysis, explained in the brief video above, was conducted by the UK-based research group Forensic Architecture at the request of Defence for Children International–Palestine (DCI-Palestine). It combines analysis of security camera and CNN footage of the shooting, sound analysis and computer modeling as well as physical evidence and information from the pathology report on Nuwara. “Using spatial and video analysis we have identified the border policeman that shot and killed the unarmed Nadim Nuwara,” said Eyal Weizman, principal investigator at Forensic Architecture, in a statement sent to The Electronic Intifada by DCI-Palestine. “Using sound analysis we found that the border policeman fired live ammunition through a rubber bullet extension installed on his gun, perhaps in an attempt to hide his action,” Weizman added.

Palestinian confesses to Nov 5 car attack on troops
AFP 20 Nov — A Palestinian has confessed to deliberately running down three soldiers outside a West Bank refugee camp [al-‘Arroub], which he initially claimed was an accident, police said in a statement on Thursday. “During interrogation by the Shin Bet (security service), Hamam Masalmeh confessed to running down the soldiers as part of a planned attack,” the statement said of the November 5 incident in which the soldiers were injured. It added that the accused was an activist in Islamist militant group Hamas. Masalmeh turned himself in the day after the nighttime attack insisting it had been a road accident. Police said the 23-year-old driver, from a village [Beit ‘Awwa] near Hebron was expected to be charged “within the next few days.” They said he told interrogators he was influenced by a hit-and-run attack earlier on November 5 in which a Palestinian from east Jerusalem ran down a group of pedestrians in the city killing a policeman. In that incident, the driver was shot dead by police at the scene. Masalmeh claimed he was also angered by images from Israel’s bloody summer war in Gaza, police said.

Arrests / Prisoners / Court actions

380 Palestinians arrested by Israeli forces in last 20 days
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 20 Nov — Israeli forces have detained at least 380 Palestinians in raids across the West Bank and East Jerusalem over the last three weeks, including 21 early Thursday alone. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Society said in a statement on Thursday that Israeli authorities have engaged in a wide-ranging crackdown on Palestinians that has led to the arrests of nearly 200 in East Jerusalem since the beginning of November. The startling figures come amid growing instability in Jerusalem, while daily protest marches by Palestinians have been held across the city and Israeli authorities have been accused of “collective punishment” in their response to a series of attacks by individual Jerusalem Palestinians on Israelis. In addition to the 190 Palestinians detained in East Jerusalem, the PPS said that 70 were from Hebron, 32 from Ramallah, 24 from Bethlehem, 18 from Jenin, 14 from Tulkarem, 14 from Nablus, nine from Tubas, five from Salfit, and four from Qalqiliya. The arrests add to the more than 5,000 Palestinians who are already being held in Israeli prisons, including hundreds without charge or trial under a procedure known as “administrative detention.” On Thursday morning, Israeli forces reportedly detained dozens more across East Jerusalem and the West Bank, which have both been under military occupation since 1967….

2 Palestinians freed in Shalit deal re-sentenced to life in jail
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 21 Nov — Israeli authorities have re-sentenced two former Palestinian prisoners to life sentences in a potential violation of a 2011 prisoner release deal that guaranteed their freedom. Director of the Ahrar Center for Prisoners Studies Fouad al-Khafsh said in a statement that Israeli authorities re-sentenced Ashraf al-Wawi from Tulkarem and Hamza Abu Arqoub from Nablus to life sentences. The two, along with dozens of other ex-prisoners who were released during the Shalit deal in 2011, were re-detained in an Israeli arrest campaign in June following the kidnapping and death of three Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank. The 2011 deal traded Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by Hamas militants on the Gaza border in 2006, for 1,027 Palestinians and Palestinian-Israelis being held in Israeli jails. Despite the deal, at least 63 prisoners had been re-arrested by Israeli authorities as of September as part of the wider crackdown on Palestinians that began in early summer.

Israeli court bans detainees from entering Aqsa compound
JERUSALEM (Ma‘an) 19 Nov  — An Israeli court in Jerusalem on Wednesday banned three Palestinians from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, a lawyer said. Palestinian Prisoner’s Society lawyer, Mufid al-Hajj, said that an Israeli court banned Taha Shawahneh from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound for 90 days in addition to a 1,500-shekel ($390) fine. The court also banned Azhar Othman from entering al-Aqsa for 60 days. Mahdi Burqan and Omar Abu al-Hawa were released after paying a third-party bail in addition to Akram al-Shurafaa who also paid a 1,000-shekel ($260) bail. Al-Hajj added that Raeda Abu Hadwan, Azziya al-Salaymeh and Hiba al-Tawil were also released after paying bails of 500-1,000 ($130-260) shekels.

Photo: Meet Muhmad Sultan Abassi, a Palestinian child from Jerusalem
21 Nov — He was arrested by Israel at the age of 12 and recently released at the age of 15. He is crying in this picture while hugging his sister. His main charge against him was that he was threatening the settlers who took his family’s land.

Palestinian MP freed after 2 years in administrative detention
NABLUS (Ma‘an) 21 Nov — Israeli authorities released a member of the Palestinian parliament on Thursday after two years of imprisonment without trial. Yasser Mansour, 45, who is affiliated with Hamas, was detained by Israeli soldiers during a raid in Nablus in 2012. He was transferred to administrative detention along with several other parliament members and held for two years without due process. As of mid-September, 33 Palestinian MPs were being held in detention by Israel, 23 of whom had been arrested in a large-scale detention campaign in the West Bank following the kidnapping of three Israeli youths in June.

Land, property theft & destruction / Ethnic cleansing / Restriction of movement

Report: Israel approves 78 settler units in East Jerusalem
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Nov — Israel has approved the construction of 78 new settlement units in East Jerusalem, the Israeli news site Walla reported Wednesday. The report said 50 houses would be built in the Har Homa settlement, which is built illegally on Jabal Abu Ghneim, a private Palestinian property between Bethlehem and Jerusalem. The other 28 settlement houses will be built in the illegal Ramot settlement which is built on private Palestinian land between Jerusalem and Ramallah. The decision was okayed by all the members of a planning and construction committee of the Jerusalem municipality, aside from one left-wing Meretz member, according to the report.

Israel seizes thousands of dunams in new W. Bank land grab
World Bulletin 19 Nov — The Israeli army has notified a number of Palestinian farmers in the northern West Bank provinces of Jenin and Tulkarm that it had seized thousands of dunams of their agricultural land for “security reasons,” a Palestinian official said Wednesday.  “The Israeli army gave farmers orders not to work or build on their farmland,” Saleh Amarneh, head of a local council in Jenin, told Anadolu Agency. “The orders came along with maps indicating the seizure by Israel of thousands of dunams of land stretching from western Jenin to northern Tulkarm,” he said, adding that the area in question was located near Israel’s separation barrier. One dunum of land is roughly equivalent to a quarter of an acre … “This move is unjustified as the Palestinian farmers have documents proving their ownership of this land,” Amarneh said. “Seizing this land means denying them their only source of income.”

Israeli forces demolish 2 mobile homes near Ramallah
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 20 Nov — Israeli forces demolished two steel housing structures in the village of Taybeh near Ramallah on Thursday, witnesses said. The family of Yousef Kaayneh had been living in the semi-permanent structures since August, after Israeli forces demolished their home. Locals were prevented from reaching the area during the demolition and Israeli forces confiscated all of the family’s possessions.

Israeli settlers attempt to torch home in Ramallah-area village
RAMALLAH (Ma‘an) 19 Nov — Israeli settlers on Wednesday evening attempted to burn down a house in the village of al-Mughayyir east of Ramallah, but were prevented by doing so by local villagers.The attempted arson comes only a week after settlers attacked the village and burned down a mosque, in an incident that sparked widespread Palestinian fury. On Wednesday, dozens of settlers approached a house on the outskirts of the village when they were spotted by villagers who started throwing rocks at them. Settlers were forced to retreat to their nearby settlement under the protection of Israeli soldiers as a result, and no injuries were reported. Al-Mughayyir, also known as Maghayer al-Dir, is located in a zone surrounded by areas under Israeli military control near the twin Jewish settlements of Maale Mikhmas and Mitzpe Danny.

IDF freezes plan to reopen some West Bank roads to Palestinian cars
Haaretz 19 Nov by Jonathan Lis — Plans to reopen some West Bank roads for Palestinian vehicles have been put on hold due to the escalating violence, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Wednesday. Ya’alon did not specify which roads were included in the now-shelved plan, which was being devised by the Israel Defense Forces’ Central Command.


Israeli forces shoot, injure Palestinian on Gaza border
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 21 Nov — A Palestinian was shot and injured by Israeli forces on Friday evening east of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip. Ibrahim al-Nimnim, 22, was shot in the right foot in the vicinity of al-Shuhada graveyard east of Jabaliya.He was taken to Kamal Adwan Hospital for treatment, where he was said to be in moderate condition. Al-Nimnim was shot after he and a group of others approached the border and set tires on fire and threw rocks toward the border.

Gunshots fired near Erez crossing in north Gaza
BETHLEHEM (Ma‘an) 19 Nov — Gunshots were fired near Erez crossing between Israel and the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday, Israeli media and the Israeli army said. Israeli Channel 7 reported that gunshots were fired at Israeli forces at the crossing, without causing injuries. An Israeli army spokeswoman told Ma‘an “fire was opened” at Israeli forces near the separation barrier in the area. Israeli forces responded by using a “harmless” smoke screen and left the area, she said.

Ministry: 36,000 Palestinians stranded amid month-long Rafah closure
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 Nov — The Gaza Ministry of Internal Affairs said on Thursday that tens of thousands of Palestinians are currently unable to cross the Rafah crossing with Egypt despite an urgent need, as a closure of the border by Egyptian authorities enters its fifth week. Ministry spokesman Iyad al-Buzm said during a press conference in Gaza City that 6,000 Palestinians are stuck on the Egyptian side of the crossing unable to return home, while 30,000 humanitarian cases — including sick people seeking treatment abroad, students, and foreign-passport holders — are stuck on the Gaza side, unable to leave. Al-Buzm called the closure of the Rafah crossing for four weeks a “humanitarian disaster” for the Gaza Strip, adding that Egyptian authorities are currently closing the crossing “for no logical reason.” Al-Buzm pointed out that the Rafah crossing has been closed for 208 days this year so far, severely limiting the movement of people and goods. He requested the Egyptian authorities to open the crossing to traffic in both ways, noting that the crossing “has never been a burden on Egyptian security and there had never been any security violations on the crossing.”

Ministry: 28,000 homes damaged during Gaza war
GAZA CITY (Ma‘an) 20 Nov — The minister of public works and housing in Gaza on Thursday released new statistics about damage caused by Israel’s military offensive during the summer, as the reconstruction process slowly begins. Mufid al-Hasayneh said that 28,000 homes were damaged during Israel’s offensive, with 3,000 completely destroyed. Over 88,000 affected families have registered with the UN refugee agency, he added, while over 13,000 families are receiving financial aid. Repair work has begun on the homes of over 11,000 families while 900 have received financial assistance for rent, plus $500 each family. Over 100 mobile homes have been built in the devastated Khuza‘a neighborhood while another 1,000 are being prepared for installation in the al-Shuja‘iyeh neighborhood and 1,000 more throughout the Gaza Strip. So far, Israel has only allowed in five percent of the required material needed for reconstruction, al-Hasayneh said. The removal of rubble will begin on Friday.

Israel says rockets test-fired from Gaza
Al Jazeera America 20 Nov — Israel’s military said fighters in the Gaza Strip test-fired rockets into the Mediterranean Sea, hours after the government approved the construction of 78 new homes in two settlements in the occupied West Bank. Four rockets were fired in the past 24 hours, the military said, without elaborating on the test or type of rockets fired. There was no immediate confirmation from Palestinian officials in Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas.

Other news

Uproar as Israeli mayor bans Arab workers
Christian Science Monitor 21 Nov by Josef Federman — The mayor of a southern Israeli city sparked a national uproar Thursday by barring Israeli Arab construction workers from jobs in local preschools, citing security concerns after a rash of attacks by Palestinian assailants elsewhere in the country.  The proposal was condemned as racist by Israeli leaders, but it reflected the tense mood in the country and deepened longstanding divisions between the nation’s Jewish majority and Arab minority. An opinion poll showed solid public support for the measure.  Israel has been on edge following a wave of Palestinian attacks that has killed 11 people over the past month, including five this week in a bloody assault on a Jerusalem synagogue. Most of the attacks have occurred in Jerusalem — whose population is roughly one-third Palestinian — with deadly stabbings in Tel Aviv and the West Bank as well. Responding to the unrest, the mayor of Ashkelon, Itamar Shimoni, announced that Israeli Arab laborers renovating bomb shelters in local kindergartens would be barred from their jobs. He also ordered security stepped up at construction sites where Arab laborers are employed. He said the order was a response to the synagogue attack Tuesday, in which Palestinian assailants killed four rabbis and a DruseArab policeman with meat cleavers and gunfire.  “Anyone who thinks this is illegal can take me to court,” Shimoni said. “At this time, I prefer to be taken to court and not, God forbid, to attend the funeral of one of the children from kindergartens.”  The workers in Ashkelon are Arab citizens of Israel, in contrast to the Palestinian attackers from the West Bank and east Jerusalem, and it appeared unlikely the order would last for long. Justice Minister Tzipi Livni called it illegal and ordered the attorney general to take action. “We must not generalize about an entire public due to a small and violent minority,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said. “The vast majority of Israel’s Arab citizens are law abiding and whoever breaks the law — we will take determined and vigorous action against him.”

Israelis demand Palestinian workers be fired
Electronic Intifada 22 Nov by Patrick Strickland — .The Israeli mayor of Ashkelon announced yesterday that Palestinian citizens of Israel are banned from working on construction projects in bomb shelters at local kindergartens during school hours. This comes amid a new wave of Israeli popular racism calling for Arabs to be fired. In a video posted on Facebook on 18 November, a group of Israeli customers in a supermarket arrive to the checkout lane with full grocery carts. They ask the cashiers whether or not the establishment employs Palestinians — and storm out in synchronized protest when the cashiers answered yes (the video has been translated by The Electronic Intifada in the copy above -press the “CC” button to activate subtitles). Mani Krois, the Facebook user who posted the video, encourages Israelis to join them in boycotting businesses that “employ the enemy.” At the time of writing, the video has received more than 4,400 “likes” and hundreds of supportive comments … Israel’s Channel 10 reported on Thursday night that 58 percent of Israelis supported Shimoni’s ban. A screenshot of that survey was posted on the social media website Twitter by Israeli journalist Ami Kaufman.

PA arrests 30 for planning attacks, in bid to calm West Bank
Times of Israel 20 Nov by Avi Issacharoff — The Palestinian Authority has arrested some 30 suspects over the last 72 hours thought to be planning terror attacks, primarily against settlers, as well as operatives involved in incitement against Israelis, senior Palestinian sources told The Times of Israel on Thursday. The wave of arrests was primarily focused in Hebron, where some 20 Palestinians were detained, most of them Hamas operatives. Additional arrests were made in Nablus and Ramallah. According to the sources, several of the detainees sought to perpetrate attacks similar to those of the past few days, with weapons other than firearms for example, while others planned more complex attacks. The arrests thwarted the attacks, the sources said, most of which were in the preliminary stages of planning. The sources stressed that the arrests are part of the PA’s larger goal to restore calm in the area, and were done under the general directive of PA President Mahmoud Abbas to prevent bloodshed and violence. They added that Abbas clarified at every opportunity his opposition to violence and killing. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and several other high-level politicians have repeatedly accused Abbas of fanning tensions in the capital and encouraging terror … The source added that it is clear that the defense establishment in Israel knows that Abbas seeks to quiet tensions, rather than incite.

Hamas plan to kill Israel’s Lieberman foiled: Shin Bet
AFP 20 Nov — Israel’s Shin Bet domestic security service said Thursday that security forces had caught a Hamas group in the West Bank planning to assassinate hawkish Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. It said three suspects in custody “collected advance intelligence on the minister’s convoy,” on its journeys to and from his home in the West Bank settlement of Nokdim and sought to procure an RPG launcher with which to target his vehicle. A Shin Bet statement said Ibrahim el-Zir, Ziad el-Zir and Adnas Tzabih, all from the West Bank village of Harmala, near Nokdim, were arrested in operations by the agency, the army and the police. The statement did not specify when the arrests happened. It said that during Israel’s July-August war in Gaza Ibrahim el-Zir “began to formulate a plan to carry out an attack on the motorcade of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, with the intention that the attack would send a message to Israel and bring a stop to the war in Gaza.”  It said that “in recent days” the suspects were charged in a West Bank military court with conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to traffic in weapons.

Israel lifts ban on Arab-Jewish football clash
AFP 20 Nov — Israeli police said Friday they had overturned a ban on a football match between the premier league’s only Arab club and predominantly Jewish Beitar Jerusalem despite a wave of unrest. Sunday evening’s game between Bnei Sakhnin and Beitar had been banned due to safety concerns after a series of deadly attacks in east Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank. There is a history of racist violence by some Beitar supporters who have clashed with Sakhnin fans in the past. Last year some Beitar supporters, angered by the signing of two Muslim players from Chechnya, torched their own club offices. Police said that Friday’s decision was made when they saw that security had been “significantly” improved at Bnei Sakhnin’s stadium, which was built with millions of dollars in donations from Qatar. The Israel Football Association welcomed the decision, and called on supporters to “act decently, (and) maintain sportsmanlike conduct and fair-play”. Police had previously refused to let the game go ahead before Sakhnin could prove it would be able to provide an emergency exit route for fans and organise a way for away supporters to arrive at the ground without creating “friction”. According to Beitar’s fan website, police will allow only 400 away supporters to attend the match.

Palestinian author, translator win Arabic literature prize
Electronic Intifada 21 Nov by Sarah Irving — An author and translator from Palestine are among four literary figures honored in the 2014 King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies Translation of Arabic Literature Award.  The award, which is co-sponsored by the King Fahd Center at the University of Arkansas and Syracuse University Press, includes a cash prize for the writers and translators but – perhaps more importantly – publication for the translated titles. This year’s first winner was All Faces but Mine, a collection of poetry by Samih al-Qasim, which sadly comes just months after the great man’s death. A press release from Syracuse UP, which announced the awards, described al-Qasim as: part of the flourishing of Palestinian “resistance literature,” along with Mahmoud Darwish, Tawfiq Zayyad, and later Taha Muhammad Ali.

Israel’s bridge to Arab world: Palestinian natural gas?
Haaretz 21 Nov by Avi Bar-Eli — Ariel Ezrahi, the energy adviser to Quartet representative Tony Blair, is no politician, but he can’t help but provide some of the Quartet’s political thinking on Israel’s recent natural gas export agreements with its neighbors. “We asked the Egyptians about their [natural] gas contract with the partners in the Leviathan field, and they claimed that it was only a nonbinding agreement in principle. In their press release, the Jordanians also noted that alongside the agreement in principle with Leviathan, they intend to buy gas from the reservoir near Gaza — and that’s not by chance,” Ezrahi says. “You have to put yourself in the shoes of the foreign governments and understand that it’s very hard for them to sign a gas contract with Israel despite their desperate need. They’re between a hammer and an anvil in light of the TV pictures of Jerusalem burning. If I were Israel’s prime minister, I’d think how I could help the neighboring countries extricate themselves from the jam, and if Israel closes the Palestinian gas market, that’s not a smart thing.” Surprisingly, the Quartet — the contact group of the United Nations, European Union, United States and Russia — is concerned about the export agreements. The Quartet is worried that these contracts will block the development of the offshore Gaza Marine field. In the end, the Palestinians could be prevented from selling gas to Jordan and Egypt … “The amount of Palestinian gas is 30 times smaller than Israel’s. Israel will not lose large royalties if the gas off the Gaza coast is sold to Egypt. Israel has a golden opportunity to exploit its neighbors’ need for Israeli gas — like its electricity.

In landslide, UCLA student govt votes to divest from Israeli occupation
Mondoweiss 19 Nov by Adam Horowitz — Last night the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) undergraduate student government voted 8-2-2 to pass a resolution calling on the university to divest from companies profiting from Israeli human rights abuses and occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. According to a UCLA Students for Justice in Palestine press release, UCLA’s vote marks the sixth undergraduate University of California campus to support divestment from the Israeli occupation. The full divestment resolution can be found here and it calls for the school to divest from Boeing, Caterpillar, Cement Roadstone Holdings, Cemex, General Dynamics, General Electric, Hewlett-Packard, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and United Technologies.  It ends with this call to justice: (listserv) (archive)

‘Palestine is an anxiety’ for Americans– Salaita in New York


The embattled scholar Steven Salaita is in New York. He spoke at NYU three days ago to an overflow crowd; the audio was posted by Law and Disorder Radio; and it’s fascinating. I summarize the speech below.

First, Corey Robin heard Salaita– who was fired by the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign in August because of his outspokenness against the Gaza onslaught– talk at Brooklyn College last night. He lays out the politics, both structural and personal, of the appearance:
All of us at Brooklyn College, and in the larger community, owe a debt of gratitude to the Students for Justice in Palestine. This is now the fourth or fifth (probably more) major event of its kind that they have put on at Brooklyn College since the BDS affair [of a year ago]. And each time, they’ve managed to offer members of the College—on all sides of the Israel/Palestine issue—and the community a chance to have a thoughtful discussion. Whatever your position is on this issue, there should be little disagreement that SJP has enriched the College. Not because they advocate for justice in Palestine—though they do that, too—but because they have provided us all with a space to stretch our minds…
Though I was obviously sympathetic to Steven Salaita going into this event, I came out of it extraordinarily impressed by him. Not merely his character—he’s as haimish as can be—but his intellect. He has an extraordinarily agile mind. Within minutes he can move you from Cotton Mather to Franz Fanon, and throughout the ride, you know exactly where you are. You can see why he’s such a good teacher and why his students love him so much: not because he tells you what you know, but because he takes you somewhere you’ve not been. He had a brilliant riff about how it’s an old trope in colonial discourse that the native corrupts the colonizer, that it’s the native that turns the colonizer from someone who’s as pure as the driven snow into the foulest heart. And suddenly Salaita leaped to Spielberg’s Munich, and showed how it illustrated that exact principle.
This is the man the University of Illinois fired. Because, they claimed, he would be a toxin in the classroom. They have no idea what they’ve squandered.

Having listened to Salaita’s 40-minute NYU speech , I agree with Robin; what the heck was the University of Illinois thinking? Salaita’s speech was about the ways that Palestine has become magnified and distorted in the American imagination because of our own anxieties surrounding the indigenous community, and about the need to simplify our understanding of the conflict to one of colonial settlement. As Salaita himself says humbly at the beginning of the talk, lots of folks have their own ideas; you don’t have to agree with him. But you do have to engage these ideas.

On his firing by the University of Illinois last summer, Salaita says that the case has become a flashpoint because it demonstrates the role of the university as “neoliberal corporation.” And he was double trouble because he studies not just Palestine but American Indian dispossession.

I was hired to teach in the American Indian Studies program, a crucial fact that is too often overlooked… [My firing is] an attack on fields of American Indian and indigenous studies.

Salaita rejects the ideal of “civility” that was offered by the university to justify his firing. Civility comes out of the “lexicon of colonial conquest” and the “discourse of educated racism.” It is “the pretext of the oppressor… a tragic allegory of a centuries’ old federal Indian policy.” And though he doesn’t recapitulate his Gaza tweets that were the focus of Israel lobby groups’ attack on him, he says:

To support Palestine in the American polity automatically entails an act of radicalism. No matter how measured or demonstrable the point of view, it is necessarily uncivil… Civility is not a state of mind, it is a regime. Civility reinforces the conceits of modernity…

No state attaches more power to the stature of its identity than Israel. The United States is inseparable from Israeli power. This is the context of my situation with the University of Illinois.

Salaita begins the speech by explaining that Palestine exists in a “mythological space” in the American polity; it exposes our anxieties about the “inability of the American ideal to fully come to fruition.”

Palestine as a myth and an avatar informs the groundwork of the American project. Palestine is the progenitor of American manifest destiny….

Palestine is a symbol. For many it is an avatar of barbaric Arab and Muslim violence, a key battleground in the global war on terror. For others, it is a space of courageous resistance. On the political left especially, Palestine has become a metaphor of liberatory struggle, the site of a new third world movement against western imperialism. For others still, it is a confounding example of tribal or religious intractability…

In many ways, Israel is a fuller realization of the American dream. Palestine on the other hand is an anxiety. One whose existence insures the presence of the native.

Salaita says that we should treat the conflict as familiar and unexceptional: “I urge us to extract Palestine from the American imagination.” Palestine, he says, is just another case of settler colonization. One group of people forcibly settled the land of another group of people. The solution is to implement democracy and end the colonization, and end the “tiered system of belonging,” based on religion. This solution is “complicated” only for those invested in the settlement enterprise.
He cannot count the number of times he’s heard the argument, the dispossession happened, and we’re all better off for it, the US had to displace Indians to create the world’s greatest democracy. “Are we supposed to return land to the Indians?”

The idea is that you can’t reverse history, a notion that can only be put forward by the victor.

That’s not an argument, Salaita says, but an evasion. Indigenous communities are not “objects of the past.”

They are living communities whose numbers are growing… Colonialism is present across North America.

And yes, the U.S. must return lands to the native population; that’s what the treaties are all about. The vast majority of five states in the midwest is Indian land.
No amount of ignorance, willful or unwilling, will invalidate the vigorous efforts to decolonize North and South America. When Israel’s supporters invoke the dispossession of living communities on those continents as a rationale for colonizing Palestine, they betray a profound disdain of indigenous humanity, the sort of contempt that renders the oppressor’s psyche so unsettled. … [They posit the belief that] modernity itself is impossible without violent practices justified as inevitable.
 People are supporting Steven Salaita here.

Thanks to Michael Smith, who hosted and posted Salaita.



South African activists reflect on parallels between life under apartheid and Israel/Palestine today


In the midst of Israel’s latest seven-week military assault on Gaza, up to 200,000 people took to the streets of Cape Town, South Africa to march in solidarity with the Palestinian people–in what many say was the largest single protest that country has seen since the mass movements that overthrew apartheid. The people who filled this crowd—including prominent as well as lesser-known anti-apartheid heroes—made direct links between South African history and present-day reality for Palestinians. “Israel is a Colonial Apartheid State,” reads a National Coalition for Palestine call-to-action issued ahead of the August 9 march—a message that was echoed in signs and banners throughout the rally.

This historical connection is not new. Palestinian civil society organizations and individuals have long argued that the framework of apartheid describes components of the ethnicity and race based segregation, discrimination, violence, and control under which they live. This analysis has been spread around the world by Palestinians and their allies, so that it is now rattling the powerful, with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recently letting slip (and then promptly taking back) a warning that Israel is at risk of becoming an “apartheid state.” The appropriateness of the apartheid framework has been confirmed by prominent figures and bodies from South Africa, including Archbishop Desmond TutuUnited Nations Special Rapporteur Richard Falk and research institution, the Human Sciences and Research Council.

The linkage has informed and inspired a global movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction (BDS) Israel to win self-determination and freedom for Palestinians, using tactics similar to those that overthrew apartheid in South Africa. “In view of the fact that people of conscience in the international community have historically shouldered the moral responsibility to fight injustice, as exemplified in the struggle to abolish apartheid in South Africa through diverse forms of boycott, divestment and sanctions,” the world is urged to take part in BDS, according to a 2005 statement from Palestinian civil society organizations. South Africans have heeded that call. In addition to protests in the streets, organizers from Johannesburg to Durban to Port Elizabeth have waged a dynamic BDS effort, which now has won broad support, including from the South Africa’s largest trade union.

Following South Africa’s latest outpouring in support of Gaza, I wanted to learn more about how South Africans view this historical linkage, and how this analysis shapes their consciousness and organizing. I interviewed three activists, two of whom remember living through apartheid, and the third a university student connected to youth solidarity movements. Salim Vally is a Professor at the University of Johannesburg and an organizer with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, which describes itself as “a South African based Solidarity Movement that supports the struggle for a free, non-racial and democratic Palestine State for all who live in it.” Martin Jansen is a Cape Town-based organizer with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. Alexandria Hotz is a student at the University of Capetown and an organizer with the university’s Palestine Solidarity Forum, which “promotes debate, education and action for political, economic and social justice in Palestine/Israel, on the basis of equal rights for all, regardless of religion and ethnicity.”

What parallels do you draw between South Africa under apartheid and Israel/Palestine today? What are the differences?

Salim Vally: 

The system of control and oppression run by the Israeli state has similarities with what existed in this country under apartheid. Like any two situations, it’s not exact but it is similar and the goals are similar.

There is a difference. In South Africa, the labor of the oppressed—cheap black labor—was required, and the apartheid, capitalist government could not do without it, particularly in the extractive industries and agriculture. In Israel, although they depended on cheap Palestinian labor initially, they’ve since dispensed with it. That is a crucial difference.

In terms of the mechanism and legislation around the apartheid policy in Israel, many believe it is more extensive and brutal than what occurred in this country.

In South Africa, we had the homeland system and various legislation on all social issues. It was much more than just segregation. The purpose was really to divide and control people, and also to have a ready supply of labor to super exploit.

What you find in Gaza, the West Bank and elsewhere, including Jerusalem, is far beyond the characterization of South African apartheid. It has similarities with states ruled by the military, and the level of repression—the lack of any semblance of democracy—makes it akin to a situation that is much worse than apartheid. What resembles an apartheid system more is what is called Israel within the green line, i.e. the 1967 borders. There Palestinians are treated as second and third class citizens.

In addition, there is what Edward Said called Orientalism—the perception of Palestinians as the “other.” This was also in South Africa. White South Africans were seen as cunning and civilizing, as the chosen people. While we are fighting and advancing solidarity, it has to be seen as a struggle against racism as well. What’s happening to the Palestinians is racist as well.

A cold analysis of Israel will show that this fundamentalist warrior state is needed by imperialism. If you look at the history of Israel since its establishment, there are parallels with South Africa. The nationalist party in South Africa came to power in 1948, the same year the state of Israel was established, at a time when the world was largely colonized. Israel was created under the aegis of British colonialism, and Lord Balfour did not consult with indigenous people of Palestine before splitting up that area. So the struggle is an anti-colonial one. This is what we talk about in South Africa, despite attempts by supporters of Israel and also some misinformed people who portray this as a religious struggle. This is an anti-colonial struggle, a struggle against ethnic cleansing, that humanity needs to unite around.

The role Israel has played to ensure corporate globalization is important, as is the role Israel has played in supporting military regimes in Central America and putting down popular uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East broadly speaking. Israel has played a role as reaction machinery for imperialism, making the region safe for oil companies.

Today if you look at the military industrial complex of Israel, it has made a niche market in high tech security, in sophisticated armaments, in weapons of mass destruction. Gaza, in a terrible way, has become the laboratory to test these weapons. They are being tested literally on the bodies of Palestinian men, women, and children. This is not only in terms of the maiming and death and destruction, but in terms of monitoring, surveillance, and control. This weaponry, once tested, is then circulated to be used throughout the world. Drone technology is an example, but there are other weaponry like the DIME bomb and various chemical agents.

Martin Jansen: 

For me, it is obvious that Palestinians have it much worse than we have ever experienced. Palestinians face racism, but they also face genocide. That genocide takes the form of occupation, removing people from land, and imprisoning them in Gaza: an open-air prison. The West Bank is not that different from Gaza. Palestinians are literally prisoners in a prisoner of war camp. My analysis is that it is a colonial, occupation, settler regime conducting genocide against Palestinians.

From 1948 onwards, when the right wing came to power in South Africa, they tried to introduce a Bantustan system where Africans would be part of those supposed countries. It was similar to what Palestinians face, but the treatment wasn’t half as bad. Africans were required to carry passbooks, like Palestinians. But there was no attempt by the apartheid regime to get rid of Africans or any other group that was not identified white. In fact, there was an economic dependence for cheap labor. There were quite a few massacres in the history of apartheid, but they certainly were not bombed. We never had so many people detained either.

Alexandria Hotz: 

Our history plays an incredibly important role in mobilizing people to support Palestine and BDS. But there is a need for more education around Palestine and what the issues are and why you should support Palestine and why the comparison is made between apartheid South Africa and Israel.

I never experienced apartheid because I was very young. But I can draw from my studies in political science and history and my own research on what’s happening in Palestine to understand the connection. South Africa is the place that most people turn to as the mea culpa around Palestine.

What is the current landscape of Palestine solidarity movement building in South Africa?

Salim Vally:

For many of us in South Africa, Palestine has always had visceral tug. That is because we saw the Palestinians as people who are going through what we went through. The Israeli state was very close to the erstwhile apartheid regime in South Africa. They had cemented a relationship in trade and security. And the apartheid government and Israel collaborated against various liberation movements.

In the past 20 years we in South Africa have been able to extend that formative relationship with a range of campaigns, taking the lead from our Palestinian brothers and sisters by supporting the campaign for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions. We make the point that, because that campaign is inspired by the global solidarity movement against apartheid South Africa, as South Africans we need to be in the forefront of that struggle. Key to that is to strip apartheid Israel of its normalcy, to expose it, and make it the kind of pariah state that apartheid South Africa once was. Stopping capital flows, which is the lifeblood of the Israeli economy, is essential.

We have had numerous mobilizations since Israel’s second invasion of Lebanon, and we’ve made a concerted effort to bring on board the trade union movement. The biggest trade union federation in our country, with millions of members, has passed many resolutions and taken part in some significant actions. We have also brought on dominant church organizations in all faiths There are Christian Zionist organizations in our country supported by organizations in your country—I am not talking about them. Most social movements in our country, and an overwhelming number of academics, have endorsed the call for BDS.

We do have an anomaly. On the one hand, all organizations on the left support the Palestinian struggle and have called for a boycott campaign, even the South African Communist Party, which is meant to be part of the ruling group of the government. But the government has not called for boycott. This is a clear contradiction.

We are trying to pressure our government. We have held mass marches throughout the country. On the Day of Rage [August 9 protest against Israel’s latest military assault on Gaza], we had some believe close to 200 000 people in Cape Town. And we have had mass marches in other parts of the country. The momentum is there.

Martin Jansen:

At the moment, and for the past ten years, there have been pockets of solidarity activists in major centers of South Africa, including: Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth, and a few others. What’s interesting is that since Israeli colonization and genocide have become increasingly ruthless, especially with bombings of Gaza, we have seen mass outrage and anger within South Africa.

The group I belong to is the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. We are 15 activists who are secular and mixed, including Jews, Atheists, and Muslims. We have been working consistently for well over a decade. We do organize protest marches, but we also focus on public education and organizing.  We are promoting the line that people need to organize on the ground, and solidarity doesn’t stop when the bombings on Gaza stop. That is a big political point to get across. Winning people over to the solidarity movement is our biggest challenge.

Our main target now is BDS and pressuring our government to cut ties with Israel. We were quite impressed with protest in Oakland stopping ship. The big challenge is to create a global solidarity movement that is integrated and connected with each other [referring to repeated and successful efforts by activists to block shipments from Israel’s Zim Integrated Shipping Services from the docking at the Oakland port.]

We recently formed a National Coalition for Palestine. We managed to pull together over 40 organizations to coordinate solidarity work. The latest attacks on Gaza have caused mass outrage and realization on the part of many people that much more needs to be done to support Palestinians.

Alexandria Hotz:

There has been a big quarrel, especially around the attacks on Gaza, to expel the Israeli ambassador from South Africa. There was a lot of pressure by civil society on the ANC and the national government to expel the ambassador. They basically said they couldn’t do that because they want to play this mediating role. They claim that expelling the ambassador would make it difficult to play a mediating role.

I definitely think that the youth movement on Palestine is growing greatly. Many initiatives are being driven by young people, which I think is fantastic. Young people are often seen and not heard, but I definitely think young people are playing an incredibly important role. This includes large amounts of organizing at universities. Young people have played a prominent role in doing that. There are Palestine solidarity organizations at University of Cape Town, University of Western Cape, University of Johannesburg, and other prominent universities in the country.

It’s one state and ‘kumbaya’ is the way forward — former Police drummer Copeland


“One world is enough … for all of us,” sings Sting on The Police tune “One World (Not Three)” released in 1981. Now, former Police drummer and CIA brat Stewart Copeland has come out in favor of one state in Israel and Palestine.

As reported by, Copeland recently teamed up with Serj Tankian of System of a Down to record a song for 2 Unite All, a benefit album to provide humanitarian aid to Palestinians in Gaza. The record, sponsored by Project Peace on Earth, also features Peter Gabriel.

Copeland is one erudite rock’n’roller. He is the son of the late high-ranking CIA agent Miles Copeland, who was instrumental in both the Iran coup of 1953 and in supporting Egyptian independence during the Sinai crisis. Stewart grew up largely in Beirut where he played with the children of notorious British double-agent Kim Philby. When The Police ran into logistical red tape in Egypt in the early 80s, Daddy Copeland’s old CIA connections came to the rescue.

In a wide-ranging interview with, Copeland reveals himself to be a serious, well-versed student of the Middle East situation. When he says that current conditions allow only for a one-state, “Kumbaya” approach, he is not being cynical or facetious. (The two-state solution? “I think the ship has sailed on that.”)

The eternal cycle of vengeful finger-pointing and bloodshed only perpetuates itself, he says, and what’s more, neither side can provide what the other truly requires most: the Palestinians cannot guarantee security, and the Israelis can’t provide territory enough for a separate Palestine.

By appearing on the record, Copeland says he’s not taking sides: “We’re not advocating for, or against, anybody. We just want to get that aid there.”

In a press release for the record, Copeland said:

“Our music may not be able to rebuild homes nor bring back victims of violence, but at least it can soften hearts … Hard hearts allow violence in the Holy Land and softening up allows persuasion. Even the most flinty realpolitik analysis shows that ‘Kumbaya’ is more credible than ‘They Must Go.’”

He elaborated on this remark in the interview with Brian Ives of Excerpts:

Copeland: “They Must Go is a book written by Rabbi Meir Kahane. It’s the embodiment of the supercharged Zionist spirit on one side of this equation. And I just think ‘Kumbaya’ is the other extreme. And I think that, given the situation that the region finds itself in, ‘Kumbaya’ really is a lot more credible than ‘they must go.’ There’s been 60 years of war… the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ of how we got to where we are today are a little bit irrelevant in facing the problem. These folks are stuck together. All kinds of forces have been brought to play—by fair means and foul—to separate them. And it just hasn’t succeeded. There appears to be no political power that can separate these two people on that one piece of land. Which leaves us with a very logical, unemotional solution. I’m really not being a hippie here when I say that ‘Kumbaya’ is really the way forward…

I’ve been following Middle Eastern events very closely. And even with a very hard-eyed view, what’s needed there right now is accommodation. Not blame, not advocacy of one position or the other. It’s all about the real problem that Israel faces today, which is not how to send off a hostile Palestinian state, it’s how to accommodate 4 million Palestinians into the one state of Israel.

Q. It’s surprising that you’re so optimistic that that can work.

I’m not optimistic. and I don’t prescribe the “one-state solution” as a solution. The de facto situation is one state, I’m afraid. The Knesset controls Ramallah much more than Washington, D.C. controls Los Angeles. It’s actually more integrated in the security sense, and the political sense, than the United States are, in a way. It would be wonderful if there were some way of separating them. I don’t think the “two- state solution” is possible. I think the ship has sailed on that. Security can’t be guaranteed on one side, and the gift of the land can’t be made on the other side. Neither side has what the other side needs to come to the table. The best minds, and the worst minds, have been working on how to separate these two people to create two countries on that land, but I feel there’s just no possible way it can happen.

This is not a value judgement. This is not what I want to happen. My analysis leads me to the conclusion that it can’t be separated. Which brings us back to “Kumbaya.” They just have to figure out how to coexist. And I think that rehashing the last 60 years of history—establishing blame, advocating for one side or the other, going over the injustices and the cruelties—that doesn’t move the ball down the field. I think for Israel and the Palestinian people to get to where they need to be, it’s all about “Kumbaya.”…

I disagree profoundly with many of [Israel’s] political decisions, but I understand—I think—why they make them. Their fears are not baseless. And I love them, and I want them to have a better world with the 4 million people who I think they are stuck with. I think most of the Palestinian people don’t want to be part of Israel; there’s national pride involved, and tribalism, and I understand that as well. But, all of that is naught against the reality that they all find themselves in, which is in one country, together.

Q. One reason that this gets so difficult to discuss is that the actions of the State of Israel are often equated with Judaism.

The war of the last 60 years, in my humble opinion, is a war that both sides lost. The Palestinians lost their quest to create a nation of their own. And the thing that it appears that Israel will lose is its exclusive Jewishness. It will still be very Jewish, because it will have the highest proportion of Jewish people in it of any country in the world, but it won’t be only Jewish. The great Zionist dream of a Jewish state, a homeland for the Jewish people, I get it. With the history of the Jewish people, I totally get the dream. But history hasn’t played out that way, and I don’t think that’s attainable or sustainable. It’s not for me to say what happens next, but I think that Israel will be a multi-ethnic state.

Q. The demographics of Israel are changing regardless of the conflict anyway.

That’s not a matter of choice or a desired outcome, that’s just the way it is. I think the sooner we start grappling with the real problem, they will all start singing along with me, “Kumbaya, my lord!”

Read the entire interview here.