I apologize for saying yesterday that I was including Peter Beinart’s article and didn’t. It is item 1 below. Essentially he says what Amira Hass said several days ago and what I have said: the solution to the problem is make life better for the Palestinians in Gaza, that is, to give the people hope. That, at least, is part of the solution. Beinart correctly notes that “Unfortunately, as effective as Benjamin Netanyahu has been at destroying Palestinian rockets, he’s been even more effective at destroying hope and strengthening despair.” True, but this is part and parcel of Netanyahu’s and his government’s policy. Netanyahu has no intention of giving the Palestinians anything except despair, and he does not care about how many Israeli lives this will cost, and even less about how many Palestinian ones will go.
Daniel Barenboim in today’s Haaretz http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.606995
claims that the problem is not political, that it is a struggle of 2 peoples wanting the same piece of land. And that only through compassion for each other can we make steps to a resolution. Sorry. With all due respect to Barenboim, this is childish. He does not recognize the fact that the Israeli government has no intention or desire for a resolution that includes the Palestinians.
It is being widely reported on Israeli news now that Israel forces (am not sure whether by tank or by air) hit an UNWRA school housing Palestinians who had left their homes and were seeking refuge. At least 15 have been reported killed, 200 injured. I presume this will be in most major international newspapers and news. Israel is not commenting much yet except to remind us that Hamas keeps its weapons in schools, hospitals, and the like. So now even the refugees have no refuge. This is not new. The like happened during the last Israeli military campaign in Gaza (Cast Lead 2008-9).
Today’s message is shorter than usual, primarily because I decided to focus on a subject—the growing racism in Israel.
The 3 items following Beinart’s are on the subject of the growing racism in Israel. I use the term in its widest sense for this racism includes Palestinians—both citizens of Israel and Palestinians generally—as well as the left, that is to say, against any person who expresses sympathy for the Palestinians or opposes the military campaign in Gaza, that is to say, against any person who does not toe the nationalistic-militaristic line. Remind you of something elsewhere in the 1930s????
Following these, item 5, is easy to miss even if you subscribe to Haaretz, but it no less that those on racism reveals the atmosphere in Israel today. The Israeli Broadcasting Authority has denied B’tselem to name Palestinian children who have been killed in this brutal military campaign. This gives some intimation of how sanitized much of what is fed Israelis over the air and TV waves.
The final item is the PCHR statistics for day 16.
I heard about ½ an hour ago (5:30 Israel time) that the present military campaign and killing is expected to continue for another week or two. I hope that estimate is wrong. Am sorry the airlines are resuming flights to Israel. The stoppage was the best pressure that could for the present have been put on Israel to stop this killing, destruction, and madness.
All the best,
1 1 Peter Beinart http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.606791
It’s easy to criticize the Israeli government’s response to the rockets launched from Gaza in recent weeks. It’s harder to offer an alternative. But honest critics have an obligation to try. So here goes.
The short answer is that I’d treat the rockets as military symptoms of a political problem. That doesn’t mean Israel shouldn’t return fire. If Hamas and Islamic Jihad can attack Israel with impunity, they may never stop. But returning fire—or even invading Gaza—will never make Israel safe.
Israel can destroy Hamas’ rockets, but Hamas will eventually rebuild them bigger and better, as it did after the last war, and the one before that. And in the relatives and friends of the Palestinians killed in Operation Protective Edge, it will find plenty of new recruits willing to fire them. Israel can overthrow Hamas and then pull back, but it will leave in its wake Somalia-like chaos that gives groups even more radical than Hamas free reign. Israel can overthrow Hamas and try to install Fatah, but doing so will harm the latter as much as the former because any faction that rides into Gaza atop an Israeli tank will lose its public legitimacy forever. Israel can overthrow Hamas and try to govern Gaza itself, but that would require Israeli 18- year-olds to permanently patrol house-to-house in a territory where they’re constantly at risk of becoming the next Gilad Shalit.
So what would I do? First, I’d seek a cease-fire that eases those aspects of Israel’s blockade that have no legitimate security rationale. (That doesn’t mean acceding to Hamas’ cease-fire demands but it means recognizing that a cease-fire that does nothing to address the blockade – as Israel wants – won’t last).
Here are a couple of examples. Since 2010, Israel has made it easier for goods to enter Gaza. But it still makes it extremely difficult for goods to leave. According to the Israeli human rights group Gisha, only two percent as many truckloads leave the Strip as did in 2007. If Israel wants to check those trucks to ensure they’re not carrying weapons, fine. (Last December, the Netherlands tried to donate a high-tech scanner for exactly that purpose).
But essentially barring Gazan exports to Israel and the West Bank — historically Gaza’s biggest markets — is both inhumane and stupid. It’s helped destroy the independent business class that could have been a check on Hamas’ power, and left many in Gaza with the choice of working for Hamas or receiving food aid.
In addition to goods, Israel should make it easier for people to leave Gaza, too. A quarter of Gazans have family in the West Bank. Yet even before this war, Israel allowed Gazans to travel to the West Bank only in “exceptional humanitarian cases.” Yes, Israel can restrict the travel of terrorists. But preventing young Gazans from studying in the West Bank – like preventing Gazan businessmen from exporting there – is self-defeating and inhumane. It feeds the isolation and despair that Hamas exploits.
Second, I’d let Hamas take part in a Palestinian unity government that prepares the ground for Palestinian elections. That doesn’t mean tolerating Hamas attacks, to which Israel should always reserve the right to respond. But it means no longer trying to bar Hamas from political participation because of its noxious views.
It’s common to hear pro-Israel hawks ridicule Mahmoud Abbas for lacking authority over Gaza and for serving the 10th year of a four-year presidential term. But by opposing Palestinian elections, Israel creates the very circumstance its supporters bemoan. Without free elections — which means elections in which all major Palestinian parties can run — Palestinian leaders will never enjoy authority in both Gaza and the West Bank nor the legitimacy to make painful compromises on behalf of their people.
Israel wants Hamas barred from any Palestinian unity government, and any Palestinian election, until it accepts the two-state solution and past peace agreements. But as I’ve suggested before, the current Israeli government probably couldn’t meet those conditions.
There’s a better way. What’s crucial is not that Hamas as a party endorse the two-state solution. After all, Likud as a party has not endorsed the two state-solution, either. What’s crucial is that Hamas promise to respect a two-state agreement if endorsed by the Palestinian people in a referendum. In the past, Hamas leaders have told the media they would. Israel, or its Western allies, should get that pledge in writing, and, in return, allow the free elections necessary to produce a Palestinian leadership with the legitimacy to make a deal.
Finally, Israel should do everything it can — short of rigging the elections — to ensure that Hamas doesn’t win. Already, polls show that Abbas would defeat Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh easily. (If Israel really wanted to crush Hamas, it could release jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, who has strongly endorsed the two state solution, and who in polls defeats Haniyeh by an even larger margin). But Israel could also help ensure Hamas’ defeat by showing Palestinians that Abbas’ strategy of recognizing Israel, and helping it combat terrorism, actually works. It could do so by freezing settlement growth and publicly committing to a Palestinian state near the 1967 lines with a capital in East Jerusalem. That would give Abbas an instant boost.
Hamas’ great ally is despair. It grows stronger when Palestinians decide that settlement growth has made the two-state solution impossible. It gains strength when Palestinians decide that leaders like Abbas and Salam Fayyad are fools for helping Israel police the West Bank while getting only massive settlement subsidies in return.
Nothing would weaken Hamas more than growing Palestinian faith that through nonviolence and mutual recognition, they can win the basic rights they’ve been denied for almost half a century. Israel’s best long-term strategy against Palestinian violence is Palestinian hope. Unfortunately, as effective as Benjamin Netanyahu has been at destroying Palestinian rockets, he’s been even more effective at destroying that.
2 Haaretz Thursday, July 24, 2014
Don’t let war tear Israel’s Jews, Arabs further apart
The recent outbreak of violence and racism against Arabs exposes the regrettable fact that the platform underlying shared life in Israel is not solid enough yet.
One of the harsh consequences of Operation Protective Edge is the damage this war is causing to relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel.
Now more than at any other time, we are witnessing concrete attempts to hurt Arab citizens and give them a feeling they don’t belong here. A ranting, racist discourse, whose seeds are sown in the social networks and whose poisonous fruit stain the entire public space, turns every Arab into a suspect and every show of support for positions outside the Jewish-nationalist consensus – into betrayal.
The incitement and mud-slinging campaigns, culminating in Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s call to boycott business places that closed down in protest of the operation in Gaza, do not end with words. Extremist rightists want to physically hurt those who protest against the fighting, while Arab workers in the public sector are suspended because of Facebook statuses. The sympathy expressed by Israeli Arabs for their brethren in Gaza is seen by many Jews in Israel as assisting the enemy in war time.
In October 2000, 13 Israeli Arabs were killed in a wave of riots that erupted close to the beginning of the second intifada. These events exacted a heavy price from Israeli society. Arab citizens’ confidence in state institutions was seriously undermined, while many Jewish citizens treated them as traitors. But the 14 years that have passed since then have been marked by the establishment’s attempt to improve the situation of Arabs in Israel. Among other things it set an ambitious goal for integrating Arabs in the public sector (12 percent), funneled a lot of money to local Arab authorities, opened new schools, added study hours and improved the public transportation system. The gaps remained large, but the movement was in the right direction.
Precisely because of this welcome trend, it is troubling to see the current outbreak of violence and racism against Arabs. It exposes the regrettable fact that the platform underlying shared life in Israel is not solid enough yet. This outbreak can also weaken Arab citizens’ sense of security regarding their place in society.
When the fighting ends Jews and Arabs will have to live together again. We mustn’t let the dark forces deepen the rift and tear apart his important partnership, which is the basis of life in Israel.
3 Haaretz Thursday, July 24, 2014
Images from Gaza should trouble every Israeli
Israeli hearts are brimming with concern for Israeli soldiers in Gaza; but they have no compassion for victims on the other side, not even for children who are dying in gruesome numbers.
By Gideon Levy | Jul. 24, 2014
That’s the number, as of Wednesday: 155 children. On Wednesday morning, another three were killed. Ten children per day, on average. According to the UN, it’s more than the number of Hamas combatants that were killed. The Al Mezan Center For Human Rights has published the names of 132 of them. The Telegraph, a British newspaper, published a death chart, in which it included the names of children, the dates of their death and their ages. It included babies in diapers, children, and youths. Each child and the name given to them by their parents. Four-year-old Bitul, three-year-old Suhila, six-month-old Bissan, four-year-old Siraj, two-year-old Nur – these were toddlers from among the 25 members of the Abu Jama’e family, killed alongside 127 others.
The chart doesn’t lie: “Protective Edge” is “Cast Lead 2,” and it will overcome its predecessor in the amount of horrors. The chart wasn’t printed in Israel, nor will it be. There’s no place for it. We’re at war. Hamas is guilty of their deaths. Israel Air Force pilots did not mean to kill them.
But don’t fear: if the chart were to be published, it would be received with unfeeling, or even, it’s hard to believe, outright joy, by the brainwashed public in this country. “Even Hitler was a child,” reads graffiti currently sprayed near the entrance to Netivot.
The website “Walla!” published talkback comments on an article about the four children killed on the Gaza beach. Shani Moyal: “I couldn’t care less that Arab children were killed, too bad it wasn’t more. Well done to the IDF.” Stav Sabah: “Really, these are great pictures. They make me so happy, I want to look at them again and again.” Sharon Avishi: “Only four? Too bad. We hoped for more.” Daniela Turgeman: “Great. We need to kill all the children.” Chaya Hatnovich: “There isn’t a more beautiful picture than those of dead Arab children.” Orna Peretz: “Why only four?” Rachel Cohen: “I’m not for children dying in Gaza. I’m for everyone burning.” Tami Mashan: “As many children as possible should die.”
From their names and accompanying pictures, all the commenters are women. They shop in the stores near your homes, they go to the same movies and vacation spots as you. They’re Israeli. No one would think of firing them from their jobs, like they are doing now to Arabs and left-wingers. No one will condemn them, no one will attack or threaten them. They’re normal, according to the Israeli norms at least, where compassion for the other side is considered treason, and beastly criticism is considered patriotism.
But why blame the talkback ladies? Listen to the remarks of generals, politicians and analysts, as they all speak the same words, ever so sweetly.
Such diabolical talk would not be heard in any other nation. Even the most extreme remarks are sufficient in expressing the current atmosphere. Not many Israelis will try to imagine the 155 dead children as just that, children. They won’t try to see them, to think of their fate, to reflect on their sad lives and their deaths.
Israeli soldiers are fighting and dying in Gaza now, and the people’s heart is full of worry and fear for them. Nothing is more understood, human or natural. The rockets also continue to fall. But aside from those fears, there exists a complete lack of compassion for the victims on the other side, even for those children, dying in gruesome numbers, which will go down as a new record of shame, even in the Israeli record book.
The pictures coming out of Gaza – and not in the Israeli media, which begrudgingly posts them to fulfill its obligation – should upset every Israeli. It’s possible that Gazans would be happy to celebrate dead Israeli children, and despite that happiness, there haven’t been any. If we were to witness such a phenomenon, we would be shocked, and rightly so. But we can ignore the wholesale killing of dozens of Palestinian children, day after day, or perhaps even celebrate it. After all, “Even Hitler was a child.”
4 Haaretz Thursday, July 24, 2014
Punch a lefty, save the homeland: Israel rediscovers political violence
As the army fights Hamas in Gaza, ad-hoc right-wing militias organized through social media take to the streets to fight the ‘war at home.’
By Asher Schechter
Stop the Massacre In Gaza Demo
Left wing Israelis hold signs as they participate in a demonstration against the Israeli military action in the Gaza Strip, in Jerusalem, Thursday, July 17, 2014. Photo by AP
It’s a regular, scorching Saturday night in central Tel Aviv. The cafes are thronged, rocket threat or not. At Habima Square, a few dozen left-wing activists are protesting against Operation Protective Edge. Dozens of right-wing counter-demonstrators show up.
The sides are separated by a thin line of police but the situation goes south fast. Everybody’s yelling. Signs, some depicting IDF soldiers as terrorists, are torn down, eggs are hurled. Violence begins: people get beaten up.
Suddenly, a rocket siren wails. Everyone runs to the nearest shelter – the same shelter. Right-wingers and left-wingers crowd together, anger in their eyes, with only a single cop to prevent them from jumping each other.
The hiatus doesn’t last very long. Within a minute the boom of the rockets’ interception (by Iron Dome) is heard and everyone goes back outside and picks up where they left off.
Now a mob gathers, composed mostly of angry teenagers, some bare-chested in the hot night, some (unknowingly) wearing neo-Nazi T-shirts, yelling slogans like “Death to Arabs” and “Death to leftists”. They quickly overpower what’s left of the leftist protest, then go on a rampage. They storm coffee shops identified with the left, breaking things, beating people up. Only after a long night and some injuries do they finally stop.
Welcome home to the Middle East
This happened last week, and again a few days later, in the same place: Habima Square, the starting point for all of the city’s political rallies ever since the “social justice” protests of 2011. Then, the square was nicknamed “the Israeli Tahrir”, a symbol of the maturing political discourse in Israel that – they said then – had finally overcome the partisan lines of left and right. Now at that same spot, the discourse has regressed decades, a stark reminder that calling for social justice is well and good, but this is the Middle East.
Such clashes also happened in Haifa. And in Jaffa this Monday. In Jerusalem, gangs of extremists attacked dozens of Arabs and Arab-owned businesses. In Tel Aviv, a quiet rally almost deteriorated into a lynch mob.
The scenes are all about the same – protesters, left and right, Jews and Arabs, hurling hate and sometimes tangible objects at each other while waving flags.
As the casualties of Protective Shield mount, something sinister is happening on the streets of Israel’s biggest cities. Israelis seem to have rediscovered violent protest, a phenomenon last seen during the second Intifada. As soldiers fight in Gaza, right-wing extremists have organized ad-hoc militias to fight the “war at home”.
Rapping for nationalism and hate
A spearhead of this growing movement is, almost comically, a rapper named Yoav Eliasi, known by his stage name “The Shadow.” Eliasi rose to fame along with fellow Israeli rapper Subliminal during the second Intifada. The two collaborators represented a new kind of Israeli hip-hop: angry, fiercely nationalistic and almost laughably dutiful.
The Intifada petered out and Eliasi’s career with it – until recently, using his Facebook page, he organized a group of outlandish rightwing activists under the name “The Shadow’s Lions” to disrupt and attack left-wing anti-war demonstrations. The group includes members of other extremist groups such as Lehava (which objects to miscegenation) and Kahane Chai.
“The radical left,” Shadow wrote on his Facebook page, are “the real enemy, walking among us.”
Coincidentally, Eliasi’s comeback to public life coincided with the release of his new single, called “One Blood”.
Prior to the anti-war demonstration at Habima on July 12, Eliasi called on his “lions” to join him in breaking it up. They obeyed. Not long after he wrote to his followers: “Now, my lions, it is time to throw you another left-wing nobody in need of reeducation to chew on.” His post inspired dozens of enthusiastic replies calling for “death of Arabs” and “death of leftists”.
Ironically, some of his rampaging Lions wore t-shirts captioned “Good Night Left Side” with a drawing of a man throwing a bicycle on a left-wing activist. This T-shirt should be familiar to Europeans: it is often worn by neo-Nazis.
The graffiti had been on the wall
The rise of political vigilantism is sadly not limited to the Shadow or his minions. Nor did it come out of thin air. It follows years and years of waning support and for the left that can be traced back to the beginning of the Second Intifada, perhaps even earlier. During the past decade, Israel has undergone a deep process of right-leaning radicalization: the left now has less than 30 of the 120 seats in Knesset.
De facto, it is no longer legitimate to be left-wing in Israel. “Leftists” have become such pariahs that during the last elections then-Labor leader Shelly Yachimovich vehemently insisted that neither she nor her party (Labor, the party of Rabin and Peres!) are or ever were left wing.
The term “leftist”, in fact, has become a derogatory term barely distanced from “Nazi” in its offensiveness. Comedian Orna Banai was fired from an advertising campaign this week, after lightheartedly describing herself as a “weird left-wing Arab-lover.” Being a leftist is so taboo, that you can’t even joke about it.
What’s left of the Israeli left is these puny, slightly-pathetic, street demonstrations. Now, even that ineffectual means is threatened by extremist bullies, legitimized by the apathy of the silent majority and the blind eye of politicians who profit from hate.
This is what happens when people are told over and over and over again that the left is “the enemy from within”. It is only a matter of time before they want to “help” the army in its battle against Israel’s enemies. And it is that same pent-up energy, the energy of a frustrated and angry mob, that led to the kidnap and murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir.
On Tuesday, BBC reporter Feras Khatib was attacked on air, apparently by an Israeli. In the “war at home”, every Israeli can become an army of one.
Left-wing activists report feeling genuine terror. Any celebrity daring to murmur anything vaguely dovish gets vilified in the media and social networks. “The next Emil Grunzweig”, said one tweet this week, referring to the peace activist killed by a grenade at a peace rally in Jerusalem in 1983, “is among us – he just doesn’t know it yet.”
In the so-called “war at home”, it seems, the shadows are winning.
5 Haaretz Thursday, July 24, 2014
Israeli agency bans radio clip naming children killed in Gaza
Calling material ‘politically controversial,’ Israel Broadcasting Authority refuses to run item by B’Tselem human rights group.
By Gili Izikovich
The Israel Broadcasting Authority banned a radio broadcast made by the human rights organization B’Tselem about children killed in Gaza, claiming its content was “politically controversial.”
On Wednesday the IBA again censored the clip, after considering B’Tselem’s appeal against the decision.
The clip, submitted a few days ago, says children have been killed in the fighting in Gaza and mentions a few of their names. The IBA said it was politically controversial and it does not allow clips of a political character.
B’Tselem wrote in its appeal that since the news programs don’t broadcast the names of the Palestinian fatalities – contrary to the IBA’s own rules — the organization offered to pay to air its clips.
B’Tselem asked what was controversial about the item. “Is it controversial that the children [aren’t] alive? That they’re children? That those are their names? These are facts that we wish to bring to the public’s knowledge.”
“So far more than 600 people have been killed in bombings in Gaza, more than 150 of them children. But apart from a brief report on the number of fatalities, the Israeli media refrains from covering them,” B’Tselem said yesterday.
“IBA says broadcasting the children’s names is politically controversial,” B’Tselem said. “But refusing to do so is in itself a far reaching statement – it says the huge price being paid by civilians in Gaza, many of them children, must be censored.”
6 PCHR statistics for from the first day till the 16th day, July 24, 2014 t
For additional PCHR updates see http://www.pchrgaza.org/portal/en/