Make America White Again*: The Bannon-Miller-Trump Presidency.

Stephen Miller (Santa Monica native, Duke grad and self-appointed defender of African-American workers) led a press conference on immigration today where he tried the standard Republican trick of playing the victim. You can watch the entire exchange at C-Span. Miller at one point said Jim Acosta was exhibiting cosmopolitan bias by quoting Emma Lazarus’s poem “Give me your tired your poor…” That should probably be transcribed as (((cosmopolitan))) bias, but same difference.

Miller was at the presser because the  administration is pushing a bill introduced byTom Cotton (R-AK) and David Perdue (R-GA) to reduce by 50%, the number of immigrant visas available each year. That’s legal immigration, cut in half. It was introduced a week after the Muslim ban, and was the first sign of this administration’s determination to attack all forms of immigration. Millions of people eligible to emigrate to the US already face 5 or 10 year waits (only if you’re brown/Asian) before they are allotted an immigrant visa. There are no such lengthy wait times for immigrants from European countries. This bill would stretch those waiting times even longer. The bill did not receive much attention initially, it was overshadowed by the spectacle of visitors with valid visas were turned back at our airports. Perhaps it will now.

Talking to Bannon on air in September 2015, Sessions, who has received awards from virulently anti-immigrant groups, described the present day as a dangerous period of “radical change” for America, comparing it to the decades of the early 20th century, when waves of immigrants flooded the country. He said that the 1924 immigration quota system, which barred most Asians and tightly capped the entry of Italians, Jews, Africans and Middle Easterners, “was good for America.” Bannon is also uncomfortable with the changing face of the country. “When two-thirds or three-quarters of the C.E.O.s in Silicon Valley are from South Asia or from Asia, I think — ” he said on the radio with Trump in November 2015, vastly exaggerating the actual numbers. “A country is more than an economy. We’re a civic society.” — NYTimes Magazine

The most anti-immigrant administration America has seen in at least 80 years occupies the White House today. This administration is offended by legal immigrants as much as it is by undocumented immigrants. Their initial directive to cancel the green cards of more than 250,000 Muslims was not an error or a misreading of the law. It was done deliberately and with the intent.

Bannon and Sessions have effectively presented the country’s changing demographics — the rising number of minority and foreign-born residents — as America’s chief internal threat. Sessions has long been an outlier in his party on this subject; in 2013, when his Republican colleagues were talking primarily about curbing illegal immigration, he offered a proposal to curb legal immigration. (It failed in committee, 17 to one.) — NY Times Magazine

At the center of the current Republican hatred for immigration is an age-old explanation, racism. The only immigrants this administration finds acceptable are those from Europe. Here is how Breitbart describes their aims:

“Halting, or drastically slowing, immigration is a major priority for the alt-right… the movement is frightened by the prospect of demographic displacement represented by immigration…The alt-right’s intellectuals would also argue that culture is inseparable from race. The alt-right believe that some degree of separation between peoples is necessary for a culture to be preserved.” — Breitbart

This is white-nationalism, and its adherents occupy the White House and Congress. In the Senate, Jeff Sessions has long been their champion. He now controls the federal legal apparatus. In the Senate, his voice has been replaced by Tom Cotton. The base that has cheered on the Trump/Bannon executive orders on Muslims and undocumented immigrants could not be any clearer about their desires. They want “separation between races” by halting immigration. Once that’s done, they would like to find a way to expel millions of legal immigrants from the US. Trump/Bannon/Session/Cotton have given them every signal that they intend to make their white nationalist dreams come true.

At least one witness said that the gunman, identified as Adam W. Purinton, 51, yelled “get out of my country” before opening fire […] several officials said at a news conference that they were looking into the possibility that the shooting was a hate crime.

— NY Times on Kansas shooting that left one Asian-Indian engineer dead.

White nationalism has a long history in the US. Brannon and Trump are the direct successors of political factions that kept overt racial quotas on immigrants in place for a hundred years. The 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act removed these quotas among the flurry of reforms prompted by the Civil Rights movement. That law is deeply resented by this administration. Trump’s executive order and Cotton’s bill are designed to test that law’s prohibition on discrimination by nationality.

“I have a question in my mind,” Sunayana Dumala said after her husband, an Indian engineer, was shot dead last week in a Kansas bar. “Do we belong?”


This administration’s animosity towards non-white Americans goes further than immigration. The attorney general, Jeff Sessions, dislikes the 14th amendment’s clause granting citizenship to every child born in the country. Aided by Sessions, the Bannon-Trump administration will attempt to undermine birthright citizenship and undermine this law which has been part of our constitution since the civil war, over 150 years ago. The 14th amendment was enacted to ensure that no state or executive could ever again deny the rights and privileges of citizenship to a child born in the United States. Trump and Sessions would like to undo this, and the administration is appointing people to various agencies to help him in his endeavor.

America’s successful grand strategy “did not come from nowhere: it followed from our deeper conception of ourselves and our American identity. Who are we Americans? What is our nation? We are not an ethno-state, with identity rooted in shared blood. The option of a White Man’s Republic ended at Appomattox.… Our nation is based on an idea — that all are created equal — that, when embraced, makes us Americans.” — Foreign Policy

Republican’s anti-immigrant policies require a political solution. Immigrants and those who value them will have to organize to repel the anti-immigrant policies of this administration.

We do have one hidden advantage. By 2018, 13 million green card holders in the USA will be eligible for citizenship. Many of them have lived here for decades without acquiring US citizenship. If they wish to stay, they should apply for citizenship and vote in 2018.

Lady Liberty needs our help if she is to keep her beacon aloft by the golden door.


Israel’s Justice Minister admires Ayn Rand, wants BDS to be illegal but led boycott of Palestinians

There are a lot of stories on Ayelet Shaked, the newly appointed Justice Minister of Israel and about Netanyahu’s new government. I expect her appointment will have a significant impact on the status and treatment of Palestinians across Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. In particular, her close relationship to the Hebron settlers could make matters much worse for Palestinians in Hebron.

We’ll start with the Times profile: Ayelet Shaked, Israel’s New Justice Minister, Shrugs Off Critics in Her Path

It was as an instructor in the army’s Golani Brigade that she grew close to the religious-Zionist settlers who form the core of her constituency today. Serving in Hebron, one of the most contested areas of the West Bank, cemented her stance on the right, she said. “I just realized there will not be a solution right now” to the Palestinian conflict.

“She said, ‘Erez, don’t talk, let’s do action,’ and we simply went out and removed all the signs of the Labor Party from the streets of Tel Aviv. From 11 until 4 o’clock in the morning,” said Mr. Eshel, who now runs youth leadership academies.

For Ms. Shaked, a former computer engineer, the main thing is “to strengthen the Jewish identity” of Israel, “to have a democratic, Jewish, strong state.”That translates, in policy terms, into promoting Israeli annexation of most of the occupied West Bank and ousting African asylum-seekers. It means curtailing the power of the Supreme Court, giving politicians more sway over judicial appointments and prohibiting foreign funding of advocacy groups — which could put the main internal critics of Israeli actions out of business. And it entails a “nationality bill” that many see as disenfranchising Israel’s Arab minority, about 20 percent of the population.

Ms. Shaked asked to be asked about Arab citizens. She said they “should be an integrated part of the Israeli society,” denied they face discrimination and said more spots should be created for them to do national service in lieu of the military.

Her approach was shaped in part by the author Ayn Rand. ““The fact that sometimes you think differently than others,” she explained, “but you still need to insist on your views, although you are being accused.”

I discussed the Libertarian view of Israel in an earlier diary: Ayn Rand v. Murray Rothbard: A deep dive into the Libertarian view of Israel/PalestineHere’s Ayn Rand (who apparently shaped Shaked’s views) on Arabs:

The Arabs are one of the least developed cultures. They are typically nomads. Their culture is primitive, and they resent Israel because it’s the sole beachhead of modern science and civilization on their continent. When you have civilized men fighting savages, you support the civilized men, no matter who they are. Israel is a mixed economy inclined toward socialism. But when it comes to the power of the mind—the development of industry in that wasted desert continent—versus savages who don’t want to use their minds, then if one cares about the future of civilization, don’t wait for the government to do something. Give whatever you can. This is the first time I’ve contributed to a public cause: helping Israel in an emergency. — Ford Hall Forum Lecture, 1974

By the way, it is not a coincidence that Pamela Geller used that line in an ad:
Ayn Rand also had some interesting views on Native Americans:

They (Native Americans) didn’t have any rights to the land, and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights which they had not conceived and were not using. What was it that they were fighting for, when they opposed white men on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence, their ‘right’ to keep part of the earth untouched, unused and not even as property, but just keep everybody out so that you will live practically like an animal, or a few caves above it. Any white person who brings the element of civilization has the right to take over this continent. — Q & A session following her Address To The Graduating Class Of The United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, March 6, 1974

Murray Rothbard and other contemporary Libertarians had a very different take on Israel.Haaretz also did a profile of Shaked: What does Israel’s new justice minister really think about Arabs?

For those convinced that MK Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi) is a flaming racist and, therefore, entirely unsuitable for her new job, one particular Facebook status update from last summer is providing potent ammunition. Written on June 30, as tensions were escalating between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, it cited an article authored by the late settler leader Uri Elitzur, which included the following passage, widely interpreted as a call by Shaked to murder innocent Palestinians:“Behind every terrorist stand dozens of men and women, without whom he could not engage in terrorism. Actors in the war are those who incite in mosques, who write the murderous curricula for schools, who give shelter, who provide vehicles, and all those who honor and give them their moral support. They are all enemy combatants, and their blood shall be on all their heads. Now this also includes the mothers of the martyrs, who send them to hell with flowers and kisses. They should follow their sons, nothing would be more just. They should go, as should the physical homes in which they raised the snakes. Otherwise, more little snakes will be raised there.”

In a Channel 2 interview program broadcast in January 2012, she was asked the following question: “When your husband the pilot, when he’s up in the air, do you hope he’ll be pounding the Arabs hard with bombs?” Shaked responded first with a laugh and then said, “Yes.”While she was running My Israel, Shaked learned that Bank Leumi was promoting the sale of a real estate company in Jerusalem to a consortium that included a Palestinian investor. Here’s how she described what ensued in an interview with Haaretz in April 2011, “In order to prevent the sale of the neighborhood to Arab hands, all members of the group [My Israel] were instructed to call senior executives at the bank and protest, and those with accounts at Bank Leumi were instructed to call their branch managers and notify them of their desire to leave the bank.” The campaign ultimately paid off.

It seems Shaked is fine with boycotts that target Palestinians. But she doesn’t like boycotts directed at Israel, on BDS she’s quoted in another Haaretz interview as saying “It’s 21st century anti-Semitism” and believes the movement should be illegal. The current Supreme Court found a way to agree with her since it approved much of the Knesset Law targetting the BDS movement, as we covered in this diary: Israel Supreme Court: Boycott/Divest is “Political Terrorism”. Publishers can be sued for speech.As the Times reported in the article above:

They broke with Mr. Netanyahu and started My Israel, an online movement that stopped a bank from making a deal with Palestinian investors; vilified an actor who refused to perform in a settlement; published grisly pictures of a family killed in a terrorist attack; and challenged what Ms. Shaked saw as the news media’s leftist bias.

Bit more about the government and the longer-term history of the settlement movement and its impact on Israel’s policy towards Palestinian lands below:

Haaretz also discussed the terms of the coalition agreement which requires increased funding for the settlement movement: AG warns against funding settlement agency in coalition deal

The agreement, signed between Likud and Habayit Hayehudi, states that the [World Zionist Organization’s] Settlement Division’s baseline budget for the next two years will be no lower than its budget for the previous two years. In addition, it says, the division will get an extra 50 million shekels ($13.1 million) a year for the next two years.But in a letter to Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mendelblit on Thursday, Zilber said that this agreement contradicts a previous legal opinion by the Attorney General’s Office. That opinion said the Settlement Division could no longer be directly funded by the state, either via the regular budget or ad hoc funding approved by the Knesset Finance Committee.

In another warning about the coalition, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has informed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that it will be difficult to defend the appointment of Shas MK Arye Dery to a cabinet position to the Supreme Court, considering his criminal record.

Haaretz is also saying: Obama not enthused by some members of Netanyahu’s cabinetThe office of the Attorney General of Israel is part of the Justice Ministry and Haaretz is wondering how long Zilber and Weinstein will last with Shaked running things in this editorial: Israel’s new and dangerous government

The big winner in the coalition negotiations is Habayit Hayehudi, which took advantage of the prime minister’s distress and, despite its election failure, succeeded in upgrading its position in the cabinet and at the head of Knesset committees. Naftali Bennett, Ayelet Shaked and Uri Ariel will navigate Netanyahu’s fourth government, with Likud, devoid of a platform, policy or plans, being dragged along.Shaked’s appointment as justice minister is especially troubling, due to her demands to undermine the Supreme Court’s independence and her fervent support for the racist so-called nationality law and the persecution of African asylum-seekers. Habayit Hayehudi people, like many in the Likud faction, want the justice system to serve as a rubber stamp for the coalition’s decisions and not the defender of individual and minority rights. From now on Shaked will head the Ministerial Committee for Legislation and the Judicial Appointments Committee and have considerable influence on the selection of the attorney general who will replace Yehuda Weinstein.

Yitzhak Laor steps back to evaluate the election results with a wider field of view and notes the long history of and the forces driving the Hebron settlers (who form Shaked’s base).


(Opinion at Haaretz)

In 1960, Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee chairman Zerach Warhaftig (National Religious Party) explained the problem the government had solved by defining Jewish National Fund land, like the land expropriated using violence, as “national lands” in the Basic Law on Israel Lands.

In 1967 NRP leader Haim-Moshe Shapira predicted the moral fracture from the occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank. He understood the place of religion within Zionist ideology, in contrast to nonreligious Israelis who were in denial about the messianic aspects of their Zionism and imagined it to be “completely secular.” Indeed, the crisis began when the occupation did. The preface to the Greater Land of Israel manifesto, which was signed by all the eminent cultural figures of the day, from Natan Alterman to Uri Zvi Greenberg, stated: “We are faithfully committed to the wholeness of our land,” and “no government in Israel is entitled to surrender this completeness” (September 22, 1967). The sovereignty crisis that peaked with Yitzhak Rabin’s murder and with the incitement against Arab voters on the last Election Day was born then.The occupation added lands and millions of “people who do not belong to the global Jewish people,” in Warhaftig’s words. The territory became mythic. Maps of Greater Israel were hung in schools. The children who grew up on these maps (Ayelet Shaked in the “secular” school system, Naftali Bennett in “state religious” schools) learned not to apologize since the Bible says the land is ours and the Arabs are Amalekites or, to humanists, the “stranger among you.” The Religious Services Ministry has since sanctified more sheikhs’ graves, of, from “Joseph’s Tomb” in Nablus to “The Tomb of Othniel Ben Kenaz” in Hebron. The concrete territory has vanished, leaving only the religious image, essentially Christian, linking biblical texts to a “scientific” map.

Filastin: 6 year old child arrested in Jerusalem; The Death of Compassion

This is a roundup of news related to Palestine with a particular focus on grassroots action and peaceful civil disobedience in the Occupied Territories and within the borders of Israel proper.

We use the name Filasṭīn, since that is the pronunciation preferred by Arabic speakers (irrespective of faith) for their homeland.

The Long Road to Bethlehem: Part two

Mya Guarnieri continues her beautiful essay in +972mag.

No need to send more soldiers to the West Bank when they live deep in everyone’s subconscious.I came to find internal checkpoints much more frightening than the one I’d passed when I lived in Jerusalem for another simple reason: in the West Bank, anything could happen. Anywhere. At any time. Especially at the checkpoints.

I knew this intellectually before I moved to Bethlehem. But I didn’t understand it fully—with my insides, in my heart and in my gut—until one hot afternoon at the tail end of summer.

Police arrest 6-year-old East Jerusalem boy suspected of stoning bus

(story in Haaretz)

Police arrested and detained a 6-year-old boy from Wadi Joz in East Jerusalem on Tuesday, without allowing his parents to meet with him. Part of the time the child was held in a squad car, and during questioning he was asked if he wanted to be a martyr.Undercover operatives stopped their patrol car near the boy and his older brother, 12, on Tuesday at around 7:30 P.M., and arrested them both. According to police, the boys had just thrown rocks at a bus.

By law, children under 12 years of age, the age of criminal responsibility, may not be arrested or detained.

Israel struck Gaza shelters – UN report

(story at BBC News)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he deplored the deaths and stressed that UN facilities were “inviolable”. The inquiry also found that three empty UN schools were used by Palestinian militants to store weapons, and that in two cases they likely fired from them. The 50-day conflict claimed the lives of more than 2,260 people. At least 2,189 were Palestinians, including more than 1,486 civilians, according to the UN. On the Israeli side, 67 soldiers were killed along with six civilians.

Israel issues E. Jerusalem settlement tenders as violence spikes

(article in +972mag)

The Israeli government published tenders for 77 new housing units in the settlements of Pisgat Ze’ev and Neve Yaakov in occupied East Jerusalem Monday morning. The tenders follow a six-month gap in published settlement plans for the Palestinian part of Jerusalem.
Today’s tenders are significant because they are the first such decision taken by Netanyahu following his election victory, explained Daniel Seidemann of Terrestrial Jerusalem, an Israeli NGO that tracks any developments in the city that may affect the political process. “These tenders could not have been published without the prime minister’s supervision, and represent Netanyahu testing the waters.”There is, along with E1, one last large building project in Jerusalem, which Seidemann referred to as a “doomsday settlement.” Givat HaMatos, in south Jerusalem, will cut off East Jerusalem from Bethlehem when completed.

Until then, however, the Israeli government’s battle for property and land in East Jerusalem will continue to be a war of attrition against local Palestinians: tenders such as those published today; settler takeovers of Palestinian property; and official government eviction notices served to Palestinian families.

Thousands protest Arab housing crisis in Tel Aviv rally

(article in Haaretz)

Organizers say that holding the rally in Tel Aviv signals that the Arab population is not giving up on its citizenship.Several thousand people, mostly Arab citizens, gathered in Tel Aviv’s Rabin square on Tuesday afternoon to protest housing shortages and the policy of house demolitions in Arab communities across the country, from ‘the triangle’ in central Israel to the Negev, the Galilee and in mixed cities. The protest was held under the slogan “Fighting for our homes.”

MK Ayman Odeh, the head of the Joint Arab List, said that this is one of the most crucial issues confronting the Arab public in Israel.

“A family which loses its home, built on its own private land, is shattered,” Odeh said. He accused the government of not responding to initiatives taken by heads of Arab local councils, who have been trying to resolve the issue of master plans for many years.

Arabs carry out protest in Tel Aviv over housing demolitions

(story at Yedioth Ahronoth)

The Chairman of the Regional Council of Unrecognized Villages in the Negev, Atiya al-Atzam, said: “We are worried that if the government will not stop the current trend, if they do not soon offer practical solutions, the Negev will deteriorate into a bitter and ongoing conflict.
“Young people want to build by the law and are unable to. They refrain from getting married without a home. More and more couples remain trapped in their parents home and are unable to build a home in their village and build a family. They feel like the government is stopping them from living.”

Why the Arabs are coming to Tel Aviv

(article in +972mag)

It used to be that when Israel demolished Arab homes there would be a spontaneous strike and reactionary protest in some of the Arab cities. But there is a new political force leading Palestinian citizens of Israel, and this time, the protest is coming to Tel Aviv.
the election of the Joint List and tremendous efforts to restructure the Higher Arab Monitoring Committee, there is a sense that Arab citizens are riding on a different wave. That change was evident in the message broadcast on the eve of elections, that Palestinian citizens of the state want to integrate on all levels and in all areas of life in the country — a revolutionary message in itself — and are determined to protect the weaker segments of society. That message is becoming a real plan of action on the ground today.
As President Rivlin said a few weeks ago, “he who is scared of votes in the ballot box will get stones on the streets.”

Palestinian man shot in West Bank dies of wounds

(story in Haaretz)

Palestinian medical officials say a an 18-year-man shot by IDF soldiers on Monday west of Jenin succumbed to his wounds. The officials said that man, Mohammed Murad Mustafa Yihyeh, died at the Rafidiya hospital in Nablus.According to reports, Yihyeh was shot in his stomach during clashes near the separation barrier at the village of Araqa near Jenin.

Israelis have turned away from compassion

Natasha Roth’s writes in an article in +972mag:

From asylum seekers to Palestinians to Holocaust survivors, the lack of compassion is appallingly evident in the way Israeli society treats the disadvantaged.
This is the behavior of a government and society with hardened hearts and unseeing eyes. It is a blindness that has, as in Wells’ story, struck Israeli society from day one. Even Ari Shavit, in his otherwise problematic book ‘My Promised Land,” manages to identify its starting point, when he admits that his great-grandfather — one of the early colonizers of the land — “does not see because he is motivated by the need not to see.” From this beginning, compassion has increasingly withered with each successive generation. We have now, as Illouz puts it, arrived at “a society that overall has become used to not blinking when destroying life.”

Which brought to my attention a much longer piece from a few weeks ago in Haaretz. I would recommend reading it in full since it is a good exposition of what happens to people who wield unchecked power over others. There are too many historical parallels:

What the death of my father taught me about the demise of Israeli compassion

(article in Haaretz)in a long rumination on the manner of her father’s death and how his treatment in an Israeli hospital is emblematic of the impact colonization and occupation has had on broader Israeli society, Eva Illouz writes:

In his book “The Decent Society,” Israeli philosopher Avishai Margalit claims that there are four different ways of treating humans as non-humans: a) treating them like objects; b) treating them like machines; c) treating them like animals; d) treating them like sub-humans (which includes treating adults as children).To treat others as non-humans is not to be able to see them as whole human beings in body and in soul. It is interesting to note that Margalit himself gives as an example the attitude toward Arabs in Israel – namely, the  attitude in which their presence is ignored because our gaze simply skips over them. Inhumanity is thus to lack the capacity to see others in a specific way, namely as full human beings.

In the 18th century, a universal perception of humans was formulated, on the ground that their physical suffering was intolerable. This is why compassion  came to be viewed as basic condition for morality. Compassion or the recognition of other human beings’ suffering is the mechanism that enables to remember our own vulnerability and our common bond to other human beings. To behave “inhumanely” means quite literally, not to see others, not to take a full account of their presence in the room and in the space; it means not to see another as similar to me (because they do not belong to my group, or because they are in some way inferior); and it means to forget their (and my own) vulnerability.

Zeev Avrahami, for example, recounted in Haaretz English Edition on February 19 how he, his wife and their children, visiting Israel from the United States, were shockingly and arbitrarily abused by two young women officially employed by Ben-Gurion Airport. In recounting their abuse, Avrahami shares with the reader the reasons why many years ago he emigrated from Israel: because he had been afraid of treating other people in his everyday life in the same manner in which he had treated them in the territories. Dominating others indeed comes at the price of forgetting everybody’s humanity, including one’s own. When domination dominates a society, something actually happens to the ordinary sense of perception of other human beings.

In Tunisia, a single young man’s self-immolation was enough to set the entire country ablaze, but in Israel the despair of the many people who have set themselves on fire since 2012 hardly made it to the news (it was argued that Moshe Sliman was mentally ill, and about Akiva Mafai and Theodor Zozolia no one even heard).

An Israeli citizen, Liav Marmar, from Bat Yam, articulated it most clearly: “They [Supreme Court justices] have no Jewishness, so all their rulings are from the humane point of view.” (Haaretz, November 28, 2014). To this citizen, saying someone possesses a humane gaze is an insult and a deviation from the official creed that now organizes Israeli policy.This is the moral and political climate that has eroded norms of compassion and humanity in our society. Indeed, the same gaze that makes us fail to see the humanity of infiltrators, of Sudanese refugees, of the vast population of Palestinian civilians terrorized by the fear of Israeli military strikes, jail, and expropriation, is the same gaze that makes us fail to register the suffering of an ordinary patient in a hospital.

Much more below the fold…

Man assaulted handing Women of the Wall a Torah scroll threatens legal action

(article in Haaretz)

An American immigrant who was detained by police last week for passing a Torah scroll from the men’s section of the Western Wall to members of a feminist prayer group is threatening to take legal action if his name is not cleared.Charlie Kalech, the owner of a digital marketing company in Jerusalem, suffered injuries to his head when he was physically assaulted by a man on the scene who identified himself as an employee of the organization that administers the Jewish holy site. Kalech was detained by police after he filed a complaint against his assailant and in the process revealed the circumstances surrounding the confrontation.

Jerusalem hosts gynecology conference – but no women allowed

(article in Haaretz)

A rights group in Israel is calling on the country’s medical association to forbid doctors from taking part in a Jerusalem women’s health event scheduled for Tuesday that is closed to women participants.The event is co-sponsored by one of Israel’s leading – and publicly funded – HMOs, Meuhedet, and the ultra-Orthodox medical institute Yad HaRamah. It is meant to focus on research and innovation in women’s health, bringing together medical experts, rabbis, teachers, and experts in Jewish law for dialogue and discussion.

A spokesperson for the conference told the Ynet news website that not only were women absent from the roster of speakers and panelists at the event, but that they were barred from the audience as well.

Yedioth Ahronoth covered this long-running controversy in 2012: Gynecology convention excludes female lecturers

Women’s exclusion hits new low: Not one female doctor has been invited to speak in a conference on gynecology and halacha scheduled to take place next week. Only male doctors will speak in the meeting, including senior physicians, as organizers claim female doctors where shunned after rabbis prohibited their participation.

Protesters, police clash at Ethiopian Israeli demo against police brutality

(story in Haaretz)

The protest in front of the national Israel Police headquarters was prompted by a video of an incident on Sunday in the Tel Aviv suburb of Holon in which a policeman is seen pushing an Israeli soldier of Ethiopian descent, Demas Fekadeh, to the ground after he didn’t initially move at the policeman’s request. (Police were attempting to clear the area due to a suspicious object.)  Another policeman is then shown in the video pummeling Fekadeh.

Ethiopian-Israeli protest against police brutality is met with violence

(story in +972mag)

Thousands of young Ethiopian Israelis demonstrated against police brutality in Jerusalem on Thursday, in a vigil that spiraled into violent clashes with police.The protesters congregated in the afternoon under the banner: “Down with racism! A black person will not be brought down.” The protesters blocked major roads in the capital — including Highway 1, the road that links Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

When the protest approached the Prime Minister’s Residence a few hours later, police gloves were off. Officers fired tear gas and stun grenades at the crowd, with some present reporting via social media that riot control forces had brought out the dreaded “skunk” spray, generally only used in Palestinian protests in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

International Workers’ Day: The most invisible workers in Israel

(story at B’Tselem)

A couple of week ago we spoke with a number of Palestinian workers who live just a few dozen kilometers from where they work in Israel, but the difficulties involved in reaching their place of work mean they remain at their place of work all week, away from their families and home environment. At times, they must confine themselves to living in rough conditions at their workplace, with no option of leaving it. As one worker told us: “I feel like I’m working in a small prison”.

Israel sends aid to Nepal, but what about Gaza? On Israel’s selective compassion

(Opinion in Haaretz)

More than eight months after the war that decimated Gaza’s civilian infrastructure, killed 2,132 Palestinians (and 72 Israelis) and displaced thousands, the reconstruction is still stalling, according to a report by the Association of International Development Agencies. More than 12,000 homes are still waiting to be rebuilt, and 100,000 people are still homeless.
Yet Israel is acting as if it’s more concerned with the disaster in Nepal — a remote country known to Israelis mostly for tourism and surrogate pregnancies — not the place festering on the border. “Since Saturday, we have all become Nepalese,” wrote commentator Boaz Bismuth in the daily Israel Hayom.With the war all but forgotten and Gaza far removed from Israeli minds, Israel and its politicians are hardly interested in Gaza’s troubles.

Who’s the real racist in the Knesset?

(Opinion in Haaretz)

Not only does Odeh demonstrate greater sensitivity than Jewish MKs toward the Knesset and its symbols, but he also demonstrates a deeper understanding than Arens when he says “It seems the Jews don’t feel like a majority … When there’s a majority that feels like a minority and is strong but feels weak and threatened, we pay the price” (Ofra Edelman, April 26).

Rivlin and Netanyahu refuse to meet Jimmy Carter over his ‘anti-Israel stance’
(article in Haaretz)

According to the senior official, the Foreign Ministry recommended that Rivlin and Netanyahu not meet with Carter because of what they termed his “anti-Israeli stance” over the last few years, particularly during the summer war in Gaza.During the war, Carter voiced harsh criticism on Israel and called to remove Hamas from the American State Department’s list of terror organizations.

Jimmy Carter cancels Thursday visit to Gaza

(article in Jerusalem Post)

Former US President Jimmy Carter called off his visit to the Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian sources on Wednesday. No reason for the cancellation was given.Carter was scheduled to arrive on April 30 in Gaza to meet with Hamas leaders, and then with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to help mediate between the two factions’ stalled national reconciliation. The status of Carter’s visit to the West Bank is still unknown and so far has not been cancelled.

One person shot at protest against Israel’s cancer-causing chemical plants in Tulkarem

(International Solidarity Movement)

Around fifty Palestinians and international activists gathered today in Tulkarem, east of Nablus, to protest the presence of 11 Israeli chemical plants located in the city. The protest took place outside the Gishuri chemical plant on what is locally referred to as the “death road” due to the health problems caused by the Israeli plants.
A representative from the Palestine Technical University (PTU), which neighbors the Gushiri chemical plant to the south and the Apartheid Wall to the west, said today that the smell is “unbearable” after 3 pm, which explains why most residents of Tulkarem always keep their windows shut. Residents living near the factories have also developed health issues including asthma, reduced lung capacity, skin ailments and eye infections. This is especially true for elementary students.

ICC prosecutor: Low-ranking Israeli soldiers, as well as Palestinians, could be prosecuted for war crimes

(story in Haaretz)

“If an investigation is opened in any given situation, my office will be guided by a policy of investigating and prosecuting those most responsible for the commission of mass crimes,” Bensouda wrote [Fatou Bensouda, prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague].“That is the general rule. In accordance with my office’s new strategic plan, where appropriate, we may indeed investigate and prosecute notorious perpetrators whose conduct has been particularly egregious or a number of lower- or mid-level perpetrators, building upwards, and thereby bringing stronger cases against those most responsible.”

Hamas victory in student vote reflects shifting mood

(article at al_Jazeera)

Often seen as a bellwether for national politics, the elections at Birzeit University, near Ramallah, saw Hamas supporters defeat rivals aligned with Fatah. The results came as a surprise at a campus historically known for its allegiance to factions aligned with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), especially Fatah, the ruling party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.For years, Palestinian leaders have been promising general elections, which have not been held since Abbas was elected in 2006. This has lent credence to these student elections, which are often used as a litmus test for support for politicians and parties, especially at Birzeit, an institution known for its political activism and academic prominence.
Some observers called the results a win-win situation for both parties, and for the Palestinian public in general.
“Fatah has to be pleased, because the defeat rids it of the permanent ruling-party mindset,” said Saleh Masharka, a professor of media at Birzeit University. “Hamas, on the other hand, will have to become more realistic and responsible, and decrease its reliance on slogans.”

The Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions (ICAHD) is a small NGO. They had their intern write an essay titled: Report on a One State Solution. It’s interesting because it polls numerous activists and thinkers for their thoughts on the subject.

Zakaria Odeh is the executive director of the Civic Coalition, which is the steering committee for several human rights organizations in Palestine.

According to Odeh, the “one state solution is the only viable solution”, as ”there is nothing left to create a Palestinian state”. In our interview he explained that the West Bank and East Jerusalem have been so fragmented by Israeli policies that a Palestinian state could only be ”a group of communities separated by settlements”, which would be unable to support itself economically and would suffer from a lack of resources. For Odeh, a Palestinian state ”is not fair or realistic on the ground”.Odeh is among many thinkers who believe that a one state solution should be structured as a secular democracy, namely with one person per vote elections.
Bob Lang, an American-Israeli who is the spokesperson for the Efrat settlement in the West Bank and a previous advisor to Netanyahu, also believed that a ”one state is the direction we should be going in”. In our interview, Lang expressed the typical right wing Israeli perception of a future one state, namely a Greater Israel. Lang argued that eventually what is now ‘’Little Israel’’ will annex “Judea and Samara”, and that the ‘’Arabs living there now could become citizens of Israel if they want to’’. He specified, however, that about 20-30% of these Arabs could not be considered for citizenship due to their collaboration with Hamas and PLO, and thus what he believed was their involvement with terrorism. […] He suggested that if Israel were to annex Judea and Samara today, the country would have a 35% Arab population and 65% Israeli population. In contrast to common knowledge on the subject he argued that the birthrate of Arabs is going down, and the birthrate of Israelis is increasing. Thus he was not concerned about demographics in the Israeli state in the near future.
Moriel Rothman-Zecher, an American-Israeli activist and writer, summed up these perspectives on popular opinion in his email response to my question, stating that the main obstacle to a one state solution is, ”nationalistic/xenophobic sentiments on both sides, and dearth of leadership. Too much of both publics are uninterested in creating a real, pluralistic, shared society, and we don’t have the leadership in place (a la Mandela) at this juncture to move the publics in that direction.”

Sahar Vardi [an Israeli activist from Jerusalem ] also pointed to the international community as an obstacle to creating a one state solution. She explained that Israel’s allies are all predominantly white western countries, who want Israel as a white voice of democracy in the Middle East. According to Vardi, these allies would have problems with any one state solution, as there would be a majority of Arabs that would most likely want to integrate more into the Arab world.
I asked one person living in the Jordan Valley what he thought about a one state solution. He replied that he could not care less about talking about solutions and what they could look like. All he wants are the basic human rights for his people and for them to stop being harassed.
I agree with Yahni that we must focus on two things before even thinking about anything else, breaking the impunity of the Israeli regime and securing the basic human rights of Palestinians. It seems to me that right now, focusing on anything else is meaningless.

Wadi Qana – From Palestinian agricultural valley to settlements’ tourism park

(analysis at B’Tselem)

Wadi Qana is one of the tributaries of the Yarkon River. The central section of the wadi, to the east of Qalqiliyah, is in Area C and includes several springs. The land in the wadi in this area is owned by Palestinians, mainly by residents of the nearby village of Deir Istiya who use the land for farming and grazing. Over the course of many generations, and up to the 1990s, village families used to live in the wadi, relying on the springs for drinking water and for irrigating vegetable patches and citrus trees. To this day, residents of Deir Istiya and other neighboring villages go for a dip in the stream and relax on its banks.
In 2006, the Kana Stream Restoration Authority was established with the goal of restoring the wadi and developing tourism in the area. The authority is made up of four member entities: the settlement of Karnei Shomron, Israel’s Ministry for Environmental Protection, Israel Nature and Parks Authority (INPA), and the Civil Administration. Members of the settlement’s council told the media that one of the goals of the restoration plan was to boost Jewish presence in the area, in response to “Palestinian elements [who are] attempting to take control of the stream.”
Even if it is right to declare a nature reserve in the area, such a reserve must first and foremost serve the Palestinian public to whom it belongs. In practice, however, the declaration of a nature reserve in Wadi Qana, as elsewhere in Area C, is mainly intended to exclude Palestinians from their land. Hundreds of thousands of hectares of Area C land – 14% of Area C – have been declared nature reserves or national parks. In all these areas, Israeli authorities keep Palestinians from building and developing and restrict their use of the land, just as they do elsewhere by declaring firing zones and state land.The displacement of the Palestinian farmers from their land in Wadi Qana violates their right to property and to a livelihood. They are being forced out on the pretext of safeguarding local nature, yet no one keeps the settlements from grossly trampling this very same nature. The plans to transform the wadi into a park studded with scenic routes, footpaths, and visitors expose the true purpose underpinning the actions of the INPA and the Civil Administration: strengthening Israeli control of the wadi and appropriating it for the settlements.

Gaza Protesters Beaten and Detained by Hamas Security Officials, Witnesses Say

(story at NY Times)

A rare show of defiance against Hamas, the militant Palestinian group that controls Gaza, was quelled on Wednesday as men who appeared to be Hamas security officials beat some protesters and detained others, witnesses said.Men in plainclothes believed to be Hamas security officials interrupted the demonstration, beat men and women with sticks and herded people into jeeps, said one protester, Fadi al-Sheikh Yousef. There were no reported injuries among the crowd, estimated at 150 to 200.

MK says advocating for two-state solution is treason

(story at +972mag)

Freshman Jewish Home MK Yinon Magal accuses a former Israeli Foreign Ministry director of committing a capital offense: advocating for a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Israeli army officers punished for attacking photographers

(article in Haaretz)

Two Israel Defense Force officers who were captured on video assaulting press photographers at a demonstration last Friday in the Palestinian West Bank village of Nabi Saleh in the Ramallah area have been sentenced in disciplinary proceedings, in which footage from one of the news photographers was used. One of the officers was sent to military prison for 14 days while the other was confined to base for 30 days.

First demolition in Nabi Saleh: Warning shot or ominous sign?

(story in +972mag)

Four years ago, the residents of the village received demolition orders, but they were never carried out. On Monday, bulldozers razed an uninhabited house. Now the villagers, who have been protesting every week since 2009, fear that the army will carry out the rest of the demolition orders to collectively punish them.
But the residents of Nabi Saleh are convinced that the army’s actions are merely a form of collective punishment. “When they gave the orders four years ago, they told us: ‘If you stop the protests, we will stop the demolition orders’,” says Manal.

+972mag covered this story and posted footage: Israeli officer attacks, throws stones at photojournalists

Israeli soldiers threw stones at and attacked Israeli and Palestinian photojournalists during a protest in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh on Friday, during which the army used live fire against protesters. One Palestinian was reportedly shot in the head.

Palestinian teenager shot in head at Nabi Saleh demonstration by IDF

Photos at Int’l Solidarity Movement document the protest and

Protest in Nabi Saleh

Zoological terrorism? Israelis up in arms over ‘Palestine Gazelle’

(story in +972mag)

A Facebook post livid at the fact that the Palestine Gazelle at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo is being listed as such has been making some waves on Israeli social media today. The status was posted by Israeli right-wing protofascist Yoav Eliassi, who goes by “The Shadow” (and was involved in violence against leftists protesting the Gaza war last summer in Tel Aviv).The Shadow posted a photo of the sign at the zoo on his Facebook page and next to it the caption: ”At the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo!!!!!!”  (By the way it says “Israeli Gazelle” in Hebrew and just “Palestinian” in Arabic).

South Hebron Hills – farming under occupation

Photos at Int’l Solidarity Movement provide a photo montage of life next to a settler outpost.

Israeli jeep accompanies the children on their walk to and from school. The path is squashed between a settlement and an outpost, which make the children at risk of settler attacks.

When my Gazan friend saw a private swimming pool for the first time

(article in Haaretz)

There are no swimming pools in the Gaza Strip because, among other things, there’s not enough water. Nor enough electricity; it’s only supplied six to eight hours a day. The two visitors took pictures of the pool and had themselves photographed next to it, as though not wishing to miss any detail, as though to make every moment last and live it to the fullest.That was they way they acted in general, throughout the two days in which we traveled around the country together, from the lost village of their forebears in the south to Rosh Hanikra in the north. Two days of vacationing and of freedom after all the years of siege and after the horrific summer residents of the Strip endured last year. Two days of an emotional roller coaster, for them and for us, too.

They’re not likely to forget this outing anytime soon. They took in the landscapes of Israel, without displaying the least sign of hatred, without an iota of envy, without so much as a word of bitterness. A few times they said, “If only we could get out of Gaza once a year and come here.” The words left us speechless and shamed. A feeling of unease hung in the air during the excursion, in the restaurants, the markets and the mosques: Can’t things be like this all the time? Isn’t this the way they should be? A trip with friends from Gaza in our country, which is also their country, as an everyday occurrence.
Dweik endured the horrors of the Israel Defense Forces’ Operation Protective Edge last summer in his home in the town of Beit Lahia, which was on the front line. His home wasn’t hit, but fear and dread were pervasive, especially after a dud Qassam rocket landed near his house; everyone was afraid to remove it. All his beehives, which he had placed next to the border, so the bees would avail themselves of Israeli pollen – there are hardly any trees or flowers in Gaza – were destroyed.

Four Israeli soldiers arrested for suspected gang rape

(article in Haaretz)

Four Israel Defense Forces soldiers were arrested Tuesday on suspicion of gang-raping a female soldier serving with them on the Hatzerim Air Force Base.The female soldier filed a complaint with the Military Police at the urging of her commanders and family. According to the complaint, two weeks ago the four soldiers entered her room on the base and raped her, one after the other.

U.S.: It will be hard to support Israel in UN if it steps back from two-state solution

(article in Haaretz)

U.S. Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman on Monday warned Jewish leaders that if the new Israeli government does not demonstrate its commitment to the two-state solution, the U.S. will have a difficult time continuing to assist its efforts to halt international initiatives on the Palestinian issue at the United Nations.

The big risk of course is that the “special relationship” with Israel becomes just like the special relationships we have with every other beleaguered minority in the Middle-East. You know, the Kurds, Armenians, Azeris, Alawis, etc who have at various times been useful allies for the US, and then at other times found us MIA because we don’t have a strategic interest at that point in time.

This is a roundup of news related to Palestine with a particular focus on grassroots action and peaceful civil disobedience in the Occupied Territories and within the borders of Israel proper. The goal is to provide a bi-weekly update on the non-violent resistance movement.

Diplomatic negotiations and actions by armed resistance groups are covered quite widely by the mainstream press and in other diaries on DKos so they will rarely be included.

We use the name Filasṭīn, since this is the pronunciation used by Arabic speakers (irrespective of faith) for their homeland. The more familiar Palestine is the Hellenic or Roman variant. Filasṭīn refers to the geographic entity roughly encompassing Israel and Palestine. It is a likely cognate of “Philistine”, the name used in the Hebrew bible to describe a rival of the Jewish kingdom of that era.

Prior diaries:

April 26, 2015: Filastin: No Arabs Allowed; Christian cemetery vandalized; Annual March of Return
April 19, 2015: Filastin: Shooting kids in the back, segregating female soldiers, state-sanctioned theft
April 12, 2015: Filastin week: Yarmouk refugees, NYU divestment letter, Terrorizing Children
April 5, 2015: Filastin Week: Segregated Streets in Hebron, Palestinians observe Land Day
March 29, 2015: Filasṭin Week by Week: A March for the Bedouin, A License to Kill & To Teach the Nakba

547 children killed, 1,000+ permanently disabled: Gaza report

Palestinian child sits by a wall riddled with shrapnel

Defense for Children International is an non-governmental organisation focused on promoting and protecting the human rights of children on a global, regional, national and local level. They’ve been around since 1979.They do great work in a lot of difficult environments. Please consider supporting them if you have the wherewithal.

DCI’s Palestine unit has been gathering data on the treatment of Palestinian children for years. They issued a very detailed report earlier this week titled Operation Protective Edge: A war waged on Gaza’s Children.
DCI-P have been on the ground in Gaza since last summer collecting data and building a database of children killed and maimed. The complete report makes for heart-rending reading. I’ve excerpted numerous segments that I found compelling:

In total, Operation Protective Edge claimed the lives of 2,220 Palestinians, including at least 1,492 civilians.Five Israeli civilians, including one child, and 67 Israeli soldiers also lost their lives.

Evidence and testimonies collected by DCIP showed that there was no safe place for children in Gaza during the Israeli assault. Children were killed in their homes by Israeli missiles, while sheltering in schools by high-explosive Israeli artillery shells, and in the streets by Israeli drone-fired missiles and artillery shells as they attempted to escape the onslaught with their families.Those who survived these attacks will continue to pay the price for many years. More than 1,000 children suffered injuries that rendered them permanently disabled, according to OCHA. Amputees like Mohammad Baroud, 12, who lost both his feet in an explosion that killed 11 of his neighbors, will require lifelong medical care and support.

Israel, the world’s largest exporter of aerial drones, killed at least 164 children in drone attacks during its assault on Gaza. In a number of incidents, evidence suggests that Israeli forces directly targeted children. In one such case, Rawya Joudeh, 40, and four of her five children were killed by an Israeli drone-fired missile as they played together in the family’s yard in Tal al-Zatar, Jabalia refugee camp, North Gaza, on the afternoon of August 24. The children were aged between 6 and 14.Just under half of the children who died during the offensive lost their lives in aerial attacks on residential buildings. Missiles dropped by Israeli warplanes killed 225 children while they were in their own homes or seeking shelter, often as they sat down to eat with their families, played, or slept.

Gideon Levy wrote last summer about the seeming indifference his countrymen exhibited towards the hundreds of children being killed by their army only a few dozen miles away.

Though the scale of the violence in 2014 far exceeded previous Israeli military operations in the Gaza Strip, the experiences of Palestinian children during the conflict were not new. Since 2000, a generation of children living in the OPT have been shot at, shelled and bombed. During this time, Israeli forces and settlers have killed more than 1,950 Palestinian children, the vast majority of whom were living in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces fired more than 36,000 artillery shells into Gaza during Operation Protective Edge. A former Israeli infantryman, Idan Barir, likened the use of artillery shells to “Russian Roulette,” stating “it is impossible to aim the shells in an accurate manner.”The effects of high-explosive artillery shells cannot be limited as required by international law and when fired in close proximity to civilians or civilian structures constitute an indiscriminate attack.

Natasha Roth over at +972mag wrote about the report: In war, there is no safe place for Gaza’s children

There came a point early on during last summer’s Gaza war when it seemed we reached a nadir. Four children, all under the age of 12, were killed by an Israeli naval attack while playing soccer on a beach. The boys were directly struck by two shells, which also seriously wounded four other children.
One three-day period saw a child killed every hour. By the end of the war, an average of 11 children had been killed per day.

…the Israel Broadcast Authority and the Supreme Court banned a B’Tselem radio advert reading out the names of the children killed in the conflict.Nonetheless, a week after that day on which 59 children were killed, footage emerged of a crowd of right-wing Israelis chanting at a pro-war demonstration in Tel Aviv: “Tomorrow there’s no school in Gaza, they don’t have any children left.” Somehow, they knew exactly what the army was doing in Gaza. And even if there was a majority in Israel that remained silent between its own fear and apathy, it is difficult not to recall the words of IDF Lt.-Col. Dov Yermiya, who during the 1982 Lebanon War decried “[t]his arrogant, cruel nation that dances at the edge of destruction.”

Much more, including data on what kind of weapon killed each child is below the fold:

The report takes an in-depth look at the impact of the war on children and puts this in the context of events earlier in the year, prior bombings of Gaza and the military occupation of the West Bank. Interestingly, they tie the killing of two Palestinian children in the West Bank by IDF soldiers to the thread of events leading up to Protective Edge. From the report:

Events leading up to Operation Protective EdgeIn the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the situation for children was deteriorating prior to Operation Protective Edge. Child fatalities and injuries significantly increased in 2014, mostly because Israeli forces used live ammunition against children.

In May, Israeli forces fatally shot Nadeem Siam Nawara, 17, and Mohammad Mahmoud Odeh Salameh Abu Daher, 16, with live ammunition near Ofer military prison in the West Bank town of Beitunia. Nadeem sustained a fatal gunshot wound to the chest, and Mohammad was shot in the back a few hours later. The fatal shootings were captured on video and prompted widespread criticism of Israeli forces. Forensic video and spatial analysis commissioned by DCIP identified the Israeli border police officer that shot and killed Nadeem.

In June, Israeli authorities launched a military operation known as Operation Brother’s Keeper in the West Bank following the abduction of three Israeli settler teens – two were boys under age 18 – on June 12, 2014. The operation resulted in significantly increased numbers of Israeli forces throughout the West Bank,17 and effectively ended on July 2 after Israeli authorities discovered their bodies near Hebron on June 30.

Use of excessive force by Israeli forces during the operation amounted to collective punishment of the Palestinian civilian population. Israeli forces raided more than 2,200 homes and arrested over 600 people across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.18 The operation resulted in severe restrictions on freedom of movement and caused death and injury to Palestinians, including children. The increased presence of Israeli forces exacerbated an already tense environment, and sparked violent clashes between Palestinian residents and soldiers.

Israeli forces killed nine Palestinian civilians during the search operation. An Israeli soldier fatally shot Mohammad Dudeen, 15, with live ammunition on June 20, when Israeli forces raided his home village of Dura, near the West Bank city of Hebron. Another five children sustained injuries in the same week in the context of the Israeli military operation.

In an apparent revenge killing following the discovery of the three Israeli teens’ bodies on June 30, Israeli settlers abducted and murdered 16-year-old Mohammad Abu Khdeir in the early morning hours of July 2. According to Palestinian attorney general, Abdel-Ghani al-Awewy, the autopsy showed that Mohammad was burned alive.

Public opinion within Israel was particularly vengeful as it became clear the three teenage boys were unlikely to be found alive and after their bodies were discovered. As an example, a former Israeli lawmaker and member of the Knesset, Michael Ben-Ari, published a video on his Facebook page calling Palestinian children “little terrorists”, for the “transfer of pain to the cruel enemy”, to “make Ramadan into a month of darkness for them!” and “death to the enemy”. Ben-Ari is the same former MK who recently posted a clip of IDF soldiers ordering their dog to attack a 16 year-old who was seriously injured. In his comments, Ben-Ari used the term “little terrorist” again.Hamas and other groups in Gaza fired mortars and missiles while the IDF launched air and drone strikes in an escalating cycle. Moshe Feiglin, a senior Likud MK and deputy-Speaker of the Knesset, called for a “conquest of the entire Gaza Strip, and annihilation of all fighting forces and their supporters”.

David Sheen collected some particularly racist tweets from youngsters in a collection titled Terrifying Tweets of Pre-Army Israeli Teens as Protective Edge got underway.

Senior members of the Israeli government have direct experience with the human cost of careless, mistaken or disproportionate actions by their army. Naftali Bennett, who is currently Minister of the Economy, has been accused of operational mistakes or carelessness that led to the killing of over a 100 civilians by his IDF unit in 1996 in the Lebanese town of Qana. His unit shelled a UN compound sheltering over 800 civilians. 4 UN peacekeepers were seriously wounded in the attack. Last summer, IDF forces struck UN schools and compounds multiple times.

Back to the DCI-P report:

Incidents such as these are not unprecedented. Operation Protective Edge was the sixth Israeli military offensive on Gaza in the past eight years, and raised the number of children killed in assaults on Gaza to 1,097 since 2006. Between December 2008 and January 2009 Israeli forces killed at least 353 children, as well as a further 33 children in November 2012.Israeli armed forces have been regularly implicated in serious, systematic and institutionalized human rights violations against Palestinian children living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). Children affected by armed conflict are entitled to special respect and protections under international law, but Israel has consistently violated these protections through indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks that have resulted in large numbers of child fatalities and injuries.

While Israeli authorities have selectively opened their own investigations into several incidents occurring during the latest military offensive, previous experience has shown that Israeli authorities persistently fail to investigate alleged violations of its armed forces in accordance with international standards.The international community must demand an end to Israel’s illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip, investigate allegations of war crimes, and hold perpetrators accountable. Without an end to the current  regime of collective punishment, targeted assassinations, and regular military offensives, the situation for Gaza’s children is all but guaranteed to further deteriorate.

The Gaza Strip is only 26 miles long and seven miles wide, but is home to 1.8 million people. Gaza City, the largest city in the OPT, is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. For every square mile, there are 42,600 people, as opposed to 15,500 in Tel Aviv and 15,100 in London. Around half of those living in the Gaza Strip are children under 18 years old, and densely populated residential neighborhoods are home to large numbers of children.Israeli attacks on residential areas and civilian structures during Operation Protective Edge resulted in high numbers of child fatalities. This raised critical concerns that Israeli forces committed war crimes, specifically disproportionate use of force and targeting of civilians and civilian structures, including residential buildings, schools, hospitals, and other structures protected under international law.

The fatalities and injuries inflicted on children in Gaza in 2014 form part of a decade-long trend that has seen Israeli military force fall on those least able to bear it. DCIP’s evidence demonstrates that it is children who were disproportionately affected in recent Israeli military offensives, which have been characterized by force directed at government and civilian infrastructure, residential neighborhoods, and individual civilians.

Table 1: Total Number of Children Killed in Israeli Military Offensives in Gaza since 2006

Name of Israeli military offensive Date Children Killed
Operation Summer Rains June to September 2006 58
Operation Autumn Clouds November 2006 85
Operation Warm Winter February to March 2008 33
Operation Cast Lead December to January 2009 353
Operation Pillar of Defense November 2012 33
Operation Protective Edge July to August 2014 535
Total 1097

Despite clear obligations under international law to protect the Palestinian civilian population under its control, Israeli forces have for decades committed widespread systematic and gross violations of international humanitarian and human rights law against Palestinians, including children.In 2004, the International Court of Justice found that both international humanitarian law and international human rights law applied in the OPT, and that Israel was obligated to implement the rights and protections found therein. The Israeli government and its armed forces must abide, at all times, by international humanitarian law as well as other human rights instruments that it has obliged itself to implement.

DCIP’s investigation into the killing and maiming of Palestinian children during Operation Protective Edge found overwhelming evidence of indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks carried out by Israeli forces, which amount to war crimes.Under international humanitarian law, civilians, including children, must never be targeted, and civilian structures and infrastructure are presumed not to be lawful targets. Despite this, Israeli forces launched numerous unlawful attacks against civilians, civilian homes, and schools where there was no lawful military object reported in the area at the time of attack.

Israeli forces killed 535 children in attacks during the assault on Gaza. Another 3,374 children sustained injuries in attacks during Operation Protective Edge, including over 1,000 children whose wounds rendered them permanently disabled.

Nearly 68 percent of children killed by Israeli forces were 12 years old or younger.

Table 2: Distribution of Child Fatalities during Operation Protective Edge according to Type of Attack

Type of Attack Children Killed
Warplane airstrike 225
Droned-fired missile 164
Artillery or tank shelling 81
Multiple types of munitions 35
Apache helicopter-fired missile or rocket 13
Surface-to-surface missile 7
Accidents caused by indirect attacks 5
Navy gunboat-fired missile/shell 4
Live ammunition 1
Total 535

During the military offensive, Israeli officials attempted to justify attacks on civilian homes by stating that the intended target was an individual affiliated with Hamas or another Palestinian armed group present in the home at the time of the attack.Under International law, the mere alleged presence of a member of a Palestinian armed group is an insufficient justification for an attack on a family home. A civilian home that is in some way deemed by Israeli forces to be “affiliated” with Hamas or another Palestinian armed group does not provide in itself legal justification under international humanitarian law to direct an attack against that object.

To justify the onslaught on the Palestinian civilian population of the Gaza Strip, Israeli officials asserted that Hamas and Palestinian armed groups used civilians as human shields. International law prohibits the use of civilians as human shields, which involves forcing civilians to directly assist in military operations or using them to shield a military object or troops from attack.The rhetoric voiced by Israeli officials regarding “human shields” during the military offensive amounted to nothing more than generalizations that fall short of the precise calculation required by international humanitarian law when determining whether something is actually a military object. Even if evidence existed that Hamas or other Palestinian armed groups did use civilians as human shields, this does not relieve Israel from its obligations under international law nor does it justify an attack on civilians or civilian structures.

During Operation Protective Edge, Israeli forces dropped leaflets over certain areas warning of attacks, placed calls to individual mobile phones, and carried out “knock on roof” warnings with drone-fired missiles. The use of “knock on roof” warnings as an advance warning on civilian buildings or structures constitutes an unlawful attack. Civilian structures can only be lawful targets when used for military purposes. Advance warnings do not make an unlawful attack lawful, and armed forces and armed groups must ensure any attack conforms to the principles of distinction and proportionality even after an advance warning.

Evidence collected by DCIP finds that, during the offensive, Israeli forces carried out both indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks amounting to war crimes under international law.

Israel Supreme Court: Boycott/Divest is “Political Terrorism”. Publishers can be sued for speech.

In 2011, the Knesset passed a law banning calls for boycotts of Israel. The law read in part:

In this bill, “a boycott against the State of Israel” is defined as: deliberately avoiding economic, cultural or academic ties with another person or body solely because of their affinity with the State of Israel, one of its institutions or an area under its control, in such a way that may cause economic, cultural or academic damage.

During the debate:

MK Nitzan Horowitz from Meretz blasted the law, calling it outrageous and shameful. “We are dealing with a legislation that is an embarrassment to Israeli democracy and makes people around the world wonder if there is actually a democracy here,” he said. Ilan Gilon, another Meretz MK, said the law would further delegitimize Israel.

Before the vote, the Knesset’s legal adviser, attorney Eyal Yanon, published a legal assessment saying parts of the law edge towards “illegality and perhaps beyond.” He went on to warn that the law “damages the core of freedom of expression in Israel.” Yanon’s assessment contradicts that of Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, who said the bill is legal.

Human rights groups filed lawsuits against the law almost immediately and in December 2012, Israel’s High Courty granted a stay. Earlier today, it issued it’s final ruling striking down some portions of the law unanimously and letting others stand in 8-1 and 5-4 split decisions. This is a very significant ruling with long-range impact on free-speech in Israel. I’m going to do a round-up of coverage from a variety of news sources.+972mag: High Court upholds controversial ‘boycott law’

The High Court rejected a petition by human rights organizations, upholding the controversial “boycott law” on Wednesday. The law give grounds for individuals to sue anyone who calls for a boycott of Israel, or areas under its control.The court struck down only one section of the law, which establishes that one may seek punitive damages for a deliberate call to boycott without needing to prove actual damages. It appears that one will now need to show actual damages in order to win a lawsuit.

Justice Hanan Meltzer, who wrote the majority opinion, ruled that a call to boycott is not consistent with the true purpose of freedom of expression, and therefore is not protected speech. He went on to describe boycott calls as “political terrorism,” adding that the state has a right to defend itself from them.
Nearly four years ago, the Israeli Knesset passed the Law to Prevent Harm to the State of Israel by Means of Boycott, which rights groups challenged in court almost immediately. (Read a translation of the law itself here.)

The law was a direct response to the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. It enables anyone who feels they were (or might be) harmed by a boycott, “solely because of their affinity with the State of Israel, one of its institutions or an area under its control (read: settlements in occupied territory, MSO), in such a way that may cause economic, cultural or academic damage,” to sue for both punitive and compensatory damages.

The Jewish Press (a US-based weekly with an orthodox readership) has a story: Supreme Court Judge Calls Anti-Israeli Boycotts ‘Political Terrorism’

NGOs opposing the bill were quoted by the website as having commented on the court’s unanimous ruling, “The boycott law is a law to silence legitimate criticism. The High Court ruling is a serious blow to freedom of expression and basic rights for political participation on a disputed topic.”“Freedom of expression” is very a popular concept among those who exploit it to demonize Israel and try to turn it into an Arab country.

Haaretz also has coverage: High Court largely upholds controversial ‘Anti-Boycott Law’

“Boycotts and encouraging divestment are recognized throughout the world as legitimate, nonviolent tools,” said the Women’s Coalition for Peace, which is one of the petitioners and had previously promoted boycotts and divestment. “In its decision today, the High Court is approving the silencing and restriction of legitimate protest aimed at criticizing and working to change Israeli policy.”

Melcer, Grunis and his successor, current Supreme Court President Miriam Naor, voted to uphold the Anti-Boycott Law, along with fellow justices Elyakim Rubinstein and Issac Amit. Justices Salim Joubran, Yoram Danziger, Uzi Vogelman and Neal Hendel made up the minority.In his minority opinion, Danziger wrote that the law undermines free expression to an unreasonable extent.

“I believe that the call for a boycott is consistent with the purposes of free expression,” he wrote. “A boycott expresses disgust with the boycotted behavior. It displays a lack of desire to support and finance behaviors that the boycotter feels are unworthy… and in the Israeli political reality, calls for boycotts of the State of Israel are heard from only one side of the political map. … The law thus creates discrimination based on one’s position.”

Yedioth Ahronoth: Court tempers Boycott Law, rules out unlimited compensationIsrael Hayom (owned by Adelson): High Court: State may punish anti-Israel boycotters

Some four years after state passes anti-boycott law, justices rule that protecting the well-being of the state trumps the right to boycott and does not infringe on free speech.  Law makes the call for the boycott of Israel a civil offense.
During the court hearings, the state said the bill would help safeguard Israel’s stature on the world stage and protect its foreign relations.

The Jerusalem Post has a great in-depth article (more excerpts below fold): High Court upholds part of Anti-Boycott Law, strikes part and splits on ‘1967 Israel’

The Association of Civil Rights in Israel also slammed the ruling, while Gush Shalom’s lawyer Gabi Lasky said, “It cannot be that it is permitted to boycott cottage cheese within the Green Line because of its price, but according to the High Court it is prohibited to call for boycotting cottage cheese… in the settlements for political ideals.”

On the other side, Construction Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) said the verdict is “a clear proof that attempts to harm the State of Israel via boycotts are unacceptable. Israel has a right to defend itself not only from harm to its security, but also from economic harm.”

MK Danny Danon (Likud) said following the verdict that “the extreme Left is trying unsuccessfully to instill its post-Zionist values.

“Yesterday the High Court decided that terrorists can’t study in prison, and today it rejected the petition against the Boycott Law. Not only did the public speak out clearly against the Left’s petitions, the High Court Justices did, too,” he said.

At one point, new Justice Yitzhak Amit noted that “some say that BDS is anti-Semitism.”

And finally from Haaretz again:

Gaby Lasky, a lawyer who represented petitioner Gush Shalom in the case, also said the court was silencing the left.“This is a regrettable decision with far-reaching ramifications; the High Court justices are changing Israeli constitutional law as we have known it to date and put the interests of perpetuating the settlement enterprise over all the state’s citizens’ basic right to freedom of expression,” said Lasky.

More from The Jerusalem Post’s great in-depth article: High Court upholds part of Anti-Boycott Law, strikes part and splits on ‘1967 Israel’

The rulings that preserved core parts of the law came in a 9-0 vote on the authority of the finance minister to impose fines or withhold funding from Israeli NGOs calling for boycotts of businesses in all or parts of Israel, and a 8-1 ruling on the ability to file lawsuits against those NGOs.

One justice declared all lawsuits against boycotts unconstitutional.American-born Justice Neal Hendel called free speech the “lifeblood” of democracy and reviewed American law, noting that it has no provision for lawsuits against boycotters.

At the same time, the court voted 9-0 to strike down as unconstitutional a core part of the law that would have allowed punitive damages in such lawsuits.

Finally, in a 5-4 vote, the majority of justices said that the above lawsuits could go forward even if they were against groups that called only for boycotts of post-1967 Israel, meaning of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, whereas the minority said that such boycotts should be protected free speech.

Explaining the court’s decision to uphold two of the law’s three main parts, Justice Hanan Melcer wrote that the finance minister should be able to remove tax breaks, on the principle that the state need not feed those who try to undermine it.Likewise, with the lawsuits, Melcer said that boycotting was not regular free speech, and was playing a level of political hardball that, if it caused damage to others who were specifically targeted, should expose those practicing it to retaliation and allow those harmed compensation.

Melcer clarified that those lawsuits which were allowed would face a very high standard of proof in terms of showing direct causation between a specific boycott and economic losses, and that general proof or the mere announcement of a boycott would not suffice.

During Wednesday’s session, the justices hammered the state repeatedly to speak to whether it believed the law violated fundamental free speech rights, with the state relenting and admitting that it did after around 10 minutes of trying to evade the question.The justices zoned in on pressing the NGOs to defend their attack on the law penalizing boycotts of “1948 Israel,” claiming that otherwise the NGOs were treating free speech as an “absolute right” – a position the court implied was indefensible.

And from Haaretz: High Court largely upholds controversial ‘Anti-Boycott Law’

The High Court of Justice on Wednesday upheld the so-called Anti-Boycott Law, which allows for damage suits to be filed against any person or entity that calls for an economic, cultural or academic boycott of Israel or “areas under its control,” a reference to the West Bank settlements.By a vote of 5-4, the court rejected petitions arguing that the law, which is aimed at facilitating civil suits against anyone calling for a boycott of products produced in the settlements or for an end to economic ties with Israel, unreasonably limits freedom of political expression by establishing a tort liability for encouraging a boycott.

But the court did unanimously strike down a section of the law that permits courts to impose unlimited compensation payments on those calling for a boycott even if no damages are proven. This section was liable to have “a chilling effect on political expression and lively social debate,” the court ruled.