quinta-feira, 30 de maio de 2019

Netanyahu Calls New Election: Deja Vu All Over Again

Bibi Netanyahu’s failure to cobble together a governing coalition despite 6 weeks of trying after the last election, is embarrassing.  The only thing more embarrassing is his end-run around Israeli law by passing, at the eleventh hour, a bill dissolving Knesset.  That denied President Rivlin, one of his arch nemeses, the opportunity to offer either another Likud MK or Blue and White Opposition leader, Benny Gantz, the right to form the next government.  It appears that more MKs (70) could agree on voting for their own demise than for legislation that would actually benefit the country.

Chemi Shalev, writing in Haaretz, likens all this to a zombie apocalypse:

Wednesday, just before midnight, was the Israeli Knesset’s witching hour. Possessed by a dybbuk bearing an uncanny resemblance to Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli parliament went bats, bonkers, berserk…and what have you. A whopping majority of over 70 MK’s voluntarily terminated themselves, less than two months after getting elected, in order to accommodate Netanyahu and his quest to avoid the long arm of the law.

…They could have easily safeguarded their Knesset seats, retained their hold on power and saved their own souls simply by picking another Likudnik to lead them. Instead they walked to their Knesset seats like zombies and voted to terminate themselves.

Though news reports call these development “unprecedented,” that doesn’t begin to describe just how bizarre these proceedings are. After serving for only a month, the new Knesset voted to dissolve itself.  Before this new record in infamy was set, to find the shortest previous Knesset term you’d have to go back 60 years to 1961, when, faced with the Lavon Affair, Ben Gurion resigned and disbanded the fourth Knesset, turning to new elections.

It may be pertinent to recall that in the elections to form the fifth Knesset, Ben Gurion returned as prime minister, only to resign in a fit of pique when his Party allies failed to offer him support.  That, in effect was the end of his career.  There may be a lesson there for the current holder of his position.

It’s certainly understandable that facing a scandal of the magnitude of the Lavon Affair, it was necessary to call new elections 60 years ago.  But now?  What can this Knesset and Israeli politics, in general, say for itself?  That it failed because its leader sought a Get-Out-of Jail-Free card in the form of a new law guaranteeing him retroactive immunity from prosecution?  And because its leader sought a law that would enfeeble the Supreme Court, which already had been drained of any independence after years of whittling away its former reputation for protecting human rights?

Netanyahu, who has always been fond of overreaching and often succeeded at it, couldn’t quite pull this one off.  Though he retained the loyalty of his Likud minions and the ultra-Orthodox, who saw him as their patronage gravy train, he couldn’t quite get over the hump and persuade Avigdor Lieberman to join him.  It’s not clear whether Lieberman balked out of principle (he claimed he wanted passage of a military draft bill that would end exemptions for ultra-Orthodox students) or out of pique (the two are long bitter rivals who nevertheless have managed to co-exist in various governments over the years).

Under these circumstances, you’d think the electorate would be disgusted and turn to the Opposition for something fresh and new.  That’s what would happen in almost every other democracy in the world.  But Israel isn’t a democracy and doesn’t obey such norms.  Political life there consists of two parties, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum.  Both claim to be different.  But they aren’t.  There is some differences in nuance.  One speaks nicely but snarls under its breath. The other speaks crudely and snarls with venom.  So the public rightly asks–what’s the difference?  At least we know Netanyahu.  He’s a crook, but he’s our crook.

The cynicism of not only Israeli politics, but Israeli life in general, is all-pervasive.  That’s why the latest polls show that, if anything, Likud may pick up a seat in the next election, set for September 17th.  They would do so at the hands of the Opposition and thus seal the success of forming a new far-right ruling regime.  Which would mean, by the end of its next term, Israel will have been governed by the far-right for the past 45 years (except for a few years when Ehud Barak was PM).  Not that it would matter much if the Opposition was given a crack at governing.

100,000 Protest in Tel Aviv against Immunity Bills for Netanyahu

100,000 Protest in Tel Aviv against Immunity Bills for Netanyahu

May 27, 2019, The Israeli Communist Party http://www. maki.org.il המפלגה הקומוניסטית הישראלית  الحزب الشيوعي الاسرائيلي (Israel)


A hundred thousand Israelis protested on Saturday night, May 25, proposed legislation that would grant Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immunity from prosecution on a series of corruption charges. The protesters outside the Tel Aviv Museum of Art on called for protecting Israel’s democratic sphere against far-right government overreach.

The demonstrators rallied against legislation being pushed by Netanyahu’s incoming coalition to shield him from criminal prosecution as well as restricting the power of the Supreme Court.

Speakers at the protest included Kahol Lavan chairman MK Benny Gantz, Kahol Lavan co-chairman MK Yair Lapid, Kahol Lavan MK Moshe Ya’alon, Hadash Chairman Ayman Odeh, Labor chairman MK Avi Gabbay, Meretz’s chairwomen MK Tamar Zandberg, Kahol Lavan’s MK Ofer Shelah, retired Arab-Druze general Amal Assad and attorney Sagit Peretz Deri.

MK Odeh told the gathered masses that efforts to safeguard Israeli democracy amid brewing initiatives by the incoming coalition to grant Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immunity from prosecution would only be possible when Jewish and Arab citizens work and struggle together. Addressing the crowd, Odeh said, “I am here today because I believe that Jewish-Arab partnership is the only way to achieve hope and change.” “Arab citizens alone cannot enact change, but without us it is impossible,” the Hadash MK continued. “I am here today because I believe that without equality there is no democracy.”

Odeh was a last-minute addition to the Saturday evening lineup of speakers after a phone call hours earlier with Gantz, whose party was the primary organizer of the rally.
On Friday, Haaretz reported that after Odeh accepted a formal invitation to address demonstrators last week, he was told that “the list of speakers was already closed and there was no room for additional ones.”

The organizers of the protest, which bills itself as a pro-democracy rally, included all Jewish opposition parties – Kahol Lavan, Labor and Meretz – but not Hadash and the Arab parties. The rally was the first time since the April 9 election that Israel’s opposition parties joined forces.

After significant criticism that no Arab was included in the rally, Gantz called Odeh several hours before it was to begin and asked him to address the demonstrators. “The struggle against Netanyahu’s attempts to destroy the democratic space is a joint struggle that all democratic forces share,” Odeh wrote in a post on his official Twitter handle.
 “We won’t have an alternative for a corrupt and destructive regime without broad cooperation by all citizens, Jews and Arabs. Only thus will we be able to replace the regime, only thus will we be able to pose an alternative to his destructive policy.”

Meretz chairwoman Zandberg tweeted that “there is no democracy without equality and the struggle for democracy cannot be for Jews only.” She added “all opposition members will be on stage tonight.” Labor’s MK Shelly Yacimovich tweeted that “a protest without Arabs is surrender to racism and to the incitement from the right.”


Related posts

Afula’s Racist Oath to Preserve Its Jewish Character is Illegal, says AG

Bill to Dissolve Stillborn 21st Knesset Passes First of 3 Readings

Arab Community in Israel Stages 14 Protests against Police Neglect

For Israelis the Nakba is a footnote. For Palestinians it's the heart of the conflict

Published May 26, 2019, +972 Magazine http://972mag.com (Israel) https://972mag.com/israels-nakba-palestinians-conflict/141627/

By Sam Freed*

Israelis tend to view the expulsions of the 1948 war as a small, local affair that was quite restrained compared to the Nazi genocide. For Palestinians, it is an ongoing dispossession.

(Palestinian refugee children seen in a makeshift school in Nablus, West Bank, 1948. (Hanini/CC BY-SA 3.0)

To large portions of the Jewish Israeli public, the Nakba was small event — an historical side note. To most Palestinians, on the other hand, it is a huge, exceptionally brutal, and vastly important part of their history. In order to understand why there is such a vast disparity in the way the Nakba is perceived by Israelis and Palestinians, despite very little contention as to the objective size of the event — 700,000 people were deported and dispossessed, which today we would call ethnic cleansing — one must look back several hundred years.

Nothing motivates wars like ideas on paper. The printing press was invented in the mid 1400s in Germany. Rebellions against the Catholic Church were not infrequent during that period, but after the printing press was available such rebellions spread much faster. The most prominent of those was the Protestant Reformation, which led to centuries of internal religious and ideological wars in Europe, ending only in 1945. The number of victims is estimated at around 100 million.

Meanwhile in the Ottoman Empire the situation was quite different. Most of its military efforts were in the Balkans, directed towards Catholic Austria. In 1485, Sultan Bayzid II banned the printing press because the Arabic letters of the Qu’ran were considered too sacred to be used mechanically. The result was 500 years of relative peace in the Muslim world – quite a contrast to the constant bloodletting of religious wars in Europe.

The Ottomans controlled the Middle East by granting the local population maximal self-government. This included having a mukhtar (chief) run each village according to its own traditions. The result was that the Ottomans were able to control the entire area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River with only a few hundred soldiers. While in Europe tens of millions were being killed in Christian-on-Christian violence, the first wars amongst Muslims involving over one million deaths happened quite recently: the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1970 and the Iran-Iraq War in 1979.

The Zionist leadership that created Israel was virtually entirely of European origin. In the first half of the 20th century, the numbers of deportees and the dispossessed in Europe was high: in 1923 there were massive “population exchanges” between Greece and Turkey, in 1947 the British arranged for the partition of India, and after the Second World War eastern and central-European states expelled eight million ethnic and cultural Germans who lived in those countries for centuries. As a culturally European society, it is unsurprising that the Israelis did not see the expulsion of 700,000 people as exceptional or even uncivilized.

On the other hand, prior to the Nakba — the worst disaster in the collective memory of Palestinians — was the punitive exile of 10,000 men to Egypt in 1834. This was occasioned by the Palestinians refusing to join the Egyptian Army during the Egyptian revolt against the Ottomans. In contrast to the the European vantage point, the expulsion and dispossession of 700,000 people, including women, the elderly, and children, was seen as an act of barbarism of unprecedented magnitude. The disaster of 1948 was 70-times larger than the largest calamity in local popular memory at the time.

Additionally, Israelis and Palestinians view the Nakba differently when it comes to the dimension of time. As far as Israel is concerned the expulsions were over by the end of the war and cemented with the refusal to return refugees after the war. For the Palestinians, the Nakba is ongoing. The presence of the refugee camps is an ongoing tragedy, as is every time a Palestinian is dispossessed of land or a settlement for Jews only is set up on previously Palestinian land.

Palestinian citizens of Israel take part in the Return March, held at the destroyed village of Khubbeiza, to mark Nakba Day, May 9, 2019. (Mati Milstein)

This ongoing Nakba peaked in during the war of 1967 but has continued in waves since 1948 through the expropriation of land in the Galilee and in the Negev, the ongoing tragedy of the “unrecognized villages,” and the ongoing construction of Jewish-only settlements in both the West Bank and Israel proper. For Palestinians, all these processes are the same Nakba: an ongoing dispossession and exile of Palestinians from their ancestral land.

For many Israelis, the Nakba was a small, local affair that was quite restrained in comparison to the mass murder of the Nazis in Europe. No matter what you call it, the Nakba is a founding event of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Seeking a mutual understanding of how the two sides see it so differently is a prerequisite for any rapprochement between the two nations.

*Dr. Sam Freed is a researcher at the University of Sussex, and teaches at the Hebrew University. He is also an occasional human rights activist. This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.


A lot of work goes into creating articles like the one you just read. And while we don’t do this for the money, even our model of non-profit, independent journalism has bills to pay.
+972 Magazine is owned by our bloggers and journalists, who are driven by passion and dedication to the causes we cover. But we still need to pay for editing, photography, translation, web design and servers, legal services, and more.
As an independent journalism outlet we aren’t beholden to any outside interests. In order to safeguard that independence voice, we are proud to count you, our readers, as our most important supporters. If each of our readers becomes a supporter of our work, +972 Magazine will remain a strong, independent, and sustainable force helping drive the discourse on Israel/Palestine in the right direction.
Support independent journalism in Israel/Palestine Donate to +972 Magazine today


By Henriette Chacar | May 15, 2019

By Hind Khoudary | May 15, 2019
By Nooran Alhamdan | May 13, 2019
By Asaf Calderon | March 13, 2019

quarta-feira, 29 de maio de 2019

Thanks Iceland, Madonna for Disrupting Eurovision's Big Deception

22.05.2019 11:21 Updated: 11:22 AM, Haaretz https://www.haaretz.com (Israel)

Parte superior do formulário
Parte inferior do formulário
Parte superior do formulário
Parte inferior do formulário

Some 360,000 people live in Iceland, whereas Germany’s population is over 80 million, 225-fold larger than Iceland’s. But in a test of morality, Iceland is a thousand-fold more decent than Germany, with its generations-long murderous history, particularly directed at Jews.

At this point in time, instead of playing a key role in bringing peace and justice to the Middle East, Germany is placing all its stocks in the Israeli occupation and the continued oppression of the Palestinian people. During the merry days of the Eurovision song contest, the Bundestag (the name still evokes chills among many, particularly in this country) saw fit to pass a resolution that defines the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement as racist and anti-Semitic, no doubt to the dismay of MK Bezalel Smotrich, that shining knight of human rights.

Indeed, there are some anti-Semites in the BDS movement, but there are many people, including Jews, who see a boycott as a legitimate means of combating the wrongs inflicted by Israel on the Palestinians. Many boycott supporters see such action as a warning bell, a means of informing Israelis that occupation leads to a dictatorship, a regime in which normative government procedures are alien, as evident in the immunity law now taking shape.

Now, the hypocrites at the European Broadcasting Union are saying that the Eurovision competition is a “non-political event.” This statement came in response to the performance of two dancers who appeared while Madonna was singing – on their backs were painted the flags of Israel and Palestine. The Icelanders who waved Palestinian flags face penalties – the Union is talking about fines or a suspension from Eurovision. Occupying Israel, in; human-rights supporter Iceland, out. The anti-Semitic and racist Europe is marching backwards.

Nevertheless, we might ask, what’s political about a Palestinian flag? A flag is the flag of a people. Why are the Europeans so quick to embrace the narrative of the Israeli right wing with regard to the flag? This flag has fluttered repeatedly during bilateral meetings between Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

What was the crime committed by the dancers appearing during Madonna’s song, other than telling the world to note the “present absentee” missing in this gigantic celebration, sensed by everyone despite all the attempts to make him invisible? The overlords here are trying to convince the whole world that Palestine doesn’t exist, but a piece of cloth, in four colors, triggers an earthquake. Yes, that’s the power of Palestine, it makes the oppressors lose sleep.

Therefore, thanks are due to the two defiant dancers who, in the course of dancing and entertaining 200 million viewers, reminded everyone that the wrongdoing is occurring right in the backyard of the stage presented in all its glory to the world. Yes, there are more than two million Palestinians locked in hermetically in Gaza, a short distance from Tel Aviv. A remind to viewers that due to the glittering event, a further three million people were confined to the West Bank. Really, what’s so wrong with this innocent transmission of information, displayed on the backs of excellent dancers?

Icelanders deserve a thank you that’s 225-fold larger than the population of that beautiful country. They too decided to disrupt the big deception presented to the world. The guys from Iceland told 200 million viewers that while Israel was preparing to host visitors with a shining smile, it prevented the parents of a five-year-old girl from Gaza, called Aisha al-Lulu, from accompanying her to a hospital in East Jerusalem, where she underwent some very complicated surgery. Instead, she was accompanied by a woman she didn’t know to an event that was of apocalyptic proportions for her. Aisha was hospitalized alone in the al-Makassed Hospital, undergoing a complicated operation to remove a brain tumor, without her parents beside her. From there, she was moved to the Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem for a follow-up. She emerged from there all alone, with a sad smile on her face, on her lonely trip back to Gaza, and from there, on to her final journey.

Odeh Bisharat