person:benny gantz

  • Apartheid under the cover of a Jewish state -

    | Haaretz.com
    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-apartheid-under-the-cover-of-a-jewish-state-1.7402080

    The smell of shampoo wafted through the bathroom. Steam covered the mirror and blurred the image of the person standing in front of it. The guy who had just gotten out of the shower hadn’t even dried himself off before reaching for his phone. Before getting into the shower he had angrily debated right-winger Bezalel Smotrich about whether Israel should draft ultra-Orthodox Jews into the army.

    “Bezalel, damn it, look at the facts,” he had tweeted before getting into the shower. It’s no coincidence they wrote in the newspaper that Yair Lapid, the No. 2 in Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan, is the only person in the party with a killer instinct.

    >> Read more: The next big bang of Israeli politics | Analysis ■ Democracy for every Israeli and Palestinian. It’s not hard | Opinion

    The shower didn’t take his mind off the argument. “And another thing, Smotrich. Israel has to be a state of all its citizens.”

    Boom. Smotrich quickly replied: “Thank you, Yair, for finally putting it out there.” And Abba Eban’s protégé, new Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz, hastened to join in: “A seriously outrageous anti-Semitic remark … the slogan of the enemy.” Help.

    Now the candidate for prime minister had to dry himself off and do some damage control. “Somebody really misunderstood what he was reading,” Lapid tweeted. “I’ve been totally against a state of all its citizens all my life. Israel is a Jewish and democratic state, and that’s how it will remain. What I wrote referred to LGBT rights.”

    What he followed up with was characteristic Lapid: “The following are two facts about a state of all its citizens: 1. I’m against it. 2. I’m not going to tweet from the shower anymore before drying off.” So now the reader understands the message correctly: Israel has to be, yet doesn’t have to be, a state of all its citizens.

    Drying off or not, this is something that actually took place on Twitter the other day, and it might have been funny. But it’s not. Once the steam lifted the picture was clear: racism in all its ugliness. Lapid meant Jewish members of the LGBT community, to whom the state also belongs. But it’s not a state of all its citizens. That’s what happens when you live a lie: You get confused in the shower.

    If Israel is a democracy, it’s a state of all its citizens. There is no democracy that isn’t a state of all its citizens. From America to Germany, all are states of all their citizens. If they weren’t, to whom would they belong? Only to their privileged citizens. There’s no such thing as a democracy that belongs only to the privileged of one nationality.

    The state belongs to everyone. A regime that segregates and discriminates is called apartheid. There is no other name. The fact that Azmi Bishara, who fled Israel amid suspicions he supplied information to Hezbollah, was the first to draw attention to this obvious truth doesn’t detract from it one iota. A state of all its citizens isn’t “the slogan of the enemy,” as the new foreign minister put it. It’s the heart and soul of democracy.

    But the center-left feels exactly the same as the right and doesn’t recognize this simple truth. From their standpoint Israel is a democracy for its Jews and a guesthouse for its Arabs. Let’s thank Lapid’s towel for returning things to their proper place. One moment he was in favor of a state of all its citizens and the next he was against. He has been against it all his life, like almost all Israeli democrats.

    How can a democrat be against a state of all its citizens? Only in Israel. In no other democracy is there room for such a question. The state belongs to everyone. Equally.

    The right’s annexation plan will soon raise questions about the citizenship of millions of Palestinians. But in present-day Israel, right, left and center are talking apartheid – under the cover of the slogan a Jewish state. That’s the real slogan of the enemy, the enemy of democracy. This combination doesn’t work. It’s an oxymoron. Either Israel is a state of all its citizens and it’s a democracy, or it’s a Jewish state and it’s apartheid.

    It’s good that the steam from Lapid’s shower lifted quickly and he could return to the truth he shares with Smotrich. Zionism’s eternal truth. It’s an undemocratic truth. Smotrich at least admits to it, Lapid tries to hide behind a towel.

  • Cent des cent vingt députés élus mardi en Israël seront les partisans de l’apartheid. Une tribune de Gideon Levy

    Israel is voting apartheid - Opinion - Israel News | Haaretz.com
    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-israel-is-voting-apartheid-1.7089338

    There will be one certain result from Tuesday’s election: Around 100 members of the next Knesset will be supporters of apartheid. This has no precedent in any democracy. A hundred out of 120 legislators, an absolute of absolute majorities, one that supports maintaining the current situation, which is apartheid.

    With such a majority, it will be possible in the next Knesset to officially declare Israel an apartheid state. With such support for apartheid and considering the durability of the occupation, no propaganda will be able to refute the simple truth: Nearly all Israelis want the apartheid to continue. In the height of chutzpah, they call this democracy, even though more than 4 million people who live alongside them and under their control have no right to vote in the election.

    Of course, no one is talking about this, but in no other regime around the world is there one community next to another where the residents of one, referred to as a West Bank settlement, have the right to vote, while the residents of the other, a Palestinian village, don’t. This is apartheid in all its splendor, whose existence nearly all the country’s Jewish citizens want to continue.

    >> Even for the wild West Bank, this is a shocking story

    A hundred Knesset members will be elected from slates referred to as either right-wing, left-wing or centrist, but what they have in common surpasses any difference: None intend to end the occupation. The right wing proudly says so, while the center-left resorts to futile illusions to obscure the picture, listing proposals for a “regional conference” or “secure separation.” The difference between the two groupings is negligible. In unison, the right and left are singing “say yes to apartheid.”

    As a result, this election is so unimportant, so far from crucial. So let’s cut the hysteria and the pathos over the outcome. Neither civil war nor even a rift is in the offing. The people are more united than ever, casting their vote for apartheid. Whatever Tuesday’s results may be, the country of the occupier will remain the country of the occupier. Nothing defines it better than all the other marginal issues, including the Zehut party’s campaign to legalize marijuana.

    So there’s no reason to hold our breath over Tuesday’s results. The election is lost in advance. For the country’s Jews, it will shape the tone, the level of democracy, the rule of law, the corruption in which they live, but it won’t do a thing to change Israel’s basic essence as a colonialist country.
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    The far right wants the annexation of the West Bank, a step that would make permanent in law a situation that has long been permanent in practice. Such a step would present a tempting advantage. It would finally rip off Israel’s mask of democracy and might finally generate opposition both in the country and abroad.

    But no person of conscience can vote for the fascist right wing, which includes people who advocate the expulsion of the Palestinians or the construction of a Third Temple on the Temple Mount, the destruction of the mosques there, or who even dream about extermination. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s allegedly more moderate Likud party wishes only to maintain the current situation, meaning undeclared apartheid.

    The center-left seeks to engage in deception, with not a word about an end to the occupation from either Kahol Lavan or Labor, or even about lifting the blockade on the Gaza Strip. Benny Gantz’s party has ambitious plans for a regional conference, making history, and “deepening the process of separation from the Palestinians along with uncompromisingly maintaining … the Israeli army’s freedom of action everywhere.”

    It has been a long time since such a document whitewashing the occupation has been written in all its disgrace. And the Labor Party isn’t lagging behind. The most daring step it’s proposing is a referendum on the refugee camps around Jerusalem in which only Israel’s would vote, of course.

    And that comes on top of well-worn declarations about settlement blocs, Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley and a halt to settlement construction outside the blocs, meaning continuing settlement construction with full force. “Paths toward separation,” this party, the self-righteous founder of the settlement enterprise, calls it. Paths toward deception.

    Peace? Withdrawal? Dismantling settlements? Don’t make the Zionist left laugh. Not much is left, two and a half tickets, the fringe: Meretz and Hadash-Ta’al, which support a two-state solution — that faltering train that has already left the station — and Balad-United Arab List, which is closest to advocating a one-state solution, the only solution left.

    Vote apartheid.

  • Israel’s leftist media pushing for war with Gaza -

    This is journalism that betrays its mission, fully and voluntarily co-opted over the most important issue of all
    Gideon Levy
    Mar 27, 2019

    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-israel-s-leftist-media-pushing-for-war-with-gaza-1.7063744

    If there’s another war with Gaza, God forbid, it will be largely due to the incitement of the leftist media. If war is avoided, it will be largely thanks to the restraint of that media’s bête noire, the rightist Benjamin Netanyahu. Left and right, baying for blood in near-unison, clamoring for action. This periodic psychosis, journalism that pushes for war while still being considered leftist, has become the norm. This is our warrior journalism, fighting for war.

    It works like this: First, for years they systematically and deliberately ignore the motives and justifications for Palestinian violence. They conceal the oppression and the occupation. It’s all terror, they’re all terrorists. Then they inflate the scope of the damage. Finally, they demand unimaginable vengeance. A primitive rocket that destroys a home in a farm community takes on the dimensions of an apocalypse. A few people were injured: near-genocide.

    >> A war now will strengthen Hamas | Opinion ■ Choose calm, not punishment | Editorial

    The headline, “A miracle: Tony the dog took some shrapnel and saved Grandma Susan,” is a parody of journalism. There were a flood of stories about Grandpa, Grandma, the children and the shrapnel. It’s emotional and familiar and it incites, and to hell with proportionality and professionalism.
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    Tens of thousands of Gazans who never had a swing in their yard as in Mishmeret are still homeless from the last war, but no one hears about them. In Mishmeret they are promising that the house will be rebuilt by Independence Day, but in Gaza there’s no Independence Day and no one to rebuild. Not a word is written about life under siege, dying cancer patients, hunger, unemployment and the fear of airstrikes in a land without bomb shelters. The press conceals this, derelict in its duties. Soldiers hit a blind man in his bed and kill a man in his car, for nothing; there are almost daily killings in the West Bank, and not a word. Only the destruction of the home in Mishmeret. The inescapable conclusion is that Israel mustn’t hold back.

    A diplomatic reporter, a former military reporter, coldly asks the prime minister next to his plane in Washington, “How is it that there are no reports yet of fatalities in Gaza?” Indeed, how come you haven’t killed anyone yet, Benjamin Netanyahu? We’re all waiting. Army Radio puts on a Gaza man who describes a little of the suffering there, together with a man from Sderot, and social media erupts in screams: How dare they compare a Gazan to a Sderot resident, an animal to a human being? Army Radio, turning cowardly and insensitive, will no longer interview Gazans. Only in Sderot is there suffering, only one side of the fence are there human beings. Only in Mishmeret are there children. The headlines call out, “Enough,” “Exact a price.” Time is of the essence, there must be killing. It’s not enough to destroy a hundred homes. It should be a thousand, and with blood.

    The experts in the broadcast studios: Hit them. Deterrence. The usual ridiculous clichés: “We can’t let this go.” Why not, in fact? “We can’t show restraint.” Why not? “We cannot remain silent.” Perhaps that’s preferable? And no one would even dream of lifting the blockade: That’s insane.
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    Bombing a helpless land: That’s logical. Generals argue over who was the hero who assassinated Ahmed Jabari, and no one calls it what it was: murder. All this is in the leftist media, many of whose journalists will vote for Benny Gantz or for Meretz, but that’s a trivial detail. What’s important is that they’re responsible for Israelis receiving tendentious, brainwashed information, a dialogue between the right and the extreme right. This is journalism that betrays its mission, fully and voluntarily co-opted over the most important issue of all.

    The picture that it paints is that Palestinians were born to kill. They are beasts, we are human beings. They impose war on the most peace-loving country, a war that it so does not want. But the war that is never enough is now our dream. If Netanyahu doesn’t get that, then we, the leftist journalists, will explain it to him. It could end in the Gazan city of Rafah and in blood. If not this time, then the next. Thank you, Yedioth Ahronoth; see you around, Israel Hayom; good-bye to the television channels and the radio stations, we’ll meet at six, after the next war.

  • The Golan Heights first

    Trump gave Syria and its allies a renewed pretext for possible military action
    Haaretz Editorial
    Mar 24, 2019

    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/editorial/the-golan-heights-first-1.7046251

    U.S. President Donald Trump’s statement that “it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights” received an enthusiastic welcome in Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who got a shot in the arm from Trump at a low point in his election campaign, welcomed this “Purim miracle.” His rival Benny Gantz, whose party’s leading lights helped push for American recognition of the Golan’s annexation, said in a statement that Trump was cementing his place in history as a true friend of Israel.

    That Netanyahu and Gantz were both delighted is no surprise; the annexation of the Golan and the settlements established there enjoy widespread support in Israel. Since the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Syria has refrained from any attempt to recover the Golan by force, preferring to maintain the quiet and conduct peace talks that achieved nothing. The Druze residents of the northern Golan have also accepted Israeli rule without rebelling.

    The settlements on the Golan were established by the Labor Party, rather than the messianic Gush Emunim movement that settled the West Bank, and the Israelis who live there are termed “residents” rather than “settlers.” The beautiful vistas, the empty spaces and the snow on Mount Hermon are especially beloved by Israeli tourists.

    >> Read more: Trump’s Golan tweet brings U.S. to Syria through the back door | Analysis ■ Trump’s declaration: What does it mean and what happens now | Explained ■ How Secret Netanyahu-Assad backchannel gave way to Israeli demand for recognition of Golan sovereignty

    Nevertheless, despite the quiet and the internal consensus that sees the Golan as an inseparable part of Israel, this is occupied territory that Israel retains in violation of both international law and the principle at the basis of United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 — that the acquisition of territory by war is unacceptable. Israel accepted this principle, and six prime ministers, including Netanyahu, have held talks with the Syrians on returning the Golan in exchange for peace.

    The most recent talks were cut short by the outbreak of Syria’s civil war eight years ago, and the implosion on the other side of the border spurred appetites here for perpetuating the occupation with U.S. backing. During President Barack Obama’s tenure, that idea seemed hopeless. But Trump, no great fan of international laws and agreements, acceded happily to the Israeli request.

    Trump’s announcement and the applause that greeted it in Jerusalem send the troubling message that Israel is no longer interested in a peace agreement. It’s true that Syria, having fallen apart, is now weak and will settle for diplomatic censure, and in any case the chance of resuming negotiations in the north is near zero. But Trump gave Syria and its allies a renewed pretext for possible military action.
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    In the near term, the U.S. green light to annexing the Golan will deepen the Israeli delusion that U.S. approval is sufficient to revise the world map and contribute to erasing the 1967 lines as the relevant reference points for solving the Israeli-Arab conflict. The U.S. recognition will inevitably increase pressure from the right to annex Area C of the West Bank (which is under full Israeli control), intensifying the occupation and the bloody conflict with the Palestinians.

    • Trump’s Golan Heights Diplomatic Bombshell Was Bound to Drop. But Why Now?
      Anshel Pfeffer | Mar 21, 2019 9:18 PM
      https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/elections/.premium-trump-s-golan-heights-diplomatic-bombshell-was-bound-to-drop-but-w?

      Trump couldn’t wait until Netanyahu joined him in Washington on Monday, and his calculated move right before the election could cause Israel damage

      Since no one is any longer even trying to pretend that Donald Trump isn’t intervening in Israel’s elections on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s behalf, the only question left to ask following the U.S. president’s announcement on Twitter that “it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” is on the timing.

      Why now? Since Netanyahu is flying to Washington next week anyway, surely it would have made more sense for Trump to make the announcement standing by his side in the White House.

      You don’t need to be a conspiracy theorist to speculate, that given the extremely intimate level of coordination between Trump and Netanyahu’s teams, the timing is no coincidence. For a possible reason why Trump didn’t wait for Netanyahu to arrive in Washington before lobbing his diplomatic bombshell, check out Netanyahu’s pale and worried features at the press conference on Wednesday where he stated that Iran has obtained embarrassing material from Benny Gantz’s phone.

      Netanyahu is petrified that the new revelations on his trading in shares in his cousin’s company, which netted him $4.3 million and may have a connection with the company’s dealings with the German shipyard from which Israel purchases it submarines, could dominate the last stage of the election campaign. That’s why he so blatantly abused his position as the minister in charge of Israel’s intelligence services, to claim he knew what Iran had on Gantz. He desperately needs to grab back the news agenda.

      But the Gantz phone-hacking story, which leaked to the media last Thursday evening, has proven a damp squib. There is no credible evidence, except for the word of a panicking prime minister, that whoever hacked his phone, even assuming it was the Iranians, have anything to blackmail Gantz with. So the next best thing is to get a friend with 59 million followers on Twitter to create a distraction. Conveniently, this happened just before the agenda-setting primetime news shows on Israeli television.

      And how useful that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is currently in Israel anyway and has just visited the Western Wall, accompanied by Netanyahu – another diplomatic first as previously senior U.S. officials, including Trump during his visit in 2017, refrained from doing so together with Israeli politicians, to avoid the impression that they were prejudging the final status of eastern Jerusalem.

      A recognition of Israeli sovereignty on the Golan is also the perfect political gesture as far as Netanyahu is concerned. The Golan isn’t the West Bank, and certainly not Gaza. There is near-complete consensus among Israelis today that under no circumstances should Israel relinquish its control over the strategic Heights. Certainly not following eight years of war within Syria, during which Iran and Hezbollah have entrenched their presence on Israel’s northern border. Netanyahu’s political rivals have absolutely no choice but to praise Trump for helping the Likud campaign, anything else would be unpatriotic.

      They can’t even point out the basic fact that Trump’s gesture is empty. Just as his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was. It won’t change the status of the Golan in international law and with the exception of a few client-states in Latin America, no other country is going to follow suit. It could actually cause Israel diplomatic damage by focusing international attention on the Golan, when there was absolutely no pressure on Israel to end its 51-year presence there anyway. Trump’s tweet does no obligate the next president and a reversal by a future U.S. administration would do more damage to Israel than the good that would come from Trump’s recognition.

      But none of that matters when all Netanyahu is fighting for is his political survival and possibly his very freedom, and he will use every possible advantage he can muster.

      In 1981, Israel passed the Golan Law, unilaterally extending its sovereignty over the Golan. A furious President Ronald Reagan responded by suspending the strategic alliance memorandum that had just been signed between the U.S. and Israel. The no less furious Prime Minister Menachem Begin hit back, shouting at the U.S. Ambassador Sam Lewis, “are we a vassal state? Are we a banana republic? Are we fourteen-year-old boys that have to have our knuckles slapped if we misbehave?”

      In 2019, the U.S. is treating Israel as a vassal state and a banana republic by flagrantly interfering in its election. This time the Israeli prime minister won’t be complaining.

    • Israël demande la reconnaissance de l’annexion du Golan suite à la découverte de pétrole | Jonathan…
      https://seenthis.net/messages/430645

      Israel steps up oil drilling in Golan | The Electronic Intifada
      https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/charlotte-silver/israel-steps-oil-drilling-golan

      The members of the strategic advisory board of Afek’s parent company include Dick Cheney, the former US vice-president, the media tycoon Rupert Murdoch and Larry Summers, the former secretary of the US treasury.

    • Plateau du Golan-Damas condamne les propos « irresponsables » de Trump
      22 mars 2019 Par Agence Reuters
      https://www.mediapart.fr/journal/international/220319/plateau-du-golan-damas-condamne-les-propos-irresponsables-de-trump
      Le gouvernement syrien a condamné vendredi les propos du président américain Donald Trump, lequel a déclaré que l’heure était venue pour les Etats-Unis de reconnaître la souveraineté d’Israël sur le plateau du Golan.

      BEYROUTH (Reuters) - Le gouvernement syrien a condamné vendredi les propos du président américain Donald Trump, lequel a déclaré que l’heure était venue pour les Etats-Unis de reconnaître la souveraineté d’Israël sur le plateau du Golan.

      Dans un communiqué publié par l’agence de presse officielle Sana, une source au ministère syrien des Affaires étrangères estime que la déclaration de Trump illustre le « soutien aveugle des Etats-Unis » à Israël et ajoute que Damas est déterminé à récupérer le plateau du Golan par « tous les moyens possibles ».

      Les déclarations de Donald Trump ne changent rien à « la réalité que le Golan est et restera syrien », ajoute cette source, estimant qu’elles reflètent une violation flagrante de résolutions du Conseil de sécurité de l’Onu.

      A Moscou, également, la porte-parole du ministère russe des Affaires étrangères, citée par l’agence de presse RIA, a déclaré que tout changement de statut du Golan représenterait une violation flagrante des décisions des Nations unies sur cette question.

    • Point de presse du 22 mars 2019
      https://basedoc.diplomatie.gouv.fr/vues/Kiosque/FranceDiplomatie/kiosque.php?type=ppfr
      1. Golan
      Q - Sur le Golan, le président américain Donald Trump vient d’annoncer que le temps est venu de reconnaître la souveraineté israélienne sur les Hauteurs du Golan, « qui est d’une importance stratégique et sécuritaire décisive pour l’Etat d’Israël et pour la stabilité régionale ». Cette analyse a-t-elle un sens, et une telle reconnaissance, venant après la négation américaine d’une paix négociée concernant le statut de Jérusalem, va-t-elle déclencher une réaction diplomatique française au nom de la seule France, de la France à l’UE, et de la France à l’ONU ?

      R - Le Golan est un territoire occupé par Israël depuis 1967. La France ne reconnaît pas l’annexion israélienne de 1981. Cette situation a été reconnue comme nulle et non avenue par plusieurs résolutions du Conseil de sécurité, en particulier la résolution 497 du Conseil de sécurité des Nations Unies.

      La reconnaissance de la souveraineté israélienne sur le Golan, territoire occupé, serait contraire au droit international, en particulier l’obligation pour les Etats de ne pas reconnaître une situation illégale.

  • Élections israéliennes : une compétition entre criminels de guerre
    par Ramona Wadi - 14 mars 2019 – Middle East Monitor – Traduction : Chronique de Palestine– MJB
    http://www.chroniquepalestine.com/elections-israeliennes-competition-criminels-de-guerre

    Au cours des passes d’armes entre les candidats aux élections, l’ancien chef de l’IDF Benny Gantz a déclaré qu’il appliquerait la politique israélienne d’assassinats ciblés contre les dirigeants du Hamas s’il était élu, et si nécessaire.

    Ses commentaires visaient à contrer les remarques de Naftali Bennett, ministre de l’Éducation, au sujet de « l’opération Bordure Protectrice » en 2014, dans lesquels ce dernier a utilisé des propos désobligeants pour critiquer les décisions de Gantz qui, selon Bennett, mettaient en danger la vie des soldats israéliens. Bennett a avancé que Gantz serait l’option préférée du Hamas à la tête du gouvernement israélien. Cette affirmation est également soutenue par le Premier ministre israélien Benjamin Netanyahu, qui a déclaré que le parti de Gantz ferait « des concessions importantes aux Palestiniens ».

    Gantz et Netanyahu se concentrent de plus en plus sur Gaza dans leur campagne électorale, « l’opération Bordure Protectrice » et la Grande Marche du Retour servant de base à leurs arguments. Gantz, qui était aux commandes lors de l’agression contre l’enclave, a comparé l’après-2014 aux protestations en cours et à la réponse de Netanyahu, consistant à ordonner aux tireurs d’élite positionnés à la frontière de tuer et blesser les Palestiniens participant aux manifestations.

    Gantz a décrit la stratégie de Netanyahu comme une « politique usée ». La solution de rechange dans un tel scénario, selon l’ancien chef de l’armée, est de « revenir à une politique d’assassinats ciblés ». (...)

  • Israeli Arab slate, far-left candidate banned from election hours after Kahanist leader allowed to run
    Jonathan Lis and Jack Khoury Mar 07, 2019 7:07 AM
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/elections/.premium-far-left-lawmaker-banned-from-israeli-election-for-supporting-terr

    Arab political sources say the move is evidence of racism and the delegitimization of Arab society in Israel, accusing Netanyahu’s Likud party of anti-Arab incitement

    The Central Election Committee disqualified the Arab joint slate Balad-United Arab List and Ofer Cassif, a member of politicial alliance Hadash-Ta’al, from running in the election on Wednesday, opposing the opinion of Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit.

    Michael Ben Ari and Itamar Ben-Gvir from the Kahanist, far-right Otzma Yehudit party had petitioned against both lists. The committee approved Ben Air to run in the election earlier Wednesday.

    The decisions will be referred to the Supreme Court on Sunday for approval. A ban against a party slate may be appealed in the Supreme Court, which holds a special “election appeals” process, while a ban on an individual candidate automatically requires approval by the Supreme Court if it is to take effect.

    Arab political sources described the disqualification of the Balad-United Arab List slate as evidence of racism and the delegitimization of Arab society in Israel and accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party of anti-Arab incitement.

    MK David Bitan petitioned on behalf of Likud against Balad-United Arab List, and Yisrael Beitenu chairman Avigdor Lieberman petitioned against Cassif. Petitioners claimed both lists and Cassif supported terror and ruled out Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and Democratic state. Mendelblit said he opposed all the petitions.

    Ben-Gvir presented the committee with findings he claimed should disqualify the Hadash-Ta’al slate. He mentioned a call from Ta’al chairman Ahmed Tibi to annul the Declaration of Independence, and quoted a Facebook post by Ayman Odeh, the head of Hadash.

    In the post, written following a meeting with Fatah member Marwan Barghouti at an Israeli prison, Odeh compared Barghouti to Nelson Mandela. “The meeting was moving, as well as speaking to a leader who shares my political stances.” Ben-Gvir noted Odeh defined Ahed Tamimi as an “excellent girl,” and said she showed “legitimate resistance.” Tamimi, a Palestinian teenage girl, served time in prison for slapping an Israeli soldier in 2018.

    Cassif was accused of equating Israel and the Israel Defense Forces with the Nazi regime, and it was noted that he called to fight “Judeo-Nazism,” expressed support for changing the anthem, and called Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked “Neo-Nazi scum.” He did not attend the session, but was called after committee chairman Justice Hanan Melcer insisted on his presence.

    “I come from an academic background, and my area of expertise is among other things the subject of Fascism, Nazis and nationalism in general,” said Cassif, explaining his comments. “When I speak to a friend or write a post as a private person, I use metaphors. When I used the aforementioned terms – they were metaphors.”

    In an interview last month, Cassif said Israel conducts a “creeping genocide” against the Palestinian people.

    The top candidate on the slate, Mansour Abbas, said he had expected that most of the representatives of the Zionist parties on the election committee would support the move to disqualify the slate, but added: “We are a democratic Arab list that is seeking to represent Arab society with dignity and responsibility.”

    Commenting on Benny Gantz, the leader of Kahol Lavan, which is ahead of Likud in recent polls, Abbas said: “There’s no difference between Benjamin Netanyahu and Benjamin Gantz.”

    Mtanes Shehadeh, who is No. 2 on the Balad-United Arab list slate said the decision to disqualify his slate was expected because he said the Central Election Committee has a right-wing majority and “is also controlled by a fascist, right-wing ideology.”

    His Balad faction, Shehadeh said, “presents a challenge to democracy in Israel” and challenges what he called “the right-wing regime that is controlling the country.”

    Sources from the Balad-United Arab list slate said there is in an urgent need to strip the Central Election Committee of the authority to disqualify candidates and parties from running in elections. The considerations that go into the decision are purely political, the sources said.

    Balad chairman Jamal Zahalka said the decision to disqualify the slate sends a “hostile message to the Arab public” in the country. “We will petition the High Court of Justice against the decision and in any event, we will not change our position, even if we are disqualified.”

    Earlier Wednesday, the Central Elections Committee approved Ben Ari, the chairman of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, to run for the Knesset.

    Meretz, Stav Shaffir (Labor) and the Reform Movement, who filed the petition to the Central Elections Committee to ban Ben Ari from running for Knesset, all said they would file a petition with the High Court of Justice against the committee’s decision.

    Prior to deliberations, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit submitted his opinion to the comittee, stating he was in favor of disqualifying Ben Ari from running for Knesset on the grounds of incitement to racism.

    In November 2017, for instance, at an annual memorial for Rabbi Meir Kahane, Ben Ari gave a speech in which he said of Israeli Arabs, “Let’s give them another 100,000 dunams [of land] and affirmative action, maybe they’ll love us. In the end, yes, they’ll love us when we’re slaughtered.”

    In May 2018, Ben Ari gave another speech in which he said, “The Arabs of Haifa aren’t different in any way from the Arabs of Gaza. How are they different? In that they’re here, enemies from within. They’re waging war against us here, within the state. And this is called – it has a name – it’s called a fifth column. We need to call the dog by its name. They’re our enemies. They want to destroy us. Of course there are loyal Arabs, but you can count them – one percent or less than one percent.”

    #Hadash

    • Outlaw Israel’s Arabs
      They are already regarded as illegitimate citizens. Why not just say so and anchor it in law?
      Gideon Levy | Mar 10, 2019 3:15 AM
      https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-outlaw-israel-s-arabs-1.7003010

      The time has come to put an end to the stammering and going around in circles: Outlaw the Arabs, all of them. Make them all illegal dwellers in their land and have the Border Police hunt them down like animals, as they know how to do. They are already regarded as illegitimate citizens. It’s time to say so and to anchor it in law.

      Discerning the differences among them is artificial: What’s the difference between the United Arab List–Balad ticket and between the Hadash–Ta’al ticket (acronyms for the Arab political parties)? Why is only the first one on this list being disqualified? And what is the difference between the Palestinians who are Israeli citizens and those living under occupation?

      Why does one group have rights while the others don’t? The time has come to rectify the situation: Ta’al should be treated like Balad; citizens of the state should be treated like those under occupation. Anything less is like paying lip service to the guardians of political correctness, to a supposed semblance of fairness, to a deceptive image of democracy. Outlawing all the Arabs is the way to ensure you have a Jewish state. Who’s against that?

      Whoever thinks what I’ve written is wrong or an exaggeration isn’t reading reality. Disqualifying the Arabs is the issue that has the broadest consensus of the current election campaign. “I’ll put it simply,” Yair Lapid, the democrat, said. “We won’t form a blocking majority with the Arabs. Period.”

      Now I, will humbly put it simply, too: This is a revolting display of racism. Period. More than the torture of the residents of Gaza and the West Bank under the guise of security concerns, in this we see a broader Israeli racism in all its glory: Pure, unadulterated and acceptable racism. It’s not Balad, but the Arabs who are being disqualified. It’s not Ofer Kassif but the left that’s being disqualified. It’s a step-by-step slide down the slope and we can no longer shut our eyes to it.

      If this discourse delegitimizing our Arab citizens isn’t driving Israeli democrats mad – then there is no democracy. We don’t need any studies or institutes: A regime that disqualifies voters and elected officials because of their blood and nationality is not a democracy.

      You don’t need to cite the occupation to expose the lie of democracy – now it’s also apparent at home, within. From Benny Gantz to Bezalel Smotrich – all of them are Ben-Zion Gopsteins. The laws against racism and all the rest are only lip service. The Israeli Knesset has 107 lawmakers; thirteen of them, most of them among the best there are, are outside the game, they have less say than the ushers.

      Now we must try to imagine what they’re going through. They hear everyone trying to distance themselves from them, as though they’re a contagious disease, and they’re silent. They hear nobody seeking to get near them as though their bodies stink, and they avoid comment. The Knesset is like a bus that has segregated its Jewish and Arab passengers, an arena of political apartheid, not yet officially so, which declares from the outset that the Arabs are disqualified.

      Why even bother participating in this game that’s already been decided? The response should have been to boycott the elections. If you don’t want us, we don’t want you. The fig leaf is torn and has long been full of holes. But this is exactly what Israel wants: A country only for Jews. Therefore Arab citizens must not play this game and must head in their masses to the polling stations, just like the prime minister said, to poke Israeli racism painfully in the eye.

      For avowed racists, it’s all very clear. They say what they think: The Jews are a supreme race, the recipients of a divine promise, they have rights to this land, the Arabs are, at best, fleeting guests.

      The problem is with the racists in masquerade like Gantz and Lapid. I have a question for them: Why are Hadash and Ta’al not eligible to be part of a bloc? Why can’t you rely on their votes and why shouldn’t their representatives belong to the government? Would Ayman Odeh be any worse a culture minister than Miri Regev? Would Ahmad Tibi be any less skillful a health minister than Yaakov Litzman? The truth is this: The center-left is as racist as the right.

      Let’s hope no Gantz-Lapid government can be formed, just because of the Arab votes that it fails to have. That would be the sweetest revenge for racism.

    • La Cour suprême israélienne invalide la candidature d’un leader d’extrême droite
      La justice a interdit la candidature du chef d’Otzma Yehudit. Elle a approuvé la liste arabe, les présences d’un candidat juif d’extrême gauche et de Ben Gvir d’Otzma Yehudit
      Par Times of Israel Staff 18 mars 2019,
      https://fr.timesofisrael.com/la-cour-supreme-israelienne-invalide-la-candidature-dun-leader-dex

      (...) Les juges ont en revanche fait savoir que Itamar Ben Gvir, qui appartient également à la formation d’extrême-droite, est autorisé à se présenter.

      Ils ont aussi donné le feu vert à une participation au scrutin du 9 avril à Ofer Kassif ainsi qu’aux factions de Balad-Raam. Kassif est le seul candidat juif à figurer que la liste Hadash-Taal et il avait été disqualifié par la commission centrale électorale en raison de déclarations controversées faites dans le passé, notamment une dans laquelle il avait qualifié la ministre de la Justice Ayelet Shaked de « racaille néo-nazie ». (...)

      #Ofer_Kassif

  • Kahanists make it easy to ignore everyone else’s racism
    Gideon Levy - Feb 28, 2019 - Haaretz.com
    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-kahanists-make-it-easy-to-ignore-everyone-else-s-racism-1.6978802

    Kahanism is bad for racism. It gives racism a bad name, which it doesn’t have in Israel. It shakes Israeli racism out of its tranquility and correctness, exposes it and generates opposition to it. On the other hand, this opposition is good for respectable racists, allowing people who aren’t all that less racist to be portrayed as moderate and moral — downright champions of human rights.

    The influence of the Kahanists on public debate should not be underestimated. Because of them, one can live comfortably in the settlement of Shilo and dare to talk about principles; to be Naftali Bennett and Bezalel Smotrich and still be portrayed as moderates; to be in the Labor Party and believe that you are enlightened, and to vote for Kahol Lavan and think you’re a liberal. After all, you’re against Itamar Ben Gvir. It’s the undeclared racists versus the professed ones. Just as the “illegal” outposts have legitimized the “legal” settlements, Kahanism legitimizes this other racism.

    Kahanism allows the rest of the racists to feel good; we are not like them, we’re not Ben Gvir; we even walk out of a panel he is on, in protest. What courage, what a role model, what morality. Let us fight Kahanism and our camp will be pure. We will condemn Benzi Gopstein, turn our backs on Michael Ben Ari, and be ethical.

    The Kahanists are the cleaners of the national conscience. They cleanse the conscience of the settlers, who, as we know, are determined opponents of apartheid and of granting rights to Jews only; they cleanse the conscience of the Labor Party, the founding father of the occupation, which continues to be a partner to the shameful silence about the siege on the Gaza Strip. They even cleanse the conscience of AIPAC, the ultranationalist organization that forgives Israel everything, but was shocked by the deal with Otzma Yehudit.

    These Israeli neo-Nazis are genuinely repulsive and despicable. There aren’t enough words to describe the disgust they evoke. Anyone who says, “If there were an Arab waiter here, he wouldn’t be serving food but looking for the nearest hospital” is scum. These are violent racists of the lowest kind, rednecks, the white trash of Israel, and they must be ostracized.

    But contaminating the debate isn’t the worst damage they wreak. They conceal the other racism, institutionalized and accepted racism, which causes more harm to its victims. To live in a country that imprisons 2 million people and to be shocked by Ben Ari is outrageous. To be part of a society that abuses an additional 2 million people while clicking one’s tongue over a threat to an Arab waiter is arrogance.

    Most of the Zionist parties are full partners in the Israeli race project; some even have founding shares. They are partners to the crime — from the ethnic cleansing in 1948, through the military government in the Little Triangle and the Galilee, to the days of military tyranny in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. They have no moral right to condemn the Kahanists, because sometimes the Kahanists are only saying what the others are thinking.

    When Likud, Kahol-Lavan and Labor compete over who can distance themselves from the leprous Arab parties more, how dare they condemn other racists? When these parties liken Otzma Yehudit to the Arab party Balad, even though the difference between them is vast, with one preaching violence and expulsion and the other equality, they have no right to be portrayed as fighting racism.

    Of course there are degrees of evil and of racism. Ben Gvir is preferable to Gopstein; perhaps Smotrich is preferable to both. But is this meaningful? Does it render any of them kosher? When Europe boycotts its extreme right — which is, by the way, more moderate than Israel’s non-extreme right — it’s relatively enlightened leaders who are doing so. Here, it’s respectable racists boycotting disreputable racists.

    Are Moshe Ya’alon and Benny Gantz, the warriors of Operation Protective Edge, more moderate and humane than Ben Gvir and Gopstein? They are no less brutal and have a lot more blood on their hands, although their language is much more pleasant. But they would never speak that way about an Arab waiter; after all, Gantz eats in Kafr Qasem. So just avoid Ben Gvir the Terrible.

  • Rony Brauman : les déclarations d’Emmanuel Macron « nourrissent et amplifient l’antisémitisme »
    By Hassina Mechaï - in PARIS, France - Vendredi 22 février 2019
    https://www.middleeasteye.net/fr/news/rony-brauman-les-declarations-demmanuel-macron-nourrissent-et-amplifi

    (...) MEE : Dans le contexte social français actuel, cette décision prise par Emmanuel Macron de lier sionisme et antisémitisme n’est-elle pas dangereuse d’abord pour les Français de confession juive ?

    RB : Il y a là une instrumentalisation perverse de l’antisémitisme qui sert en l’occurrence à disqualifier un mouvement social, celui des Gilets jaunes. Cette instrumentalisation a pour effet pervers de placer les juifs dans le cercle fantasmé des puissants, des dominants, de ceux qui maîtrisent les discours et les médias. Ils seraient ceux qui imposent leur vérité et leur description des situations au détriment de tout le reste. C’est là un jeu extrêmement dangereux.

    À titre personnel, en tant que juif comme en tant que citoyen français, je suis extrêmement choqué par les déclarations d’Emmanuel Macron.

    MEE : En Israël, les élections d’avril se préparent à coup d’alliances entre, par exemple, Benjamin Netanyahou et le mouvement raciste kahaniste. Une autre alliance, contre lui cette fois, s’est faite entre ses principaux rivaux, dont Benny Gantz et Yaïr Lapid. Selon la presse israélienne, Emmanuel Macron a confirmé personnellement à Benyamin Netanyahou sa décision de lier antisémitisme et antisionisme, juste avant de faire son discours devant le CRIF. Est-ce là une ingérence dans la politique israélienne, et vice versa ?

    RB : Ces circonstances aggravent encore plus l’indécence de cette situation. Benyamin Netanyahou avait déjà été invité à la commémoration de la rafle du Vel d’Hiv l’an passé. Il l’avait auparavant été par Manuel Valls alors Premier ministre.

    Il y a là une instrumentalisation perverse de l’antisémitisme qui sert en l’occurrence à disqualifier un mouvement social, celui des Gilets jaunes

    Or, il n’y avait pourtant aucune raison à cette invitation. Sinon à créer un amalgame dangereux entre juif, sioniste et politique israélienne. C’est là une confusion qui ne peut être que renforcée par ce genre de pratiques et de déclarations.

    J’y vois même une sorte de « double blind » ou d’injonctions contradictoires constantes : il ne faut pas confondre les juifs et Israël, donc ne pas utiliser la politique israélienne contre les juifs. Mais d’un autre côté, les juifs et Israël sont constamment confondus puisque quand sont commémorées des atrocités commises contre les juifs, on le fait aux côtés du Premier ministre israélien.

    MEE : Plutôt qu’antisionisme = antisémitisme, n’observe-t-on pas une autre équation qui poserait que désormais, de nombreux partis politiques ou dirigeants d’extrême droite ouvertement sionistes le sont sur la base d’une vision antisémite des juifs ?

    RB : Benjamin Netanyahou s’est effectivement acoquiné avec la pire racaille d’extrême droite, du Brésilien Jair Bolsonaro à l’Autrichien Heinz-Christian Strache, du président philippin à d’autres dirigeants ouvertement racistes. Quand on observe les alliances internes que le Premier ministre noue avec des mouvements explicitement racistes et violents, cela ajoute à ce sentiment de dépit et d’outrage qu’on ne peut que ressentir après la déclaration d’Emmanuel Macron.

    L’antisémitisme n’a attendu ni le sionisme ni la création d’Israël pour s’alimenter. Mais on ne peut que constater que de tels comportements et déclarations le nourrissent, l’amplifient, en élargissent la portée. Tout cela est très dangereux.

  • The Knesset candidate who says Zionism encourages anti-Semitism and calls Netanyahu ’arch-murderer’ - Israel Election 2019 - Haaretz.com
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/elections/.premium.MAGAZINE-knesset-candidate-netanyahu-is-an-arch-murderer-zionism-e

    Few Israelis have heard of Dr. Ofer Cassif, the Jewish representative on the far-leftist Hadash party’s Knesset slate. On April 9, that will change
    By Ravit Hecht Feb 16, 2019

    Ofer Cassif is fire and brimstone. Not even the flu he’s suffering from today can contain his bursting energy. His words are blazing, and he bounds through his modest apartment, searching frenetically for books by Karl Marx and Primo Levi in order to find quotations to back up his ideas. Only occasional sips from a cup of maté bring his impassioned delivery to a momentary halt. The South American drink is meant to help fight his illness, he explains.

    Cassif is third on the slate of Knesset candidates in Hadash (the Hebrew acronym for the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality), the successor to Israel’s Communist Party. He holds the party’s “Jewish slot,” replacing MK Dov Khenin. Cassif is likely to draw fire from opponents and be a conspicuous figure in the next Knesset, following the April 9 election.

    Indeed, the assault on him began as soon as he was selected by the party’s convention. The media pursued him; a columnist in the mass-circulation Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, Ben-Dror Yemini, called for him to be disqualified from running for the Knesset. It would be naive to say that this was unexpected. Cassif, who was one of the first Israeli soldiers to refuse to serve in the territories, in 1987, gained fame thanks to a number of provocative statements. The best known is his branding of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked as “neo-Nazi scum.” On another occasion, he characterized Jews who visit the Temple Mount as “cancer with metastases that have to be eradicated.”

    On his alternate Facebook page, launched after repeated blockages of his original account by a blitz of posts from right-wing activists, he asserted that Culture Minister Miri Regev is “repulsive gutter contamination,” that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is an “arch-murderer” and that the new Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, is a “war criminal.”

    Do you regret making those remarks?

    Cassif: “‘Regret’ is a word of emotion. Those statements were made against a background of particular events: the fence in Gaza, horrible legislation, and the wild antics of Im Tirtzu [an ultranationalist organization] on campus. That’s what I had to say at the time. I didn’t count on being in the Knesset. That wasn’t part of my plan. But it’s clear to me that as a public personality, I would not have made those comments.”

    Is Netanyahu an arch-murderer?

    “Yes. I wrote it in the specific context of a particular day in the Gaza Strip. A massacre of innocent people was perpetrated there, and no one’s going to persuade me that those people were endangering anyone. It’s a concentration camp. Not a ‘concentration camp’ in the sense of Bergen-Belsen; I am absolutely not comparing the Holocaust to what’s happening.”

    You term what Israel is doing to the Palestinians “genocide.”

    “I call it ‘creeping genocide.’ Genocide is not only a matter of taking people to gas chambers. When Yeshayahu Leibowitz used the term ‘Judeo-Nazis,’ people asked him, ‘How can you say that? Are we about to build gas chambers?’ To that, he had two things to say. First, if the whole difference between us and the Nazis boils down to the fact that we’re not building gas chambers, we’re already in trouble. And second, maybe we won’t use gas chambers, but the mentality that exists today in Israel – and he said this 40 years ago – would allow it. I’m afraid that today, after four years of such an extreme government, it possesses even greater legitimacy.

    “But you know what, put aside ‘genocide’ – ethnic cleansing is taking place there. And that ethnic cleansing is also being carried out by means of killing, although mainly by way of humiliation and of making life intolerable. The trampling of human dignity. It reminds me of Primo Levi’s ‘If This Is a Man.’”

    You say you’re not comparing, but you repeatedly come back to Holocaust references. On Facebook, you also uploaded the scene from “Schindler’s List” in which the SS commander Amon Goeth picks off Jews with his rifle from the balcony of his quarters in the camp. You compared that to what was taking place along the border fence in the Gaza Strip.

    “Today, I would find different comparisons. In the past I wrote an article titled, ‘On Holocaust and on Other Crimes.’ It’s online [in Hebrew]. I wrote there that anyone who compares Israel to the Holocaust is cheapening the Holocaust. My comparison between here and what happened in the early 1930s [in Germany] is a very different matter.”

    Clarity vs. crudity

    Given Cassif’s style, not everyone in Hadash was happy with his election, particularly when it comes to the Jewish members of the predominantly Arab party. Dov Khenin, for example, declined to be interviewed and say what he thinks of his parliamentary successor. According to a veteran party figure, “From the conversations I had, it turns out that almost none of the Jewish delegates – who make up about 100 of the party’s 940 delegates – supported his candidacy.

    “He is perceived, and rightly so,” the party veteran continues, “as someone who closes doors to Hadash activity within Israeli society. Each of the other Jewish candidates presented a record of action and of struggles they spearheaded. What does he do? Curses right-wing politicians on Facebook. Why did the party leadership throw the full force of its weight behind him? In a continuation of the [trend exemplified by] its becoming part of the Joint List, Ofer’s election reflects insularity and an ongoing retreat from the historical goal of implementing change in Israeli society.”

    At the same time, as his selection by a 60 percent majority shows, many in the party believe that it’s time to change course. “Israeli society is moving rightward, and what’s perceived as Dov’s [Khenin] more gentle style didn’t generate any great breakthrough on the Jewish street,” a senior source in Hadash notes.

    “It’s not a question of the tension between extremism and moderation, but of how to signpost an alternative that will develop over time. Clarity, which is sometimes called crudity, never interfered with cooperation between Arabs and Jews. On the contrary. Ofer says things that we all agreed with but didn’t so much say, and of course that’s going to rile the right wing. And a good thing, too.”

    Hadash chairman MK Ayman Odeh also says he’s pleased with the choice, though sources in the party claim that Odeh is apprehensive about Cassif’s style and that he actually supported a different candidate. “Dov went for the widest possible alliances in order to wield influence,” says Odeh. “Ofer will go for very sharp positions at the expense of the breadth of the alliance. But his sharp statements could have a large impact.”

    Khenin was deeply esteemed by everyone. When he ran for mayor of Tel Aviv in 2008, some 35 percent of the electorate voted for him, because he was able to touch people who weren’t only from his political milieu.

    Odeh: “No one has a higher regard for Dov than I do. But just to remind you, we are not a regular opposition, we are beyond the pale. And there are all kinds of styles. Influence can be wielded through comments that are vexatious the first time but which people get used to the second time. When an Arab speaks about the Nakba and about the massacre in Kafr Kassem [an Israeli Arab village, in 1956], it will be taken in a particular way, but when uttered by a Jew it takes on special importance.”

    He will be the cause of many attacks on the party.

    “Ahlan wa sahlan – welcome.”

    Cassif will be the first to tell you that, with all due respect for the approach pursued by Khenin and by his predecessor in the Jewish slot, Tamar Gozansky, he will be something completely different. “I totally admire what Tamar and Dov did – nothing less than that,” he says, while adding, “But my agenda will be different. The three immediate dangers to Israeli society are the occupation, racism and the diminishment of the democratic space to the point of liquidation. That’s the agenda that has to be the hub of the struggle, as long as Israel rules over millions of people who have no rights, enters [people’s houses] in the middle of the night, arrests minors on a daily basis and shoots people in the back.

    "Israel commits murder on a daily basis. When you murder one Palestinian, you’re called Elor Azaria [the IDF soldier convicted and jailed for killing an incapacitated Palestinian assailant]; when you murder and oppress thousands of Palestinians, you’re called the State of Israel.”

    So you plan to be the provocateur in the next Knesset?

    “It’s not my intention to be a provocateur, to stand there and scream and revile people. Even on Facebook I was compelled to stop that. But I definitely intend to challenge the dialogue in terms of the content, and mainly with a type of sarcasm.”

    ’Bags of blood’

    Cassif, 54, who holds a doctorate in political philosophy from the London School of Economics, teaches political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Sapir Academic College in Sderot and at the Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yaffo. He lives in Rehovot, is married and is the father of a 19-year-old son. He’s been active in Hadash for three decades and has held a number of posts in the party.

    As a lecturer, he stands out for his boldness and fierce rhetoric, which draws students of all stripes. He even hangs out with some of his Haredi students, one of whom wrote a post on the eve of the Hadash primary urging the delegates to choose him. After his election, a student from a settlement in the territories wrote to him, “You are a determined and industrious person, and for that I hold you in high regard. Hoping we will meet on the field of action and growth for the success of Israel as a Jewish, democratic state (I felt obliged to add a small touch of irony in conclusion).”

    Cassif grew up in a home that supported Mapai, forerunner of Labor, in Rishon Letzion. He was an only child; his father was an accountant, his mother held a variety of jobs. He was a news hound from an early age, and at 12 ran for the student council in school. He veered sharply to the left in his teens, becoming a keen follower of Marx and socialism.

    Following military service in the IDF’s Nahal brigade and a period in the airborne Nahal, Cassif entered the Hebrew University. There his political career moved one step forward, and there he also forsook the Zionist left permanently. His first position was as a parliamentary aide to the secretary general of the Communist Party, Meir Wilner.

    “At first I was closer to Mapam [the United Workers Party, which was Zionist], and then I refused to serve in the territories. I was the first refusenik in the first intifada to be jailed. I didn’t get support from Mapam, I got support from the people of Hadash, and I drew close to them. I was later jailed three more times for refusing to serve in the territories.”

    His rivals in the student organizations at the Hebrew University remember him as the epitome of the extreme left.

    “Even in the Arab-Jewish student association, Cassif was considered off-the-wall,” says Motti Ohana, who was chairman of Likud’s student association and active in the Student Union at the end of the 1980s and early 1990s. “One time I got into a brawl with him. It was during the first intifada, when he brought two bags of blood, emptied them out in the university’s corridors and declared, ‘There is no difference between Jewish and Arab blood,’ likening Israeli soldiers to terrorists. The custom on campus was that we would quarrel, left-right, Arabs-Jews, and after that we would sit together, have a coffee and talk. But not Cassif.”

    According to Ohana, today a member of the Likud central committee, the right-wing activists knew that, “You could count on Ofer to fall into every trap. There was one event at the Hebrew University that was a kind of political Hyde Park. The right wanted to boot the left out of there, so we hung up the flag. It was obvious that Ofer would react, and in fact he tore the flag, and in the wake of the ruckus that developed, political activity was stopped for good.”

    Replacing the anthem

    Cassif voices clearly and cogently positions that challenge the public discourse in Israel, and does so with ardor and charisma. Four candidates vied for Hadash’s Jewish slot, and they all delivered speeches at the convention. The three candidates who lost to him – Efraim Davidi, Yaela Raanan and the head of the party’s Tel Aviv branch, Noa Levy – described their activity and their guiding principles. When they spoke, there was the regular buzz of an audience that’s waiting for lunch. But when Cassif took the stage, the effect was magnetic.

    “Peace will not be established without a correction of the crimes of the Nakba and [recognition of] the right of return,” he shouted, and the crowd cheered him. As one senior party figure put it, “Efraim talked about workers’ rights, Yaela about the Negev, Noa about activity in Tel Aviv – and Ofer was Ofer.”

    What do you mean by “right of return”?

    Cassif: “The first thing is the actual recognition of the Nakba and of the wrong done by Israel. Compare it to the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions in South Africa, if you like, or with the commissions in Chile after Pinochet. Israel must recognize the wrong it committed. Now, recognition of the wrong also includes recognition of the right of return. The question is how it’s implemented. It has to be done by agreement. I can’t say that tomorrow Tel Aviv University has to be dismantled and that Sheikh Munis [the Arab village on whose ruins the university stands] has to be rebuilt there. The possibility can be examined of giving compensation in place of return, for example.”

    But what is the just solution, in your opinion?

    “For the Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland.”

    That means there will be Jews who will have to leave their home.

    “In some places, unequivocally, yes. People will have to be told: ‘You must evacuate your places.’ The classic example is Ikrit and Biram [Christian-Arab villages in Galilee whose residents were promised – untruly – by the Israeli authorities in 1948 that they would be able to return, and whose lands were turned over to Jewish communities]. But there are places where there is certainly greater difficulty. You don’t right one wrong with another.”

    What about the public space in Israel? What should it look like?

    “The public space has to change, to belong to all the state’s residents. I dispute the conception of ‘Jewish publicness.’”

    How should that be realized?

    “For example, by changing the national symbols, changing the national anthem. [Former Hadash MK] Mohammed Barakeh once suggested ‘I Believe’ [‘Sahki, Sahki’] by [Shaul] Tchernichovsky – a poem that is not exactly an expression of Palestinian nationalism. He chose it because of the line, ‘For in mankind I’ll believe.’ What does it mean to believe in mankind? It’s not a Jew, or a Palestinian, or a Frenchman, or I don’t know what.”

    What’s the difference between you and the [Arab] Balad party? Both parties overall want two states – a state “of all its citizens” and a Palestinian state.

    “In the big picture, yes. But Balad puts identity first on the agenda. We are not nationalists. We do not espouse nationalism as a supreme value. For us, self-determination is a means. We are engaged in class politics. By the way, Balad [the National Democratic Assembly] and Ta’al [MK Ahmad Tibi’s Arab Movement for Renewal] took the idea of a state of all its citizens from us, from Hadash. We’ve been talking about it for ages.”

    If you were a Palestinian, what would you do today?

    “In Israel, what my Palestinian friends are doing, and I with them – [wage] a parliamentary and extra-parliamentary struggle.”

    And what about the Palestinians in the territories?

    “We have always been against harming innocent civilians. Always. In all our demonstrations, one of our leading slogans was: ‘In Gaza and in Sderot, children want to live.’ With all my criticism of the settlers, to enter a house and slaughter children, as in the case of the Fogel family [who were murdered in their beds in the settlement of Itamar in 2011], is intolerable. You have to be a human being and reject that.”

    And attacks on soldiers?

    “An attack on soldiers is not terrorism. Even Netanyahu, in his book about terrorism, explicitly categorizes attacks on soldiers or on the security forces as guerrilla warfare. It’s perfectly legitimate, according to every moral criterion – and, by the way, in international law. At the same time, I am not saying it’s something wonderful, joyful or desirable. The party’s Haifa office is on Ben-Gurion Street, and suddenly, after years, I noticed a memorial plaque there for a fighter in Lehi [pre-state underground militia, also known as the Stern Gang] who assassinated a British officer. Wherever there has been a struggle for liberation from oppression, there are national heroes, who in 90 percent of the cases carried out some operations that were unlawful. Nelson Mandela is today considered a hero, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but according to the conventional definition, he was a terrorist. Most of the victims of the ANC [African National Congress] were civilians.”

    In other words, today’s Hamas commanders who are carrying out attacks on soldiers will be heroes of the future Palestinian state?

    “Of course.”

    Anti-Zionist identity

    Cassif terms himself an explicit anti-Zionist. “There are three reasons for that,” he says. “To begin with, Zionism is a colonialist movement, and as a socialist, I am against colonialism. Second, as far as I am concerned, Zionism is racist in ideology and in practice. I am not referring to the definition of race theory – even though there are also some who impute that to the Zionist movement – but to what I call Jewish supremacy. No socialist can accept that. My supreme value is equality, and I can’t abide any supremacy – Jewish or Arab. The third thing is that Zionism, like other ethno-nationalistic movements, splits the working class and all weakened groups. Instead of uniting them in a struggle for social justice, for equality, for democracy, it divides the exploited classes and the enfeebled groups, and by that means strengthens the rule of capital.”

    He continues, “Zionism also sustains anti-Semitism. I don’t say it does so deliberately – even though I have no doubt that there are some who do it deliberately, like Netanyahu, who is connected to people like the prime minister of Hungary, Viktor Orban, and the leader of the far right in Austria, Hans Christian Strache.”

    Did Mapai-style Zionism also encourage anti-Semitism?

    “The phenomenon was very striking in Mapai. Think about it for a minute, not only historically, but logically. If the goal of political and practical Zionism is really the establishment of a Jewish state containing a Jewish majority, and for Diaspora Jewry to settle there, nothing serves them better than anti-Semitism.”

    What in their actions encouraged anti-Semitism?

    “The very appeal to Jews throughout the world – the very fact of treating them as belonging to the same nation, when they were living among other nations. The whole old ‘dual loyalty’ story – Zionism actually encouraged that. Therefore, I maintain that anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are not the same thing, but are precisely opposites. That doesn’t mean, of course, that there are no anti-Zionists who are also anti-Semites. Most of the BDS people are of course anti-Zionists, but they are in no way anti-Semites. But there are anti-Semites there, too.”

    Do you support BDS?

    “It’s too complex a subject for a yes or no answer; there are aspects I don’t support.”

    Do you think that the Jews deserve a national home in the Land of Israel?

    “I don’t know what you mean by ‘national home.’ It’s very amorphous. We in Hadash say explicitly that Israel has a right to exist as a sovereign state. Our struggle is not against the state’s existence, but over its character.”

    But that state is the product of the actions of the Zionist movement, which you say has been colonialist and criminal from day one.

    “That’s true, but the circumstances have changed. That’s the reason that the majority of the members of the Communist Party accepted the [1947] partition agreement at the time. They recognized that the circumstances had changed. I think that one of the traits that sets communist thought apart, and makes it more apt, is the understanding and the attempt to strike the proper balance between what should be, and reality. So it’s true that Zionism started as colonialism, but what do you do with the people who were already born here? What do you tell them? Because your grandparents committed a crime, you have to leave? The question is how you transform the situation that’s been created into one that’s just, democratic and equal.”

    So, a person who survived a death camp and came here is a criminal?

    “The individual person, of course not. I’m in favor of taking in refugees in distress, no matter who or what they are. I am against Zionism’s cynical use of Jews in distress, including the refugees from the Holocaust. I have a problem with the fact that the natives whose homeland this is cannot return, while people for whom it’s not their homeland, can, because they supposedly have some sort of blood tie and an ‘imaginary friend’ promised them the land.”

    I understand that you are in favor of the annulment of the Law of Return?

    “Yes. Definitely.”

    But you are in favor of the Palestinian right of return.

    “There’s no comparison. There’s no symmetry here at all. Jerry Seinfeld was by chance born to a Jewish family. What’s his connection to this place? Why should he have preference over a refugee from Sabra or Chatila, or Edward Said, who did well in the United States? They are the true refugees. This is their homeland. Not Seinfeld’s.”

    Are you critical of the Arabs, too?

    “Certainly. One criticism is of their cooperation with imperialism – take the case of today’s Saudi Arabia, Qatar and so on. Another, from the past, relates to the reactionary forces that did not accept that the Jews have a right to live here.”

    Hadash refrained from criticizing the Assad regime even as it was massacring civilians in Syria. The party even torpedoed a condemnation of Assad after the chemical attack. Do you identify with that approach?

    “Hadash was critical of the Assad regime – father and son – for years, so we can’t be accused in any way of supporting Assad or Hezbollah. We are not Ba’ath, we are not Islamists. We are communists. But as I said earlier, the struggle, unfortunately, is generally not between the ideal and what exists in practice, but many times between two evils. And then you have to ask yourself which is the lesser evil. The Syrian constellation is extremely complicated. On the one hand, there is the United States, which is intervening, and despite all the pretense of being against ISIS, supported ISIS and made it possible for ISIS to sprout.

    "I remind you that ISIS started from the occupation of Iraq. And ideologically and practically, ISIS is definitely a thousand times worse than the Assad regime, which is at base also a secular regime. Our position was and is against the countries that pose the greatest danger to regional peace, which above all are Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and the United States, which supports them. That doesn’t mean that we support Assad.”

    Wrong language

    Cassif’s economic views are almost as far from the consensus as his political ideas. He lives modestly in an apartment that’s furnished like a young couple’s first home. You won’t find an espresso maker or unnecessary products of convenience in his place. To his credit, it can be said that he extracts the maximum from Elite instant coffee.

    What is your utopian vision – to nationalize Israel’s conglomerates, such as Cellcom, the telecommunications company, or Osem, the food manufacturer and distributor?

    “The bottom line is yes. How exactly will it be done? That’s an excellent question, which I can’t answer. Perhaps by transferring ownership to the state or to the workers, with democratic tools. And there are other alternatives. But certainly, I would like it if a large part of the resources were not in private hands, as was the case before the big privatizations. It’s true that it won’t be socialism, because, again, there can be no such thing as Zionist socialism, but there won’t be privatization like we have today. What is the result of capitalism in Israel? The collapse of the health system, the absence of a social-welfare system, a high cost of living and of housing, the elderly and the disabled in a terrible situation.”

    Does any private sector have the right to exist?

    “Look, the question is what you mean by ‘private sector.’ If we’re talking about huge concerns that the owners of capital control completely through their wealth, then no.”

    What growth was there in the communist countries? How can anyone support communism, in light of the grim experience wherever it was tried?

    “It’s true, we know that in the absolute majority of societies where an attempt was made to implement socialism, there was no growth or prosperity, and we need to ask ourselves why, and how to avoid that. When I talk about communism, I’m not talking about Stalin and all the crimes that were committed in the name of the communist idea. Communism is not North Korea and it is not Pol Pot in Cambodia. Heaven forbid.”

    And what about Venezuela?

    “Venezuela is not communism. In fact, they didn’t go far enough in the direction of socialism.”

    Chavez was not enough of a socialist?

    “Chavez, but in particular Maduro. The Communist Party is critical of the regime. They support it because the main enemy is truly American imperialism and its handmaidens. Let’s look at what the U.S. did over the years. At how many times it invaded and employed bullying, fascist forces. Not only in Latin America, its backyard, but everywhere.”

    Venezuela is falling apart, people there don’t have anything to eat, there’s no medicine, everyone who can flees – and it’s the fault of the United States?

    “You can’t deny that the regime has made mistakes. It’s not ideal. But basically, it is the result of American imperialism and its lackeys. After all, the masses voted for Chavez and for Maduro not because things were good for them. But because American corporations stole the country’s resources and filled their own pockets. I wouldn’t make Chavez into an icon, but he did some excellent things.”

    Then how do you generate individual wealth within the method you’re proposing? I understand that I am now talking to you capitalistically, but the reality is that people see the accumulation of assets as an expression of progress in life.

    “Your question is indeed framed in capitalist language, which simply departs from what I believe in. Because you are actually asking me how the distribution of resources is supposed to occur within the capitalist framework. And I say no, I am not talking about resource distribution within a capitalist framework.”

    Gantz vs. Netanyahu

    Cassif was chosen as the polls showed Meretz and Labor, the representatives of the Zionist left, barely scraping through into the next Knesset and in fact facing a serious possibility of electoral extinction. The critique of both parties from the radical left is sometimes more acerbic than from the right.

    Would you like to see the Labor Party disappear?

    “No. I think that what’s happening at the moment with Labor and with Meretz is extremely dangerous. I speak about them as collectives, because they contain individuals with whom I see no possibility of engaging in a dialogue. But I think that they absolutely must be in the Knesset.”

    Is a left-winger who defines himself as a Zionist your partner in any way?

    “Yes. We need partners. We can’t be picky. Certainly we will cooperate with liberals and Zionists on such issues as combating violence against women or the battle to rescue the health system. Maybe even in putting an end to the occupation.”

    I’ll put a scenario to you: Benny Gantz does really well in the election and somehow overcomes Netanyahu. Do you support the person who led Operation Protective Edge in Gaza when he was chief of staff?

    “Heaven forbid. But we don’t reject people, we reject policy. I remind you that it was [then-defense minister] Yitzhak Rabin who led the most violent tendency in the first intifada, with his ‘Break their bones.’ But when he came to the Oslo Accords, it was Hadash and the Arab parties that gave him, from outside the coalition, an insurmountable bloc. I can’t speak for the party, but if there is ever a government whose policy is one that we agree with – eliminating the occupation, combating racism, abolishing the nation-state law – I believe we will give our support in one way or another.”

    And if Gantz doesn’t declare his intention to eliminate the occupation, he isn’t preferable to Netanyahu in any case?

    “If so, why should we recommend him [to the president to form the next government]? After the clips he posted boasting about how many people he killed and how he hurled Gaza back into the Stone Age, I’m far from certain that he’s better.”

    #Hadash

    • traduction d’un extrait [ d’actualité ]

      Le candidat à la Knesset dit que le sionisme encourage l’antisémitisme et qualifie Netanyahu de « meurtrier »
      Peu d’Israéliens ont entendu parler de M. Ofer Cassif, représentant juif de la liste de la Knesset du parti d’extrême gauche Hadash. Le 9 avril, cela changera.
      Par Ravit Hecht 16 février 2019 – Haaretz

      (…) Identité antisioniste
      Cassif se dit un antisioniste explicite. « Il y a trois raisons à cela », dit-il. « Pour commencer, le sionisme est un mouvement colonialiste et, en tant que socialiste, je suis contre le colonialisme. Deuxièmement, en ce qui me concerne, le sionisme est raciste d’idéologie et de pratique. Je ne fais pas référence à la définition de la théorie de la race - même si certains l’imputent également au mouvement sioniste - mais à ce que j’appelle la suprématie juive. Aucun socialiste ne peut accepter cela. Ma valeur suprême est l’égalité et je ne peux supporter aucune suprématie - juive ou arabe. La troisième chose est que le sionisme, comme d’autres mouvements ethno-nationalistes, divise la classe ouvrière et tous les groupes sont affaiblis. Au lieu de les unir dans une lutte pour la justice sociale, l’égalité, la démocratie, il divise les classes exploitées et affaiblit les groupes, renforçant ainsi le pouvoir du capital. "
      Il poursuit : « Le sionisme soutient également l’antisémitisme. Je ne dis pas qu’il le fait délibérément - même si je ne doute pas qu’il y en a qui le font délibérément, comme Netanyahu, qui est connecté à des gens comme le Premier ministre de la Hongrie, Viktor Orban, et le chef de l’extrême droite. en Autriche, Hans Christian Strache. ”

      Le sionisme type-Mapaï a-t-il également encouragé l’antisémitisme ?
      « Le phénomène était très frappant au Mapai. Pensez-y une minute, non seulement historiquement, mais logiquement. Si l’objectif du sionisme politique et pratique est en réalité de créer un État juif contenant une majorité juive et de permettre à la communauté juive de la diaspora de s’y installer, rien ne leur sert mieux que l’antisémitisme. "

      Qu’est-ce qui, dans leurs actions, a encouragé l’antisémitisme ?
      « L’appel même aux Juifs du monde entier - le fait même de les traiter comme appartenant à la même nation, alors qu’ils vivaient parmi d’autres nations. Toute la vieille histoire de « double loyauté » - le sionisme a en fait encouragé cela. Par conséquent, j’affirme que l’antisémitisme et l’antisionisme ne sont pas la même chose, mais sont précisément des contraires. Bien entendu, cela ne signifie pas qu’il n’y ait pas d’antisionistes qui soient aussi antisémites. La plupart des membres du BDS sont bien sûr antisionistes, mais ils ne sont en aucun cas antisémites. Mais il y a aussi des antisémites.

  • Gantz, son of Holocaust survivor, mentions Bergen-Belsen but ignores the camp that is Gaza
    If Benny Gantz had the courage, he’d go to The Hague himself
    Amira Hass
    Feb 03, 2019

    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-gantz-son-of-holocaust-survivor-mentions-bergen-belsen-but-ignores

    Benny Gantz frequently mentions his mother, a survivor of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, Anshel Pfeffer wrote in Haaretz on January 30. My mother also survived Bergen-Belsen. The former IDF chief of staff’s mother encouraged him to continue fighting in Gaza, but not to stop sending food to its inhabitants. (To make things straight: Israel did not and does not send food to the Palestinians. The food is bought at full price from Israeli merchants and producers. What Israel can do is to prevent food and other essential products from entering Gaza, as it has done more than once.) My mother was revolted by generals, their wars against the Palestinians and the trafficking in the memory of the murdered Jews.

    If Gantz had the courage, he would go to The Hague himself, to the Dutch district court there. The judge would have to decide whether the Dutch court has the authority to hear a civil suit against the former Israeli chief of staff for war crimes in Gaza in 2014 – the killing of six members of a family in one bombardment. Gantz’s lawyer would argue that the judge should reject the suit because the court has no jurisdiction, and in any case Gantz has immunity because he did what he did for the State of Israel, in the framework of his state-sanctioned role. This is also whyIsrael pays for his legal representation.

    >> Read more: Like Netanyahu, Gantz plays on the anxieties of his would-be voters ■ 180 Palestinian women wounded by live Israeli fire since start of Gaza protests

    Suing for war crimes specific people, who were serving in official capacities, is based on the concept that human beings, even soldiers and certainly their supreme commander, are creatures capable of thinking and are therefore responsible for their actions. They are not just following orders. A civil suit for a war crime committed in another country is based on the concept that universal values exist and that when international law is breached, a third state has the right to adjudicate.

    If Gantz had the courage, he would leave his new Knesset (or cabinet) seat for a day or two and stand in The Hague before the plaintiff Ismail Ziada. But even if Gantz doesn’t go, two tracks of uprootedness, injustice and trauma, will intersect there. Europe made clear to Gantz’s parents, who were born in Hungary and Romania, that they were not wanted there. In fact, that they didn’t deserve to live. They were not killed, and they arrived in this country. In Israel we became the victors, and we continue to take revenge on those who have nothing to do with the expulsion and murder of the Jews.

  • Un spot électoral israélien se vante que les bombardements sur Gaza l’ait ramenée à « l’âge de pierre »
    Par Ali Abunimah, 21 janvier 2019 | Traduction : J. Ch. pour l’Agence Média Palestine | Source : The Electronic Intifada
    http://www.agencemediapalestine.fr/blog/2019/01/24/un-spot-electoral-israelien-se-vante-que-les-bombardements-sur-

    Benny Gantz, ancien chef de l’armée israélienne, se vante de la quantité de morts et de destructions qu’il a provoqués à Gaza dans une série de vidéos de campagne pour son nouveau parti politique publiées sur YouTube et les réseaux sociaux au cours du week-end.

    Gantz espère remplacer Benjamin Netanyahu au poste de premier ministre d’Israël dans les élections programmées pour avril.

    L’une des vidéos, ci-dessus, montre les images prises par un drone d’un quartier dévasté de Gaza en août 2014 après les 51 jours d’attaque israélienne sur le territoire.

    Dans le titre de la vidéo, on lit « Des parties de Gaza sont retournées à l’âge de pierre ».

    Sur fond de musique emphatiquement dramatique, les légendes sur l’écran annoncent : « 6.231 cibles détruites » et « 1.364 terroristes tués ».

    Le spot déclare alors que ce carnage a procuré « 3 à 5 ans de tranquillité ». (...)

    #indécence #sansvergogne

  • Israeli election ad boasts Gaza bombed back to “stone ages” | The Electronic Intifada
    https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israeli-election-ad-boasts-gaza-bombed-back-stone-ages

    back to “stone ages”

    Ali Abunimah Rights and Accountability 21 January 2019

    Benny Gantz, the former Israeli army chief, is bragging about how much killing and destruction he committed in Gaza in a series of campaign videos for his new political party posted on YouTube and social media over the weekend.

    Gantz hopes to replace Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel’s prime minister in elections scheduled for April.

    One of the videos, above, shows drone footage of a devastated neighborhood in Gaza in August 2014, following Israel’s 51-day assault on the territory.

    The video’s title includes the words “Parts of Gaza were returned to the stone ages.”

    Against the swell of dramatic music, captions on screen announce, “6,231 targets destroyed,” and “1,364 terrorists killed.”

    The ad then claims that this carnage brought “3.5 years of quiet.”

    A second video displays a kill-counter on screen racking up bodies until the number 1,364 is reached. In the background Palestinians are seen conducting funerals.

    The video is another depraved celebration of killing.

    All the videos contain the words “Only the strong win.”

    And they close with Gantz’s campaign slogan “Israel before everything,” which could just as well be translated as the Trumpian “Israel first.”
    Admission of war crimes

  • Israël vote une loi facilitant le processus décisionnel pour l’entrée en guerre | The Times of Israël

    La Knesset approuve la clause controversée de la nouvelle loi qui autorise Netanyahu à lancer des opérations militaires de masse en ne consultant que le ministre de la Défense

    Par SUE SURKES, RAOUL WOOTLIFF et AFP

    https://fr.timesofisrael.com/israel-vote-une-loi-facilitant-le-processus-decisionnel-pour-lentr

    Le Parlement israélien a voté lundi en faveur d’une loi permettant au Premier ministre et au ministre de la Défense de décider d’entrer en guerre sans réunir le gouvernement, sur fond de tensions croissantes entre Israël et certains de ses voisins.

    Cette loi, votée à 62 voix contre 41, donne la responsabilité au cabinet restreint de sécurité de décider d’une opération militaire ou d’une guerre sans se concerter avec le reste du gouvernement.

    Recevez gratuitement notre édition quotidienne par mail pour ne rien manquer du meilleur de l’info INSCRIPTION GRATUITE !
    Mais un paragraphe précise qu’en cas de « conditions extrêmes », le Premier ministre et son ministre de la Défense, seuls, pourront décider d’une telle opération.

    La loi ne précise pas quelles sont exactement ces « conditions extrêmes », ou qui les déterminera, en indiquant seulement que la décision s’appliquera, « si la question est nécessaire en raison de l’urgence ».

    Des soldats de l’armée israélienne à Hébron, le 17 juin 2014. (Crédit : AFP Photo/Hazem Bader)
    Le projet de loi initié par la ministre de la Justice Ayelet Shaked est un amendement d’une loi fondamentale qui, auparavant, donnait au gouvernement uniquement la possibilité de décider de lancer une opération militaire avec la présence de la majorité des ministres.

    Présenté par Netanyahu depuis l’année dernière – le projet avait été rejeté plus tôt dans la journée par les membres de deux comités clés de la Knesset : Droit et Justice, et Affaires étrangères et Défense. Il a toutefois été soumis à nouveau par Avi Dichter, membre du Likud et président de la Commission des Affaires étrangères et de la Défense, lors des deuxième et troisième lectures d’un amendement plus large et a été voté dans ce cadre législatif plus large.

    Cet amendement plus large permet au gouvernement de déléguer le pouvoir de déclarer la guerre dans des circonstances normales, ou de se mobiliser pour une opération militaire majeure, à un forum composé « d’au moins la moitié » de tous les ministres du Cabinet.

    Le président de la Commission des affaires étrangères et de la défense, Avi Dichter (D), dirige une réunion de la Commission à la Knesset, le 30 avril 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
    Il y a environ huit ans, Netanyahu et Ehud Barak, alors ministre de la Défense, avaient chargé le chef d’état-major et le chef du service de renseignement du Mossad de placer l’armée en état d’urgence, mais ces derniers lui ont répondu que cela était illégal car cette action n’avait pas été dûment approuvée et pouvait mener à la guerre.

    Cependant, à de nombreuses occasions, des décisions de même nature ont été prises par le seul Cabinet de sécurité, un petit groupe de ministres chargé d’élaborer des politiques en matière de guerre et de paix, ou d’autres petits groupes de ministres.

    Onze ministres sont membres du cabinet restreint de sécurité actuel sur les 22 ministres qui composent le gouvernement Netanyahu.

    Yaakov Amidror (à droite) avec le chef d’état-major général de Tsahal Benny Gantz (Crédit photo : Miriam Alster/Flash90).
    Un comité créé en 2016 sous la direction d’un ancien conseiller à la sécurité nationale, le major-général Yaakov Amidror, pour examiner le fonctionnement du cabinet de sécurité et la manière dont il informe et met à jour les ministres a recommandé de mettre la loi en conformité avec ce qu’il a dit être devenu la « pratique normale ». En juin de l’année dernière, le cabinet a voté en faveur d’une modification de la loi.

    Ayelet Shaked a justifié l’amendement en expliquant devant le Parlement que « dans la situation sécuritaire actuelle, il faut pouvoir rendre plus efficace le travail du gouvernement et du Cabinet ».

    Deux députés de l’opposition – Omer Bar Lev de l’Union sioniste, officier de réserve de l’armée israélienne ayant le grade de colonel et ancien commandant de l’unité d’élite Sayeret Matkal, et Ofer Shelah de Yesh Atid, commandant de compagnie de la Brigade de parachutistes de réserve qui a perdu un œil pendant la guerre du Liban de 1982 – ont averti les comités que le libellé de la nouvelle législation pourrait permettre au Premier ministre d’exclure les députés opposés à une opération militaire et de soumettre une telle opération à un vote en l’absence de ces derniers.

    Le député Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid) s’exprime lors d’une conférence de presse sur ce que l’on appelle la « loi sur la conscription » à Tel Aviv le 12 septembre 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
    Ils ont également déclaré que permettre au Premier ministre et au ministre de la Défense de décider quand une situation est considérée comme « conditions extrêmes » leur donnerait le plein pouvoir de déclencher une guerre sans aucun contrôle.

    Shelah a ensuite accusé les membres de la coalition d’avoir voté « contre leurs propres opinions, en matière de vie et de mort » à cause de la pression exercée par Netanyahu.

    « Le mépris de Netanyahu pour tous ceux qui l’entourent et pour tout ce que nous avons appris au cours de nos nombreuses guerres a pris le pas sur la considération de nombreux membres compétents et expérimentés de la Knesset », a-t-il dit.

    L’Institut israélien pour la démocratie a soumis une série de réserves aux commissions au sujet du projet de loi, notamment en exigeant l’approbation du Premier ministre, du vice-Premier ministre et des ministres de plusieurs ministères clés et en suggérant de définir les activités militaires qui nécessitent l’approbation du Cabinet et celles qui ne le sont pas. Aucune des recommandations de l’institut n’a été acceptée.

    Bien qu’ils se soient opposés sans succès au projet de loi à la Knesset, les partis d’opposition ont déclaré lundi soir au Times of Israel qu’il n’y avait aucun projet de recours contre le projet de loi devant la Haute Cour.

    Cette loi est votée dans un contexte de tensions avec les Palestiniens alors que, depuis le 30 mars, des manifestations dans la bande de Gaza, le long de la frontière avec Israël, ont donné lieu à des affrontements avec les forces israéliennes dans lesquels 45 Palestiniens auraient été tués.

    Par ailleurs, le ministre israélien de la Défense Avigdor Liberman a averti jeudi que son pays s’en prendrait à toute tentative d’“implantation militaire” iranienne en Syrie, après une attaque dans ce pays le 9 avril attribuée à l’Etat hébreu.

    Tout en veillant à ne pas se laisser entraîner dans le conflit syrien, Israël a mené des attaques contre des positions du régime syrien ou des convois d’armes présentés comme provenant d’Iran et destinés au groupe terroriste chiite libanais du Hezbollah qui soutient le président syrien Bashar el-Assad.

    EN SAVOIR PLUS SUR :
    Israël Inside Cabinet de sécurité Armée israélienne Députés de la Knesset Benjamin Netanyahu Avigdor Liberman Ministère de la Défense Commission des affaires étrangères et de la défense de la Knesset Avi Dichter Loi fondamentale Ehud Barak Mossad Agence de renseignements israéliens Benny Gantz Yaakov Amidror Likud Union sioniste Yesh Atid Omer Bar-Lev Ofer Shelah Institut israélien de la démocratie Haute Cour de justice Ayelet Shaked Gadi Eizenkot
    61
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  • Un citoyen néerlandais poursuit en justice des commandants israéliens pour l’attaque de la maison de sa famille pendant la guerre de 2014 contre Gaza
    27 juin | Allard de Rooi pour Mondoweiss |Traduction SF pour l’AURDIP
    http://www.aurdip.fr/un-citoyen-neerlandais-poursuit-en.html

    Ismail Zeyada, un citoyen néerlandais d’origine palestinienne, a lancé une poursuite au civil sur la responsabilité de deux commandants israéliens dans l’attaque de sa maison familiale à Gaza au cours de l’opération Barrière de Protection. Six membres de la famille de Zeyada ont été tués dans l’attaque de juillet 2014 : sa mère (70 ans), trois de ses frères, sa belle-sœur et un neveu âgé de 12 ans. Un de deux invités a aussi été tué. La maison familiale était située à Al-Burayj, un camp de réfugiés du centre de la bande de Gaza.

    Les commandants sont Benny Gantz, chef d’état-major pendant l’opération et le commandant de l’armée de l’air Amir Eshel. Lundi dernier, un bref d’assignation a été envoyé au ministère israélien de la défense. Les deux hommes ont six semaines pour endosser la responsabilité et régler l’affaire avec Zedaya. On peut présumer que cela ne se produira pas et que l’affaire sera portée devant un tribunal civil néerlandais qui devra juger s’il a compétence en la matière.

    L’avocat de Zedaya, Liesbeth Zegveld, connue pour défendre les droits humains, fait remarquer qu’il y a de solides arguments faisant qu’un juge néerlandais pourrait accepter de juger l’affaire. Le plus important est le fait que Zedaya, comme la plupart des Palestiniens, n’a pas accès au système judiciaire israélien auquel l’affaire revient avant tout. Deuxièmement, Israël a déjà traité le cas Zedaya – en vertu du droit militaire, en jugeant que la maison familiale de quatre niveaux était en fait « un centre actif de commandement et de contrôle » du Hamas. Zegveld est très directe sur cet argument : « Le fait est qu’il n’est pas possible de bombarder une maison habitée par des civils. Tuer délibérément six d’entre eux sans nécessité est considéré comme un crime de guerre ».

    #Gaza

  • Un rapport sur la guerre de Gaza s’annonce critique pour Netanyahu Publié le : Lundi 27 Février 2017
    http://www.francesoir.fr/actualites-monde/un-rapport-sur-la-guerre-de-gaza-sannonce-critique-pour-netanyahu

    Ministres et généraux israéliens fourbissent leurs armes avant la publication très attendue mardi d’un rapport sur la guerre de Gaza de 2014 qui s’annonce critique pour le Premier ministre Benjamin Netanyahu et son gouvernement.

    Des fuites ont préparé les esprits depuis des mois aux conclusions probables du rapport de plus de 200 pages.

    M. Netanyahu, son ministre de la Défense de l’époque Moshé Yaalon, le chef d’état-major Benny Gantz et quelques autres auraient insuffisamment préparé le pays à cette guerre, pourtant la troisième livrée par l’armée israélienne dans le territoire palestinien depuis que le Hamas islamiste, grand ennemi d’Israël, s’y est emparé du pouvoir en 2007.

    En particulier, les soldats n’auraient pas été préparés à la menace que représentaient les tunnels creusés par le Hamas sous la barrière de béton et de métal qui ferme hermétiquement les frontières entre Israël et la bande de Gaza. M. Netanyahu et les généraux auraient aussi retenu des informations sensibles qu’ils auraient dû partager avec le cabinet de sécurité restreint.

    Ces conclusions ne devraient surprendre personne. Les services du contrôleur de l’Etat, haut responsable chargé d’inspecter les politiques du gouvernement, travaillent depuis le lendemain de la guerre à ce rapport censé tirer les leçons du conflit.

    Le document élaboré par l’ancien général Yossi Beinhorn est peu susceptible d’altérer le fragile cessez-le-feu observé par Israël et le Hamas depuis fin août 2014 après la plus meurtrière des trois guerres de Gaza : 2.251 morts côté palestinien, dont 551 enfants, et plus de 10.000 blessés, selon l’ONU ; 74 morts côté israélien, dont 68 soldats.

    Mais sa publication annoncée pour mardi à 14H00 GMT devrait déchaîner les hostilités politiques, dans un contexte d’intenses rivalités autour d’un Premier ministre soumis aux fortes pressions de sa droite et affaibli par plusieurs enquêtes de police sur des faits présumés de corruption.

  • Don’t Shoot Down Breaking the Silence, It’s Just the Messenger - Israel News - Haaretz -
    Amos Harel Dec 19, 2015
    http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.692603

    Breaking the Silence was founded in the spring of 2004. Four freshly released soldiers from the Nahal Brigade, who served long tours in Hebron during the height of the second intifada, organized an exhibition that documented their experiences, which was displayed at the Academic College of Tel Aviv-Jaffa. Although some people were outraged by the exhibition, the discussion about the soldiers’ claims was conducted far more calmly than it is today – despite the fact that, back then, suicide bombers were still blowing themselves up on buses in Israeli cities.

    The current Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, was the commander of all IDF forces in the West Bank at the time, and he raised a concern: Why did the founders of the organization not oppose the army actions while they were serving, or at least report on them in real time? His argument was unconvincing. In most cases, a corporal will have a hard time going before the company or battalion commander in real time and saying, “That’s not allowed.” They are not equals. Few soldiers – particularly during regular service – have the ability to make such complaints, especially at a time when military casualties are high and the atmosphere is charged.

    As the years went on, the IDF made two other, more substantial claims. The first regarded the difficulty in translating the soldiers’ testimonies into legal or disciplinary proceedings. Breaking the Silence has always maintained the testifiers’ anonymity, in order to protect them. And during cases where the military prosecutor was interested in investigating, such probes generally ended without results. IDF officials got the impression that publishing the testimonies was more important to Breaking the Silence than any legal proceedings. The IDF’s second claim pertains to the organization’s activities abroad. One can assume that this activity is mostly done for fundraising purposes, but holding exhibitions abroad and making claims about Israeli war crimes certainly offended many.

    This week, there was a new low point in the public campaign against the organization. This combined two trends, only one of which was open and obvious. The first is the direct attack on Breaking the Silence by the right, comprised mostly of McCarthyesque attempts to silence it. These attacks have a sanctimonious air to them. In the eyes of the attackers, the international community is ganging up on Israel, and Breaking the Silence is the source of all our troubles – everything would be fine if it weren’t for this group of despicable liars slandering Israel’s reputation.

    It is hard to shake the suspicion that the attacks against Breaking the Silence aren’t the act of an extensive network operating with at least a degree of coordination. What began as some accusations on Channel 20 continued with a venomous video published by the Im Tirtzu movement, which was immediately followed by demands from the My Israel group (founded by Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked) to prohibit Breaking the Silence representatives from visiting schools. Somehow, Education Minister Bennett succumbed to their demands within a day. In the background, there was also a blatant attack on President Reuven Rivlin. At first, they tried to link him to Breaking the Silence. That failed, because the president made sure to defend the IDF’s moral standing at the HaaretzQ conference in New York. And then the “flag affair” happened, involving Rivlin, Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and the Israeli flag.

    As usual, Im Tirtzu delivered the most extreme elements of the assault. Its ubiquitous video showed the word “Shtulim” – Hebrew for implanted, or mole – above pictures of four left-wing activists who looked like they’d been plucked from a “Wanted” list. The video didn’t leave much room for the imagination: “Shtulim” is another way of saying “traitors.”

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02u_J2C-Lso


    Im Tirtzu accuses leftist activists of being foreign agents. YouTube/Im Tirtzu

    When one of the four featured activists, Dr. Ishai Menuchin – executive director of the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel – says he felt as if the spilling of his blood was being permitted, you can understand why he reached that conclusion. (By the way, Menuchin did reserve duty until an advanced age – in the Givati Brigade, of all places.) The claims that these four organizations are “collaborating with the enemy” have been rejected by the two previous military advocate generals, Avichai Mendelblit and Danny Efroni. Indeed, the two told Haaretz that they are often assisted by these human rights organizations.

    The mainstream media has provided the complementary side of the trend by airing Im Tirtzu’s videos. As journalists, they cluck their tongues and mock the style of the videos, but reap higher ratings. This approach works well in conjunction with media coverage of the current terror outbreak, which is treated relatively superficially and is often an attempt to tackle these issues without providing any broader context. Here, the goal is not to damage the left-wing organizations, but rather marketing a slant on the current reality for Israelis – as if we have the exclusive capability to both maintain the occupation indefinitely and remain the most moral army in the world. But the truth is, it’s impossible to do both. Also, there’s no empirical proof that the IDF is the most moral army in the world (a cliché Rivlin himself employed earlier this week).

    In many cases, the IDF makes an effort – and sometimes a tremendous effort. But it is still a giant war machine. When it is forced to act to defend Israeli civilians and advance into crowded, urban Palestinian territory – as it did last year in Gaza – it causes lots of casualties, which will include innocent civilians. And its control of the occupied territories involves, by its very nature, many unjust acts: limiting movement, entering civilians’ homes, making arrests and humiliating people.

    It is a reality that every combat solider in the West Bank, regular or reservist, rightist or leftist, is aware of. I can attest to it myself: For more than 10 years I was called up to serve in the West Bank many times, as a junior commander in a reserve infantry battalion – before and during the second intifada. I didn’t witness anything I considered to be a war crime. And more than once, I saw commanders going to great lengths to maintain human dignity while carrying out complex missions, which they saw as essential for security. Even so, many aspects of our operations seemed to me, and to many others, to fall into some kind of gray area, morally speaking. In my battalion, there were also cases of inhuman treatment and abuse of Palestinian civilians.

    Those who believe, like I do, that much of the blame for the lack of a peace agreement in recent years stems from Palestinian unwillingness to compromise; and those who think, like I do, that at the moment there is no horizon for an arrangement that guarantees safety for Israelis in exchange for most of the West Bank, because of the possibility that the arrangement would collapse and the vacuum be filled by Hamas or even ISIS, must admit: There is no such thing as a rose-tinted occupation.

    Breaking the Silence offers an unpleasant voice to many Israeli ears, but it speaks a lot of truth. I’ve interviewed many of its testifiers over the years. What they told me wasn’t the stuff of fantasy but rather, descriptions from below – from the perspective of the corporal or lieutenant, voices that are important and should be heard, even if they don’t present the whole picture. There is a price that comes with maintaining this abnormal situation for 48 years. Covering your ears or blaming the messenger won’t achieve anything.

    The interesting thing is that when you meet high-ranking IDF officers, you don’t hear about illusions or clichés. The senior officers don’t like Breaking the Silence, but they also don’t attack it with righteous indignation (although it’s possible that sentiments for the organization are harsher among lower ranks). In recent months, I’ve been privy to closed talks with most of the chain of command in the West Bank: The chief of staff, head of Central Command, IDF commander in the West Bank, and nine brigade chiefs. As I’ve written here numerous times recently, these officers speak in similar tones. They don’t get worked up, they aren’t trying to get their subordinates to kill Palestinians when there is no essential security need, and they aren’t looking for traitors in every corner.

    Last Tuesday, when Im Tirtzu’s despicable campaign was launched, I had a prescheduled meeting with the commander of a regular infantry brigade. In a few weeks, some of his soldiers will be stationed in the West Bank. Last year, he fought with them in Gaza. What troubles him now, he says, is how to sufficiently prepare his soldiers for their task, to ensure that they’ll protect themselves and Israeli civilians from the knife attacks, but also to ensure that they won’t recklessly shoot innocent people, or kill someone lying on the ground after the threat has been nullified.

    The picture painted by the brigade commander is entirely different to the one painted by Channel 20 (which posted on Facebook this week that “the presidency has lost its shame” following Rivlin’s appearance in New York). But it is also much more complex than the daily dose of drama being supplied by the mainstream media.

    Another victory for Ya’alon

    Last Sunday, the cabinet approved the appointment of Nir Ben Moshe as director of security for the defense establishment. The appointment was another bureaucratic victory for Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, part of a series of such appointments over the past year. The pattern remains the same: Ya’alon consults with Eisenkot; Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reservations, delays the process or even opposes outright; Ya’alon insists, but takes care not to let the rift become public; and in the end Ya’alon gets what he wants.

    Ya’alon isn’t generally considered a sophisticated bureaucrat. His political power is also rather limited. He has almost no sources of power within the Likud Central Committee. The fact that he remains in his position, despite the close coordination with Netanyahu and the joint positions they held during the war in Gaza last year and during the current strife in the West Bank, seems to hinge only upon Netanyahu’s complex political considerations. Still, through great patience it seems the defense minister ultimately gets what he desires.

    Ben Moshe’s appointment was first approved by a committee within the Defense Ministry last month. Ya’alon asked that the appointment be immediately submitted to the cabinet for approval, but Netanyahu postponed the decision for weeks before ultimately accepting it. This is partly because of the prime minister’s tendency to procrastinate, which also played a part in the late appointment of Yossi Cohen as the next Mossad chief. But in many cases, there are other considerations behind such hesitations, with the appointment of the current IDF chief of staff a prime example: Ya’alon formulated his position on Eisenkot months before the decision was announced. Eisenkot’s appointment was brought before Netanyahu numerous times, but the prime minister constantly examined other candidates and postponed the decision until last December – only two and a half months before Benny Gantz’s term was set to end.

    Even the appointment of the new military advocate general, Brig. Gen. Sharon Afek, which had been agreed by Ya’alon and Eisenkot, was delayed for months by Netanyahu’s reservations – which, formally speaking, should not be part of the process. Here, it seems the stalling was due to claims from settlers about Afek’s “left-leaning” tendencies, not to mention the incriminating fact that Afek’s cousin is Michal Herzog – the wife of opposition leader Isaac Herzog.

    Over the next month, numerous other appointments to the IDF’s General Staff are expected, but Eisenkot will call the shots and Ya’alon needs to approve his nominations. The chief of staff is expected to appoint a new naval commander; a new ground forces commander; new head of the technology and logistics directorate; new head of the communications directorate; and new military attaché to Washington. In most cases, generals will make way for younger brigadier generals. Eisenkot will likely want to see a more seasoned general assume command of the ground forces, though, and could give it to a current general as a second position under that rank. However, this creates another problem – any general given this job would see it as being denied a regional command post, which is considered an essential stop for any budding chief of staff.

    #Breaking_the_Silence #Briser_le_silence

  • Where’s the housing boom?
    http://features.gisha.org/wheres-the-housing-boom

    Former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, among others, expressed the need for a new approach in #Gaza when he said that the balance must tilt towards hope rather than despair. Otherwise, said Gantz, the fighting might resume. Moreover, while expressing support for #reconstruction, military officials admitted that Hamas would be able to build tunnels even without concrete (Hebrew) if they wanted to.

    Given Israel’s concern over the possible use of construction materials for building tunnels, the Gaza Reconstruction Mechanism, or GRM, was created. [...]

    It is inevitable that a complicated mechanism such as the GRM will slow down reconstruction efforts and increase costs. The question is what purpose it serves, if any.

    [...]

    The GRM sought to achieve a balance between the urgent, vital need for reconstruction in Gaza and the drive to prevent construction materials from reaching hostile entities there. What it mostly achieved was to prove, once again, to what extent Israel exercises control over civilian life in Gaza, while largely disavowing responsibility – this combination harming a beleaguered population.

    #contrôle

  • Conflit à Gaza : l’ONU attribue des attaques d’écoles à l’armée israélienne
    http://www.lemonde.fr/proche-orient/article/2015/04/27/conflit-a-gaza-l-onu-attribue-des-attaques-d-ecoles-a-l-armee-israelienne_46

    Le Monde.fr avec AFP et Reuters | 27.04.2015

    ““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““
    Une semaine plus tard :

    Daniel Tragerman a été tué par un obus de mortier tiré d’un bâtiment de l’ONU
    Le lieutenant-général Benny Gantz souligne la nécessité d’adapter les règles de la guerre aux tactiques du Hamas
    Mitch Ginsburg 4 mai 2015,
    http://fr.timesofisrael.com/daniel-tragerman-a-ete-tue-par-un-obus-de-mortier-tire-dun-batimen

    L’obus de mortier qui a tué le petit Daniel Tragerman, 4 ans, l’avant-dernier jour de la guerre de l’été dernier a été tiré depuis une installation des Nations unies, a annoncé lundi le lieutenant-général (à la retraite) Benny Gantz, qui était aux commandes de l’armée pendant la guerre qui a duré 50 jours.
    (...)
    Évoquant les pratiques du Hamas qui visent principalement les civils israéliens et qui œuvrent depuis les zones peuplées par la population civile, Gantz a déclaré que les pays démocratiques doivent mettre à jour les lois de la guerre, revenir à la période « où les lois de la guerre étaient destinées à limiter les méchants » et pas un outil utilisé par les organisations terroristes dans des combats asymétriques comme cela est le cas aujourd’hui.

  • #Israel Working With #Al-Qaeda ?
    http://www.lobelog.com/israel-working-with-al-qaeda

    Oui, selon rien moins que le très néocon « #Weekly_Standard », qui ajoute que les « intérêts » israéliens divergent de ceux des Etats-Unis qui eux soutiennent les « extrémistes chiites » (le Hezbollah)

    ... another article appearing in the same Weekly Standard edition—“Friend and Foe in Syria: The Enemy of My Enemy Is My Enemy’s Enemy”—by hard-line neoconservative Lee Smith quite remarkably did [address the tie between Israel and al-Qaeda/Nusra]. The article is a compelling one: not only because it concludes that Israel is indeed colluding with al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, but also because it makes abundantly clear that, in Smith’s words, the United States and Israel have reached “strategic divergence” across the Middle East. Stated another way, U.S. and Israeli interests in Syria and elsewhere are no longer the same (if they ever were).

    Smith begins his article with Israel’s outgoing chief of staff, Benny Gantz telling a U.S. audience “that it’s important that the international community defeat both camps of regional extremists.” In the general’s view, Smith went on,

    [O]n one side there are Sunni radicals, like the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate. On the Shiite side are Iran and the Revolutionary Guards expeditionary unit, the Quds Force, as well as Hezbollah and Iranian-backed Iraqi Shiite militias.

    In saying this, according to Smith, Gantz was “tapping into a consensus position” that both sides are “equally bad.” But then Smith went on:

    The reality, however, is that the government Gantz recently served has made clear distinctions between extremist groups in the Middle East, and has backed its preferences on the ground for certain actors in the Sunni camp. The Obama White House has also signalled its priorities, acquiescing to, if not actively supporting, the Iranian-backed Shiite axis.

    (Personally, I find this latter assertion pretty questionable, since Obama has made pretty clear that his regional goal, as he told The New Yorker’s David Remnick a year ago, was to achieve “an equilibrium developing between Sunni, or predominantly Sunni, Gulf states and Iran in which there’s competition, perhaps suspicion, but not an active or proxy warfare.” But let’s return to Smith.)

    (...)

    #Jim_Lobe

  • Hamas fighters are “courageous”: Israeli army chief

    http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/hamas-fighters-are-courageous-israeli-army-chief

    Published Tuesday, October 14, 2014

    Israeli army chief of staff Benny Gantz has described Hamas fighters as “courageous.”

    “We must be honest and say that we fought against brave men,” Gantz said during a discussion with army soldiers.

    “To run up and try to put an explosive charge upon a tank is the act of courageous people,” he added.

    #Hamas #Kataeb_Al_Qassam #Israël #Gaza #Palestine

  • Reservists from elite Israeli intel unit refuse to serve over Palestinian ’persecution’ Israel News | Haaretz
    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.615498

    Forty-three former members of Israel Defense Forces intelligence Unit 8200, including some officers, wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and top military officials, saying they would refuse to do reserve service because of Israel’s `political persecution’ of the Palestinians.

    “We, veterans of Unit 8200, reserve soldiers both past and present, declare that we refuse to take part in actions against Palestinians and refuse to continue serving as tools in deepening the military control over the Occupied Territories.” the soldiers said in the letter, which was also addressed to IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, the head of the Military Intelligence Directorate.

    Among the signatories are a major and two captains in the reserves. Also signing were other intelligence personnel, who include officers and non-commissioned officers who served in the unit in professional capacities.

    “It is commonly thought that the service in military intelligence is free of moral dilemmas and solely contributes to the reduction of violence and harm to innocent people" they said in the letter. “However, our military service has taught us that intelligence is an integral part of Israel’s military occupation over the territories.”

    The signatories claimed, among other things, that while surveillance of Israeli citizens is strictly limited, “the Palestinians are not afforded this protection.”

    The 43 unit members who signed the letter, some of whom serve in the reserves, say that the information that is gathered and stored in the army’s systems “harms innocent people. It is used for political persecution and to create divisions within Palestinian society by recruiting collaborators and driving parts of Palestinian society against itself.”

    For this reason, the signatories say, their consciences do not allow them to continue serving that system and depriving millions of human beings of their rights.

    Daniel, a captain in the reserves who lives in Jerusalem and signed the letter, said that the process of getting signatures for the letter, which took about a year, started with a small group of people who knew each other from the unit.

    “There were fears of how people, and friends from the unit, might respond — if they knew that it was I and if they didn’t know,” Daniel says. But he adds that they felt a sense of responsibility and urgency, so they wrote the letter, Daniel told Haaretz on Thursday. According to the letter’s organizers, most of the people who signed it are reservists, but some of them have adopted a kind of “gray-market dodge” and were not summoned to perform reserve duty.

    “I don’t feel comfortable in my conscience continuing to serve, and instead of dealing with the dilemmas and the ramifications, I chose to take a more evasive route,” Daniel said, describing the “gray-market dodge” he has used for the past three years.

    “Now, later on, we feel that evasion is wrong, and that we have to take responsibility. In the end, I served there for seven years. I believed in what we did there — and for all those reasons, I must take responsibility for what I see as the perpetuation of the cycle of violence. We hope that people will think critically about these things.”

    An official of the IDF Spokesman’s Office said that “Unit 8200 has worked since the day it was established to gather intelligence that allows the army and security agencies to perform their tasks, and each day it helps protect the citizens of the State of Israel.

    "The unit uses varied methods and many fields while using methods and rules directed toward those who consume the information and for its own uses only. Those who serve in the unit are trained after a meticulous search process using training methods that have no parallel in the intelligence community in Israel or in the world. The content of their training places special emphasis upon the fields of ethics, morals and work procedures. These are put into practice during their service as soldiers and officers of the unit, and they are under the constant supervision of commanding officers of various ranks.

    “The concrete claims made in the report are unknown in the Intelligence Directorate. The fact that the alleged signatories of this letter contacted the media before bringing their complaints to their commanding officers or relevant agencies in the army is surprising and raises doubts regarding the sincerity of their claims.

    "Over the years, and particularly in recent years, the unit daily has received appreciation that often takes the form of citations, medals and national-security awards. As for the claims about harm done to innocent people, the process of gaining approval for targets in the army, which is long and meticulous, also takes the topic of uninvolved parties into account.”

    The spokesperson for the Palestinian Authority’s security services, Adnan Damiri, said the reservists made a moral move, and that the Palestinians salute humanitarian ideas of this sort, which come to the aid of an oppressed people, Israel Radio reported.

  • Interview with Former Israeli Security Chief Yuval Diskin - SPIEGEL ONLINE
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/interview-with-former-israeli-security-chief-yuval-diskin-a-982094.html

    Ex-Israeli Security Chief Diskin: ’All the Conditions Are There for an Explosion’

    Interview Conducted by Julia Amalia Heyer

    REUTERS
    In an interview with SPIEGEL, Yuval Diskin, former director of Israel’s internal security service Shin Bet, speaks of the current clash between Israel and the Palestinians, what must be done to achieve peace and the lack of leadership in the Middle East.

    SPIEGEL: Mr. Diskin, following 10 days of airstrikes, the Israeli army launched a ground invasion in the Gaza Strip last week. Why now? And what is the goal of the operation?

    Diskin: Israel didn’t have any other choice than to increase the pressure, which explains the deployment of ground troops. All attempts at negotiation have failed thus far. The army is now trying to destroy the tunnels between Israel and the Gaza Strip with a kind of mini-invasion, also so that the government can show that it is doing something. Its voters have been increasingly vehement in demanding an invasion. The army hopes the invasion will finally force Hamas into a cease-fire. It is in equal parts action for the sake of action and aggressive posturing. They are saying: We aren’t operating in residential areas; we are just destroying the tunnel entrances. But that won’t, of course, change much in the disastrous situation. Rockets are stored in residential areas and shot from there as well.
    SPIEGEL: You are saying that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been pressured to act by the right?

    Diskin: The good news for Israel is the fact that Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Army Chief of Staff Benny Gantz are not very adventurous. None of them really wanted to go in. None of them is really enthusiastic about reoccupying the Gaza Strip. Israel didn’t plan this operation at all. Israel was dragged into this crisis. We can only hope that it doesn’t go beyond this limited invasion and we won’t be forced to expand into the populated areas.

    SPIEGEL: So what happens next?

    Diskin: Israel is now an instrument in the hands of Hamas, not the opposite. Hamas doesn’t care if its population suffers under the attacks or not, because the population is suffering anyway. Hamas doesn’t really care about their own casualties either. They want to achieve something that will change the situation in Gaza. This is a really complicated situation for Israel. It would take one to two years to take over the Gaza Strip and get rid of the tunnels, the weapons depots and the ammunition stashes step-by-step. It would take time, but from the military point of view, it is possible. But then we would have 2 million people, most of them refugees, under our control and would be faced with criticism from the international community.

    SPIEGEL: How strong is Hamas? How long can it continue to fire rockets?

    Diskin: Unfortunately, we have failed in the past to deliver a debilitating blow against Hamas. During Operation Cast Led, in the winter of 2008-2009, we were close. In the last days of the operation, Hamas was very close to collapsing; many of them were shaving their faces. Now, the situation has changed to the benefit of the Islamists. They deepened the tunnels; they are more complex and tens of kilometers long. They succeeded in hiding the rockets and the people who launch the rockets. They can launch rockets almost any time that they want, as you can see.

    SPIEGEL: Is Israel not essentially driving Palestinians into the arms of Hamas?

    Diskin: It looks that way, yes. The people in the Gaza Strip have nothing to lose right now, just like Hamas. And this is the problem. As long as Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was in power in Egypt, things were going great for Hamas. But then the Egyptian army took over and within just a few days, the new regime destroyed the tunnel economy between Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula, which was crucial for Hamas. Since then, Hamas has been under immense pressure; it can’t even pay the salaries of its public officials.

    SPIEGEL: All mediation attempts have failed. Who can stop this war?

    Diskin: We saw with the most recent attempt at a cease-fire that Egypt, which is the natural mediator in the Gaza Strip, is not the same Egypt as before. On the contrary, the Egyptians are using their importance as a negotiator to humiliate Hamas. You can’t tell Hamas right now: “Look, first you need to full-stop everything and then we will talk in another 48 hours.”

    SPIEGEL: What about Israel talking directly with Hamas?

    Diskin: That won’t be possible. Really, only the Egyptians can credibly mediate. But they have to put a more generous offer on the table: the opening of the border crossing from Rafah into Egypt, for example. Israel must also make concessions and allow more freedom of movement.

    SPIEGEL: Are those the reasons why Hamas provoked the current escalation?

    Diskin: Hamas didn’t want this war at first either. But as things often are in the Middle East, things happened differently. It began with the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. From what I read and from what I know about how Hamas operates, I think that the Hamas political bureau was taken by surprise. It seems as though it was not coordinated or directed by them.

    SPIEGEL: Netanyahu, though, claimed that it was and used it as a justification for the harsh measures against Hamas in the West Bank, measures that also targeted the joint Hamas-Fatah government.

    Diskin: Following the kidnapping of the teenagers, Hamas immediately understood that they had a problem. As the army operation in the West Bank expanded, radicals in the Gaza Strip started launching rockets into Israel and the air force flew raids into Gaza. Hamas didn’t try to stop the rockets as they had in the past. Then there was the kidnapping and murder of the Palestinian boy in Jerusalem and this gave them more legitimacy to attack Israel themselves.

    SPIEGEL: How should the government have reacted instead?

    Diskin: It was a mistake by Netanyahu to attack the unity government between Hamas and Fatah under the leadership of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Israel should have been more sophisticated in the way it reacted. We should have supported the Palestinians because we want to make peace with everybody, not with just two-thirds or half of the Palestinians. An agreement with the unity government would have been more sophisticated than saying Abbas is a terrorist. But this unity government must accept all the conditions of the Middle East Quartet. They have to recognize Israel, renounce terrorism and recognize all earlier agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.

    SPIEGEL: The possibility of a third Intifada has been mentioned repeatedly in recent days, triggered by the ongoing violence in the Gaza Strip.

    Diskin: Nobody can predict an Intifada because they aren’t something that is planned. But I would warn against believing that the Palestinians are peaceful due to exhaustion from the occupation. They will never accept the status quo of the Israeli occupation. When people lose hope for an improvement of their situation, they radicalize. That is the nature of human beings. The Gaza Strip is the best example of that. All the conditions are there for an explosion. So many times in my life I was at these junctions that I can feel it almost in my fingertips.

    SPIEGEL: Three of your sons are currently serving in the Israeli army. Are you worried about them?

    Diskin: And a fourth is in the reserves! I am a very worried father, but that is part of it. I defended my country and they will have to do so too. But because real security can only be achieved through peace, Israel, despite its military strength, has to do everything it can in order to reach peace with its neighbors.

    SPIEGEL: Not long ago, the most recent negotiations failed — once again.

    Diskin: Yes, and it’s no wonder. We have a problem today that we didn’t have back in 1993 when the first Oslo Agreement was negotiated. At that time we had real leaders, and we don’t right now. Yitzhak Rabin was one of them. He knew that he would pay a price, but he still decided to move forward with negotiations with the Palestinians. We also had a leader on the Palestinian side in Yasser Arafat. It will be very hard to make peace with Abbas, but not because he doesn’t want it.

    SPIEGEL: Why?

    Diskin: Abbas, who I know well, is not a real leader, and neither is Netanyahu. Abbas is a good person in many respects; he is against terror and is brave enough to say so. Still, two non-leaders cannot make peace. Plus, the two don’t like each other; there is no trust between them.

    SPIEGEL: US Secretary of State John Kerry sought to mediate between the two.

    Diskin: Yes, but from the beginning, the so-called Kerry initiative was a joke. The only way to solve this conflict is a regional solution with the participation of Israel, the Palestinians, Jordan and Egypt. Support from countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and maybe Turkey would also be necessary. That is the only way to consider all the demands and solve all problems. And we need more time, at least five years — and more to implement it step-by-step.

    SPIEGEL: Why isn’t Netanyahu working toward such a compromise, preferring instead to focus on the dangers presented by an Iranian nuclear bomb?

    Diskin: I have always claimed that Iran is not Israel’s real problem. It is this conflict with the Palestinians, which has lasted way too long and which has just intensified yet again. The conflict is, in combination with the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, the biggest security risk for the state of Israel. But Netanyahu has made the invocation of an existential threat from Iran into his mantra, it is almost messianic. And of course he has derived political profit from it. It is much easier to create consensus about the Iranian existential threat than about an agreement with the Palestinians. Because there, Netanyahu has a problem with his electorate.

    SPIEGEL: You have warned that the settlements in the West Bank may soon become irreversible and that it will make the two-state solution impossible.

    Diskin: We are currently very near this point of no return. The number of settlers is increasing and already a solution to this problem is almost impossible, from a purely logistical standpoint, even if the political will were there. And this government is building more than any government has built in the past.

    SPIEGEL: Is a solution to the conflict even possible anymore?

    Diskin: We have to go step-by-step; we need many small successes. We need commitment on the Palestinian side and the acceptance of the Middle East Quartet conditions. And Israel must freeze at once any settlement activity outside the big blocks of settlements. Otherwise, the only possibility is a single, shared state. And that is a very bad alternative.

    SPIEGEL: Mohammed Abu Chidair, the teenager murdered by Israeli right-wing extremists, was recognized as being a victim of terror. Why hasn’t Israel’s security service Shin Bet been as forceful in addressing Israeli terror as it has with Arab terror?

    Diskin: We invested lots of capabilities and means in order to take care of this issue, but we didn’t have much success. We don’t have the same tools for fighting Jewish extremism or even terrorists as we have when we are, for example, facing Palestinian extremists. For Palestinians in the occupied territories, military rule is applied whereas civilian law applies to settlers. The biggest problem, though, is bringing these people to trial and putting them in jail. Israeli courts are very strict with Shin Bet when the defendants are Jewish. Something really dramatic has to happen before officials are going to take on Jewish terror.

    SPIEGEL: A lawmaker from the pro-settler party Jewish Home wrote that Israel’s enemy is “every single Palestinian.”

    Diskin: The hate and this incitement were apparent even before this terrible murder. But then, the fact that it really happened, is unbelievable. It may sound like a paradox, but even in killing there are differences. You can shoot someone and hide his body under rocks, like the murderer of the three Jewish teenagers did. Or you can pour oil into the lungs and light him on fire, alive, as happened to Mohammed Abu Chidair.... I cannot even think of what these guys did. People like Naftali Bennett have created this atmosphere together with other extremist politicians and rabbis. They are acting irresponsibly; they are thinking only about their electorate and not in terms of the long-term effects on Israeli society — on the state as a whole.

    SPIEGEL: Do you believe there is a danger of Israel becoming isolated?

    Diskin: I am sorry to say it, but yes. I will never support sanctions on my country, but I think the government may bring this problem onto the country. We are losing legitimacy and the room to operate is no longer great, not even when danger looms.
    SPIEGEL: Do you sometimes feel isolated with your view on the situation?

    Diskin: There are plenty of people within Shin Bet, Mossad and the army who think like I do. But in another five years, we will be very lonely people. Because the number of religious Zionists in positions of political power and in the military is continually growing.

    About Yuval Diskin

    AP
    Yuval Diskin was the director of Israel’s internal security service Shin Bet between 2005 and 2011. In recent years, he has become an outspoken critic of the policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

    • Extraits ...

      The army is now trying to destroy the tunnels between Israel and the Gaza Strip with a kind of mini-invasion, also so that the government can show that it is doing something. Its voters have been increasingly vehement in demanding an invasion.

      Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Army Chief of Staff Benny Gantz are not very adventurous. None of them really wanted to go in. None of them is really enthusiastic about reoccupying the Gaza Strip.

      It would take one to two years to take over the Gaza Strip and get rid of the tunnels, the weapons depots and the ammunition stashes step-by-step. It would take time, but from the military point of view, it is possible. But then we would have 2 million people, most of them refugees, under our control and would be faced with criticism from the international community.

      the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank. From what I know about how Hamas operates, It seems as though it was not coordinated or directed by them.

  • As casualties mount, the Gaza operation threatens to become a war - Diplomacy and Defense Israel News | Haaretz
    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/.premium-1.606302

    L’étrange (et inquiétant en ce qu’il peut annoncer une multiplication des massacres) langage de #Amos_Harel, propagandiste des militaires israéliens dans le Ha’aretz

    Operation Protective Edge began as a military operation in the Gaza Strip, defined by the IDF as a limited one. By Sunday, Chief-of-Staff Benny Gantz was already talking of a ‘campaign.’ With the current intensity of the fighting and the high number of casualties, the media may soon define this, with some exaggeration, as a war.

  • Dempsey: Israel, U.S. now agree on Iran
    Haaretz

    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.583247

    Israel and the United States have reached a closer understanding on the Iranian issue: the two nations agree about the potential threat to the region and what to do about it, U.S. Chief of Staff Martin Dempsey said on his plane ride home Tuesday, according to USA Today.

    Tensions that arose between Washington and Jerusalem after Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon accused the U.S. of global feebleness have abated after the minister apologized. On Sunday afternoon Dempsey met with the Israeli chief of staff, Benny Gantz. Both generals made a point of remarking on the two nations’ working relationship, and on Tuesday Dempsey drove home the point that the sides have grown closer regarding the Iranian nuclear program as well.

    Despite past differences, he now believes Jerusalem is “satisfied that we have the capability to use a military option if the Iranians choose to stray off the diplomatic path,” said Dempsey, according to USA Today. Moreover, Jerusalem is now more confident that if needed, the Americans will resort to military action, the top soldier said.

    Frustration over Iran had been one of the reasons Ya’alon lashed out at Washington and switched to advocate unilateral Israeli action against Iran’s nuclear program. He later apologized for his words.

    During his two-day visit to Israel Dempsey met with a number of military officials and political leaders and discussed the possibility of Israel and various Gulf nations cooperating on security issues.

    Asked on Monday as to whether Ya’alon’s castigation of America had hurt ties, Gantz said: “There is no doubt that the relationship is as solid as ever.” Dempsey, for his part, said that one of the things he valued most about the relationship was its candor. “The world is complicated enough without our speaking in parables to each other,” the American general said. Today he augmented that with the assurance that the two nations are more in harmony over the Iranian issue as well.