position:justice minister

  • Burying the Nakba: How Israel systematically hides evidence of 1948 expulsion of Arabs
    By Hagar Shezaf Jul 05, 2019 - Israel News - Haaretz.com
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium.MAGAZINE-how-israel-systematically-hides-evidence-of-1948-expulsio

    International forces overseeing the evacuation of Iraq al-Manshiyya, near today’s Kiryat Gat, in March, 1949. Collection of Benno Rothenberg/Israel State Archives

    Four years ago, historian Tamar Novick was jolted by a document she found in the file of Yosef Vashitz, from the Arab Department of the left-wing Mapam Party, in the Yad Yaari archive at Givat Haviva. The document, which seemed to describe events that took place during the 1948 war, began:

    “Safsaf [former Palestinian village near Safed] – 52 men were caught, tied them to one another, dug a pit and shot them. 10 were still twitching. Women came, begged for mercy. Found bodies of 6 elderly men. There were 61 bodies. 3 cases of rape, one east of from Safed, girl of 14, 4 men shot and killed. From one they cut off his fingers with a knife to take the ring.”

    The writer goes on to describe additional massacres, looting and abuse perpetrated by Israeli forces in Israel’s War of Independence. “There’s no name on the document and it’s not clear who’s behind it,” Dr. Novick tells Haaretz. “It also breaks off in the middle. I found it very disturbing. I knew that finding a document like this made me responsible for clarifying what happened.”

    The Upper Galilee village of Safsaf was captured by the Israel Defense Forces in Operation Hiram toward the end of 1948. Moshav Safsufa was established on its ruins. Allegations were made over the years that the Seventh Brigade committed war crimes in the village. Those charges are supported by the document Novick found, which was not previously known to scholars. It could also constitute additional evidence that the Israeli top brass knew about what was going on in real time.

    Novick decided to consult with other historians about the document. Benny Morris, whose books are basic texts in the study of the Nakba – the “calamity,” as the Palestinians refer to the mass emigration of Arabs from the country during the 1948 war – told her that he, too, had come across similar documentation in the past. He was referring to notes made by Mapam Central Committee member Aharon Cohen on the basis of a briefing given in November 1948 by Israel Galili, the former chief of staff of the Haganah militia, which became the IDF. Cohen’s notes in this instance, which Morris published, stated: “Safsaf 52 men tied with a rope. Dropped into a pit and shot. 10 were killed. Women pleaded for mercy. [There were] 3 cases of rape. Caught and released. A girl of 14 was raped. Another 4 were killed. Rings of knives.”

    Morris’ footnote (in his seminal “The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949”) states that this document was also found in the Yad Yaari Archive. But when Novick returned to examine the document, she was surprised to discover that it was no longer there.

    Palestine refugees initially displaced to Gaza board boats to Lebanon or Egypt, in 1949. Hrant Nakashian/1949 UN Archives

    “At first I thought that maybe Morris hadn’t been accurate in his footnote, that perhaps he had made a mistake,” Novick recalls. “It took me time to consider the possibility that the document had simply disappeared.” When she asked those in charge where the document was, she was told that it had been placed behind lock and key at Yad Yaari – by order of the Ministry of Defense.

    Since the start of the last decade, Defense Ministry teams have been scouring Israel’s archives and removing historic documents. But it’s not just papers relating to Israel’s nuclear project or to the country’s foreign relations that are being transferred to vaults: Hundreds of documents have been concealed as part of a systematic effort to hide evidence of the Nakba.

    The phenomenon was first detected by the Akevot Institute for Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Research. According to a report drawn up by the institute, the operation is being spearheaded by Malmab, the Defense Ministry’s secretive security department (the name is a Hebrew acronym for “director of security of the defense establishment”), whose activities and budget are classified. The report asserts that Malmab removed historical documentation illegally and with no authority, and at least in some cases has sealed documents that had previously been cleared for publication by the military censor. Some of the documents that were placed in vaults had already been published.
    An investigative report by Haaretz found that Malmab has concealed testimony from IDF generals about the killing of civilians and the demolition of villages, as well as documentation of the expulsion of Bedouin during the first decade of statehood. Conversations conducted by Haaretz with directors of public and private archives alike revealed that staff of the security department had treated the archives as their property, in some cases threatening the directors themselves.

    Yehiel Horev, who headed Malmab for two decades, until 2007, acknowledged to Haaretz that he launched the project, which is still ongoing. He maintains that it makes sense to conceal the events of 1948, because uncovering them could generate unrest among the country’s Arab population. Asked what the point is of removing documents that have already been published, he explained that the objective is to undermine the credibility of studies about the history of the refugee problem. In Horev’s view, an allegation made by a researcher that’s backed up by an original document is not the same as an allegation that cannot be proved or refuted.

    The document Novick was looking for might have reinforced Morris’ work. During the investigation, Haaretz was in fact able to find the Aharon Cohen memo, which sums up a meeting of Mapam’s Political Committee on the subject of massacres and expulsions in 1948. Participants in the meeting called for cooperation with a commission of inquiry that would investigate the events. One case the committee discussed concerned “grave actions” carried out in the village of Al-Dawayima, east of Kiryat Gat. One participant mentioned the then-disbanded Lehi underground militia in this connection. Acts of looting were also reported: “Lod and Ramle, Be’er Sheva, there isn’t [an Arab] store that hasn’t been broken into. 9th Brigade says 7, 7th Brigade says 8.”
    “The party,” the document states near the end, “is against expulsion if there is no military necessity for it. There are different approaches concerning the evaluation of necessity. And further clarification is best. What happened in Galilee – those are Nazi acts! Every one of our members must report what he knows.”

    The Israeli version
    One of the most fascinating documents about the origin of the Palestinian refugee problem was written by an officer in Shai, the precursor to the Shin Bet security service. It discusses why the country was emptied of so many of its Arab inhabitants, dwelling on the circumstances of each village. Compiled in late June 1948, it was titled “The Emigration of the Arabs of Palestine.”

    Read a translation of the document here (1)

    This document was the basis for an article that Benny Morris published in 1986. After the article appeared, the document was removed from the archive and rendered inaccessible to researchers. Years later, the Malmab team reexamined the document, and ordered that it remain classified. They could not have known that a few years later researchers from Akevot would find a copy of the text and run it past the military censors – who authorized its publication unconditionally. Now, after years of concealment, the gist of the document is being revealed here.

    The 25-page document begins with an introduction that unabashedly approves of the evacuation of the Arab villages. According to the author, the month of April “excelled in an increase of emigration,” while May “was blessed with the evacuation of maximum places.” The report then addresses “the causes of the Arab emigration.” According to the Israeli narrative that was disseminated over the years, responsibility for the exodus from Israel rests with Arab politicians who encouraged the population to leave. However, according to the document, 70 percent of the Arabs left as a result of Jewish military operations.

    Palestinian children awaiting distribution of milk by UNICEF at the Nazareth Franciscan Sisters’ convent, on January 1, 1950. AW / UN Photo

    The unnamed author of the text ranks the reasons for the Arabs’ departure in order of importance. The first reason: “Direct Jewish acts of hostility against Arab places of settlement.” The second reason was the impact of those actions on neighboring villages. Third in importance came “operations by the breakaways,” namely the Irgun and Lehi undergrounds. The fourth reason for the Arab exodus was orders issued by Arab institutions and “gangs” (as the document refers to all Arab fighting groups); fifth was “Jewish ’whispering operations’ to induce the Arab inhabitants to flee”; and the sixth factor was “evacuation ultimatums.”

    The author asserts that, “without a doubt, the hostile operations were the main cause of the movement of the population.” In addition, “Loudspeakers in the Arabic language proved their effectiveness on the occasions when they were utilized properly.” As for Irgun and Lehi operations, the report observes that “many in the villages of central Galilee started to flee following the abduction of the notables of Sheikh Muwannis [a village north of Tel Aviv]. The Arab learned that it is not enough to forge an agreement with the Haganah and that there are other Jews [i.e., the breakaway militias] to beware of.”

    The author notes that ultimatums to leave were especially employed in central Galilee, less so in the Mount Gilboa region. “Naturally, the act of this ultimatum, like the effect of the ’friendly advice,’ came after a certain preparing of the ground by means of hostile actions in the area.”
    An appendix to the document describes the specific causes of the exodus from each of scores of Arab locales: Ein Zeitun – “our destruction of the village”; Qeitiya – “harassment, threat of action”; Almaniya – “our action, many killed”; Tira – “friendly Jewish advice”; Al’Amarir – “after robbery and murder carried out by the breakaways”; Sumsum – “our ultimatum”; Bir Salim – “attack on the orphanage”; and Zarnuga – “conquest and expulsion.”

    Short fuse
    In the early 2000s, the Yitzhak Rabin Center conducted a series of interviews with former public and military figures as part of a project to document their activity in the service of the state. The long arm of Malmab seized on these interviews, too. Haaretz, which obtained the original texts of several of the interviews, compared them to the versions that are now available to the public, after large swaths of them were declared classified.

    These included, for example, sections of the testimony of Brig. Gen. (res.) Aryeh Shalev about the expulsion across the border of the residents of a village he called “Sabra.” Later in the interview, the following sentences were deleted: “There was a very serious problem in the valley. There were refugees who wanted to return to the valley, to the Triangle [a concentration of Arab towns and villages in eastern Israel]. We expelled them. I met with them to persuade them not to want that. I have papers about it.”

    In another case, Malmab decided to conceal the following segment from an interview that historian Boaz Lev Tov conducted with Maj. Gen. (res.) Elad Peled:
    Lev Tov: “We’re talking about a population – women and children?”
    Peled: “All, all. Yes.”
    Lev Tov: “Don’t you distinguish between them?”
    Peled: “The problem is very simple. The war is between two populations. They come out of their home.”
    Lev Tov: “If the home exists, they have somewhere to return to?”
    Peled: “It’s not armies yet, it’s gangs. We’re also actually gangs. We come out of the house and return to the house. They come out of the house and return to the house. It’s either their house or our house.”
    Lev Tov: “Qualms belong to the more recent generation?”
    Peled: “Yes, today. When I sit in an armchair here and think about what happened, all kinds of thoughts come to mind.”
    Lev Tov: “Wasn’t that the case then?”
    Peled: “Look, let me tell you something even less nice and cruel, about the big raid in Sasa [Palestinian village in Upper Galilee]. The goal was actually to deter them, to tell them, ‘Dear friends, the Palmach [the Haganah “shock troops”] can reach every place, you are not immune.’ That was the heart of the Arab settlement. But what did we do? My platoon blew up 20 homes with everything that was there.”
    Lev Tov: “While people were sleeping there?”
    Peled: “I suppose so. What happened there, we came, we entered the village, planted a bomb next to every house, and afterward Homesh blew on a trumpet, because we didn’t have radios, and that was the signal [for our forces] to leave. We’re running in reverse, the sappers stay, they pull, it’s all primitive. They light the fuse or pull the detonator and all those houses are gone.”

    IDF soldiers guarding Palestinians in Ramle, in 1948. Collection of Benno Rothenberg/The IDF and Defense Establishment Archives

    Another passage that the Defense Ministry wanted to keep from the public came from Dr. Lev Tov’s conversation with Maj. Gen. Avraham Tamir:
    Tamir: “I was under Chera [Maj. Gen. Tzvi Tzur, later IDF chief of staff], and I had excellent working relations with him. He gave me freedom of action – don’t ask – and I happened to be in charge of staff and operations work during two developments deriving from [Prime Minister David] Ben-Gurion’s policy. One development was when reports arrived about marches of refugees from Jordan toward the abandoned villages [in Israel]. And then Ben-Gurion lays down as policy that we have to demolish [the villages] so they won’t have anywhere to return to. That is, all the Arab villages, most of which were in [the area covered by] Central Command, most of them.”
    Lev Tov: “The ones that were still standing?”
    Tamir: “The ones that weren’t yet inhabited by Israelis. There were places where we had already settled Israelis, like Zakariyya and others. But most of them were still abandoned villages.”
    Lev Tov: “That were standing?”
    Tamir: “Standing. It was necessary for there to be no place for them to return to, so I mobilized all the engineering battalions of Central Command, and within 48 hours I knocked all those villages to the ground. Period. There’s no place to return to.”
    Lev Tov: “Without hesitation, I imagine.”
    Tamir: “Without hesitation. That was the policy. I mobilized, I carried it out and I did it.”

    Crates in vaults
    The vault of the Yad Yaari Research and Documentation Center is one floor below ground level. In the vault, which is actually a small, well-secured room, are stacks of crates containing classified documents. The archive houses the materials of the Hashomer Hatzair movement, the Kibbutz Ha’artzi kibbutz movement, Mapam, Meretz and other bodies, such as Peace Now.
    The archive’s director is Dudu Amitai, who is also chairman of the Association of Israel Archivists. According to Amitai, Malmab personnel visited the archive regularly between 2009 and 2011. Staff of the archive relate that security department teams – two Defense Ministry retirees with no archival training – would show up two or three times a week. They searched for documents according to such keywords as “nuclear,” “security” and “censorship,” and also devoted considerable time to the War of Independence and the fate of the pre-1948 Arab villages.
    “In the end, they submitted a summary to us, saying that they had located a few dozen sensitive documents,” Amitai says. “We don’t usually take apart files, so dozens of files, in their entirety, found their way into our vault and were removed from the public catalog.” A file might contain more than 100 documents.
    One of the files that was sealed deals with the military government that controlled the lives of Israel’s Arab citizens from 1948 until 1966. For years, the documents were stored in the same vault, inaccessible to scholars. Recently, in the wake of a request by Prof. Gadi Algazi, a historian from Tel Aviv University, Amitai examined the file himself and ruled that there was no reason not to unseal it, Malmab’s opinion notwithstanding.

    According to Algazi, there could be several reasons for Malmab’s decision to keep the file classified. One of them has to do with a secret annex it contains to a report by a committee that examined the operation of the military government. The report deals almost entirely with land-ownership battles between the state and Arab citizens, and barely touches on security matters.

    Another possibility is a 1958 report by the ministerial committee that oversaw the military government. In one of the report’s secret appendixes, Col. Mishael Shaham, a senior officer in the military government, explains that one reason for not dismantling the martial law apparatus is the need to restrict Arab citizens’ access to the labor market and to prevent the reestablishment of destroyed villages.
    A third possible explanation for hiding the file concerns previously unpublished historical testimony about the expulsion of Bedouin. On the eve of Israel’s establishment, nearly 100,000 Bedouin lived in the Negev. Three years later, their number was down to 13,000. In the years during and after the independence war, a number of expulsion operations were carried out in the country’s south. In one case, United Nations observers reported that Israel had expelled 400 Bedouin from the Azazma tribe and cited testimonies of tents being burned. The letter that appears in the classified file describes a similar expulsion carried out as late as 1956, as related by geologist Avraham Parnes:

    The evacuation of Iraq al-Manshiyya, near today’s Kiryat Gat, in March, 1949. Collection of Benno Rothenberg/The IDF and Defense Establishment Archives

    “A month ago we toured Ramon [crater]. The Bedouin in the Mohila area came to us with their flocks and their families and asked us to break bread with them. I replied that we had a great deal of work to do and didn’t have time. In our visit this week, we headed toward Mohila again. Instead of the Bedouin and their flocks, there was deathly silence. Scores of camel carcasses were scattered in the area. We learned that three days earlier the IDF had ‘screwed’ the Bedouin, and their flocks were destroyed – the camels by shooting, the sheep with grenades. One of the Bedouin, who started to complain, was killed, the rest fled.”

    The testimony continued, “Two weeks earlier, they’d been ordered to stay where they were for the time being, afterward they were ordered to leave, and to speed things up 500 head were slaughtered.... The expulsion was executed ‘efficiently.’” The letter goes on to quote what one of the soldiers said to Parnes, according to his testimony: “They won’t go unless we’ve screwed their flocks. A young girl of about 16 approached us. She had a beaded necklace of brass snakes. We tore the necklace and each of us took a bead for a souvenir.”

    The letter was originally sent to MK Yaakov Uri, from Mapai (forerunner of Labor), who passed it on to Development Minister Mordechai Bentov (Mapam). “His letter shocked me,” Uri wrote Bentov. The latter circulated the letter among all the cabinet ministers, writing, “It is my opinion that the government cannot simply ignore the facts related in the letter.” Bentov added that, in light of the appalling contents of the letter, he asked security experts to check its credibility. They had confirmed that the contents “do in fact generally conform to the truth.”

    Nuclear excuse
    It was during the tenure of historian Tuvia Friling as Israel’s chief archivist, from 2001 to 2004, that Malmab carried out its first archival incursions. What began as an operation to prevent the leakage of nuclear secrets, he says, became, in time, a large-scale censorship project.
    “I resigned after three years, and that was one of the reasons,” Prof. Friling says. “The classification placed on the document about the Arabs’ emigration in 1948 is precisely an example of what I was apprehensive about. The storage and archival system is not an arm of the state’s public relations. If there’s something you don’t like – well, that’s life. A healthy society also learns from its mistakes.”

    Why did Friling allow the Defense Ministry to have access the archives? The reason, he says, was the intention to give the public access to archival material via the internet. In discussions about the implications of digitizing the material, concern was expressed that references in the documents to a “certain topic” would be made public by mistake. The topic, of course, is Israel’s nuclear project. Friling insists that the only authorization Malmab received was to search for documents on that subject.

    But Malmab’s activity is only one example of a broader problem, Friling notes: “In 1998, the confidentiality of the [oldest documents in the] Shin Bet and Mossad archives expired. For years those two institutions disdained the chief archivist. When I took over, they requested that the confidentiality of all the material be extended [from 50] to 70 years, which is ridiculous – most of the material can be opened.”

    In 2010, the confidentiality period was extended to 70 years; last February it was extended again, to 90 years, despite the opposition of the Supreme Council of Archives. “The state may impose confidentiality on some of its documentation,” Friling says. “The question is whether the issue of security doesn’t act as a kind of cover. In many cases, it’s already become a joke.”
    In the view of Yad Yaari’s Dudu Amitai, the confidentiality imposed by the Defense Ministry must be challenged. In his period at the helm, he says, one of the documents placed in the vault was an order issued by an IDF general, during a truce in the War of Independence, for his troops to refrain from rape and looting. Amitai now intends to go over the documents that were deposited in the vault, especially 1948 documents, and open whatever is possible. “We’ll do it cautiously and responsibly, but recognizing that the State of Israel has to learn how to cope with the less pleasant aspects of its history.”
    In contrast to Yad Yaari, where ministry personnel no longer visit, they are continuing to peruse documents at Yad Tabenkin, the research and documentation center of the United Kibbutz Movement. The director, Aharon Azati, reached an agreement with the Malmab teams under which documents will be transferred to the vault only if he is convinced that this is justified. But in Yad Tabenkin, too, Malmab has broadened its searches beyond the realm of nuclear project to encompass interviews conducted by archival staff with former members of the Palmach, and has even perused material about the history of the settlements in the occupied territories.

    Malmab has, for example, shown interest in the Hebrew-language book “A Decade of Discretion: Settlement Policy in the Territories 1967-1977,” published by Yad Tabenkin in 1992, and written by Yehiel Admoni, director of the Jewish Agency’s Settlement Department during the decade he writes about. The book mentions a plan to settle Palestinian refugees in the Jordan Valley and to the uprooting of 1,540 Bedouin families from the Rafah area of the Gaza Strip in 1972, including an operation that included the sealing of wells by the IDF. Ironically, in the case of the Bedouin, Admoni quotes former Justice Minister Yaakov Shimshon Shapira as saying, “It is not necessary to stretch the security rationale too far. The whole Bedouin episode is not a glorious chapter of the State of Israel.”

    Palestinian refugees leaving their village, unknown location, 1948. UNRWA

    According to Azati, “We are moving increasingly to a tightening of the ranks. Although this is an era of openness and transparency, there are apparently forces that are pulling in the opposite direction.”
    Unauthorized secrecy
    About a year ago, the legal adviser to the State Archives, attorney Naomi Aldouby, wrote an opinion titled “Files Closed Without Authorization in Public Archives.” According to her, the accessibility policy of public archives is the exclusive purview of the director of each institution.
    Despite Aldouby’s opinion, however, in the vast majority of cases, archivists who encountered unreasonable decisions by Malmab did not raise objections – that is, until 2014, when Defense Ministry personnel arrived at the archive of the Harry S. Truman Research Institute at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. To the visitors’ surprise, their request to examine the archive – which contains collections of former minister and diplomat Abba Eban and Maj. Gen. (res.) Shlomo Gazit – was turned down by its then director, Menahem Blondheim.

    According to Blondheim, “I told them that the documents in question were decades old, and that I could not imagine that there was any security problem that would warrant restricting their access to researchers. In response, they said, ‘And let’s say there is testimony here that wells were poisoned in the War of Independence?’ I replied, ‘Fine, those people should be brought to trial.’”
    Blondheim’s refusal led to a meeting with a more senior ministry official, only this time the attitude he encountered was different and explicit threats were made. Finally the two sides reached an accommodation.
    Benny Morris is not surprised at Malmab’s activity. “I knew about it,” he says “Not officially, no one informed me, but I encountered it when I discovered that documents I had seen in the past are now sealed. There were documents from the IDF Archive that I used for an article about Deir Yassin, and which are now sealed. When I came to the archive, I was no longer allowed to see the original, so I pointed out in a footnote [in the article] that the State Archive had denied access to documents that I had published 15 years earlier.”
    The Malmab case is only one example of the battle being waged for access to archives in Israel. According to the executive director of the Akevot Institute, Lior Yavne, “The IDF Archive, which is the largest archive in Israel, is sealed almost hermetically. About 1 percent of the material is open. The Shin Bet archive, which contains materials of immense importance [to scholars], is totally closed apart from a handful of documents.”

    A report written by Yaacov Lozowick, the previous chief archivist at the State Archives, upon his retirement, refers to the defense establishment’s grip on the country’s archival materials. In it, he writes, “A democracy must not conceal information because it is liable to embarrass the state. In practice, the security establishment in Israel, and to a certain extent that of foreign relations as well, are interfering with the [public] discussion.”

    Advocates of concealment put forward several arguments, Lozowick notes: “The uncovering of the facts could provide our enemies with a battering ram against us and weaken the determination of our friends; it’s liable to stir up the Arab population; it could enfeeble the state’s arguments in courts of law; and what is revealed could be interpreted as Israeli war crimes.” However, he says, “All these arguments must be rejected. This is an attempt to hide part of the historical truth in order to construct a more convenient version.”

    What Malmab says
    Yehiel Horev was the keeper of the security establishment’s secrets for more than two decades. He headed the Defense Ministry’s security department from 1986 until 2007 and naturally kept out of the limelight. To his credit, he now agreed to talk forthrightly to Haaretz about the archives project.
    “I don’t remember when it began,” Horev says, “but I do know that I started it. If I’m not mistaken, it started when people wanted to publish documents from the archives. We had to set up teams to examine all outgoing material.”
    From conversations with archive directors, it’s clear that a good deal of the documents on which confidentiality was imposed relate to the War of Independence. Is concealing the events of 1948 part of the purpose of Malmab?

    Palestinian refugees in the Ramle area, 1948. Boris Carmi / The IDF and Defense Establishment Archives

    “What does ‘part of the purpose’ mean? The subject is examined based on an approach of whether it could harm Israel’s foreign relations and the defense establishment. Those are the criteria. I think it’s still relevant. There has not been peace since 1948. I may be wrong, but to the best of my knowledge the Arab-Israeli conflict has not been resolved. So yes, it could be that problematic subjects remain.”

    Asked in what way such documents might be problematic, Horev speaks of the possibility of agitation among the country’s Arab citizens. From his point of view, every document must be perused and every case decided on its merits.

    If the events of 1948 weren’t known, we could argue about whether this approach is the right one. That is not the case. Many testimonies and studies have appeared about the history of the refugee problem. What’s the point of hiding things?
    “The question is whether it can do harm or not. It’s a very sensitive matter. Not everything has been published about the refugee issue, and there are all kinds of narratives. Some say there was no flight at all, only expulsion. Others say there was flight. It’s not black-and-white. There’s a difference between flight and those who say they were forcibly expelled. It’s a different picture. I can’t say now if it merits total confidentiality, but it’s a subject that definitely has to be discussed before a decision is made about what to publish.”

    For years, the Defense Ministry has imposed confidentiality on a detailed document that describes the reasons for the departure of those who became refugees. Benny Morris has already written about the document, so what’s the logic of keeping it hidden?
    “I don’t remember the document you’re referring to, but if he quoted from it and the document itself is not there [i.e., where Morris says it is], then his facts aren’t strong. If he says, ‘Yes, I have the document,’ I can’t argue with that. But if he says that it’s written there, that could be right and it could be wrong. If the document were already outside and were sealed in the archive, I would say that that’s folly. But if someone quoted from it – there’s a difference of day and night in terms of the validity of the evidence he cited.”

    In this case, we’re talking about the most quoted scholar when it comes to the Palestinian refugees.
    “The fact that you say ‘scholar’ makes no impression on me. I know people in academia who spout nonsense about subjects that I know from A to Z. When the state imposes confidentiality, the published work is weakened, because he doesn’t have the document.”

    But isn’t concealing documents based on footnotes in books an attempt to lock the barn door after the horses have bolted?
    “I gave you an example that this needn’t be the case. If someone writes that the horse is black, if the horse isn’t outside the barn, you can’t prove that it’s really black.”

    There are legal opinions stating that Malmab’s activity in the archives is illegal and unauthorized.
    “If I know that an archive contains classified material, I am empowered to tell the police to go there and confiscate the material. I can also utilize the courts. I don’t need the archivist’s authorization. If there is classified material, I have the authority to act. Look, there’s policy. Documents aren’t sealed for no reason. And despite it all, I won’t say to you that everything that’s sealed is 100 percent justified [in being sealed].”

    The Defense Ministry refused to respond to specific questions regarding the findings of this investigative report and made do with the following response: “The director of security of the defense establishment operates by virtue of his responsibility to protect the state’s secrets and its security assets. The Malmab does not provide details about its mode of activity or its missions.”

    Lee Rotbart assisted in providing visual research for this article.

    (1) https://www.haaretz.co.il/st/inter/Heng/1948.pdf

  • Netanyahu’s Coalition May Help Stave Off Indictment - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/10/world/middleeast/netanyahus-coalition-may-help-stave-off-indictment.html

    Netanyahu protégé de la justice pour prix de son élection. Ca ne traîne pas !

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, who emerged from this week’s election poised to win a fourth consecutive term, may benefit from an effort by his right-wing coalition to protect him from prosecution on possible corruption charges.

    At least one right-wing party expected to join his new governing coalition has been open about its goal of passing a law granting immunity to Israeli Parliament members, including prime ministers.

    Mr. Netanyahu, who worked on Wednesday to consolidate support for a new coalition, is on track to become Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, but also the first to be charged with a crime while in office.

    “If Netanyahu gains the public’s trust in the coming elections,” Bezalel Smotrich, leader of the Union of Right Wing Parties, wrote on Twitter last month, “it will be imperative to enact a law that will prevent him standing trial.”

    Mr. Smotrich said parliamentary immunity was necessary to honor the people’s democratic choice and ensure smooth government. By Wednesday, his party was projected to win five seats in the 120-seat Knesset, or parliament.

    An aide said on Wednesday that Mr. Smotrich was demanding the post of justice minister and another leader of his party wanted to be minister of education.

    #israel

  • Israel’s justice minister sprays ’Fascism’ perfume in provocative campaign ad - Israel Election 2019 - Haaretz.com
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/elections/israel-s-justice-minister-sprays-herself-with-fascism-perfume-in-provocativ

    https://youtu.be/0XvIvYAtuX8?t=44

    Israel’s Justice Minister Sprays ’Fascism’ Perfume in Provocative Campaign Ad

    A new election ad featuring Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked in sultry poses, spraying herself with a perfume labeled ’Fascism,’ has the look and feel of a satiric sketch, but it’s no send up.

    A new election ad for the far-right Hayamin Hehadash party featuring Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked in sultry poses, spraying herself with a perfume labeled “Fascism,” has the look and feel of a satiric sketch, echoing the 2017 “Saturday Night Live” send-up of Ivanka Trump in a mock commercial for the scent “Complicit.”

    But the Shaked ad was no send-up: The images are accompanied by the seductively whispered phrases (in Hebrew) “Judicial reform,” “Separation of powers” and “Restraining the Supreme Court” — all meant to highlight her efforts to weaken the activist courts and give more power to the legislative branch.

    #israël #fascisme_à_découvert

  • 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

  • Europe’s deadly migration strategy. Officials knew EU military operation made Mediterranean crossing more dangerous.

    Since its creation in 2015, Europe’s military operation in the Mediterranean — named “#Operation_Sophia” — has saved some 49,000 people from the sea. But that was never really the main objective.

    The goal of the operation — which at its peak involved over a dozen sea and air assets from 27 EU countries, including ships, airplanes, drones and submarines — was to disrupt people-smuggling networks off the coast of Libya and, by extension, stem the tide of people crossing the sea to Europe.

    European leaders have hailed the operation as a successful joint effort to address the migration crisis that rocked the bloc starting in 2015, when a spike in arrivals overwhelmed border countries like Greece and Italy and sparked a political fight over who would be responsible for the new arrivals.

    But a collection of leaked documents from the European External Action Service, the bloc’s foreign policy arm, obtained by POLITICO (https://g8fip1kplyr33r3krz5b97d1-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/OperationSophia.pdf), paint a different picture.

    In internal memos, the operation’s leaders admit Sophia’s success has been limited by its own mandate — it can only operate in international waters, not in Libyan waters or on land, where smuggling networks operate — and it is underfunded, understaffed and underequipped.

    “Sophia is a military operation with a very political agenda" — Barbara Spinelli, Italian MEP

    The confidential reports also show the EU is aware that a number of its policies have made the sea crossing more dangerous for migrants, and that it nonetheless chose to continue to pursue those strategies. Officials acknowledge internally that some members of the Libyan coast guard that the EU funds, equips and trains are collaborating with smuggling networks.

    For the operation’s critics, the EU’s willingness to turn a blind eye to these shortcomings — as well as serious human rights abuses by the Libyan coast guard and in the country’s migrant detention centers — are symptomatic of what critics call the bloc’s incoherent approach to managing migration and its desire to outsource the problem to non-EU countries.

    “Sophia is a military operation with a very political agenda,” said Barbara Spinelli, an Italian MEP and member of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs in the European Parliament. “It has become an instrument of refoulement, legitimizing militias with criminal records, dressed up as coast guards.”

    Now the operation, which is managed by Italy and has been dogged by political disagreements since it began, is coming under increasing pressure as the deadline for its renewal approaches in March.

    Italy’s deputy prime minister, far-right leader Matteo Salvini, has said the operation should only be extended if there are new provisions to resettle rescued people across the bloc. Last month, Germany announced it would be discontinuing its participation in the program, claiming that Italy’s refusal to allow rescued migrants to disembark is undermining the mission.

    Named after a baby girl born on an EU rescue ship, Sophia is the uneasy compromise to resolve a deep split across the bloc: between those who pushed for proactive search-and-rescue efforts to save more lives and those who favored pulling resources from the sea to make the crossing more dangerous.

    The naval operation sits uncomfortably between the two, rescuing migrants in distress at sea, but insisting its primary focus is to fight smugglers off the coast of Libya. The two activities are frequently in conflict.

    The operation has cycled through a number of strategies since its launch: a campaign to destroy boats used by smugglers; law-enforcement interviews with those rescued at sea; extensive aerial surveillance; and training and funding a newly consolidated Libyan coast guard.

    But the success of these approaches is highly disputed, and in some cases they have put migrants’ lives at greater risk.

    The EU’s policy of destroying the wooden boats used by smugglers to avoid them being reused, for example, has indeed disrupted the Libyan smuggling business, but at a substantial human cost.

    As Libyan smugglers lost their wooden boats, many started to rely more heavily on smaller, cheaper rubber boats. The boats, which smugglers often overfill to maximize profit, are not as safe as the wooden vessels and less likely to reach European shores. Instead, Libyan smugglers started to abandon migrants in international waters, leaving them to be pulled out of peril by European rescue ships.

    Sophia officials tracked the situation and were aware of the increased risk to migrants as a result of the policy. “Smugglers can no longer recover smuggling vessels on the high seas, effectively rendering them a less economic option for the smuggling business and thereby hampering it,” they wrote in a 2016 status report seen by POLITICO.

    The report acknowledged however that the policy has pushed migrants into using rubber boats, putting them in greater danger. “Effectively, with the limited supply and the degree of overloading, the migrant vessels are [distress] cases from the moment they launch,” it said.

    These overfilled rubber boats, which officials described as shipwrecks waiting to happen, also present a problem for the EU operation.

    International maritime law compels vessels to respond to people in distress at sea and bring the rescued to a nearby safe port. And because European courts have held that Libya has no safe port, that means bringing migrants found at sea to Europe — in most cases, Italy.

    This has exacerbated political tensions in the country, where far-right leader Salvini has responded to the influx of new arrivals by closing ports to NGO and humanitarian ships carrying migrants and threatening to bar Sophia vessels from docking.

    Meanwhile, Sophia officials have complained that rescuing people from leaking, unseaworthy boats detracted from the operation’s ability to pursue its primary target: Libyan smugglers.

    In a leaked status report from 2017, Sophia officials made a highly unusual suggestion: that the operation be granted permission to suspend its rescue responsibilities in order to focus on its anti-smuggling operations.

    “Consideration should be given to an option that would allow the operation to be authorized for being temporarily exempt from search and rescue when actively conducting anti-smuggling operations against jackals in international waters,” the report read.

    The EU has also wilfully ignored inconvenient aspects of its policies when it comes to its collaboration with Libya’s municipal coast guard.

    The intention of the strategy — launched one year into the Sophia operation — was to equip Libyan authorities to intercept migrant boats setting off from the Libyan coast and bring people back to shore. This saved Europe from sending its own ships close to coast, and meant that people could be brought back to Libya, rather than to Europe, as required by international maritime law — or more specifically, Italy.

    Here too, the EU was aware it was pursuing a problematic strategy, as the Libyan coast guard has a well-documented relationship with Libyan smugglers.

    A leaked report from Frontex, the EU’s coast guard, noted in 2016: “As mentioned in previous reports, some members of Libya’s local authorities are involved in smuggling activities.” The report cited interviews with recently rescued people who said they were smuggled by Libyans in uniform. It also noted that similar conclusions were reported multiple times by the Italian coast guard and Operation Sophia.

    “Many of [the coast guard officers] were militia people — many of them fought with militias during the civil war" — Rabih Boualleg, Operation Sophia translator

    In Sophia’s leaked status report from 2017, operation leaders noted that “migrant smuggling and human trafficking networks remain well ingrained” throughout the region and that smugglers routinely “pay off authorities” for passage to international waters.

    “Many of [the coast guard officers] were militia people — many of them fought with militias during the civil war,” said Rabih Boualleg, who worked as a translator for Operation Sophia in late 2016 on board a Dutch ship involved in training the coast guard from Tripoli.

    “They were telling me that many of them hadn’t gotten their government salaries in eight months. They told me, jokingly, that they were ‘forced’ to take money from smugglers sometimes.”

    The coast guards talked openly about accepting money from smuggling networks in exchange for escorting rubber boats to international waters instead of turning them back toward the shore, Boualleg said.

    “If the [on-duty] coast guard came,” Boualleg added, “they would just say they were fishermen following the rubber boats, that’s all.”

    Frontex’s 2016 report documents similar cases. Two officials with close knowledge of Sophia’s training of the Libyan coast guard also confirmed that members of the coast guard are involved in smuggling networks. A spokesperson for the Libyan coast guard did not return repeated requests for comment.

    EU governments have, for the most part, simply looked the other way.

    And that’s unlikely to change, said a senior European official with close knowledge of Operation Sophia who spoke on condition of anonymity. For the first time since the start of the operation, Libyan authorities are returning more people to Libya than are arriving in Italy.

    “If Italy decides — since it is the country in command of Operation Sophia — to stop it, it is up to Italy to make this decision" — Dimitris Avramopoulos, immigration commissioner

    “Europe doesn’t want to upset this balance,” the official said. “Any criticism of the coast guards could lead to resentment, to relaxing.”

    Two years into the training program, leaked reports also show the Libyan coast guard was unable to manage search-and-rescue activities on its own. Sophia monitors their operations with GoPro cameras and through surveillance using ships, airplanes, drones and submarines.

    The operation is limited by its mandate, but it has made progress in difficult circumstances, an EEAS spokesperson said. Operation Sophia officials did not respond to multiple interview requests and declined to answer questions via email.

    “The provision of training the Libyan coast guard and navy, as well as continued engagement with them have proven to be the most effecting complementary tool to disrupt the activities of those involved in trafficking,” the EEAS spokesperson said in an email.

    The spokesperson maintained that Libyan coast guards who are trained by Operation Sophia undergo a “thorough vetting procedure." The spokesperson also stated that, while Operation Sophia does advise and monitor the Libyan coast guard, the operation is not involved “in the decision-making in relation to operations.”

    *

    With the March deadline for the operation’s renewal fast approaching, pressure is mounting to find a way to reform Sophia or disband it altogether.

    When Salvini closed Italy’s ports to NGO and humanitarian ships last July, the country’s foreign minister turned to the EU to negotiate a solution that would ensure migrants rescued as part of Operation Sophia would be resettled among other countries. At the time, Italy said it expected results “within weeks.” Six months later, neither side has found a way through the impasse.

    “The fate of this operation is not determined yet,” European Commissioner for Immigration Dimitris Avramopoulos told reporters last month, adding that discussions about allowing migrants to disembark in non-Italian ports are still underway among member countries.

    “If Italy decides — since it is the country in command of Operation Sophia — to stop it, it is up to Italy to make this decision.”

    The political fight over the future of the operation has been made more acute by an increase in criticism from human rights organizations. Reports of violence, torture and extortion in Libyan detention centers have put the naval operation and EEAS on the defensive.

    A Human Rights Watch report published in January found that Europe’s support for the Libyan coast guard has contributed to cases of arbitrary detention, and that people intercepted by Libyan authorities “face inhuman and degrading conditions and the risk of torture, sexual violence, extortion, and forced labor.” Amnesty International has also condemned the conditions under which migrants are being held, and in an open letter published earlier this month, 50 major aid organizations warned that “EU leaders have allowed themselves to become complicit in the tragedy unfolding before their eyes.”

    These human rights violations have been well documented. In 2016, the U.N. Human Rights Office said it considered “migrants to be at high risk of suffering serious human rights violations, including arbitrary detention, in Libya and thus urges States not to return, or facilitate the return of, persons to Libya.”

    Last June, the U.N. sanctioned six men for smuggling and human rights violations, including the head of the coast guard in Zawiya, a city west of Tripoli. A number of officials under his command, a leaked EEAS report found, were trained by Operation Sophia.

    An EEAS spokesperson would not comment on the case of the Zawiya coast guards trained by Operation Sophia or how the officers were vetted. The spokesperson said that none of the coast guards “trained by Operation Sophia” are on the U.N. sanctions list.

    The deteriorating human rights situation has prompted a growing chorus of critics to argue the EU’s arrangement with Libya is unsustainable.

    “What does the EU do in Libya? They throw money at projects, but they don’t have a very tangible operation on the ground" — Tarek Megerisi, Libyan expert

    “Returning anyone to Libya is against international law,” said Salah Margani, a former justice minister in Libya’s post-civil war government. “Libya is not a safe place. They will be subject to murder. They will be subjected to torture.”

    “This is documented,” Margani added. “And [Europe] knows it.”

    Sophia is also indicative of a larger, ineffective European policy toward Libya, said Tarek Megerisi, a Libya specialist at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

    “What does the EU do in Libya? They throw money at projects, but they don’t have a very tangible operation on the ground. They really struggle to convert what they spend into political currency — Operation Sophia is all they’ve got,” he said.

    The project, he added, is less a practical attempt to stop smuggling or save migrants than a political effort to paper over differences within the EU when it comes to migration policy.

    With Sophia, he said, Europe is “being as vague as possible so countries like Italy and Hungary can say this is our tool for stopping migration, and countries like Germany and Sweden can say we’re saving lives.”

    “With this operation, there’s something for everyone,” he said.

    https://www.politico.eu/article/europe-deadly-migration-strategy-leaked-documents

    Commentaire ECRE :

    Leaked documents obtained by @POLITICOEurope show that the #EU knew its military operation “Sophia” in the Mediterranean made sea crossing more dangerous.

    https://twitter.com/ecre/status/1101074946057482240

    #responsabilité #Méditerranée #mourir_en_mer #asile #migrations #réfugiés #mer_Méditerranée #Frontex #EU #UE
    #leaks #sauvetage #externalisation #frontières

    –-----------------------------------------

    Mise en exergue de quelques passages de l’article qui me paraissent particulièrement intéressants :

    The confidential reports also show the EU is aware that a number of its policies have made the sea crossing more dangerous for migrants, and that it nonetheless chose to continue to pursue those strategies. Officials acknowledge internally that some members of the Libyan coast guard that the EU funds, equips and trains are collaborating with smuggling networks.

    Named after a baby girl born on an EU rescue ship, Sophia is the uneasy compromise to resolve a deep split across the bloc: between those who pushed for proactive search-and-rescue efforts to save more lives and those who favored pulling resources from the sea to make the crossing more dangerous.
    The naval operation sits uncomfortably between the two, rescuing migrants in distress at sea, but insisting its primary focus is to fight smugglers off the coast of Libya. The two activities are frequently in conflict.

    The report acknowledged however that the policy has pushed migrants into using rubber boats, putting them in greater danger. “Effectively, with the limited supply and the degree of overloading, the migrant vessels are [distress] cases from the moment they launch,” it said.

    In a leaked status report from 2017 (https://g8fip1kplyr33r3krz5b97d1-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/ENFM-2017-2.pdf), Sophia officials made a highly unusual suggestion: that the operation be granted permission to suspend its rescue responsibilities in order to focus on its anti-smuggling operations.

    “Consideration should be given to an option that would allow the operation to be authorized for being temporarily exempt from search and rescue when actively conducting anti-smuggling operations against jackals in international waters,” the report read.

    A leaked report from #Frontex (https://theintercept.com/2017/04/02/new-evidence-undermines-eu-report-tying-refugee-rescue-group-to-smuggl), the EU’s coast guard, noted in 2016: “As mentioned in previous reports, some members of Libya’s local authorities are involved in smuggling activities.” The report cited interviews with recently rescued people who said they were smuggled by Libyans in uniform. It also noted that similar conclusions were reported multiple times by the Italian coast guard and Operation Sophia.

    In Sophia’s leaked status report from 2017, operation leaders noted that “migrant smuggling and human trafficking networks remain well ingrained” throughout the region and that smugglers routinely “pay off authorities” for passage to international waters. “Many of [the coast guard officers] were militia people — many of them fought with militias during the civil war,” said Rabih Boualleg, who worked as a translator for Operation Sophia in late 2016 on board a Dutch ship involved in training the coast guard from Tripoli. The coast guards talked openly about accepting money from smuggling networks in exchange for escorting rubber boats to international waters instead of turning them back toward the shore, Boualleg said.

    Frontex’s 2016 report documents similar cases. Two officials with close knowledge of Sophia’s training of the Libyan coast guard also confirmed that members of the coast guard are involved in smuggling networks. A spokesperson for the Libyan coast guard did not return repeated requests for comment.

    Two years into the training program, leaked reports (https://g8fip1kplyr33r3krz5b97d1-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/ENFM-Monitoring-of-Libyan-Coast-Guard-and-Navy-Report-October-2017-January-2018.pdf) also show the Libyan coast guard was unable to manage search-and-rescue activities on its own. Sophia monitors their operations with GoPro cameras and through surveillance using ships, airplanes, drones and submarines.

    A Human Rights Watch report (https://www.hrw.org/report/2019/01/21/no-escape-hell/eu-policies-contribute-abuse-migrants-libya) published in January found that Europe’s support for the Libyan coast guard has contributed to cases of arbitrary detention, and that people intercepted by Libyan authorities “face inhuman and degrading conditions and the risk of torture, sexual violence, extortion, and forced labor.” Amnesty International has also condemned (https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Countries/LY/DetainedAndDehumanised_en.pdf) the conditions under which migrants are being held, and in an open letter published earlier this month, 50 major aid organizations warned that “EU leaders have allowed themselves to become complicit in the tragedy unfolding before their eyes.”

    “Returning anyone to Libya is against international law,” said Salah Margani, a former justice minister in Libya’s post-civil war government. “Libya is not a safe place. They will be subject to murder. They will be subjected to torture.”

    “This is documented,” Margani added. “And [Europe] knows it.”
    Sophia is also indicative of a larger, ineffective European policy toward Libya, said Tarek Megerisi, a Libya specialist at the European Council on Foreign Relations.
    “What does the EU do in Libya? They throw money at projects, but they don’t have a very tangible operation on the ground. They really struggle to convert what they spend into political currency — Operation Sophia is all they’ve got,” he said.

    With Sophia, he said, Europe is “being as vague as possible so countries like Italy and Hungary can say this is our tool for stopping migration, and countries like Germany and Sweden can say we’re saving lives.”
    “With this operation, there’s something for everyone,” he said.

    #flou

  • 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.

  • Des Israéliens blessés par balles en Cisjordanie (armée)
    https://www.romandie.com/news/Des-Isra-liens-bless-s-par-balles-en-Cisjordanie-arm-e/978371.rom

    Jérusalem - Plusieurs Israéliens ont été blessés par balles dimanche dans une attaque près de la colonie d’Ofra, dans le nord de la Cisjordanie occupée, a annoncé l’armée israélienne dans un communiqué.

    Parmi les victimes, une femme enceinte a été grièvement blessée, selon une porte-parole d’un hôpital de Jérusalem.

    « Les tirs ont été effectués à partir d’une voiture palestinienne en direction de civils qui se trouvaient à une station de bus », a indiqué l’armée.

    « Des soldats ont tiré en direction de la voiture qui s’est éloignée et les forces de sécurité poursuivent le véhicule », a-t-elle ajouté dans le communiqué.

    • In video - 7 Israeli settlers injured in shooting near Ofra settlement
      Dec. 10, 2018 10:13 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 10, 2018 12:48 P.M.)

      RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Seven Israeli settlers were injured, on Sunday evening, during a drive-by shooting near the illegal Israeli settlement of Ofra, in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah.

      According to Hebrew-language news outlets, a speeding vehicle opened fire towards a group of Israeli settlers, who were waiting at a bus stop, injuring seven of them.

      Among the seven injured was a 21-year-old pregnant woman, who was in critical condition and underwent surgery, during which the baby was delivered prematurely in an emergency procedure.
      (...)
      Additionally, Israeli Justice Minister, Ayelet Shaked, called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to legalize the illegal settlement of Ofra following the shooting that occurred in the area.

    • Thousands sign petition asking Justice Minister to stop deportation of student facing threat of torture

      OVER 13,000 PEOPLE have signed an online petition calling for a halt to the deportation of a Dublin City University student facing the threat of torture if he returns home.

      Zimbabwean national Shepherd Machaya could be deported within days after his permission to remain in Ireland expired on 21 October.

      The former pastor fled his homeland after members of ZANU-PF, the party co-founded by Robert Mugabe, tortured and threatened to kill him in an attempt to force him to join the party.

      After he left Zimbabwe, Machaya’s sister told him that one of his best friends died after suffering catastrophic injuries when he was tortured by the party’s members.

      Machaya, a second year Management of Information Technology and Information Systems student at DCU, has been living in Direct Provision in Laois for the last nine years.

      He completed a Level 5 course in Software Development in Portlaoise College in 2017, before being admitted to DCU under the University of Sanctuary scholarship scheme, which allows refugees to study there.

      However, after his bid for asylum failed earlier this year, Machaya was told by the Department of Justice to leave Ireland by 21 October.

      “From this moment onwards, he could be deported,” DCU Students’ Union President Vito Moloney Burke tells TheJournal.ie.

      “I think we have a few days, but that’s about it.”

      Campaigners say that although his family remains in Zimbabwe, Machaya has made friends in Ireland, which he calls his “second home”, and that he has contributed to the country.

      Burke added that despite contacting Charlie Flanagan and the Department of Justice on multiple occasions, he has received no response.

      “We’ve had growing support on a national level. The most heartening thing is that members of the public are getting involved and signing the petition.

      “Hopefully more attention is brought to Shepherd’s case and this is discussed in the Dáil tomorrow.”

      http://www.thejournal.ie/shepherd-machaya-dcu-student-deportation-petition-4299636-Oct2018
      #Irlande #Dublin_City_University

  • Israel can ’definitely’ absorb 100,000 West Bank Palestinians, justice minister says - Israel News - Haaretz.com

    ’It’s impossible to ignore the processes taking place in the Democratic Party (in the USA). You know, the party itself is becoming less and less what’s considered Zionist,’ Ayelet Shaked tells The Atlantic

    Haaretz
    Oct 10, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/israel-can-definitely-absorb-100-000-west-bank-palestinians-justice-ministe

    Shaked acknowledged that annexation could put Israel at odds with the United States, especially if Democrats take the White House in 2020. “Sadly, it’s impossible to ignore the processes taking place in the Democratic Party. You know, the party itself is becoming less and less what’s considered Zionist,” Shaked said.

  • Netanyahu likely to extend secrecy of some 1948 war documents 20 more years

    Defense establishment asked to lengthen classification period to 90 years, from 70, for material on Deir Yassin massacre, among other events

    Jonathan Lis and Ofer Aderet Oct 04, 2018

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-netanyahu-likely-to-extend-secrecy-of-some-1948-war-documents-20-m

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to sign regulations extending the period of confidentiality for information in the defense archives from 70 years to 90 years. The Defense Ministry and other organization requested the extension to prevent the release this year of some materials relating to the period of the War of Independence in 1948.
    The extension is intended to prevent the exposure of intelligence sources and methods that are still in use today by security forces. The archives also include information that was received from foreign sources under the condition that it would not be released, say defense officials. The draft regulations state that even after 70 years have passed, exposure of some of the archival materials could harm national security. In 2010, Netanyahu extended the period of confidentiality for security archives from 50 years to 70 years.
    To really understand Israel and the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz
    The legal adviser to the Israel State Archives, Naomi Aldubi, circulated a draft of the new regulations to the relevant government ministries Wednesday. The document states that the new regulations will apply to materials held by the Shin Bet security service, the Mossad and the archives of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, nuclear research centers and the Israel Institute for Biological Research. The new rules would also prevent the publication of raw intelligence from Military Intelligence as well as information concerning intelligence gathering for materials classified as secret and higher, along with materials concerning certain Israel Defense Forces and Defense Ministry units.
    The decision is expected to make life much more difficult for historians, other researchers and journalists and would also limit the public’s access to valuable historical information of public interest. For example, the new regulations would prevent the release of certain materials concerning the massacre at Deir Yassin in 1948.
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    In practice, the government will be able to prevent the release of any document related to the War of Independence that it wishes to keep secret. The new rules also contradict the recommendations of the supreme advisory council overseeing the Israel State Archives, which recommended extending the confidentiality of only some of the documents for five years.

    The Archives Law states that any person has the right to examine documents stored in the state archives, but also grants the government authority to restrict access according to the level of classification — for example, materials classified as “secret” — and according to the amount of time that has passed since the materials were created. This period ranges between 15 and 75 years, in accordance with the materials’ source and contents. For example, the classification period for the minutes of classified sessions of Knesset committees is limited to 20 years; for foreign policy documents the period is 25 years; for police archives, 30 years and for minutes of the security cabinet 50 years. Intelligence materials, including those of the Shin Bet, Mossad, Atomic Energy Commission and Biological Institute, remain classified for 70 years.
    Even after this period expires, the state archives and other archives, such as the IDF Archives, have not acted on their own initiative to release the materials. In practice, the end of the classification period alone is not sufficient for automatic declassification of the material. First, the chief archivist must examine the materials. After that, a special ministerial committee, headed by the justice minister, has the right to apply additional restrictions on access to them.
    The committee used its power to prohibit access to the so-called Riftin report on extrajudicial executions carried out by the Haganah pre-independence army. In 1998, half a century after the report was written, its confidentiality period expired, after which it should have been unsealed. In the 20 years that have passed since then, two state archivists requested, and received, extensions of the classification period from the ministerial committee.
    The draft proposal does stipulate that the relevant organizations must draw up new protocols that would enable the unsealing of classified materials after 50 years, on their own initiative. In addition, they would be instructed to conduct an annual review of their classified documents in order to determine whether they can be declassified.

  • A Palestinian vineyard annihilated with chainsaws, with a chilling message in Hebrew
    Gideon Levy, Alex Levac | May 24, 2018 | 6:53 PM
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-farm-terror-palestinian-vineyard-annihilated-with-chainsaws-1.6115

    The grapes are shriveled. The vineyard is dead. Reduced to a large, dried-out, yellowing stain in the heart of the verdant region along Highway 60 where the road runs past the town of Halhoul, north of Hebron. The “yellow wind” that David Grossman wrote about 30 years ago is a dying vineyard here. Two plots of land, with hundreds of vines that were slashed, their stems and shoots sawed off – and within a week everything here had withered and died.

    This is a particularly horrible sight because all the damage was wrought by the hand of man. A wicked, loathsome hand that hates not only Arabs but despises the land itself. In fact, we can assume that it wasn’t just one individual who raided and destroyed this vineyard late Tuesday night last week. To saw off that many plants in such a short time requires a few pairs of nasty hands. And someone also had to smear the threatening words in Hebrew on a rock: “We will reach everywhere.” All before first light illuminated the dark deed.

    When dawn broke, the owner of the vineyard, Dr. Haitham Jahshan, a hematologist, arrived and couldn’t believe his eyes. His vines had been ravaged. First he saw one sawed trunk, then another and another – a sea of butchered vines, whose grapes were grown to be eaten, not for wine – until the full scale of the calamity hit home.

    For his part, Musa Abu Hashhash, a field researcher for the B’Tselem human rights organization, says he’s never seen an act of so-called agricultural crime on this scale.

    When we visited on Monday, Highway 60 was as busy as ever: As the major traffic artery running the length of the West Bank, it serves both Palestinians and settlers. The vineyard lies right next to the road, which has very narrow shoulders at that point. West of the highway looms a fortified Israel Defense Forces observation tower, an Israeli flag flapping above it, where soldiers are present day and night to protect all the local residents and safeguard their property. A network of security cameras covers the road from all directions – yet apparently no one saw anything on that night last week, no one heard the insidious infiltrators or the sounds of the sawing.

    The butchery was obviously done with electric saws – the cuts are precise and sharp, from trunk to trunk, from shoot to shoot, nothing was left untouched, probably to ensure that nothing would remain. Almost all the slashing was done at the same height, about 40 centimeters (15 inches) above ground. A professional job. Many of the trunks look whole, but on closer examination, they too turn out to be cleaved. Some sway between heaven and earth, hanging in space, cut off from their bottom sections and roots. Wounded, scarred, cut in two – nearly 400 slashed vines, according to the owner, Jahshan.

    We follow him, bending over as we pass through row upon row of truncated vines, beneath a ceiling of low iron lattices on which they are tangled and twined. There’s no way to raise your head here, no way to stand up. The soil is clear of stones and has been plowed: Those tending the land here turned the earth over using an all-terrain vehicle on the day after the spoliation, hoping a miracle would occur and the vineyard would begin to revive itself. But the miracle hasn’t happened. It’s clear now that it will be necessary to uproot the entire vineyard and to plant a new one in its place. It will then take three to five years for the first fruits to appear, and some 15 years – the age of the destroyed vineyard – for the crop to reach its optimal yield.

    Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, and so did Dr. Jahshan.

    Though he lives in Halhoul today, Jahshan, 42, studied medicine in Jordan and from 1999 to 2006 did his residency in hematology and molecular genetics at the Hadassah Medical Center and the Herzog Medical Center, both in Jerusalem. Now he runs a blood-disease clinic at Al-Ahli Hospital in Hebron, but also devotes time to working the land from which his family earns a living. The vineyard covered five dunams, 1.25 acres – 5,000 square meters, he explains.

    During the days that passed between the mutilation of the vineyard and our visit, everything withered, shriveled up. The leaves crumble between one’s fingers, the buds have been reduced to dust. This week’s hot, dry winds finished everything off.

    On his cellphone, Jahshan shows us a photograph of the vineyard from last week, on the day after the assault: still green, like the vineyards to the left and right of his property.

    Last Tuesday, Jahshan, together with his father, uncle and two of his brothers, sprayed the vineyard with pesticides, working from early in the morning until the early evening. They didn’t manage to complete the job and decided to return at first light. They left at about 6 that evening and were back at 6 the next morning – only to be dumbstruck by a sight that they will never forget.

    An empty bag of chocolate milk from the Kibbutz Yotvata dairy lies on the ground amid the vines; perhaps the vandals drank chocolate milk as they savaged the vineyard, sucking and slashing. Their car must have been parked on the narrow shoulders of the highway, visible to everyone and seen by the security cameras.

    In one part of the vineyard the raiders left a row of vines intact, perhaps fearful of being seen and caught. By the time they reached the southern section of it they were more confident, and wreaked total havoc. Great hatred must have driven them, complete meanness of spirit. The closest settlements are a few kilometers from here – Karmei Tzur to the north, Kiryat Arba and Givat Haharsina to the south. The immediate suspicion falls on their residents.

    This is the highest spot in the West Bank and the terroir is excellent, the physician-vine grower tells us; he only watered the vineyard once or twice a year from a well at its edge, otherwise depending on rainfall. A few types of grapes were grown here, white and dark. From each sundered trunk, the yield was usually 10-15 cartons of fruit, about 150 kilos of grapes.

    We take refuge from the heat in the shade of a peach tree in a nearby plot that has begun to yield fruit. “It was a vineyard at the height of its yield: 10 tons of grapes a year,” Jahshan tells us. In the years ahead, he won’t be harvesting the leaves, either, which sell for 25 shekels ($7) a kilo in the Hebron market. The harvest was due to begin in September – it starts later here, in the Hebron Hills – but now it’s been postponed indefinitely.

    “Maybe I’ll plant pakos [Armenian cucumbers] instead of grapes,” he muses, and then immediately corrects himself. “Of course I’ll plant grapes again.” If he or someone from his family come to the vineyard after dark, he adds, the army or the police arrive within minutes: “They see everything, but somehow they didn’t see the vandals.”

    Jahshan estimates the damage done to him and his family at about 250,000 shekels ($70,000), though it’s quite clear that the money is not his prime concern. He feels that there is no one to protect him and his property.

    When he and his relatives arrived Wednesday morning they didn’t see anything amiss at first. The vineyard was still green. Even after he saw one vine cut, he never imagined that the whole vineyard had been ruined. They went immediately to the Halhoul Municipality, and from there called the Israeli-Palestinian District Coordination and Liaison Office to file a complaint. They called the police and the Israel Defense Forces, too, and were asked to go back to the vineyard, where police and army officers met them to survey the damage at about 11 o’clock.

    A tracker examined footprints, photographs were taken, and Jahshan and the others were asked to go to the Kiryat Arba police station to file a complaint. It was the police who discovered the black inscription, “We will reach everywhere,” hidden amid the rocks. Jahshan hadn’t noticed it. Since then he hasn’t heard anything from the authorities.

    Shlomit Bakshi, spokeswoman of the Judea and Samaria District of the Israel Police, told Haaretz, “Upon receiving the complaint, the police launched an investigation and several actions were taken. At this stage, the investigation is still underway.”

    Jahshan comments drily that he hopes the police will find the culprits and bring them to justice, but adds, “If a child here had thrown a stone, they would have caught him already.”

    Perhaps the intensive investigation will get an essential boost from Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who on Tuesday tweeted, “Ratcheting up the uncompromising war on agricultural crime. No longer mild punishment without deterrence Yesterday, a bill I sponsored was passed [by the Knesset] in the first vote [of three], stipulating that a police officer can levy a stiff fine in offenses involving agricultural crime. That way the criminal will receive immediate painful economic punishment.”

    Agricultural crime, stiff and painful punishment – Shaked was undoubtedly referring also, perhaps even mainly, to the ongoing, routine agricultural terror perpetrated by Jewish vandals against Palestinian farmers.

  • In Israel, growing fascism and a racism akin to early Nazism
    Zeev Sternhell Jan 19, 2018 2:00 AM
    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-in-israel-growing-fascism-and-a-racism-akin-to-early-nazism-1.5746

    I frequently ask myself how a historian in 50 or 100 years will interpret our period. When, he will ask, did people in Israel start to realize that the state that was established in the War of Independence, on the ruins of European Jewry and at the cost of the blood of combatants some of whom were Holocaust survivors, had devolved into a true monstrosity for its non-Jewish inhabitants. When did some Israelis understand that their cruelty and ability to bully others, Palestinians or Africans, began eroding the moral legitimacy of their existence as a sovereign entity?

    The answer, that historian might say, was embedded in the actions of Knesset members such as Miki Zohar and Bezalel Smotrich and the bills proposed by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. The nation-state law, which looks like it was formulated by the worst of Europe’s ultra-nationalists, was only the beginning. Since the left did not protest against it in its Rothschild Boulevard demonstrations, it served as a first nail in the coffin of the old Israel, the one whose Declaration of Independence will remain as a museum showpiece. This archaeological relic will teach people what Israel could have become if its society hadn’t disintegrated from the moral devastation brought on by the occupation and apartheid in the territories.

    The left is no longer capable of overcoming the toxic ultra-nationalism that has evolved here, the kind whose European strain almost wiped out a majority of the Jewish people. The interviews Haaretz’s Ravit Hecht held with Smotrich and Zohar (December 3, 2016 and October 28, 2017) should be widely disseminated on all media outlets in Israel and throughout the Jewish world. In both of them we see not just a growing Israeli fascism but racism akin to Nazism in its early stages.

    Like every ideology, the Nazi race theory developed over the years. At first it only deprived Jews of their civil and human rights. It’s possible that without World War II the “Jewish problem” would have ended only with the “voluntary” expulsion of Jews from Reich lands. After all, most of Austria and Germany’s Jews made it out in time. It’s possible that this is the future facing Palestinians.

    Indeed, Smotrich and Zohar don’t wish to physically harm Palestinians, on condition that they don’t rise against their Jewish masters. They only wish to deprive them of their basic human rights, such as self-rule in their own state and freedom from oppression, or equal rights in case the territories are officially annexed to Israel. For these two representatives of the Knesset majority, the Palestinians are doomed to remain under occupation forever. It’s likely that the Likud’s Central Committee also thinks this way. The reasoning is simple: The Arabs aren’t Jews, so they cannot demand ownership over any part of the land that was promised to the Jewish people.

    According to the concepts of Smotrich, Zohar and Shaked, a Jew from Brooklyn who has never set foot in this country is the legitimate owner of this land, while a Palestinian whose family has lived here for generations is a stranger, living here only by the grace of the Jews. “A Palestinian,” Zohar tells Hecht, “has no right to national self-determination since he doesn’t own the land in this country. Out of decency I want him here as a resident, since he was born here and lives here – I won’t tell him to leave. I’m sorry to say this but they have one major disadvantage – they weren’t born as Jews.”

    From this one may assume that even if they all converted, grew side-curls and studied Torah, it would not help. This is the situation with regard to Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers and their children, who are Israeli for all intents and purposes. This is how it was with the Nazis. Later comes apartheid, which could apply under certain circumstances to Arabs who are citizens of Israel. Most Israelis don’t seem worried.

  • Une importante tribune de l’histoirien Zeev Sternehll
    In Israel, growing fascism and a racism akin to early Nazism

    They don’t wish to physically harm Palestinians. They only wish to deprive them of their basic human rights, such as self-rule in their own state and freedom from oppression

    Zeev Sternhell 19.01.2018

    I frequently ask myself how a historian in 50 or 100 years will interpret our period. When, he will ask, did people in Israel start to realize that the state that was established in the War of Independence, on the ruins of European Jewry and at the cost of the blood of combatants some of whom were Holocaust survivors, had devolved into a true monstrosity for its non-Jewish inhabitants. When did some Israelis understand that their cruelty and ability to bully others, Palestinians or Africans, began eroding the moral legitimacy of their existence as a sovereign entity?
    The answer, that historian might say, was embedded in the actions of Knesset members such as Miki Zohar and Bezalel Smotrich and the bills proposed by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. The nation-state law, which looks like it was formulated by the worst of Europe’s ultra-nationalists, was only the beginning. Since the left did not protest against it in its Rothschild Boulevard demonstrations, it served as a first nail in the coffin of the old Israel, the one whose Declaration of Independence will remain as a museum showpiece. This archaeological relic will teach people what Israel could have become if its society hadn’t disintegrated from the moral devastation brought on by the occupation and apartheid in the territories.
    The left is no longer capable of overcoming the toxic ultra-nationalism that has evolved here, the kind whose European strain almost wiped out a majority of the Jewish people. The interviews Haaretz’s Ravit Hecht held with Smotrich and Zohar (December 3, 2016 and October 28, 2017) should be widely disseminated on all media outlets in Israel and throughout the Jewish world. In both of them we see not just a growing Israeli fascism but racism akin to Nazism in its early stages.
    Like every ideology, the Nazi race theory developed over the years. At first it only deprived Jews of their civil and human rights. It’s possible that without World War II the “Jewish problem” would have ended only with the “voluntary” expulsion of Jews from Reich lands. After all, most of Austria and Germany’s Jews made it out in time. It’s possible that this is the future facing Palestinians.
    Indeed, Smotrich and Zohar don’t wish to physically harm Palestinians, on condition that they don’t rise against their Jewish masters. They only wish to deprive them of their basic human rights, such as self-rule in their own state and freedom from oppression, or equal rights in case the territories are officially annexed to Israel. For these two representatives of the Knesset majority, the Palestinians are doomed to remain under occupation forever. It’s likely that the Likud’s Central Committee also thinks this way. The reasoning is simple: The Arabs aren’t Jews, so they cannot demand ownership over any part of the land that was promised to the Jewish people.
    According to the concepts of Smotrich, Zohar and Shaked, a Jew from Brooklyn who has never set foot in this country is the legitimate owner of this land, while a Palestinian whose family has lived here for generations is a stranger, living here only by the grace of the Jews. “A Palestinian,” Zohar tells Hecht, “has no right to national self-determination since he doesn’t own the land in this country. Out of decency I want him here as a resident, since he was born here and lives here – I won’t tell him to leave. I’m sorry to say this but they have one major disadvantage – they weren’t born as Jews.”

    From this one may assume that even if they all converted, grew side-curls and studied Torah, it would not help. This is the situation with regard to Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers and their children, who are Israeli for all intents and purposes. This is how it was with the Nazis. Later comes apartheid, which could apply under certain circumstances to Arabs who are citizens of Israel. Most Israelis don’t seem worried.

    Zeev Sternhell
    Haaretz Contributor

  • Israeli Settler Shot and Killed in Drive-By Shooting
    IMEMC News | January 10, 2018 9:37 AM
    http://imemc.org/article/israeli-settler-rabbi-shot-and-killed-in-drive-by-shooting

    An Israeli settler, identified as 35-year old Rabbi Raziel Shevach, was shot and killed Tuesday while driving on an Israeli settler-only road near a colonial outpost in the northern part of the West Bank, near Nablus.

    update 9:40 am January 10th 2018:

    Israeli Education Minister, Naftali Bennett, the head of the ‘Jewish Home’ right-wing party, called for legalizing Havat Gilad outpost, and for conducting massive construction and expansion of Israeli colonies, in the occupied West Bank.

    “It is not enough to apprehend the shooters, we need to take direct action by building and expanding the settlements,” he said, “Mahmoud Abbas needs to understand the heavy price the Palestinians will pay because of these attacks.”

    Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked also called for harsh measures, and said that Israel needs to expel the families of Palestinian attackers, and demolish their homes.(...)

    • Territoires palestiniens : Israël recherche l’assassin d’un colon illégal
      Par RFI | Publié le 10-01-2018 | Avec notre correspondante à Ramallah, Marine Vlahovic
      http://www.rfi.fr/moyen-orient/20180110-territoires-palestiniens-israel-recherche-assassin-colon-illegal

      Dans les Territoires Palestiniens, une véritable chasse à l’homme a commencé mardi 9 janvier, après le meurtre d’un colon israélien, près de l’avant-poste israélien de Havat Gilad à côté de Naplouse en Cisjordanie.
      L’armée israélienne a partiellement bouclé le nord de la Cisjordanie, au matin du 10 janvier. A l’entrée de Naplouse, l’une des plus grandes villes des Territoires Palestiniens et dans les villages aux alentours, les forces de sécurité israéliennes empêchent les habitants de circuler librement.
      Israël cherche ainsi à retrouver les auteurs de l’attaque qui a coûté la vie à un colon israélien de l’avant-poste illégal de Havat Gilad à côté de Naplouse, la veille au soir.
      Attaque pas revendiquée
      Raziel Shebach était au volant de sa voiture lorsqu’il a été atteint de tirs d’arme automatique. Si les Brigades al-Qassam, la branche armée du Hamas, se sont félicitées de cette attaque, celle-ci n’a toujours pas été revendiquée.

  • Germany’s populist AfD seeks to turn online ’censorship’ to its advantage
    http://www.dw.com/en/germanys-populist-afd-seeks-to-turn-online-censorship-to-its-advantage/a-42004730

    Gauland calls new law ’Stasi tactics’

    A Tuesday press release from party chair Alexander Gauland was given a rather grand title: “Freedom of opinion came to an end in 2017.”

    Watch video05:01
    German MP under fire for anti-Muslim tweets – DW’s Michaela Küfner and Marina Strauss
    “The censorship law of [acting Justice Minister] Heiko Maas is already showing its negative effects on freedom on the first day of the new year,” Gauland said. “These Stasi tactics remind me of the GDR [former East Germany]. I call on every single social media user to resist this repression and to publish the deleted comments over and over again!”

    But the AfD’s efforts to draw attention were most pronounced on social media itself, an effective channel of communication for the party. Parliamentary group leader Alice Weidel and her deputy, Beatrix von Storch, are both facing investigation by law enforcement authorities in Cologne on the basis of suspected incitement of racial hatred online. The party shared this news with photos of the two politicians, with gags photo-shopped onto their mouths, and linked it to the German government’s recent comments about protests in Iran.

  • Netanyahu agrees to exclude settlements from economic deal with European Union - Israel News

    Deal would award tens of millions of euros to initiatives across Mediterranean ■ EU policy states funding cannot be allocated to territories occupied by Israel in 1967

    Noa Landau Dec 14, 2017
    read more: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.829063

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has given approval in principle to a cooperation agreement with the European Union that contains a provision excluding the settlements.
    To really understand the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz
    Netanyahu approved the wording of a cabinet resolution on the subject this week. If no ministers object to the resolution by January 1, it will be approved automatically. If so, Israel will effectively have consented to EU funding that is contingent on a boycott of the settlements.
    The resolution has now been signed by all the relevant government offices, including those of Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Habayit Hayehudi), two of the most vocal settlement supporters in the government.
    The agreement, known by the acronym ENI CBC Med (which stands for “cross-border cooperation in the Mediterranean), awards tens of millions of euros in funding to ventures that entail cooperation with the 14 Mediterranean Basin countries that aren’t EU members. These include Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

  • Israel: Apartheid under the law

    If a genuine opposition existed in Israel with a worthy leader, it would shout from every platform that the policy of theft and dispossession is destroying whatever chance remains of a two-state solution

    Zeev Sternhell Nov 23, 2017
    read more: https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.824732

    In the past, a story was famously told in Israel about a clash between Golda Meir and Justice Minister Haim Tzadok, who disagreed with her in a cabinet meeting. At the end of the meeting, she went over to him and told him she thought they were friends. Yes, he replied, but I’m also the justice minister of Israel.
    His words reflected the governmental culture of yore, a culture that current Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and her post-fascist party deem infantile. But the crude violence she propagates is much more dangerous than the primitive vulgarity of Likud’s Miri Regev, David Amsalem or Oren Hazan.
    This is all nothing new. What’s new is the way the attorney general is kowtowing to the will of the justice minister and her party. Shaked wanted Avichai Mendelblit from the beginning, apparently because she knew from what cloth the former cabinet secretary was cut regarding issues critical to the government – the occupation, the settlements and Palestinian rights.
    And now he’s supplying the goods. How is the heir to Haim Cohen, Aharon Barak and Yitzhak Zamir not embarrassed to revoke his professional opinion concerning the “illegal outposts” – as if the rest were legal – while brazenly sanctioning the minister’s request to steal Palestinian land, both private and public, for the “public need” of the settlers; i.e., to pave roads for Jews only? This is what the rule of law has come to in Israel.
    Based on the figures reported by Nahum Barnea in Yedioth Ahronoth last Friday, an extensive amount of territory is to be expropriated and, for the convenience of the occupiers, construction will be prohibited “only” on some of it. This isn’t the first intolerable act of an apartheid system that receives a legal seal of approval. High Court petitions against the move will surely be filed, but they may not be enough to bring this policy to an enduring halt. Settlement advocates dominate in the government and the army, so there’s no real way to stop it.
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    So there is no recourse but to call on public opinion, the media and the universities to apply pressure. There is an urgent need for a broad campaign on American and European campuses, and in EU institutions, against this apartheid. The Israeli public is an equally important target, and in the absence of an active opposition party, the social justice organizations must reach this audience.

    If a genuine opposition existed in Israel with a worthy leader, it would be shouting from every possible platform that the policy of theft and dispossession is destroying whatever remains of the possibility of separating from the Palestinians via the establishment of a Palestinian state. Who will fight this government? Certainly not someone who thinks that groveling and ideological kowtowing to the right are the recipe for getting elected.
    It’s important to stress that there’s a big difference between appealing to groups that, for historical reasons, can’t identify with Labor, and signing on to the right’s crude nationalism. This nationalism is a violent and destructive European phenomenon that has nothing to do with the culture of North African Jewry, any kind of Jewish identity or the Jewish religion. To win the hearts of the people who live in the country’s outskirts, it’s not necessary to support the occupation and settlements, which does nothing to redress social injustice – just the opposite.
    Thus a party that wants to replace Likud in power must first convince people that it has an alternative national policy. This goal will not be achieved by making foolish statements about how peace can be reached with the Palestinians without evacuating a single settlement, or by being complicit in turning Judaism into a means of control and oppression of people who had the misfortune not to be born Jews.

    Zeev Sternhell
    Haaretz Contributor

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  • Explained: How Israel is trying to break Breaking the Silence – and how it could backfire

    What happened after a former Israeli soldier confessed he assaulted an unarmed Palestinian

    Judy Maltz Nov 21, 2017
    read more: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.824227

    Following a relatively swift investigation, a former Israeli combat soldier was cleared of allegations that he assaulted an unarmed Palestinian during a tour of duty in Hebron.
    It might have been cause for celebration, had the soldier not been the one to bring the allegations against himself.
    So last week, when the State Prosecutor’s Office alleged that Dean Issacharoff, spokesman of the soldiers’ anti-occupation group Breaking the Silence, had lied about his actions, Israeli right-wing leaders naturally rejoiced.
    >> To whitewash occupation, Netanyahu crew casts Breaking the Silence whistle-blower as bogeyman | Opinion
    The findings, they claimed, were further evidence of what they have been saying for years – that Breaking the Silence is an organization of liars and traitors bent on defaming the State of Israel and the Israeli army.
    skip - IDF soldier accused of accosting Palestinian man

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    As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared in a Facebook post: “Breaking the Silence lies and slanders our soldiers around the world. Today this fact received further proof, if anyone had a doubt. The truth wins out.”
    But in the latest twist in a case that has gripped the nation in recent days, Netanyahu’s declaration of victory appears to be premature.
    According to brand new evidence, the state prosecutors who pronounced Issacharoff a liar may have been investigating the wrong incident and questioning the wrong victim.

    Breaking the Silence spokesman Dean Issacharoff, who confessed in a video to beating up a Palestinian in the West Bank while in the Israeli army.Breaking the Silence
    Newly unearthed footage, broadcast on two of Israel’s most popular evening news programs Monday, suggests that the Palestinian whom Issacharoff claims to have assaulted was not the same Palestinian questioned by state investigators.

    It also appears that the Palestinian questioned by state investigators, the one who testified that Issacharoff had not assaulted him, had been referring to a completely different incident.
    In the clip, filmed three-and-a-half years ago by a Hebron resident employed by another Israeli human rights organization, Issacharoff is seen escorting a handcuffed Palestinian who appears to have bruises on his face. How he received the bruises and the circumstances of his arrest are not clear from the footage.
    An account published Tuesday morning in Haaretz by Amira Hass raises further questions about the credibility of the state prosecutors’ findings. In his first interview since the findings were published, Hassan Joulani, the Palestinian questioned by investigators about the incident, said that contrary to what state prosecutors reported, he had indeed been assaulted during his arrest – although by Border Police and not by Issacharoff.
    The blows, he said, were received during a separate incident – not the one cited by Issacharoff in the videotaped account that prompted the investigation.
    Joulani was arrested and beaten, according to this interview with him, in February 2014, during a demonstration marking the 20th anniversary of the mass murder of Palestinians at Hebron’s Cave of the Patriarchs by settler Baruch Goldstein.
    The assault reported by Issacharoff, however, took place after a routine round of stone-throwing.
    On one level, it boils down to the simple question of whether or not a former Israeli soldier lied.
    On a whole other level, however, the case of Issacharoff raises more fundamental questions about Israel’s 50-year-old occupation and its corrosive effects on society, among them: Who is to blame when soldiers serving among a hostile population in occupied territory act badly – the soldiers or the state that sent them there? Should Israeli soldiers speak out about the atrocities they witness during their service at the risk of tarnishing the image of the state? Can an investigation launched by a right-wing politician who harbors hostility toward anti-occupation organizations – in this case, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked – really be undertaken with neutrality?

  • Israeli prime minister after Six-Day War: ’We’ll deprive Gaza of water, and the Arabs will leave’
    Declassified minutes of inner cabinet sessions in the months after the Six-Day War show government ministers who were at a loss to deal with its implications
    Ofer Aderet Nov 16, 2017 8:24 AM
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.823075

    “Empty” the Gaza Strip, “thin out” the Galilee, rewrite textbooks and censor political cartoons in Haaretz: These are among the proposals discussed by cabinet ministers after the Six-Day War that will be available to the public in a major release of declassified government documents by the Israel State Archives on Thursday.

    The material being posted on the state archives’ website includes hundreds of pages of minutes from meetings of the inner cabinet between August and December 1967. From reading them, it is clear that in the several months that followed the June 1967 war, members of the security cabinet were perplexed, confused and sometimes helpless in the face of the new challenges to the state. Israel conquered East Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula in under a week. It was not even remotely prepared for this scenario, and had to hit the ground running.

    In December 1967, six months after the war, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol speculated over how to deal with the hundreds of thousands of Arabs newly under the state’s control. “At some point we will have to decide. There are 600,000 Arabs in these territories now. What will be the status of these 600,000 Arabs?” he asked.

    Eshkol evidently felt no urgency in regard to the matter. “I suggest that we don’t come to a vote or a decision today; there’s time to deal with this joy, or better put, there’s time to deal with this trouble,” he said. “But for the record I’m prepared to say this: There’s no reason for the government to determine its position on the future of the West Bank right now. We’ve been through three wars in 20 years; we can go another 20 years without a decision.”

    He got backing from Transportation Minister Moshe Carmel, who said, “If we sit 20 years, the world will get used to our being in those territories, in any case no less than they got used to [Jordan’s King] Hussein being there. We have more rights; we are more identified with these territories than he is.”

    But an examination of other documents shows that Eshkol was well aware that Israel couldn’t ignore the problems posed by the occupation for long, particularly its rule over hundreds of thousands of Arabs. In one discussion he compared the Israel to “a giraffe’s neck,” because it was so narrow. “The strip of this country is like a miserable, threatening neck for us, literally stretched out for slaughter,” he said. “I cannot imagine it — how we will organize life in this country when we have 1.4 million Arabs and we are 2.4 million, with 400,000 Arabs already in the country?”

    One of the “solutions” to the new situation, according to Eshkol, was to encourage Arabs to emigrate. In this context Eshkol told the ministers that he was “working on the establishment of a unit or office that will engage in encouraging Arab emigration.” He added, “We should deal with this issue quietly, calmly and covertly, and we should work on finding a way from them to emigrate to other countries and not just over the Jordan [River].”

    Eshkol expressed the hope that, “precisely because of the suffocation and imprisonment there, maybe the Arabs will move from the Gaza Strip,” adding that there were ways to remove those who remained. “Perhaps if we don’t give them enough water they won’t have a choice, because the orchards will yellow and wither,” he said in this context. Another “solution,” he said, could be another war. “Perhaps we can expect another war and then this problem will be solved. But that’s a type of ‘luxury,’ an unexpected solution.”

    “We are interested in emptying out Gaza first,” Eshkol summed up. To which Labor Minister Yigal Allon suggested “thinning the Galilee of Arabs,” while Religious Affairs Minister Zerah Warhaftig said, “We must increase [the number of] Jews and take all possible measures to reduce the number of Arabs.”

    One idea raised by Defense Minister Moshe Dayan was to give the Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza permits to work abroad, in the hope that some would prefer to stay there. “By allowing these Arabs to seek and find work in foreign countries, there’s a greater chance that they’ll want to migrate to those countries later,” Dayan said.

    As for Gaza, Dayan was pretty optimistic. According to his calculations, of the 400,000 people who then lived in Gaza, only 100,000 would remain. The rest, whom he termed refugees, “must be removed from there under any arrangement that’s made.” Among his ideas was to resettle the Gazans in eastern Jordan.

    Nor was Dayan particularly worried about Israeli military rule in the West Bank. “No soldier will have any interest in interfering in the lives of the inhabitants. I have no interest in the army sitting precisely in Nablus. It can sit on a hill outside Nablus.”

    Justice Minister Yaakov Shimshon Shapira took the opposite position, calling for Israel to withdraw from the territories and warning that Israel couldn’t exist as a Jewish state if it retained them. “We won’t be able to maintain the army, when there will such a large percentage of residents who [won’t serve] in the army. There won’t be a[n army] command without Arabs and certainly there won’t be a government or a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee without Arabs when they’re 40 percent,” he said.

    Finance Minister Pinhas Sapir said that remaining in the territories would be “a disaster for the State of Israel,” which would become an Arab state. He warned that there was nothing to stop the West Bank from suddenly declaring independence, and that it was only a matter of time.

    Education Minister Zalman Aranne felt similarly. “I do not for one minute accept the idea that the world outside will look at the fact that we’re taking everything for ourselves and will say, ‘Bon Appetit,’” he said. “After all in another year or half a year the world will wake up; there’s a world out there and it will ask questions.”

    Aranne objected to the argument, put forth by Dayan and others, that Israel must retain the territories for security reasons. “Suddenly, after all these victories, there’s no survival without these territories? Without all those things we never dreamed of before the six days of this war, like Jerusalem?” he asked.

    Arab rights didn’t seem to be much of a concern for Aranne; he was more worried about the future of the Jewish state.

    “The way I know the Jewish people in Israel and the Diaspora, after all the heroism, miracles and wonders, a Jewish state in which there are 40 percent Arabs, is not a Jewish state. It is a fifth column that will destroy the Jewish state. It will be the kiss of death after a generation or a generation and a half,” he warned. “I see the two million Jews before me differently when there will be 1.3 million Arabs — 1.3 million Arabs, with their high birth rate and their permanent pent-up hatred. ... We can overcome 60,000 Arabs, but not 600,000 and not a million,” Aranne concluded.

    Within the inconclusive discussions of the future of the territories are the seeds of talk of establishing settlements, outposts and army bases. The minutes show that even half a year after the war, the government had not formulated an orderly policy on this issue, but discussed various ideas even as it chose to delay making these tough decisions as well.

    Thus it was, for example, in the case of Hebron, when there were requests to renew the Jewish presence in the city. Eshkol showed the ministers a letter he received in November 1967 from associates of the dean of Hebron Yeshiva — which relocated to Jerusalem after the 1929 Hebron Massacre — asking the government to “make appropriate arrangements to let dozens of the yeshiva’s students, teachers and supervisors return and set up a branch in Hebron.”

    Allon was all for it. “There is a benefit in finding the first nucleus of people willing to settle there. The desire of these yeshiva students is a great thing. There aren’t always candidates willing to go to such a difficult place.” No decision on the matter was made at that time, however.

    There were also cabinet members who spoke of preparing for the next war. The minutes included pessimistic reports about the number of warplanes left to Israel after the war. It was argued that the Arab states had already acquired new planes and had more than Israel.

    Ezer Weizman, deputy chief of staff at the time, detailed the difficulty of trying to extract promises of military aid from Washington. “Is there no hope of getting planes from any other country?” asked Interior Minister Haim-Moshe Shapira. Weizman replied, “We checked in Sweden. Sweden isn’t prepared to talk about this. England has nothing to buy. I don’t think Australia will give us anything.”

    Belgium was mentioned as a possibility: It was claimed that Brussels had offered to help Jerusalem circumvent the French embargo by procuring French planes and even German tanks for Israel.

    Dayan warned, “The impression, as of now, is that not only are the Arabs not rushing to make peace, they are slowly starting to think again about war.” It was six years before the Yom Kippur War.

  • Dear Europe, take note: If you want to, Israel can be pressured - Palestinians - Haaretz.com

    A recent case involving Dutch solar panels shows how friendly states can make Israel back down when it violates international humanitarian law

    Amira Hass Oct 23, 2017
    read more: https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/palestinians/.premium-1.818549

    The High Court justices once more found an escape hatch; once again, they would not have to discuss the basic, outrageous fact that Israel is not connecting thousands of Palestinians (on both sides of the Green Line) to the national electricity and water infrastructure. This time the way out was found in the village of Jubbet ad-Dhib at the foot of Herodion, southeast of Bethlehem. It needed a hybrid (solar plus diesel) electrical system that was installed by the Comet-ME Israeli-Palestinian aid organization, because Israel had not met its international obligation to connect it to the electrical grid.
    All those who accuse the High Court of being leftist can relax. It has missed hundreds of opportunities to rule that withholding water and electricity is illegal according to international law, illegal according to Israeli law, and unacceptable according to Jewish law. Hundreds of times – to count by the number of petitions that have been submitted – the court had the opportunity to instruct the state to connect the Palestinian communities to the water and electrical infrastructure, but it avoided doing so, often citing technicalities. Back when current Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked was still a toddler, the court was already repeatedly missing opportunities to salvage the reputation of Jewish morality from downing in the sludge of nationalism and the lust to expel.
    The escape hatch in Jubbet ad-Dhib was shown to the justices by Brigadier General Ahvat Ben Hur, but it was none other than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who created that opening. The Dutch government, which had funded the hybrid electrical system, was furious over the confiscation of the solar panels, and Netanyahu promised the Dutch in writing that the panels Israel had confiscated from the village in late June would be returned. And then what does Ben Hur, the direct commander of the confiscators from the Civil Administration do? He informs the state prosecutor, which informed the High Court, that he’d decided to return the panels.
    Ben Hur did not do so to honor the state’s obligation to a protected population. Rather, he cited a technicality. The panels were confiscated eight months after they had been installed and operate, he explained. Thus, the petition written by attorneys Michal Sfard and Michal Pasovsky was rendered redundant. That’s a shame. It would have been interesting to see what contortions the justices would have got into in response to the arguments (also accepted by the Dutch government) that denying access to electricity and destroying electricity systems are offenses that violate international humanitarian law.
    Ben Hur’s statement enabled the state prosecutor and the justices to also avoid addressing the fact that the Civil Administration had made improper use of a military order. The seizure orders that were given to the Jubbet ad-Dhib residents on the day of the confiscation cited Article 60 of the order regarding security provisions. This article makes seizure contingent upon a criminal offense having been committed using the equipment slated for seizure. The confiscation order did not specify what offense was supposedly committed with the solar panels. The lawyers’ inquiries to the Civil Administration about this went unanswered. Presumably, then (also based the COGAT spokesperson’s response to journalists), the suspected offense is related to planning and building laws. But this is an administrative offense that does not come under the military order regarding security provisions. The procedures for dealing with it are different – cease work orders and demolition orders, hearings, arguments against the orders, appeals, negotiations, a petition to the High Court.
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  • The Israeli Right Will Bring About Justice for the Palestinians

    When the right gathers the courage to declare a one-state solution, the world will gain the courage to declare a war on its regime

    Gideon Levy Sep 24, 2017 1:35 AM
    http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.813768

    Perhaps the right will be the one to bring about true, egalitarian justice in Israel. Maybe it will bring about the only possible solution left. After the right proved that only it dares to evacuate settlements, maybe the next stage will come and the right will once more prove it can do so, even if unintentionally. That would be a huge irony of fate. Those who insist on not returning to the Palestinians 22 percent of their land will give them (and us) all of it, egalitarian and just, on the silver platter of both peoples.

    The road is long, of course, and even its beginning is not yet in sight. But the defeated and desperate speech by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday proves there’s a chance this is the direction.

    Abbas spoke of one state as a possible solution and of equal rights for all inhabitants of historic Palestine. As far can be remembered, he never publicly made such a statement before. Bound by his historic way and the establishment he heads, he has not yet given up the two-state solution for good. But he also knows, like any politician who recognizes reality, that the two-state solution has expired and only the declaration of its death remains. Some Europeans and perhaps even also the Americans know this, but don’t dare admit it. President Donald Trump mumbled something about it, possibly inadvertently.

    Abandoning the two-state solution is a fateful reboot. It is not simple to do. But when Abbas and the others finally resolve to cross the Rubicon, the wildfire they ignite could spread with amazing speed.

    When the Palestinians abandon the “two states for two peoples” solution and move on to “one person, one vote,” the world will not remain indifferent. It will begin with the Palestinians, 57 percent of whom already don’t believe in the two-state solution, according to a recent Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research poll, and will then move on to Israeli Arabs, most of whom still hold fast to that solution.

    The easy-to-grasp message will then go out to the world. Just and familiar from another historic struggle: “One man, one vote.” Who can oppose it? And what can Israel say in its own defense? Jewish-democratic? Where? A just apartheid?

    This revolution might also blow away the smokescreen and confusion around the arbitrary and baseless division Israel has made between an “Israeli Arab” and “Palestinian” – sometimes members of the same family; between East Jerusalem and residents of the West Bank; between residents of the West Bank and Gaza; it will reunify the people that Israel maliciously cut apart. It will also eliminate the confusion around the artificial distinction between the Jewish democracy with the Arab High Court of Justice and the third largest party in the Knesset, and zero human rights for most of the other members of that people, who live under the government of that same state, in the same country. It will cancel out all discrimination and all privilege, from the Law of Return to the right of return. Can any true democrat oppose this?

    The left will not do so. It is bound by slogans of the past – two states – most of the left was never serious about anyhow. The right wing, which talks more and more about annexation and non-occupation, is taking giant steps toward this state. Of course, it doesn’t mean democracy or equal rights – what does the right have to do with that?

    But when the right gathers the courage to declare a one-state solution, the world will gain the courage to declare a war on its regime, against the new apartheid state in the 21st century. What other choice will the world have in the face of a declared apartheid? It will be a much more determined struggle than the hollow one against the establishment of the outpost in the “illegal” expansion of Mitzpeh Rehavam Gimel.

    The racist MK Bezalel Smotrich is doing more for justice and the Palestinian people than Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay. The nationalists, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, are doing immeasurably more than Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid or even the peace-seeking Meretz Chairwoman Zehava Galon.

    The right is moving ahead on the only solution. We should keep our fingers crossed.

  • The Zionist tango -
    http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.810226

    Why the racist honesty of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is preferable to the fake views of the Israeli left
    By Gideon Levy | Sep. 3, 2017 | 2:28 AM

    Ravit Hecht attributes a “fragrance of true love” for my “honest, brave princess,” Justice Minister Shaked, in her op-ed “When Gideon Levy fell in love with Ayelet Shaked.” [ http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/1.810167 ] Hecht knows my taste in women is slightly different than that, and that, despite what she writes, I don’t know how to dance the tango. But my appreciation for Shaked and her ilk is that they do not deceive: they openly acknowledge their nationalism and racism.

    They don’t hide their belief that the Palestinians are an inferior people, indigenous inhabitants who will never gain the rights Jews have in the Land of Israel-Palestine; that no Palestinian state will ever be established here; that Israel will ultimately annex all of the occupied territories, as it already has done in practice; that the Jews are the Chosen People; that Zionism is in contradiction to human rights and superior to them; that dispossession is redemption; that biblical property rights are eternal; that there is no Palestinian people and no occupation; and that the current reality will last forever.

    Many of these views are also held among the Zionist left, Hecht’s ideological camp. The only difference is that the Zionist left has never admitted it. It envelops its views in the glittering wrapping paper of peace talks, separation and hollow rhetoric about two states, words it has never really meant and has done precious little to realize.

    That’s why I prefer Shaked. With her, what you see is what you get – racism. In its actions and deeds, the Zionist left has done everything to implement Shaked’s views, only in polished words and without acknowledgement. The Zionist left is embarrassed by things Shaked and her colleagues are not ashamed of. That doesn’t make the left any more moral or just. It has merely been quasi-Shaked in its actions.

    The occupation was no less cruel under left-wing Israeli governments, which was the founding father of the settlement enterprise. Those princes of peace Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin established more settlements than Shaked and caused the deaths of more Arabs. The left has enthusiastically defended every military action Israel has carried out and every brutal act committed by the Israel Defense Forces. It hasn’t just sat silent in the face of such acts; it has been supportive. Always.

    Operations Cast Lead and Protective Edge in Gaza (in 2008-09 and 2014, respectively) involved thousands of senseless deaths, and most of the Zionist left supported them. The majority of those on the left supported the siege on Gaza, the checkpoint executions, the nighttime abductions, the administrative detentions, the abuse, dispossession and oppression – the left remained silent throughout.

    But the truth is that it’s not Shaked and it’s not the left. It’s Zionism. Havoc has been wreaked, as Hecht herself wrote. But instead of trying to repair the unstable foundations, all of Israel – and not only the right wing – has done everything to undermine them even further.

    Yes, this involves the 1948 War of Independence, which has to be discussed even though it’s uncomfortable. The spirit of 1948 has never stopped blowing here and, in this respect, Shaked and Hecht are in the same boat. According to this view, there is only one people here that needs to be considered, only one victim, and it is entitled to do as much harm as it wishes to the other people. That is the essential evolution of Zionism.

    It could and should have been rectified, without derogating the Jews’ right to a state. But the Zionist left has never done this. It has never acknowledged the Nakba suffered by the Palestinians, and never did anything to atone for its crimes. This never happened because the Zionist left believes in exactly what Shaked believes in.

    It is true there are many other issues in which the right causes national disasters the left never would have created. But on the other side of the line lives a people that for the past 50 years – the past 100, actually – has been suffering and oppressed. Not a day goes by without horrible crimes being committed against it. We can’t say, “Be patient. We’re busy at the moment with the status of the Supreme Court.”

    And on the truly crucial issue that overshadows all others, Shaked and Hecht are performing a perfect tango together, with a fragrance of true love exuding from them both – a Zionist tango.

  • Defend Israel’s anti-occupation group Breaking the Silence -

    Justice Minister Shaked is investigating the spokesman for the army veterans’ group for breaking the silence on what he did in Hebron – nobody else among the countless veterans who’ve told similar stories and worse, just him

    Iris Leal Jun 27, 2017
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.797950

    I arrived at the train station in central Tel Aviv last Wednesday and, as usual, got lost. I was en route to the Palestinian village of Sussia to attend an unusual book launch for the Hebrew edition of “Kingdom of Olives and Ash,” a collection of essays about the occupation written by authors from around the world. The ceremony took place in the most appropriate possible place, a hut in a Palestinian village whose residents have been uprooted from their land seven times, while across the road the settlers of Jewish Susya lie in ambush for them night and day, casting covetous eyes on their land.
    As usual, I didn’t manage to find “Venice,” the bus rented by the Breaking the Silence organization, which was waiting at the entrance to the parking lot. A pleasant young man with a beard came to my rescue: Dean Issacharoff, as he introduced himself, the organization’s spokesman.
    The next day, two weeks after Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked urged the attorney general to open an investigation against him, the Hebron police rose to the challenge and, with permission from State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan, questioned Issacharoff at length under caution, as a suspect in a crime.
    Issacharoff, a former officer in the Nahal Brigade and a man of honor, did the deed that lies at the heart of the organization to which he belongs: He broke the silence. A video clip disseminated by a group called Reservists on Duty shows him telling about how, during his military service in Hebron, he beat a Palestinian who threw rocks at him. His testimony confirmed what everyone knows at differing levels of denial and self-deception: There is no sterile occupation. Violence is an inseparable part of our military presence in the territories.
    Shaked, who did everything she could to erase Breaking the Silence from our lives by passing legislation to harass left-wing organizations, found a roundabout way of abusing Issacharoff. She didn’t, heaven forbid, order investigations into the piles of complaints about attacks on Palestinians. She displayed no interest in other stories by soldiers about the violence that was an integral part of their military service. Instead, she targeted this case only and hastened to write the attorney general that “in light of the great importance I attributed to preserving Israel’s good name and that of Israel Defense Forces soldiers, I saw fit to ask you to look into the veracity of this incident. If it turns out to be true, the full force of the law must be applied immediately.”

  • Should Jews have a problem with the term ’Islamophobia’?

    The decision by a major Canadian Jewish organization to oppose a parliamentary motion condemning Islamophobia after a shocking mosque attack, because the term is ’politically charged and imprecise,’ has vocal challengers.

    Mira Sucharov Feb 20, 2017
    read more: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.772853

    When a multicultural country like Canada faces a stark rise in hatred targeting one ethnic group, it’s social and ethical solidarity is put to the test. The question for Canada’s Jewish establishment is: How will it respond to the shocking spike in hatred targeting the Muslim community?
    On the heels of the Quebec City mosque shooting, which left six worshippers dead, and then a hate-filled protest outside of a Toronto mosque last Friday, a private member’s motion to condemn Islamophobia was introduced in parliament. Regrettably, CIJA (the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, the organized lobbying arm of the Jewish Federations in Canada) is opposing the motion, at least in its current form.
    Liberal MP Iqra Khalid introduced the non-binding motion (M-103) urging the government to “better reflect” the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by “quell[ing] the increasing public climate of hate and fear,” while “condemn[ing] Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.” Her motion also asks parliament to convene a study to address these issues and “to conduct needs assessments for impacted communities.”
    As the motion - intended to express the will of parliament but falling short of having any legal force - acknowledges, there are already Charter provisions for opposing racism and discrimination. And Section 319 of the criminal code already outlaws “communicating statements in any public place, incit[ing] hatred against any identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace.”
    But sometimes the law is not enough to signal collective revulsion.
    skip - Video

    The Friday demonstrators outside a downtown Toronto mosque held signs such as “Ban Islam” and “Muslims are terrorists.” Interviewed on camera, one of the protestors make the following chilling observation: “They [she presumably means Muslims] start out friendly, and before you know it, they grow so much in population that they take over.” The interviewer challenges her: “This sounding a lot like what people said about Jews at one time,” to which the protestor replies: “There’s no comparison. Jews were not evil.”

    For its part, CIJA calls M-103 “flawed.” As CIJA head Shimon Koffler Fogel writes, the motion “requires us to silence legitimate concerns or suppress a public conversation about those strains of Islam that pose a real and imminent threat to Jews around the world,” adding that the motion “denies space and opportunity within the Muslim community to confront those strains of Islam that do indeed exist and do indeed cause harm to the majority of Muslims who do not subscribe to an extremist ideology.” For these reasons, CIJA is urging lawmakers to oppose it.
    It’s not the first time a private member’s motion has been introduced to focus Canada’s attention on a specific form of hatred. In 2015, Conservative MP James Bezan asked “all members [of parliament] and all Canadians [to] join me in denouncing anti-Semitism.” In 2015 Liberal MP Irwin Cotler asked the “House [to] condemn the alarming development of a new anti-Semitism….” And then, of course, there’s the 2010 Ottawa Protocol on Combatting Antisemitism, which convened parliamentary representatives from an array of countries to call out anti-Semitism.
    CIJA Director of Communications Martin Sampson shared with me the amended text of the motion CIJA proposed to Khaled, including trying to add a clause that would “recognize that criticism and condemnation of any and all forms of extremism is not only acceptable but necessary in a free and democratic society; and tasking the proposed study to define “Islamophobia in Canada.” “
    Bernie Farber, former head of Canadian Jewish Congress and now head of the Toronto-based Mosaic Institute, a diversity, peace and justice organization, says he is “baffled and stunned” by CIJA’s opposition to the motion.
    Is the lack of explicit acknowledgment of the legitimacy of criticizing religion a problem, as CIJA is suggesting? No. Parliamentary motions have no legislative force. The existing criminal code — including laws governing freedom of expression — will remain unaffected. Fogel’s claim that the motion will silence criticism by force of law is simply wrong. It may serve to dampen enthusiasm for the kind of hateful anti-Muslim demonstrations we saw in Toronto, but that is the point.
    Or perhaps the vagueness of the term ‘Islamophobia’ is a problem. Sampson calls the word “politically charged and imprecise.” Former Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, for instance, is suggesting that M-103 be amended to say “anti-Muslim bigotry.”

    #islamophobie #canada