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Gideon Levy at the National Press Club

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LOOTED & HIDDEN – Palestinian Archives in Israel

click on vimeo link

Main Credits:

Director: Rona Sela
Script: Rona Sela
Main Editors: Ran Slavin, Lev Goltser
Additional Editors: Thalia Hoffman, Iris Refaeli
Original Music: Ran Slavin
Sound Mix: Itzik Cohen – Jungle Studio, Yuri Primenko

Participants: Khadijeh Habashneh, Sabri Jiryis, Former IDF Soldier, Rona Sela
Narration: Sheikha Helawy, Shadi Khalilian, Ran Slavin, Dalia Tsahor
Graphic Design: Yanek Iontef
Translation: Ilona Merber

The film was made possible through the generous support of Sally Stein in memory of Allan Sekula, and additional foundations

© Rona Sela, 2017

Ilan Pappe on one democratic state

On April 21 in the town of Shefamru we have begun the preparatory meeting for launching the one democratic state initiative.The idea is to bring together under one roof all the movements and individuals who believe in this solution in and outside Palestine and to try and create together a movement of change. The challenge is enormous. The representative bodies of the Palestinian national movement (in Israel and in the PLO) still adhere to the two states solution as do some genuine friends of the Palestinians such as Jeremy Corbyn. The early discussion revealed on the one hand significant questions that still have be discussed from secularism, the future of the West Bank settlements, and the right or the absence of it for collective rights. and more importantly how can such movement be representative and democratic in the present reality. Nothing resolved yet.

On the other hand there was a total agreement on the right of return, the abolition of Zionist institutions and equality (although i think we have to talk about the future economic system as well).

We hope to launch the initiative in September and would love to hear suggestions and responses. The two states solution is dead, even if we were not invited to the funeral, and who know the developments in the region are not all favourable to Israel and make it a great time to push forward this old new idea once more.

The meeting was in Arabic and mainly with Palestinians as we believe that this should be first and foremost a Palestinian project but we will have a separate meeting with anti-Zionist Jewish activists to get more feedback and listen to their suggestions and concerns. Meetings are planned for Gaza, the West Bank and the Naqab.

It is been a while that a meeting made feel optimistic, but i know the people who were there and i feel empowered and hopeful!

The story behind Ahed Tamimi’s slap: her cousin’s head shattered by Israeli soldier’s bullet

 

Gideon Levy جدعون ليفي גדעון לוי 

 

Just before Palestinian teen Ahed Tamimi slapped one of the soldiers who’d invaded her yard, she learned that her 15-year-old cousin Mohammed had been shot in the head at close range

Mohammed Tamimi.

Mohammed Tamimi. Credit Alex Levac

Half a head.

The left side of his face is twisted, swollen, fragmented, scarred; there’s congealed blood by his nose, stitches in his face; one eye is shut, a seam line stretches across his whole scalp. A boy’s face turned scar-face. Some of his skull bones were removed in surgery and won’t be returned to their place for another six months.

Mohammed Tamimi, just 15, and he is already a disabled shooting victim and a released prisoner.

That’s life under the occupation in Nabi Saleh, where people are occupied with the struggle. About an hour after Mohammed was shot in the head at short range by an Israel Defense Forces soldier (or a Border Policeman), his now-better-known cousin, Ahed Tamimi, went to the yard of her house and tried to forcibly expel the two soldiers who had invaded her turf, while the camera rolled. It’s a reasonable assumption that she tried to vent her wrath on the soldiers in part because of the shooting of her cousin an hour earlier.

Mohammed Tamimi, Ahed Tamimi’s 15-year-old cousin who was shot in the head by an Israeli soldier.

Only a few dozen meters separate the place where the soldiers shot Mohammed and Ahed’s home; only an hour separated the two events. People in her family relate that Ahed, 16, burst into tears when she heard that her cousin had been shot and was in serious condition. From the window of her home at the edge of Nabi Saleh, a small village near Ramallah, you can see the stone wall that surrounds the luxurious building, under construction, that Mohammed climbed in order to get a view of the soldiers who were still inside. At that point he was shot in the head with one bullet from a distance of a few meters, and fell bleeding to the ground from a height of three meters (nearly 10 feet).

Now Ahed is in detention and Mohammed is recovering from his shattering head wound. This week, Mohammed still didn’t know about the arrest of his cousin, who has become an icon. In view of his condition, his family hasn’t told him.

We meet him in his uncle’s house, which is adjacent to his own home. He speaks softly, occasionally runs his hand across the scars on his head, lies down from time to time on the sofa to rest. He’s in the 10th grade in the village’s coeducational school, where Ahed is a student one year ahead of him. His father, Fadel, is a taxi driver; his mother, Imtisal, a homemaker. Last year, he spent three months in an Israeli prison.

At 2 A.M. on April 24, 2017, soldiers broke into their home by force, entered the children’s room, snatched Mohammed from his bed, handcuffed him and took him into detention. He wanted to get dressed before being taken to prison; the soldiers initially refused but then consented, he says now. Tamimi was suspected of throwing stones at an army jeep that had broken down next to the gas station at the village’s entrance a few days earlier. He was taken to the Etzion police facility for interrogation, which took place without the presence of a lawyer, as the law stipulates. After all, what does the law have to do with the interrogation of a 14-year-old (as he was then) Palestinian boy? Nor did anyone tell him that he had the right to remain silent. At some point, the interrogators also wanted to get him to sign a form written in Hebrew. Since he does not speak the language, he refused. He says that he wasn’t afraid during the questioning.

After three months of interrogations and hearings, Mohammed was sentenced in a plea bargain to three months in prison and a fine of 3,000 shekels (about $860) – the prosecution had asked for a jail term of a year and a fine of 15,000 shekels. Tamimi was released two days later, as by then he had already been incarcerated for three months. Throughout the period, his parents weren’t allowed to visit their son even once. They only saw him in the courtroom, from a distance, but weren’t allowed to speak with him, or even ask how he was feeling. Routine procedure.

Mohammed was released on July 19. What did you find hardest in jail, we ask. The hardest thing for him, he says, was not being able to fall asleep at night for worrying about his family. IDF and Border Police troops raid Nabi Saleh almost every day and night, and Tamimi was concerned about his parents and his brother. Sharef, his 24-year-old brother, and their father, too, have been arrested quite often and also injured. In 2015, for example, a few people who introduced themselves as employees of the Electric Corporation arrived at their home. It was during the day. They turned out to be mista’arvim, undercover soldiers. They locked everyone in the house in one room. Mohammed managed to escape to his uncle’s house next door, and to report that strangers had invaded the house. His cousin, who is also named Mohammed Tamimi – there are apparently about 100 people in Nabi Saleh with that name – says that at first they, too, didn’t know who the interlopers were. They’d come to arrest Sharef, who wasn’t home. The soldiers waited for him. Sharef was sentenced to two months in prison. This situation of the kidnapping of his brother is also part of Mohammed’s childhood memories. Now he wants to lie down to rest a little again.

Mohammed Tamimi with his father, Fadel.

Mohammed Tamimi with his father, Fadel. Credit Alex Levac

After Mohammed was released, he went back to taking part in the village’s regular demonstrations – “because they took our lands,” he explains now. Most of the land of Nabi Saleh either was plundered in order to build the settlement of Halamish, on the other side of the road, or simply cannot be accessed because of the presence of the settlement.

In the past three months, the hand of the Israeli security forces has become even heavier in the village. According to Iyad Hadad, a field researcher for the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, the IDF and the Border Police have raided Nabi Saleh 70 or 80 times in the past three months. Sometimes the soldiers shut the yellow iron gate to the village, so that residents are unable to reach the main road. They do this most frequently in the early morning hours, when the workers head for their jobs, the patients for treatment and the students for school. The village attributes this policy to the new army commander in the region, whom they know simply as “Eyal.”

Friday, December 15, was another unquiet day in Nabi Saleh. It was a week after U.S. President Trump’s declaration about Jerusalem. As on every Friday, a protest march was set to take place. Tamimi relates that he went that morning with a group of his peers to see whether there were soldiers lurking in ambush, ahead of the march, which always makes its way toward the IDF’s fortified watchtower at the village’s entrance. There were five or six youths. A short time later, they saw about a dozen soldiers who’d come from the south and were trying to take cover in an ambush position. Mohammed and a friend shouted to them: We see you! The soldiers hurled tear-gas grenades at them. In the meantime, the marchers were drawing closer.

The military force positioned itself in the “villa,” a splendid but not yet finished wall-enclosed stone structure at the edge of Nabi Saleh, built by an affluent Palestinian exile who lives in Spain. It’s meant to be an alternative-health clinic, but its opening has been delayed because of the situation. Dozens of villagers surrounded the “villa,” knowing there were soldiers within.

Mohammed Tamimi approached the wall of the building, then climbed it. He wanted to see whether there were still soldiers inside, in the wake of a rumor that they had left. But the instant he appeared above the wall, he was shot in the head with a rubber-coated metal bullet from a distance of a few meters. Tamimi managed to see the soldier aim his rifle at him, he recalls, but that’s all he remembers. He fell to the ground and the other youngsters rushed over to him.

Tamimi was unconscious when he was carried to a private car and driven to the clinic in the village of Beit Rima. His cousin Mohammed Tamimi, a student in his 20s, was with him. The cousin relates that his namesake received first aid at the clinic, where the staff suggested that he be taken to the clinic in the town of Salfit. The cousin refused, thinking that because of the severity of the wound, the clinic would not be able to treat him properly. The driver of the Palestinian ambulance warned that if they encountered an IDF checkpoint, the soldiers were liable to arrest the wounded teen.

The soldiers at the checkpoint at the exit from Nabi Saleh ordered the ambulance to stop. Tamimi the cousin recalls that they were aggressive and extremely edgy, and aimed their weapons at him. They saw the boy’s condition; the cousin told them, “You have 30 seconds to decide: Either you take him to an Israeli hospital, or you let us pass.”

Tamimi relates that a military ambulance was parked next to the checkpoint. One of the soldiers consulted with someone via his radio, and then ordered the ambulance to head for Ramallah, declining to allow its patient to enter Israel for medical treatment. “Get going,” the soldier snapped, when Tamimi tried to persuade him to allow his cousin to be transferred to a hospital in Israel.

The ambulance sped toward Istishari Hospital, a new private institution in Ramallah. Mohammed’s parents, who had in the meantime gone to the Nabi Saleh checkpoint in a panic, were turned back by the soldiers at gunpoint, even after trying to explain that their son had been seriously wounded. They had to take an indirect route to the hospital.

Tamimi’s condition looked serious; he was suffering from intracranial bleeding. Both his cousin and his father say now that they were certain he wouldn’t survive. Specialists were summoned, and they decided to operate. No one knew then how much brain damage he had sustained. A Facebook request for blood donations brought many people to the hospital. The surgery lasted six hours, through the night. Photographs of the boy lying unconscious in the hospital, hooked up to tubes, were disseminated on the social networks the next day. About 24 hours later, Tamimi began to regain consciousness and could soon identify those around him. Now everyone is calling it a miracle.

Mohammed Tamimi was discharged to his home about a week later. As far as is known, he suffered no motor or cognitive damage.

The IDF Spokesman’s Unit this week told Haaretz: “On Friday, December 15, disturbances erupted, involving some 200 Palestinians who set tires alight and threw stones at IDF forces near the village of Nabi Saleh. The troops used crowd-dispersal methods to break up the gathering. We are aware of the claim by the District Coordination and Liaison Office that a Palestinian was injured and evacuated for medical care in the village.”

Tamimi is cuddling next to his father, who’s come back from work and is fawning over his son. The boy soon drifts off. The neighboring house on the hill, the home of Ahed Tamimi, is deserted. Ahed and her mother, Nariman, are in detention. The father, Bassem, is with them in court, to boost their spirits when the serious indictment against them is read out.

 



Merci à Ha’aretz
Source: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.833157
Date de parution de l’article original: 05/01/2018
URL de cette page: http://www.tlaxcala-int.org/article.asp?reference=22392 

Facebook And Israel Officially Announce Collaboration To Censor Social Media Content

 

www.activistpost.com

By Whitney Webb

Following Facebook’s censorship controversy over a world famous photograph of the Vietnam War, Facebook has agreed to “work together” with Israel’s government to censor content Israeli officials deem to be improper. Facebook officially announced the “cooperative” arrangement after a meeting took place between Israeli government ministers and top Facebook officials on September 11th. The Israeli government’s frenzied push to monitor and censor Facebook content it deems inappropriate follows the viral success of BDS, or Boycott, Divest, Sanctions, a global non-violent movement that works to expose Israeli human rights violations.

The success of BDS has struck a nerve with Israel, leading its government to pass legislation allowing it to spy on and deport foreign activists operating within Israel and Palestine. Israel has also threatened the lives of BDS supporters and has lobbied for legislative measures against BDS around the world. They are now seeking to curtail any further BDS success by directly controlling the content of Facebook users.

However, Facebook’s formal acknowledgement of its relationship with Israel’s government is only the latest step in an accord that has been in the works for months. In June of this year, Facebook’s Israel office hired Jordana Cutler as head of policy and communications. Cutler is a longtime adviser to Netanyahu and, before her recent hire at Facebook, was Chief of Staff at the Israeli embassy in Washington, DC. Facebook may have been intimidated into the arrangement by Gilad Erdan, Israeli Minister of Public Security, Strategic Affairs, and Information, who threatened to enact legislation, in Israel and abroad, that would place responsibility on Facebook for attacks “incited” by its social media content. Erdan has previously said that Facebook “has a responsibility to monitor is platform and remove content.”

In addition, as the Intercept reported in June, Israel actively reviews the content of Palestinian Facebook posts and has even arrested some Palestinians for posts on the social media site. They then forward the requests for censorship to Facebook, who accepts the requests 95% of the time.

How to Disappear Off the Grid Completely (Ad)

An Israeli Soldier with “Revenge” written across his chest took to Facebook to incite retaliation against Palestinians after 3 Israeli teenagers were killed. His post was not censored by Facebook and was praised by the Times of Israel.

In what is an obvious and troubling disparity, Facebook posts inciting violence against Palestinians are surprisingly common and Facebook rarely censors these posts. According to Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Glenn Greenwald, this disparity underscores “the severe dangers of having our public discourse overtaken, regulated, and controlled by a tiny number of unaccountable teach giants.”

With Facebook arguably functioning as the most dominant force in journalism, its control over the flow of information is significant. The fact that a private company with such enormous influence has partnered with a government to censor its opponents is an undeniable step towards social media fascism. Though social media was once heralded as a revolutionary opportunity to allow regular people to share information globally and to politically organize for grassroots change, allowing governments to censor their opposition threatens to transform it into something else entirely.

What are your thoughts? Please comment below and share this news!

This article (Facebook And Israel Officially Announce Collaboration To Censor Social Media Content) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and TrueActivist.com

Top Image Credit – http://www.wb7.hk

 

How will US Jerusalem move affect Israel’s far right?

by Jonathan Cook

Trump’s seal of approval for Israel’s takeover of Jerusalem is likely to intensify the city’s religious symbolism for Jews – and the importance of Israeli sovereignty over al-Aqsa Mosque compound [Ronny Hartmann/Photothek via Getty Images]

Analysts fear Trump’s rubber-stamping of the right’s political goals will further radicalise both sides of the divide.

Jerusalem – Trump’s recognition this week of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, overturning seven decades of US policy in the region and effectively ending hopes of a two-state solution, has provoked dire warnings.

But the focus by commentators on Palestinian reactions, rather than the effect on the Israeli public and leadership, might have underestimated the longer-term fallout from Trump’s move, analysts say.

Predictions have included the threat of renewed violence – even an uprising – from Palestinians; the possible collapse of the Palestinian Authority, the Palestinians’ government-in-waiting, and its diplomatic strategy for two states; and the demise of Washington’s claim to be serving as a credible peacemaker.

But according to analysts, more far-reaching – and disruptive – undercurrents will likely be set in motion by Trump’s decision.

Few have factored in the likely effect of Trump’s new Jerusalem policy on the Israeli public, which has been shifting steadily to the right for most of the past two decades. The city and its contested holy sites have gained an increasingly powerful religious and national symbolism for many Israeli Jews.

The fear is that Trump’s effective rubber-stamping of the right’s political goals in Jerusalem will further radicalise both sides of the divide – and accelerate processes that have been turning a long-standing national conflict into a more openly religious one.

‘Tipping point’

“We may remember this date as the tipping point, as the moment when a new consensus emerged in Israel behind the idea of total Jewish supremacy,” journalist David Sheen, an expert on Israel’s far-right movements, told Al Jazeera.

Similar concerns were expressed by Yousef Jabareen, a Palestinian member of Israel’s parliament.

“We can expect to see a move rightwards across Israeli society,” he told Al Jazeera. “The centre-left parties were already tacking much closer to the right. They will now want to align themselves with Trump’s position. Meanwhile, the right will be encouraged to move to the extreme right.”

Both noted that Avi Gabbay – the recently elected leader of the Zionist Union, the official opposition and the party that was once the backbone of the Israeli peace camp – had begun espousing positions little different from those of right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Last week, Gabbay backed Trump’s announcement, saying that recognition of Jerusalem was more important than a peace deal with the Palestinians.

WATCH: ‘Dangerous and unacceptable’ – Arab League condemns US move

Sheen said that traditionally, the centre-left had been restrained in its political positions by concerns about alienating the United States: “Netanyahu has shown that he can bring the US round to his way of thinking by staying the course. In many Israelis’ eyes, he has now been proved right. The centrists may decide it is time to come onboard. Allying with the Republican right and the Christian evangelicals in the US may now look like a much safer bet.”

The possible effects of Trump’s announcement on Israelis have been largely overlooked, even though previous turning points in the conflict have consistently resulted in dramatic lurches rightwards by the Israeli public.

Given Israel’s power over the Palestinians, these changes have played a decisive role in leading to the current impasse between Israel and the Palestinians, analysts note.

Most obviously, Israel’s seemingly “miraculous” victory in the 1967 war, defeating the armies of neighbouring Arab states in six days, unleashed a wave of Messianic Judaism that spawned the settler movement.

A new religious nationalism swept parts of the Israeli public, driving them into the occupied Palestinian territories to claim a supposed Biblical birthright.

Other major events have had a decisive effect too. Unexpectedly, the Oslo peace process, launched in the mid-1990s, persuaded many non-religious Israeli Jews to move into settlements in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, doubling the numbers there in a few years.

Into the arms of the far right

Alan Baker, a legal adviser to the Israeli foreign ministry in that period, explained Israelis’ peculiar reading of the Oslo Accords. In their view, Oslo meant Israel was “present in the territories with their [the Palestinians’] consent and subject to the outcome of negotiations”.

In other words, many Israelis believed that the Oslo process had conferred an international legitimacy on the settlements.

Later, in 2000, after the Camp David summit collapsed without the sides agreeing to a two-state solution, Ehud Barak, Israel’s then-prime minister, blamed Yasser Arafat and the Palestinians. He said they were “no partner” for peace.

As a result, Israelis deserted the peace camp and drifted into the arms of the right and far-right. Netanyahu has reaped the benefits, leading a series of ultra-nationalist governments since 2009.

Now Trump’s decision on Jerusalem effectively gives Washington’s blessing to Israel’s illegal annexation of East Jerusalem and five decades of creating facts on the ground there, said Jabareen.

“Trump has legitimised the far-right’s argument that Israel can control all of Jerusalem by sheer force, by denying Palestinians their rights and by creating facts on the ground,” he said.

With their policy of aggressive unilateralism now paying dividends in the US, the settlers and the ultra-nationalists were unlikely to be satisfied with that success alone, he added. “The danger is that the religious right’s narrative will now seem persuasive at other sites in the occupied territories they demand, such as Hebron and Nablus.”

Since Trump’s election a year ago, Naftali Bennett, the Israeli education minister and the leader of the main settler party, has begun calling for Israel to seize the opportunity to annex West Bank settlements.

Pressure is likely now to mount rapidly on Netanyahu to shift even further to the right.

On the 972 website, Noam Sheizaf, an Israeli analyst, observed that Trump’s declaration had boosted the settlers’ position that “in the long run ‘facts on the ground’ are more important than diplomacy and politics, and that Israel will eventually win legitimacy for its actions”

Effects in Jerusalem

The most immediate effects, according to Ir Amim, an IsraeIi human rights organisation, will be felt in Jerusalem itself. Government ministers have already drafted legislation to bring large West Bank settlements under Jerusalem’s municipal authority, as a way covertly to annex them.

There are also plans to strip large numbers of Palestinians of their Israeli-issued Jerusalem residency papers because they live outside the separation wall Israel built through the city more than a decade ago. That would cement a new, unassailable right-wing Jewish majority in Jerusalem.

Last week, Ir Amim warned in a statement that Trump’s move would be certain to “embolden” such actions by the Israeli right and provide a “tailwind” to those determined to pre-empt a two-state solution.

Assad Ghanem, a politics professor at Haifa University, told Al Jazeera: “Trump has given a legitimacy to the right’s Messianic agenda. He has adopted the language of the extreme right on Jerusalem – that it is Israel’s eternal, united capital. The far-right will declare this a victory.”

In parallel, Trump’s seal of approval for Israel’s takeover of Jerusalem is likely to intensify the city’s religious symbolism for Jews – and the importance of Israeli sovereignty over al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Ghanem noted.

In recent years, a growing number of rabbis have been overturning a centuries-old consensus that al-Aqsa compound is off-limits to Jews because it was not known where the ruins of an earlier Jewish temple lay. In Jewish tradition, it is forbidden to walk over an inner sanctum, known as the Holy of Holies.

Today, Jews regularly enter the compound and some even pray there. Settler rabbis and far-right government ministers have called for dividing the compound between Israelis and Palestinians, creating huge tensions with Palestinians.

Temple movements

Meanwhile, a once-fringe movement of Jewish supporters who wish to destroy the mosque to rebuild the ancient Jewish temple in its place, are gradually moving into the mainstream. Trump’s move will be a shot in the arm to their ambitions and their credibility, said Sheen, who has studied the temple movements.

He pointed out that immediately after Trump’s declaration, these groups had uploaded a cartoon of Trump standing in al-Aqsa compound, in front of the golden-topped Dome of the Rock, imagining the Jewish temple in its place. Trump is shown saying in Hebrew: “This is the perfect spot!”

Sheen said: “This will be treated as a call to arms by these groups.”

WATCH: Trump’s Jerusalem move roundly condemned at UN

Will the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital have similarly dramatic long-term effect on Palestinians’ public opinion? Analysts believe it will. The lack of an outpouring of significant anger – even after Palestinian leaders called for three days of rage last week – could be deceptive.

Israeli analysts have suggested that there is often what they term an “incubation period” – a delay between a major change in Israel’s favour and a popular reaction from Palestinians. That was true of the second Intifada, which came months after the collapse of the Camp David summit.

An expectation of knee-jerk anger to Trump’s decision may be misplaced, say analysts. The decision may result in a slower and much deeper process of adjustment to the new reality.

“Palestinians will now have to abandon the old tools of national struggle, because they have been shown to be ineffective. We need new tools of resistance, and that will require a grassroots struggle. We need a return to mass protests,” Jabareen said.

Ghanem noted the danger that, with the likely growth of a Jewish religious extremism in Israel and among the settlers, some Palestinians might drift towards violence.

But he expected that a more significant trend would be Palestinians reassessing the end goal of their struggle and opting for mass civil disobedience.

“The two-state solution is obviously now finished, and that is likely to mobilise a new generation to struggle for a single state,” he said. “Activists and the leadership will need to rebuild Palestinian nationalism.”

Israel’s Diamond Exports Continue to Slide

Oct 26, 2017 6:46 AM   By Rapaport News

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RAPAPORT… Israel’s diamond trade has slowed so far in 2017, as orders from the US declined, data from the Economy Ministry showed.

The country’s exports of polished diamonds fell 12% year on year to $3.38 billion during the first nine months of 2017, while the volume of goods sent out dropped 11% to 1.297 million carats. The average price of the shipments slid 1% to $2,608 per carat, according to Rapaport calculations.

Shipments to the US, Israel’s largest market, declined 15% to $1.26 billion during the nine-month period, while exports to Hong Kong slid 3% to $1.01 billion.

Meanwhile, polished imports declined 15% to $2.01 billion, so that net polished exports — the excess of exports over imports — fell 7% to $1.38 billion.

Rough imports dropped 12% to $2.09 billion, with rough exports sliding 10% to $1.8 billion. Israel’s net rough imports — calculated as the excess of imports over exports — fell 18% to $294 million.

The country’s net diamond account — a calculation of total exports of rough and polished less total imports, measuring the added value of Israel’s diamond industry during the period — declined 62% to $808 million.

During the third quarter, Israel’s polished exports fell 31% to $836 million, while its net diamond account slumped 76% to $82 million, according to Rapaport calculations.

The decline came in spite of the large amount of goods that were reportedly sent to the Hong Kong Jewellery & Gem Fair in September. Israeli dealers noted steady demand for larger stones at the event, and also said that many goods had been sent to the US on consignment for the holiday season.

If being Jewish means catastrophe to the other


Children were the irrepressible vanguard of the first intifada, December 1987. Photo from World Bulletin. It lasted from 1987 to  1993

Trust Me, I Was Once a First-Year Jewish Student Too

By Robert A. H. Cohen, Writing from the Edge,
September 09, 2017

This month a new generation of Jewish students will begin their first term at University. Here’s my advice to them.

Congratulations/Mazel tov!

You’re off to university. First time away from home. First time away from your synagogue community. Or perhaps you’ve had a year out after school and have been in Israel soaking up your Jewish heritage. Maybe you’ve been on a Jewish leadership trip organised by your youth movement or a Birthright tour. But now it’s back to reality and you’re about to discover what it means to have your ideas challenged, your prejudices pointed out and your Jewish identity undermined.

But don’t worry. This is all to the good. It’s exactly what you need. Trust me, I was once a first-year Jewish university student too.

Your baggage

You may realise this already, but the baggage you’re taking with you to university is considerably more than what’s in your rucksack. It’s been accumulating throughout your life, it’s the stuff that’s made you who you are. Now you have the opportunity to unpack it, examine it, and decide if it’s still useful for the journey ahead.

Union of Jewish Students’ stall in Freshers’ week, Manchester Metropolitan University. Any UJS group is likely to support ‘the 2-state solution’ while doing nothing to bring it about.

I’m talking about that sense of being Jewish, the way you relate to your family history, the Jewish community where you grew up, what you think about Israel. In short, your Jewish identity. In an age where identity politics have become so central to our culture your Jewish identity has become almost sacrosanct, untouchable, beyond criticism. But is that how it should be? I’ll come back to this at the end.

I realise my credentials for offering advice about Jewish university life are now pretty thin. It was 1985 when my parents drove me from our home in Bromley, South London, to Manchester University in the north of England, then the institution of choice for a large slice of young Jews who’d grown up in the capital.

Before I pass on the little wisdom I’ve accumulated, let me provide some personal history and reflect on an event that set me on a path to Palestinian solidarity and Zionist dissent.

Ill at ease

Before starting at Manchester I had just come back from a long trip to Israel, my first, and I was already struggling with what the Jewish State meant to me. I didn’t have the words to articulate it at the time but something about my experience in Israel had left me confused and ill at ease.

I’d spent time on both religious and secular kibbutzim and at a project in the northern Galilee town of Safed that aimed to inspire young diaspora Jews to become modern orthodox in their religious practice and firmly Zionist in their politics.

While I could relate easily to the Jews of my age I’d met from America, South Africa and Europe, I found Israelis themselves difficult to get along with. As for the idea that I had somehow returned to my ancestral home – that feeling never kicked in. It turned out to be easier to take the boy out of Bromley than Bromley out of the boy.

Back home in the UK, two of my new flat mates in our student hall of residence had no such angst, no such dilemmas.

Phil and Andy had returned from Jewish leadership programmes in Israel ready to take up positions in the student union and advocate on behalf of Israel whenever the need was required. I recall being slightly in awe of their self-confidence and their self-belief as leaders and as advocates. It would be a long time before I found my own voice on the issue of Jews, Judaism and Israel.

During my first two years I went along to the Wednesday lunchtime political debates in the recently re-named ‘Steve Biko’ student union building. And when Israel came up I voted the way the Jewish Society (J-Soc) advised. Phil and Andy were good at their job.

Intifada


Children run from Israeli soldiers, 1st Intifada. Photo by Coutausse.

Then in my final year at Manchester (exactly thirty years ago) my understanding of Israel began to take a decisive turn.

With my exams approaching I should have been getting down to some academic work. John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, J.S. Mill and Karl Marx were all demanding my serious attention. But instead I was using the university library to follow, and attempt to fathom, the outbreak of the first Palestinian Intifada.

The uprising that began in Gaza in December 1987 quickly spread to the West Bank. It was an uprising from the streets of occupied Palestine provoked by frustration and disillusionment and it was characterised by strikes. boycotts, civil disobedience and, most notably, children and young people throwing stones at armed Israeli soldiers. The Israeli response from on high (Yitzhak Rabin, then Defence Minister) was to “break their bones”.

The first Intifada was a modern day re-working of David and Goliath from the bible. In fact the tale of the future Jewish king slaying the Philistine giant with just a sling and a stone was my favourite bible story, the one I’d ask my father to read to me again and again. Maybe that’s why this stone throwing rebellion caught my imagination in the first place.

But this time the Palestinian children were David and the Jewish soldiers were Goliath. It was an unsettling role reversal. After all, surely we had ‘written the book’ on what it meant to be the victims of oppressive power? How could this be happening?

Fathoming

You have to remember that in 1987 the internet, Facebook, Twitter and even email were still a long way off. To find out what was going on in Israel and the Occupied Territories I based myself in the first floor periodicals section of the John Rylands Student Library when I should have been one floor up in Politics & Philosophy.

On the shelves of the periodicals section there were current and back copies of the Guardian Weekly and the New York Review of Books, Commentary magazine and Foreign Affairs. I read articles by Americans and Israelis from the left and the right and in particular was hooked by the words of David Grossman and Amos Oz the two most well known Israeli liberal Zionists and opponents of the Israeli Occupation.

Until the first intifada I had little sense of the Palestinians as a community with a heritage and history as close to them as mine was to me. Now they were no longer just terrorists pursuing a militant cause I didn’t fully understand. My sense of unease about Israel that had begun during my first visit to the country was beginning to find its articulation. Here was a people suffering in the West Bank and Gaza because of what my people were doing.

Maybe if I’d walked up to the next floor Locke, Rousseau, Mill and Marx could have shed some light on the reasons for the Intifada too. Rights, liberty, freedom. Hadn’t I spent three years studying these things?

The first Intifada was for me the start of a long journey of reading, reflection and finally encounters and conversations with Palestinians that’s taken me to the place where I now stand.

The two-state fiction

So what’s changed between my leaving university and your arriving?

Well, for a while, the Palestinians were allowed to become a people rather than merely the creators of terror. But the ‘peace process’ that emerged directly from the first Intifada didn’t last long. Israel’s idea of Palestinian autonomy turned out to fall well short of rights, liberty and freedom. And all the time the Settlements expanded, the Jewish only roads grew longer and the checkpoints multiplied. The occupier continued to occupy.

Closer to home the Jewish leadership in the UK, including the Union of Jewish Students (UJS), adopted the two-state solution but then spent 25 years doing nothing to help bring it about.

There was never any serious public pressure on Israel from the Jewish community in Britain and never any attempt to prepare Jews here for the obvious compromises involved in making a Palestinian state, worthy of the name, a reality. Instead, our leaders, both religious and communal, did Israel’s bidding which became ever more right wing and intransigent as the years went by.

And where are we today?

When you get to your university you’ll see that UJS is keen to talk up its commitment to “peace” and “two-states for two peoples”. Through its campaign for “Bridges not Boycotts” it hopes to show itself as a liberal, compassionate defender of free speech. But in practice UJS behaves just like its elders in our Jewish leadership. It pursues tactics that define and constrict the parameters of acceptable student debate on Israel/Palestine; it dictates what antisemitism looks like; and attempts to ‘own’ the definition of modern Jewish identity by locking it into Zionism.

As for discussing one secular democratic state or some kind of federal constitution, no way folks. That’s all off limits. Because ultimately such thinking calls into question the privileged discrimination enjoyed by Jews in Israel, East Jerusalem and the West Bank and indeed for you and me as Jews with the ‘Right of Return’.

calling  for “two-states”, when it’s  clear it will never happen, becomes no more than an excuse for ethical passivity

By parroting “two-states” UJS kicks every moral consideration down the road and into the long grass.

Why worry about today’s land and water theft? Why be concerned about the pauperisation of Palestinian farmers? Or arrests without charge. Or children in prisons. All will be resolved when the moon and the stars are finally aligned and the requirements of Jewish security are satisfied beyond all possible doubt. So that means sometime never.

The truth is that the longer we cling to the fiction of two-states and the belief that Zionism is not merely an ideology but a part of our faith and identity, the longer it will take to bring anything approaching peace with justice to the land.

Making the call for “two-states”, when it’s become clear it will never happen, becomes no more than an excuse for ethical passivity. It allows you to wrap yourself in a banner with with the words “peace/shalom” painted across it and feel secure in your denial of Jewish culpability in the on-going destruction of the Palestinian people.

I know this is tough to hear for young Jews when you’ve been schooled on the innate goodness of all things Israeli. But now is the moment to confront the reality of the Jewish relationship with the Palestinian people – our defining Jewish relationship for the last 70 years.

Advice

So if you’re a Jewish student starting university this month here’s my advice:

Don’t confuse “peace” and “two-states” for justice and equal rights.

Don’t mistake Jewish nationalism for Jewish self-determination.

Don’t wait for the Chief Rabbi or the Board of Deputies to ever say anything remotely ethical about the treatment of Palestinians by Israel.

Don’t wait for Trump, or May, or Macron or Trudeau to say or do anything useful about this.

Don’t wait for another massacre in Gaza.

And don’t take as long as I did to work things out.

Instead, take the opportunity of being away from home to hear other voices and other opinions. Allow yourself to listen with an open mind and an open heart to Palestinian experiences. Check out the history of 1948 especially the last thirty years of Israeli academic writing including the expulsion of the Palestinians from Safed which nobody mentioned while I was living there.

And don’t allow people to tell you you should feel scared or vulnerable if other students talk about boycotts and sanctions against Israel. If you took modern history at school you should be able to work out the difference between Nazi boycotts of Jewish shops in the 1930s and a campaign for human rights in 2017. And if you hear things said that make you upset or confused or angry that doesn’t make it antisemitism.

Jewish identity has never been static and has always been questioned and challenged by Jews themselves in every age and every place where we have lived. Zionism itself is an example of just that tradition of challenging our own understanding of who we are and what our future should be.

You have the same right to challenge today’s received wisdom; to ask the difficult questions; and create a way to be proud of being Jewish that isn’t trapped in an ideology that’s long passed its sell-by date.

So be bold, be courageous and decide where you want to stand and who you want to stand with.

Finally, to return to the start, let me leave you this (exam) question to ponder:

What happens to your sacrosanct understanding of ‘being Jewish’ when it becomes another people’s catastrophe?

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Have a great first term.

Yours

Robert

 

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Ilan Pappe’s new book

Ilan Pappe talks about the Middle East: ‘Change will come’

Speaking to the Monitor about his new book ‘The Biggest Prison on Earth,’ historian Ilan Pappe says that – ultimately – he is ‘confident of a peaceful scenario.’

August 15, 2017 Historian Ilan Pappe’s new book The Biggest Prison on Earth: A History of the Occupied Territories continues his work of shining new analytical light on the seemingly intractable Israel-Palestine conflict, following up earlier books such as “Ten Myths About Israel” and the bestselling “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine.” Pappe recently talked with Monitor contributor Steve Donoghue about his work.

Q: Your new book is already sparking the kind of controversy that greeted “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” and “Ten Myths About Israel” – this must be a familiar pattern to you by now, yes? Do you find that the tenor of this conversation has changed at all over the years? Is there more receptivity to your work, for instance?

It depends where. Around the world, yes, the tenor has changed. There is more readiness to change the language that describes Israeli actions in the past and the present; there is less disbelief when a systematic abuse or dispossession is shown as a structure or strategy rather than a policy. As for Israel, the same denial and unwillingness to face the unpleasant chapters of the past persists.

Q: That assertion – that Israeli dispossession of Palestinians is an outcome of premeditated state strategy rather than a policy adapted to circumstances – contradicts the attractive notion of a fledgling state merely doing what it must to survive. It paints a far uglier picture.

This is not an attempt to demonize the Israelis or Israel. My main argument is that the Zionist movement in Palestine until 1948 and the state of Israel are a settler colonial project that is still intact today. The nature of such a project is that the settlers in this particular case study see themselves as natives who return to their home and see the natives as aliens, who at best can be tolerated if they do not challenge to the settlers’ power and ownership. So this is not a matter of planning only or strategic clarity.

Q: Settler colonialism seldom bodes well for the natives, and it certainly hasn’t for the Palestinian population now living in what you describe in the book as “the ultimate maximum security prison.” In “The Biggest Prison on Earth” you’re careful not to offer false or cheap hope for any good resolution to this problem – but do you see any such resolution as possible?

To be honest not in the short run. However, I do believe that in the long run the basic features of the project will diminish and hopefully disappear. I am confident of a peaceful scenario: not in a big bang but in bottom-up evolution. Change will come first and foremost due to Palestinian steadfastness and popular resistance, the intensification of the international pressure on Israel, and it will be cemented by joint Palestinian and Jewish effort to reformulate the relationship between them on the basis of equality, democracy, and respect for human and civil rights.

Joint life on equal footing is possible – the main obstacle is the state’s ideology that dehumanizes the Palestinians and refuses to allow them equal and normal life for the sake of what is deemed “Jewish Security” – namely an ethnic Jewish state that forever has a Jewish majority by all means possible and provides privileges and exclusivity for the Jewish people in it. This is an obsolete ideology and world view which will not hold water for too long in a world that wishes and struggles to ensure that more and more people would be liberated from tyranny, bigotism, religious fanaticism, and racism.

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