Bar Heffetz, The 2014 Gaza-War was Netanyahu’s Soft Underbelly [ssba]

Bar Heffetz, The 2014 Gaza-War was Netanyahu’s Soft Underbelly

It’s been two years since the end of Operation Protective Edge (2014 Israel–Gaza War) and we must admit that we failed.

Israel’s government didn’t fail. It was actually quite successful. It’s easy to be successful if your only goal is to survive, live through another month, and make it to the next election without a war. In the period between elections, the government can ramble on about the construction of dangerous tunnels, checkpoints, the Turks, and occasionally play “who has the bigger cock” with Hamas.

The media also met its goals: everyone knows that Gaza isn’t sexy, the Gaza envelope is far away, and people don’t want to know or understand. At least until there’s a war. And wars are good for ratings. Next time we’ll also all unite around our screens, declare “Quiet, we’re at war,” and fake collectivism.

The IDF might have failed a little. But there’s a new Chief of Staff, and there’s new tech to deal with the tunnels . . . So what if a few residents on the Gaza border no longer believe a word the army says?

So who really failed? Read More »

Zehava Galon, The Insanity of Investing in the South Hebron Hills [ssba]

Zehava Galon, The Insanity of Investing in the South Hebron Hills

Haaretz discovered that Israel Vows to Advance ‘Strategic Plan’ to Develop South Hebron Hills. Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank is discussing a massive investment in the construction, including industrial complexes, a medical center and housing units. A huge investment of money and blood for a fantasy.

How many of you have ever been to the South Hebron hills? Would you move there with your children? Probably not. In fact, only 8,000 Jews settled in this dangerous area. Two of the four areas in which the security fence has been compromised are in the south Hebron hills. And settlements there are a major target for terrorist attacks. Dafna Meir was murdered in Atniel and Hillel Ariel was murdered in Kiryat Arba. When the Knesset’s Foreign and Security Committee members visited the area, residents told them that their children have difficulties sleeping at night. They cannot even get into bed without checking that all doors and windows are locked. Imagine that. A local doctor told the Knesset committee that adults there take far more anti-anxiety medication than in the rest of Israel. ​​The terrorists who carried out the recent attack in Sarona in Tel Aviv came from there. So did the terrorist who murdered Hillel Ariel. Read More »

Not Exactly Start-Up Nation [ssba]

Not Exactly Start-Up Nation

The Article was originally written for the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Israel.

Shlomo Swirski, Academic Director, The Adva Center

Israel, established in 1948 and with a population of 8.13 million (2015), belongs to the self-defined group of developed countries. In 2010 it was accepted into the OECD – the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the prestigious “rich countries’ club.” With a GDP per capita of $33,200 (based on Purchasing Power Parities [PPP]) in 2014, it ranked 22nd out of 34 OECD members (Germany, with $44,800, ranked 10th). It ranked even higher – 19th out of 187 countries (in 2013; Germany ranked 6th) — on the United Nations Human Development Index, which takes into account not only economic performance but also performance in the fields of health, education and gender equality. Read More »

Zehava Galon, Two Years after Operation Protective Edge [ssba]

Zehava Galon, Two Years after Operation Protective Edge

It is terrifying to think that next time it might be you. You’ll open the door and a military officer will be standing there with a death notification. This time it will be you who has to figure out how to live with the loss. How to get out of bed into a world where the person who was supposed to be with you is no longer there, realizing you will never argue again or share private jokes. We all suppress this fear, perhaps because we cannot otherwise go on. But we all know – that there are those among us who pay the price of wars, military operations and terrorist attacks. Any name can be drawn up in this terrible lottery including yours and those closest to you. And we also understand that when a bereaved parent says that s/he has “paid the price” only a few fully understand what s/he means. Read More »

Tammy Zandberg, We cannot distinguish between the Shameful Economic Policy and the Perpetuation of the Occupation [ssba]

Tammy Zandberg, We cannot distinguish between the Shameful Economic Policy and the Perpetuation of the Occupation

The Israeli welfare state continues to expand. If you are not feeling it, you are probably not living in a settlement.

While the vast majority of citizens living within the legal territory of Israel face anti-social policies, cutbacks in state services and privatizations, the settlers received today yet another tax benefit.
Only settlers have subsidized public transport. Only settlers deserve discounted housing. Now they also get tax benefits regardless of the socio-economic condition of their community and its residents.

While Yeruham, Ofakim, Kiryat Shmona and many other communities will continue to be crashed under deliberate governmental anti-social policies, Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home Knesset Members) and his partners get yet another fat bonus for their settler friends.

We cannot distinguish between the shameful economic policy and the perpetuation of the occupation. The goal of Israel’s Messianic Right is continuing to reinforce settlements in order to prevent a future peace agreement and deepen the state’s control over Greater Israel. This messianic vision drags us into an endless cycle of bloodshed, brings international isolation and leads to delusional allocation of economic resources to one sector.

This messianic vision has many fathers, Smotrich is only one of them. It is his right. Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, however, should be the one answering us. Kahlon promised to be a social minister, but instead he prefers Smotrich and Bennet’s friendship and helps implement their vision.

The original Hebrew Text

Translation: Maya Haber

The Strollers’ March and Victories in the Social Protest Movement [ssba]

The Strollers’ March and Victories in the Social Protest Movement

In the summer of 2011, a few days after tents started popping up on Rothschild Boulevard. in Tel Aviv, a group of us were hanging out with protesters. Some of us were veteran activists, others were not. We all had kids ages one and a half to four.

This group initiated an unprecedented protest: the “stroller march,” which brought tens of thousands of parents to the streets for a power demonstration around the intolerable cost of raising children in Israel. Read More »

Zehava Galon, Too Hefty a Price [ssba]

Zehava Galon, Too Hefty a Price

Yesterday the lives of ten families changed forever. Four people were murdered and six injured in a terrorist attack in Tel Aviv. People who simply wanted to hang out and relax. In split seconds of horror, they became news. I send condolences to the families of the victims. Few know what they are going through right now. I wish a fast and easy recovery to the wounded, and believes that the state will do everything in its power to help them.

What a dreadful evening.

For months Israel has been facing a wave of terror that refuses to fade. On such occasions it’s easy to say there is “no hope” and speak of “the need for deterrence.” This indeed is what the government is doing. But I do not think we can afford to bury our heads in the sand and hope the terrorism wave will pass just because we suppressed the Palestinian population even further. We cannot continue managing the conflict, carefully controlling the flames, without forcing more Israeli families to pay a terrible price. If we continue down the same road, we will continue arriving at that place. It is difficult to speak of a peace process after such a terrible event, but eventually we’ll have to sit down and talk peace. Because what we have right now is not the best we can achieve. Neither is it good enough. Too many families paid a too hefty a price too many times. We cannot ask more families to pay this price.

13346421_1136315219792165_2810880550708256813_nThe text is a translation of Zehava Galon’s Facebook post. You can find the Hebrew original here.

 

Erasing the Al-Aqsa Mosque from Tourist Maps [ssba]

Erasing the Al-Aqsa Mosque from Tourist Maps

Shalom Boguslavsky is a Jerusalem tourist guide. He wrote a Facebook post today responding to a new map distributed by Israel’s Ministry of Tourism:

I don’t understand what Israel’s Ministry of Tourism wants. My licensing examination required (and rightly so) memorizing the principles of Islam and learning about the Islamic sites around the country and particularly in Jerusalem. But now the Ministry is distributing this ancient Jerusalem tourist map without Muslim sites.

This is not about the absence of hundreds of small Muslim sites that you would expect to find on a map of the Old City. I’m speaking to the fact that Al-Aqsa Mosque is not on the map!

The Dome of the Rock, the foundation stone and Solomon’s Stables are there, but Al-Aqsa isn’t.

You would have expected to find some Muslims sites in the Muslim Quarter [of the Old City of Jerusalem]. But there, the map shows the Israeli settler organization Ateret Cohanim’s houses and yeshivas and several churches and monasteries. Muslim sites, in the Muslim Quarter? Why would you even show them?

In addition to the Ministry of Tourism logo, the map includes Israel’s “rebranding” logo, a project that cost about a hundred million shekels. The idea was to convince tourists that Israel is not an insular, religious, militaristic and dark country, but rather young, cool, pluralistic and creative. Good luck with that.

Perhaps consider a new form of branding: “Israel – you won’t meet a single Muslim there. What do you think we are, Sweden?”

Temple Mount view from Mount of Olives

The view of the Old City of Jerusalem from Armon Hanatziv Promenade

One of the commentators on Shalom’s post wrote that his daughter had visited Jerusalem on a school trip. They were standing on Armon Hanatziv Promenade looking at the Old City, and the guide described the sites. One student pointed at the Dome of the Rock and asked “what’s that?” The guide responded: “We will not speak about it today.”

Oddly enough, another interesting item popped up today on my Facebook feed. It seems that the Temple Mount Faithful movement launched a Headstart fundraising campaign for their Passover sacrifice dress rehearsal. They are seeking 25,000 shekels for this annual ritual in which kohanim (members of the priestly class) perform the various stages of the sacrifice of a lamb through the roasting and eating of the lamb.

The Headstart fundraiser features a video depicting a father reading the Passover Haggadah with his two sons. One of the sons asks, perplexed: “But why, dad, why don’t we perform the Passover sacrifice anymore?” The father finds the question challenging. It is clearly not because we no longer have a temple, he says.

For the Temple Mount Faithfuls this annual ritual is indeed a “dress rehearsal.” It is the final full costume rehearsal shortly before the first real performance. The only thing in their way is the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Oh how they wish it could be erased from the map.

 

Tomer Persico, The Duality of Israeli Existence [ssba]

Tomer Persico, The Duality of Israeli Existence

The following is a translation of a Facebook post, Dr. Tomer Persico published today. In the eight hours since it was published, it received over 1,700 likes. By the time you read it, it will have many more. Persico is a Research Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, and teaches at the department for Comparative Religion in Tel-Aviv University. But more than that, he is an astute observer of Israeli reality.

Translator: Maya Haber

The story over the last few weeks is the collapse of the delicate duality the Israeli government has been trying to preserve for years. It is the duality of occupation at home and democracy for abroad, religious coercion at home and a booming high-tech industry abroad, the stabbing at a Jerusalem Pride parade and pinkwashing for abroad. This is a strategic duality. It allows Israel to play a part in the community of enlightened nations. It has enormous benefits like trade agreements, the ability to purchase advanced weaponry (and silent permission to possess nuclear weapons) and the right to participate in the coalition of the virtuous allies fighting against jihadist Islam. Read More »

Without Trial and No Evidence [ssba]

Without Trial and No Evidence

Israelis, human rights organizations, and the United Nations call to end the practice of administrative detention. This practice has recently taken on a face and a name of a Palestinian journalist, Mohammed al-Qiq from the village of Dura. Al-Qiq, who was arrested and held without charges, demanded a trial to end his detention. When his request was denied al-Qiq went on a hunger strike that today Thursday, February 17 is on its 84th day.

His hunger strike has revealed the cruelty of the process in which detainees are powerless to seek legal justice and exposed in full public view the horror of their use of hunger as a last resort. Al-Qiq has used the only means he has to fight his detention, knowing full well the consequences, the gruesome physical impairment to his hearing, his heart, his speech and the ensuing excruciating suffering. Photographs and sounds of pain and agony of the 33-year-old father of two, who is hospitalized in Afula, have now been on public display. Al-Qiq’s use of his starving body sends a most powerful message about the body politics of the occupation. Read More »