Meet Israel’s Bernie Sanders: MK Ilan Gilon [ssba]

Meet Israel’s Bernie Sanders: MK Ilan Gilon

The original article was written by Nir Yahav and published in Walla Magazine on December 22, 2016. We thank Dana Mills for translating and Peter Eisenstadt for editing.

In early December, to the surprise of Israel’s right-wing government, the Knesset passed MK Ilan Gilon’s bill on a preliminary reading making disability benefits at least equal to the minimum wage. In effect the bill would more than double the monthly allowance paid to the disabled to equal the minimum wage. Currently disability benefit is 2,341 shekels ($616), while the minimum wage is 5,000 shekels ($1,315). Read More »

Zehava Galon, They Stopped Trying to Show They Care [ssba]

Zehava Galon, They Stopped Trying to Show They Care

Two children were orphaned on Friday. In a split second the few memories they had of their father became the only memories they will ever have of him. They’ll have to make up the rest from stories and photos, and from the void in the lives of his relatives.

I don’t know what happened near the Ofra Settlement on Friday and why the Iad Zacharia Hamid was shot to death. Yedioth Ahronot explained that the soldiers felt threatened because Hamid got too close to the secured booth in which they were stationed. It might be true. But two children lost their father, and someone, probably an 18 year-old, has to live with it now.

Just recently Reserve General Uzi Dayan described how he had covered up the killing of five unarmed Palestinians, and everyone was fine with it. This week an unarmed Palestinian was killed in El Fawaar and 32 were injured, mostly in the knees. Some will never walk again. Perhaps the soldiers felt threatened there too. It is hard to judge a kid who enters a Palestinian village and fears for his life. But the media and politicians gave this incident almost no attention.

We and the Palestinians live in an insane routine. Both sides pay a hefty price. Though there is no doubt that the Palestinians pay a heavier price. Over the last few weeks we’ve gotten reports of more raids and more injured. Not all the injured were armed. I understand that people have given up on solving the conflict, but too many times it seems that politicians have given up as well. Every week more people die and more get injured. Every year or two we have a military operation in Gaza. But at the moment the only thing the government cares about is a scandal involving the Minister of Transportation. They’ve stopped even trying to show that they care.

You can find the original post here.

Translation: Dana Mills

Tomer Persico, Ariel Sharon is Smiling in Hell [ssba]

Tomer Persico, Ariel Sharon is Smiling in Hell

It’s the month of Av again, and we again “remember” the Gaza evacuation and the destruction of Gush Katif. Why “remember”? Because memories are always selective. They tell us now that the “disengagement” was a leftist idea, supported by leftists, and implemented by other leftists. They tell us that though Leftists claim to oppose the violation of human rights violations, the left did not prevent it.

So let’s put speak truth to the lies.

Disengagement?

It was not a “disengagement,” which is a nice name for a horrible deed. It was a military withdrawal from an occupied territory, the evacuation of over 8,000 people from their homes and the destruction of twenty-one settlements. The process included directing the state’s resources—the military, police, judiciary and media—to suppress and silence any opposition. The entire state apparatus was mobilized to carry out a controversial operation while violently silencing—yes, violently—opposing voices. The settlers, and occasionally the entire religious Zionist, became public enemies, “threats to democracy,” and the media, the legal system, and the politicians treated them as such. Read More »

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, 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 »

Avi Dabush, Building Rainbow Coalitions [ssba]

Avi Dabush, Building Rainbow Coalitions

We had a wonderful conversation with Avi Dabush yesterday. Avi is a dynamic community organizer. He has lead a variety of social and political struggles in Israel. In the last elections, he ran for Knesset as part of Meretz. Throughout the campaign Avi was a leading voice on issues of Mizrahi identity and social justice.

Until recently he was the program director at SHATIL, the New Israel Fund’s initiative for social change. Avi left in January to devote his time to building what he calls “Rainbow coalitions.” He spoke to us about sectarianism which divides Israeli society, and the attempts to build grassroots movements uniting people and focusing on their shared interests. Avi argues that focusing on shared experience allows people to transcended identity differences and focuses on commonalities.

He told us his motto is the African Proverb – “If you want to walk fast walk alone, if you want to walk far, walk together!”

Michael Manekin, Sitting on the Fence: The problems with Herzog’s Disengagement Plan [ssba]

Michael Manekin, Sitting on the Fence: The problems with Herzog’s Disengagement Plan

Mikhael Manekin is the executive director of Molad, the Center for the Renewal of Israeli Democracy. Yesterday he posted the best response I have seen to Isaac Herzog’s Disengagement plan. In essence, he argues that plan looks more like a PR stunt than a real policy. Herzog avoids discussing real issues and does not offer solutions to most problems. But Manekin’s most significant contribution is his observation that Herzog simply fails to perceive himself as an alternative to Netanyahu. He cannot imagine a universe in which Netanyahu will not be Israel’s Prime Minister. This is an interesting psychological failure – one I had not expected of the leader of the opposition.

Translation by Maya Haber from The Hebrew original: Read More »

We Can Stop the Next Gaza War Now! [ssba]

We Can Stop the Next Gaza War Now!

The next war with Hamas in Gaza is around the corner. Reuters reports that Israelis near Gaza fear Hamas is tunneling beneath them. And Benjamin Netanyahu warned the Islamic militant group Hamas that rules Gaza on Sunday that his country will retaliate with “greater force” than deployed in the 2014 Gaza war if cross-border tunnels are used to attack Israel.

MK Tamar Zandberg posted this on Facebook in response:

In the last few days, it seems like the next Gaza war is around the corner. Like a foretold accident that no one is trying to prevent.

It starts with a “trickle” that has fallen (a euphemism for missiles). The Gaza envelope residents are complaining about the noise of tunnel construction under their homes. Netanyahu is threatening to bomb ‘More than in Operation Protective Edge.” And Buji Herzog, proving he is on Netanyahu’s right, suggesting to bomb earlier and more powerfully.

On the other side there is Gaza. Gaza is experiencing a severe humanitarian crisis, shortage of water and electricity, its sewage spills into the Mediterranean and tens of thousands of families are homeless. But simultaneously Hamas continues investing resources in preparing an attack on Israel. Read More »

Podcast: Life Around the Gaza Strip [ssba]

Podcast: Life Around the Gaza Strip

Before setting off for my journey through Israel and Palestine I wanted first-hand accounts of life in this region. I have always thought it was not enough to read news articles and books and call myself ‘aware of issues’. Therefore, this episode is simply two people telling of their lives as they surround Gaza. Both of them have very different experiences as Roni is an Israeli who maintains friendships and volunteers with Gazans whereas Ahmed lives in Gaza, but they come to similar conclusions.

Below is the text from Ahmed Gamal’s story to help follow along. He wrote this last year when his frustrations were peeked by the war; there are minimal edits, despite his limited command of English, to preserve the authenticity of his voice: Read More »

Conversations with Israel and Palestine: Gershon Baskin [ssba]

Conversations with Israel and Palestine: Gershon Baskin

Dr. Gershon Baskin should be a household name at this point. Though he is best known as the person responsible for the secret back-channel talks between Israel and the Hamas that successfully negotiated the release of Israeli abducted soldier Gilad Shalit, he is also one of the most well-informed commentators on Gaza and Hamas.

In this recorded conversation, Gershon clues us in on the changes in Gaza since the 2005 disengagement.

Dr. Baskin was the Israeli Co-Director and founder of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information (IPCRI) – a joint Israeli-Palestinian public policy think and “do”-tank located in Jerusalem. During the Premiership of the late Yitzhak Rabin, he served as an advisor on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process to a secret team of intelligence officers established by Mr. Rabin. Dr. Baskin was a member of the Jerusalem Experts Committee established by the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office during the Final Status Negotiations in 2000-2001. Read More »