Birth Pangs East Jerusalem

In my latest piece for Zeek, I examine some of the implications of the weekly protests in Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem and how they might signal the rise of a new, more credible Israeli left and what hope that might bring.

Israeli NGOs under assault

In a post in this space about a week ago, I discussed how occupation erodes democracy in Israel. We now have an even starker example of how the Israeli mindset, in the leadership and in a significant and growing sector of the public, is showing the effects of nearly 43 years of occupation.

Of course, one needs always to remember that Israel is a country that has always lived in fear of both international de-legitimization and attack. But now there is a new angle here. If those who truly hate Israel and wish to see its demise are smart, they’ll just stop taking any action and sit back as the increasing attacks on dissent and democracy in Israel

Im Tirzu's horrific ad attacking Naomi Chaza from the JPost

destroy it from within.

The Israeli government has increasingly involved in what one might call “NGO wars.” Partnering with the extremist right-wing group, NGO Monitor, Israel has been actively trying to undermine its own human rights community, rather than trying to confront it in the court of public opinion. The government has also tried to block foreign funding to such groups (something which must be understood with two facts: one, that Israel does not have a network of foundations as exists in the US to fund NGOs, nor does it devote significant resources to such things as they do in Europe; and two, this attempt was very selective, not a principled stand against foreign funding of NGOs in general, but, like NGO Monitor, only targeting NGOs that might be critical of government policies).

But now the Israeli right has sunk to new depths, and there is some speculation here, they are getting help from someone in the IDF and/or Shin Bet to pursue it. Im Tirzu, a group which laughably calls itself centrist when it is clearly far right in most matters, has taken vicious aim at the New Israel Fund and its head, Naomi Chazan in particular. The scurrilous nature of their campaign is easily visible in this picture that appeared in the Jerusalem Post. Continue reading

B’Tselem demands military police investigation: Grave suspicion that the killing of the three Fatah activists in Nablus was unlawful


Press Release –for immediate publication

B’Tselem demands military police investigation:

Grave suspicion that the killing of the three Fatah activists in Nablus was unlawful

B’Tselem has written to the judge advocate general, Maj. Gen. Avichai Mandelblit, demanding that he immediately order a Military Police investigation into the circumstances of the killings of Ghassan Abu Sharakh, Nader a-Sarkaji, and ‘Anan Subuh in Nablus on 26 December 2009. B’Tselem further demanded that the Military Police investigate the soldiers’ violence against the families of the three men and the damage caused to their property.

State officials, among them the IDF Spokesperson, stated that the three had been involved in the shooting attack that killed Rabbi Meir Chai on 24 December 2009. They further stated that the soldiers went to their houses to arrest them, but the three refused to surrender, and the soldiers shot them when they felt their lives were in danger. However, B’Tselem’s investigation of the event, which included interviews with nine relatives of the men who were killed and examination of the findings at the scene and of medical reports, revealed a different version. The investigation raises a grave suspicion that the soldiers acted unlawfully and, at least in the cases of Ghassan Abu Sharakh and Nader a-Sarkaji, made no attempt to arrest them before shooting them to death. This, in spite of the fact that the two had obeyed the order to exit their home, and were not carrying arms. Continue reading

B’Tselem Animation: Lift siege on Gaza

B’Tselem has produced this short animated clip, which shows just how stupid, ineffective and harmful the ongoing siege on Gaza is. You may find it effective in helping to explain to others why this policy is not only cruel, but also, ultimately, very much against Israel’s best interests as well.

Please spread the word.

Human rights community to Israeli Prime Minister: Time is running out. Establish independent inquiry into Operation Cast Lead

Israeli human rights groups have joined together for one last plea to the Israeli government to launch a credible, independent and effective investigation into Operation Cast Lead before the matter goes before the UN on February 5. Below is the press release and the letter that was sent to the Prime Minister. Continue reading

Sheikh Jarrah: Occupation Overwhelming Democracy

Lara Friedman of Americans for Peace Now blogs about how the ongoing protests at Sheikh Jarrah are a “microcosm of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

She’s right of course. And she’s right in observing that this relatively small piece of the conflict demonstrates how the occupation is eroding Israeli democracy.

I’d like to go a little deeper into that point, from a slightly different angle.

Israelis, Palestinians and other activists protesting evictions in Sheikh Jarrah

The protests in Sheikh Jarrah were sparked by a group of Jewish settlers buying some property which, it was claimed, once belonged to Jews before 1948. When two Palestinian families, encompassing 53 people were evicted from their home in Sheikh Jarrah, the US and much of the world protested along with the Palestinians. The area has seen increasing protest since.

One of the subtexts of all of this is the counter-claim by settlers and Israeli officials: to quote Yakir Segev of the Jerusalem municipal council, “These are not actions made by Israel or the Israeli government. This is a matter of the court. It is a civil dispute between Palestinian families and those of Israeli settlers, regarding who is the rightful owner of this property … Israeli law is the only law we are obliged to obey.” Continue reading

The Mideast After Massachusetts

My latest in Zeek Magazine explores the implications of the Republican victor in the Massachusetts Senate election and where Obama needs to go from here.