Demography Is Not A Threat

Last week, just ahead of the failed “Unite the Right” rally in Washington, Fox News commentator Laura Ingraham spewed some venomous anti-immigrant statements. She said that “in major parts of the country, it does seem that the America we know and love doesn’t exist anymore. Massive demographic changes have been foisted on the American people and they’re changes that none of us ever voted for and most of us don’t like.”

Plenty of people lined up to criticize Ingraham, and rightly so. But I wonder how many would have similarly criticized this statement:

In about a decade, the Arabs between the Jordan and the Mediterranean will be a majority and the Jews a minority. The Jewish national home will become the Palestinian national home. We will be again, for the first time since 1948, a Jewish minority in an Arab state. I want to separate from the Palestinians. I want to keep a Jewish state with a Jewish majority. I don’t want 61 Palestinian MKs in Israel’s Knesset. I don’t want a Palestinian prime minister in Israel. I don’t want them to change my flag and my national anthem. I don’t want them to change the name of my country to Isra-stine.

Those remarks were made in June 2015, at the annual Herzliya Conference in Israel. Who made them? Benjamin Netanyahu? Or perhaps one of the far-right figures in his government such as Ayelet Shaked, Miri Regev, Avigdor Lieberman, or Naftali Bennett?

No, those words were uttered by Isaac Herzog, who was, at the time, the opposition leader and chair of the Labor Party, the largest part of Zionist Union coalition. He was the leader of the center-left in Israel. Notably, his words drew little attention. Laura Ingraham would wish for such indifference. Read more at Lobe Log

Palestinians: Still The Invisible Victims

“It didn’t have to be this way,” writes Jim Zogby in the new preface to the reissue of his 1981 book, Palestinians, The Invisible Victims: Political Zionism and the Roots of Palestinian Dispossession.

There were, a century ago, multiple threads to the Zionist movement. On the one side, for example, there was Martin Buber’s inclusive vision of spiritual Zionism, advocating the in-gathering of the Jewish people and cooperation between them and the indigenous Arab population in Palestine and the broader region. There was also a thread of what came to be called Political Zionism that proposed a more radical and exclusivist vision that sought to displace the Arabs of Palestine. Tragically, this was the thread that won out.

This is a crucial framing of Zogby’s book. Reissued after 37 years, the book often seems like it could be talking about contemporary events. Zogby’s basic thesis is summed up in his conclusion, where he states, “The violations of [Palestinians’] basic human rights are, quite simply, a function of the political ambitions of the Political Zionist movement and the state it created. Palestinian resistance to Zionism and its dream of an exclusive Jewish state, therefore, continues.”

Zogby’s 1981 book states the Palestinian case. It is a short book and makes no pretense to an exhaustive history or a complete review of then-contemporary conditions. It offers one idea, that the exclusivist vision of Political Zionism is incompatible with a lasting peace.

An Opposition to a Specific Zionism

Zionism as a defense against anti-Semitism or a unifying force for a religious group becoming increasingly secular is perfectly legitimate. The issue is, as it has always been, the insistence by the political strain that overwhelmed all other forms of modern Jewish nationalism (some of which, like the Bund, were not Zionist) on forming a state consisting exclusively of its own people in a land that was already populated. Zionism can co-exist with others. Exclusivist Political Zionism cannot, but it also need not be the only expression of Jewish nationalism.

“The European Jewry,” Zogby writes, “who were to be the ‘bearers of this civilization were, in the words of Max Nordau (one of Zionism’s founders), ‘a people more industrious and more able even than the average European, not to speak at all of the inert Africans.’ While the founders of this movement shared with their European contemporaries a racist contempt for the rights of the peoples of Asia and Africa and had the will to establish a colony in either of these two continents, they lacked the means to accomplish this end.”

Eventually, the Zionists found the backing they needed from the British government. Here Zogby touches on the main reason for the inevitable triumph of political Zionism over the other strains. Despite the efforts of some who transcended the racism of their culture, such racism was so common, and generally so unchallenged in Europe and, therefore, among European expatriates, there was little hope for co-existence.

Despite the provision in the Balfour declaration calling for the rights of the indigenous population to be respected, Britain had no more regard for those rights than the Zionist movement. The Zionist settlement was generally supported and protected, while the Arab population was to be contained.

In fact, Zogby quotes Lord Balfour directly: “In Palestine, we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting its inhabitants as to their wishes…Zionism…is of far greater importance…than the desire and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who inhabit that ancient land.” It’s worth noting that figure, 700,000 Palestinians. A wiser approach by the European parties—one that envisioned a mutually beneficial future—could easily have produced a different future. There was clearly more than enough room for the Zionists to come and establish a new state without dispossessing or infringing anyone’s rights. It was only the complete disregard for the rights of the indigenous population by all the European parties that put both the Jews and Palestinians on this miserable course.

Early Israel

The thumbnail sketch of history that Zogby necessarily provides is still remarkable for its similarity to the history of the 1948 war as understood today. In 1981, that history was largely unknown or grossly distorted. Relying on the documentation from Israeli sources available at the time and on the work of Palestinian historian, Walid Khalidi, Zogby provides a summary that could have easily been drawn from the work of the Israeli “New Historians,” whose books would be published a few years later. When Zogby, or Khalidi before him, wrote these histories they were ignored. But when Israeli writers wrote of the same things, there was a tidal wave of interest and controversy. That in itself is telling.

Perhaps trying to address the already growing debate challenging the story of Palestine’s Arabs leaving “voluntarily” or being driven out at gunpoint, Zogby goes to some length to describe the campaign to get the Arab population to flee. Noting the infamous Deir Yassin massacre, Zogby quotes Palmach leader and future Foreign Minister of Israel Yigal Allon:

We saw a need to clean the upper Galilee and to create territorial a Jewish continuity in the entire area of the upper Galilee…We, therefore, tried a tactic…which worked miraculously well. I gathered all the Jewish Muktars, who have contact with the Arabs in different villages, and asked them to whisper in the ears of the Arabs that a great Jewish reinforcement has arrived in Galilee and that it is going to burn all of the villages of the Huleh. They should suggest to these Arabs, as their friends, to escape while there is still time. And the rumor spread in all the areas of the Huleh that it is time to flee. The flight numbered myriads. The tactic reached its goal completely.

That tactic also allowed the propagation of the myth that Palestinians left of their own accord.

Zogby quickly covers the early years of the state, with a focus on the martial law under which the Arab “citizens” of Israel were held. The 1967 war begins a new era of occupation and with it, of course, new measures to deal with the Palestinian population in both Israel and the occupied territories. Zogby traces the growing “othering” of the Palestinian population. As Israel grew stronger, the Israeli people came more and more to see the indigenous population as foreigners. It’s a familiar dynamic to Americans, or it certainly should be.

The discussion in recent years of the “demographic time bomb” is reflected here, and in the very same terms. It is remarkable that this phrase was obviously acceptable in the 1970s in liberal discourse. But it is far more disturbing that it is still acceptable in those same circles today.

The blatant and quite severe racism of casting birthrate as a threat for only one group of people cannot be overstated. While the birthrates of ultra-Orthodox Jewish families are also discussed in terms of the future makeup of Israeli society, it is never described as a potentially deadly threat that must be addressed. Palestinian babies are a security issue for Israel. Similarly today, supporters of the two-state solution worry over the “demographic bomb” while the right wing speaks of either forcible transfer or apartheid.

In 1981, Zogby concluded his short book by saying,

[Palestinians] do not need vague formulas hinting at recognition. They need to be protected and defended. Continued silence in the face of these crimes and overwhelming evidence as to the intensity of Israel’s violations and the ultimate intent of the occupation authorities, amounts to more than acquiescence. It means complicity.

In 2018, his conclusion, like so many of the details of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians described in his book, is very similar after nearly four decades.

Among governments in the West, however, little has changed. Palestinians are now increasingly recognized as a political issue with Western politicians offering support for a vague ‘two-state solution.’ But the formulas they offer are, more often than not, predicated on the need to protect Israel’s Jewish population from being swallowed up by what is referred to as the “Palestinian demographic time-bomb” that will threaten Israel’s “Jewish character.” What the West does not address are Palestinian human rights and the suffering and the humiliation they are forced to endure on a daily basis as a result of an oppressive occupation.

It is, undoubtedly, a measure of Palestinian despair and the failure of their leadership that the hope Zogby finds after all these years is in the Jewish community.

Maybe the most hopeful development to occur in recent years is the emergence in the Jewish community, both in Israel and in the West, of voices who are challenging the exclusivist idea of Political Zionism. More in line with the thinking of Buber, they are partnering with Palestinians to oppose the occupation and working to defend Palestinian human rights. Groups like B’tselem, Combatants for Peace, Jewish Voice for Peace, #IfNotNow, Peace Now, Breaking the Silence, Mondoweiss, and many more like them are in the vanguard of those who are demanding recognition of Palestinian humanity and a fundamentally different relationship between the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.

The ongoing dispossession of the Palestinian people cannot be resolved by force. That is overwhelmingly in the hands of Israel and the United States, both of which have never been more hostile to Palestinian rights. The rest of the world could make a difference, but thus far, it has not shown the political will. That is not likely to change based on geo-strategic considerations.

It will only change when human rights, universal values, and basic justice and decency can shift hearts and minds. That’s not impossible; there are many examples in history of that happening. Ultimately, however, the exclusivist version of Zionism will have to wane in favor of a Jewish national identity that does not need an exclusive state to express itself, but can live in a pluralistic, democratic society, be it a single state or two states side by side working in some form of partnership.

As Zogby concludes in his 2018 preface, “If we seek to build a secure and peaceful future for both peoples, it is imperative that we recognize that an injustice occurred and that it continues today. To challenge the narrative that denied Palestinian humanity is not anti-Semitic. It is blindness to injustice.” Acknowledging that uncomfortable history—a history that is uncomfortable not only for Israel, but for Britain, the United States, the Arab world, and others—is the only way to start on that path.

The Scorched Earth Of Netanyahu’s Israel

The recent police recommendation that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted for various acts of corruption may well have started the countdown to the long-awaited departure of the man who has spent more time in the prime minister’s office than anyone in Israeli history save David Ben-Gurion. Even jaded observers, like myself, who will not count the slippery and resourceful Netanyahu out until he is out of office must admit that this time it will be difficult for him to survive, as he has vowed, until the end of his current term, which expires in November 2019.

For most Israelis, Netanyahu’s departure will be a welcome event.

Even among the Israeli right, Netanyahu’s blatant corruption and willingness to undermine the very fabric of Israel’s democratic structures, such as they are, have cost him support. A recent poll showed that 50% of Israelis believed that Netanyahu should resign or suspend himself from office, and only 33% believed that he should not. In December, a small contingent of several hundred right-wingers joined anti-corruption protests by Israeli centrists and leftists. Though the number was a token, even that many shows the depth to which Israelis of all political stripes recognize Netanyahu as corrupt.

Netanyahu’s Successor

The next prime minister is unlikely to engage in the bashing of Israeli institutions that Netanyahu has taken to recently, as he thrashes about trying to save himself. He—and it is a virtual certainty the next prime minister will be a man, as there is no serious woman candidate at this time—is also unlikely to monkey around with the media as Netanyahu has. He probably will also be more careful about bending or breaking rules about gifts and bribes, missteps which brought down both Netanyahu and his disgraced predecessor Ehud Olmert. Finally, the next prime minister is unlikely to engage in the shameful promotion of antisemitism that both Netanyahu and his son, Yair, have made an indelible part of their family’s legacy.

For Israeli Jews, then, there will be some gains in Netanyahu’s departure. But in terms of Israel’s overall trajectory, little is apt to change. In that regard, Netanyahu was less a cause than a symptom. Polls show that Netanyahu’s Likud party is still the leading vote-getter in potential elections, and this has changed little over the course of the corruption revelations. One poll asked voters which party they would choose with Likud led by Netanyahu versus Likud led by someone else: there was a slight, albeit negligible, uptick in pro-Likud response with Netanyahu at the helm.

The left-right balance might shift a few seats but not nearly enough for a shift in the right-wing majority, especially since the opposition will not agree to form a government that includes the Joint List, the coalition of Arab parties and the non-Zionist Hadash party. In other words, right-wing control remains firm for the foreseeable future.

The main battleground to replace Netanyahu is going to be within the Likud party. There, Gilad Erdan, Yuli Edelstein, Israel Katz, and Gideon Sa’ar are poised to battle for the top spot, and thus the favorite position to become the next prime minister. Sa’ar is probably the most moderate, but it is a distinction without a difference in terms of the occupation and foreign policy. Yair Lapid, the leader of the Yesh Atid party, and Avi Gabbay, leader of Labor, have both expressed support for a “peace process.” But that support has been so vague—and placed beside statements from both that clearly show their hostility toward both Palestinians and, at least in Gabbay’s case, Israel’s own Palestinian citizens—there is little hope for real change from this corner, even in the unlikely event that either of them could cobble together a government they could lead.

Netanyahu: An Extreme Example, Not An Anomaly

As much as Netanyahu has come to symbolize, for many, Israel’s long-term thrust to the right—against the two-state solution, toward less democracy, greater ethnocracy, and growing racism—he has not led that charge. Rather, he has ridden it. “The face of Israel nowadays is that of settlement thugs behind whom a cowardly Benjamin Netanyahu hides, just as he hid on the balcony at Zion Square where the ideological justification for the murder of Yitzhak Rabin was being prepared,” Israeli historian Zeev Sternhell has written. “All are burying liberal values happily and with a sense of mission.”

Sternhell demonstrates in his book, The Founding Myths of Israel, that whenever the Israeli mainstream, generally the ostensibly left-wing Labor Party and its cohorts, must choose between nationalism and socialism or egalitarianism, it invariably chooses nationalism. Except for the most progressive fringes of Israeli society, this has always been the case. This reality was accelerated by the self-serving demagoguery of Netanyahu, but it was not a new Israeli reality.

From its beginnings, Israel was never what many liberal Jews outside the state thought it was or hoped it might be. On the contrary, it has moved, sometimes haltingly, away from that idealized state, arguably since its birth, and certainly since the 1967 war and the beginning of the occupation. Yet Sternhell’s conclusion says more than it might seem.

Liberals and progressives who identify as Zionist or pro-Israel have come under a great deal of fire for hypocrisy. In the charged climate around this issue, this isn’t surprising, and the charges are sometimes, though far from always, merited. But is it nothing more than self-interest that so often has led liberals and progressives to check their values at Israel’s door?

Sternhell’s formulation suggests not only that Israel maintains a liberal “mask”, but that some real idealism can be found in Israel and its supporters. I do not mean to whitewash the very real denial in which many of Israel’s supporters have lived, and in some cases still do. But there is an aspirational aspect to Israel. And that aspect is a place where, even now, with the horrific starvation of Gaza, the tightening occupation of the West Bank, and the looming possibility of full, US-recognized annexation of Jerusalem, and the complete denial of a century of dispossession of the Palestinians, a kernel of hope still survives.

More and more, Jewish and non-Jewish supporters are being forced to come to terms with an Israel that has no real interest in peace. It is an Israel that wants control of the West Bank and full sovereignty of Jerusalem, with as much sheket (Hebrew for “quiet”) as possible. But as supporters of Israel come to terms with it, they are also choosing sides: they are either deciding to abandon Israel or to accept the fact that it is an eroding democracy, at best, and a place where the values of equality for all, not only Jews, is not only disappearing from reality but even from Israeli aspirations.

Hope In the Darkness

It is in that stark decision that I see hope. The eventual resolution to this conflict will not come with the ultimate defeat or ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, but neither will it come with some magical or physical eradication of the Zionist ideology. The resolution, however long it may take to arrive, will be one that accommodates not just Jews and Arabs, but both Jewish and Palestinian nationalism. Those two movements will not fade while the conflict continues. The conflict itself sustains it, and therefore it cannot be resolved through the disappearance or defeat of either or both national movements.

The hope raised by Sternhell’s view—the conclusion of a strongly self-identified Zionist who has fought not just in the academy but in the streets—stands in stark contrast to the dark cynicism and the cruel, racist myopia of Netanyahu. By raising the question, coming to the conclusion he did, and still believing strongly in the Jewish right to self-determination, Sternhell keeps alive the argument that Jewish national consciousness need not sustain itself by the denial of Palestinian national and human rights.

The past is the past, and the history of the past century has been dominated by the selfish and prejudicial nationalism that Netanyahu brought to an extreme during his term as prime minister. That nationalism, like all self-absorbed nationalisms, cannot co-exist with democracy and respect for the rights of even all of the nation, let alone those outside that circle. Perhaps that’s all that Israel will ever be. Certainly that is the view of anti-Zionists, but that view holds no hope. But there are Zionists, as there are Palestinian nationalists who hold to a different vision of nationalism, which allows sharing the land, in whatever formulation, with the other. Getting to that point is more difficult than ever, and it would be historically unprecedented to see that future come to be.

But much about the Israel-Palestine conflict is unprecedented, and the depth of ethnocracy and oppression that Israel has sunk to is beyond anything in the history of this conflict. Maybe it still hasn’t hit bottom. But maybe one day Netanyahu’s scorched-earth policy will unwittingly produce the fertile ground that both Zionists and Palestinians who believe in both their own national existences and the sharing of the land can cultivate and grow into a better future.

What Linda Sarsour Said

Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour has been in the spotlight quite a bit in recent Linda_Sarsour_on_19_May_2016.jpegweeks. Her role in organizing the anti-Trump Women’s March, which drew larger crowds than Donald Trump’s inauguration and mightily rankled the incoming president, put her name on the map in a way it had not been before. One of the first ways she used her prominence was to start a Muslim campaign to raise funds to repair a Jewish cemetery in Missouri that had been vandalized. She and her allies had a goal of $20,000 and ended up raising over $160,000.

But some in the Jewish community want to hear nothing more from Sarsour. You see, she is a supporter of the tactic of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) and believes that the best solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict is a single democratic state in all of Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Many consider this stance to be conclusive proof that she is not just a supporter of the Palestinian cause but an extreme anti-Zionist and even an anti-Semite.

I happen to disagree with Linda Sarsour on these points. Although I very strongly support boycotting products and services that come from Israel’s settlements, I believe that cultural, academic, and broad boycotts of Israel as a whole are a counter-productive and inappropriate tactic. I also believe (and have written extensively about why) that a one-state reality will be no solution, although the two-state vision needs to be significantly revised from its Oslo form.

Some Palestinians and supporters of the Palestinian cause have called me a “Zionist” in the most pejorative sense of that word for my views. (I identify as neither Zionist nor anti-Zionist. I think nationalism of all kinds is sometimes useful but ultimately destructive, but I also believe the Jewish people have as much right to self-determination as any other people, including the Palestinians). Similarly, Sarsour’s views have drawn labels to her that simply don’t fit either her words or her actions.

Enter The Nation

Most recently, and sadly, The Nation inadvertently helped reinforce this narrow-minded view of Sarsour’s stances.

On March 13, the long-running left-wing US magazine published an interview with Linda Sarsour by Collier Myerson. The headline of the interview was, “ Can You Be a Zionist Feminist? Linda Sarsour Says No.” The trouble is, at least in the printed interview, Sarsour didn’t say that.

In the interview, Sarsour speaks of women’s suffering under the occupation. She talks about “right-wing Zionists” and of how groups and individuals have stifled debate on the issue here in the US. She sums up her argument this way:

It just doesn’t make any sense for someone to say, “Is there room for people who support the state of Israel and do not criticize it in the movement?” There can’t be in feminism. You either stand up for the rights of all women, including Palestinians, or none. There’s just no way around it.

Why, if Sarsour intended to exclude anyone who holds pro-Israel views—i.e., anyone who might be described as a Zionist—did she add the clause about not criticizing Israel? It’s very clear, from this and from the entire interview, that Sarsour said that anyone who cannot stand up against the oppression of Palestinian women was too hypocritical to be called a feminist.

Whether one supports or criticizes Sarsour, it’s crucial that we deal with what she actually said. The Nation did a disservice to Sarsour and to the larger debate over the Israeli occupation in the United States by distorting Sarsour’s words for a provocative headline. The mistake got magnified when many of Sarsour’s allies and supporters, as well as her critics, tweeted the article directly, meaning the tweet consisted entirely of the headline, perhaps with a brief editorial comment attached.

The result is that Sarsour became the focus of a simplistic debate about whether one can be a Zionist and a feminist at the same time. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency characterized Sarsour’s stance as: “Sarsour said those who identify as Zionist cannot be feminist because they are ignoring the rights of Palestinian women,” despite then quoting the very same paragraph I used above, where Sarsour clearly delineates what she is objecting and, crucially, never says she is referring to anyone who might self-identify as Zionist.

I cannot say where Sarsour comes down on the question of whether an anti-occupation Zionist can also be a feminist. I think the answer is obviously yes, but it’s going to depend on how you’re defining the term “Zionist.” But if we ask whether one can be a feminist while defending Israel’s occupation, its policy of withholding basic rights from Palestinians, its siege on Gaza, and its creeping annexation of the West Bank, that is a different and challenging question.

From the earliest days of the women’s liberation movement, feminism has struggled with a tension between itself and other social justice movements. The domination of the movement by white women has been a vexing problem, and the insufficient attention to the particular problems women of color face has been discussed and worked on for years. The intersection of feminism with homophobia, Islamophobia, class, and pretty much any other form of social inequity is unavoidable because women are present in every category and class of humanity.

That is the issue that Sarsour raised in her interview. She wondered how a feminist could worry about the lack of access to proper medical care for a woman in a rural US area, in Asia, Africa, Latin America, or anywhere else, but not in Palestine. It’s a valid question, and one that has been raised any time feminism intersects with another form of oppression. Yet, when the question is raised by a Palestinian woman about Palestinians it becomes a toxic issue.

That toxicity was, sadly, raised to a much higher level by The Nation’s clumsy headline writing. Sarsour was already being attacked for her support of BDS and her advocacy of a single-state solution. Yet, it’s worth asking why, with the current Israeli government working every day to thwart a two-state solution and with that government also banning people from entry and even detaining its own citizens based on nothing other than their political views, only the Palestinian one-stater is deemed to be such a threat.

Zionism and Feminism

Sarsour’s interview was a response to an op-ed in The New York Times by Emily Shire. Shire finds it problematic that the women’s march included a plank that called for the “de-colonization of Palestine.” She felt that the movement was saying that support for BDS was almost a requirement.

Does Linda Sarsour believe that Shire, who describes herself as “critical of certain Israeli government policies… (but) a Zionist because I support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state” could be a feminist if her opposition to those Israeli policies meant that she opposed the occupation and supported equal rights and freedom for Palestinians. I don’t know if that’s an accurate depiction of Shire’s views, but there are many such people, Jewish and otherwise, men, women and intersex, all over the world. I do know that Sarsour did not answer that question in her interview, yet both supporters of Israeli policies and supporters of Palestinian rights have seized on a headline to debate what Sarsour did not say.

Sarsour is too important a figure right now to allow this sort of nonsense to get in her way. Progressives need to be smarter than this. A Palestinian-American woman has led the way in opposing the most dangerous president the United States has ever elected, at a time when right-wing, reactionary forces have control over all the branches of the US government. She has done this also at a time when the future for Palestinians living in the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem, and Israel, as well as in refugee camps in surrounding countries looks as bleak as it ever has.

Right now, we need Linda Sarsour. We don’t have to agree with her on everything. I don’t. But her skill and wisdom as a leader, her ability to raise a wide range of important issues must be valued by progressives because they open up discussion, not stifled because we might not agree with every one of her views. Sarsour is an American leader. She is also an uncompromising Palestinian Muslim woman whose views need to be heard and discussed fairly and rationally, based on what she actually says, not on a headline. If progressives, and, yes, feminists, can’t do that much, how can we expect anyone else to?

Netanyahu Hits New Low In His Campaign Of Fear

I just got this tweet from Benjamin Netanyahu’s Twitter account:
שוב נחשף אופיו האמיתי של המחנה האנטי-ציוני בראשות בוז’י וציפי. כאשר ח”כ עתידי ברשימת “העבודה” משבח סוכן של חיזבאללה – מה יש עוד 6915863535_dbfef3f7f4_zלהוסיף?
It says: “Again, the true face of the ‘anti-Zionist’ camp headed by Buji (Herzog) and Tzipi (Livni) is revealed. When a future member of the Knesset from the Labor list praises a Hezbollah agent, what more is there to say?”

I submit, these are the ravings of a lunatic mind.

Bibi is referring to testimony given by Zuhair Bahloul, a Palestinian citizen of Israel who is #17 on the joint Labor/Ha’Tnuah list, dubbed “The Zionist Camp.” Bahloul is a well-known figure in Israel, a soccer and basketball broadcaster for Israel’s Channel 1. He is also known for his efforts in bringing Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel together to promote co-existence and equality, which has generally been the sum total of his political activity.

In this case, Bahloul was testifying on behalf of the family of a man who was convicted of aiding a Hezbollah plot to attack Shimon Peres in Turkey. The man, Milad Khatib, accepted a plea bargain and is serving a seven-year sentence. Bahloul’s testimony was offered in defense of Khatib’s family, not Milad himself. (It’s worth noting that such scrutiny is not generally focused on families of Jewish radicals, even the ones sometimes labelled “terrorists” after so-called “price tag” attacks). 
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