Briefing Paper June 2013

When Israeli denial of Palestinian existence becomes genocidal

Ilan Pappe The Electronic Intifada 20/04/ 2013

Sixty-five years on, Israeli President Shimon Peres still denies the existence of the indigenous population of Palestine.

In a regal interview he gave the Israeli press on the eve of the state’s ” Independence Day,” Shimon Peres, the current president of Israel, said the following:

“I remember how it all began. The whole state of Israel is a millimetre of the whole Middle East. A statistical error, barren and disappointing land, swamps in the north, desert in the south, two lakes, one dead and an overrated river. No natural resource apart from malaria. There was nothing here. And we now have the best agriculture in the world? This is a miracle: a land built by people” (Maariv, 14 April 2013).

This fabricated narrative, voiced by Israel’s number one citizen and spokesman, highlights how much the historical narrative is part of the present reality. This presidential impunity sums up the reality on the eve of the 65th commemoration of the Nakba, the ethnic cleansing of historic Palestine. The disturbing fact of life, 65 years on, is not that the figurative head of the so-called Jewish state, and for that matter almost everyone in the newly-elected government and parliament, subscribe to such views. The worrying and challenging reality is the global immunity given to such impunity.

Peres’ denial of the native Palestinians and his reselling in 2013 of the landless people mythology exposes the cognitive dissonance in which he lives: he denies the existence of approximately twelve million people living in and near to the country to which they belong. History shows that the human consequences are horrific and catastrophic when powerful people, heading powerful outfits such as a modern state, denied the existence of a people who are very much present.

This denial was there at the beginning of Zionism and led to the ethnic cleansing in 1948. And it is there today, which may lead to similar disasters in the future — unless stopped immediately.

Cognitive dissonance

The perpetrators of the 1948 ethnic cleansing were the Zionist settlers who came to Palestine, like Polish-born Shimon Peres, before the Second World War. They denied the existence of the native people they encountered, who lived there for hundreds of years, if not more. The Zionists did not possess the power at the time to settle the cognitive dissonance they experienced: their conviction that the land was people-less despite the presence of so many native people there. They almost solved the dissonance when they expelled as many Palestinians as they could in 1948 — and were left with only a small minority of Palestinians within the Jewish state.

But the Zionist greed for territory and ideological conviction that much more of Palestine was needed in order to have a viable Jewish state led to constant contemplations and eventually operations to enlarge the state.

With the creation of “Greater Israel” following the conquest of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, the dissonance returned. The solution however could not easily be resolved this time by the force of ethnic cleansing. The number of Palestinians was larger, their assertiveness and liberation movement were forcefully present on the ground, and even the most cynical and traditionally pro-Israel actors on the international scene recognized their existence.

The dissonance was resolved in a different way. The land without people was any part of the greater Israel the state wished to Judaize in the pre-1967 boundaries or annex from the territories occupied in 1967. The land with people was in the Gaza Strip and some enclaves in the West Bank as well as inside Israel. The land without people is destined to expand incrementally in the future, causing the number of people to shrink as a direct consequence of this encroachment.

Incremental ethnic cleansing

This incremental ethnic cleansing is hard to notice unless one contextualizes it as a historical process. The noble attempt by the more conscientious individuals and groups in the West and inside Israel to focus on the here and now — when it comes to Israeli policies — is doomed to be weakened by the contemporary contextualization, not the historical one.

Comparing Palestine to other places was always a problem. But with the murderous reality in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere, it becomes an even more serious challenge. The last closure, the last political arrest, the last assault, the last murder of a youth are horrific crimes, but pale in comparison to nearby or far-away killing fields and areas of colossal atrocities.

Criminal narrative

The comparison is very different when it is viewed historically and it is in this context that we should realize the criminality of Peres’ narrative which is as horrific as the occupation — and potentially far worse. For the president of Israel, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, there were never Palestinians before he initiated in 1993 the Oslo process — and when he did, they were only the ones living a small part of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

In his discourse, he already eliminated most of the Palestinians. If you did not exist when Peres came to Palestine, you definitely do not exist when he is the president in 2013. This elimination is the point where ethnic cleansing becomes genocidal. When you are eliminated from the history book and the discourse of the top politicians, there is always a danger that the next attempt would be your physical elimination.

It happened before. The early Zionists, including the current president, talked about the transfer of the Palestinians long before they actually disposed them in 1948. These visions of a de-Arabized Palestine appeared in every Zionist diary, journal and inner conversation since the beginning of the 20th century. If one talks about nothingness in a place where there is plenty it can be willful ignorance. But if one talks about nothingness as a vision or undeniable reality, it is only a matter of power and opportunity before the vision becomes reality.

Denial continues

Peres’ interview on the eve of the 65th commemoration of the Nakba is chilling not because it condones any violent act against the Palestinians, but because the Palestinians have entirely disappeared from his self-congratulatory admiration for the Zionist achievement in Palestine. It is bewildering to learn that the early Zionists denied the existence of Palestinians in 1882 when they arrived; it is even more shocking to find out that they deny their existence — beyond sporadic ghettoized communities — in 2013.

In the past, the denial preceded the crime — a crime that only partially succeeded but for which the perpetrators were never brought to justice. This is probably why the denial continues. But this time, it is not the existence of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians which is at stake, but that of almost six million who live inside historic Palestine and another five and half million living outside Palestine.

One would think only a madman can ignore millions and millions of people, many of them under his military or apartheid rule while he actively and ruthlessly disallows the return of the rest to their homeland. But when the madman receives the best weapons from the US, Nobel Peace Prizes from Oslo and preferential treatment from the European Union, one wonders how seriously we should take the Western references to the leaders of Iran and North Korea as dangerous and lunatic?

Lunacy is associated these days, it seems, to possession of nuclear arms in non-Western hands. Well, even on that score, the local madman in the Middle East passes the test. Who knows, maybe in 2014 it would not be the Israeli cognitive dissonance that would be solved, but the Western one: how to reconcile a universal position of human and civil rights with the favoured position Israel in general and Shimon Peres in particular receives in the West?

The pain of almost a million arrests

Gideon Levy Ha’aretz 28/02/ 2013

The same society that was so upset by the fate of a single prisoner, Gilad Shalit, does not even begin to grasp the depth of distress the Palestinians feel over the thousands of their people who are in prison.

Eight hundred thousand. That is the number of Palestinian residents arrested and imprisoned in Israeli jails since the beginning of the occupation, according to The New York Times. Almost a million people. That estimate could be a bit high; some say it’s “only” 600,000. After all, there is no exact number. But the general picture is clear and chilling: When people say that Israel imprisons the Palestinian people, this is what they mean: the physical, concrete, overcrowded and torturous imprisonment of people in jail. It’s not just the checkpoints, the separation fence and the psychological barriers, but the real ones as well.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who live under the occupation have endured that experience, if only once in their lives. Among the approximately four million residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip today, hundreds of thousands of people bear physical and emotional scars and carry with them the memory of their imprisonment. So do millions of others – the members of their families. About 4,500 Palestinians are in prison today. Almost every home in the territories has one family member who was arrested. Every family has a prisoner, or one who was released.

The jail term could be decades – there are still 123 prisoners from before the 1993 signing of the Oslo Accords – or it could be a matter of only a few days. It usually starts with a brutal home invasion, almost always in the dead of night, in the presence of the wife, parents and children, shocked out of their sleep and anxious about the fate of their humiliated loved one. It continues with the tough, jolting interrogation by the Shin Bet. Afterward come the days, months and years in difficult conditions with no telephone conversations, sometimes with no visitors for years on end. It is always a humiliating experience for the prisoners and their families.

There were years when appalling torture methods were also part of the menu of atrocities that Israel served the Palestinian people. Two hundred and three people died in prison, most of them under torture. Most of it stopped with the High Court of Justice’s ruling in 1999, which curbed the use of torture by security services, declaring many of its practices illegal. But even today the methods of arrest, interrogation and imprisonment are unbearable. While some of the Palestinian prisoners were arrested for murderous acts of terror, most of them are in jail for political activity. Many of them were imprisoned without trial, sometimes for years.

The military justice system that decided the fate of hundreds of thousands of people does not deserve to have the word “justice” associated with it. Every brief visit to a military court and every protocol proves it as much as a thousand witnesses could. Short hearings, sometimes without appropriate translation; evidence that is no evidence at all; incriminating testimony from collaborators and informants of dubious character; judges not all of whom are jurists; cruel interrogations that lead to false confessions; immunity that prevents defendants from receiving an adequate defence, and draconian punishments.

Everything is there, between Jalame Prison in the north and the Etzion jail in the south – everything but justice. The disturbing number of prisoners proves it. After all, no reasonable person seriously thinks that an entire people deserves to be sent to prison. The contempt of Israelis for the lives of Palestinians also includes contempt for their liberty.

Israeli society has never understood the profound psychological significance of the issue of the prisoners in Palestinian society, nor has it even tried to do so. If there is still anyone in Israel who understands the distress inflicted by the checkpoints and the settlers’ lawbreaking, no interest has ever been expressed in the prisoners, and certainly no solidarity. This is surprising in a society that was so upset by the fate of a single prisoner, Gilad Shalit, and expressed such strong solidarity with him. But the same society does not even begin to understand the depth of the Palestinians’ distress over the tens of thousands of their people who are in prison.

Dehumanization is at work here, too. An Israeli mother who is anxious about her son is treated differently from a Palestinian mother who is every bit as anxious. But that should not be surprising: if a child killed for nothing by a sniper generates no interest, why should a prisoner be of concern to us? It’s enough for Israelis to watch the propaganda reports showing prisoners having a party, which causes an immediate scandal over the “Hilton-like” conditions in the prison. It’s enough for them to be told that all the prisoners are “abominable murderers,” all those hundreds of thousands, for them not to bother their consciences about them. Maybe at least the astounding statistic of 800,000 will make somebody think.

In the Name of Oppression: Two Babies at Checkpoint

Translated by Ruth Fleishman. Palestine Chronicle 01/03/2013

Two back-to-back procedures at the same time and at the same place. It was cold. The air was polluted. But the harmful and cruel regulations were more polluted. The victims: two babies.

Two babies with no connection to each other apart for their health condition that required them to be hospitalized in East Jerusalem, and for the fact that they were part of the Palestinian people and as such were declined their basic rights even before coming into the world. It was impossible to see the babies’ faces. Like tiny bundles each covered wholly in colourful blankets that reached over their heads, they lay quietly. Not a cry was heard, no movement was made. It was as though they knew their lives or deaths were on the line. Only a bunch of black intractable hair peeped out from one of the blankets.

In less than five minutes two ambulances from the West Bank arrived at the entrance to the checkpoint and were ordered to wait. First to arrive was a ten day old baby girl from Qalqilya with respiratory distress that worsen during the trip. According to the driver, the ride from Qalqilya took an hour and a half, on top of that there was the twenty minute detainment during the examination of the documents, the inspection of the mother’s belongings and the completion of the back-to-back procedure: carrying the baby from the West Bank stretcher to the Jerusalem stretcher, getting her inside the ambulance from Jerusalem and heading off to Mukased hospital.

Immediately after the first one, arrived a four months old baby, he was from Gaza and suffered from a kidney disease. This baby was hospitalized in Ramallah and when his illness took a turn for the worse, the medical crew recommended that he be transferred to the better equipped Augusta Victoria. The ambulance was detained at the entrance to the checkpoint. “No co-ordinations have been made” said the soldiers. At Augusta Victoria (where they were waiting for the child) they said that all the co-ordinations have been made. The soldiers insisted: “No they haven’t”. Augusta Victoria repeated: “Yes they have”.

Time crawled and there was no one to solve the problem.

A guard from the Civil Security Company said: “I might be a combatant but I have a heart”. He tried to help: he spoke to the soldiers, he spoke to the ambulance crew, he walked restless from one side to the other, but there was nothing he could do. Time crawled, the minutes passed, and the Palestinian medical crew who were accustomed to dealing with occupiers, dared not to speak to the junior military men present or even to the senior ones over the phone, but again and again called the hot line of the ambulance company and Augusta Victoria hospital.

Indeed, a couple of days earlier the baby and his mother made their way from Gaza through the territory of the Israeli state, and crossed Qalandiya checkpoint on their way to the hospital at Ramallah. Indeed, all the necessary bureaucratic requirements had been fulfilled, there was no flaw in their papers and no one suspected the two to pose a threat on the security of the country. And now, in time of distress, the process was to be held all over again: once again request a permit, once again to present evidence and IDs and documents and once again fear the possibility of being declined.

Everything is done in the holy name of oppression and rule over another people and each and every one of its individuals. It was only after 55 minutes that an officer, who was most likely from the DCO, arrived from out of the blue and suddenly all the necessary co-ordinations were found to be adequate and authorized.

After Palestinian dies in Shin Bet hands, time to question the interrogators

Amira Hass Ha’aretz 25/02/13

For years, Palestinian detainees and prisoners have complained about sleep deprivation, painful and prolonged handcuffing, humiliation, beatings and medical neglect. By international standards, this is torture. From their experience, the goal of torture is not only to convict someone, but mainly to deter and subjugate an entire people

Arafat Jaradat, 30, died while under interrogation by the Shin Bet security service. Every week dozens if not hundreds of Palestinians start down the road he began on February 18. Dozens of Israelis whose names are unknown are on a parallel track: the soldiers who make the arrest in the dead of night, the military doctor who examines the new detainee, Shin Bet interrogators in their changing shifts; Israel Prison Service guards, workers at the prison clinic, and the judge who extends the remand.

True, thousands of others take this road or sometimes a longer and harder one – and stay alive. This is probably what the Shin Bet and the prison service will say in their defence. But from the Palestinian perspective, every stop on the road of detention and interrogation involves enormous physical and psychological pain that the army, the police, the Shin Bet and the prison service inflict intentionally.

This goes well beyond the suffering that should be caused by taking away a person’s liberty and issuing an indictment. For years, Palestinian detainees and prisoners have complained about sleep deprivation, painful and prolonged handcuffing, humiliation, beatings and medical neglect. By international standards, this is torture.

Jaradat was not a ticking bomb. He was arrested on suspicion of throwing stones and an incendiary device at Israeli targets. After three days of interrogation the police asked the court (in the name of the Shin Bet) to extend his remand for another 15 days for questioning. The remand hearing took place on Thursday, February 21, at the Shin Bet’s Kishon interrogation facility, in front of a military judge, Maj. David Kadosh. The judge ordered the remand for 12 days.

Kamil Sabbagh, an attorney for the Palestinian Authority’s Prisoner Affairs Ministry, asked the police investigator at the hearing whether there were other suspicions against his client; he was told there were not. He asked whether Jaradat had confessed, and the police investigator answered: “partially.” Sabbagh concluded that Jaradat had confessed to throwing stones.

Experience shows that the additional days of interrogation – many, considering the minor nature of the offenses – were not intended merely to extract more confessions, but to get Jaradat to implicate others or to gather personal information, even of an embarrassing nature, to use in the future. From reports by detainees to their attorneys, it’s clear that sleep deprivation combined with painful and prolonged handcuffing is very common. As we learn at military court and elsewhere, people confess to things they haven’t done or implicate others falsely, only to be allowed to sleep.

In the short time Jaradat and his attorney had before the remand hearing, Jaradat, who was suffering from a herniated disc, was able to tell Sabbagh that he was in pain from prolonged sitting. Judge Kadosh knew about the pain from a secret report he had been shown.While the judge was writing his decision, Jaradat told Sabbagh that conditions were difficult for him in isolation and he wanted to be moved to another cell. Sabbagh had the impression that Jaradat was under severe psychological stress, and told the judge this. The remand hearing took place at 10 A.M. Thursday. As of Sunday, Sabbagh did not know when Jaradat had been moved to Megiddo Prison, where he died. Palestinian organizations representing prisoners say one possibility is that he was placed in a cell with informants at Megiddo.

Unlike Shin Bet interrogations, which are documented in memos, the existence of informants is not officially acknowledged by the authorities. Informants use various means to extract information, whether true or false. They boast about their exploits as members of Palestinian organizations, they suggest that the detainee is a collaborator because he does not discuss his actions with them, and they threaten him.

The investigation of Jaradat’s death must go through all phases of his detention and interrogation – and those of thousands of others. But any interrogation will be flawed from the outset because, by authorization of the High Court of Justice, Shin Bet interrogations are not filmed.

Only two weeks ago, on February 6, justices Asher Grunis, Hanan Melcer and Noam Sohlberg turned down a petition by four human rights groups demanding the annulment of a 2003 law letting the police forgo the filming or audiotaping of security suspects’ interrogations. The organizations also asked the court to require the Shin Bet to visually document the questioning of suspects. The justices said that because the law was now under scrutiny, “the time has not yet come to examine the petitioners’ arguments themselves.”

The Palestinians do not need an Israeli investigation. For them, Jaradat’s death is much bigger than the tragedy he and his family have suffered. From their experience, Jaradat’s death isn’t proof that others haven’t died, it’s proof that the Israeli system routinely uses torture. From their experience, the goal of torture is not only to convict someone, but mainly to deter and subjugate an entire people.


The Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights in Israel (Adalah) has revealed that the Israeli authorities have drafted more than 60 laws which discriminate against their Palestinian citizens. The laws cover areas such as education, the national budget, public services, civil rights and even prisons and prisoners.

To mark the International Day against Racism and the swearing in of the new Israeli government on Friday, Adala said that it is going to launch a computerised database of all discriminatory laws in Israel. As well as analytical studies and petitions filed to the Israeli Supreme Court against such laws, the database is going to include briefs in Arabic, Hebrew and English. Draft bills waiting to be proposed in the Knesset will also be included.

Israeli corporal Ari Ben Reuven says: “break every bone” of crying Palestinian boy seized on way to school

Ali Abunimah Electronic Intifada 03/24/2013

On the day US President Barack Obama arrived for his Israel visit last week, Israeli occupation forces in Hebron violently seized and detained dozens of Palestinian children, some aged as young as eight, on their way to school.

B’Tselem, the Israeli organization that documents and criticizes some of Israel’s human rights abuses posted a video of the events, condemned the mass arrest of the children as “unlawful” and said that some of the children had been taken to interrogation centres where severe and systematic abuses, including holding children in solitary confinement and harsh interrogation without parents or lawyers present, is the norm.

In previous cases, Palestinian children have testified that under such conditions they have been forced to confess by Israeli interrogators to false charges of throwing rocks or Molotov cocktails and pressed to inform on friends and family.

When the video of the children’s arrest was posted on the popular Israeli Facebook page “We are all in favour of death to terrorists,” a hotbed of racist incitement, it provided an opportunity for dozens of Israelis, once again, to express horrifyingly violent views. Some of those posting comments were Israeli soldiers. Here are a few that indicate the mindset of these soldiers: Kfir Brigade’s Oren Degani thinks Palestinian children are “little shits.”

Oren Degani, whose Facebook profile contains information suggesting he is a member of the “Black Scorpions” unit of the Israeli army’s Kfir Brigade, clearly believes the Palestinian children deserve such treatment and that they are all presumed guilty. He wrote under the video: “They pretend to be innocent saints who did nothing. I know this from my reserve duty. They throw a firebomb and when you catch them they cry and swear on Muhammad that they didn’t do anything … little shits.

Corporal Ari Ben Reuven’s profile image includes the motto “The road to peace is paved with telescopic gunsights” and “Let the army mow [them] down!”

Ari Ben Reuven, whose Facebook profile indicates he is a corporal in the Israeli army, was even more blunt: “I’d break every one of his bones”

Ron Shwartz had a similar reaction and observed: “More violence is needed. Where are the clubs to break their legs?”

Yoni Gordon, a member of the Givati Brigade, had simple advice for how to deal with a Palestinian child: “Put him on his knees and shoot a bullet into his mouth.”

Avisaf Hillel, whose Facebook profile says he attends “Ariel University,” a settler institution in the occupied West Bank, and is a die-hard supporter of Israel’s Beitar Jerusalem football club whose fans are notorious for their racist mob rampages, looked back fondly and with a touch of sarcasm on his time in the army when he was mistreating Palestinian children: “How I miss those days!!! But during my time in regular military service, they couldn’t get a peep out of their mouth!! We took care of them real well!!”

Another of those defending and justifying the soldiers’ brutality seen in the video was the Jewish Agency’s social media propandist Avi Mayer – himself an American volunteer in the Israeli army. In a series of tweets, Mayer, a former Israeli army spokesman, suggested that accusations levelled against the children by the Israeli occupation army should be taken as incontrovertible truth that the children were criminals who deserved such shocking treatment and that Palestinian children should be viewed as guilty until proven innocent of whatever the Israeli army accuses them.

It is difficult to understand how Israelis can continue, year in and year out since 1967, to proudly celebrate Passover without being able to detect another form of slavery under their noses. (extract)

Uri Misgav Ha’aretz 28/03/2013

…it is difficult to understand how Israelis can continue, year in and year out since 1967, to proudly celebrate this holiday without being able to detect another form of slavery, without being able to see a nation struggling for its freedom.

This is happening today, not thousands of years ago. This oppression is taking place right under the noses of Israelis and they are directly responsible for it. The absurdity is heightened by the fact that, on the days that the holiday is being celebrated, the occupation is accompanied by a “closure” – a euphemism that camouflages the term’s true meaning of a hermetically sealed curfew imposed on the entire West Bank. It remains in effect until the Jews on both sides of the Green Line (the pre-1967 border) have finished telling the story of the Exodus from Egypt, celebrating their freedom, touring the nature reserves and enjoying picnics in the national parks.

How can one explain such callousness? It is as if an entire nation has been smitten with the Eleventh Plague – the plague of blindness.

Execution… every Israeli soldier has a name

Gideon Levy Ha’aretz 14/04/13

What happened on the evening of April 3 at the foot of the guard tower of the Einav checkpoint, at the entrance to Tul Karm, seems to have been an execution; no other term can describe it.

Four young Palestinians were approaching the checkpoint on foot. The Israel Defence Forces began monitoring them when they were still as much as two kilometres away, watched them approach while trying repeatedly to ignite the Molotov cocktail they carried and did nothing to stop them. When they finally threw the device at the tower’s concrete wall – to protest the death from cancer, the previous day, of Maysara Abuhamdieh, a Palestinian prisoner incarcerated in Israel – two soldiers emerged and shot at the four.

Amer Nassar died on the spot; Fadi Abu Assal, who was shot in the hand, fled; Diya Nassar was apprehended. But that was not enough for the soldiers: They pursued Naji Balbisi into the yard of a nearby leather factory where they shot him in the back, apparently at close range, killing him. At no point were the lives of the soldiers, in their fortified tower, blackened from previous incendiary devices, in real danger. They certainly were not in danger after the young Palestinians began to flee.

The Palestinians should not have been killed; they could have and should have been captured, as Diya Nassar was on the spot and Abu Assal was a few days later. But one ?(or two?) soldiers decided to teach Balbisi a lesson, to punish him and execute him.

The military police are investigating. Diya Nassar and Abu Assal (whom I met) were arrested. No soldier was arrested. Time is of the essence when it comes to arresting whoever threw the incendiary device, but not at all so when it comes to the soldiers suspected of the atrocious act.

“When the investigation is over, the IDF spokesman recited as usual, “its findings will be turned over to the military prosecution.” That will happen a long time from now, and the end is a foregone conclusion. Perhaps the case will be closed for lack of evidence; perhaps a “severe” reprimand or even demotion; perhaps the soldier will be dismissed from the unit or spend a few days or weeks in military jail, who knows.

But behind this act is a soldier, a young Israeli everyman. Not only is he unlikely to be properly punished, his name might never be released. He will continue to walk among us. He may even be invited this week, as an “outstanding soldier,” to the President’s Residence. Soon he will get out of the army and get on with his life, and the memory of his killing will fade in his consciousness. He certainly was crazy about the army, the kind of soldier people love to be impressed with. He may have told his family what he did; they may have been proud of him. His commander and his fellow soldiers probably did not turn their back on him. His conscience probably is not troubling him now.

If he had visited the Balbisi family in Anabta, perhaps he would feel something. He will continue to be an anonymous soldier, without a name, without guilt and without responsibility. Thus has the IDF assumed full responsibility for the soldier’s actions. The soldier hiding behind the army places full responsibility on the most moral army in the world. If that is the case, then this incident cannot be considered an exception, but rather as an inseparable part of a system that allows such an execution, retroactively legitimizes it and even encourages it by keeping silent and covering for the soldier involved. A symbolic and ridiculous punishment, as is usually meted out, will not erase this. The IDF that did not arrest the soldier immediately and bring him to court is an organization that encourages such actions in the future.

The incident at Einav happened a few days before Israel’s “national week.” The coming days will be replete with stories of heroism and sacrifice, heroism and grief. To these stories must be added the story of the soldier who ran after a young unarmed man fleeing for his life, after he and his friends threw a Molotov cocktail that hit no one. The soldier aimed his rifle at the man as he fled, and shot him in the back in the darkened yard of a leather factory, where no one could see. That soldier is also part of the IDF; he is also part of the IDF’s heritage.

A glimpse into the life of an Israeli-Palestinian couple

Amira Hass Ha’aretz   14/04/13

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet decided unanimously on Sunday to extend the Citizenship Law restricting the “family reunification” of Israeli citizens with certain foreign partners for an additional year.

The law denies entry or living permits to partners who are considered a security threat, among them Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza, and citizens of enemy countries or from areas involved in long-term conflict with Israel. The law affects mainly Israeli Arab citizens and their families from the West Bank and Gaza.

The proposal brought before the cabinet on Sunday was submitted by Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar, and was formulated based on a Shin Bet opinion regarding the volatility of partners from the Gaza Strip.

Meretz party head Zahava Gal-On slammed the decision as placing “draconian restrictions on Israeli Arab citizens’ right to marry,” calling the designation of all Palestinians as a security threat “racist” and discriminatory. Gal-On, who petitioned the High Court against the Citizenship Law, said that “the only correct way is to individually evaluate everyone asking for family unification.” She added that the government’s approach was preventing thousands of people who live in Israel from attaining citizenship and achieving social rights.

Palestinian official Saeb Erekat called the law “racist” and an attempt to “distort the Palestinian social fabric and force the displacement of Palestinian families.” He called on the international community to “seriously examine the pattern of Israeli policies contributing to a situation of apartheid and to look into the wider effects and implications of the Israeli government’s precondition of being recognized as a Jewish State.”

Israel generally grants citizenship to spouses of Israelis in a gradual process. In the spirit of this process, a similar process was instituted for the naturalization of spouses of permanent residents, though the process is a little longer. A 2002 temporary order excluded Palestinian spouses from these processes and barred them from becoming Israeli citizens.

In May 2006, the High Court rejected numerous petitions asking to overturn the Citizenship Law. However, most of the justices wrote that the law constitutes a violation of basic rights, mainly the right to a family life.

In March 2007, in a hearing surrounding later petitions against the law, the state said that an amended version of the temporary order was expected to be approved by the Knesset, and the court consequently ruled that the petitioners would have to revise their petitions in accordance with the amended orders after they were made public. After the hearing, the amended law was made public, and the petitioners maintained that the new version not only extended the validity of the law until July 2008, it also expanded the geographic jurisdiction of the law, making it applicable to spouses from Iran, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq as well as other areas on which the government was free to decide.

Arabs make up about 20 percent of Israel’s population of 7 million. About 3 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Many families were divided by cease-fire lines after wars, and over the years, marriage between the two groups has been common. Since 1993, more than 100,000 Palestinians have obtained Israeli permits in this manner and some Israelis see this as a security threat.

Palestinian celebrity gets the ‘Jewish sticker’ at Ben-Gurion Airport

Ami Kaufman +972mag 13/05/13

Palestinian Christian singer Mira Awad, a celebrity in Israel who has participated in the Eurovision, the Israeli version of “Dancing with the Stars” and is also known for her role in Sayed Kashua’s television sitcom “Arab Labour,” posted the following status on her Facebook page today.

So, I was checked at the airport, they asked the questions, put the stickers on, and I proceeded to the X-Ray machine. Suddenly, the young security man comes to me: “Mira? Mira Awad?”

Me: “Yes?”

Security man: “Can I see your passport? There’s a mistake with the sticker.”

I almost told him: “No, you’re not mistaken, I see you put the right one on — the sticker for Arabs”, but I didn’t say that (security people have their humour extracted during their preparatory course). I gave him my passport, he opens it, takes off the sticker in the passport and on the suitcase and puts on a new one, different, the same colour but smaller.

Now the dilemma. On the one hand, it’s obvious the young man has just made my life easier by putting on the sticker for Jews. On the other hand, it’s one of the things that it’s hard to say thanks for. I mean, thank you for not considering me a terrorist anymore? Thanks that someone whispered to you, “it’s Mira Awad,” so the “Awad” isn’t scary anymore? Thanks for upgrading me to a Class A citizen? I turned into one of “ours,” or actually one of “yours.” A small sticker that carries with it such huge humiliation, and today even enfolds stupidity. Because since they cancelled the stickers with different colours, which we protested, they made new stickers with less recognizable differences to the inexperienced eye, and here they are embarrassing themselves with unaware patronizing like, “Let’s award you with the status of a privileged person!” — so you don’t say that we aren’t humane. By the way, it happened to me also last week, when a senior security man who wanted to “show off” (maybe you’ll say he wanted to joke around, but we’ve already concluded that he doesn’t know how to joke around, see earlier “extraction of humour”) and asked one of his employees to get me one of the “regular” stickers and then winked at me as he continued to speak him: “Can’t you see it’s Mira Awad?”

So, the conclusion is, if you’re Israeli and your name is Awad – you better be famous! If not, forget about the duty free! Yalla, I’m out of here. For now.

Hugh Humphries


Scottish Friends of Palestine

0141 637 8046

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