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‘We will make soap out of you!': Violent right-wing protest against Jerusalem art exhibit reflects rising anti-democratic tide in Israel

Dan Cohen on
cohen vid

Monday night, approximately 50 supporters of Yisrael Beiteinu, the right-wing political party headed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, demonstrated in Jerusalem outside an exhibition at the Hansen House that featured a video by dancer/choreographer Arkadi Zaides. The fury of the demonstrators was directed at B’Tselem, the Israeli organization that documents human rights abuses in the occupied territories. Zaides’ video included footage from a B’Tselem project titled “Armed with Cameras.” The demonstration was organized by Mothers of Soldiers Against B’Tselem, a group whose mission is “working with legal tools to weaken human rights organizations,” according to the group’s Facebook page. Tensions were extremely high as an Israeli soldier and a settler had been stabbed to death that day in separate incidents. At the demonstration, at least one person was physically assaulted. “Somebody hit me over the head with a flag pole. They called us Nazis and said ‘May you burn in the gas chambers,’” Zafira Stern said.

Netanyahu announces return of controversial punitive home demolitions widely viewed as collective punishment

Allison Deger on
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a weekly cabinet meeting in his office in Jerusalem. (Photo: Reuters)

As tensions seethe in Jerusalem the Israeli government has resurrected polices from the Intifada-era including punitive home demolitions as a measure of deterrence against attacks on its citizens. Even before Tuesday night when Netanyahu declared the return of home demolitions, there were calls inside of the government to bring it back. “Anyone who attacks police or civilians, his home should be demolished,” said Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovic

Rather than exhibit real solidarity, church leaders appeal to Israel’s occupation to protect Al Aqsa

Marc H. Ellis on
Israeli border police officers walks in front of the Dome of the Rock on the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City November 5, 2014. (Photo: Ammar Awad/Reuters)

Ritualized solidarity remains the name of the game in Israel-Palestine, as the fate of Jerusalem hangs in the balance once again. So it was when church leaders in Jerusalem showed a sign of solidarity to Islam and the Muslim community by gathering at the Al Aqsa mosque for a photo-op last week. They also issued a statement on the need to respect the rights of Muslims to worship freely and show respect for holy places. But as the church leaders and their advisors know well the backdrop for their visit isn’t about freedom of religion or worship. The backdrop for increasing tensions at Al Aqsa is occupation and the dwindling place of Palestinians in Jerusalem and the land itself. It’s about an occupied and ghettoized Palestinian people with their backs to the Apartheid (political and religious) Wa

New Israel Fund partners with Israel Football Association on racism project as IFA segregates Israeli youth league

Annie Robbins on

The New Israel Fund (NIF) has partnered with The Israel Football Association (IFA) to form a new campaign called “Kick Racism Out of Israeli Football”. However, during the initial stages of this new partnership the IFA chose to segregate the Israeli children’s national football league in Israel’s Triangle area which is home to the majority of Israel’s Palestinian citizens

Palestinian citizens of Israel protest across country following police killing of Kheir Hamdan

Kate on

Oudeh Basharat writes in Haaretz: “Why bother looking into the circumstances of the killing of Khayr al-Din Hamdan of Kafr Kana? Just watching the police officers throwing him, like a sack of onions, onto the floor of the police car after he was mortally wounded says everything about the value of an Arab’s life. The video shows no hesitation or embarrassment on the part of the ones who took this young man’s life.”

As world marks 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Israel’s Wall has become a new global icon for oppression

Olivia Snaije on
(Photo: Un jour 2013 © Raeda Saadeh/2012)

Photos from “Keep Your Eye on the Wall,” a book conceived and edited by Olivia Snaije and Mitchell Albert. It brings together seven award-winning artist-photographers and four essayists, including an introduction by Raja Shehadeh, all responding to the Wall in images or words specially commissioned for this book. The photographers present unique perspectives, whether documenting the journey of laborers across the barrier, the desolation of abandoned checkpoints, a surreal grey bulk cutting across a landscape or the tattered posters of “martyrs” on a wall in Gaza

In and out of love with Israel: Tzvia Thier’s story

Philip Weiss on
Tzvia Thier

Tzvia Thier experienced many Zionist myths: she was a Holocaust survivor who made aliyah to Israel, she worked on kibbutzes, she taught in Hebrew schools in the US, she wrote Zionist texts, and her brother died fighting for Israel. But at 64, she experienced an “earthquake,” and today she is opposed to the idea of a Jewish state. Read her story.


Enas F. Ghannam on
A Palestinian woman walks past the rubble of a residential building, which police said was destroyed in an Israeli air strike, in Gaza City, July 22, 2014. (Photo: Reuters)

A haunting piece by young Gaza writer Enas Fares on the aftermath of this summer’s Israeli attack.

ICC believes Israel may have committed war crimes in flotilla attack, but not of ‘sufficient gravity’ to justify formal investigation

Annie Robbins on
The Mavi Marmara

Today, International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda announced the body will not be prosecuting Israel for the deadly attack on humanitarian passengers of the Mavi Marmara although she has reason to believe that war crimes were committed by Israel. In a statement Bensouda said the case is not “of ‘sufficient gravity’ to justify further action.”

Root cause of current crisis is Israeli government effort since 1967 to transform East Jerusalem into a Jewish city

Mondoweiss Editors on
Israeli border police officers walks in front of the Dome of the Rock on the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City November 5, 2014. (Photo: Ammar Awad/Reuters)

The Institute for Middle East Understanding conducted an interview with Ingrid Jaradat Gassner on the current situation in Jerusalem. Jaradat Gassner is the Coordinator of International Advocacy and Public Relations for the Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem. She explains, “The root cause of the acute current crisis is the effort of all Israeli governments since 1967 to transform occupied East Jerusalem into a Jewish-Israeli city, through aggressive settlement expansion that has encouraged settler violence, and a myriad of policies that have deprived Palestinians of the basic elements of a dignified life, such as freedom of movement, having a home, family and income from work, and respect of their culture, heritage and religious sites. The more immediate causes of the current crisis are of course the events that have transpired since this summer, in particular the collective punishment of the Palestinian population, including mass arrests and severe movement restrictions that followed the abduction and murder of the three Israeli youth in the West Bank, the kidnapping and murder of Muhammad Abu Khdeir in Jerusalem, and the Israeli settler takeover of apartments in Silwan.”

Likud government official latest Israeli politician to make provocative visit to al-Aqsa mosque

Kate on
An Israeli policeman aims his tear gas launcher during clashes with stone-throwing Palestinians near the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, on November 5, 2014 (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)

Ma‘an reports: Israel’s deputy transportation minister Tzipi Hotovely of the Likud party toured the al-Aqsa mosque compound Tuesday morning while being escorted by Israeli police officers. Commenting on the unwanted visitor, director of the Al-Aqsa Mosque Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani told Ma‘an that “the Israeli occupation continued with its policy of imposing siege on Al-Aqsa Mosque from dawn prayer until noon time.”

After deadly attack Netanyahu vows ‘iron fist’ as clashes and closures rock Jerusalem

Allison Deger on
Palestinians pass through an Israeli pop-up checkpoint to enter al-Aqsa mosque Wednesday morning. (Photo: Allison Deger)

A week after an assassination attempt on a prominent Israeli-American in the Temple Mount movement and the first closure of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in 14 years, turbulence continued in Jerusalem with clashes inside the al-Aqsa mosque and a vehicle attack that left one killed. In response Jordan, the administrator of the Muslim holy site, recalled its ambassador

Did you know radiant beauty could exist alongside vile ugliness?

Josette Souza on
Overlook of Jerusalem, October 30, 2014. (Photo: Interfaith Peace-Builders)

Josette Souza is a delegate on the third Interfaith Peace-Builders African Heritage delegation. The African Heritage Delegation program seeks to connect US African American leaders, media-makers and organizers with communities of color in Palestine/Israel to identify common issues and forge relationships. Souza writes about the shock and beauty of visiting the Old City in Jerusalem.

A reverend sermonizes justice in Jerusalem

Marc H. Ellis on

Palestine is occupied by Israel. Al Aqsa is occupied by Israel. Can the churches in Jerusalem and throughout the land escape that same occupation? Last Sunday, Rev. Páraic Réamonn from the Church of Scotland at St. Andrews gave a sermon in Jerusalem that promised a breakthrough in the relationship between the Christian church and the Jewish state.

New Amnesty International report accuses Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza

Annie Robbins on
Families Under the Rubble (photo: amnesty International)

Amnesty International’s new report, “Families Under the Rubble- Israeli attacks on inhabited homes” accuses Israel of committing war crimes by targeting and killing scores of Palestinians civilian with no warning during Operation Protective Edge, last summer’s slaughter in Gaza. The report says, “Given the failure of Israeli and Palestinian authorities to independently and impartially investigate allegations of war crimes, it is imperative that the international community support the involvement of the International Criminal Court (ICC).”

The hidden documents that reveal the true borders of Israel and Palestine (Updated)

David Gerald Fincham on

Israel gained recognition in 1948 by accepting the UN Partition borders of 1947, but has negated those borders since. But any partition of the land must reflect that division, explains scholar David Gerald Fincham. This post has been updated with an explanation from Prof. Francis A. Boyle clarifying the advice he offered Palestinian leadership on borders

A Palestinian actress in NY describes the end of belief in Oslo

Philip Weiss on
Alia Alrosan and Nabil Al-Raee in NY

Alia Alrosan’s parents were once PFLP fighters for Palestine in Lebanon. They came back to Palestine because they believed in Oslo. The young actress relates how living under occupation, she felt herself “a fighter for freedom who loses the war,” till she found the Jenin Freedom Theatr

‘There’s no such thing as illegal houses, there is such thing as racist laws': Israelis demonstrate against collective punishment in East Jerusalem

Sarah Levy on
Protesters play drums outside of Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat's house. (Photo: Sarah Levy)

About 80 Israelis rallied last Wednesday night outside of Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat’s house, chanting and banging drums in protest against the intensified attack on East Jerusalem that has taken place over the last week and to demand an end to what they call the policy of collective punishment toward the residents of East Jerusalem. Protesters chanted “There’s no such thing as illegal houses, there is such thing as racist laws,” and “Arresting children does not bring security,” and held signs such as “Discrimination and marginalization in East Jerusalem = Apartheid.”

On Balfour anniversary, Jerusalem boils

Kate on
Photo by Allison Deger of rightwing Jewish activists in Old City

Jerusalem at a boiling point: The “Zionist endeavor” is “the strengthening of the Jewish presence.” And clashes with Palestinian demonstrators have injured 28 over the weekend