Yesterday, Israeli police forces demolished homes and structures at Umm Al-Hiran, a Bedouin village in the southern Negev desert. Umm Al-Hiran is one of 39 ‘unrecognised’ Bedouin villages in Israel’s southern Negev and has faced state repression since the founding of Israel in 1948. Therefore it is best to understand yesterday’s violence and the case of Umm Al-Hiran as part of an overarching policy of ethnic cleansing.
Category Archives: Palestinian Citizens of Israel
Hatim Kanaaneh’s village in the Galilee has become known in the Israeli press as a “medical mecca” for the large number of doctors and medical professionals that call it home. Although some want to credit Israel for this, Kanaaneh says it has been accomplished through “resilience, often verging on plasticity,” in the face of institutional and societal discrimination in the Jewish state.
One-month-old Jowan Abu al-Qi’an will most likely be the last person born in the village of Umm al-Hiran in the Negev desert. The house that her family built out of stone will be demolished, and the Bedouin village will soon be razed to the ground to make way for the new Jewish community “Hiran.” “We’d like to live together. We told them that it’s OK for us to live with Jews, but the court said no. This place is just for Jewish people,” Umm al-Hiran resident Hassan Abu al-Qi’an says.
Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared his support this month for the so-called “muezzin bill”, claiming it was urgently needed to stop the dawn call to prayer from mosques ruining the Israeli public’s sleep. But the one in five of Israel’s population who are Palestinian, most of them Muslim, and a further 300,000 living under occupation in East Jerusalem, say the legislation is grossly discriminatory. Haneen Zoabi says legislation is not about “the noise in [Israeli Jews’] ears but the noise in their minds”. Their colonial fears, she said, were evoked by the Palestinians’ continuing vibrant presence in Israel – a presence that was supposed to have been extinguished in 1948 with the Nakba, the creation of a Jewish state on the ruins of the Palestinians’ homeland.
It was exactly one year ago that Dareen Tatour’s ordeal began. In the pre-dawn hours of October 11, 2015, Israeli police and border guards stormed into Palestinian poet’s family home without a warrant or an explanation for the shocking and disturbing intrusion. They arrested, interrogated, and eventually charged Dareen Tatour with the crime of ‘incitement to violence’ for posts she made on Facebook. A year later, there is no end in sight.
Over 30 activists and senior officials from the Arab National Democratic Assembly, or Balad party, have been arrested in recent weeks on charges ranging from money laundering to mishandling campaign contributions, in what many in the Palestinian community are calling a new wave of political persecution. “The arrests are being used to scare Palestinians by using false information,” said Balad Knesset Member Jamal Zahalka. “They are a means to stop Palestinians wanting to change their situation.”
Skylar Lindsay reports from Jisr al-Zarqa, the only town on the coast of Israel today with an entirely Arab population. Despite being on the Mediterranean, Jisr al-Zarqa is trapped. Fourteen thousand residents occupy a little 1.5 square kilometer strip of coastline where 80 percent of families live below the poverty line. The town is pushed up against the sea by Highway 2 and squeezed from the north by a kibbutz and on the south by Caesarea, the luxurious suburb Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu calls home. “Have you seen Netanyahu’s house?” Palestinian fisherman Khalid Jurban asks, jokingly. “See? Here there are Palestinians and Israelis living right beside.”
In an effort to apologize for last year’s notorious election-day comment when he warned that “the Arabs are coming out to vote in droves,” Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu took to social media to last week to urge Palestinian citizens to become more active in public life. They needed to “work in droves, study in droves, thrive in droves,” he said. “I am proud of the role Arabs play in Israel’s success”. Swiftly and predictably, the reality of life for Israel’s 1.7 million Palestinians upstaged Netanyahu’s fine words. In a radio interview, Moti Dotan, the head of the Lower Galilee regional council, sent a message to his Palestinian neighbors: “I don’t want them at my [swimming] pools.” Sounding like a mayor in the southern United States during the Jim Crow-era, he added: “Their culture of cleanliness isn’t the same as ours. Why is that racist?”
In the late afternoon of July 26, 2016, Dareen Tatour briefly found herself a free woman. For a fleeting, puzzling hour and a half, the young Palestinian poet who is being aggressively prosecuted by the State of Israel for “incitement to violence” found herself standing alone by the side of the road outside Damon prison when she should have been getting transported home to continue her court mandated house arrest. The state’s apparent lack of concern about Tatour’s actual whereabouts demonstrates one of two things: either the Israeli security services are inept, or they have already caught a whiff of the obvious—that the mild-mannered poet poses no security threat whatsoever—and that this trial is entirely a political stunt.
Hatim Kanaaneh writes about Brig. Gen. Ofek Buchris, an Israeli general recently indicted for “rape and indecent acts,” who lives one town over from him: “Part of my anguish about the report is the geographic location of the accused general’s residence; Mitzpe Netoufa is practically in my backyard. The basic concept of a Mitzpe—Hebrew for ‘lookout’—the hilltop-positioned barbed-wire-encircled Jewish-only settlement dreamt up by Ariel Sharon in the 1970s to protect the promised land of the Jews from potential ‘goy’ usurpers. Those ‘goys’ turn out actually to be us, the Palestinians who have been ‘squatting’ on the land since the Romans destroyed their second temple! Be that as it may, the good general’s purpose in life and that of his fellow Mitzpe Netoufa religious Jewish residents, is to watch over me so I won’t steal my own Netoufa (Battouf) Valley Land.”
In what was intended as a message to Palestinian citizens of Israel on “equality and dignity for all,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s accidentally called Arabs “goats,” and received backlash from Palestinian political parties for staging a “hypocritical charade.”
Growing up in the US, the Israeli national anthem held special meaning for Steven Davidson. But after living with a Palestinian family in Hebron, the song gained a different meaning: “Hatikvah didn’t feel so close to my heart any more. Its solemn melody still aroused that sense of belonging through wandering, only now, this sense felt betrayed by the song’s words. Everyone singing Hatikvah in this room felt like they belonged in a state they barely knew of— to the exclusion of so many whose home this had once been.”
Kim Jensen reports from Nazareth at the third hearing in the Israeli government’s case against Dareen Tatour, the 33-year old Palestinian poet who is being prosecuted for “incitement to violence” on the basis of a YouTube clip and two alleged Facebook status updates. Jensen writes, “The wheels of justice grind slowly in the State of Israel, at least for Palestinian activists who endure de facto and de jure inequality under the law.”
Members of Israel’s opposition coalition will filibuster overnight to stall a vote on a controversial bill to expand the Knesset’s power to oust one of their own. The expulsion bill, formerly called the suspension bill, grants parliamentarians the authority to permanently kick their peers out of office, without loose criteria for disqualification. It is aimed at one member: Hanin Zoabi of the Joint List.
At about 3:00 am on October 11, 2015, Israeli police and border guards kicked open the door of the Tatour family home and hauled Dareen Tatour off in her pajamas. The police had no warrant and offered no explanation for the shocking pre-dawn raid. It was only after twenty days of imprisonment and four interrogations that Tatour and her family finally learned the exact nature of the charges. She was being held for “incitement” because of two Facebook posts and a poetry video clip that she posted on YouTube. Nine months later, an Israeli court issued Tatour a 48-hour pass to visit her family in Reineh, a small Palestinian town outside of Nazareth, where Kim Jensen talked to Tatour about her case, her work, and her aspirations as an artist.
The UN removed portions of an Israeli exhibition at the international body’s headquarters in New York this week that alleged Israel’s equal treatment of Palestinian citizens and touted Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, claims deemed by the UN as falling out of line with international law. Two panels out of 13 in the display were barred in order that it “conform with the purposes and principles” of the UN, Farhan Haq, spokesman for the UN Secretary-General, told Mondoweiss.
Palestinian citizens of Israel today marked “Land Day,” an annual commemoration of protests that began 40 years ago on March 30, 1976 when Israeli police killed six during a demonstration over land confiscations. As in years past, a general strike was announced for one day, and thousands protested in the north and the south of the country in opposition to a similar looming round of land expropriations.
Palestinians across the occupied West Bank on Wednesday gathered to commemorate the 40th anniversary of “Land Day.” The first Land Day, on March 30, 1976, saw thousands of Palestinians take to the streets in protest of the confiscation of thousands of acres of Palestinian land in the northern Galilee region of Israel. During the protest, six demonstrators were shot dead and over 100 were wounded. Forty years later, Palestinians are still taking to the streets in protest of massive Israeli land grabs.
Palestinian writer Sayed Kashua says that he was a “hostage” living in “fear” in Israel even as he created hugely successful TV show in Hebrew, the language of his “oppressor.” And that his work is worth nothing.
Palestinian leaders inside Israel and other members of the Palestinian community respond to a new Pew poll that found almost half of Israeli Jews think “Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel.” Diana Buttu says, “It is acceptable to be racist in Israel: the Prime Minister has made latent racism mainstream.”
Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, has released a new report (PDF) on discriminatory and anti-democratic legislation being considered by the Israeli Knesset. “We are being introduced to new laws and bills that in some way are narrowing the meaning of democracy here,” Adalah legal advocate Nadeem Shehadeh tells Mondoweiss.
A Pew survey of Israeli attitudes reflects the deep racism in Israeli Jewish society: most Jews (48 to 46) want Palestinian Israelis to be transferred or expelled from the state, and 4 out of 5 say they like discriminatory legal system. More than 3/4 of Palestinians say that the U.S. is too supportive of Israel.
Israel’s large Palestinian minority held its first-ever conference on BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions – this past weekend in spite of anti-boycott legislation introduced five years ago that exposes activists in Israel to harsh financial penalties. One participant called it a sign that the Palestinian minority was slowly emerging from the law’s “reign of terror”.
Benjamin Netanyhu’s government is drafting legislation that ought to resolve in observers’ minds the question of whether Israel is the democracy it proudly claims to be. It breathes new life into the phrase “tyranny of the majority”. But in this case, the majority will be Jewish MPs oppressing their Palestinian colleagues.
Israel still portrays itself as a Jewish and democratic state. Yet in practice, as its Palestinian citizens can attest, it functions as a Jewish ethnocracy, leaving small margins of freedom for its Palestinian citizens that have been steadily shrinking in the past few years. Now the Israeli state has come under the complete control of the far right wing, which sees no need even for such limited margins of freedom. This is evident in the wave of discriminatory legislation and the use of the Emergency Regulations against established non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and movements such as the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel.