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In order to criticize settlements, liberal Zionists hit Netanyahu for releasing Palestinian prisoners

on 30 Comments
Sixty One Poster
Sixty One Poster

Here’s an interesting new tactic in the liberal Zionist camp: Faulting Netanyahu for releasing Palestinian prisoners so as to build political capital for taking a stand against the settlements. The need to demonize Palestinians as violent shows just how rightwing the political discourse is in Israel, how much the security narrative involves all Israelis and all Israel supporters.

Item one. The American liberal Zionist group J Street was troubled by the prisoners’ release:

[Netanyahu’s decision to push settlements] was even more troubling when considered in the light of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s willingness to release over 100 Palestinians convicted of violence and terrorism as part of the agreement that paved the way for a resumption of peace talks.

(And yes, J Street’s head approved the release in the end, but only as a means to restart talks.)

Item two is the poster above, from Sixty One, a liberal Israeli thinktank, which seeks to demonize both Palestinian prisoners and the settlements. Writes Ofer Neiman: 

Sixty One was started by people who had been dominant in the Sheikh Jarrah [anti-settlement] solidarity movement, and had steered it in a direction which many activists did not like (trying to appeal to mainstream public opinion in Israel, at the expense of building an international-Palestinian-Israeli solidarity movement. they left the movement later.

Oh and about that poster above. From the Israeli Apartheid facebook page:

It is most unfortunate that sixty One, a think tank which aspires to lead the peace and human rights camp in Israel, has chosen the path of populism and de-humanization towards Palestinians. According to Sixty One, the release of Palestinian prisoners by Netanyahu shows that :

“[politically he] is being held hostage by people who care more about building a new neighborhood in the territories than about the security of Israeli citizens.

Sixty One drive home their point with great drama, adding: “In other words, you may come home in a coffin, but they [the settlers] will have Samaria”.

[Context: Freezing settlement construction was an alternative goodwill gesture proposed by Kerry; Netanyahu chose the release of prisoners]

Well, most of the Palestinian prisoners do not resume violent activities. If anything, the most significant phenomenon related with their release is recurring Israeli arrests and abuse, under the pretext of “release terms violations”. Moreover, the writers fail to realize that Israeli policies in their entirety produce Palestinian counter-violence, not specificPalestinian prisoners.
The settlements are a war crimes, and they should be dismantled. In addition to that, Palestine’s political prisoners should be released now, without reservations. And demagoguery should be stopped too. Because spins will neither bring an end to apartheid nor reestablish the Israeli peace camp

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30 Responses

  1. gingershot
    August 11, 2013, 11:09 am

    The only Palestinian prisoner who should be released in Marwan Barghouti – the ONE strategic prisoner – the one Palestinian prisoner who will end the regime of Abbas and the Phony Authority

    If J-Street weren’t really just the good cop to the AIPAC bad cop, they would be pressing for Barghouti’s release as well. I have not heard one peep out of the Palestinians (of course Hamas has a gag in it’s mouth) regarding Barghouti, let alone the Israelis. Barghouti apparently got pretty close to being released in the Shalit deal

  2. annie
    August 11, 2013, 11:34 am

    all political prisoners should be released immediately. additionally there are lots of palestinian prisoners picked up on administrative detention, held and tortured into either confessions, implicating themselves, or nothing at all. israel’s occupation military court system is a sham and a crime against humanity.

    • Donald
      August 11, 2013, 12:52 pm

      Is it true that the bulk of these prisoners that Israel is willing to release are people who killed civilians? I get this impression from the NYT. I don’t know the truth and talk about “demonization” doesn’t tell me one way or the other.

      Assuming it’s true, I think Netanyahu does it, as someone at Open Zion suggested recently, because it’s a gesture he can portray as significant, but is actually meaningless in the grand scheme of things. So the liberal Zionist critics might have a point, even if they also miss a few things. What the Israeli right (and much of the so-called left) really cares about is taking as much land as possible. So Netanyahu releases a few Palestinians who really did kill people and Israel gets to pose as the one making all the heart-wrenching concessions, while they continue to build settlements. The Israeli government doesn’t really care about saving a few Israeli lives–that’s why they have often broken ceasefires and provoked the inevitable violent reaction and why they encourage Israelis to settle the WB. They can always count on the American press to recite their version of things.

      And also, of course, nobody in the Western mainstream even asks about the other prisoners you mention, the ones tortured and so on. Nor do they talk about the fact that Palestinians don’t get to imprison Israeli war criminals. So the action just contributes to the Western narrative that one side is violent and the other bends over backwards to make concessions. Israel supporters are gullible and lap it all up and this sets the stage for Act Two, if, as seems likely, the talks fail and the script has everyone recite “But the Israelis made so many concessions.”

      • OlegR
        August 11, 2013, 6:17 pm

        /s it true that the bulk of these prisoners that Israel is willing to release are people who killed civilians?/
        Some did all of the are in jail since pre Oslo.
        Who exactly gets released is still unknown. The families of the victims
        will be informed before the release.

      • OlegR
        August 11, 2013, 6:24 pm

        My bad here is the list.,7340,L-4416507,00.html

        Read them and weep so to speak.

      • annie
        August 12, 2013, 12:41 am

        imagine all the moans if jewish combatants had been imprisoned for decades..if every person like bennet who brags about killing lots of arabs and every soldier who placed bullets in the brains of palestinan teenagers this year..if all of them were in prison for would be saying “Read them and weep” if it were a list of your imprisoned, weeping they were not released yet.

      • miriam6
        August 12, 2013, 4:37 am

        Annie r;

        Look at the prisoner list according to

        Now try to imagine that those prisoners are in American jails for killing/murdering American civilians…

        How do you imagine the American public might react to the prospect of such prisoners being released?

        Not very positively I imagine..

        The real shame is that America has the nerve to pressurise Israel into releasing the sort of prisoners the American’s would never dream of releasing..

      • OlegR
        August 12, 2013, 6:09 am

        /if every person like bennet who brags about killing lots of arabs/
        In battle.
        /every soldier who placed bullets in the brains of palestinan teenagers/
        Again in battle.

        Have you read what some of those guys did?
        Like stabbing a 79 year old grandpa reading a book in a public park.

        Hell Annie go prosecute some marines for Falujjah then come talk to me again.
        Hypoctires through and through.

      • Talkback
        August 12, 2013, 10:58 am

        OlegR says: “Read them and weep so to speak.”

        Imagine if Jews were arrested for the same reason since 1948.

      • miriam6
        August 12, 2013, 12:56 pm

        Philip Weiss’s article makes a mockery of his shedding of – crocodile – tears – article on this very site last year , where apparently he lamented the Bulgaria bus bombs which killed those Israeli tourists.

        Now, entirely illogically and with no sense of irony or contradiction, he has no criticism whatsoever for America in its heavy-handed bid to appease terrorism and force Israel to release prisoners of a similar kind to those who carried out the Bulgaria bombings.

        Weiss has no integrity left now.

        He has lost his moral compass.

        His blogging on this site has deteriorated to such an extent he ought to take his own advice and call it a day –

        -Weiss’s attacks on the right to freedom of speech of a journalist at the Chicago Sun Times- –
        his utterly ridiculous , baseless claim that Bradley Manning with the help of a bunch of self- satisfied , self -absorbed western social media shut-ins helped start the Arab Spring —
        his support of the bloody NATO intervention in Libya, which all but destroyed the fragile balance of power in North Africa and containment of extremist Islamist forces that the Malians and Algerians worked so hard for decades to maintain, —
        PLUS the awful destruction of Mali , Africa and humanity’s precious cultural/ historical heritage in places like Timbuktu — all for the sake of ensuring at least one Arab country might love America — how sick , how narcissistic and shallow, what a price to pay.

        Shame and scandal on America for using it’s considerable power to force the Israelis to release those who murdered civilians.

        See this Times of Israel article on the sort of prisoners Israel is being forced to consider for release.

      • just
        August 13, 2013, 5:02 am

        Oleg– y’all wept plenty for Shalit.

        Most of us criticize our own for Gitmo and much more that we are responsible for (Abu Ghraib, etc,)………you don’t seem to EVER criticize your leaders, your practices, or yourself. What a concept!

        (it won’t be much of a surprise to any of us when Israel incarcerates these Palestinians again– y’all are terrifically good at playing these awful games with human souls!)

        1S1P1V– end the brutality and Occupation!

    • OlegR
      August 11, 2013, 6:00 pm

      Start with Gitmo hypocrites…

      • annie
        August 11, 2013, 6:11 pm

        what hypocrisy? i think the prisoners at gitmo should be released.

      • OlegR
        August 11, 2013, 6:15 pm

        Yes but yet there they are , and as long as they stay that way ,i don’t think any American citizen being an accomplice to the existence of that particular piece of heaven gets to criticize other judicial systems without being called a hypocrite.

        Fix your house then come talk to me.

      • annie
        August 12, 2013, 12:16 am

        oleg, it’s inhumane, it’s criminal but it’s not apartheid. we do not have thousands and thousands of prisoners at gitmo and we are not imprisoning a whole people to steal their land. different kettle of fish. not a better kettle but a different one.

        an accomplice … without being called a hypocrite.

        as an american i am an accomplice to israel’s crimes too, and it’s a much bigger investment than gitmo too. your argument boils down to ad hominem/diversion. that’s all you’ve got.

      • OlegR
        August 12, 2013, 6:03 am

        that’s all you’ve got.

        /as an american i am an accomplice to israel’s crimes too,/
        To a much lesser extent Gitmo is internal affair of the US
        Israel is a foreign policy one on which you have a lot less clout then on Gitmo
        which is next door.
        So hypocrite call it ad hominem call it whatever you want it’s still true.

      • amigo
        August 12, 2013, 12:01 pm


        Yes but yet there they are , and as long as they stay that way ,i don’t think any American citizen being an accomplice to the existence of that particular piece of heaven gets to criticize other judicial systems without being called a hypocrite.

        Fix your house then come talk to me.

        Perhaps you should show your displeasure with the USA by refusing their 3+ billion per year.

        No , did not think so hypocrite.

      • eljay
        August 11, 2013, 6:22 pm

        >> Start with Gitmo hypocrites…

        Absolutely: Gitmo inmates should either be released or tried fairly in a court of law.

        Meanwhile, do you advocate for the same thing for non-Jewish Israeli or for non-Israeli prisoners of the oppressive and supremacist “Jewish State” of Israel, or are you just another hypocritical Zio-supremacist asshole spouting your usual Zio-supremacist bullshit?

        No need to answer – your track record speaks for itself, OlegReee…

      • mcohen
        August 12, 2013, 8:55 am

        Eljay says

        “Absolutely: Gitmo inmates should either be released or tried fairly in a court of law.”

        Hey hey eljay ,i did not know you supported the gitmo inmates,which guys do you know ?
        maybe we could start a” release james brown campaign” for them:Absolutely

  3. Citizen
    August 11, 2013, 11:39 am

    Update on Kerry’s peace process. The Israeli delegation and the Palestinian delegation are both peppering Kerry with tattle tale letters. The former says the Palestinians are teaching their kids hate in school while Jews are the biggest victims in world history, so, Mr Kerry, those Palestinians are not acting in good faith. The latter is saying, Mr Kerry, those Israeli Jews are expanding their illegal settlements, as they always do, thus showing their bad faith.

  4. Citizen
    August 11, 2013, 12:18 pm

    RE: ” Freezing settlement construction was an alternative goodwill gesture proposed by Kerry; Netanyahu chose the release of prisoners.”

    If true, of course Bibi chose release of prisoners; Israel has a history of recapturing released prisoners on pretext of violating release conditions. Meanwhile, the land grabbing continues, the facts on the ground multiply. Is Kerry so boxed in he was forced to give Bibi that choice? Is it possible Kerry actually didn’t know what Bibi’s choice would be, and why? Bibi gets a choice of releasing some prisoners for a small time or expanding settlements. What choice did Kerry give the Palestinian peace processors? Some cash to build local business versus taking away all cash?

    • ziusudra
      August 12, 2013, 2:57 am

      Greetings Citizen,
      Judaic immigrants in the territory of 21.0K Sq Km contiguous Falesteena owned ca. 7% before 48.
      5.9 mill now live comfortably on ca. 9%.
      Where were the illegal 500K settlers living prior to entering WB Falesteena?
      Or is it that Nitwit-jahud wants more pro capita sq meters for each Israeli?
      Maybe they should build Skyscrapers. No more Judaic People are coming.
      PS The gamble is too big for land that isn’t needed. Hizbolla gets stronger by the day in Lebanon. Syria isn’t falling. Iran isn’t going away. I don’t see a greater Zionistan materializing.

  5. MHughes976
    August 11, 2013, 1:43 pm

    A comment from my point of view, which is that a 2ss will come one day but cannot be stable or final. I’m about to make more predictions than is sensible, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I have words to eat quite soon.
    My sense is that beside Kerry’s negotiating circus there is another set of discussions going on in the academic-mainstream journalism groove. This has to be based on the idea, essential to mainstreamers’ comfort, that the negotiations are a good thing with a prospect of success. The participants therefore get drawn into saying what a practical settlement would be like, so a sort of consensus – ‘what everyone thinks reasonable’ – emerges and will take further shape, like a baby, over the next nine months. This association of ideas is surely why Kerry went for that time period.
    ‘What everyone thinks reasonable’ will of course be miserably unfair to the Palestinians in every way we can think of.
    I presume that what Abbas hopes to do is to propose, even propose in writing, very late in that period that ‘what everyone thinks reasonable’ by that stage should be done. He will immediately be denounced by a hundred voices from his own side, but that may not be an insuperable problem for him.
    At that point the Israelis will have to decide whether to walk away or to play for time or to accept. They will know that this time many will say not that ‘Here is a generous Israeli offer; what a shame it was rejected’ but ‘Here is a reasonable Palestinian offer; why should it be spurned?’ The damage that this reaction would cause would be serious, insidious and long-running. Playing for time by demanding more discussions on endless matters of detail would only lessen the damage a little. Kerry would probably say (what else could he say without discrediting himself?) that there has been plenty of time for details.
    Acceptance would give Israel a sort of feudal dependency, for a while no threat at all. But the really vital point, that at least in some sense Palestinians have a right to live in Palestine, would have been conceded, with all the implications of that point waiting to evolve. To my mind the real question would be what happened next. Return to violent confrontation within months? Steady consolidation of the Palestinian position, permitting steps towards equality?

    • RoHa
      August 11, 2013, 7:27 pm

      Interesting ideas. It might happen.

      “I wouldn’t be surprised if I have words to eat quite soon.”

      Don’t worry about that. I’ve had to eat my words from time to time. I find they make quite a nourishing diet, and I know they have no harmful ingredients.

  6. ritzl
    August 11, 2013, 1:56 pm

    This is why and where it gets “boring.” The discussion inside mainstream and wannabee-mainstream Jewish circles is so bounded and constrained as to be uninterestingly narrow in scope and process, and entirely predictable in output.

    Keep it up MW.

  7. DICKERSON3870
    August 11, 2013, 2:15 pm

    RE: “Well, most of the Palestinian prisoners do not resume violent activities. If anything, the most significant phenomenon related with their release is recurring Israeli arrests and abuse, under the pretext of ‘release terms violations’.” ~ from the Israeli Apartheid facebook page

    * THEIR PREDICAMENT IS A BIT LIKE THAT OF JOSEF K IN ORSON WELL’S 1962 FILM ADAPTATION OF FRANZ KAFKA’S “THE TRIAL”: After months of trial postponement, Josef K goes to court painter Titorelli to ask for advice. He is told to hope for little. He might get definite acquittal, ostensible acquittal, or indefinite postponement. No one is ever really acquitted, but sometimes cases can be extended indefinitely.

    Titorelli: “You see, in definite acquittal, all the documents are annulled. But with ostensible acquittal, your whole dossier continues to circulate. Up to the higher courts, down to the lower ones, up again, down. These oscillations and peregrinations, you just can’t figure ‘em.”
    Josef K: “No use in trying either, I suppose.”
    Titorelli: “Not a hope. Why, I’ve known cases of an acquitted man coming home from the court and finding the cops waiting there to arrest him all over again. But then, of course, theoretically it’s always possible to get another ostensible acquittal.”
    Josef K: “The second acquittal wouldn’t be final either.”
    Titorelli: “It’s automatically followed by the third arrest. The third acquittal, by the fourth arrest. The fourth…”

    SOURCE –

    The Trial (1962) Trailer [VIDEO, 03:53] –

    Kafka: The Trial (M Studio Movement Theatre) [VIDEO, 03:29] –

    P.S. “Nothing is outside, nothing is inside; for what is outside
    is inside.”
    – Dostoevsky

  8. David Doppler
    David Doppler
    August 11, 2013, 4:18 pm

    De-humanization and demonization of the “other,” is a foundational plank in the Neo-con/Likudnik strategy, whether it is West Bankers, Palestinians more broadly, or the entire Islamic and Arabic worlds. This promotes conflict with them, and, in conflict, the Neo-cons and Likudniks see the opportunity to seize land and slay those with conflicting claims to it. It also underlies their basic political strategy to retain power against more liberal opponents – we’re under attack, at existential risk, and extreme measures are called for. From this perspective, releasing dangerous prisoners, to “appease” the “other” and their supporters, is preferred to stopping the land grab, because, to the extent these people prove dangerous in reality, the strategy is advanced, liberal opponents weakened, power retained, more land is grabbed.

  9. ramzijaber
    August 11, 2013, 4:24 pm

    Ohhhhhh, the “liberal” zionists! They gonna save the world!!!!

    I think we should snap out of the illusion that “liberal” zionists are the good guys. All zionists are the same, just 50 shades of zionists.

    1S1P1V is the ONLY way forward………..

  10. anthonybellchambers
    August 12, 2013, 2:10 am

    It is instructive that these Palestinian political prisoners jailed for attempting to regain stolen lands are termed criminals whilst the Irgun terrorists who massacred the entire Arab village at Deir Yassin are termed freedom fighters as are the terrorists who blew up the King David hotel in Jerusalem killing 91 innocent people.

    And of course the IDF soldiers who killed 307 children under the age of sixteen in Gaza in 2008 are heroes.

  11. Ecru
    August 12, 2013, 4:48 am

    Is there such a thing as an adult Israeli “civilian?” They’re nearly all complicit in the oppression of the Palestinians, they’re nearly all complicit in the corruption of Western Democracies by Fifth Columnists, they’re nearly all complicit in the violence carried out throughout the world to protect Israel from the just consequences of its actions.

    Apart from a relatively few activists with operating consciences, I’m just nor sure the term “civilian” or “innocent” can apply to Israelis or their supporters.

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