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March 2017

With white nationalism on the rise in the US, JCC bomb threats stoked fear and solidarity

Nada Elia on

Millions breathed a deep sigh of relief last week, when it was announced that the FBI, in coordination with police forces in New Zealand, Australia, and Israel, arrested Michael Kaydar, a 19-year old man with dual Israeli-American citizenship, who was behind the majority of the bomb threats made to Jewish community centers around the U.S. The threats were a hoax and, in typical official lingo, the “motive remains unclear.” The hoaxes, by resurfacing and foregrounding anti-Semitism, widened the net of those caught in the justified fear of white nationalism. They also had a totally unintended effect, as they brought threatened and marginalized communities closer together, to face the greater enemy.

JDL member arrested for attacking Palestinian-American teacher ran anti-Muslim website

Allison Deger on

Kamal Nayfeh, 55, was an out-of-towner waiting to hug goodbye his daughter who lives in Washington DC, in the moments before he was beaten by members of the Jewish Defense League (JDL), outside of a policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Nayfeh and his daughter, who witnessed the attack, talk to Mondoweiss’s Allison Deger about the event and its aftermath. “I’ve been seeing a trend towards violence and all of those violent group are re-emerging. The country is so divided, and all of those groups that never had a voice are popping out and showing their hate,” Nayfeh says.

‘Jerusalem’ on Gaza TV set is as close as many Palestinians will get to real thing

Ahmad Kabariti on

Amid the quiet of Gaza’s white sand dunes that cover the grounds of Israeli settlements evacuated more than a decade ago, Palestinian actors playing ultra-orthodox Israelis get in a fight. They are shooting the dramatic series “Heaven’s Gate” on the Hamas-owned Al Aqsa TV network, which will premiere this summer during Ramadan. The show is filming in Gaza, but the show is set in Jerusalem, and the city has been recreated inside of the besieged strip. This is as close to visiting the holy city as any of the actors have come.

J Street attends rightwing anti-BDS summit– and gets called ‘anti-Semitic’

Philip Weiss on

There is no middle ground; you’re either with Israel or against it these days, as J Street, the liberal Zionist group, found out yesterday. Jeremy Ben-Ami of J Street says it was shocking when the Jewish establishment allowed a speaker to call his group “anti-Semitic” at a UN summit against BDS. But the same event smeared Bassem Tamimi, the leader of nonviolent resistance in Nabi Saleh in occupied Palestine, without protest from J Street.

Palestinian college student on hunger strike after 22 days of interrogation in an Israeli prison

Kate on

Palestinian university student Kifah Quzmar, in his final year studying business administration at Bir Zeit University, launched a hunger strike on Sunday, March 26 in Ashkelon prison, where he is held shackled and remains under interrogation after 22 days of imprisonment. Quzmar, a popular, well-known student, was seized by Israeli occupation forces on March 7 at the Karameh/Allenby crossing from Jordan as he returned from travel. After denying that he was in their custody for several days, he was then denied access to a lawyer for 19 days.

Palestinian-American teacher brutally attacked by Jewish Defense League outside AIPAC conference

Allison Deger on

A 55-year old Palestinian-American instructor at a community college in North Carolina was brutally beaten by members of the Jewish Defense League (JDL) while walking by the AIPAC conference in Washington DC on Sunday, according to a video and statement released by the Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU). The man was identified as Kamal Nayfeh. The JDL affiliates “punched and kicked him and hit him in the face with flag poles, leaving him with cuts and bruises all over his face and body,” said the IMEU statement. Photos were taken of Nayfeh after the and beatings show his face bloodied and bruised.

Will assassination lead to war?

Ahmed Alnaouq on

On Friday night, Mazen Fuqaha, a senior leader of Hamas’ military wing, the al-Qassam Brigades was gunned down in the Tell al-Hama neighborhood. Gaza’s ministry of interior said in a statement the weapon was a pistol with a silencer, a sure sign of a professional hit and a first in Gaza since Israeli forces withdrew from the Strip. Ahmed Alnouq writes Palestinians in Gaza are wondering if another war is about to break out between Hamas and Israel after two months of an uptick in tensions. Salwa, a law student at Al-Azhar University said she fears war is indeed at Gaza’s door, “I wish I will die before it starts. During war, I psychologically die many times a day.”

The martyr’s daughter: a review of ‘Where Can I Find Someone Like You, Ali?’

Jamal Najjab on

In her one-woman show “Where Can I Find Someone Like You, Ali,” Raeda Taha recounts her life as the “daughter of a martyr.” On May 8, 1972, Taha’s father, Ali Taha, and three other armed Palestinians were killed during a botched airplane hijacking. Taha was 7 at the time. So began her life as the daughter of a Palestinian “shaheed” (“martyr” in English)—a term that signifies a special place in Palestinian society. Taha provided her audiences with a touching, at times heart-breaking but never sentimental, glimpse into the lives of Palestinians who have lost family members at the hands of the Israeli military.

‘Negation of the diaspora’ as Zionist antisemitism: The JCC bomb threats came from an Israeli Jew

David Shasha on

After many months of speculation, Michael Kaydar, a Jewish teenage resident of Ashkelon in Southern Israel, has been charged with carrying out the JCC bomb threats. One aspect of the story, and its connection to an Israeli, that has not been discussed is the intense loathing of the Jewish Diaspora in classical Zionist thought. Kaydar has opened a chasm in the relationship between Israelis and the Jewish Diaspora and reignited the most elementary questions about Jewish identity in the supercharged atmosphere of Trumpworld Fascism and its intense racism; a racism which is not limited to White Christians, but is also present in their Israeli Jewish counterparts.

History will make us pay for this

Liz Rose on

“It’s like sleeping with a corpse,” Ilan Pappe said of the two-state solution, at the Israel Lobby and American Policy Conference this past Friday. “We should all attend the funeral and we can put this past us already.” Pappe’s remarks–which reflected the theme threaded throughout the day of looking directly into the dark times we are in–were in response to John Kerry’s 2014 statement that Israel must adopt the two-state solution or risk becoming an apartheid state. “It’s already dead,” Pappe said at his keynote address, given at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. Liz Rose writes, “For this former Zionist turned anti-Zionist, the day was a refreshing batch of unapologetic anti-Israel lobby and anti-occupation speakers.”

Clandestine network of Gaza hackers says Palestinian sentenced to 9 years for spying on Israeli drones didn’t do it

Sarah Algherbawi on

No one doubts that Majd Oweida, 23, is brilliant, but it is what he did with his brilliance that is a source of contention between his parents who are advocating for his release from an Israeli prison, and Israel’s security service who have accused him of hacking their drones for Islamic Jihad. Sarah Algherbawi searches for answers. She tracks down a hacker who may or may not be a part of an illicit espionage gang, and takes her investigation to Hamas and those tied to Islamic Jihad. None of them claimed Majd, a local hero of sorts, a Palestinian robot designer and talent scout of the popular program “Palestinians Got Talent.”

‘US is overwhelmingly partial to Israel,’ Pelosi admits at AIPAC

Philip Weiss on

US politicians swearing fealty to Israel at AIPAC know there are cracks in US support. “When people sometimes say to me, the United States is so overwhelmingly partial to Israel in this discussion, I say Yes of course. We have been friends for a long time,” Nancy Pelosi admits.

‘Scariest part’ of Trump’s draft peace plan promises he will be ‘personally involved’

Philip Weiss on

Donald Trump’s draft of a deal between the Israelis and Palestinians sets the peace process back 20 years by talking about a “provisional entity,” not a Palestinian state and by allowing settlement construction in Jerusalem, Khalil Jahshan of the Arab Center reports. It also assures the parties that Trump will be “personally involved in the process,” and that’s the “scariest part of the plan.”

Hamas shuts down Gaza crossing, blaming Israel for assassinating leader

Kate on

Ma’an News Agency reports, “The Hamas-run Ministry of Interior in Gaza closed the Palestinian side of the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel on Sunday morning, denying residents of the besieged coastal enclave passage in both directions, as local sources described a ‘state of alert’ in Gaza with severe security measures being imposed across the small Palestinian territory.”

Broad coalition attends teach-in on Israel lobby ahead of AIPAC conference

Philip Weiss on

“Senator Hatfield said– and I will never forget these words as long as I live– ‘In this great distinguished institution of the United States Senate, when the Israel lobby says jump, 90 plus of my colleagues say how high. They never ask why.'” Khalil Jahshan at the annual Israel lobby conference in Washington, D.C.

Rasmea Odeh accepts plea deal, loses US citizenship in exchange for no jail time, will leave the US

Kate on

The Rasmea Defense Committee announced yesterday Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh, “has made the difficult decision to accept a plea agreement. She will plead guilty to Unlawful Procurement of Naturalization, lose her U.S. citizenship, and be forced to leave the country, but will exit the U.S. without having to serve any more time in prison or ICE detention, a victory, considering that the government had earlier fought for a sentence of 5-7 years.”

Bearing witness: a review of Alice Rothchild’s book ‘Condition Critical’

Hatim Kanaaneh on

In her book, “Condition Critical: Life and Death in Israel/Palestine” Dr. Alice Rothchild emotes courage and sincerity to a degree that begs analysis: Who is she addressing and to what end? The book’s title answers the latter of the two interrelated questions: All those who are genuinely concerned with Israel/Palestine should better rush to resuscitate their critically ill charge before it is too late because “the Israeli government is on a suicide mission.” All through her book Dr. Rothchild bears witness to how critical and unjust the condition is.

Actor Richard Gere in Hebron: ‘it’s exactly like what the what the Old South was in America’

Allison Deger on

While Richard Gere was in Israel and the occupied West Bank promoting his film “Norman,” he was recorded in an unguarded moment wandering the desolate streets of Hebron’s Old City. A dumbfounded Gere is near at a loss for words in the clip, which aired on Israel’s Channel 2 network. “I mean it’s like…it’s exactly like what the what the Old South was in America. Blacks knew where they could go, they could drink from that fountain, they couldn’t go over there, they couldn’t eat in that place. It was well understood. You didn’t cross it or you’d get your head beat in or lynched,” Gere said.

The dispossessed

Howard Cohen on

Howard Cohen relates the story of one of his students at an engineering college in the Negev struggling to keep up with his studies after Israeli police killed his father, demolished his home: “He had used the word killed, it was me who had used the word murder, but the words were irrelevant at this moment. He wasn’t interested in making a political statement to me, he was making an existential one. That was clear enough. ‘You see it’s so difficult for me,’ he went on, wiping away the tears that had welled up at the corner of his eyes and which threatened to stream down his face. ‘Everything was under the rubble. I even had a workbook for the class but that too was under the rubble together with my ID card and all our other belongings. They didn’t give us any time to leave. They bulldozed the house with all of our possessions in it. I’m trying to return to my studies. It’s important for me to continue, in spite of everything. But it’s so difficult for me. My head just isn’t there. And it’s going to be difficult for me to attend all the classes and prepare for the presentation.'”

Video: Israeli forces force crying 8-year-old boy barefoot through gravel looking for stone-throwers

Sheren Khalel on

Palestinian activists on Sunday filmed Israeli forces dragging 8-year-old Sufian Abu Hitah through the al-Harika neighborhood of Hebron in the occupied West Bank for more than hour. The video, received and edited by Israeli rights group B’Tselem, shows the boy crying and barefoot, being pulled by his arm by Israeli forces as they tried to get the boy to identify other children who soldiers suspected of throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails at the nearby illegal Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba earlier that day.