Human Rights Activist Arrested for Facebook Post

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Human rights activist Issa Amro being apprehended by Israeli security forces in an undated photo. (photo: Mairav Zonszein / +972 Magazine)

Issa Amro declares hunger strike as he remains under detention by the Palestinian Authority because of Facebook post.

By Ariel Gold / Youth Against Settlements, via email
September 5, 2017


“All my writings on social media are part of the freedom of opinion and expression stipulated by the Palestinian Basic Law and are protected by all international laws and conventions. My arrest will not affect my defense of human rights and the rights of journalists to exercise their work freely and without pressure from the government.”
— Issa Amro


Yesterday morning, Palestinian human rights defender Issa Amro was arrested by Palestinian Authority police for posting a message on Facebook stating that the PA should respect freedom of expression after it arrested journalist Ayman Qawasmi. That was yesterday morning around 10:00 AM, Palestine time. Issa is still in custody almost 30 hours later. His detention has now been extended and Issa has declared he is on hunger strike, refusing all food, water and medicine until he is released.

Amnesty International and other human rights groups have condemned the PA’s detention of Issa and called for his immediate release. He was arrested under a new law issued by the PA that gives it broad powers to arrest and imprison Palestinians for statements made online that harm “national unity” and to block access to websites. The PA, which was created under the Oslo Accords during the 1990’s and was supposed to be a temporary body on the way to statehood, operates under the overall control of Israel’s occupying army.

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The Zionist Tango: Why I Prefer Ayelet Shaked

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Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, March 2017. (photo: Eliyahu Hershkovitz)

Why the racist honesty of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is preferable to the fake views of the Israeli left.

By Gideon Levy / Haaretz
Sseptember 3, 2017

[Ed. note: This is the last of a quartet of articles that appeared recently in Haaretz. We are posting them in succession and recommend that they be read in order.]


With [Shaked], what you see is what you get — racism. In its actions and deeds, the Zionist left has done everything to implement Shaked’s views, only in polished words and without acknowledgement. The Zionist left is embarrassed by things Shaked and her colleagues are not ashamed of. That doesn’t make the left any more moral or just. It has merely been quasi-Shaked in its actions.


Ravit Hecht attributes a “fragrance of true love” for my “honest, brave princess,” Justice Minister Shaked, in her op-ed “When Gideon Levy fell in love with Ayelet Shaked.” Hecht knows my taste in women is slightly different than that, and that, despite what she writes, I don’t know how to dance the tango. But my appreciation for Shaked and her ilk is that they do not deceive: they openly acknowledge their nationalism and racism.

They don’t hide their belief that the Palestinians are an inferior people, indigenous inhabitants who will never gain the rights Jews have in the Land of Israel-Palestine; that no Palestinian state will ever be established here; that Israel will ultimately annex all of the occupied territories, as it already has done in practice; that the Jews are the Chosen People; that Zionism is in contradiction to human rights and superior to them; that dispossession is redemption; that biblical property rights are eternal; that there is no Palestinian people and no occupation; and that the current reality will last forever.

Many of these views are also held among the Zionist left, Hecht’s ideological camp. The only difference is that the Zionist left has never admitted it. It envelops its views in the glittering wrapping paper of peace talks, separation and hollow rhetoric about two states, words it has never really meant and has done precious little to realize.

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When Gideon Levy Fell in Love With Ayelet Shaked

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Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked speaks with fellow Habayit Hayehudi party member Bezalel Smotrich, March 2017. (photo: Olivier Fitoussi)

Gideon Levy prefers hard-line rightists to the left because they tell the truth; that is, they sincerely express dangerous sentiments popular among the people.

By Ravit Hecht / Haaretz
September 1, 2017

[Ed. note: This is the third of a quartet of articles that appeared recently in Haaretz. We are posting them in succession and recommend that they be read in order.]


There are still a few seekers of justice in Israel who believe in the basic Zionist principle of Jews’ right to a national homeland in Israel while deeply abhorring Shaked’s statement. Neither she nor Gideon Levy will make them disappear.


In his piece the other day, Gideon Levy thanked Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked for telling the truth; Shaked had said Zionism would no longer bow to the Supreme Court. The minister is thus continuing her incitement campaign against the court, a campaign that is flourishing throughout the right wing.

A fragrance of true love exudes from Levy’s text to his honest, brave princess. His op-ed conveys a message of admiration among radicals who tell it straight on their way to wreaking havoc.

And havoc has been wreaked. What a riot. Apocalypse now. The court is being aggressively worn down, and soon the media will finally be tamed and fall silent. Racism is soaring to new heights with the leadership’s encouragement and corruption runs rampant, with no need for camouflage, for the simple reason that nobody is ashamed anymore.

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Israel’s Minister of Truth

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Israel’s Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked at an Israel Bar Association conference in Tel Aviv, August 29, 2017. (photo: David Bachar)

Israel Justice Minister Shaked said the truth loud and clear: Zionism contradicts human rights, and thus is indeed an ultranationalist, colonialist and racist movement.

By Gideon Levy / Haaretz
September 1, 2017

[Ed. note: This is the second of a quartet of articles that appeared recently in Haaretz. We are posting them in succession and recommend that they be read in order.]


Shaked prefers Zionism to human rights, the ultimate universal justice. She believes that we have a different kind of justice, superior to universal justice. Zionism above all. . . . Now that Shaked has exposed Zionism  . . . we can finally think about Zionism more freely. We can admit that the Jews’ right to a state contradicted the Palestinians’ right to their land, and that righteous Zionism gave birth to a terrible national wrong that has never been righted.


Thank you, Ayelet Shaked, for telling the truth. Thank you for speaking honestly. The justice minister has proved once again that Israel’s extreme right is better than the deceivers of the center-left: It speaks honestly.

If in 1975, Chaim Herzog dramatically tore up a copy of UN General Assembly Resolution 3379, equating Zionism with racism, the justice minister has now admitted the truthfulness of the resolution (which was later revoked). Shaked said, loud and clear: Zionism contradicts human rights, and thus is indeed an ultranationalist, colonialist and perhaps even racist movement, as proponents of justice worldwide maintain.

Shaked prefers Zionism to human rights, the ultimate universal justice. She believes that we have a different kind of justice, superior to universal justice. Zionism above all. It’s been said before, in other languages and other nationalist movements.

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Israeli Supreme Court Puts Too Much Emphasis on Human Rights

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Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, right, with Supreme Court President Miriam Naor on August 28, 2017. (photo: David Bachar)

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked slams the Supreme court, saying it places too much emphasis on individual rights, neglecting Zionism and the will of the Jewish Majority.

By Revital Hovel / Haaretz
August 29, 2017

[Ed. note: This is the first of a quartet of articles that appeared recently in Haaretz. We are posting them in succession and recommend that they be read in order.]


“Zionism should not continue, and I say here, it will not continue to bow down to the system of individual rights interpreted in a universal way that divorces them from history . . . disconnected from context, from our national tasks, from our identity, from our history, from our Zionist challenges.”
— Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked


Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked criticized the Supreme Court on Tuesday, claiming that the justice system gives insufficient consideration to Zionism and the country’s Jewish majority.

Speaking at a conference of the Israel Bar Association in Tel Aviv, Shaked said that Zionism and “national challenges have become a legal blind spot” that carry no decisive weight in comparison to questions of individual rights. She added that the court’s rulings do not consider the matter of demography and the Jewish majority “as values that should be taken into consideration.”

Shaked’s comments come the day after the Supreme Court, sitting as the High Court of Justice, ruled that asylum seekers may be deported to Rwanda and Uganda but may not be jailed for more than two months if they refuse to go.

“Zionism should not continue, and I say here, it will not continue to bow down to the system of individual rights interpreted in a universal way that divorces them from the history of the Knesset and the history of legislation that we all know,” Shaked told her audience, which included Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, Supreme Court President Miriam Naor, State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan and Military Advocate General Sharon Afek.

Shaked’s speech was momentarily interrupted when some of the lawyers in the audience yelled that Israeli was an apartheid state.

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Israel’s Problem Isn’t Palestinian Nationalism — It’s Palestinians Themselves

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Border police officers stand in front of Palestinians as they wait to cross from Qalandiya checkpoint outside Ramallah, West Bank, into Jerusalem. (photo: Activestills.org)

Most of the circumstances that made the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ripe for resolution — or at least made the peace process attractive to both parties — have all but disappeared over the past decade.

By Noam Sheizaf / +972 Magazine
August 20, 2017


A national movement requires genuine mass engagement in a political vision and a working project that cuts across boundaries of region, clan, and class, and a defined and acknowledged leadership with the legitimacy and representative standing that empowers it to act in its people’s name. This no longer holds for Fatah, the P.A., or the P.L.O.


Many Israelis were likely happy to read The New Yorker article titled “The End of This Road: The Decline of the Palestinian National Movement” earlier this month. The piece is of particular interest due to where it was published — the liberal elite’s most prominent magazine, which generally champions the Zionist Left and the American-backed two-state solution.

The identity of its authors is also noteworthy: Ahmad Samih Khalidi was involved in Israeli-Palestinian talks for years; Hussein Agha is a close associate of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who was charged with holding secret talks with Yitzhak Molcho — Netanyahu’s chief envoy to the negotiations — and Obama’s former Middle East envoy Dennis Ross in the run-up to John Kerry’s peace initiative in 2013.

For the same reason we should also take the authors’ main argument, according to which Abbas is the last remaining Palestinian who can sign a final-status agreement, with a grain of salt. Yet the headline is not misleading, and it joins a long list of publications that rightfully declare the end of the Oslo peace process.

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The End of This Road: The Decline of the Palestinian National Movement

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(photo: Simona Ghizzoni / Contrasto / Redux)

As their institutions wither and their leaders fade away, young Palestinians will redefine previous generations’ aspirations and agenda.

By Hussein Agha and Ahmad Samih Khalidi / The New Yorker
August 6, 2017


Without “armed struggle,” the national movement had no clear ideology, no specific discourse, no distinctive experience or character. In the absence of a genuine and independent state, it was unable to transform itself into a ruling party, as, for example, the African National Congress did, in South Africa. It remained incomplete and suspended: a liberation movement not doing much liberating, locked in a fruitless negotiating process, and denied the means of government by a combination of Israeli obduracy and its own inadequacies.


As President Trump prepares for yet another attempt to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the ground is shifting under his feet. While Israel’s willingness to offer an acceptable deal is increasingly open to question, with nothing to suggest that its terms are likely to soften with time, the Palestinians are sliding toward the unknown. With the slow but sure decay of the Palestinian political scene, the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), represents the last slender chance for a negotiated settlement: he is the sole remaining national leader of his people with sufficient, if dwindling, authority to sign and ratify a deal. For President Trump and his team, as well as for all those seeking to end this century-plus-old conflict, there should be no doubt about the moment’s urgency. After Abbas, there will be no other truly weighty representative and legitimate Palestinian leadership, and no coherent national movement to sustain it for a long time to come.

Over six days in late November and early December, 2016, Fatah, the Palestinian national liberation movement, convened its seventh congress in Ramallah, the de-facto capital of the Palestinian Authority. Despite the lengthy speeches and festive air, the conference did little to dispel what had become unmistakable: the slow expiry of a once vibrant movement. Long on show and short on substance, the meeting hardly touched on any of the mounting political challenges facing the Palestinian people. The Congress was no more than a confirmation of the current order and a reaffirmation of its total and unprecedented control over Fatah, the P.A., and its ostensible parent, the Palestine Liberation Organization.

The contemporary Palestinian national movement — founded and led by Yasser Arafat and embodied by the P.A., Fatah, and the P.L.O. over the past half century — is reaching its end. As its institutions wither and its leaders fade away, there is no obvious successor to take its place.

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Gonzaga Sends Students to Israel and Palestine

 

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Gonzaga students sharing a home-cooked meal with a Palestinian family.

Study abroad program sends students to Israel, plans for program to return in 2019.

By Emily Klein / The Gonzaga Bulletin
August 30, 2017


“The students appreciated a place that I had never been before [The Tent of Nations outside Bethlehem in the West Bank] and this is my 10th time going to Israel. For me it was a very emotional experience, too, because I felt like it’s such a model, it’s such a lesson in life where when you’re stuck in these horrible situations you have to consider how to stand up and be a human being. They could have become suicide bombers, they could have become people who lie in garbage. They said that they were going to find another way. I think that lesson, for the students, was absolutely profound. It was for me, too.”
— Dr. Elizabeth Goldstein, Associate Professor of Religious Studies


Controversies are often told or experienced in a one-sided manner. Israel, its history and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict associated with it is often susceptible to such exclusive perspectives.

Every aspect of the Gonzaga-in-Israel program avoided limited perspectives by embracing duality and empathy.

Dr. Elizabeth Goldstein, associate professor of religious studies and a rabbi, proposed the creation of the Israel study abroad experience with dual purposes and perspectives in mind.

“I feel like Israel and knowledge of the Middle East is an important part of a full approach to both the background of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible as well as anything to do with contemporary Judaism,” Goldstein said. “I also felt that it was a part of the mission of the university to look at issues of social justice between Israel and Palestine.”

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Why Rabbis Like Me Oppose Israel’s Ban on BDS Activists

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Rabbi Alissa Shira Wise, Deputy Director of Jewish Voice for Peace, and three other peace activists, were prevented from boarding a flight to Tel Aviv on July 24, 2017.

Over 200 rabbis publicly oppose Israel’s ban on BDS activists.

By Laurie Zimmerman / Cleveland Jewish News
August 29, 2017


For me, the issue is not about Rabbi Wise herself, nor is it about the BDS movement. While the image of a rabbi being prevented from boarding an airplane to Israel is disturbing, and the Jewish community’s hysteria about the BDS movement is frustrating, the incident reflects something even more distressing: the suppression of dissent in our community.

For a community that prides itself on a tradition that honors varied and opposing ideas and upholds a strong commitment to debate, I am disgusted by its refusal to tolerate divergent voices.


In March, the Israeli Knesset passed a law that denies entry to foreigners who support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, or BDS.

At the time, the law felt so insidious because it introduced a political litmus test designed to exclude those who object to Israel’s policies. It served to stifle legitimate political debate. But it was all so theoretical.

Until last month, that is, when Rabbi Alissa Shira Wise, who was part of an interfaith delegation that had planned to meet with Israeli and Palestinian peace activists, was banned at Washington’s Dulles Airport. I was stunned.

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