From electoral politics to coronavirus response: In Israel, apartheid mentality reigns

A man wearing a mask amid the global coronavirus outbreak looks through a fence as he waits for Palestinians returning from abroad, at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, southern Gaza Strip, March 8, 2020. (photo: Reuters / Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
Israel’s longstanding political crisis didn’t end due to some altruistic desire to pull together in a time of crisis, it ended because Israelis were faced with a choice, work with Arabs or throw it all away.

By Miko Peled  | MintPress News | Mar 27, 2020

Israeli racism is deeply institutional and deeply personal to a point where a career politician, in this case, Benny Gantz, gave up the chance to be Prime Minister because it meant he would need to rely on Palestinian citizens of Israel.

Once again, Benjamin Netanyahu wins big in Israeli politics. Even as his main opponent, former Israeli army chief Benny Gantz was given a mandate to form and head a coalition government, Netanyahu, indicted and presumed to be on his way out, managed to pull in Gantz, break up the Blue and White opposition party, stop the coalition from forming, and remain on top.

Fifteen seats
In an unprecedented upset, the Arab Joint List, a coalition of four predominantly Palestinian political parties, was able to win fifteen seats in the Israeli Knesset. This made them the third largest block within the legislature. They were going to support a Gantz-led government from the outside, which means they would not be a part of the actual coalition government. This is an enormous gesture on behalf of the Joint List, whose constituents are primarily Palestinian citizens of Israel, the country’s most disenfranchised group of citizens.

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Jerusalem’s intangible culture

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Lady Tansiq Mausoleum.
This article inspired by conversations in the UNESCO office in Ramallah.

By Ali Qleibo| This Week in Palestine| Mar 2020

The homes we live in, the neighborhoods, the services rendered, the consumer lifestyle, the values and norms, and the way people interact is a world view in which tangible and intangible cultural expressions interweave to impart Jerusalem its unique character.

The ever-shifting, elusive “character” of Jerusalem is a reflection of the dynamic needs, desires, and wishes of its inhabitants. Intangible culture is not merely the listing of professions and trades; it is the sung parodies that advertise the new seasonal cucumber (asabe’ el bubbu ya khyar), and the variety of recipes that Jerusalamites swap about the best way to prepare artichokes and ‘akkube (a wild form of artichoke) or preserve bitter oranges both as marmalade and sharab, or even how to construct a kite using dough instead of glue, bamboo, and newspaper sheets. It also includes visiting the cemetery to pray for one’s deceased close relatives after the early morning ‘Eid prayers and reciting the fatihah each time one passes by a cemetery, mausoleum, or maqam. It is the marking of the Muslim New Year with green olive twigs on house doors, the special sweets, and the family visits. The homes we live in, the neighborhoods, the services rendered, the consumer lifestyle, the values and norms, and the way people interact is a world view in which tangible and intangible cultural expressions interweave to impart Jerusalem its unique character. It is the human art of making life livable.

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The Gaza strip has been under siege for years. Covid-19 could Be catastrophic.

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Palestinians at a demonstration in Gaza City demand coronavirus protection for Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, March 19. (photo: Ali Jadallah / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Israel has for decades intentionally weakened the economy and health of the world’s largest open-air prison.

By Neve Gordon |The Nation | Mar 25, 2020

…while our governments emphasize the significance of washing hands many times a day, Gazans are worried about having enough water to drink.

When people began posting the following note on their Facebook wall, I immediately felt an intense sense of unease.

Continue reading “The Gaza strip has been under siege for years. Covid-19 could Be catastrophic.”

Forward global thinking on COVID-19

Palestinian members of the civil defense disinfect the streets as a preventive measure amid fears of the spread of the coronavirus, in Khan Younis in the southern of Gaza Strip, on March 23, 2020. (Photo: Ashraf Amra/APA Images)
Palestinian members of the civil defense disinfect the streets as a preventive measure amid fears of the spread of the coronavirus, in Khan Younis in the southern of Gaza Strip, on March 23, 2020. (photo: Ashraf Amra/APA Images)
Lifting sanctions on Gaza and Iran would be a step towards global public health efforts.

By Dr. Alice Rothchild | Mondoweiss | Mar 26, 2020

Clearly, this is a time of grave urgency and the need for forward, global thinking. To survive as a planet, we need to take care of each other, it’s as basic as that.

The announcement that nine cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Gaza filled me with a new level of anxiety and despair. Gaza is at the beginning of the pandemic curve. With two million people crowded together in area six by twenty-five miles, 70 percent are refugees, 97 percent of the water contaminated and unfit for consumption, basic measures to prevent the spread of the virus will prove challenging. With above a 50 percent unemployment rate and a lack of supplies due to restrictions on the import of goods, it is impossible for families to stock up on essential items and shelter in place, let alone practice social distancing.

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Israel’s Likud is using coronavirus to orchestrate a coup

A man wears a face mask to protect against coronavirus inside the almost-deserted al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem on 20 March (AFP)
A man wears a face mask to protect against coronavirus inside the almost-deserted al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem on 20 March.  (photo: AFP)
The prospect of a Netanyahu-led unity government looms. How did we get here?

By Richard Silverstein | Middle East Eye | Mar 23, 2020

Best-selling author and historian Yuval Noah Harari has called these maneuvers ‘the first coronavirus dictatorship’.

Israel’s governing Likud party did not win the latest election, but it continues to cling to power, exploiting every dirty trick in the book. Now, it looks like it may well stay there.

The centre-right bloc dominated by the Blue and White alliance had edged past the 60-seat threshold to form a government, and on 15 March President Reuven Rivlin tasked party leader Benny Gantz with doing so.

Flash forward to 20 March and Gantz is saying, for the first time, that he would be willing to sit in a national unity government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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Zionist head of major theological consortium has been pushed out

 

Rabbi Daniel Lehmann during his recent inauguration as president of the Graduate Theological Union. The appointment, an observer said, is “an important statement” about the Jewish community’s growing acceptance in non-Jewish circles. PHOTO COURTESY GRADUATE THEOLOGICAL UNION
Rabbi Daniel Lehmann during his recent inauguration as president of the Graduate Theological Union. (photo: GTU)
Amid concerns about Rabbi Lehmann’s ‘Islamophobic statements and anti-Palestinian views,’ the GTU board accepted his resignation.

By If Americans Knew staff | If Americans Knew Blog | Mar 21, 2020

Upon being named GTU president in 2018, Lehmann’s statements to news media suggested that he had expected to change what he called GTU’s ‘progressive Christian’ orientation.

Rabbi Daniel Lehmann has resigned as president of the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) after concerns surfaced about his ‘Islamophobic statements and anti-Palestinian views’. GTU is reportedly “the most comprehensive center for the graduate study of religion in North America.”

Based in Berkeley, California, GTU has long been known for its commitment to justice, peace, and interfaith cooperation. It consists of eight Christian schools and nine academic centers and affiliates. It includes diverse faiths, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Judaism.

Upon being named GTU president in 2018, Lehmann’s statements to news media suggested that he had expected to change what he called GTU’s “progressive Christian” orientation.

Continue reading “Zionist head of major theological consortium has been pushed out”

Coronavirus — How can I not think of Gaza?

 

A worker wearing protective gear sprays disinfectant as a precaution against the coronavirus, in Gaza City [Adel Hana/The Associated Press]
A worker wearing protective gear sprays disinfectant as a precaution against the coronavirus, in Gaza City. (photo: Adel Hana / The Associated Press)
Who could have imagined just a few days ago that Europeans would be confined to their homes and become persona non grata all over the world?

By Ahmed Abbes | Mondoweiss | Mar 18, 2020

How can I not think of the residents of Gaza who are prisoners of an inhuman blockade that has lasted for more than 13 years when I find myself confined to my home, forbidden to leave my house except for 5 reasons set by the government and provided that I have a certificate?

I should have been in Tunis Saturday March 14 to participate in the closing ceremony of Israeli Apartheid Week. I had invited the Palestinian researcher and documentalist Tarek Barki to give a lecture entitled “We Were and Still Are.. Here” which tells the past and the present of the ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages refuting the Zionist formula “a land without people… ” But by the end of the previous week, disturbing news about the spread of the Coronavirus in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa was starting to accumulate. Death in my soul, I resolved, Monday, March 9, with my friends, to postpone this long-awaited lecture to a later date. Since then, bad news has continued to pour in at an infernal rate.

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Opinion: Palestinians would die for the Israeli kind of lockdown

Palestinians argue with an Israeli soldier as Israeli near the village of Qusra, in the West Bank, on March 3, 2020. 
Palestinians argue with an Israeli soldier as Israeli near the village of Qusra, in the West Bank, on March 3, 2020. (photo: Mohamad Torokman / Reuters)
A surreal situation is unfolding revealing many ironies not lost on Palestinians.

By Gideon Levy | Haaretz | Mar 19, 2020

The irony of fate: For the first time, Israel is tasting some of the hell it has been dishing out for decades to its subjects.

The heavens have darkened and everything is closing in around us. Only fate, God or the shaper of history are laughing at us from up high, a bitter, ironic laughter. The irony of fate: For the first time, Israel is tasting some of the hell it has been dishing out for decades to its subjects. With alarming speed, Israelis have entered a reality known to every Palestinian child.

Even the terms have been borrowed from the occupation: Israel is on its way to a lockdown, the army is taking over hotels, the Shin Bet security service is taking over our cellphones, and the Border Police and its checkpoints are right around the corner. It’s no coincidence that Haaretz’s military analyst has been recruited to serve as the coronavirus analyst. In a day or two Tel Aviv will resemble Jenin and Israel will be like the Gaza Strip. What is routine there has become a frightening dystopia here.

Of course, the differences are many. What for us constitutes the end of the world would for them be an easing of the closure, with the pandemic looming over everyone. Still, we can’t but marvel at the similarities. First, the state of siege. The gates are practically locked. No one leaves or enters.

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The Palestinians refuse to give up their cause, deal or no deal

Palestinians holding flags of Palestine, march to protest against US President Donald Trump’s so-called Middle East peace plan on 1 February 2020 [Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu Agency]
Palestinians holding flags of Palestine, march to protest against US President Donald Trump’s so-called Middle East peace plan on 1 February 2020. (photo: Mostafa Alkharouf / Anadolu Agency)
Economic incentives being offered will not succeed as long as the occupation and its infrastructure are in place.

By Dr. Adnan Abu Amer | Middle East Monitor | Mar 16, 2020

In view of the imminent collapse of the PA, Palestinian capitalists are seeking to control decision-making and strengthen the link between the Palestinian economy and Israel’s.

Given the Palestinians’ rejection of Donald Trump’s “deal of the century”, there is talk about “buying” their approval with financial inducements and privileges. Political pressure will be exerted until they consent.

The so-called “peace plan” was unveiled piecemeal, first at the Bahrain Conference last June, under the banner of “Peace for Prosperity”. Washington had already imposed its policy to strangle the Palestinians so that they would surrender and accept the deal. Not only was US aid to UNRA cut from $359 million in 2017 to $65 million in 2018, but it was also stopped altogether in 2019.

The economic aspect of the deal is built upon donor countries and investors contributing $50 billion, of which $28 billion is earmarked for the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza, with $9 billion going to Egypt, $7.5 billion to Jordan and $6 billion to Lebanon. This is in addition to $15 billion in subsidies, $25 billion in subsidized loans and the balance from private capital.

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Democrats press Trump administration on US gear used by Israel to demolish homes

Illustration. Israeli security forces stand guard during the demolition of a family home built without a permit in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Al-Tur on April 24, 2013. (Sliman Khader/Flash90)
Israeli security forces stand guard during the demolition of a family home built without a permit in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Al-Tur on April 24, 2013. (photo: Sliman Khader / Flash90)
Group of lawmakers seeking to halt practice of razing of domiciles, enforced against families of suspected attackers and Palestinians who built without permits

By Ron Kampeas | The Times of Israel | Mar 16, 2020

‘My hope is that Israel will stop the home demolitions and will see that there are many supporters of the US-Israel relationship on this letter…’
— U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna, California

More than 60 Democrats in the US House of Representatives want the Trump administration to ensure that Israel is using military equipment in compliance with US law, and to press Israel not to use the equipment to demolish Palestinian homes.

The letter to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, spearheaded by Reps. Ro Khanna and Anna Eshoo of California and Steve Cohen of Tennessee, notes recent demolitions in East Jerusalem and UN reports last year of a 45 percent increase in home demolitions.

“We urge you to press the Israeli government to prevent more families from being forcibly transferred and having their homes destroyed,” said the letter sent Monday.

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