Deputy FM proudly states: Bible shapes Israel’s foreign policy

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, a deeply religious Jewish woman, was sworn in last week as a member of Israel’s new right wing government.

In a speech she gave on Thursday to foreign ministry staff in Jerusalem, with 106 Israeli missions overseas participating in it, instructed envoys to quote the Bible as giving Jews sovereignty over the entire Holy Land, including the West Bank. “It is important to say that this land is ours, all of it is ours. We didn’t come here to apologize for this,” she said.

Religious nationalists such as Hotovely support Jewish sovereignty throughout the Biblical “Land of Israel” and oppose the creation of an independent Palestinian state in the occupied West Bank and in Gaza, a cornerstone of international proposals to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Hotevely stressed Thursday that “the international community deals with considerations of morality and justice. Facing this, we have to return to the basic truth of our right to this land.” (This statement clarifies that Israel DOES NOT deal with considerations of morality and justice).

A participant at the event said some diplomats were shocked to hear such a senior official lay down scriptural writings as guidelines for Israeli foreign policy.

“People were in shock,” said one diplomat to Israeli news source Haaretz following the FM’s speech, “It’s the first time they have asked us to use a Torah commentary for purposes of public diplomacy around the world.”

More here.

Israeli Elections 2015: People and Parties

In case you wondered what were the major options in today’s elections in the biggest settlement on earth, the Middle East Monitor has put them in an infographic that is as clear as depressing.

And you know what, Israel is probably the only place in the universe were the current option, as disastrous as it is, can look even mild compared to some of the alternatives available…

Keep reading and remember, yes, we are in the XXI Century!

Click here to download the infographic.

Ben White: 10 facts about Israel’s elections and the Palestinian vote

Ben White’s article published in Middle East Monitor:

On 17 March, Israelis will go to the polls to elect a new government. Here are 10 facts about the Knesset elections and the Palestinian vote.

1. One in seven Palestinians can vote in Israel’s elections.

Only one in seven of the total Palestinian population live inside Israel’s pre-1967 borders and have citizenship. A third live under Israeli military rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and can’t vote (though the Jewish settlers living among them can). Meanwhile, around half of all Palestinians are prevented from returning to their homeland by Israel; expelled and denationalised, their forced exclusion is the reason why the majority of Israel’s citizens are Jewish.

2. Israel has only ever had two non-Jewish ministers.

Since the creation of Israel in 1948, around 600 ministers have served in 33 governments. Only two of them have been non-Jews, and they served for a combined total of approximately three years.

3. No Arab party has ever been part of a ruling coalition.

After the 2013 elections, centrist Yair Lapid explicitly ruled out forming a tactical alliance with Arab parties, saying he would “not join a blocking majority with Haneen Zoabis” – a reference to the Palestinian MK from Balad. It is not impossible, however, that this time around they could be invited to form part of a ruling coalition or, that Palestinian MKs could recommend the Zionist Union’s Isaac Herzog, Netanyahu’s main challenger for premier, to President Reuven Rivlin.

4. Palestinian voter participation is expected to rise.

Voter turnout among Palestinian citizens of Israel is set to rise, and could return to levels not seen since the 1990s. In 2013, voter participation was 56 percent – in 1999, it was 75 percent. One of the key factors is the decision by Arab parties to form an alliance, the Joint List (Balad, Ta’al, United Arab List, and Hadash, a joint Jewish-Arab party).

5. Some Palestinian factions urge a boycott of Knesset elections.

Political groups that advocate a boycott of the elections include the Islamic Movement’s northern branch, led by Sheikh Raed Salah, and the Abn’a el-Balad movement, along with unaffiliated activists and student campaigners.

6. The Arab parties’ Joint List will boost votes.

In 2013, Arab parties secured a combined 11 seats in the Knesset. This time round, the Joint List could gain as many as 15 MKs in the new parliament. The new electoral threshold is 3.25 percent of the vote, up from 2 percent last time around.

7. Palestinian voters worry about employment, education, discrimination.

The main issues facing Palestinian citizens of Israel are economic concerns (i.e. unemployment and job creation), education, town and regional planning restrictions, home demolitions (especially in the Negev), racist or ultra-nationalist legislation, and other issues that stem from the structural discrimination faced by non-Jews.

8. Palestinian MK Haneen Zoabi was initially disqualified from running.

Israel’s Central Elections Committee voted to ban two candidates: Haneen Zoabi – by 27 votes to 6 – and far-right Jewish nationalist Baruch Marzel – by 17 votes to 16. Both decisions were overturned by the High Court, though Zoabi’s disqualification was backed by most candidates – including the Zionist Union’s Isaac Herzog. Under Israeli law, a candidate or party can be banned from the elections for, among other things, negating the existence of Israel as a ‘Jewish state’.

9. Knesset rules restrict Palestinian MKs’ ability to challenge structural discrimination.

Knesset rules of procedure mean that proposed bills which undermine Israel’s existence as the state of the Jewish people – as opposed to all its citizens – are thrown out.

10. Palestinian MKs are often targeted for political persecution.

Once in the Knesset, Palestinian MKs are frequent targets for politically-motivated persecution. In the past, this has included suspensions from the Knesset, investigations for visiting an ‘enemy state’, and criminal prosecutions based on trumped-up charges. More broadly, the Shin Bet is on record as stating it thwarts activities of any group seeking to undermine Israel’s Jewish character, while in 2008, the internal security agency’s then-chief Yuval Diskin, told US officials that many of the “Arab-Israeli population” are taking their rights “too far.”

Hares boys: two years in jail for alleged stone-throwing

Hares Boys (MaanImages)

Sunday 15 March marked two years since five boys from the northern West Bank village of Hares were arrested over an alleged stone-throwing incident that saw all five charged with attempted murder, despite strongly contested evidence.

The five Palestinian teenagers, aged 16 to 17 at the time of their arrest, each face 20 charges of attempted murder and potential life imprisonment for allegedly throwing rocks.

“If the boys are convicted, this case would set a legal precedent which would allow the Israeli military to convict any Palestinian child or youngster for attempted murder in cases of stone-throwing.”

More here.

Gideon Levy: Israeli occupiers, go to the polls

The last one from Gideon Levy in Haaretz on Israel as a false democracy…

There is no other country in which millions of its subjects are denied the right to vote. And Israel calls itself a democracy?

By | Mar. 16, 2015 | 4:44 PM

The masters (and mistresses) are off to vote Tuesday, in what Israel proudly (but falsely) calls a “celebration of democracy” in “the only democracy in the Middle East.”

With all the desire to gloat and boast – and there’s a lot to brag about – we should remain grounded in reality: We must realize that this celebration is limited to the masters (and mistresses) only, that it is democracy in appearance alone.

There’s no such thing as half pregnant, and there’s no such thing as half democracy, and what will take place here today is barely half democracy. The occupying people will go to the polls. On a good day, the occupied people can only dream about the polls. Their fate will be determined in their masters’ elections. Their masters will determine their future; they have no right to participate in that process. In the meantime, their prime minister is to all intents and purposes an Israeli general who determines most of their daily lives.

The real hole in the ozone of Israeli democracy is the ongoing lives of over four million people living under a brutal, violent rule, all the while having not even the slightest amount of participation or involvement. There is no other country in the world in which millions of its subjects are denied the right to vote – while that country is labeled a democracy, and not just any democracy, but the only (!) democracy in the region.

During the term of the Knesset that will be elected today, the 20th, Israel will mark the jubilee celebration of this state of affairs; in two years, the Israeli occupation will be 50 years old. The way it looks now, it’s safe to assume that even the Knesset after this one won’t be elected based on the votes of the occupied, nor will it feature representatives who come from among them. And it will still be called democracy.

Four million people, in the besieged Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank, can perhaps vote for their “community council,” the Palestinian Authority, but they can’t participate in the real game, the one that seals their fate.

For decades, their fate has been determined much more in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv than it has in Ramallah or Gaza. Their freedom, livelihoods, health, education, lives and deaths are determined in a place in which they have no status or rights. Only a system of denial, oppression and surprisingly effective brainwashing can conceal this eternal fact. Indeed, Israel has managed to deceive itself and the rest of the world for 50 years: It is a democracy, and today it is celebrating yet again.

It’s true that Israel is a democracy vis-a-vis all its citizens, with particular privileges granted to the Jews among them. It’s true that Jews are offered liberal democracy complete with many impressive freedoms. But what is all of that worth, with a terrible darkness looming in Israel’s very backyard, there in the glow of its democracy. Not only is the government in Israel’s backyard undemocratic, it’s one of the cruelest tyrannies in our world.

Was the United States a democracy before the 15th Amendment to the Constitution in 1870, which gave blacks the right to vote? Were all the Western countries considered democracies before they started allowing women to vote, beginning in 1893 with New Zealand, and lasting until 1971 in Switzerland? Is democracy for whites only? Or men only? Or masters only? Does anyone consider those things democracy?

But Israel in 2015 considers itself a democracy while ruling over the lives of four million people who lack the right to vote.

How ironic it is that some of them probably labored in recent weeks printing ballots slips for their masters in the colonial printing houses in Karnei Shomron. How ironic that Israel considers itself a democracy and Election Day a celebration, while all this goes on. How ironic that my mentioning these facts is likely to be considered treasonous by some, in this one and only and wonderful democracy.

IS claims execution of East Jerusalem Palestinian accused of spying for Israel

The Islamic State released a video Tuesday purporting to show a young boy executing a Palestinian from Palestine 48 who it claimed infiltrated the group in Syria to spy for Israel.

In the video, a youth identifying himself as 19-year-old Mohammed Said Ismail Musallam recounts how he was recruited by Israeli intelligence.

More here.

Suicide rates rose alarmingly in the West Bank in 2014

According to the Palestinian police, suicide and suicide attempts in the West Bank rose noticeably in 2014 compared to the previous years. Police investigated 32 suicides in 2014 (21 males and 11 females) compared to 19 in 2013 and eight in 2012, marking an alarming jump of 400 percent since 2012.

The lowest suicide rate in 2014 was in refugee camps with only three cases out of 32, compared to 21 in the countryside and eight in cities.

Hebron district in the southern West Bank had the highest rates with nine suicide cases followed by Nablus in the north with eight cases. Both are the most populated cities in the West Bank.

The highest rate of suicide was among young people 18-25 with 34.3 percent and the lowest was among adults older than 46, according to police statistics.

The main motives for suicide are reportedly psychological disorders followed by family disputes and emotional troubles. Financial troubles were also among the motives but to a very low degree, according to the police.

For more info, click here.