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Ed Webb

Israel's war on the Arabic language - AJE News - 1 views

  • A survey, publicised at a conference at Tel Aviv University in December, found that while 17 percent of Jewish citizens claimed to understand Arabic, that figure fell to just 1 percent when they were asked to read a book
  • those with a working knowledge of Arabic were mostly elderly Jewish immigrants born in Arab countries - a generation rapidly dying off
  • half of Israeli Jews with a western heritage wanted Arabic scrapped as an official language, while the figure rose even higher - to 60 percent - among Jews whose families originated from Arab countries
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  • Israel's Jewish schools barely teach Arabic, he observed, and students choosing it do so chiefly as a qualification for entering Israeli military intelligence.
  • When the head of Israel Railways was questioned in 2012 on why station stops were announced in Hebrew and English only, he replied that adding Arabic would "make the train ride noisy".
  • According to a survey, one in four Palestinian citizens struggle to read Hebrew. Farah, of Mossawa, noted that even when public bodies such as the transport ministry included Arabic, it was often so poorly translated from Hebrew that the information was unintelligible.
  • In February it was revealed that Tel Aviv University had barred Palestinian staff in its tuition department from speaking Arabic to students. The policy was reversed after threats of legal action.
  • Jewish and Palestinian parents in Jaffa staged a protest, accusing the Tel Aviv municipality of breaking promises to include Arabic signs and respect Muslim and Christian holidays at the city's first public bilingual school
  • Sawsan Zaher, a lawyer with Adalah, said the 2002 ruling had been a high point for recognition of Arabic in Israel, with the more liberal court of the time stating that it was vital to the dignity of the Palestinian minority that Arabic be used in public spaces in mixed cities. "In recent years Adalah has been very cautious about bringing more such cases to the courts," she told Al Jazeera.

    "Given the shift to the right in the intervening years, we are worried that the advances made in language rights then might be reversed by the current court."

Ed Webb

Tourism blooms in Israel's Arava desert - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East - 1 views

  • “I think that the agricultural potential here has exhausted itself,” Weinstein tells Al-Monitor. “Agriculture here is incredible, but there are limits on water and demand, so anyone who wants to continue living here will have to learn to create some other quality industry. I think that tourism here will be fine. I won’t make millions, but if I can support myself at least partially from these bungalows, that would be excellent. I can still do that when I am older.” He says that anyone in the region who is not a farmer still bears a certain stigma, but people are starting to change their attitudes. “We all have some work to do on the way this is perceived. There are farmers who came down to the Arava to get away from people. Now, suddenly they have to play host.”
  • New facilities that have opened in the region over the past few years include a bee farm, an alligator farm, an antelope farm, and other attractions that combine agriculture with tourism and the untamed wilderness.
  • ''This is the only strip of land left in the country with fresh air and wide-open virgin spaces. And it’s in a part of the country that is not disputed politically and has no demographic issues,”
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    The real story here is the changing economics of desert agriculture. Arguably, no-one should have been growing peppers in such an arid environment, although the technologies developed to do so have been impressive. It's still a great place to grow dates, though.
Ed Webb

Why more Israelis are shying away from interaction with Palestinians - Al-Monitor: the ... - 1 views

  • The Peace Index for March 2016, published by the Israel Democracy Institute, shows that a sizable majority of the Jewish public rejects the distinction between global terrorism, nurtured by radical Islam, and Palestinian terrorism, nurtured by the desire to shake off the Israeli occupation. Of those polled, 64% said they agree with the idea espoused by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that global terrorism and Palestinian terrorism are one and the same.
  • Israelis are in no rush to change the status quo
  • Some 78% think Israel should not take into consideration international demands to refrain from “targeted killings” (as the Israel Defense Forces calls the killing of wanted Palestinians), demolitions of family homes of Palestinians involved in attacks on Israelis and other questionable means used by the Israeli defense establishment in the fight against terrorism.
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  • the younger a person's age, the greater his or her resistance to a diplomatic process to end the conflict with the Palestinians. Those younger than 34 tend, more than older adults, to rule out compromise on core issues
  • “The problem is that they are busy chasing an electorate that is running to the right.”
  • The belief in Israeli society that there is no Palestinian partner for peace has taken hold and refuses to let go.
  • On the Israeli side, there is no entity like the one established by the Palestine Liberation Organization to maintain interaction with Israeli society. Abbas appointed his close associate Mohammed al-Madani to head this committee. In a conversation with Al-Monitor in fluent Hebrew, the deputy head of the committee, Elias Zananiri, said that he has no beef with the Israeli public running away from contact with the Palestinians.

    “Of course I’m frustrated with our lack of success in breaching the walls of Israeli fear and loathing, but I’m not completely surprised,” said Zananiri. “What do you expect of Jewish citizens whose leader questions the basic democratic rights of Israel’s Arab citizens?”

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    Ugh - don't read the comments
Ed Webb

Why Breaking the Silence is prime target for Israeli right - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of t... - 0 views

  • only the activists of one organization, Breaking the Silence, have the dubious honor of being labeled “traitors.” That organization, which has documented and published testimony by military veterans about human rights violations in the territories since 2004, draws more fire than all the other organizations put together.
  • There are those who explain that the reason this group of former soldiers has become the punching bag of the country stems from the fact that it is no longer limiting itself to activity within Israel’s borders. Not only does it publish reports in Hebrew, it translates them into English, gets funding from foreign organizations and individuals, and appears before foreign parliaments. To put it bluntly, many believe that dirty laundry should be washed at home. Not in the foreign media, not in the offices of the European Union in Brussels and not in testimony before an investigative panel of the UN Human Rights Committee. By the same logic, even if the average Israeli concedes that the occupation is a pollutant, he must put up with the smell. A good Israeli must shut the windows and keep the stench at home.
  • Unlike Netanyahu, Breaking the Silence is careful to publish information only after clearing it with military censors. Details that the censor bans from publication or those that are not verified do not see the light of day. The organization made it clear that the censor’s office had approved the publication of most of the testimony recorded by Ad Kan activists and aired on a Channel 2 television investigative report. It was this report that initially claimed that Breaking the Silence was gathering classified operational information unrelated to soldiers’ testimony about human rights violations.
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  • Breaking the Silence is being picked on for cynical political reasons. For Israeli Jews, there is no cow more sacred than the IDF. A clear majority, including this writer, served, are serving or will serve in the armed forces, just like their parents, children and even their grandchildren. When Defense Minister Lt. Gen.  (res.) Moshe Ya'alon declares that the members of Breaking the Silence are traitors, he means that they betrayed all Israelis. This is not an argument about occupation, ethics or Israel’s international standing. It's about our lives. Ya'alon was the commander-in-chief of the military, a respected authority on the matter.
  • The tacit conventional wisdom since the start of the so-called “knife intifada” is based on Talmudic teachings: “If a man comes to kill you, rise early and kill him first.” Or in common parlance, neutralize him first. Israeli politicians have called for people to do just this when confronted with a possible terrorist. There are even Jews who have already ascribed a broad interpretation to this order. Anyone coming to kill you, in their interpretation, may be a Jew willing to hand over territory to non-Jews. Assassin Yigal Amir, for instance, shot Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin after rabbis and politicians incited against him and his peace policy. Netanyahu himself took part in a demonstration at which a Rabin cutout dressed in a Nazi SS uniform was held aloft. Today, in his dressing down of the organization, he is dressing Breaking the Silence in the uniform of a kapo.
  • “Patriots” who beat up Palestinians for kicks on city streets and set a bilingual school on fire have already started sending threats to Breaking the Silence activists and their families, including their elderly grandparents. If, God forbid, anyone is hurt, Netanyahu, Ya'alon and Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid will rush to issue “sharp condemnations” of the criminals. They will surely not forget to attack those spreading incitement, but they might forget or ignore their own past contributions.
Ed Webb

Parents protest as dream of bilingual education in Israel turns sour | Middle East Eye - 0 views

  • Hand in Hand operates four bilingual schools across Israel and two kindergartens. Jaffa’s primary school classes are the most recent addition.

    The idea of children from different cultural backgrounds learning together and speaking each other’s language may seem uncontroversial. But it has prompted a fierce backlash from right-wing Jewish groups in Israel.

    In late 2014 Hand in Hand’s flagship school in Jerusalem was torched by activists from Lehava, an organisation that opposes integration between Jewish and Palestinian citizens. Graffiti daubed on the walls read “Death to the Arabs” and “There can be no coexistence with cancer”.

    Three of the group’s members were jailed last year. In January Israel’s high court increased the sentences of two brothers involved in the arson attack.

    Although Lehava is a fringe group, it draws on ideas that have found favour with much larger numbers of Israeli Jews, especially over the past 15 years as the country has lurched to the right.

    A survey by the Pew polling organisation this month found that half of Israeli Jews wanted Arabs expelled from the state, and 79 percent believed Jews should have more rights than their Palestinian compatriots.

  • 1,350 children are currently in bilingual education, out of a total Israeli school population of some 1.5 million children.
  • The Jaffa parents argue that their coastal city of 50,000 residents, which is incorporated into the Tel Aviv municipal area, is the natural location for a bilingual school.

    A third of Jaffa’s residents are Palestinian, reflecting the fact that, before Israel’s creation in 1948, it was Palestine’s commercial centre.

    Although Israelis mostly live in separate communities, based on their ethnicity, Jaffa is one of half a dozen urban areas where Jewish and Palestinian citizens live close to each other.

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  • Within days of the bilingual first-grade classes opening last year, parents hit a crisis when school administrators refused to let the children take off the Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha.

    When the parents rebelled and kept their children home, the management “flipped out”, said Ronel. “Now the trust has gone and we are demanding that they make commitments in writing that things will be different.”

  • Ronel, an Israeli Jewish journalist, said he had long been pessimistic about the region’s future and had contemplated leaving Israel with his family, taking advantage of his wife’s German passport. But that changed once his daughter, Ruth, began at the bilingual kindergarten.

    “I have become evangelical about it,” he said. “I see how her knowledge of Palestinian identity and the Arabic language has made her own identity much stronger.”

    He said knowing the other side was essential to strengthening Israelis’ sense of security and reducing their fears. “This is the model for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict too. I am sure this is what a solution will look like.”

  • bilingual schools are proving particularly popular in Israel’s mixed cities. Next year Hand in Hand will open the first bilingual elementary school in Haifa, Israel’s third largest city, following the success of a bilingual kindergarten there
  • Far-right Jewish religious groups, ideologically close to the settlers, have set up seminaries and exclusive housing areas in Jaffa and other mixed cities. “They are going the other way: they want even deeper segregation,” said Dichter.

    Hassan Agbaria, principal of the only bilingual school in a Palestinian community in Israel, located in the northern town of Kafr Karia, said there were problems in more rural areas too. 

    This month the gated Jewish community of Katzir, close to his school, refused to allow Hand in Hand organisers in for a parents’ registration meeting, accusing the group of “political activity”.

    “It is a big psychological hurdle for some of them,” he told MEE. “Some think you must be crazy to send your young children into an Arab community every day.”

Ed Webb

Hit film's kiss gets Arab-Israeli teacher fired - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East - 0 views

  • “The mayor faces many problems with the opposition in Baqa al-Gharbiyye,” Muasi said. “Despite being secular himself, he needs the support of this Salafist group to bolster his coalition. And this is done at my expense. He simply sacrificed me as a teacher to serve his own political interests.”
  • Despite having negligible political weight, radical Islamic groups like the Hedaya movement in Baqa al-Gharbiyye are central to the current political struggles within Arab society. Local leaders keep them politically on their side, apparently because they don’t know when and if they might need their support.
  • “In the past three years we have seen at least 20 cases whereby artists or institutions came under attack by groups alleging to be Islam’s bona fide representatives,” Muasi said. “These are groups from Salafist Islam, far removed from the mainstream. Their people are trying to impose their worldview on an entire society and even on other Islamic movements that are more moderate than they are.”
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    Note here that the teacher is being punished at the behest of a tiny group advocating views not shared by most in their community. But the mayor may rely on their political support at some point, so the teacher and his students suffer. The film is excellent, by the way: Omar was part of the Middle East Film Series at Dickinson in fall 2015.
Ed Webb

Israeli textbook 'bad for Arabs, bad for Jews' - AJE News - 0 views

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    Education, particularly history and civics education, has been a highly sensitive battleground in Israel for some time between right and left and between the Jewish majority and Arab minority (leaving aside the Occupied Territories). But as this article correctly reports, this has become more intense under the rightward drift of Israel's governments over the past several years. Parties of the ideological right, whether religious or not, often want control of the education ministry.
Ed Webb

Israeli forces raid Palestinian television station in Ramallah | Middle East Eye - 0 views

  • Israeli forces raided the West Bank offices of Palestine Today television overnight and arrested its manager over allegations of inciting violence, Israel's Shin Bet internal security agency said on Friday.

  • "The channel served the Islamic Jihad as a central means to incite the West Bank population, calling for terror attacks against Israel and its citizens. Incitement was broadcast on the television station as well as the Internet," it said in a statement.
  • Cameraman Mohammed Amr and technician Shabib Shabib were also arrested, the Palestinian Journalists Union said.
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  • The channel continues to broadcast from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
  • On Thursday, Israel's security cabinet discussed ways to tackle the unrest, including "closing Palestinian broadcasters inciting to terror," the prime minister's office said. 
  • In November, Israel shut down two radio stations in the flashpoint West Bank city of Hebron - Al-Hurria and Al-Khalil - accusing them of fanning the violence.
  • A day earlier Israeli forces had arrested Al-Quds radio correspondent Sami al-Saee, 36, at his house in the northern West Bank city of Tulkarm, according to a Palestinian NGO.
Ed Webb

How a crude sex joke revived a partisan fight in Israel - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the ... - 0 views

  • Knesset member Ksenia Svetlova, a member of Shaffir’s party, raised the gauntlet March 2 by filing a sexual harassment complaint against Channel 20 and the show with the Council for Cable and Satellite TV. Svetlova claims that Segal and the members of the panel violated a clause in the law that defines sexual harassment as a degrading or derogatory comment made because of the subject’s gender or sexuality. It will be interesting to see how the council handles Svetlova’s complaint, especially when dealing with freedom of expression and satire.
  • Segal is refusing to apologize. He will simply admit that it was a stupid and tasteless joke. During a bellicose interview with Army Radio on March 3, Segal shifted the debate to the political arena, turning it into an argument between right and left. He said, among other things, that the left-wing media was being hypocritical. He has no reason to apologize, he claimed, just as the popular satirical TV show "Eretz Nehederet" ("A Wonderful Land") was not asked to apologize for the sexual connotations of their jokes about right-wing ministers such as Ayelet Shaked (HaBayit HaYehudi) and Tzipi Hotoveli (Likud). When asked about why he was doing his satire on a news show, especially on one devoted to Jewish heritage, Segal responded that he does not make a firm distinction between current events, lighter news and humor. Toward the end of his interview, he said, “Personally, I feel bad that she was hurt. If only she would have left it as a personal insult, instead of bringing in sexual harassment. … But this is an attempt to silence Channel 20.”
Ed Webb

Arabic press roundup: the curious case of Tawfiq Okasha, MP | Middle East Eye - 0 views

  • Tawfiq Okasha, a talkshow host recently turned MP
  • Okasha launched his political career by inviting the Israeli ambassador, Haim Koren, on to his television show.

    The blossoming friendship was cemented last week when both were pictured after a three-hour meeting

  • Egypt's parliament voted on Wednesday to annul his membership.

    It was a spectacular fall that was perhaps helped by as series of articles in the Egyptian press, most mnotably in Al-Youm7 newspaper, which is owned by some businessmen in Egypt and often loyal to the establishment and the army

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  • the Alyoum7 newspaper was accused by an Israeli religious website of publishing hate because of its position against Okasha
Ed Webb

Palestinians, Israelis face off on Facebook - Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East - 2 views

  • “Ever since the intifada broke out in Jerusalem, there has been an online virtual war between Palestinians and Israelis. Social networks are flooded with firsthand field news, while campaigns are launched on Twitter on a daily basis to put pressure on Israel and its supporters around the world.”
  • Raji al-Hams, a prominent presenter at Al-Aqsa TV, said his original Facebook page was closed down after it garnered 90,000 followers. He told Al-Monitor he received “a message Jan. 15 from the Facebook administration saying I had violated the website’s rules by posting [slogans] about the intifada along with pictures of armed Palestinians."
  • Israel has been urging dozens of Israeli Facebook users to submit reports to the Facebook administration claiming that Palestinian pages are inciting murder. These users mention the name of these pages in the reports and the Facebook administration shuts them down, as they contain posts inciting murder and violence, which violate Facebook’s conditions.
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  • On Nov. 24, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Google, YouTube and some other social networks agreed to fight incitement posted on their pages.
  • Israel uses a number of measures to counter the postings, most notably by creating around 5,000 fake Facebook accounts, Quds Press reported Oct. 29. Those who operate these accounts are fluent in English and Arabic, and their mission is to hack into and shut down Palestinian pages by submitting reports to the Facebook administration. Israel also has arrested of a number of Palestinians during the past three months on charges of inciting to kill Israelis in their Facebook posts.
  • the Authority for Palestinian Prisoners' Affairs reported the Israeli army has detained 27 Palestinians on charges of incitement since October, due to their activities on social networks
  • there are Israeli pages in Hebrew that call Palestinians terrorists, among other bad names, but they are not being closed down
Ed Webb

Why some Israelis are taking to social media to expose sexual harassment - Al-Monitor: ... - 0 views

  • It is safe to assume that if these affairs had been exposed before the era of social networks, Magal and Shalom would have pursued their political careers, at least as long as no complaint against them was filed with the police.
  • The tremendous power of social networks creates a hugely effective pressure group without the need for any form of legal process
  • The watershed in the fight against sexual harassment in Israel occurred in 1998, with passage of the law banning sexual harassment. The legislation, initiated by women, was considered at the time one of the most progressive in the world because of the precedent it set, recognizing the phenomenon of sexual harassment in the workplace and seeking to address it through the criminal code. The strength of the bill was in its definition of sexual harassment as a criminal act, but this was also its inherent weakness. Women were naturally and understandably reluctant to pay the price entailed in filing a police complaint and facing cross-examination on the witness stand in court. Absent a police complaint, the serial harassers, such as men in positions of power, could continue to operate uninterruptedly in the workplace.
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  • recall the notorious comment made in 2003 by Tel Aviv District Court Judge Zion Kapah, who said a 9-year-old victim of a sexual offender “displayed a promiscuous character,” had initiated some of the encounters and enjoyed part of them
  • Women are able to take action in the public sphere without having to go through the legal system. In fact, the social networks are game changers in the fight against sexual harassment, and the new rules of the game are far more effective than the criminal code.
Ed Webb

Israel shoots the messenger: An open letter to Ban Ki-Moon | Middle East Eye - 0 views

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    Ouch!
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