--Jerusalem Municipality worker wrote on Facebook under picture of Palestinian children in a tent.
- Anat Kamm suing Haaretz for revealing her as paper’s source - According to suit, Kamm, who is serving three and a half years for leaking classified military documents to Haaretz journalist Uri Blau, realized that if Blau had not made the agreement with the Shin Bet, the documents could not have been used against her. (Haaretz+)
- Air France fined for kicking pro-Palestinian activist off Israel-bound flight- The woman, a 30-year-old student, was attempting to fly to Israel last April as part of the 'Welcome to Palestine' fly-in protest; French prosecutors said the incident was a clear case of discrimination. (Haaretz+)
- Shopping in Beit Hanina, E. Jerusalem - Low prices, variety of merchandise, merchants who go out of their way to give service to customers: This is how the main road in the Arab village became the popular shopping area for Jews in north Jerusalem (Yedioth 'Bonus' supplement)
- New source of tension near the 'Tolerance Museum': a park for dogs above, a Muslim cemetery below - Islamic movement angry over intention to establish dog park on top of Muslim cemetery. In Islam, dogs are considered impure. (Yedioth Jerusalem supplement, p. 32)
- Ancient site unearthed in Iraq, near biblical home of Abraham - Archaeologists say the site dates back some 4,000 years to around the time Abraham would have lived there; it's believed to be an administrative center for Ur. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Yesha settler council against 'Haaretz' - Activists demonstrated on Schoken Street in front of the newspapers offices with a big sign of a photo of Asher Palmer and his son who were killed when their car crashed after a Palestinian man, recently convicted of murder, threw a block at the car. Haaretz's Amira Hass wrote an Op-Ed supporting Palestinians' right to throw stones. (NRG Hebrew)
Secretary of State John Kerry is heading back to the Middle East this weekend for yet another round of meetings. Following on the heels of President Barack Obama's trip to the region, Kerry has embarked on a campaign of intensive shuttle diplomacy. But the State Department is at pains to stress that he is not yet presenting any new American peace initiative.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with U.S. Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) in 2010 in Jerusalem. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO via Getty Images)
Kerry, who has embraced this issue with a heartening degree of enthusiasm, will undoubtedly try to elicit from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas what inducements would get them to consider a return to the negotiating table.
Apart from the fact that he's walking into a situation on the ground that is increasingly volatile—with two Palestinian teenagers recently shot and killed in violent clashes with Israeli occupation forces—there are two structural obstacles facing Kerry in talking about talks with both leaders.
In the interest of full disclosure, let me state that I hate Hamas. They embody everything that I, as a human being, am fighting against: oppression, religious rule, and patriarchy. They empower Israel while dividing the Palestinians. When Hamas won the parliamentary elections in 2006, I cried like somebody had stabbed my cat. Palestinians had made the fatal mistake Egyptians would make seven years later when they elected Morsi. If you elect a religious party into power, you no longer have a democracy. I'm sick to death of hearing that ignorant mantra, “Hamas was democratically elected.” The operative word is “was.” Their term has been up for four years. They are no longer democratically elected; they are warlords, and the Palestinian Authority has gifted them free rein.
The Palestine I know is a place where Christians and Muslims are equal. My mother, a Muslim village girl, attended a Catholic girls’ school in Ramallah, and my refugee husband spent the Second Intifada side by side with his Christian brothers from Bethlehem. Some areas are conservative, some are not. My mom wore mini-dresses in the 1960's and I have run around our hood in tank tops my whole life. Palestine is secular. Whether Hamas likes it or not, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Charter states just that, and states that the only body allowed to negotiate on behalf of the Palestinians is the PLO. Meanwhile, the Israeli government has control over every aspect of Palestinians' daily lives, from water access to the right to life. Hamas has no actual authority, yet they keep forcing new laws.
The author's mother is pictured wearing one of her mini-dresses in Palestine in 1961. (Courtesy of Maysoon Zayid)
Their latest law mandates that all classrooms in Gaza separate the boys from the girls from age nine up. At first, I thought it was a non-story. The majority of schools that I have worked with in the Territories are already gender-segregated. It is a big deal, though. The 3,500 students currently in the mixed schools Hamas seeks to ban in Gaza are predominantly Christian. This is just another one of the many laws Hamas is imposing on the trapped 1.7 million Palestinians living in Gaza. First, they banned male hairdressers doing women’s hair. I've had my hair done by many a man in the Middle East and it is a crime against fashion to deny women the right to be fabulous. Next, they decided to require female lawyers to wear headscarves. Thankfully, the female lawyers told them to go jump in a lake, so the law was not enforceable. Hamas refused to allow women to run in a marathon being held in Gaza, causing UNRWA to cancel it. They also banned the "Arab Idol" competition because anyone who has ever watched Footloose knows music is evil. Hamas claims to be fighting for freedom while invoking laws that oppress women and religious minorities. As Palestinians, we are striving for equality, not more oppression.
Next Thursday is Rosh Chodesh Iyyar, the first day of the month Iyyar according to the Hebrew calendar, and on that day, we can expect to see faithful Jews arrested in Judaism’s most sacred space for having the temerity to pray openly and with our faith’s most holy ritual objects.
Why? Because the Jews in question will be women.
American Jewish women from Florida, wearing the Talit (prayer shawl), read the Torah during their late Bat Mitzvah in front of the Western wall in the Old City of Jerusalem. (Menahem Kahana / AFP / GettyImages)
As reported in The Forward’s Sisterhood blog:
In a March 14 letter to Anat Hoffman, chair of Women of the Wall, Yossi Pariente wrote that he met with a deputy attorney general for the government of Israel to go over the rules pertaining to Women of the Wall, which include prohibitions on:
“…Wrapping yourselves in tallitot [prayer shawls], holding a minyan [prayer quorum] of women including the Kaddish [the mourners’ prayer] or Kedusha… and reading from the Torah.”
Pariente warns that, starting on the next Rosh Chodesh, which falls on April 11, Women of the Wall will be arrested and charged with breaking the law for doing any of these things.
As the results of a new survey on well-being—the OECD's "Better Life Index"—were published this week, Israel, as it sadly does too often these days, ranked relatively low. In the overall calculation of the index's 11 parameters, it landed 25th out of 36 states. In the category of happiness, however, Israel preformed very well, reaching the respectable 8th place. This reported contentment is hardly a surprise: the index's results comport with similar recent polls. In the 2012 Happy Planet Index, for instance, Israel ranked 15th out of 151 states, scoring higher than any other OECD country and impressively improving its previous marks: 67th in 2009's index and 127th in 2006's. In 2011—the year in which hundreds of thousands of distressed Israelis flooded the streets in an unprecedented wave of social protest—Israel ranked 7th in Gallup's "Happiness index," expressing an outstanding level of national content.
Uriel Sinai / Gety Images
The discrepancy between the deterioration of living conditions which Israelis experience and the self-content exhibited in the polls isn't confined to international studies. The Israel Democracy Institute's 2012 Democracy Index found that despite a growing distrust for the nation's leadership (59 percent felt that the government did not handle the country's challenges well) and a bleak sense of personal and civic helplessness (over 60 percent felt that their ability to influence government policy is minimal or non-existent), close to 80 percent of the respondents did not see Israel's overall situation as bad. The most salient poll of all—January's general elections—reflected no different tendencies. Israelis were content enough to vote for a more-of-the-same type of leadership. Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid indeed spoke of New Politics, but by no means offered anything nearing a fresh agenda.
There are many potential explanations for such a resounding cognitive gap, ranging from pointing out the distinctive ways in which different cultures measure happiness, to noting the Israeli tendency to project patriotism and self-assurance as a preventive measure against potential defamers who may use reported Israeli discontent to badmouth Israel. Here's one more: perhaps, at this point in time, confessing unhappiness seems to many Israelis—even if only on a subconscious level—like admitting that Israel has failed them. This goes beyond wondering whether Israel really is, for Jews, the safest place on Earth, or if Jews are indeed better off as citizens of the Jewish state rather than, say, as of the United States.
On Wednesday, a strange silence pervaded the normally chaotic, bustling Muslim Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.
The shops were not closed for Passover, Easter or any other religious holiday that has shut down the Old City during the past few days. Instead, the shopkeepers are on strike to mourn the death of Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, a Palestinian prisoner who died in Israeli custody.
Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, 63, died on Tuesday at Israel’s Soroka Hospital. Although he was diagnosed with cancer in January, it was untreated; according to his lawyer, Rami Alami, he was only given painkillers and antibiotics. Palestinian officials suspect that Israeli authorities refused to treat his cancer, ultimately causing his death.
Mourners attend the funeral of Maysara Abu Hamdiyeh, a Palestinian prisoner who died of cancer while in Israeli detention, in the West Bank city of Hebron on April 4, 2013. (Hazem Bader / AFP / Getty Images)
An autopsy performed at the Abu Kabir Institute of Forensic Medicine confirmed that his cause of death was cancer, rather than beating or torture, as suspected with Arafat Jaradat, a Palestinian prisoner whom many suspected was beaten to death under Israeli custody a few months ago, sparking protest and unrest throughout the West Bank. Still, the belief that medical neglect could have precipitated his death is causing anger.
“The Israeli authorities killed him,” Jihad, a Palestinian student at Birzeit Univeristy who preferred not to give his last name, said of Hamdiyeh. “They killed him like they killed Jaradat—different, but in a way it is the same.”
"What is important is that reserve soldiers, time after time, are sent on missions to guard... outlaws."
--Commentator Ariella Ringel Hoffman in an Op-Ed in Yedioth today.
- 100 American Jewish leaders urge Netanyahu to show readiness to make 'painful territorial sacrifices' - Lauding PM’s 'leadership' on Turkey, Israeli Policy Forum letter urges collaboration with Kerry and 'concrete confidence building measures' with Palestinians. (Haaretz+)
- Palestinian shepherd, 80, beaten unconscious near settlement - Police has gathered evidence in effort to reveal who was responsible for Friday attack. (Haaretz+ and Maan)
- Palestinian farmer hurt escaping settler attack - Four settlers carrying guns chased 45-year-old Jihad Salameh Makhamrah from his land east of Yatta. Meanwhile, a group of settlers led by "terrorist Yaakov Dalia" attacked a group of shepherds in the same area. (Maan)
- 7 injured as settlers attack Palestinian school buses (Sunday) - Settlers threw rocks at a two Palestinian school buses south of Nablus on Sunday, injuring seven children. (Maan)
- Shin Bet documents show illegal interrogation methods used against Palestinian prisoner - A prisoner who suffered serious injury 18 months ago, which he alleges were caused by torture, files a High Court petition asking that the military prosecution open a case against investigators in the Shin Bet security service. (Haaretz+)
- Oslo expects explanation from Palestinian Authority, In Jerusalem, silence - Norway enraged at PA after it was revealed that financial aid it gave the PA was transferred to security prisoners. In Israel, silent, misses opportunity to stop European funding. (NRG Hebrew and Israel Hayom)
- Israeli government seeks to settle Bedouin issue once and for all - A new bill addresses disputed ownership of thousands of acres in the Negev, offering Bedouin residents compensation while leaving the state with vast swaths of land that it had expropriated for various purposes. (Haaretz+)
A talented 19-year-old singer named Lina Makhoul is the winner of this season's The Voice Israel.
Makhoul, who comes from an Arab Christian family living in Acre in the north of Israel, won the final singing showdown against Ofir Ben-Shitrit, a 17-year-old. And it wasn't an easy battle. The Voice made Ben-Shitrit out to be the new Ofra Haza, one of Israel's best and most beloved singers of all time. But the artificial connection the show tried to create between the young teenager and the great singer just wasn't enough to win.
In order to win the show, a contestant needs public support in the form of texting and online voting. Could it be that the Arab minority in Israel watched this mainstream Hebrew show on Channel 2 prime time television and turned out to vote for Makhoul? Could it be that many Jews voted for Makhoul? In either scenario, this bodes well for the involvement of the Arab minority in Israeli culture and for acceptance of the minority by the Jewish majority.
During the recent Passover holiday in Israel, much of the country’s conversation seemed to be synched. On television and in the streets, talk of the clogging arteries from so much Passover food and the clogged roadways during Hol Hamoed, the intermediate Passover days, predominated. The holiday was preceded by a national cleaning binge, triggered a mass matzah chowdown, and ended with another frantic bout of housecleaning to return kitchens to normal as soon as the holiday ended.
Of course, not every Israeli participated. At least a fifth of Israelis are not Jewish and many of the Jewish Israelis, like Jews worldwide, pick and choose which customs they observe. But there was a holiday spirit in the air, which was charming, not oppressive.
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men prepare the matzah or unleavened bread on April 3, 2012 in Bnei Brak, Israel. (Uriel Sinai / Getty Images)
The need to add those last two words shows how defensive and perverse the discourse around Israel has become. There are few other countries in the world where any holiday—be it national or religious—celebrated en masse would trigger accusations of oppression. I do not hear many anguished voices of concern when European democracies with crosses wave their flags proudly, celebrate Christmas en masse, or blur lines of church and state with monarchical ceremonies brimming with religiosity such as the recent royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. Moreover—here’s the crucial point—any criticisms that are made are offered in the spirit of constructive reform rather than questioning the right to exist of England or of Denmark, whose cross supposedly appeared in a vision to King Valdemar II in 1219. And note, here, I am talking about European democracies; never mind the Muslim autocracies, which, despite heavy-handed displays of religion, do not have their legitimacy questioned.
These are necessary prefatory remarks in answering an increasingly common question: “How can Israel be both a democratic and Jewish state?” While I relish a sustained, passionate, critical dialogue about the difficulties in balancing “Jewish” and “democratic” as ideals that are sometimes in tension, I resent the fact that, all too frequently, the question is asked in a context questioning Israel’s right to exist or essential identity as a democracy. But given that I live in the real world, in this column, I will address the basic question—and in a future post will address some of the dilemmas that necessarily arise.
Every young Jewish member of the Diaspora around the world knows “Birthright,” an all-expenses-paid trip for anyone of full or partial Jewish descent of a certain age who has not visited Israel to see the Jewish Homeland. However, what is less known is that there is also an opportunity for young Palestinians of the Diaspora to visit the Palestinian homeland in a new program called “Know Thy Heritage.”
“This is not a vacation,” Know Thy Heritage founder Rateb Rabie stressed in several interviews. “We made the point that [delegates] have to be ready for this, to commit to the program, and to commit to Palestine.”
Olga Kishek, a Palestinian-American participant in the Know Thy Heritage program, discusses her experience in the West Bank city of Ramallah on July 28, 2011. (Ahmad Gharabli / AFP / Getty Images)
In 2011, Rabie, a Palestinian businessman and President of the Holy Land Ecumenical Foundation, raised enough money between Palestinian businesses in the West Bank and the United States to sponsor 33 young Palestinian-Americans to take a two-week trip to Palestine. To be accepted, the applicant had to be between the ages of 18 and 25, have at least one Palestinian parent and speak some Arabic. The final group of selected delegates was purposefully selected to be half Christian and half Muslim.
"I may be an Arab, but I waited an entire week to taste these."
--Muawiya Qabaha, an Israeli Arab paramedic who rushed to scene of a car accident following a stone-throwing in the West Bank, ate muflatta as the guest of honor in the settlement of Yakir.
- IDF troops provide security for all West Bank outposts, regardless of legal status - 25 unauthorized outposts are guarded by a special force tasked with 'community protection,' whose soldiers typically spend a full week at a time guarding and protecting the outpost where they are stationed. (Haaretz+)
- Israel arrests settlers over Palestinian shootings - Five Israelis were arrested Tuesday from the wildcat settlement outpost of Esh Kodesh, near Nablus, on suspicion of shooting and wounding two Palestinians from the village of Qusra in February, Israeli army radio reported. Police found a weapons cache at the outpost. (Maan)
- Relatives: Israel detains mother near Bethlehem - Israeli forces detained Hiba Bahjat, 27, from her home in a pre-dawn raid in Doha, near Bethlehem, relatives said. Forces also confiscated the woman's cell phone, computer and wedding album, her parents said. (Maan)
- Fischer: Housing crisis caused by long planning - Bank of Israel governor submits last annual report before stepping down this summer, says low interest rate is not what pushed apartment prices up. He warns against increase in budget deficit, urges budget cuts. (Ynet)
- Bennett presents haredi share in burden plan - Economy Minister's plan sees 1,800 yeshiva students exempt from military, national service with rest receiving three-year exemption. Forum for equality: 'This is a joke, perpetuates discrimination.' (Ynet)
- Russian oligarchs reenact exodus in Arava desert - Group of Russian tycoons hike through Arava Desert before Seder, imitate ancient Hebrew lifestyle. (Yedioth/Ynet)
- Dozens of Israelis travel to Turkey after reconciliation - Israelis take advantage of Passover holiday, apology to Turkey to vacation in resort city. 'I don't feel like a traitor,' traveler says. (Ynet and Haaretz+)
The newly-vernal sun beat down hot last Friday afternoon in the Palestinian West Bank village of Bi'lin. A group of around 70 protesters squinted as they walked from heart of the village, arrived at its fields and, finally, at the concrete wall that brings the road to an abrupt end. By the time I arrived at the rear of the procession, three or four shabaab—youths from the village—had already set a small fire at the wall's base. They wound up slingshots over their masked heads and tossed stones with little success at both audiences on the other side: a group of onlooking Ultra-Orthodox men from the adjacent Israeli settlement on Bil'in's lands, and two Israeli army trucks perched atop another mound of dirt on the right.
Israeli soldiers fire tear gas canisters during clashes with stone throwing Palestinians during clashes along the controversial Israeli built separation barrier close to the village of Bilin just west of the city Ramallah in the occupied Israeli West Bank, on April 13, 2012. (Abbas Momani / AFP / Getty Images)
Among the protesters, I ran into Ahmed Khatib, a Bil'in native whom I'd met the week before at the now-demolished Palestinian "anti-settlement" protest village of Bab al-Shams. He put an arm around my shoulder and swept his free hand along the path of the wall. "Non-violent," he exclaimed, reprising a theme he'd harped on at Bab al-Shams. Nearby locals chuckled at his remark and Khatib reconsidered with a smile: "Noos-violent," he said, mixing the Arabic word for "half" with his English. The army met the stone-throwing with a fecal-smelling concoction called "skunk" and later with tear gas. Eventually, soldiers crossed through a gate into the fields and, about an hour and a half after the protest started, a squad of troops stormed the dispersed demonstration from the north, sending the bulk of the activists scurrying back along the road toward the village.
By car, the distance traveled between the center of Tel Aviv and Bil'in is that of a marathon: 26 miles. But they are worlds apart, not least because of the military checkpoint and concrete wall separating the two. By the time a visitor crosses, they're already deep into the West Bank, having passed by Modi'in Illit, the most populous of the many Israeli settlements throughout the territory. This month, Bil'in celebrated the eighth anniversary of unarmed—though not totally non-violent—protests against the wall that was set to cut the village off from half of its farmland. After a 2007 Israeli Supreme Court ruling that the wall must be closer to the settlement itself, the sectioned concrete structure finally went up along its new path, still swallowing up about a quarter of the villagers' land. "Even if Israel were to agree to leave the West Bank, Green Park"—the section of Modi'in Illit abutting the wall by Bil'in—"would not be evacuated," wrote the Israeli journalist Noam Sheizaf, a friend and my travel companion on Friday. "Even Palestinian negotiators agreed to have it annexed to Israel in exchange for equal territory elsewhere. Thus, the Palestinian people might one day be compensated for the land that was taken from Bil’in, but the people of the village—its owners—will not." And so they continue to protest, for their land and against the occupation in general; one aim sure to be denied and the other often seeming just as unlikely.
Number of the day: 2,368
--The number of square feet in a house that Haaretz blogger Ilene Prusher could have had for the money she paid if she had been willing to buy a home in a settlement over the Green Line (in West Bank). How many square feet did she get in Jerusalem?
- Israel braces for 'potentially crippling' cyberattack -Hacktivist group Anonymous says #OpIsrael, meant to "erase Israel from the Internet" in solidarity with the Palestinians, will peak on April 7. Cybersecurity experts say financial system, government websites are likely to be targeted. (Israel Hayom)
- Israel Police drag their feet in investigation of attack on foreign national - Vinay Menon, of India, sustained serious head injuries after three men in Pardes Hanna allegedly attacked him. Officers ignored eyewitness reports and didn’t take Menon’s full statement until days later. (Haaretz+)
- Compensation for youth who died after violent arrest - Police to pay 2 million shekels to family of Bedouin youth who died of beating during his arrest in 2008. He was suspected of throwing a bag with a small amount of drugs outside the car he was sitting in. (Yedioth, p. 23)
- Palestinian budget reflects PA's dependence on Israel, U.S. - The large defense budget has been criticized because it is seen as part of the internal oppression system, as well as maintaining the crumbling Fatah movement’s hegemony and the status quo with Israel. (Haaretz+)
- Natural gas begins to flow from Tamar gas field on Saturday - Israel's first batch of natural gas begins flowing through underwater pipe en route to Ashdod intake center, where it arrived on Sunday; Israel begins move to energy independence. (Ynet)
- Hamas to ban mixed-sex schools in Gaza Strip - The law, which will mandate separate classes for boys and girls from the age of nine, goes into effect next school year and applies throughout the Strip, including in private, Christian-led and United Nations schools. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Majdal Shams (in Israeli-occupied Golan Heights): Dozens protest soccer matches opposite Israelis - Forty people rally in local stadium against participation of Israeli teams in games; two arrested. Police officer lightly injured. (Ynet and Israel Hayom)
Last week, I joined about 40 other Jews, Muslims, and Christians at a third Passover Seder. Now, I realize some Jews (especially Israelis) would consider that a cruel and unusual punishment, but I assure you it wasn't; in fact, I subject myself to it every year.
Even more unusual than the company was the venue—a mosque. In fact, the Seder took place at one of the largest and most influential mosques in the country, the ADAMS Center (an acronym for the All Dulles Area Muslim Society), in Northern VA, not far from D.C. The participants came from a variety of backgrounds: secular and religious Muslims, Jews affiliated with various groups, some Christian pastors and laypeople. The theme was peace and two states, but by no means did we see eye to eye on everything.
Spencer Platt / Getty Images
This was the tenth time this Seder has been held, and the fifth at ADAMS. I've been involved since the beginning, because the main organizer, Andrea Barron, is an old friend of mine, whom I met in Israeli-Palestinian peace work in the early days of the First Intifada. But this isn't your usual anodyne interfaith Seder, where all is prescribed by ritual and controversial topics are avoided. Far from it.
Andrea (and her collaborators) designed the Seder to maximize discussion of what unites us—and what divides us. She introduced discussions of modern plagues, such as religious extremism, terrorism, and ecological factors. A Jew talked about Jewish terrorism, and Muslims attacked terrorism in the name of Islam. Some secular Muslims were very critical of aspects of Islam. A Muslim woman (in full headscarf) talked about her family members who had fought for U.S. democracy in World War II and other wars, in the American army. One Muslim referred to AIPAC as a plague, leading to a surprisingly balanced discussion of what AIPAC is and isn't. Egyptians were sensitive to the seeming anti-Egyptian themes in the text, but were most concerned with relating freedom to the current situation in Egypt. One remarkable Christian evangelical pastor described his work in the West Bank with Orthodox Jews and Palestinian villagers, and even called himself a talmid (student) of the late Rabbi Menachem Froman.
When I was nine, I was sent to the kind of school Dickens wrote about in Nicholas Nickleby. My first experience of anti-Semitism came at Easter, when after a class on Jesus, I was taunted with "the Jews killed Christ," which quickly became "you killed Christ." My knowledge of faith and Jesus was sketchy and I was shocked at my presumed culpability. I was "the son who didn't know" the link between my faith and Israel.
Eight years ago, I supported Ronnie Fraser, head and "sole trader" of Academics for Israel, at a teachers’ union conference in the UK. He was fighting a motion for targeted academic boycott of two Israeli universities. A fringe meeting of 80 delegates saw a debate between two senior women members. Before that, there were coordinated "warm-up" acts that stoked the fires of anti-Israel sentiment. When the anti-boycott speaker began, she was loudly heckled. She was not a Zionist, but an academic who believed in academic freedom. She later told me she recognized several Socialist Workers Party agitators in the room.
Ronnie spoke, clearly upset, and said what he'd seen was anti-Semitism. I watched the faces; they looked like they'd just been slapped. Later he admitted his accusation had been mistaken. But for Ronnie, son of Holocaust survivors, there is no dividing line between being a Jew and being a Zionist. His experience as a Jew and as a political campaigner fighting anti-Zionism is a complete whole. And in October of last year he brought a case to an Employment Tribunal against the union for unlawful harassment of him as a Jew.
He and other campaigners had successfully used the law before when a 2008 draft union congress motion proposing academic boycott was deemed beyond the union's legal powers. But legal advice to the anti-boycotters said, "given the importance of political freedom of expression," a harassment complaint based on the union allowing the motion's debate would fail. In many respects, this reflects the tenor of the Employment Tribunal's findings. It was uncomfortable with the "institutional anti-Semitism" with which Ronnie charged the union and which he claimed constituted harassment of him as a Jew.
Matthew Kalman broke the story of physicist Stephen Hawking’s boycott of Israel. Then Cambridge University tried to falsely deny it.