"It's like summoning the police and then getting billed for it."
--Israeli Arab citizen Osama Halihal, whose car was set on fire by Jewish extremists, on the bill he get from the Fire and Rescue Dept.
- Israeli military court releases three Palestinians illegally arrested near Hebron - WATCH: Palestinian man films soldiers making the arrests for being on disputed land in the West Bank; court says a soldier who attacked one of the men could face charges. (Haaretz+ + VIDEO)
- Report: Settlers start over 50 fires in West Bank -Palestinian civil defense report said firefighters dealth with 57 fires set by settlers. Hundreds of olive and almond trees were damaged and large areas of cultivated crops were destroyed. The settler attacks were revenge following the fatal stabbing of a settler south of Nablus. (Maan)
- Israeli military vehicles enter border area inside Gaza - Seven Israeli tanks and bulldozers entered a border area in the southern Gaza Strip near Khan Younis on Wednesday and destroyed agricultural land, including trees. (Maan)
- Foreign Ministry initiating 'PR Attack' on Hispanics in the US - Prime Minister Netanyahu, who serves as Foreign Minister, decided to put emphasis on getting closer to biggest minority in the US, some 52 million people. Already the ministry is working with Spanish-speaking locals at Israeli consulates. (Maariv, p. 1/NRG Hebrew)
- Israel to release 2 hunger strikers early - An Israeli military court has reduced the administrative detention of two hunger-striking prisoners from Jenin by two-weeks. Jaafar Izz al-Din and Tariq Kadan have been on hunger strike for 90 days in protest over being held under administrative detention [detention without charges that is often renewed continuously for years - OH] (Maan)
- Supreme Court hears proposal for 'green' fence along Green Line - Israel's nature authority says a chain-link fence with security systems would balance environmental and security concerns in a West Bank area that could soon be a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but environmentalists and Palestinians disagree. (Haaretz+)
- Palestinians poll highest among world's Muslims (justifying) suicide bombings - In most of the 21 countries where the question was asked, few Muslims endorse suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilians • 40% of Palestinian Muslims see suicide bombing as often or sometimes justified, while half take opposite view. (Israel Hayom)
In the last eight years, the Israeli government has sought to rebrand Israel as a “liberal haven” for gay rights in an otherwise-homophobic Middle East as a means of increasing tourism and international goodwill. Critics refer to the campaign as “pinkwashing,” an attempt to whitewash the Israeli occupation by focusing on gay and lesbian issues. Many of these critics are queer people themselves, and their movement against Israeli policies is building within the LGBT community. But recent pro-Israel initiatives hope to change that; rather than simply promoting Israeli gay images in the international sphere, these Israel advocates are actually attempting to sanitize LGBTQ spaces of pro-Palestinian activism entirely.
The most recent battleground is Toronto, where Councilman James Pasternak has proposed offering extra money to the Pride parade if the organizers prevent pro-Palestinian group Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA) from marching this June. Pasternak had previously attempted to withdraw funding from Pride altogether, claiming QuAIA’s use of the phrase “Israeli Apartheid” constituted hate speech; when that failed, he proposed granting what he calls a “diversity bonus” if Pride keeps QuAIA off the roster. Pasternak’s idea is simple: we straight people will only support you if you exclude any dissenting voices.
A group marches past spectators during the Pride Parade in support of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people on June 27, 2004 in Toronto, Canada. (Donald Weber / Getty Images)
Unfortunately, this thinking isn’t limited to straight people, and many in the gay community—especially gay Jews—are also attempting to keep LGBT spaces clear of any pro-Palestinian sentiment. Two years ago, a small group of gay Jews successfully campaigned the New York Gay and Lesbian Center from allowing Siege Busters, another pro-Palestinian group, to hold an event, claiming the group’s politics made them feel “unsafe.” As they see it, Israel is a natural “ally” to the gay community—so what does that make pro-Palestinian gays?
The latest twist in the saga over women’s prayer at the Western Wall has seen the Women of the Wall group abandoning its previous support for the Sharansky plan. Tasked with finding a compromise between women’s prayer activists and the (male) Orthodox rabbis who control the Kotel prayer area, Jewish Agency chief Natan Sharansky had proposed expanding and elevating the Robinson’s Arch area—which had already been operating as a smaller and limited-hours egalitarian prayer space since 2004—to make it flush with the Kotel plaza, including a joint entrance.
A recent and groundbreaking Jerusalem District court ruling stating that Women of the Wall can continue to pray as they see fit in the women’s section has led group leader Anat Hoffman to abandon the compromise. “We have three options: to reject Sharansky’s plan, to embrace Sharansky’s plan or to say that right now it is not relevant for Women of the Wall,” Hoffman said, adding that “it’s completely not relevant for us.”
Hoffman’s about-face has left me feeling stung. As a Jewish woman who enjoys leading prayers, chanting from the Torah, singing aloud, and whose custom it is to wear a tallit (prayer shawl), I have championed Women of the Wall’s struggle against the draconian laws governing the public space. I can certainly admit that my personal spiritual needs—when I next find myself at the Kotel—will have been protected by the recent court ruling. But to me there is a yawning gap between the protection of women’s rights to pray undisturbed in the women’s section, and the kind of egalitarian Judaism that deserves to be emboldened, particularly in Israel.
For most PhD researchers, lack of laptop battery power is a minor inconvenience, solved by an awkward exchange with a stranger whose sweater is blocking all the power outlets at the local coffeehouse. Not in Gaza. For Mohammed Omer, a Rafah resident taking a critical eye to factional broadcasting in the Hamas era, the “low battery” beep represents something far more imposing: the decisions of governments near and far. Each day the power goes out across Rafah at some point, with one deeply disturbing exception: the morgue. When desperate enough, Omer pulls up a seat next to his recently deceased neighbors and borrows just enough of their generator’s power supply to continue the work he thinks will ultimately benefit his community.
Palestinian school children do their homework on candle light during a power cut in Gaza City on March 27, 2012. (Mohammed Abed / AFP / Getty Images)
Since 2007, Israel has placed restrictions on what can enter the Gaza Strip, at points going so far as to base food imports on daily calorie calculations for citizens. The list of items allowed into Gaza has increased steadily since 2010 and the cease-fire negotiated to end Israel’s “Pillar of Defense” assault resulted in further liberalization, at least on paper. Nonetheless, prices on basic goods remain inflated and energy in places like Rafah is no less scarce. According to sources in Rafah, much of the Qatari oil that was supposed to enter Gaza as part the agreement remains in limbo at Egyptian-Israeli crossing points. In any case, the materials and resources necessary for daily life, let alone the reconstruction of a space so recently demolished by war, remain scarce.
The fundamental fallacy found in much thinking about Gaza is that the restriction of resources harms the forces of autocracy. The opposite is the case. On the most obvious level, any material deprivation at this juncture will inevitably be associated by a majority of Gazans with the destruction wrought by Israeli bombs, as opposed to the failings of Hamas governance. There are more subtle concerns however. For example, it must be understood that it is Mohammed Omer, not the Hamas minister of information, who must sneak into the morgue to send an email.
I help advise Omer, a twenty-eight year old journalist, in his doctoral studies at Rotterdam University. He has a record of turning a critical eye on all political entities, including Israel, Fatah and Hamas. In 2009, bedridden at a Dutch hospital while recovering from injuries suffered at an Israeli checkpoint, he decided to pursue a PhD. Unable to make media from Gaza, he chose to study and critique it. It’s an important topic with relevance far beyond Gaza.
"He does not need to accept the Initiative as it is. He is not supposed to agree to every article of it. He needs to make a positive sign heard."
--Right-wing Maariv commentator Ben-Dror Yemini calls on his Prime Minister and Israelis to give the newly updated Arab Peace Initiative a chance.
- Palestinian stabbed in Jerusalem, Israeli police say - A Palestinian man was stabbed in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Israeli police said. (Maan)
- Israeli defense minister: Gaza assassination in line with terms of November truce - Moshe Ya'alon says the Gaza militant Haitham Mishal, 24, who was killed by the Israel Air Force on Tuesday was involved in the rocket attack on Eilat two weeks ago. In first assassination since Operation Pillar of Cloud, Yaalon says that Israel has the right to defense itself against terrorism originating in the Gaza Strip. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
- DFLP brigades 'will respond' to Israeli airstrike - The military wing of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine on Tuesday said it would respond to Israel's assassination of a Palestinian in the Gaza Strip. (Maan)
- Jerusalem yeshiva student arrested after attacking Arabic-speaking detectives - Police are looking for the other four students involved in the attack, the latest of several nationalist-motivated assaults on Arabs. (Haaretz+)
- Minister Ariel: State must fund settlement construction - Habayit Hayehudi member meets with Netanyahu, stresses that party will not support budget if cuts to West Bank settlements are presented. (Ynet and Israel Hayom)
- Pope Francis accepts Peres' invitation to visit Israel - The new pontiff accepts invitation by Israeli president to visit Jerusalem 'with willingness and joy,' says spokesman. (Agencies, Haaretz)
- Iran decries use of chemical arms by anyone in Syria as a 'red line' - Islamic Republic reiterates calls for United Nations to investigate assertions by Assad regime that Syrian insurgents have used chemical weapons, says Damascus government not guilty of such use. (Agencies, Haaretz)
After meetings with top Obama administration officials, a representative of the Arab League appeared to modify the group's historic 2002 Mideast peace plan to include swaps of territory between Israel and the Palestinians that would modify the pre-1967 division between Israeli and Arab lands. Speaking on behalf of the League after talks with John Kerry, Qatari Prime Minister Sheik Hamad Bin Jassem Al Thani said, "The Arab League delegation affirmed that agreement should be based on the two-state solution on the basis of the 4th of June 1967 line, with the (possibility) of comparable and mutual agreed minor swap of the land." The language appears to soften the stance of the original proposal, which mentioned the 1967 border but not land swaps. Those swaps would allow Israel to strike a deal without dislodging some of its most populous settlements, many of which are in close proximity to the so-called Green Line.
US Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani after a meeting with the Arab League at Blair House in Washington, DC, on April 29, 2013. (Jim Watson / AFP / Getty Images)
Israel's top negotiator and Justice Minister, Tzipi Livni, quickly praised the apparent modification by the Arab League, calling the news "very positive": "Israel welcomes the encouragement given by the Arab League delegation and the Secretary of State to the diplomatic process," she said. While Livni's deal to enter Benjamin Netanyahu's ruling coalition made her Israel's lead negotiator, any diplomatic moves by Israel must go through a super-committee dominated by hard-right members of Netanyahu's government, not least of which are members of the Jewish Home party that oppose any Palestinian state whatsoever. How Netanyahu reacts to the Arab League's statements will matter more than what Livni thinks. And, with history as a guide, things are unlikely to go smoothly.
In May 2011, Obama delivered an address in which he laid out exactly the parameters expressed by the Arab League yesterday. "We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps," Obama said at the time. Still in the opposition in 2011, Livni backed Obama's call then, too. But it was Netanyahu who reacted badly. He released a statement publicly making demands that Obama clarify the remarks—ignoring the remarks about land swaps that the Arab League echoed yesterday—and said Israel's 1967 borders were "indefensible." He complained that withdrawing to the 1967 borders "would leave major Israeli population centers in Judea and Samaria"—the West Bank—"beyond those lines." The American pro-Israel right was quick to back up Netanyahu: the L.A.-based Simon Wiesenthal Center went so far as to rehash an old reference to the lines as "Auschwitz borders."
Despite the heroic efforts of the new American Secretary of State John Kerry, the creation of two states for two peoples in Israel and Palestine is looking increasingly unlikely. The resignation of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad was last week described as “another nail in the coffin of the two-state solution” by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. It might be the final nail. Moreover, Friedman is not alone. Writing from Pretoria, Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy put forward the suggestion that Palestinians follow the black South Africans in demanding “one person one vote.”
So is it time to start looking for an alternative to the two-state solution?
David Silverman / Getty Images
A majority on the left will reply with a firm no—no, exclamation point—and that is part of the problem. For many years, a majority on the left in Israel has been expressing horror at the very idea of a single state. It has been termed “a disaster,” or “a recipe for perpetual civil war.” It is predicted that the establishment of a state of all its citizens in the area between the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean will inevitably lead to a Muslim Arab state.
There are many problems with this way of thinking, which is fundamentally just as anti-Arab as the dogma of the Israeli right. It is perfectly legitimate to want a Jewish state and to point out that this will be difficult to achieve if there is no withdrawal from the West Bank, but there is also an increasingly clear subtext: “Who needs all those additional Arabs?”
"Cream should not be put before the cat.”
--Arab MK Jamal Zahalka (Balad) said that the Knesset approval for a bill that enables investigative bodies to postpone bringing persons suspected of committing acts of 'terror' before a judge for up to 96 hours after arrest is "in its entirety, a violation of human rights."
- Livni to boost police, legal powers against 'price-tag' attacks - Justice Minister Tzipi Livni wants price-tag attacks to be classified as terrorism, Haaretz reports. "The term price-tag attack is a euphemism for hate crimes that are meant to create provocation and cause violence," Livni says. Minister meets with settler leaders to discuss new measures. (Israel Hayom andHaaretz+)
- Abbas threatens to appeal Israeli building to ICC - Analysis: Israeli building in Oslo’s E-1 will spark Palestinian retaliation. (Media Line, Ynet)
- Israel bulldozes 4 apartments in East Jerusalem - Israeli authorities evicted 24 Gaith family members - including five children and an elderly woman, and razed four apartments on Monday in the al-Tur neighborhood of East Jerusalem, in spite of several attempts to revoke the demolition order, owners said. (Maan)
- UNRWA: Israeli forces demolish Hebron water well - Israeli forces on Monday demolished a water well and utility room in the Fawwar refugee camp in Hebron, a local UN official said. (Maan)
- Israel evicts Bedouin residents of West Bank village ahead of IDF exercise - Hundreds residing in Wadi al-Maleh are forced out of their homes after army declares area a live-fire training zone. (Maan and Haaretz)
- Gaza: Shipments of flowers meant for Europe used as fodder for sheep - Instead of exports of millions of flowers to Europe, Gazan farmers began feeding them to the sheep before they wilt. Reason: Israel's closure of the Kerem Shalom commercial crossing following shooting of rockets. (Maariv, p. 24)
Who lost Salam Fayyad? The resignation-dismissal of the respected Palestinian Prime Minister has provoked plenty of finger-pointing. Every Mideast pundit has a favored Western villain: it was intransigent Israel’s fault; overly-Zionist Congress is to blame; evil Bibi Netanyahu did him in; weak President Obama hung him out to dry; it was those obstacle-to-peace settlers. The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman, in fact, couldn’t choose just one—he accused all of the above in his April 24 column.
Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad (R) tastes olive-based products during the annual Olive Harvest Festival in the Palestinian West Bank town of Bethlehem on November 3, 2012. (Musa Al-Shaer / AFP / Getty Images)
Such analyses are themselves evidence of a fundamental problem with Fayyad’s tenure: popular as he was in international aid circles and New York Times (and Daily Beast) op-eds—and even among Israelis—Fayyad had no democratic Palestinian constituency to speak of. (Friedman, at least, added other Arab leaders to his hall of blame.) Furthermore, Fayyad’s foreign fan club, seldom holding the Palestinians themselves responsible for anything, did little to coax the populace toward his camp.
Archie Bunker once said of then-President Gerald Ford, “He’s doing a great job for a guy nobody voted for.” However well Fayyad did, his “emergency” prime minister appointment was never ratified by the legislature or the voters.
Last week Gideon Levy joined (or perhaps just made more explicit his part in) the small but growing group of Israelis and Palestinians who call for a one-state solution to the conflict. Levy argued that a single state is, for all intents and purposes, already here, but it just lacks basic elements of justice and rights for all. He’s certainly right that the effort to extend Israeli sovereignty over much of the West Bank has been proceeding apace. But while I share his concern about justice and rights, and agree that the occupation is undermining both, the argument that a single state will resolve all these problems seems naïve at best, a recipe for more violence at worst.
A general view shot on January 26, 2011 shows the building of Israel's leading Haaretz newspaper in Tel Aviv. (Jack Guez / AFP / Getty Images)
Levy echoes Yousef Munayyer’s use of Theodor Herzl’s “if you will it, it is no dream” statement to demonstrate that the dream of a Zionist state was all but impossible at the end of the nineteenth century. The implication of both is that the dream has been corrupted, and therefore it is time for a new dream of a shared Jewish-Palestinian entity.
My response to Munayyer’s piece applies just as well to Levy. But Levy does admit that his “fantasy” is no short-term panacea. It will, he says, “be achieved through a long, difficult and complex process of liberation from old beliefs and values that were destructive for both nations. It will also require the overcoming of deep fears that are no less destructive, and drawing a line under the past.” He’s certainly right about the obstacles standing in the way of such a daydream. So let me add two more counter-points regarding the sheer mechanics of implementing a single state.
Senator Barbara Boxer needs to take a seat—just not the one she's currently abusing on Capitol Hill. The senator from California completely lost the plot when she introduced a new bill, Senate Bill 462, the U.S.-Israel Strategic Partnership Act of 2013, which would codify Israel's ability to discriminate against Palestinian Americans and those who love them. I’m constantly hearing that Congress can’t accomplish anything because of bipartisan bickering. Well, Barbara found something they could agree on: bigotry. She got nine Republicans to cosponsor the bill with her Democrat self.
Members of Congress rarely read the bills they vote on, so I don’t expect you to. Let me give you the skinny on Sen. Bill 462, introduced by Boxer and friends. The U.S. has a deal with several countries that allows their citizens and ours to enter into each other’s territories without having to go through the hassle of obtaining a pesky visa. Thirty-seven countries enjoy this privilege, and Israel is itching to be lucky number thirty-eight. There's a teeny problem though: the Israeli government is not fond of American citizens of certain faiths, ethnicities, and political ideologies. Israel would like to enjoy the luxury of having its citizens come to America willy-nilly, while maintaining the ability to reject American tourists based on which fairy tale they choose to follow.
Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) speaks during a news conference (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)
Enter Senator Boxer. Her bill seeks to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act by adding the following: “has made every reasonable effort without jeopardizing the security of the state of Israel to ensure that reciprocal travel privileges are extended to all United States citizens.” That’s government-speak for: everyone but Israel has to let all of our citizens in, but Israel can do as it pleases, in the name of “security.” Remember, the United States would not receive the same privilege. If a crazy armed settler wanted to visit Disney World, he would be welcome to do so under the Visa Waiver Program, as long as he left his M-16 at home.
The Anti-Defamation League turned 100 this week. Renowned for its early anti-racism efforts, the group can, and should, boast of its role in American Jewry's unabashed and unqualified rise into the nation's establishment. There's still, to be sure, remnants of American anti-Semitism; those strains of thought are worthy of a wary eye and vigilant marginalization. The ADL, with its vaunted anti-racist history, ought to be at the forefront of this work. But it just can't be taken seriously in this task with Abraham Foxman at its helm, not when he uses the occasion of the group's centennial to rationalize discrimination, that against Muslims. A man with this record—and it's a growing record—can't be responsible for fighting anti-Semitism as part and parcel of "all forms of bigotry," as the ADL claims it does.
Italy's prime minister Silvio Berlusconi (R) shakes hands with Anti-Defamation League director Abraham Foxman, during their meeting at the Chigi palace in Rome on November 4, 2010. (Alberto Pizzoli / AFP / Getty Images)
Foxman's seeming tonedeafness to any group other than his co-religionists was on full display in a recent interview with Haaretz. Asked about Israel's occupation of Palestinian lands, he said, "If there is a clear violation of human rights, we will speak out." Then immediately queried about one such violation—the disenfranchisement of millions of Palestinians under Israeli military rule—he replied, "That’s not our decision to make," passing the buck to the Israeli government. In other departments, Foxman pointed to Latinos and American blacks as lingering bastions of anti-Semitism; of the latter, he said, "The only leadership that now exists in that community is Louis Farrakhan." Leave aside that Farrakhan is fingered as American blacks' only leader, what astounds is that, by his own lights, Farrakhan can only put 20,000 people in the street. Yet, according to Foxman, fully one third of Americans blame Jews for Jesus's death—a well-worn anti-Semitic trope. That doesn't sound like a black problem or a Latino problem, but a Christian problem. Yet, as a group, Christians go unmentioned in the interview.
The most staggering ambivalence about bigotry in Foxman's Haaretz interview, though, wasn't about Christians or even Palestinians; it was about American Muslims. Asked by his interviewer, Chemi Shalev, about anti-Muslim discimination, Foxman sought to rationalize it. First, he argued that incidents of anti-Semitism occur more frequently than those related to anti-Muslim bigotry, as if tracking bigotry is a game in which scores are kept. But then Foxman digs deeper. The shameful exchange is worth printing in full (with my emphasis):
Shalev: You don’t think that “Muslim-baiting” is much more acceptable in the mainstream media than, say, “Jew-baiting”? There is a Congressman now who is calling for the authorities to keep track of the entire Muslim community.
Foxman: I don’t think that’s Muslim-baiting. It’s a natural response. It may be wise or unwise. But I think America’s got an issue now, and not only America. You look at France, you look at London, you look at Amsterdam—most of these incidents have come from Muslim communities that have been brought in and are not assimilating. Just like after 9/11, America is now questioning where the balance is between security and freedom of expression: Should we follow the ethnic communities? Should we be monitoring mosques? This isn’t Muslim-baiting—it’s driven by fear, by a desire for safety and security.
“Recalling how many of you were against me last year, I’m getting scared,” Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert joked at the beginning of his address to yesterday’s second annual Jerusalem Post Conference in New York. It was a funny start to a quasi-comic performance in which Olmert, alternately jokey and defensive, acted almost like a medieval court jester, silly antics serving as a mask for serious political critique. And Olmert had good reason to be “scared” of his audience: they expressed displeasure with nearly everything he said, from calling on Israel to reduce its security budget to insisting on the need for a Palestinian state.
Olmert began by promising that “I will do what I always do when speaking to you: I will not criticize the Israeli government. One of the ministers sitting here told me that it’s not appropriate to criticize Israel overseas.” The crowd missed the irony in his tone and applauded this statement wholeheartedly. “However,” Olmert continued, causing the audience members to laugh before falling back into a mistrustful silence, “I want to share with you some of my thoughts and perceptions.”
Dan Balilty / AP Photo
Perhaps the most controversial perception was Olmert’s idea that Israel can now afford to shift its priorities—to dramatically reduce the security budget and dramatically increase the education and welfare budget—because “the strategic situation of the state of Israel is perhaps better than it has been in many, many years, and there is not a serious strategic danger to the wellbeing of the state of Israel.” This statement contrasted sharply with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s rhetoric—clearly more to the audience’s taste—which often emphasizes the existential dangers facing Israel. Speaking over the loud heckling now emanating from the crowd (“That’s insane!” shouted the woman behind me), Olmert insisted that in the next 5-10 years Israel can rest relatively easy. “There is not any other country at this point which threatens the existence of the state of Israel and which can carry on a ground and air war similar to what we had to deal with in the past,” he said, citing Jordan’s stable relations with Israel and Egypt’s helpfulness in brokering the recent Israel-Hamas ceasefire. He admitted that “Syria is a major problem,” but pointed out that whoever will take over after Bashar al-Assad is overthrown “will not be able to take charge of Syria overnight to the degree that they will then be able to look at Israel and express their discontent.”
"I think that is a twisted use of the Holocaust. Like frightening us with all kinds of Iranian threats, or by warning that a million Africans will invade Israel − this is actually a primitive method to keep the masses of the people of Israel in a state of constant fear."
--Prof. Raphi Walden, co-chairperson of Physicians for Human Rights, on why the Jewish people stopped caring about the Other.
- Law blocking Israel's enemies from suing the state gets government backing - The draft legislation preventing citizens of enemy nations from suing Israel was inspired by the case of Mustafa Dirani, a Lebanese man who sued the state from jail. (Haaretz+)
- Yachimovich: We lost four mandates because I didn't deal with the diplomatic issues - In a meeting with Labor party activists, the party's chief said for the first time: "We lost two mandates to Meretz and two to Hatnua from left-wingers to whom a peace agreement was important to them...It turns out that unlike Lapid, we don't have the privilege of not speaking a word about the issue." (Maariv, p. 8/NRG Hebrew)
- MK Stern defends drafting gunman who killed 4 Arabs in shooting spree - Rejects argument by Eden Natan-Zada’s parents that their son, who killed four Arabs in Shfaram and was beaten to death by a crowd, should have been released from service because of his extremist views. Says army service is often 'moderating factor' on extremists. (Haaretz+)
- Sephardi chief rabbi blames 'devil' for plan to enlist ultra-Orthodox - Rabbi Shlomo Amar says the devil has prompted people jealous of Torah study to fight against it. (Haaretz+ and Ynet)
- Palestinian detainee escapes, unnoticed by Border Guard officers - Infiltrator arrested for illegal residency escapes from transport en route to prison, as Border Guard officers don’t notice; man is still missing, not considered dangerous. (Ynet)
- French court: Jerusalem rail does not violate international law - Dismisses claim that French firms violated human rights by helping to build the rail system running through East Jerusalem. (Haaretz)
- Defected Syrian general claims he was ordered to use chemical weapons - Former Assad army general asserts he used harmless substance instead; statement aired on an anti-Assad TV channel, raising questions over veracity of claims; Syrian rebels claim Assad used chemical weapons near Damascus last week. (Agencies, Haaretz)
Something about the third week of April brings tragedy and bloodshed into American history: Waco, Oklahoma City, Columbine, Virginia Tech. Now Boston and West, Texas, are added to the list. The United States has too many memorials to remember in this short span. But the 2013 version of this week will prove important to reflect upon. Between the news of Boston and Texas came news out of Washington: the Senate failed to pass legislation that would expand background checks for gun sales, which would have been the simplest, least controversial legislative action they could have taken in response to an ongoing national debate set off after the Newtown, CT, shootings.
What do mass shootings, acts of terrorism and workplace accidents have in common? All of them pose fundamental challenges to the security and wellbeing of the citizenry, and all of them demand a government response. Yet despite the fact that all three of these events can result in carnage and destruction, the policy discourse and media coverage of each varies in the aftermath, and does not neatly correspond with the severity of the threat posed.
A group of people console one another at a candlelight vigil held at Boston Common in Boston, Massachusetts on April 16, 2013. (Matthew Healey/UPI, via Landov)
In 2011, more than 4,600 people died in American workplace accidents – that’s 13 a day. Since the rampage at Newtown, nearly 4,000 people have been killed in gun violence or roughly 30 a day. In the five year span from 2007 to 2011, 93 Americans have died due to terrorism in the United States – that’s about .05 people a day. Americans remain more likely to be killed by having their furniture fall on them, choking on their own vomit, or being stung by bees than at the hands of terrorists.
But the national conversations after each of these events are remarkably different. Certainly with every discussion of increased government action in society for the sake of protecting Americans a balance must be struck between liberty and security. Where that balance seems to lie on each of these issues varies, and not in a way that makes sense given the threats they pose.
Matthew Kalman broke the story of physicist Stephen Hawking’s boycott of Israel. Then Cambridge University tried to falsely deny it.