How Netanyahu’s Dangerously Twisted Words Hide the Truth

Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem

(photo: PBS)

By Peter Beinart / The Forward
January 4, 2017


In the West Bank, Israel is not the “one true democracy in the Middle East.” It is not a democracy at all. It is not a democracy because Palestinians — who comprise the vast majority of the West Bank’s inhabitants — cannot vote for the government that controls their lives: the government of Israel. . . . If Israel really were a democracy in the West Bank, and millions of West Bank Palestinians could vote in Israeli elections, Netanyahu wouldn’t be Israel’s prime minister.


Last month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued two public statements. When the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution criticizing settlements, Netanyahu attacked it for not condemning Syria. When Secretary of State John Kerry defended the Obama administration’s decision to let the resolution pass, Netanyahu attacked him for not sufficiently condemning the Palestinians.

In both responses, the Israeli leader illustrated George Orwell’s famous insight: The abuse of human beings starts with the abuse of language.

“At a time when the Security Council does nothing to stop the slaughter of half a million people in Syria,” Netanyahu declared after the UN vote, “it disgracefully gangs up on the one true democracy in the Middle East, Israel.”

The first clause is a non-sequitur. Yes, Syrians in Aleppo and elsewhere are suffering more than Palestinians in the West Bank. Yes, the UN should be doing more to relieve their plight. But the test of whether Israeli settlement policy deserves international condemnation is whether Israeli settlement policy is morally wrong, not whether other governments deserve condemnation more.

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Let There Be Light

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Image courtesy of Anne-Marie O’Connor, for The Washington Post

20 minutes from modern Jerusalem, a Palestinian village is stranded in the past

Anne-Marie O’Connor, The Washington Post
JUBBET ADH DHIB, West Bank
October 22, 2016


“The village is one of 241 Palestinian communities in the Israeli-controlled West Bank — a zone known as Area C — that lack services because ‘Israel practically bans Palestinian construction’ while helping Jewish settlements grow, according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.”


Let there be light.

That is a plea of residents of this Palestinian village who have waited nearly three decades for electricity while well-lit Israeli settlements sprang up around them. Now they are pinning their hopes on a new local women’s committee that is determined to get them on the grid.

Just a 20-minute drive from bustling modern Jerusalem, on the side of a mountain whose name means “Paradise,” Jubbet adh Dhib is like a step back in time.

Without refrigeration, food goes bad. Elderly Palestinians fall down in the dark. Children can’t study at night. With no WiFi and limited television, villagers feel cut off from the world.

“Our children don’t have a good childhood,” said Fadia al-Wahsh, the leader of the women’s committee.

“They see kids everywhere, with iPads and Internet” in more prosperous Palestinian communities, she said. “My son says, ‘Why do you make me live here?’ ”

A few hundred yards from Jubbet adh Dhib are the bright lights of Sde Bar, a small Israeli settlement and a neighborhood of the larger settlement of Nokdim, where Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman lives. But the villagers have no access to the schools, cafes, art galleries, garbage collection, tennis courts and public pools at these or other settlements just minutes away.

[Continue reading here . . . ]

Most Palestinians Blame Britain

For the Israeli Occupation, Poll Finds

By Ruth Eglash, The Washington Post
October 18, 2016


“Yes, 100 years have passed since the notorious Balfour Declaration, by which Britain gave, without any right, authority or consent from anyone, the land of Palestine to another people. That declaration paved the road for the Nakba of the Palestinian people and their dispossession and displacement from their land.”


At last month’s gathering of the U.N. General Assembly, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas placed the responsibility for the 50-year-long Israeli occupation of his people squarely on the shoulders of the British.

“Yes, 100 years have passed since the notorious Balfour Declaration, by which Britain gave, without any right, authority or consent from anyone, the land of Palestine to another people,” he said. That declaration, Abbas said, “paved the road for the Nakba of the Palestinian people and their dispossession and displacement from their land.” Nakba, or the catastrophe, is the term used by the Palestinians in reference to the 1948 war.

Abbas was referring to a letter from November 1917 sent by the British foreign secretary at the time, Arthur James Balfour, to Walter Rothschild, a British Jewish community leader, stating that the British government will support the “establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

A poll released this week by the Center for Opinion Polls and Survey Studies at An-Najah National University in Nablus of Palestinian attitudes to peace and their own leadership showed that the majority of Palestinians agree with Abbas.

Among the questions asked of 1,362 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank ages 18 and older was whether they “support or reject the call from President Mahmoud Abbas on Britain to accept the historical, legal, political, material and moral responsibilities relating to the consequences of Belfour Declaration including offering an apology to the Palestinian people for the catastrophes and injustice committed against them?”

The majority, 75 percent, said they did. When asked whether they consider Britain responsible for the catastrophes that befell the Palestinian people, 79 percent said yes.

[Continue reading here . . . ]

Jews and Palestinians Working Together

To Bring Peace to the Middle East

By Jeremy Ben-Ami and Maen Rashid Areikat
The Seattle Times
October 16, 2016


“The time when one side can afford to deny the presence of the other is long gone. The stark truth is that there are two peoples living on the same land and dividing it between them is the only way to bury this long conflict once and for all.”


[Note: The authors will be speaking at Town Hall Seattle on Wednesday evening at 7:00]

For decades, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the larger Arab-Israeli conflict have cast a dark shadow over the Middle East. This conflict has cost human lives and drained vital resources. It has denied millions of people in the region the opportunity to prosper and grow away from the threat of confrontation, occupation and violence.

We know how this can and must end: a two-state solution ensuring that two states, Israel and Palestine, can live in peace and security, with both sides accepting and recognizing the national and legitimate rights of the other. This is not a zero-sum game — the fates of both peoples are permanently intertwined, and neither can truly flourish while the other suffers. [Continue reading here . . . ]