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How will history judge Trump and his enablers? Youre asking the wrong question. – Forward

Posted By on February 6, 2021

From the day Donald Trump was ushered into the White House to the day he was ushered out, commentators have found comfort in the phrase history will judge. If they mean that historians will not look kindly on Donald Trump and his enablers, they are probably right. But right or wrong, their judgment will probably not matter to future generations. We need look no further than the tension between Jewish history and Jewish memory to understand why this is so.

In his brilliant book Zakhor, which examines the fraught relationship between Jewish history and Jewish memory, the late historian Yosef Yerushalmi claimed that the latter will always best the former. The Jewish imperative to remember declensions of the verb zakhor ring out nearly 200 times in the Hebrew Bible has long had little if anything to do with the writing of history. Until the modern era, Yerushalmi argues, Jews were less interested in establishing historical narratives than in establishing metahistorical meaning. With the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, the rabbis had all the history they needed.

Yerushalmis insight oddly echoes the old joke about the two Jewish women complaining about a restaurants fare: The food was terrible says one; Yes, and it was such small portions too, says the other. So, too, with the Jewish response to historys fare: The servings are few and terrible. From the fall of the Temple in 70 CE and the expulsion from Spain to the Polish pogroms and the Shoah, the servings of history have been traumatic. As a result, it is as if everything and nothing has changed over the millennia. If the prophets, writes Yerushalmi, had established the pattern to history based on the destruction of the Temple, it is a pattern that seems to have stuck with us ever since.

Medieval Jews, writes Yerushalmi, continued to subsume even major new events to familiar archetype through the early modern era. In the wake of the Spanish expulsion, Jews did not turn to history and historiography for comprehension, but instead to the Kabbalah for consolation. The mystical teachings of Isaac Luria offered an interpretation of history that lay beyond history. The desire for something more than history to explain history remains embedded in Jewish culture. Reflecting on the massive historiography of the Shoah, Yerushalmi more or less concludes that rarely have so many historians done so much to inform so few. Instead, most Jews have turned to literature and ideology in their search for meaning. The result, Yerushalmi concludes is that while many Jews are searching for a past, they patently do not want the past that is offered by the historian.

All of this casts a sharp light not just on the relationship between Jews and their history, but also between other groups and their histories. While commentators invoke history as the measure by which Trump will be judged, some of these groups have different measures in mind. Clearly, this is case with Americas religious right.. As Andrew Whitehead and Samuel L. Perry argue in their new book Taking Back America for God, this powerful movement embraces a specific vision of Christianitys relationship to American identity and civic life.

We can add American history to that list of relationships. The Christian right is as dismissive of academic historians as early modern European Jews were of the few scholars who sought to base history on worldy, not other-wordly causes. profane history to explain 1492. Then and now, these groups thought traditional historiography irrelevant at best, invidious at worst. In fact, for Christian nationalists like mega-preacher Robert Jeffress, the real purveyors of myth are the trained historians. We are, in their eyes, a benighted profession either clueless or contemptuous of this countrys Christian foundations. Our success, he warns his flock, depends on our country being faithful to those eternal truths of Gods word.

What Lurias followers and Christian nationalists share is the conviction that the pasts meaning is found not in material, political, or social changes, but instead in unchanging and transcendental truths. Then and now, history is not the study of events unfolding causally but instead, as Yerushalmi argues, a series of situations into which one could somehow be existentially drawn. No less important, for both groups, this approach to history seems to endow the individual with the power to participate actively in hastening its messianic liquidation.

The similarities end here, though. One crucial difference between the two religious groups is that the kabbalists did not participate actively by storming palaces and churches. Instead, they limited their participation in repairing the world to performing mitzvahs. As for the Christian insurrectionists, repairing the world means tearing it apart and terrorizing those still wedded to its reality. While Jeffress condemned the insurrection as sinful, he refused to condemn former President Trump declaring: I dont regret for one minute supporting him.

For those of us devoted to our democracy and our world, this moment has existential import. At such a moment, Yerushalmi believed, historians have a crucial role to play. But it is a role that demands an audience. If our books are to be read, we must write them for readers beyond the academy. We cannot succeed by continuing to write on narrow topics in turgid prose. The divorce of history from literature, Yerushalmi lamented, has been catastrophic for both Jewish and non-Jewish historical writing. Those who are alienated from the past cannot be drawn to it by explanation alone; they require evocation as well. The most urgent of mitzvahs that historians can perform is not to tell us to judge who is guilty or innocent, but instead to show us to evoke how we reached the point. This is the first step to take if we hope to avoid reaching such points ever again.

Robert Zaretsky teaches at the University of Houston. His new book, The Subversive Simone Weil: A Life in Five Ideas, will be published in February by University of Chicago Press.

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How will history judge Trump and his enablers? Youre asking the wrong question. - Forward

Working With 28. Jun, A United Nations Consultant And Forbes Nonprofit Council Member – Severna Park Voice

Posted By on February 6, 2021

By Emet Mihajlo l Arnold resident

Its common to find ourselves discontent searching within and asking God for a great mitzvah or life mission. For me, I felt as though my greatest work in life would be my art and film achievements. Having my use of acrylic critiqued by Jemima Kirke, an accomplished portrait painter, seemed to be the capstone award I was waiting for. That idea left quite an empty feeling and I was unable to pinpoint why living my dream didnt fill the void.

In my late teens and early 20s, I battled addiction after my trust was abused and my innocence was stolen. My way of coping was to dive into creativity. Being a history buff, I was browsing the internet for a subject I could write about for a cathartic narrative feature. Sarajevo seemed to find me. I was researching besieged cities while sitting in the cafeteria of Anne Arundel Community College when I read The Siege of Sarajevo and aloud I said, Oh, Bosnia... as if one were reuniting with an old friend one I recall hearing about constantly in my early childhood (late 1990s). Then suddenly, the prettiest voice positively exclaimed, Bosnia?! I am from Bosnia. Perhaps Amna, whom that voice belonged to, was that old friend from a past life.

Being a detail fanatic, I had to know all of the history if I was going to write a decent script. This led me down a dark path in regard to the crimes committed and the shear violence that took place. Shocked, horrified and never again was I the same after learning the truth of what happened to Yugoslavia contrary to what we are told to believe. I am a staunch Zionist, so this mitzvah was easily relatable. Being of service, which I gained from the recovery world, was now my greatest asset.

In 2017, I began volunteering for the 28. Jun nonprofit organization led by recording artist Filip Filipi and Sneana Dimitrijevi. My film career started to become less of a priority as I was reminded of the joy received when we live for others.

Emet is one of our secret weapons, akin to Israels Mossad, Filipi said. It only made sense for a staunch Zionist with a full comprehension of what was perpetrated against Yugoslavia to join our team.

Im one who tries to play surprises on people, but one was played on me when I received my membership card in an unexpected care package put together by Sneana marking the week 28. Jun became inducted in the Forbes Nonprofit Council. This act further drove me to acknowledge the humility of someone halfway around the world who has bestowed compassion and empathy upon me in the past.

Snzeana reminds us of the last queen of Bosnia prior to the Ottoman conquest, Katarina Kosaa. Her intense devotion to her faith, family and absolute strangers is a trait reminiscent of a bygone era, usually recorded in history, as is such the case.

28. Jun is a special consultant to the United Nations and is the only humanitarian organization of the Western Balkans recognized by the United Nations.

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Working With 28. Jun, A United Nations Consultant And Forbes Nonprofit Council Member - Severna Park Voice

The incredible life of David Carll and his five generations who’ve raised families on his property – KABC-TV

Posted By on February 6, 2021

OYSTER BAY, New York -- Interwoven in the history of Oyster Bay, NY, a hamlet on the North Shore of Long Island, are untold stories of African Americans that have played significant roles in shaping the fabric of the town.

The incredible life of David Carll is one of these stories and his great-great-grandchildren Denise Evans-Sheppard, Actress and Singer Vanessa Williams, Iris Williams, and Francis Carl are sharing that story in celebration of Black History Month.

As a free man, he did not turn a blind eye to the culture that surrounded him. In Oyster Bay, there were African American men, women, and children that were enslaved and he wanted everyone to experience the same freedoms that he had.

When a colored regiment was established in the State of New York, David Carll enlisted into the Civil War and was assigned to the 26th United States Colored regiment. He understood his responsibility to ensure the freedom of all.

"When it was time for him to come home from the Civil War, $300 bounty was given to any person that enlisted. David Carll purchased property and that is when Carll Hill was built," said Denise Evans-Sheppard, Executive Director of the Oyster Bay Historical Society.

Since its purchase in 1865, five generations have raised families on the property. 'Carll Hill' has served as the backdrop for family gatherings and a constant reminder of the incredible legacy of David Carll.

Through the family's extensive research of the life of David Carll, they came across his pension file, a written document about his experience in the Civil War at the National Archive in Washington, DC.

This document allowed the family to visually see the man that they had heard about for all of these years.

This discovery was a pivotal point for the family. Not only did they have the property as evidence of his contributions to society, now they can see the man himself.

In July 2018, Pine Hollow Cemetery, the final resting place of David Carll, was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places. The land is owned by the Hood African Methodist Episcopal Zionist Church of Oyster Bay, New York.

"We have a lot of shoulders to stand on, said Francis Carl. "David Carll is the most courageous man that I know of."

Oyster Bay is home to many unsung heroes and David Carll is one for the history books. His legacy is a big beautiful family that will continue to make him proud.

Don't miss more incredible stories in honor of Black History Month.

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The incredible life of David Carll and his five generations who've raised families on his property - KABC-TV

Civil Society and the Question of Palestine – NGO Action News 4 February 2021 – occupied Palestinian territory – ReliefWeb

Posted By on February 6, 2021

THIS PAGE MAY CONTAIN LINKS TO THIRD-PARTY WEB SITES. THE LINKED SITES ARE NOT UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE UNITED NATIONS AND THE UNITED NATIONS IS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CONTENT OF ANY LINKED SITE OR ANY LINK CONTAINED IN A LINKED SITE. THE UNITED NATIONS PROVIDES THESE LINKS ONLY AS A CONVENIENCE, AND THE INCLUSION OF A LINK OR REFERENCE DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT OF THE LINKED SITE BY THE UNITED NATIONS. THIS NEWSLETTER IS A PROJECT OF THE DIVISION FOR PALESTINIAN RIGHTS, AND IS INTENDED TO PROVIDE INFORMATION ON NGO ACTIVITIES RELEVANT TO THE QUESTION OF PALESTINE . NGOS INTERESTED IN CONTRIBUTING INFORMATION ON THEIR ACTIVITIES SHOULD COMMUNICATE IT BY EMAIL.THE DIVISION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MAKE THE FINAL SELECTION WITH REGARD TO MATERIAL TO BE INCLUDED IN THIS NEWSLETTER. IT CANNOT TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE ACCURACY OF THE INFORMATION.

4 February 2021

Middle East

On 2 February, Addameer -- Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association denounced an Israeli Military Court's recent administrative detention order against a Palestinian child with a rare disease. The NGO called for immediate intervention to end his administrative detention and ensure his rights to liberty, health and fair trial, and for an end the arbitrary detention of Palestinian children and to ensure that their deprivation of liberty is used as the last resort for the shortest time possible.

On 2 February, B'Tselem issued a press release to denounce recent Israeli measures as part of its ongoing efforts to forcibly transfer Palestinian communities in order to take over their land. These included the confiscation by Israeli forces of most of the residential structures and livestock pens in the community of Khirbet Humsah, as well as on the launch of a large-scale military manoeuvre set to last two to three days in areas Israel has declared firing zones in the South Hebron Hills.

On 2 February, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) denounced a large-scale demolition operation of Palestinian civilian properties in Humsah al-Fuqa area, in the northern Jordan Valley, where 28 homes and facilities were demolished by the Israeli forces displacing 85 Palestinians including 45 children. PCHR highlighted these demolitions as part of an accelerated campaign by the Israeli forces to demolish Palestinian homes in the West Bank, incluing East Jerusalem, under the Israeli annexation and settlement-expansion schemes.

On 31 January, Peace Now issued the report "(Dis)Approvals for Palestinians in Area C -- 2009-2020". The report describes how in 2019 and 2020, some 32 plans and permits for Palestinians in Area C were approved, while 310 plans and permit request were rejected. At the same time, 16,098 Israeli settlement plans were approved and promoted and permits for an additional 2,233 units were issued by the Civil Administration.

On 31 January, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and 60 member organisations including Palestinian Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights addressed a joint open letter to US President Biden to call on his administration to demonstrate its commitment to human rights and alignment with the international legal order by fully rescinding, with immediate effect, the Executive Order "Blocking Property of Certain Persons Associated with the International Criminal Court". The latter targets international justice efforts before the ICC directly and further threatens international efforts towards accountability for the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole.

Europe

On 28 January, the European Coordination of Committees and Associations for Palestine (ECCP) issued the press release "European Complicity with Israel's Violations of Human Rights: The Case of G4S". ECCP criticized G4S -- the biggest security company in the world -- to be "deeply complicit in Israel's illegal and violent repression of Palestinians" with its operation and partial ownership of Israel's National Police Academy and the training it provides to the Israeli police. The platform of NGOs stated it was unacceptable for the European institutions to have contractual relations with a firm that is engaged in providing support for activities that constitute violations of international law.

On 28 January, Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights (LPHR) published its Child Rights Bulletin for the period 1 November -- 31 December 2020, where it outlines key incidents under a range of violation categories -- fatalities, injuries, settler-violence, arrests and detention, interference against education, displacement and demolitions.

On 28 January, the Association France Palestine Solidarit (AFPS) shared the joint petition by organisations working on Palestinian rights "Facebook, We Need to Talk, And You're not Letting Us". In an that open letter to Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg, AFPS expressed their worry with Facebook's decision to revise its policy on hate speeches while and considering the term "Zionist" as being interchangeable with the terms "Jewish" or "Israeli", thus equating anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism.

On 27 January, the Association Belgo-Palestinienne (ABP) issued the press release "[Belgium's] Regions Need to Stop Promoting Trade with an Apartheid State", asking Brussels regional officials to vote in favour of a draft bill on the criteria to be taken into consideration by the Belgian regional authorities in authorising economic missions abroad, following a recent suspension of a regional economic mission in Israel co-organised by the group "HUB-Brussels", because of pressure from several human rights groups.

North America

On 11 February, Columbia University -- Centre for Palestine Studies will hold the live panel "'Palestine, In-Between' Palestinian Feminist Discourses: Contemporary Views and Emerging Movements" with speakers from Gaza, Haifa and Ramallah. The panel will aim to introduce new feminist movements that are gaining momentum across Palestine and Israel.

On 8 February, Americans for Peace Now (APN) will hold the webinar "Israeli Elections Round 4 -- New Map or More of the Same?" with political analyst and pollster Dahlia Scheindlin. The discussion will focus on whether there are new players on the scene, if they have a chance of denying Prime Minister Netanyahu another term in office, how the traditional left is faring, the Arab vote and the prospects for a joint Jewish-Arab party.

United Nations

This newsletter informs about recent and upcoming activities of Civil Society Organizations affiliated with the United Nations Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. The Committee and the Division for Palestinian Rights of the UN Secretariat provide the information "as is" without warranty of any *kind, and do not accept any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, or reliability of the information contained in the websites linked in the newsletter.*

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Civil Society and the Question of Palestine - NGO Action News 4 February 2021 - occupied Palestinian territory - ReliefWeb

Facebook is getting pulled into a fight about the politics of Israel – The Verge

Posted By on February 6, 2021

On November 10th, a Facebook employee sent out an unusual email to an unknown outside party, hoping to arrange a conversation about how the platform moderated against anti-Semitism. We are looking at the question of how we should interpret attacks on Zionists, reads the letter, whose recipient was redacted, to determine whether the term is a proxy for attacking Jewish or Israeli people.

That strange but seemingly innocuous email has set off a firestorm in certain corners of the left. Since Tuesday, activists have been circulating a petition calling on the platform to halt any potential changes to the way Facebook moderates the word Zionist. Both sides agree the term is often used as part of racist rhetoric that is accurately described as hate speech and should be removed. At the same time, the term is also used by Jewish critics of specific Israeli policies, particularly the countrys settlement policy. Classifying the term as hate speech would end up stifling those criticisms at least on Facebook.

Hosted by the progressive group Jewish Voices for Peace (JVP), the petition ultimately drew more than 20,000 signatures, including artist-activists like Michael Chabon, Peter Gabriel, and Wallace Shawn. We are deeply concerned about Facebooks proposed revision of its hate speech policy to consider Zionist as a proxy for Jew or Jewish, the petition reads. This is the wrong solution to a real and important problem.

Reached for comment, Facebook denied that there are any plans to reclassify the word in its hate speech policy. But at the same time, Facebook did not dispute the authenticity of the email or deny that the platforms classification of the term Zionist was under review simply saying no decision had been made.

Under our current policies, we allow the term Zionist in political discourse, but remove it when its used as a proxy for Jews or Israelis in a dehumanizing or violent way, said a Facebook spokesperson. Just as we do with all of our policies regularly, we are independently engaging with experts and stakeholders to ensure that this policy is in the right place, but this does not mean we will change our policy.

Even without a concrete policy change to respond to, JVP sees Facebooks email as part of a broader campaign to shift how the platform treats criticism of the Israeli government. Restricting the word Zionist as part of a hate speech policy wont actually make Jewish people safer, said Rabbi Alissa Wise, Deputy Director at Jewish Voice for Peace, who said the proposed Facebook change would only prevent its users from holding the Israeli government accountable for harming Palestinian people.

Social media companies should allow people to hold our governments accountable to us, Wise continued, not shield governments from accountability.

The new changes seem plausible in part because of the rapid changes in Facebooks public policies towards anti-Semitism, many of them positive. In August, Facebook altered its hate speech policy to directly address anti-Semitism after receiving a letter from a coalition of Jewish groups. The revised hate speech policy included a range of specific references to anti-Semitism, including a clause that explicitly classified generalizations about Jewish people running the world as anti-Semitic hate speech.

But Facebook didnt make all the changes requested in the August letter. The signees urged Facebook to adopt a definition of anti-Semitism developed by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). But the IHRA standards include a number of provisions that potentially limit criticism of Israel itself, classifying applying double standards to the countrys actions or generally denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination as anti-Semitic. These same provisions have been the subject of US congressional proposals around anti-Semitism, which were criticized by the ACLU on similar grounds.

In a letter to one of the projects architects, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said the IHRA definition has been invaluable in informing Facebooks policies, but left the details of the implementation more vague. And Facebooks current hate speech policy does not mention Israel or Zionism.

Facebook has continued to engage with groups on both sides of the debate, but the ongoing nature of the outreach has raised tempers instead of calming them. Architects of the August letter have continued to pressure Facebook to fully adopt the IHRA definition, and its unclear how much sway these arguments have within Facebook.

Facebooks updates to its hate speech policy havent satisfied its IHRA-focused critics, whose goal isnt to get Facebook to deplatform antisemitism, wrote Lara Friedman, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, in the wake of the August letter, but to get Facebook to deplatform criticism of Israel.

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Facebook is getting pulled into a fight about the politics of Israel - The Verge

The Threat of Linking Zionism with Christianity in Iraq – International Christian Concern

Posted By on February 6, 2021

02/05/2021 Iraq(International Christian Concern) A graduate students thesis titled Christian American Zionism and its role in the invasion of Iraq 2003 prompted a Christian former member of parliament to threaten suit against the university.

According to the former parliamentarian Joseph Slewah, the association of Christianity with the Zionist movement and the U.S. invasion mislabels them and prompts concern for coexistence in Iraq. He also highlighted how Christians were most affected by the war, with less than 2% returned to Mosul. With this rationale, Slewah threatened to sue the University of Mosul if the title was not changed.

The University agreed to remove the term Christian from the title but justified the students research saying that it was not a religious attack and instead looking at historical information.

Linking Christianity with Christian Zionism is often utilized in several Middle Eastern countries to support efforts saying Christianity is undermining society and is used as justification for things like deportation, restrictions on freedom of speech and religion, and legal charges.

For interviews, please contact Alison Garcia: press@persecution.org

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The Threat of Linking Zionism with Christianity in Iraq - International Christian Concern

Facebook draws ire after employee says the site could police the term ‘Zionists’ – thejewishchronicle.net

Posted By on February 6, 2021

(JTA) A leaked email written by a Facebook employee hints that the social media giant may review its policy on allowing the term Zionist, and pro-Palestinian groups argue that such a move would endanger free speech on Israel issues.

In the email dated Nov. 10, the unidentified employee wrote to an unidentified source: We are looking at the question of how we should interpret attacks on Zionists to determine whether the term is used as a proxy for attacking Jewish or Israeli people. The term brings with it much history and various meanings, and we are looking to increase our understanding of how it is used by people on our platform.

In a version of the email reported on Sunday by The Verge, the names of both the sender and recipient were redacted.

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Since last week, the anti-Zionist group Jewish Voice For Peace has circulated a petition opposing any change to Facebooks policy on allowing use of the word Zionist. Its signers include an array of prominent voices such as Michael Chabon, Peter Gabriel, Wallace Shawn, Noam Chomsky and Linda Sarsour.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, put out a statement Monday saying that it has joined the international campaign to keep Facebook from changing its position on the word.

The proposed policy would too easily mischaracterize conversations about Zionists and by extension, Zionism as inherently antisemitic, harming Facebook users and undermining efforts to dismantle real antisemitism and all forms of racism, extremism, and oppression, the petition states.

A Facebook spokesperson told The Verge that the company allows the term Zionist in political discourse, but not when its used as a proxy for Jews or Israelis in a dehumanizing or violent way. Although Facebook is independently engaging with experts and stakeholders, the spokesperson added, that does not necessitate a change in policy.

Facebook debuted a new pop-up last week aimed at combating Holocaust denial on the platform. PJC

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Facebook draws ire after employee says the site could police the term 'Zionists' - thejewishchronicle.net

Fatah: elections will be held in Jerusalem against the Zionist entity’s will – Middle East Monitor

Posted By on February 6, 2021

The Secretary of Fatah's Central Committee said on Tuesday that the Palestinian elections will be held in Jerusalem, probably against the Zionist entity's will. Jibril Rajoub told Palestine TV that the occupation government rejects any sovereign acts by the Palestinians in the city but has not yet revealed its position about 340,000 Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem taking part in the elections.

During the interview, Rajoub denied that a Joint List had been proposed along with the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, or other alliances with anyone else. He added that Fatah will head to Cairo for a meeting with the Palestinian factions on Monday to agree on the mechanisms for the polls. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas assigned Rajoub to lead the Fatah delegation for the Cairo talks.

"I trust that Hamas will participate in the elections," he added, "and that no one will be able to stop them from doing so."

Saleh Al-Arouri, the deputy head of the Hamas Political Bureau will lead its delegation in Cairo. All Palestinian factions are scheduled to participate in the "comprehensive national dialogue" to discuss "national reconciliation and holding the Palestinian elections."

According to a presidential decree, the elections will be held in three stages starting in May with the Palestinian Legislative Council. The presidential election will be held on 31 July, and the Palestinian National Council election will follow a month later.

READ: Putting the Palestinians in the diaspora on the electoral and political map

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Fatah: elections will be held in Jerusalem against the Zionist entity's will - Middle East Monitor

Farewell to Ezra Nawi, a Mizrahi Jew who refused to live by Zionism’s rules – +972 Magazine

Posted By on February 6, 2021

The news didnt surprise any of us. We knew that Ezra Nawi was on his deathbed; some of us in his closest circle of friends even managed to say our goodbyes to him, before he passed away of cancer on January 9 at the age of 69. And yet, the news left us stunned. Perhaps it was because none of us were able or wanted to imagine a radical left in Israel without him.

Ezra, who was a plumber, Mizrahi, and gay, dedicated his life to the struggle against the Israeli occupation, Jewish supremacy, and to defending Palestinians. He was one of the founders of Taayush (Arabic for coexistence), an anti-occupation direct action group. For years he put his body and the little property he owned on the line in the struggle alongside the most vulnerable people living under Israeli control, especially the Palestinians living in the South Hebron Hills in the occupied West Bank. He did so with both grace and brusqueness, with humor and rage. He did it with utter totality, bravery, and heart.

When the anti-occupation group Women in Black who have protested Israels military rule over the occupied territories in Jerusalem for the last 30 years were attacked by passersby, Ezra would come and hand out roses to the women. When he saw injustice, he did not hesitate to confront soldiers or settlers, or putting himself in danger to try and stop an Israeli bulldozer from demolishing a Palestinian home.

He stopped counting the number of times he was arrested. Activists from Jerusalem recall, with a smile, how there was an entire bookcase of binders dedicated to Ezras legal records in the office of the legendary human rights attorney Leah Tsemel.

More than anything, Ezra was the paragon of a Mizrahi political alternative in Israel-Palestine. When the Mizrahi left had trouble imagining our vision, Ezra simply personified that alternative. He was not a Mizrahi activist; his Mizrahi identity never required any special title.

Ezra was a fluent Arabic speaker, born in Jerusalem to parents who immigrated to Israel from Iraq. His Arabic was not the product of academia, nor the military service it flowed through his veins effortlessly. Ezra did not talk about Mizrahi identity; he lived it. He was one of the few Mizrahim I know who lived his life as a native in this land, rather than as a Mizrahi subject in the Zionist villa in the jungle.

Supporters stand with Ezra Nawi outside an Israeli prison where he served a one-month sentence, May 23, 2010. Nawi was arrested in 2007 when he nonviolently tried to stop a house demolition in the South Hebron Hills and was later convicted of assaulting a police officer and participating in a riot. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

In the Mizrahi petition against the Jewish Nation-State Law, the petitioners focused on two particular clauses: Israels demotion of Arabic from an official language to a language with special status, and the encouragement of Jewish settlement as a national value. Ezra personified the opposition to both these clauses: a Jew whose mother tongue was Arabic, and who fought tooth and nail against home demolitions whose sole purpose was to build Jewish-Israeli settlements.

Ezras connection to Palestinians in the West Bank paradoxically turned him both into a major threat to the Israeli regime, and its easy prey. The Zionist establishment was never tolerant of Mizrahi-Palestinian solidarity, and Ezra paid a high price under this intolerance. It is no wonder that the other two Jewish human rights activists who have suffered similar, severe persecution from the Israeli establishment Mordechai Vanunu and Tali Fahima are both Mizrahim.

Five years ago, Israels leading investigative television program Uvda broadcasted a report based on an investigation prepared by far-right group Ad Kan, which planted moles in left-wing groups in Israel. This was a popular tactic in those days to try and incriminate left-wing activists.

One of those moles, who pretended to be a human rights activist, infiltrated Taayush and spent time with its activists, including Ezra. The report accused Ezra having identified Palestinian land brokers who were willing to sell land to Israeli brokers a capital offense under Palestinian law and was going to turn them over to the PA.

Uvdas report exacted a heavy price. Israel immediately arrested Ezra and held him in prison for two weeks, much of the time without being able to meet with his attorney. Ezra was attacked by the entire political establishment and charged with some of the most serious criminal offenses in the countrys law book, including making contact with a foreign agent, accessory to manslaughter, and conspiracy to commit murder. The charges were bogus from the very start, and all of them were eventually dropped, except one: violating the Oslo Accords, a charge that no Israeli has ever stood trial for.

Ezra Nawi confronts an israeli settler during protest against settlement expansion and land grabs in Susya, West Bank, January 13th, 2007. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

The nightmarish persecution Ezra went through turned his life into a living hell. He came out of the affair a different person.

Following the Uvda broadcast, the ever-vivacious, funny, and charismatic Ezra had a stroke. His already precarious financial situation took a serious hit, and his health continued to deteriorate until his final days. Many turned their backs on him, even on the left.

Although Ezra never fully regained his strength, he did not cease his tireless work. He continued, as best as he could, to visit and help the Palestinian communities in the West Bank. As I stood in the South Hebron Hills last month, watching the Palestinians of Khirbet Tawamin, along with left-wing Israeli activists, demonstrate against home demolitions and settler violence, I suddenly felt the pain of Ezras absence.

In his final days, Ezra tended to tell the friends who came to say their goodbyes that he could have done much more. Few activists have done as much as he has. But it is true that the struggle against injustice, to which Ezra dedicated his life, is long and bitter. We will continue to fight in his name, among many others.

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Farewell to Ezra Nawi, a Mizrahi Jew who refused to live by Zionism's rules - +972 Magazine

Far-right parties led by Smotrich and Ben Gvir, a Kahane disciple, join forces – The Times of Israel

Posted By on February 6, 2021

A day before final electoral slates must be presented, the far-right Religious Zionism and Otzma Yehudit parties announced on Wednesday that they had signed a merger agreement to run jointly in the upcoming election.

The alliance will also include the anti-LGBT Noam party.

The merger, agreed upon by Religious Zionism party leader MK Bezalel Smotrich and Otzma Yehudit chair Itamar Ben Gvir, was reportedly brokered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself in an effort to prevent either or both of the satellite parties from failing to pass the electoral threshold and wasting right-wing votes.

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Ben Gvir will be third on the merged slate, meaning he will win a seat in the Knesset if the merged ticket clears the 3.25% Knesset threshold.

Otzma Yehudit is made up of followers of the late racist rabbi Meir Kahane, a former MK whose Kach party was banned from the Knesset in the 1980s the first instance of a party being banned for racism. Otzma Yehudit supports encouraging emigration of non-Jews from Israel and expelling Palestinians and Israeli Arabs who refuse to declare loyalty to Israel and accept diminished status in an expanded Jewish state whose sovereignty extends throughout the West Bank.

The prime minister was said to have promised Smotrich that hed place a candidate of Smotrichs choice on Likuds slate and offer him at least one ministerial portfolio if he merged with Otzma Yehudit. Kan news reported that Netanyahu has also promised to allow new settlement construction in the West Bank in exchange for the merger going forward, and to give Smotrich all credit for the move.

Ben Gvirs former running mate, ex-MK Michael Ben-Ari, was disqualified from running for the Knesset over accusations ofracism.

A similar merger two years ago was denounced by major US Jewish organizations AIPAC and the AJC. AIPAC called Otzma Yehudit a racist and reprehensible party.

Itamar Ben Gvir, head of the Otzma Yehudit party holds a press conference in Jerusalem on February 26, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Earlier this week, Otzma Yehudit agreed to also run with the Noam party, formed by the head of the Har Hamor yeshiva, Rabbi Tzvi Tau, and focused almost exclusively on combating LGBT acceptance. The slate dropped out days before the September 2019 election after Netanyahu reportedly promised to shelve plans for a mixed-gender prayer area at the Western Wall in Jerusalem in exchange for it bowing out of the race.

The fringe party funded provocative billboards and video ads with the slogan Israel chooses to be normal, and claimed the LGBT community has forced its agenda on the rest of Israeli society. It also likened LGBT and Reform Jews to the Nazis.

According to the deal signed Wednesday between the Religious Zionist party and Otzma Yehudit, Smotrich will lead the joint slate followed by another representative from his faction. Ben Gvir will be placed third on the list and a representative from Noam will be in sixth.

Additionally, Otzma Yehudit will be given the 10th slot and Noam the 11th.

The deal also takes into account the possibility that the Jewish Home, another right-wing party, will also merge before Thursdays deadline. Jewish Home chair Chagit Moshe was said to be considering an offer to take the spot on the Likud slate as part of a deal to bring her party into the alliance.

In February 2019, Netanyahu was heavily criticized at home and abroad after engineering a deal for Otzma Yehudit to join two other right-wing factions, a pact that almost saw Ben Gvir enter the Knesset in the April 2019 election.

Before the September 2019 elections, and after failing to convince leaders of the right-wing Yamina party to include Otzma Yehudit in their alliance, Netanyahu waged an aggressive campaign against Otzma Yehudit.

He did the same ahead of the March 2020 elections, after then-Jewish Home chairman Rafi Peretz broke his agreement to run with Otzma Yehudit and agreed to once again merge his faction into Yamina, leaving Ben Gvir out in the cold.

However, Otzma Yehudit has refused to drop out of the running in all cases, regularly winning tens of thousands of votes, but not enough to enter parliament. The prime minister sees the extremist faction as a spoiler that has repeatedly funneled votes away from other right-wing parties, while ultimately failing to make it into the Knesset.

Union of Right Wing Parties candidates (from L-R) Rafi Peretz, Itamar Ben Gvir and Bezalel Smotrich pose for a photo on April 9, 2019. (Courtesy)

A Channel 13 poll Tuesdayshowed that while neither Smotrichs Religious Zionism party nor Otzma Yehudit were expected to pass the 3.25% electoral threshold to enter the Knesset on their own, a joint slate could win six seats.

However, the poll showed that with or without the two parties entering the Knesset, Netanyahu is expected to fall short of the 61 seats he needs to form a coalition.

A coalition of his many rivals is possible, but remains highly problematic, given their wildly differing ideologies.

The elections the fourth in two years were called after the power-sharing government of Likud and Blue and White failed to agree on a budget by a December 23 deadline.

Like the previous three votes, the election is largely seen as a referendum on Netanyahus rule amid his ongoing trial on corruption charges, as well as his governments varied success battling the pandemic.

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Originally posted here:
Far-right parties led by Smotrich and Ben Gvir, a Kahane disciple, join forces - The Times of Israel


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