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The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil,    but because of the people who don't do anything about it    
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In His Darkest Hour, Netanyahu Is on the Road to His Greatest VictoryYossi Verter - Haaretz - Benjamin Netanyahu wants the next general election to happen on June 29. That’s five months before he’d be evicted from the prime minister’s residence under the agreement with Benny Gantz to rotate the premiership. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis will have been vaccinated, hundreds of thousands more will be on the waiting list, businesses will be reviving and unemployment will be dropping.This is his dream calendar date. Theoretically, it will be possible if the Knesset postpones approval of the 2021 state budget to the latest date possible under the law, March 31. To that end, Netanyahu needs the consent of his coalition partner. Gantz might be naive in the good sense of the word, but not to that extent. His gut is pushing him to break up the game now. Quickly. Next week. In two weeks. His head – and character – are stopping him.(rh)29/11/2020
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Yes, the Left Should Talk to Trump SupportersVINCENT EMANUELE - Counterpunch - If we’re serious about defeating the dictatorship of capital and the horrors of U.S. empire, left-wing activists, writers, and organizers should be very clear: there is absolutely no way to avoid talking and organizing with Trump supporters. It’s not easy, but in many contexts, it’s already happening.(rh)29/11/2020
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Inside Trump and Netanyahu’s ‘end of season’ settlement bonanzaDaniel Seidemann - +972mag - The run-up to the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has witnessed a flurry of non-routine settlement activity in the occupied territories. These range from a surge in West Bank settlement announcements, to fast-track eviction proceedings against the areas targeted by settlers in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah, to a spike in home demolitions. None of this is being done in stealth, as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s highly touted visit to a settlement last week would indicate. Everything is happening in broad daylight.(rh)29/11/2020
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‘Refusing to serve in the army is my small act of making change’Oren Ziv - +972mag - Hillel Rabin spent 56 days in military prison for refusing to serve in the IDF. Now she opens up about her time behind bars, conversations with her fellow inmates, and talking to young Israelis about the occupation. (rh) 29/11/2020
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There`s nothing `normal` about this: Even if Trump reluctantly leaves office, immense damage has been doneChauncey DeVega and Salon - Alternet - Is Donald Trump still attempting a coup with the intention of remaining in power indefinitely? Yes. "I quit" is a phrase that does not appear in the authoritarian`s handbook. Trump has announced his coup in public, which is a major reason why most people are not taking it seriously.(rh)29/11/2020
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Rouhani blames ‘mercenary’ Israel for killing nuclear scientist, vows revengeTOI STAFF and AGENCIES - Times of Israel - Iranian President Hassan Rouhani accused Israel of being behind the Friday killing of the country’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the alleged mastermind of Iran’s rogue nuclear weapons program, and vowed to avenge his death. Israel placed its embassies and legations around the world on a heightened security alert amid concerns of Iranian reprisals, Israel’s Channel 12 News reported Saturday afternoon. Israel has made no official comment on the assassination. (rh)29/11/2020
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Moving Past Apartheid: One-State is not Ideal Justice, but It is Just and PossibleRamzy Baroud - Palestine Chronicle - Once again, Europe’s top diplomats expressed their ‘deep concern’ regarding Israel’s ongoing illegal settlement expansion, again evoking the maxim that Israeli actions “threaten the viability of the two-state solution”. This position was communicated by EU Foreign Affairs Chief, Josep Borrell, on November 19, during a video-conference with Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister, Riyad al-Maliki. All Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and should be rejected in words and action, regardless of whether they pose a threat to the defunct two- state solution or not. Aside from the fact that Europe’s ‘deep concern’ is almost never followed with any substantive action, articulating a legal and moral stance in the context of imaginary solutions is particularly meaningless. (rh)29/11/2020
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Pompeo’s parting gifts for IsraelJOSH RUEBNER - Mondoweiss - The Trump administration’s self-described “reality-based foreign policy approach” has overturned long-standing US policy that deemed Israeli colonies in the West Bank inconsistent with international law. And through the publication of its so-called “deal of the century,” the Trump administration also has set the stage for Israel’s additional annexation of large swaths of the West Bank. In his announcement, Pompeo directed the State Department to issue new guidelines which would appear to give a US imprimatur to the permanent division of the West Bank into Areas A, B, and C, and the latter’s incorporation into Israel. These ostensibly temporary demarcations were first instituted in the 1995 Oslo II agreement to distinguish between areas under Palestinian autonomy (Area A), joint Israeli-Palestinian security control (Area B), and full Israeli control (Area C). Area C is more than 60 percent of the West Bank and encompasses all of Israel’s colonies. Pompeo’s announcement “recognizes that Area C producers operate within the economic and administrative framework of Israel and their goods should be treated accordingly.” This is not just bland commercial language to determine country of origin markings, but a preemptive US acknowledgment of Israel’s sovereign claims should it choose to proceed with the Trump administration’s green light to de jure annex more Palestinian land between now and January 20.(rh) 29/11/2020
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Why would the government of Israel undermine the legacy of Yad Vashem?Michael Berenbaum - Forward - The proposed nomination of Effie Eitam to head Yad Vashem would irrevocably wound Israel and the Jewish people’s memorial to the Holocaust.So why is Mr. Eitam such an affront to the field? Because soldiers under his command beat and killed captive Palestinian prisoners. An IDF report wrote: “Eitam’s violent behavior became the norm [in his brigade] and was taken as an example by those under his command.” He was reprimanded by the IDF and denied a promotion. As a National Religious Party MK between 2003 and 2009, Mr. Eitam repeatedly called for the expulsion of the Arabs of Judea and Samaria. In 2008, he addressed the Arab MKs in Knesset and said, “Fellow citizens of Israel, the day will come when we will banish you from this house.” He advocated ethnic cleansing, as did Meir Kahane, who was expelled from the Knesset for his racism. Everyone in Holocaust Studies knows ethnic cleansing is one of the elements of genocide outlawed by the International Convention. (rh)29/11/2020
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Criticizing Israel is not antisemitic — it’s academic freedomThe Conversation - Redefining antisemitism. At the heart of the issue rests the new definition of antisemitism by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). Proponents of the IHRA definition are part of what some are calling a new antisemitism movement that seeks to label criticism of Israel as antisemitic. While challenging antisemitism is vital, Canadian critics of the IHRA definition argue that the new language could “chill political expressions of criticism of Israel as well as support for Palestinian rights.” The IHRA definition is vague. It fails to connect antisemitism to other forms of racism. It also appears more intent on silencing critics of Israel than halting antisemitic threats from far-right white supremacists. (rh)22/11/2020
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The Palestinian leadership chooses captivity : Devoid of strategy, the PA has returned to its role as a subcontractor of the occupation. Luckily, the richest source of Palestinian power is in its grassroots.Amjad Iraqi - +972mag - As the opening remarks began, news broke that the Palestinian Authority had decided to resume civil and security coordination with Israel, which President Mahmoud Abbas had suspended in May in protest of Israel’s plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. Claiming they had received assurances that Israel would adhere to their agreements, the PA’s Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh hailed the move as “a victory for our Palestinian people.” The irony was not lost on the webinar participants, who shook their heads in dismay as the news was shared. In tragic fashion, the Muqata’a had given evidence in real time to back the speakers’ criticisms of the Palestinian leadership. As Crisis Group analyst Tareq Baconi predicted, the PA’s relief over Joe Biden’s election win had “reignite[d] its misplaced faith in the U.S. to deliver statehood,” compelling it to return to the Oslo arrangements in order to curry favor with the new administration. That “outward-facing gesture,” Baconi noted, would likely come at the expense of efforts to unite the divided Palestinian factions — who were meeting in Cairo for further reconciliation talks that very same day.(rh)22/11/2020
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The Blue Wave that Never CameCHARLES MCKELVEY - Counterpunch - New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman has written that “We have just experienced four years of the most divisive and dishonest presidency in American history,” yet it produced “no landslide — no overwhelming majority telling Trump and those around him that enough was enough: Be gone with you and never bring that kind of politics of division back to this country again.” Friedman quotes Doy Seidman: “Whatever the final vote, it is already clear that the number of Americans saying, ‘Enough is enough’ was not enough. There was no blue political wave. But, more importantly, there was no moral wave. There was no widespread rejection of the kind of leadership that divides us.’’(rh)22/11/2020
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Netanyahu seeks to smash the Joint List – and cement permanent rule by Israel’s far-rightJONATHAN COOK - Mondoweiss - Netanyahu appears to hope that sabotaging the Joint List will offer him short-term help as he seeks to evade his trial. But there may be a longer-term electoral dividend too. Destroying the Joint List, now the third largest party in the Israeli parliament, would remove the main stumbling block on the path to permanent rule by the far-right coalition he dominates.(rh)22/11/2020
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Biden may offer some key opportunities for Palestinians and their alliesNoura Erakat - Washington Post - The Trump administration’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, for example, built on the steady ethnic cleansing of the city’s Palestinian population through forced removal, residency revocation, denial of permits for family reunification, retroactive application of exorbitant taxes, settler takeovers of Palestinian homes and home demolitions overseen and allowed by successive U.S. administrations from both political parties. The embassy relocation was a culmination of this policy and, frankly, removed the emperor’s clothing. Far from condemning Biden’s refusal to move the embassy back to Tel Aviv, the 2020 Democratic Party Platform insisted that Jerusalem “should remain the capital of Israel,” and, at some point in time, also be subject to the farcical peace process.(rh)22/11/2020
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Criticizing Israel is not antisemitic — it’s academic freedomJasmin Zine, Greg Bird, Sara Matthews - The Conversation - At the heart of the issue rests the new definition of antisemitism by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA). Proponents of the IHRA definition are part of what some are calling a new antisemitism movement that seeks to label criticism of Israel as antisemitic.// The IHRA definition is vague. It fails to connect antisemitism to other forms of racism. It also appears more intent on silencing critics of Israel than halting antisemitic threats from far-right white supremacists.(rh)22/11/2020
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Trump mulled striking Iran nuke sites in final days, was talked out of it — NYTTOI STAFF and AGENCIES - Times of Israel - US President Donald Trump convened top advisers last week to ask if he had options to strike Iranian nuclear sites during his last weeks in office, but was dissuaded with warnings it could lead to a wider conflict, The New York Times reported Monday.(rh)22/11/2020
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High Court to Netanyahu: Explain why conflict of interest rules aren’t bindingRAOUL WOOTLIFF - Times of Israel - Israel’s top court instructed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday to explain why he claims he is not obligated by a conflict of interest arrangement preventing him from appointing top law enforcement officials in light of the criminal indictments against him.The High Court of Justice gave the prime minister 30 days to explain why he believes he does not have to adhere to the restrictions drawn up by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit in relation to his indictment in three criminal cases.(rh)22/11/2020
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UNRWA fears `disaster` in Gaza as funding runs dryAFP - Ynetnews - The "worst financial crisis" ever faced by the UN`s agency for Palestinian refugees could lead to "disaster" in the Gaza Strip and insecurity in Lebanon, the organization`s chief has warned on Sunday. Founded in 1949, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) runs schools and provides health services as well as other humanitarian aid to an estimated 5.7 million Palestinians with refugee status.(rh)22/11/2020
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World leaders concerned over Israel`s `unilateral steps` in East JerusalemNews agencies - Ynetnews - Creating facts unilaterally won`t help us in this already difficult situation, "Germany`s top diplomat, Heiko Maas, told reporters after meeting with his Palestinian counterpart in Berlin. "But no doors should be slammed shut either, in view of developments in the United States."Maas didn`t spell out what unilateral measures he was concerned about. But on Monday, his office criticized Israel`s public call for tenders to build 1,257 new settlement homes in East Jerusalem`s Giv`at Hamatos neighborhood as a "step that sends the wrong signal at the wrong time." Maas noted that U.S. president-elect Joe Biden agrees with Germany`s position that a negotiated two-state solution should be the basis for peace talks between the parties. (rh)22/11/2020
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Netanyahu Celebrates Deal, but Pfizer `Keeps Right to Do Anything It Wants` With COVID VaccineRonny Linder Meirav Arlosoroff - Haaretz - The agreement for four million coronavirus vaccines is more of a statement of intent than a legally binding deal. Netanyahu has taken full credit, but there are no sanctions if Pfizer reneges.(rh)15/11/2020
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Coronavirus Israel Live: After Seven-hour Debate, Committee Adjourns Without DecisionsHaaretz - Israel, the West Bank and Gaza are dealing with a renewed coronavirus outbreak, leading to proposals and measures intended to curb its spread and mitigate the economic ramifications of the crisis by both Israeli and Palestinian authorities. Israel currently has 7,947 active cases; 2,732 people have died. In the West Bank, there are 5,039 active cases and 578 deaths, and in Gaza 3,098 active cases and 45 deaths. (rh) 15/11/2020
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Progressives will keep up the fight for Palestine — with or without BidenEdo Konrad - +972mag - The pressure is now on American progressives and Palestinian rights activists to use the Biden era to change the terms of the conversation on Israel-Palestine. Taking the lessons of the Obama years, the progressive movement should not waste the next four years pegging hopes on a White House moored to the politics of yesteryear; rather, it should spend its energies on continuing to bolster the Palestinian rights movement from the ground up. (rh)15/11/2020
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Benny Gantz calls upon Mahmoud Abbas to resume talks Rina Bassist - Al-Monitor - Defense Minister Benny Gantz called yesterday on the Palestinian leadership to return to the negotiating table. The Knesset convened on Tuesday for a five-hour debate ahead of approving the normalization agreement with Bahrain. Addressing the Israeli parliament on that occasion, Gantz said that the Abraham Accords changed past paradigms, where the Palestinians blocked Israel’s path to the Arab world. Instead of [being on] a collision course with the Arab world and many other countries, we are on a course for partnership with moderate forces against those who wish us harm, headed by Iran. Instead of unilateral annexation, which would have weakened us in the face of our most extremist enemies, we are marking today an alliance that bolsters our security," said Gantz. (rh) 15/11/2020
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Biden will fail to bring back ‘normal’ politics. What’s needed now is a populism of the leftJonathan Cook - Countercurrents - But most significantly, he almost held his own against Democratic challenger Joe Biden at a time when the US economy – the incumbent’s “trump” card – was in dire straits after eight months of a pandemic. Had it not been for Covid-19, Trump – not Biden – would most likely be preparing for the next four years in the White House. Of course, much of Trump’s appeal was that he is not Biden. The Democratic party decided to run pretty much the worst candidate imaginable: an old-school machine politician, one emphatically beholden to the corporate donor class and unsuited to the new, more populist political climate. His campaigning – on the rare occasions he appeared – suggested significant cognitive decline. Biden often looked more suited to a luxury retirement home than heading the most powerful nation on earth. But then again, if Trump could lead the world’s only superpower for four years, how hard can it really be? He showed that those tinfoil-hatted conspiracy theorists might be right after all: maybe the president is largely a figurehead, while a permanent bureaucracy runs much of the show from behind the curtain. Were Ronald Reagan and George W Bush not enough to persuade us that any halfwit who can string together a few cliches from a teleprompter will suffice? (rh)15/11/2020
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Biden’s victory prompts great expectations in Ramallah, quite possibly too greatAVI ISSACHAROFF - Times of Israel - Joe Biden’s US presidential victory has restored some color to the cheeks of senior officials in the PA, Fatah, and mainly Abbas’s close circle. The hope is that four years of diplomatic drought are ending, and the expectation is that the PA is back in business. It is doubtful that Biden will prove as accommodating as the PA would like to believe, however. Ramallah will need to demonstrate an abundance of readiness to progress in order to avoid angering the incoming American administration. Now, Ramallah will not want to irritate Biden from the get-go by reconciling with the terrorists of Hamas, so that process is likely over. On Tuesday, indeed, Rajoub announced that the reconciliation was delayed “due to special circumstances.” As for parliamentary elections, those too are likely off the agenda, at least until Biden’s policies on the Palestinian issue start to become clear.//Trump may yet attempt to complicate matters for his Democratic successor by making a move Biden would find it difficult to rescind — announce official recognition of Israeli sovereignty at major settlement blocs such as Ma’aleh Adumim and Gush Etzion, or in the E1 area east of Jerusalem, for instance. Along with looking to restore ties with DC, the PA may also consider restoring ties with Israel, if annexation stays off the table. In May, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicated that extending Israeli sovereignty to all the settlements and the Jordan Valley was imminent, Abbas cut off financial and security coordination, and also refused to accept payments from Israel of taxes and customs duties it collects on the PA’s behalf.(rh) 15/11/2020
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Obama: Keeping power as ‘defender of Jews,’ Netanyahu justified almost anythingTOI STAFF - Times of Israel - In his new memoir, former US president Barack Obama provides fresh details on his often tense relationships with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, criticizing them for working to rally domestic opposition to his policies concerning Israel. In “A Promised Land,” which comes out on Tuesday, Obama describes Netanyahu as “smart, canny, tough and a gifted communicator,” who used his knowledge of American politics and the media to resist administration policies he disagreed with. Obama writes that Netanyahu’s “vision of himself as the chief defender of the Jewish people against calamity allowed him to justify almost anything that would keep him in power,” (rh)15/11/2020
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The machinery of American democracy worked this year. But it is fragile and under threat.Emily Bazelon Photographs by Philip Montgomery - The New York Times - This was the democracy-by-mail election: About 60 million people put their ballots in a mailbox or a drop box, doubling previous totals and contributing to what is likely to be the highest turnout rate since 1900, according to estimates by the U.S. Elections Project. Delivering the ballots was not without its challenges. (rh)15/11/2020
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11 Palestinian families – 74 people, including 41 children – were left homeless in the Jordan Valley. Finding shelter for sheep and newborn lambs was the most urgent task, as their livelihood depends itAmira Hass - Haaretz - The northern migration of the Awawda and Abu al-Kabash families began in the 1970s and 1980s, when the grazing lands near Samu’a and Yatta began to shrink and access became more difficult due to military bans and Israeli construction. In 1948, the families from Samu’a already lost a large chunk of their land that was left on the Israeli side of the Green Line. Due to population growth, the limited water supply Israel permits to the Palestinians, increasing drought and expanding settlements, more sheep breeders from Samu’a moved north to the Jenin and Tubas area. The Abu al-Kabash and Awawda families lease land owned by people from Tamun and Tubas where they also grow wheat and barley for their own needs. But Israel declared the area a “firing zone”. Since 2018, the residents of Humsa have had to evacuate at least 20 times due to military exercises in the area. “Israel didn’t leave us any land to plant. Without our sheep, we’ll become beggars,” says Yusef Abu Awad.” The demolition of each encampment lasted about half an hour. Umm Walid al-Kabash, from the third encampment, says through tears: “If only they had informed us ahead of time. We would have been able to save more things. The taboun for baking bread was also destroyed.” [bz] 10/11/2020
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Israel pays the price for Netanyahu’s pandemic politicsHarry D. Wall - Forward - As New York targets neighborhoods, including those with many Haredi Jews, where COVID-19 outbreaks have spiked, Israelis can only look on with envy. For the past three weeks, the country has been in a nationwide lockdown to contain a world-high infection rate, that is primarily concentrated in Haredi areas. But rather than focus on those hotspots, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has cowered to the demands of the religious parties in his coalition, who hold the key to his political survival and possibly protection from the criminal-justice system.It is comparable to Gov. Andrew Cuomo shutting down all of New York State because of the outbreaks in Queens and Brooklyn. (rh) 8/11/2020
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An unholy alliance : Two documentaries reveal how the U.S.`s pro-Israel coalition swung to the far right — endangering American Jews in the processNatasha Roth-Rowland - 972mag - As the results of the U.S. election are being tallied, a question mark hangs over the future of the Israel lobby and the broader pro-Israel scene in the country, which has enjoyed widespread patronage by the Trump administration over the past four years. That question mark, and what it reveals about Israel’s place in U.S. politics, is placed under the microscope in two new Israeli documentaries: “Kings of Capitol Hill,” which looks at the history and evolution of AIPAC and is directed by Mor Loushy, whose CV includes Censored Voices; and “Till Kingdom Come,” which focuses on a small, Evangelical Zionist congregation in rural Kentucky, and is helmed by Maya Zinshtein, whose previous work includes Forever Pure. As both films show, one of the most unsettling trends in the U.S.-Israel political nexus is the way in which pro- Israel constituencies have at best pulled punches on, and at worst indulged, the most heinous excesses of the Trump administration. This includes its galvanization of antisemitic white supremacists in the United States — with lethal consequences.(rh) 8/11/2020
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Election chaos: Keep calm, keep counting and get to workBen Jealous - USAtoday - Nearly one year into a public health crisis that Trump has mismanaged from the start, nearly 233,000 Americans are dead from COVID-19. We must continue to fight for COVID-19 relief for the people who lost the 10.8 million jobs that have still not come back during the pandemic, and for a solution to our nation’s economic crisis. We must continue to push Congress to take immediate action on a relief package that will bring us out of the pandemic and the economic crisis that Trump has exacerbated.//we must address the capture of our federal courts by the combined forces of ultraconservative and corporate interests. Our options will differ depending on who sits in the White House, but we will pursue them either way. After the elections:Whether Biden or Trump wins, Americans will face hard work to unite after the election. After the sting of Trump’s election win in 2016, millions of Americans mobilized with courage, grit and a renewed sense of urgency to defend our rights and our democracy. At every step, we have shown up to protest and fight the hard fights for the America we know we can achieve.(rh) 8/11/2020
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In the US and Israel, the left’s next battle is with the moderate rightAriel David - +972mag - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump have many political features in common, but one in particular stands out: their upending of the old political order. In the past four years, Trump has railed against a range of American institutions and labeled them as part of the “deep state,” with Netanyahu intensifying his own tirades after he was indicted on corruption charges. In doing so, the agendas of Netanyahu’s Likud and Trump’s Republican Party went from conservative to populist, stirred with a hint of revolutionary fervor. The opposition in both countries — whether its neoliberal or reformist branch — has been caught with its pants down. During their respective elections of 2015 and 2016, Former Labor Party head Isaac Herzog and former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton tried to distance themselves from the left-wing segment of the opposition and did not present enough of an alternative to their audience, much of which was still relatively conservative. They fantasized about being carried to victory by the “center,” without using the word “left” (or Arabs or socialism, for that matter) The segments of the right that did not connect to the new populist-authoritarianism, particularly the old guards of the conservative elites, either began jumping ship or were flung from it. In Israel, former Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon was compelled to establish a center-right party outside Likud, while so- called “princes” of Likud, such as Dan Meridor and Limor Livnat, also left the party. Trump’s ascension in the GOP led to the emergence of the Never Trumpers, mirrored in Israel by the political moniker “Anyone but Bibi.” Both former presidents George H. W. Bush and his son George W. Bush did not vote for Trump in 2016. In Israel, Benny Begin, one of Likud’s most hawkish members and the son of Prime Minister Menachem Begin, resigned from his party and announced that he would not vote for Likud. But while the elites trickled out, right-wing voters for the most part stayed put with their parties. (rh) 8/11/2020
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Trump`s Mideast master plan is not all about Israel : Although all normalization agreements are a boon to Jerusalem, the U.S. president`s fervid reelection campaign and the prime minister`s hasty decisions make such treaties a potentially double-edged swoRon Ben-Yishai - Ynetnews -Two pieces of good news came out of Washington over the weekend: U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Defense Minister Benny Gantz agreed to a compensation package to Israel in return for it dropping an objection to the sale of F-35 fighter jets to the United Arab Emirates, and U.S. President Donald Trump announced the normalization agreement between Jerusalem and Khartoum. Both announcements are part of stage 2 of Trump`s strategic plan for the Middle East, titled the "Abraham Accords Initiative." Both announcements are part of stage 2 of Trump`s strategic plan for the Middle East, titled the "Abraham Accords Initiative."//Israel`s interests are not at the top of Washington`s priorities. (rh)8/11/2020
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In pandemic, of all times: Number of Palestinians Israel has left homeless hits four-year record B`Tselem - In the midst of an unprecedented health and economic crisis, more Palestinians in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) lost their homes in the first 10 months of 2020 alone than in any full year since B’Tselem started collecting this data. 798 Palestinians have already lost their homes in 2020, including 404 minors who lived in 218 homes. In addition to all of these, yesterday, 3 November 2020, on the eve of US elections, the Civil Administration came with a military escort, two bulldozers and two diggers to the community of Khirbet Humsah in the northern Jordan Valley. The forces demolished 18 tents and sheds that housed 11 families. They also destroyed more than 30 tons of fodder for livestock and confiscated a vehicle and two tractors belonging to three residents. While Israel has formally given up on annexing the West Bank, the demolition figures indicate that on the ground, reality remains unchanged. [bz] 6/11/2020
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Official annexation deferred - de-facto annexation creeps and gallops Two-State Index - Geneva Initiative - Renewed effort by Trump administration to erase Green Line: US moves to allow taxpayer money to be spent in settlements and takes action to predetermine final status of Jerusalem New announcements of Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank: Promotion of almost 5,000 housing units makes 2020 a record year, while Trump administration enables US taxpayer money to be spent in settlements Israel and Sudan agree to normalize ties: US-brokered pact, along with prior UAE and Bahrain deals, leads to further shift in Israeli attitudes on peace Palestinian economic crisis in the West Bank continues: Effects of the coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdown, along with continued refusal of tax revenues, wreaking severe economic damage. Poll shows rise in Israeli support for a single, undemocratic state [ak] 3/11/2020
The pandemic is revealing Israel’s festering sore : There is a growing perception that the Israeli ultra-Orthodox Jewish community is not on board with anti-pandemic measures.Akiva Eldar - Aljazeera -Many Israeli politicians, chief among them Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, describe the campaign against the coronavirus as a “war”, a time when the Israeli-Jewish ethos dictates solidarity, setting aside internal divisions and getting in line behind the combatants. This has been the quintessential experience in all of Israel’s many wars – except against the coronavirus. Not only has it not generated unity, it is pitting the Jewish Zionist majority, which looks to the state as the ultimate source of authority, against the ultra-Orthodox minority, which looks to clerics to interpret the authority of a higher power. KEEP READING Australia records zero new COVID-19 cases The Truth about 5G: What is driving the global anti-5G movement? Trump rallies linked to thousands of COVID-19 cases, study finds Johnson locks down England as UK COVID-19 cases pass 1 million Nothing reflects this chasm better than a phone call several days ago in which veteran Knesset member Moshe Gafni of the United Torah Judaism party told Netanyahu in no uncertain terms that he and his constituents plan to respect the edict of their supreme spiritual leader, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, and send their children and youths back to school even as the health ministry ordered the continued closure of schools for fear of a spike in COVID-19 infections. In a statement he issued, Gafni added that he was certain the “greatest [rabbinical authority] of his generation” would not lead his flock astray. Kanievski, 92, has contracted the virus himself and his muttered rulings instructing continued study and prayer despite the epidemic are blamed by some for the outbreak of the disease in ultra-Orthodox towns and neighbourhoods. Rabbi Yissachar Dov Rokeach, spiritual leader of a Hassidic community of some 10,000, has gone even further, condemning the rabbis who instructed believers to follow official state instruction, saying these “rabbis want to curry favour with authorities”. Rokeach himself contracted COVID-19 in August, days after holding a wedding for his grandson with thousands in attendance, in violation of strict instructions on limiting public gatherings. Thus, while most Israeli children are stuck at home taking classes on Zoom, tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox children and youths, their teachers and parents headed back to schools starting October 19, free to spread the virus undisturbed. Television footage of children happily skipping into yeshivas (religious schools) has infuriated many. According to the health ministry, 34 percent of those infected with COVID-19 are members of the ultra-Orthodox community, which accounts for 12 percent of the population. Why, then, has the government that bans the reopening of schools, stores, malls and restaurants and imposes harsh fines on violators, failed to enforce the law against the ultra-Orthodox leaders who preach in favour of such violations? The answer lies in Israel’s Byzantine politics which makes the parties representing the ultra-Orthodox community essential to garnering the needed Knesset majority to form a government coalition. Political leaders mobilise ultra-Orthodox votes by courting rabbinical leaders and their political representatives, pledging handouts and favourable legislation, ignoring the fact that some of these rabbis do not recognise the values of democracy and equality. In ultra-Orthodox communities, women are banned from standing for election, religious law supersedes state law, civil marriage and same-sex marriage are taboo, and public transportation stops on the Jewish Sabbath and holidays. The epidemic has challenged these strange rules of the game, which most Israelis have come to accept as inevitable. Residents of the suburban Tel Aviv town of Ramat Gan, which adheres to the law of the state, for example, are growing increasingly concerned about the large outbreak in the adjacent ultra-Orthodox town of Bnei Brak, which does not. They have gone as far as asking their mayor to build a “separation wall” along the municipal borders between the two communities. By now, Israelis are fatalistically expecting a third lockdown down the road, assuming that the sharp decline in the number of COVID-19 cases achieved by the second lockdown in recent days will not last.A study conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute indicates that a large majority of Arab Israelis (69 percent) and a majority among the non-ultra- Orthodox Jewish public (53 percent) believe most ultra-Orthodox violated the lockdown. On the other hand, only one percent of those who define themselves as ultra-Orthodox think that most of their community violated lockdown regulations. These perceptions feed further tensions in Israeli society. In fact, the coronavirus epidemic has exposed a festering sore threatening Israeli Jewish society more than any other conflict, including the Arab-Israeli one. Prospects of bridging the divide between those who espouse the sovereignty of the Lord and those who believe in the sovereignty of the people is akin to the prospects of blending oil and water. Instead of silencing the deafening alarms and accepting this distorted reality, Israelis must learn a lesson from the coronavirus crisis and realise that a democratic state cannot exist without equality before the law. Israel has proven it knows how to defeat external enemies, but as the Prophet Isaiah warned, “your destroyers and those who made you waste shall go forth from you”. (rh) 1/11/2020
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Tax Authority to demand return of hundreds of millions in coronavirus stipends : Hundreds of small companies and thousands of independent workers reportedly received grants totalling $300 million they had not qualified for; will now be forced to give moneTOI staff - Time of Israel - The Tax Authority plans to demand the return of hundreds of millions of shekels it doled out to small businesses and independent workers to help them weather the coronavirus crisis, according to Hebrew media reports. Dozens of businesses on Tuesday received letters from the Tax Authority and hundreds more were expected to be sent out in the coming days. Thousands of independent workers were also expected to be faced with returning the assistance, According to Channel 13 TV news and the Globes paper. Channel 13 said the amount of “overpaid” grants could amount to up to NIS 1 billion ($295 million.)(rh) 1/11/2020
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MYTHOLOGIES WITHOUT END :The US, Israel, and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1917-2020 Jerome Slater - Mondoweiss - Every nation has a narrative or stories about its history that are instilled into its citizens, generation after generation. The narratives explain much about a nation’s motivations, policies, and actions. In order to understand why nations behave as they do, then, it is essential to know what they believe about their history. However, no matter how sincerely and deeply held, national narratives often—perhaps typically—are misleading or simply untrue, embodying as they do mythologies that cannot stand up to serious examination and which, therefore, may be disastrous both for the peoples who believe in them and to others who are affected by them. In what has become a cliché but nonetheless invaluable, Daniel Moynihan famously observed: “Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.” Perhaps in no other major international conflict has the gap between opinions—or “myths,” as in this context I shall call them—and demonstrable historical facts been as great as they are in the Arab-Israeli and the Israeli- Palestinian conflicts since the early twentieth century. As a result, perhaps in no other international conflict have these myths, which still dominate Israeli and US political discourse, had such devastating consequences for both peace and justice. (rh) I1/11/2020
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If you’re pro-peace, reject this peace : Palestinians and the Israeli right understand that the Abraham Accords are a tool to entrench apartheid. The Zionist left still doesn`t get it.Haggai Matar - +972mag - omething quite unique happened in the Knesset on Oct. 15. The much-lauded agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates was presented before the parliament for a vote, a few weeks after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed them on the White House lawn. An overwhelming majority of 80 Knesset members ratified the agreement — from the liberal Zionist Meretz party, to Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud, to Naftali Bennett’s nationalist- religious Yamina. Only 13 of the Knesset’s 120 members voted against the deal: all of them were members of the Joint List, the alliance of four parties largely representing Palestinian citizens of Israel. How did we reach the point where the most pro-peace party opposes such deals with Arab countries, while the Jewish-Israeli right supports them? The answer, in short, is that these deals — including the later ones with Bahrain and Sudan — are not truly peace agreements: they are tools of oppression. (rh) 1/11/2020
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The Israeli right’s new vision of Jewish political supremacy : The settlement project`s success has led to an intertwined Jewish and Palestinian population, reviving the problem Israel tried to solve through expulsion in 1948. Now, the right`s priority isRaef Zreik - +972mag - Many commentators believe that over the past decade, a new trend has emerged within the dominant stream of the Israeli political right: the nation, rather than the land, is now at the heart of right-wing discourse. The territorial discourse concerning Greater Israel — that the State of Israel should control the entirety of the land from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea — has weakened at the expense of a nationalist and ethnocentric discourse. And although the settler right did not initiate this narrative, it has pushed it along considerably in recent years.This has manifested in the progression of anti-democratic legislation, incitement against Palestinian citizens of Israel and left-wing organizations and activists, and in emphasizing the idea of the “Jewish state.” An array of right-wing organizations — including the Institute for Zionist Strategy (2005), Im Tirzu (2006), The Jewish Statesmanship Center (2007), My Israel (2010), Kohelet Forum (2012), and others which were formed in the wake of the Second Intifada and the Gaza disengagement — contributed to this shift. The culmination of this process was the passing of the Jewish Nation-State Law in the Knesset in July 2018. (rh)1/11/2020
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New initiative in Israel for Jewish-Arab party : Center-left politicians and former Knesset members are advancing an initiative for a Jewish-Arab party. Afif Abu Much - Al-Monitor - In three rounds of elections last year, Israel’s center-left bloc campaigned on the notion of dissociating itself with the country’s Arab citizens. In an effort to sway right- wing voters to switch allegiance to the center-left bloc, Blue and White party chairman Benny Gantz, now the minister of defense, made a point of keeping a distance from the Arab population. These efforts were a resounding failure, which sometimes bordered on the absurd. At one point, Gantz would not even call them “Arab citizens, preferring to use the term “non-Jews” instead. All this has changed. Today, we learned that several Jewish public figures, formerly aligned with the center-left bloc, have created a new group, Brit [Alliance], calling for the creation of a joint Jewish-Arab political party. Among the members of this group are former Minister of the Interior Ophir Pines, former Meretz Knesset member Mossi Raz, former Labor party Chairman Amram Mitzna and former Labor Knesset member Collette Avital. (rh) 1/11/2020
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The Mess Created By Trump Will Be with Us for YearsValerie Höhne, Ralf Neukirch, René Pfister, Alexandra Rojkov und Alexander Sarovic - Der Spiegel - The U.S. president has damaged the political system so badly that it will be difficult to repair, even if Donald Trump gets voted out of office on Tuesday. The hatred and political discord he has stirred up will paralyze the country for years. It`s hard to imagine that even the president`s 42-year-old son himself believes what he`ll say in the next half hour. That his father will win a landslide victory on Nov. 3 and that his Democratic challenger Joe Biden shouldn`t even be allowed to be president because he is on the payroll of Chinese businessmen. If there was anything to such stories, the FBI would long since have opened an investigation. He claims that Joe Biden`s son Hunter received $3.5 million from a Russian oligarch, money that allegedly comes from human trafficking and prostitution. "If I did what Hunter did, I`d be in Rikers Island doing my best not to drop the soap," he would later say at a rally in Florida, referring to the famous New York prison. Nothing that he says is true, of course. There isn`t even the slightest bit of evidence that Joe Biden has accepted any money from China. There is also no indication that his son was bribed by a Russian billionaire. And when it comes to the polls, they are currently showing that Biden will emerge victorious in next Tuesday`s election. In an average of national public opinion polls, the Democrat has an almost two-digit lead over Trump, and his advantage in important swing states is also looking relatively stable, even if he loses a bit of ground in Pennsylvania in the final days before Election Day. But Don Jr. isn`t particularly concerned about all of that. His eyes are on the future, on a time when his father is perhaps no longer president but Trumpism remains alive and well. Significantly more than 30 percent of American voters will again cast their ballots for Donald Trump in this election, that much can be said with a fair degree of certainty. They will do so despite that the president`s catastrophic pandemic mismanagement which is partially responsible for the over 220,000 coronavirus deaths in the country; despite his calls, like a wannabe dictator, for his attorney general to open an investigation into Joe Biden; and despite the fact that U.S. citizens now know that Trump, who has always bragged about his wealth, only paid $750 in taxes in the first year of his presidency (rh) 1/11/2020
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Palestinians Don’t Need a ‘Victim Status’ They Have a Right to an Anti-colonial StruggleRamona Wadi - Palestine Chronicle - The US-Israeli narrative on Palestine goes a step further than the designated humanitarian label which the international community imposed upon the Palestinian people. As US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman predicted that up to ten Arab countries would normalize relations with the settler- colonial state, Palestinians, he said “must stop clinging to their victim narrative”. Friedman was speaking during an online event for members of Friends of Tel Aviv University. The “victim status”, which was also made popular by US Senior Adviser Jared Kushner in the prelude to the Trump administration’s so-called ‘deal of the century’, is not only a political slur against Palestinian history and narratives. It eliminates the political claims which the UN has already diluted through its useless resolutions and humanitarian propaganda. Furthermore, Friedman failed to link the Palestinian Authority’s corruption with US, Israeli and international complicity. According to Friedman, the PA’s hoarding of wealth contributes to the “victim narrative”. Since the Oslo Accords, it was the international community’s decision to support a compliant political entity that would divest Palestinians of the opportunity to seek their political rights. The manner in which the PA exploits the Palestinian people runs deeper than generating a purported victim status. The PA is an extension of Israeli colonialism, supported by pro-Israel institutions and entities, reviled by many Palestinians who are aware of how their lives and land have been exploited to maintain the two- state policy myth. (rh)1/11/2020
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