Israel

Mahmoud Illean/AP Photo

Moad Rayan, a twenty-five-year-old Arab citizen of Israel, had planned to study engineering in England—but it was not to be. On February 1, 2009, he drove with a friend to his local supermarket in Kafr Bara, a town about fifteen miles east of Tel Aviv, and as he waited in the car outside, another car pulled up and two masked men got out, drawing their guns. They sprayed him with bullets and drove off. “Until today, no one knows why,” his father, Kamel, told me recently. Since Moad’s murder, the police have not found any suspects. “It’s not just my son,” said Kamel.…  Seguir leyendo »

In Israeli politics, the old saw goes you can be dead—or dead and buried. Thursday’s statement by the Israeli attorney general that Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu will be indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust is likely going to put Netanyahu’s political career in the latter box. It’s almost certainly the beginning of the end of his political career.

However Bibi’s story plays out — and it will take time — you can take this to the bank: Netanyahu will make this fight (and likely) exit as painful, prolonged and destructive as possible.

Here are some key takeaways:

Netanyahu will go down fighting

If anyone thought that Netanyahu would use his speech to the nation following news of the indictments to put country over party and go quietly into the night, they don’t know Netanyahu.…  Seguir leyendo »

Members of the Joint List Osama Saadi, Ayman Odeh, Ahmad Tibi and Mansour Abbas arrive for a consulting meeting with the Israeli President, to decide who to task with trying to form a new government, in Jerusalem on September 22, 2019. AFP/Menahem Kahana

As Israel’s politicians negotiate what government can take power after the 17 September elections, it is worth noting a historic step taken by ten out of thirteen members of the country’s Joint List of small Arab-Palestinian majority parties. Their recommendation of Blue and White’s chairperson Benny Gantz for prime minister is the first by an Arab-majority party or list for a Zionist party since 1992. That Blue and White is headed by three former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) generals, one of whom campaigned on his heavy-handed treatment of Gaza, makes this doubly ground-breaking.

What explains this reversal? For one, the Joint List’s recent decision to move by majority rather than consensus vote allows it to better reflect the views of Israel’s Palestinian citizens.…  Seguir leyendo »

Por fin, Israel dio un paso para alejarse del abismo nacionalista‑religioso al que lo estuvo conduciendo el primer ministro Binyamin Netanyahu. En la elección parlamentaria del 17 de septiembre (segunda que se celebra en el país en cinco meses), la “coalición natural” entre el partido Likud de Netanyahu, grupos judíos ortodoxos y facciones protofascistas no consiguió alcanzar el umbral de 61 escaños que hubiera permitido a Netanyahu formar otro gobierno.

Para Netanyahu, que pasó 13 años en el poder, esta elección sólo tuvo que ver en parte con su proyecto político nacionalista. Su principal objetivo era reproducir la única coalición que podría otorgarle inmunidad parlamentaria contra el juicio político que se cierne sobre él por acusaciones de fraude, soborno e incumplimiento de los deberes de funcionario público.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hussein and Suha Abu Khdeir, whose son’s murder is the subject of the HBO series “Our Boys.”CreditCreditAmmar Awad/Reuters

The HBO mini-series “Our Boys” dramatizes the investigation into the killing of a Palestinian teenager following the kidnapping and killing of three Jewish teenagers by Hamas militants in 2014. In the first episode, Simon, the investigator with Israel’s security agency, the Shin Bet, questions his commander’s decision to give the Israeli public false hope about the fate of the three Jewish boys. Thousands of Israelis had joined the parents of the abducted boys to publicly pray for their safe return. To allow the hopefuls to believe such an unlikely outcome, Simon feels, is to prime them for heartbreak and anger if the boys do, as he suspects, turn up dead.…  Seguir leyendo »

Olvidémonos de Palestina

Israel se está acercando a otra elección parlamentaria y los palestinos apenas han sido mencionados. La votación se produce en un momento en que Estados Unidos está impulsando su plan Paz para la Prosperidad, mal concebido y centrado exclusivamente en la economía. Considerando que el conflicto palestino-israelí ya no mina la prosperidad económica o la postura global de Israel, prácticamente ha quedado fuera de la agenda política interna.

La elección parlamentaria del mes próximo será la segunda de Israel este año. Después de la primera, realizada el 9 de abril, el primer ministro Benjamin Netanyahu –cuyo partido Likud ganó 35 de las 120 bancas- no logró crear una coalición de gobierno.…  Seguir leyendo »

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in his stunning acquiescence last week to President Trump’s wish that Israel bar entry to two Democratic members of Congress, shows he has no qualms with interfering in U.S. politics.

So he shouldn’t mind when Americans offer political advice to Israelis. Here’s mine: Dump this guy in next month’s election. He is rapidly destroying the 71-year-old U.S.-Israel alliance — if he hasn’t doomed it already.

Last week’s denial to U.S. lawmakers who criticize Israel may have been Netanyahu’s most egregious provocation, but it was the latest of many. The previous day, Democratic lawmakers had received a letter from Netanyahu taking issue with their request that he refrain from deporting a U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

“Are we a vassal state of yours? Are we a banana republic?” Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin whipped U.S. Ambassador Samuel W. Lewis with rhetorical questions. It was December 1981. The Israeli leader was furious about a series of punitive measures against Israel by President Ronald Reagan, the latest in response to Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights. Even more, Begin was incensed by what he perceived as Reagan’s attitude that Israel had to follow instructions from Washington. The prime minister called in the ambassador and read out a prepared statement. “We have enough strength,” Begin declared, “to defend our independence and to defend our rights.”

Fast forward nearly 38 years.…  Seguir leyendo »

Me acerco, como con un microscopio, a un texto arameo para apreciar unos fragmentos del Génesis apócrifo de mil años antes de Cristo, en el que se habla del arca de Noé. El pergamino forma parte de un millar de manuscritos encontrados en las inmediaciones del mar Muerto, que representan para Israel lo que la Gioconda para Francia. Le pregunto a Adolfo Roitman, su prestigioso curador, qué es lo más importante que ha deducido de estos textos y me sonríe cabalísticamente que: «el judaísmo cambió con los rabinos».

Deambulo sobrecogido en el museo del Holocausto por una genuina calle de adoquines de Varsovia, rodeado de rostros de niños que esperan horrorizados su muerte.…  Seguir leyendo »

or Amir Ohana, the shift that led to Israel’s current political moment — and indirectly, to his own unlikely rise — can be pinpointed to one incident in the fall of 2000. Mr. Ohana, who was just appointed this country’s first openly gay cabinet minister, was then a 24-year-old from a desert backwater making his way in Tel Aviv. The Israeli right, his political camp, was out of power, the public still hoping for peace with the Arab world.

On Oct. 12, two Israelis in their 30s reporting for their annual stint of reserve duty took a wrong turn in the occupied West Bank and ended up detained in a Palestinian police station in Ramallah.…  Seguir leyendo »

Las elecciones en Israel han dibujado un panorama desolador. El primer ministro Benjamín Netanyahu se ha asegurado su quinto mandato (el cuarto consecutivo) y se encamina a superar a David Ben Gurión, el fundador del Estado de Israel hace 71 años, como el líder más longevo en la historia del país. No obstante, en Israel se pone de manifiesto que “el pasado es un país extranjero”, como enunció el novelista L. P. Hartley. Y es que el Israel de Netanyahu no sería demasiado reconocible para Ben Gurión, que siempre trató de compatibilizar el carácter judío y democrático del Estado.

Mientras que en los últimos tiempos Israel ha reforzado su carácter judío, no puede decirse lo mismo de su maltrecha democracia, que la reelección de Netanyahu ha dejado en respiración asistida.…  Seguir leyendo »

When will the “deal of the century,” as President Trump has called his forthcoming plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace, finally be unveiled?

Certainly not before April 9, when Israel holds its next election. But how soon after? “In less than 20 years,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo noncommittally told a congressional committee recently.

In any case, American peace plans are nothing new. Does anyone recall, for instance, the Rogers Plans, named after Secretary of State William P. Rogers, who served under President Richard Nixon 50 years ago? When the second of his plans was discussed in the Knesset in 1970, one Israeli legislator confidently projected that “it won’t be long — a year, a year and a half, two at most — before the thing called ‘the held territories’ is no more, and the Israel Defense Force pulls back into Israel’s borders.”

Needless to say, that “thing” is far from being “no more.” While the Rogers Plans have since all but disappeared from memory, erased by a string of plans put forward by successive American presidents, reality in the occupied Palestinian territories didn’t simply halt.…  Seguir leyendo »

Labourers work on hanging up a Likud election campaign banner depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with his party candidates, in Jerusalem 28 March 2019. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Who will win the upcoming parliamentary election?

Current polls project that the governing Likud party will secure enough seats in the Knesset for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to put together a new right-wing governing coalition, similar to the one he now leads. Netanyahu’s campaign has emphasised his claim to be a strong defender and saviour of Israel and other successes, such as keeping Israel out of new wars and overseeing a period of macroeconomic prosperity and improved standing in the world. Neither the opposition’s charges against him nor the Attorney General’s recommendation to indict him seem to have harmed him much so far.…  Seguir leyendo »

Benny Gantz, center, visiting the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City in March. Credit Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

Israel stood still for a moment this week so it could bring home the remains of Sgt. Zachary Baumel, a soldier who perished in battle in 1982. This was in the midst of the most bitterly contested election the country has had in decades, with important things at stake: the probity of government, relations with the Diaspora, the limits of the settlement enterprise, the possibility of peace.

There are things that matter more. Keeping faith with the fallen and bereaved is one of them.

Anyone who has lived in Israel gets this. It’s a young and improvising state resting atop an ancient and profound civilization.…  Seguir leyendo »

Una campaña electoral extraña se está caldeando en Israel. El primer ministro actual, Benjamin Netanyahu, se ha convertido en el primer candidato en la historia del país en buscar la reelección al mismo tiempo que enfrenta cargos criminales. Mientras tanto, el tema más importante –la ocupación de los territorios palestinos- no se ha mencionado. Los candidatos, en cambio, compiten para ver quién puede ser más duro con los palestinos.

La mayor amenaza proviene de Netanyahu. Mientras pelea por su vida política en medio de acusaciones de fraude, soborno y abuso de confianza, aumentan los temores de que utilice mal el enorme poder que ejerce (también se desempeña como ministro de Defensa), haciendo que escalen las tensiones tanto dentro como alrededor de Israel para fortalecer su propia posición.…  Seguir leyendo »

Falta menos de un mes para las elecciones generales en Israel, y por fin, después de semanas de tensa expectación, el hombre silencioso ha abierto la boca y ha hablado.

Al principio pareció una estupidez. ¿Cómo era posible que un hombre con aparente ambición de ser primer ministro se negara a hablar? Pero luego, a medida que pasaban los días y las semanas desde la convocatoria de elecciones, su silencio empezó a parecer sensato e incluso astuto.

Mientras todos los demás candidatos y partidos políticos hablaban hasta la extenuación, se peleaban, se escindían, se provocaban y todos los demás líos políticos habituales, el silencio de Benny Gantz resultaba reconfortante y su posición en las encuestas seguía mejorando.…  Seguir leyendo »

Como es conocido, Israel, que sigue siendo la única democracia real existente en el Próximo y Medio Oriente, no parece que lo sea para el Consejo de Derechos Humanos de las Naciones Unidas, que no ceja en su empeño de hostigar los valores democráticos que, desde su creación el 14 de mayo de 1948, ha enarbolado contra viento y marea este país. Sin embrago, es el país que más veces ha sido condenado en las resoluciones de este órgano de las Naciones Unidas, como si fuera un país paria de la sociedad internacional, y a pesar de que se encuentra muy bien situado en los estándares internacionales en materia democrática y de Derechos Humanos.…  Seguir leyendo »

Palestinian demonstrators from Birzeit University during clashes with Israeli forces in Ramallah, near the Jewish settlement of Beit El, in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday. Credit Abbas Momani/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

On April 9, Israelis will go to the polls to choose their next government. The campaign has largely been a referendum on whether Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should remain Israel’s leader in light of his expected indictment in three corruption cases for bribery and breach of trust. With those scandals front and center, policy disagreements have largely been ignored, leaving Israeli voters at risk of unwittingly bringing an avoidable disaster on themselves by annexing territory in the West Bank.

President Trump just raised that risk.

How so? On Twitter on Thursday, he wrote that “it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is of critical strategic and security importance to the State of Israel and Regional Stability!” It is the latest, and most important, signal from Washington that Mr.…  Seguir leyendo »

Claire Anastas mantiene su tienda de souvenirs abierta todo el día. Pero son pocos los turistas que entran a comprar algunos de los productos de artesanía, tallados en madera de olivo, que ofrece. El comercio y su casa, que está encima, se encontraban en la orilla del histórico camino que conectaba Belén con Jerusalén. Pero ahora ya han quedado muy a trasmano. Las ventanas de la cocina tienen a solo cinco metros el muro que construyó Israel. Las ventanas de los dormitorios tienen a solo 10 metros el muro que construyó Israel. El negocio y la vivienda de Claire Anastas han quedado rodeados.…  Seguir leyendo »

Meir Kahane, American-born founder of the Jewish Defense League who was known for his extreme views, in Jerusalem in 1986. Credit David H. Wells/Corbis, via Getty Images

I was sitting in my family’s home in Haifa in 1984 when I watched a man who had just won a seat in the Knesset appear on television. In American-accented Hebrew, he reiterated the cornerstone of his campaign platform: All Arabs must be expelled from the land — by force, if necessary. In its televised campaign advertisement, his party had declared, “In the name of God and Israel, the Arabs must go.” I was 9 years old, Palestinian, Arab and a citizen of Israel. This man, Meir Kahane, wanted me gone.

Thirty-five years later, I am still here. Mr. Kahane’s party was banned by Israel’s High Court in 1988 and declared a terrorist organization in 1994.…  Seguir leyendo »