Archive for Zionism

Palestinians killed in ‘Nakba’ clashes

Posted in Activism, Everyday life in Gaza, Everyday life in the West Bank, Fatah, Gaza, Hamas, History, Israel, Israeli occupation, Palestine, West Bank with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 15/05/2011 by 3071km

Date published: 15th May 2011

Source: Al Jazeera English

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Several killed and dozens wounded in Gaza, Golan Heights, Ras Maroun and West Bank, as Palestinians mark Nakba Day.

”]Several people have been killed and scores of others wounded in the Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, Ras Maroun in Lebanon and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, as Palestinians mark the “Nakba”, or day of “catastrophe”.

The “Nakba” is how Palestinians refer to the 1948 founding of the state of Israel, when an estimated 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled following Israel’s declaration of statehood.

At least one Palestinian was killed and up to 80 others wounded in northern Gaza as Israeli troops opened fire on a march of at least 1,000 people heading towards the Erez crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel.

A group of Palestinians, including children, marching to mark the “Nakba” were shot by the Israeli army after crossing a Hamas checkpoint and entering what Israel calls a “buffer zone” – an empty area between checkpoints where Israeli soldiers generally shoot trespassers, Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnston reported from Gaza City on Sunday.

“We are just hearing that one person has been killed and about 80 people have been injured,” Johnston said.

“There are about 500-600 Palestinian youth gathered at the Erez border crossing point. They don’t usually march as far as the border. There has been intermittent gunfire from the Israeli side for the last couple of hours.

“Hamas has asked us to leave; they are trying to move people away from the Israeli border. They say seeing so many people at the border indicates a shift in politics in the area.”

Separately in south Tel Aviv, one Israeli man was killed and 17 were injured when a 22-year-old Arab Israeli driver drove his truck into a number of vehicles on one of the city’s main roads.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the driver, from an Arab village called Kfar Qasim in the West Bank, was arrested at the scene and is being questioned.

“Based on the destruction and the damage at the scene, we have reason to believe that it was carried out deliberately,” Rosenfeld said. But he said he did not believe the motive was directly linked to the anniversary of the Nakba.

West Bank clashes

One of the biggest Nakba demonstrations was held near Qalandiya refugee camp and checkpoint, the main secured entry point into the West Bank from Israel, where about 100 protesters marched, Al Jazeera’s  Nisreen El-Shamayleh reported from Ramallah.

Some injuries were reported from tear gas canisters fired at protesters there, El-Shamayleh said.

Small clashes were reported throughout various neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem and cities in the West Bank, between stone-throwing Palestinians and Israeli security forces.

Israeli police said 20 arrests were made in the East Jerusalem area of Issawiyah for throwing stones and petrol bombs at Israeli border police officers.

About 70 arrests have been made in East Jerusalem throughout the Nakba protests that began on Friday, two days ahead of the May 15 anniversary, police spokesman Rosenfeld said.

Tensions had risen a day earlier after a 17-year-old Palestinian boy died of a gunshot wound suffered amid clashes on Friday in Silwan, another East Jerusalem neighbourhood.

Police said the source of the gunfire was unclear and that police were investigating, while local sources told Al Jazeera that  the teen was shot in random firing of live ammunition by guards of Jewish settlers living in nearby Beit Yonatan.

‘Palestinians killed’

Meanwhile, Syrian state television reported that Israeli forces killed four Syrian citizens who had been taking part in an anti-Israeli rally on the Syrian side of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights border on Sunday.

Israeli army radio said earlier that dozens were wounded when Palestinian refugees from the Syrian side of the Golan Heights border were shot for trying to break through the frontier fence. There was no comment on reports of the injured.

Meanwhile, Matthew Cassel, a journalist in the Lebanese town of Ras Maroun, on the southern border with Israel, told Al Jazeera that at least two Palestinian refugees living in Lebanon were killed in clashes there.

“Tens of thousands of refugees marched to the border fence to demand their right to return where they were met by Israeli soldiers,” he said.

“Many were killed. I don’t know how many but I saw with my own eyes a number of unconscious and injured, and at least two dead.

“Now the Lebanese army has moved in, people are running back up the mountain to get away from the army.”

A local medical source told the AFP news agency that Israeli gunfire killed six people and wounded 71 others in Ras Maroun.

‘End to Zionist project’

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu condemned Sunday’s demonstrations.

“I regret that there are extremists among Israeli Arabs and in neighbouring countries who have turned the day on which the State of Israel was established, the day on which the Israeli democracy was established, into a day of incitement, violence and rage”, Netanyahu said at the start of a cabinet meeting.

“There is no place for this, for denying the existence of the State of Israel. No to extremism and no to violence. The opposite is true”, he said.

Earlier Sunday Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of Hamas-controlled Gaza, repeated the group’s call for the end of the state of Israel.

Addressing Muslim worshippers in Gaza City on Sunday, Haniyeh said Palestinians marked this year’s Nakba “with great hope of bringing to an end the Zionist project in Palestine”.

“To achieve our goals in the liberation of our occupied land, we should have one leadership,” Haniyeh said, praising the recent unity deal with its rival, Fatah, the political organisation which controls the West Bank under Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas’ leadership.

Meanwhile, a 63 second-long siren rang midday in commemoration of the Nakba’s 63rd anniversary.

Over 760,000 Palestinians – estimated today to number 4.7 million with their descendants – fled or were driven out of their homes in the conflict that followed Israel’s creation.

Many took refuge in neighbouring Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and elsewhere. Some continue to live in refugee camps.

About 160,000 Palestinians stayed behind in what is now Israeli territory and are known as Arab Israelis. They now total around 1.3 million, or some 20 percent of Israel’s population.

LowKey – Long Live Palestine

Posted in Activism, Everyday life in Gaza, Everyday life in the West Bank, Palestine, Songs with tags , , , , , on 03/10/2009 by 3071km

Israel’s Arab Citizens Call General Strike

Posted in Activism, Everyday life in the West Bank, History, Israel, Israeli occupation, Israeli politics, Palestine with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 09/09/2009 by 3071km

Written by Jonathan Cook

Date published: 9th September 2009

Source: Dissident Voice

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Israel’s Arab Citizens Call General Strike

by Jonathan Cook / September 9th, 2009

The increasingly harsh political climate in Israel under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government has prompted the leadership of the country’s 1.3 million Arab citizens to call the first general strike in several years.

The one-day stoppage is due to take place on October 1, a date heavy with symbolism because it marks the anniversary of another general strike, in 2000 at the start of the second intifada, when 13 Arab demonstrators were shot dead by Israeli police.

The Arab leadership said it was responding to a string of what it called “racist” government measures that cast the Arab minority, a fifth of the population, as enemies of the state.

“In recent months, there has been a parallel situation of racist policies in the parliament and greater condoning of violence towards Arab citizens by the police and courts,” said Jafar Farah, the head of Mossawa, an Arab advocacy group in Israel. “This attitude is feeding down to the streets.”

Confrontations between the country’s Arab minority and Mr Netanyahu’s coalition, formed in the spring, surfaced almost immediately over a set of controversial legal measures.

The proposed bills outlawed the commemoration of the “nakba”, or catastrophe, the word used by Palestinians for their dispossession in 1948; required citizens to swear loyalty to Israel as a Zionist state; and banned political demands for ending Israel’s status as a Jewish state. Following widespread outcries, the bills were either watered down or dropped.

But simmering tensions came to a boil again late last month when the education minister, Gideon Saar, presented educational reforms to mark the start of the new school year.

He confirmed plans to drop the word “nakba” from Arabic textbooks and announced his intention to launch classes on Jewish heritage and Zionism. He also said he would tie future budgets for schools to their success in persuading pupils to perform military or national service.

Arab citizens are generally exempted from military service, although officials have recently been trying to push civilian national service in its place.

Mohammed Barakeh, an Arab member of the parliament, denounced the linking of budgets to national service, saying that Mr Saar “must understand that he is the education minister, not the defence minister”.

The separate Arab education system is in need of thousands of more classrooms and is massively underfunded – up to nine times more is spent on a Jewish pupil than an Arab one, according to surveys. Research published by the Hebrew University in Jerusalem last month showed that Jewish schools received five times more than Arab schools for special education classes.

Mr Netanyau, who accompanied Mr Saar on a tour of schools last week, appeared to give his approval to the proposed reforms: “We advocate education that stresses values, Zionism and a love of the land.”

Mr Barakeh also accused government ministers of competing to promote measures hostile to the Arab minority. “Anyone seeking fame finds it in racist whims against Arabs – the ministers of infrastructure, education, transportation, whoever.”

Mr Barakeh was referring to a raft of recent proposals.

Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister and leader of the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party, announced last month that training for the diplomatic service would be open only to candidates who had completed national service.

Of the foreign ministry’s 980 employees only 15 are Arab, a pattern reflected across the civil service sector according to Sikkuy, a rights and coexistence organisation.

The housing minister, Ariel Atias, has demanded communal segregation between Jewish and Arab citizens and instituted a drive to make the Galilee, where most Arab citizens live, “more Jewish”.

The interior minister, Eli Yishai, has approved a wave of house demolitions, most controversially in the Arab town of Umm al Fahm in Wadi Ara, where a commercial district has been twice bulldozed in recent weeks.

The transport minister, Israel Katz, has insisted that road signs include placenames only as they are spelt in Hebrew, thereby erasing the Arabic names of communities such as Jerusalem, Jaffa and Nazareth.

Arab legislators have come under repeated verbal attack from members of the government. Last month, the infrastructures minister, Uzi Landau, refused to meet Taleb al Sana, the head of the United Arab List party, on parliamentary business, justifying the decision on the grounds that Arab MPs were “working constantly here and abroad to delegitimise Israel as a Jewish state”.

Shortly afterwards, Mr al Sana and his colleague Ahmed Tibi, the deputy speaker of parliament, attended Fatah’s congress in Bethlehem, prompting Mr Lieberman to declare: “Our central problem is not the Palestinians, but Ahmed Tibi and his ilk – they are more dangerous than Hamas and [Islamic] Jihad combined.”

Mr Tibi responded: “When Lieberman, the foreign minister, says that, ordinary Israelis understand that he is calling for me to be killed as a terrorist. It is the most dangerous incitement.”

Israel’s annual Democracy Index poll, published last month, showed that 53 per cent of Israeli Jews supported moves to encourage Arab citizens to leave.

Mr Farah said the strike date had been selected to coincide with the anniversary of the deaths of 13 Arab citizens in October 2000 to highlight both the failure to prosecute any of the policemen involved and the continuing official condoning of violence against Arab citizens by police and Jewish citizens.

Some 27 Arab citizens have been killed by the police in unexplained circumstances since the October deaths, Mr Farah said, with only one conviction. Last week, Shahar Mizrahi, an undercover officer, was given a 15-month sentence for shooting Mahmoud Ghanaim in the head from point-blank range. The judge called Mizrahi’s actions “reckless”.

This week, in another controversial case, Shai Dromi, a Negev rancher, received six months community service after shooting dead a Bedouin intruder, Khaled al Atrash, as the latter fled.

Mr Farah said the regard in which Arab citizens were held by the government was illustrated by a comment from the public security minister, Yitzhak Aharonovitch, in June. During an inspection of police officers working undercover as drug addicts, the minister praised one for looking like a “real dirty Arab”.

Israeli historian Ilan Pappé thinks ‘there will never be two states’

Posted in History, International community, Israel, Palestine, Peace process, West Bank with tags , , , , , , , , , on 17/08/2009 by 3071km

Date published: 17th  August 2009

Source: Orange.es (translated from Spanish into English by 3.071 Km).

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When the Israeli historian Ilan Pappé said that ‘there will never be two states,’ one Israeli and one Palestinian, it is not with pessimism, but from the sad conviction that the ‘Zionist colonial project’ has no reverse gear.

Scourge of the official historiography of the Jewish State, Pappé (Haifa, 1954) does not scrimp on controversial terms ( ‘racism’, ‘ethnic cleansing’) and hide in the political correctness ( ‘I am an anti-Zionist historian and a peace activist ‘) to analyze the past and present of his country in an interview with Efe.

Two years ago, tired of pressures and threats, Pappé made the bags and changed the University of Haifa their home by the Department of History of Exeter (England).

Last week he returned to the area to give a lecture sponsored by the Spanish Cooperation in the Arab village of Anata, West Bank, where husking that ‘another story’, which says, ‘Israeli society is not yet ready to listen” .

‘People break the mirror when they do not like what they see in it. I am the mirror that the Israelis do not like, which does not mean that what they see is not there,’ he pointed.

Pappé is one of the passionate supporters of the imposition of sanctions on Israel and boycotting their products, events and universities to ‘send a message to their society and government, both of which strongly want to be part of the West, that in these circumstances they can not expect to be seen as a civilized nation.”

‘Inside Israel there is very little hope of change. And things turn to worse. So we need pressure from outside, although it is not known whether it will work. We must try for the sake of the people who are here,’ he argues.

The author of ‘The ethnic cleansing of Palestine’ and ‘History of Modern Palestine: one land, two peoples’ rejects the idea that a boycott of Israel might be counterproductive to the Jewish State, entrenched in a ‘the world hates us’, in front of measures that could remind to an extent the ones the Third Reich took against Jews in Germany.

“Israeli society can not close itself more. It is already in the worst side of its history in terms of understanding what is happening around them. The boycott can only be for the better. Maybe a blow like this will open their eyes “, says.

Pappé argues it is essential to convince the international community that the Zionist project is as colonial as the South African apartheid was.

In fact, one of the projects that he is working on is the release of a comparative analysis among the two paradigms that is revealing ‘many similarities’.

‘In some cases, the Palestinians are being treated much better than the Africans in the South African apartheid, but in others it is far worse here. In both cases there is a colonial project. However, while in South Africa all the world saw it as such, in Israel we are still fighting to convince  the international community about it,” he says.

Son of German Jews who escaped the Nazis, Pappé criticized, however, another frequent comparison of Israel with Hitler’s Germany.

‘Surely it is not politically or historically rigorous, because the Nazis practiced genocide and Israel practices what might be called ethnic cleansing, which is different’, differenciated.

‘The Nazis – he continues -, were a unique case and comparisons with them will not help to understand the situation. I do not judge it as an Israeli, this is not my problem, but as a professional historian and as an activist for peace. I think, in fact, that this comparison undermines the Palestinian cause. ”

A cause that, in his view, is not based on claimin the creation of a state in Gaza and the West Bank, but the establishment of a single secular multi-ethnic nation in the historical Palestine.

‘In Ramallah, Nablus or Anata there is no independence. Everything is part of Israel in different legal systems. There will never be two states, because the only state already exists. So you can only dream of a different regime. It is a utopia, but the only one by which it is worth fighting,” he concludes.

Is it not too late, after decades of accumulated hatred, for Jews and Arabs living together in a single country? ‘I think it’s just the opposite, – replied with determination -,  ‘the one state solution is already a reality: Israel, which controls everything.”

Israeli wins Fatah top body seat

Posted in Fatah, Israeli politics, Palestine, Pictures, West Bank with tags , , , , , , , , on 16/08/2009 by 3071km

Date published: 16th August 2009

Source: BBC News

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Uri Davis

Mr Davis has been a harsh critic of Israel for years

A Jewish-born Israeli has been elected to the governing body of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party.

Uri Davis, 66, an academic who is married to a Palestinian, is an outspoken critic of what he calls Israel’s “apartheid policies”.

As the only Israeli member of the Revolutionary Council he says he wants to represent non-Arab people who support the Palestinian cause.

He called for an international campaign to boycott Israel to be toughened up.

Dr Davis said his Israeli citizenship made no difference to his election.

“Within the conference itself the welcome was most heartfelt and enthusiastic – the Fatah movement is an open, international movement – membership is not conditional on ethnic origin, it’s conditional on agreement with the main part of the Fatah political programme,” he told the BBC News website.

Dr Davis said he did not define himself as Jewish but as “a Palestinian Hebrew national of Jewish origin, anti-Zionist, registered as Muslim and a citizen of an apartheid state – the State of Israel”.

Fatah congress delegates cast their votes

He was one of around 700 Fatah members competing for 89 open seats in the body, which oversees the group’s day-to-day decision making.

Others elected to Fatah’s revolutionary council included Fadwa Barghouti, the wife of the senior Fatah figure, Marwan Barghouti, who was jailed by Israel five years ago for the murder of five people.

The old guard of Fatah retained only four of the 18 elected seats. The rest went to younger men.

Can Fatah reinvent itself?

Posted in Everyday life in Gaza, Everyday life in the West Bank, Gaza, Hamas, Israel, Israeli occupation, Palestine, Pictures, USA foreign policy, West Bank with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 04/08/2009 by 3071km

Written by Heather Sharp

Date published: 4th August 2009

Source: BBC News

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Delegates at 6th Fatah Council, Bethlehem

Fatah has not held a conference for 20 years

By Heather Sharp
BBC News, Bethlehem

The gleaming black Mercedes, Jaguars and BMWs are lined up in front of Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity.

Fatah cars in front of church of nativity (03.07.09)

Many Palestinians are angered by Fatah leaders’ expensive cars

With blasting horns, Mahmoud Abbas’s convoy sweeps through cordoned off streets, whisking the Palestinian Authority president to the first general conference of his Fatah movement in 20 years.

The 2,000 or so gathered members range from ageing Palestinian exiles returning after decades abroad, to former militant commanders from West Bank refugee camps, to Mr Abbas and his suited contemporaries.

The conference’s task, as many see it, is to save Fatah – formed by Yasser Arafat five decades ago to lead armed struggle against Israeli occupation – from disintegration and decline.

The movement’s critics see it as a nepotistic, corrupt and ineffective body whose leadership has given away too much to Israel, and failed to hold the Palestinians together after Mr Arafat’s death in 2004.

When Palestinian voters handed the militant Islamist faction Hamas victory in 2006 parliamentary elections, it was widely seen to be as much punishment of Fatah as it was endorsement of Hamas.

Occupation continued

About 15 years ago, Fatah threw its weight behind peace negotiations as the route to Palestinian statehood.

Attallah Awwad, 17, Bethlehem
We tried armed struggle, it didn’t work; we tried negotiation, it didn’t work – maybe new people will have new solutions
Attallah Awwad, student

But now, to many Palestinians, occupation seems more entrenched than ever with Israeli settlements still growing and the current right-wing Israeli government setting out tougher negotiating lines than the last.

“Fatah has lost a lot,” says Palestinian analyst and editor Khalil Shaheen.

Now, international observers are watching to see whether the movement will update its charter – currently committed to “liquidating the Zionist entity” – and shift formally from liberation movement to political party.

But while Fatah may soften its language on armed struggle, it is thought unlikely to outlaw it altogether.

Doing so would “lose the Palestinian people,” says Mr Shaheen, referring to the risk that frustrated voters would be pushed towards the violent “resistance” espoused by Hamas – a particular concern if unity talks lead to elections tentatively slated for next January.

Infighting

But in any case, he says, the struggle between personalities seems to be eclipsing the actual issues at stake.

Woman with poster of Marwan Barghouti, Lebanon (03.07.09)

Marwan Barghouti is seen as a potentially unifying figure

A key task for the conference is to re-elect the organisation’s powerful 21-member central committee, a number of whom have died in post in the 20 years since the last conference.

The battle lines within Fatah have long been characterised as a struggle between the ageing exiled ideologues who founded it and the locally born pragmatists who backed peace talks.

But also vying for a say are members of an even younger generation, who have come of age during the two intifadas, or uprisings, of recent decades.

‘Low, dirty and petty’

The talk at the conference is of bringing in fresh blood, controlling infighting and rooting out corruption.

But there are already concerns over who the 700 extra delegates suddenly added to the conference list are and who their votes will go to.

Fatah figure Mohammad Dahlan

Mohammed Dahlan denies claims of corruption

And the run-up to the conference saw an angry row as Fatah’s 78-year-old exiled chairman, Farouk Kaddoumi, who opposes peace talks and refuses to return to operate under Israeli occupation, accused Mr Abbas of conspiring with Israel to murder Yasser Arafat.

“They really fight their rivals in a very low, dirty and petty manner,” says veteran Palestinian journalist Wafa Amr. And, she says, the new generation is no more united.

There are two younger figures considered most likely to gain central committee seats.

One is Marwan Barghouti, a popular leader currently held in an Israeli prison on five counts of murder.

The other, Mohammed Dahlan, is the former head of a powerful security force in Gaza. But he is a divisive figure and widely believed to be corrupt.

While both hold to the general Fatah position of support for a two-state solution, with armed resistance retained as an option if talks fail, they diverge when it comes to dealing with Hamas.

Mr Barghouti, a militant leader during the second intifada who says he is opposed to attacks on civilians, has long been seen as the only figure likely to have anything close to the unifying power of Arafat.

In 2006, he and prisoners from other factions, including Hamas, drafted a document outlining a unifying platform of principles.

Kaddora Fares, Fatah activist close to Marwan barghouti

Mr Fares says Fatah should reach out to Hamas

Kaddora Fares, a Fatah activist close to Mr Barghouti, describes it as the “only comprehensive document” on Palestinian unity so far.

“We have to be realists, to recognise the truth – that Hamas represents a wide community… We have to stop thinking it will be possible to dismantle a movement,” he says.

Mr Dahlan, however, as the leader of security forces in Gaza during street battles with Hamas in 2007, is at the forefront of the feud between the two factions.

His security forces were supported by the US in what some documentary evidence suggests was a Washington-backed attempt to remove Hamas from power.

And well before that, he was reviled by Hamas for his role in previous PA crackdowns against Islamist militants.

‘No-one like Arafat’

In the bustling streets outside the security cordon, there is little hope that anyone can unite the divided Palestinians.

“No Hamas, no Fatah – all no good,” mutters a man carrying a tray of glasses of tea.

“If I am suffering from the sunrise to the sunset who will I elect? Those people who ride a jeep worth 500,000 Israeli shekels ($125,000), or have $1m villas? Will he be my representative?” asks travel agent Khalil Salahat, 50, his voice rising in anger.

Attallah Awwad, 17, may get his first chance to vote next year.

“We tried armed struggle, it didn’t work. We tried negotiation, it didn’t work. Maybe new people will have new solutions.”

But who? He looks blank. “There is no-one like Arafat.”

Galilee communities: We’re not racist, we just don’t want Arabs

Posted in IDF, Israel, Palestine with tags , , , , , , , , , on 06/06/2009 by 3071km

Written by: Eli Ashkenazi

Date published: 5th June 2009

Source: Hareetz

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Residents of the Misgav bloc of communities in the Galilee consider themselves to be liberal, peace-loving people who support coexistence with their Arab neighbors and even root for Bnei Sakhnin, the soccer club based in a nearby Arab town considered a prominent symbol of that community. Which is why they were shocked this week when proposals raised at local council meetings to accept only applicants who shared their Zionist principles drew negative headlines and criticism for alleged racism.

“The label upsets me,” South Africa-born lawyer Michael Zetler, who founded the Misgav community of Manof in 1980 with other immigrants from what was then an apartheid state, said Thursday. “It hurt me. I am not a racist.”

Although few people will say so, the panic that spurred the submission of the controversial proposals are related to the High Court of Justice’s ruling two years ago that upheld the right of Ahmed and Fahina Zubeidat, an Israeli Arab couple, to buy a house in the exclusively Jewish community of Rakefet notwithstanding the local admissions committee’s objection.

Since then, some residents of Jewish communal settlements in the Galilee fear that the region’s substantial Arab population might seek to buy property in their communities, where the standard of living is far higher, causing Jews to move out. In some areas of the Galilee this has already taken place: Portions of the once-exclusively Jewish town of Upper Nazareth are now populated by newcomers from the nearby Arab city of Nazareth.

“I agree that there is a problem, but whether this is the right way to deal with it, I am not sure,” Zetler said yesterday. “Experience will tell. But there is a problem in the Galilee and people are challenging the political right of [Jewish] communities.”

Unpleasant to be called Lieberman

Residents of the Misgav bloc are not used to being accused of racism, and dismay at being compared to Jewish settlers in the West Bank. “It’s unpleasant and even offensive to wake up one morning and find that you’ve turned into [Avigdor] Lieberman when in fact it’s the other way around,” Alon Mayer, another resident of Manof, said, referring to the hawkish Yisrael Beiteinu chairman who proposed that Israeli Arabs be required to take an oath of loyalty to the state.

Mayer pointed out that the right-wing party headed by Lieberman garnered only 2.5 percent of the town’s vote in the last Knesset elections – far below the national average. Despite feeling on the defensive, Mayer will not apologize for supporting the demand that applicants who seek to buy property in the communal settlement should adhere to the locals’ basic cultural and political beliefs.

“When we decided to move to Manof, we sought a community that chose similar basic principles to our own, such as good education for children, culture, celebrating a Jewish communal lifestyle and protecting the environment,” a woman from Manof said. “We joined this community knowing it is founded on these values.”

Some Misgav bloc residents accuse Arab rights groups such as Adalah, which would rather Israel be defined as a binational state than a Jewish one and championed the Zubeidats’ cause in the courts, of intentionally causing provocations. “An Arab narrative exists that proclaims ‘we were not conquered, we did not desert,'” said Danny Ivri, a resident of the Misgav bloc community Yodfat. “They say ‘we were manipulated in various ways, such as through military rule and suppressing our development by placing Jewish communities between our own communities.”

Misgav bloc residents also fear increased tensions that could result from Arabs and Jews living in close proximity, and point at the occasional spurts of sectarian violence that break out in nearby non-Jewish towns between Muslims, Druze and Christians. “You can’t impose a demographic mix on us that will recreate the sort of friction between Muslims, Christians and Druze that exists in Maghar, Peki’in and Rameh,” Mayer said, referring to cities prone to periodic unrest. “High Court justices don’t understand what it’s like to live in a small community which was founded with great hardships, a community which is trying to hold on to a certain way of life.”

Zionism’s bond of blood

A few weeks ago a ceremony was held in Yuvalim, the largest town in the Misgav bloc, which exemplified its inveterate ties to the state of Israel. The regional council unveiled a promenade in memory of slain Israel Defense Forces soldier Arbel Reich, whose father was among Yuvalim’s founders.

“It was an emotional ceremony,” recalled regional council head Ron Shani. “This event was part of the community’s narrative, part of its spirit, just like the fact that we educate our children to serve in combat units. That’s what it’s like here and we’re proud of that.

“A resident who wishes to join Yuvalim will have to feel comfortable at such a ceremony, and if not he can go elsewhere, where he wouldn’t be offended,” he said.