Israel Incitement Watch #1: Lamenting Burned Palestinian Child's Recovery, Hatred for Lebron James

Israel Incitement Watch is a regular weekly feature of AlterNet’s Grayzone Project

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IIW's January 24-31, 2016 edition

Palestinians

Three items published in the Israeli media this past week presented a pessimistic picture of how Palestinians are treated in Israel in the past and in the present, in Israel itself and in the occupied territories, and by Israeli leaders, Israeli soldiers and regular Israeli citizens.

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An expose in the Israeli daily Ha’aretz revealed that during Israel’s War of Independence and the Palestinian Nakba of 1947-'49, Israeli soldiers desecrated Christian churches throughout the country. Israel’s first Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett recorded that IDF “soldiers turned places of worship… into toilets and covered the floor with their feces.” Sharett noted that this was no one-time event, but that it “went on for months.”

An expose by Israeli TV Channel 2 revealed that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s election day appeal to Jews to head to the polls and cancel out the vote of Palestinian citizens of Israel was no spontaneous slip. Rather, it was a coldly calculated strategy planned well in advance by the Netanyahu campaign, knowing full well that inciting fear of Arabs is the right wing’s most effective electoral tactic.

Another report by Channel 2 announced that after six months, Ahmad Dawabshe, the sole surviving member of a Palestinian family burned to death by Jewish extremists, had finally found the strength to step outside of the hospital where he has been recovering from his wounds. Some Israelis responded to the news with racist comments lamenting his recovery: “May he return to the ruin he came out of." “They saved a future murderer of Jews.” “They didn’t burn him till the end, he will grow up and burn another family.” “By the time he heals completely, his suicide belt will be ready.”

Leftists

Yair Lapid, the leader of the “centrist” political party Yesh Atid, continued his verbal attacks on IDF soldiers who blow the whistle on Israeli attacks on Palestinians living under occupation. Lapid said in an interview with Israeli daily Makor Rishon that the whistleblowing NGO, Breaking the Silence, was equivalent to Israelis who danced in celebration of Jewish supremacists burning to death a Palestinian family.

Right-wing activists also announced they would stage a protest at the wedding of Breaking the Silence executive director Yuli Novak.

Politics

The Israeli government voted down a bill that would insert a guarantee of equality for all citizens in the state’s Basic Laws, which serve as a sort of Bill of Rights in lieu of a proper constitution. Israeli centrist parties Kulanu and Yesh Atid voted with the government to quash the bill.

The ruling Likud Party’s communications director invited a senior member of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party for an official visit to the Knesset, Israel’s parliament. The invitation was made despite the Freedom Party being blacklisted by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs for past racism and anti-Semitism.

Culture

Israeli Artists Association EMI announced it would grant a lifetime achievement award to Ariel Zilber, a musician who sings praises to Meir Kahane, the late, openly fascist Member of Knesset who advocated ethnically cleansing Israel of all Palestinian people.

After the National Basketball Association franchise Cleveland Cavaliers fired team head coach David Blatt—who is an Israeli citizen and has publicly supported the government’s attacks on Gaza—Israelis unleashed a barrage of hateful comments toward the team and its star forward LeBron James.

“Israelis have apparently gone bonkers over the Cavaliers' firing of David Blatt, to the point of comparing LeBron James to a terrorist organization while blaming him for running Blatt out of town,” Cleveland.com reported.

Some of the comments directed by Israelis toward Cavaliers star Lebron James: “You are by far the worst unprofessional athlete in the history of the NBA." "Fuck yourself walking trash." “You have no conscience you destroyer of Israel." 

African Refugees

Incoming Interior Minister Arye Deri advanced a new amendment to keep non-Jewish African asylum-seekers incarcerated for a year, in order to prevent the High Court-mandated closure of the detention center where they are held. Deri made clear that once the High Court ruling has been satisfied, he could reintroduce harsher measures against the asylum-seekers that would otherwise likely be struck down by the High Court.

Reports continue to emerge from the Holot detention center regarding the harsh conditions under which Israeli is holding thousands of African asylum-seekers. This week, detainees walked out of the Holot dining hall to protest the poor quality of the food they are being served. Also, as temperatures drop across the country, detainees have not been allowed to bring extra blankets into the facilities.

Jewish Minorities

Three years ago, news reports revealed that Jewish immigrants from Africa claimed that they had been coerced into accepting long-term birth control drug injections as a condition for being allowed to immigrate to Israel. In the years that followed, the birth rate of this community dropped by 50%.

This week, Israel’s State Comptroller released a report claiming that the injection of Jewish immigrants from Ethiopia had not been forced on them. However, Ha’aretz revealed that the Comptroller inquiry had not heard testimony from even one of the women who claimed to have been coerced into accepting the injections.

Another Ha’aretz report published this week revealed that some citizens who were allowed to immigrate to Israel because one of their parents or grandparents was a Jew are upset that the state will not allow their aging parents who are not Jews to join them in Israel. Thousands of Israeli families are thought to fall under this category.

 

David Sheen is an independent journalist and filmmaker. His website is www.davidsheen.com and he tweets from @davidsheen.