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New Zealand mosque shooting suspect reportedly visited Israel in 2016

Official quoted as saying there were no red flags in security check of Brenton Tarrant; Greek, Bulgaria, Turkey, Croatia, and Hungary also confirm trips

A right-wing extremist who went on a shooting rampage that left 50 mosque-goers dead in New Zealand on Friday reportedly visited Israel in 2016.

A senior Israeli immigration official said Brenton Tarrant arrived in the country from Turkey on October 25 using his Australian passport, Channel 13 reported.

Tarrant was granted a 90-day tourist visa, and left Israel nine days later.

According to the official, there were no red flags during the suspected killer’s security checks.

Earlier on Sunday, police in Greece said Tarrant had visited the Greek islands of Crete and Santorini, and had traveled through the country twice, all in 2016.

Authorities in Bulgaria, Turkey, Croatia, and Hungary have also confirmed visits by Tarrant between 2016 and 2018, as he apparently studied battles between Christians and the Ottoman Empire.

In a statement, Greek police said Tarrant entered the country twice in 2016 on transit flights, on November 29 and December 10.

In March 2016, he entered the country on a flight from Istanbul and stayed for a few days in Heraklion, Crete and Santorini.

Authorities are investigating any phone calls or purchases Tarrant made in Greece. On Tarrant’s rifle was written the Greek word meaning “Turk-eater” or, metaphorically, “Turk-slayer.”

Tarrant, 28, appeared in court Saturday where he was charged with murder. A raft of further charges are expected.

The attack has prompted an outpouring of grief and deep shock in the country, which prides itself on welcoming refugees fleeing violence or persecution.

The last comparable mass shooting in New Zealand was almost three decades ago, and the annual murder rate is usually around 50 people for the entire country.

Ardern said the shooter was “in possession of a gun license” obtained in November 2017, and he started legally purchasing the weapons the following month.

Supporters arrived from across the country to help with the burials in Christchurch and authorities sent in backhoes to dig graves at a site that was newly fenced off and blocked from view with white netting.

This frame from video that was livestreamed on March 15, 2019, shows gunman Brenton Tarrant in a car before the mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Shooter's Video via AP)

This frame from video that was livestreamed on March 15, 2019, shows gunman Brenton Tarrant in a car before the mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Shooter’s Video via AP)

People wait outside a mosque in central Christchurch, New Zealand, March 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

Two semi-automatic weapons, reportedly AR-15s, two shotguns and a lever-action gun were used in the attacks. Ardern said some of the guns had been modified to make them deadlier.

I can tell you one thing right now — our gun laws will change,” she said.

The suspect documented his radicalization and two years of preparations in a lengthy, meandering and conspiracy filled far-right “manifesto.”

He live-streamed footage of himself going room-to-room, victim to victim, shooting the wounded from close range as they struggled to crawl away in the main Christchurch mosque.

(I saw the live video of so many sickening 16 minutes. He returned again to shoot and make sure the victims were really dead)

Relatives are still waiting for authorities to release the bodies. Islamic law calls for bodies to be cleansed and buried as soon as possible after death, usually within 24 hours.

In this image made from video, New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, center, hugs and consoles a woman, as she visits Kilbirnie Mosque to lay flowers among tributes to Christchurch attack victims, in Wellington, March 17, 2019. (TVNZ via AP)

Flanked by armed police he made an upside-down “okay” signal, a symbol used by white power groups across the globe. He did not request bail and was taken into custody until his next court appearance which is scheduled for April 5.

The attack on the Al Noor and Linwood mosques has been labeled terrorism by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and is thought to be the deadliest attack directed against Muslims in the West in modern times.

Note: New Zealand had to emulated Australia strict weapon control. This Australian committed his massacre because he could purchase automatic weapons in New Zealand

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The Shooter’s 74-page Manifesto Was Designed to Troll

In the hours after the horrific mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, people desperately searched the internet for any sign of a motive or meaning behind the attack.

Early Friday, a number of unverified social-media posts surfaced, along with a bizarre manifesto posted to 8chan, rich with irony and references to memes.

Together, the posts suggest that every aspect of the shootings was designed to gain maximum attention online, in part by baiting the media.

The shooter live-streamed the attack itself on Facebook, and the video (16 minutes) was quickly shared across YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram.

Before committing the act, he shouted, “Remember, lads, subscribe to PewDiePie,” a reference to Felix Kjellberg, who runs YouTube’s most subscribed-to channel. The phrase itself is a meme started by PewDiePie’s fans, and its goal is to be reprinted.

Kjellberg, who has previously found himself embroiled in controversy over alleged anti-Semitism, disavowed the shooting on Twitter Friday morning. “Just heard news of the devastating reports from New Zealand Christchurch. I feel absolutely sickened having my name uttered by this person. My heart and thoughts go out to the victims, families and everyone affected by this tragedy,” he wrote.

By forcing Kjellberg to acknowledge the attack, the shooter succeeded in further spreading the word about the crime to Kjellberg’s tens of millions of followers.

Significant portions of the manifesto appear to be an elaborate troll, written to prey on the mainstream media’s worst tendencies.

As the journalist Robert Evans noted, “This manifesto is a trap … laid for journalists searching for the meaning behind this horrific crime. There is truth in there, and valuable clues to the shooter’s radicalization, but it is buried beneath a great deal of, for lack of a better word, ‘shitposting.’”

Shitposting is a slang term used to describe the act of posting trolls and ironic content designed to derail a conversation or elicit a strong reaction from people who aren’t in on the joke.

Certain aspects of the shooter’s manifesto fall into this category. He includes Navy Seal Copypasta, a meme that originated on 4chan.

The shooter claims that Spyro: Year of the Dragon, a video game, taught him ethno-nationalism and that Fortnite taught him to “floss on the corpses,” referring to a viral dance move from the game. These absurd references are meant to troll readers.

The shooter also credits the far-right personality Candace Owens with helping to “push me further and further into the belief of violence over meekness.”

Though the shooter could be a genuine fan of Owens, who has been known to espouse right-leaning views on immigration and gun control, this reference might be meant to incite Owens’s critics to blame her.

That doesn’t mean the racism expressed throughout the 74-page manifesto isn’t genuine. But the complexities of the crime are still unfolding, and as the New York Times journalist Kevin Roose cautioned, “The NZ shooter’s apparent manifesto is thick with irony and meta-text and very easy to misinterpret.”

Unfortunately, when journalists report on these horrific acts, the shooter’s hateful messages are sometimes amplified in the process. But the origins of that hate and the shooter’s public postings do need to be examined, even when taking them at face value is difficult.

Mass killers have long exploited the media environments they operate within. The Zodiac killer gained notoriety by persuading newspapers to publish his cryptic messages.

In 2015, a shooter in Virginia killed people during a live television broadcast.

As the internet and social media have democratized access to information, much of it spreads without necessary context.

As the Verge writer Elizabeth Lopatto noted in 2015, “Our interactions with these killers were mediated by huge media gatekeepers—their manifestos were left at their homes, or sent to newspapers and TV stations. If the manifestos appeared at all, they were quoted from, rather than released in full. This is no longer the case.”

While this system of gatekeeping itself was undoubtedly problematic, since many of the gatekeepers upheld norms and power structures built on privilege, technology has upended our media environment so quickly that many people are ill-equipped to handle the new information environment.

We’ve seen the consequences of this play out in the rise of fake news, thriving misinformation campaigns, and bizarre viral hoaxes warped by trolls to capitalize on people’s worst fears.

Before people can even begin to grasp the nuances of today’s internet, they can be radicalized by it.

Platforms such as YouTube and Facebook can send users barreling into fringe communities where extremist views are normalized and advanced.

Because these communities have so successfully adopted irony as a cloaking device for promoting extremism, outsiders are left confused as to what is a real threat and what’s just trolling.

The darker corners of the internet are so fragmented that even when they spawn a mass shooting, as in New Zealand, the shooter’s words can be nearly impossible to parse, even for those who are Extremely Online.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.

TAYLOR LORENZ is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where she covers technology.
Note: New Zealand will be the next to ban automatic weapons after Australia: The 4 Australian terrorists had to go to New Zealand to get their weapons and massacre 49 Moslems in two mosques in Christ Church city

New poll shows wide support for apartheid policy in Israel

There were further signs that racism has become normalised in Israel after a poll showed that the majority of the people in the country endorsed banning Arab parties from next month’s general election.

In stark contrast, the same poll showed that only a minority of Israelis endorsed a similar exclusion of a Jewish party despite it being an ultra-right racist group affiliated with known terrorists.

Some 54% Israelis said that they agreed with the decision of the Israeli Central Elections Committee to invalidate the candidacy of Ra’am-Balad—a joint electoral list of two Arab parties—and a mere 18 per cent said that they opposed it.

The survey by Yedioth Ahronoth, revealed that only 38% believe the candidacy of Otzma Yehudit’s Michael Ben-Ari – former supporter of supremacist rabbi Meir Kahanist – should be prevented from running.

While 28 per cent of the respondents said they did not want the Kahanist’s – denounced by many as a fascist group – to be prevented from running in the election.

READ: Israel elections obscuring ‘growing apartheid’ in Palestine, professor claims

Israel’s Central Election Committee – the body which oversees the country’s electoral process and is made up of Knesset Members (MKs) from each political party – announced last week that Ra’am­-Balad is to be banned from participating in the upcoming general election on 9 April. The same Committee permitted Jewish Power to contest the election.

The poll conducted this month and described as being representative of a cross-section of Israeli society shows the broad support for the decision.

It is also likely to be seen as a further sign of the growing normalisation of racism within Israeli society.

Only two days ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu admitted that Israel is home only for the Jewish people, ignoring Arab citizens who make up 20% of its population. The comments were widely condemned as an endorsement of apartheid.

(Mind you that Zionism forced mandated England Not to perform local municipal elections in Palestine because the Jews represented only 20% of the people)

Sympathisers of the Israeli state also joined the condemnation, describing the remarks as an aberration despite the fact that Netanyahu cited the country’s own nationality law to support his claim that Israel is a nation-state for the Jewish people only.

INTERVIEW: Arab representation in Israel politics is crucial for the Palestinian struggle

Known as the “Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People,” the bill passed last year is now enshrined in the country’s constitution.

Critics say it effectively codifies discrimination against Palestinians through the exclusive recognition of Jewish rights to self-determination in the land of Israel while denying the same right to Palestinians.

Israel’s own President, Reuven Rivlin, attempted to distance himself from Netanyahu’s remarks, but this new poll suggests that racism is not only ingrained in Israeli society, the country’s Basic Laws -which are the closest thing to a constitution – dispel any claim that the Likud leaders remarks are a mere aberration.

Israel has passed the Nation-State Law becoming officially an Apartheid State - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

Israel has passed the Nation-State Law becoming officially an Apartheid State – Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]

 

Tales of torture from Israel’s prisons

As Israel prepares to worsen conditions for Palestinian prisoners, we asked six former inmates about their experiences.

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Palestinian boys raise up their hands with chains, during a protest to show their solidarity with hunger striking Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, May 4, 2017 [File: Hussein Malla/AP)
Palestinian boys raise up their hands with chains, during a protest to show their solidarity with hunger striking Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, May 4, 2017 [File: Hussein Malla/AP)

Earlier this month, Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan announced plans to “worsen” already horrific conditions for Palestinian prisoners in Israel’s jails.

According to the Palestinian prisoners’ rights groupAddameer, there are nearly 5,500 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, including 230 children and 54 women. Of that number, 481 prisoners are held without trial – under the guise of an unlawfulpractice known as “administrative detention”.

Speaking to reporters on January 2, Erdan disclosed some aspects of his plan, but a sinister context was missing from the story.

The minister said the prisoners will be denied “cooking rights“, yet failed to mention that many prisoners, especially during the first stage of their detention, are tortured and denied food altogether.

“The plan also includes preventing members of the Knesset from visiting Palestinian detainees,” Erdan added but did not mention how hundreds of Palestinian prisoners are already denied access to lawyers and family visitations on a regular basis.

There is no reason to doubt the Israeli minister’s words when he vows to worsen conditions for Palestinian prisoners. However, the horrific conditions under which thousands of Palestinians are held in Israeli jails – which itself is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention – are already at a stage that can only be described as inhumane as they fail the minimum standards set by international and humanitarian laws. 

No one is as qualified to describe Israeli prison conditions as Palestinian prisoners, who experienced every form of physical and psychological torture, and have spent years, sometimes decades, fending for their humanity every hour of every day.

We spoke to six freed prisoners, including two women and a child, who shared their stories with us, with the hope that their testimonies would help the world understand the true context of Erdan’s latest plan.

‘They killed my cat’
Wafa’ Samir Ibrahim al-Bis

I was only 16 when I decided to wear an explosive belt and blow myself up among Israeli occupation soldiers. It was all I could do to avenge Muhammad al-Durrah, the 12-year-old Palestinian child who was brutally killed by Israeli soldiers in front of television cameras in September 2000.

When I saw the footage of Muhammad huddling by his father’s side, as soldiers showered them both with bullets, I felt powerless. That poor child. But I was arrested, and those who helped me train for my mission were killed three months after my detention.

Wafa’ Samir Ibrahim al-Bis was born in the Jablaiya refugee camp in Gaza. She was 16-years-old when she was detained on May 20, 2005. She was sentenced to 12-years in prison after she was convicted of attempting to carry out a suicide mission targeting Israeli soldiers. She was released in 2011 in a prisoner swap between the Palestinian Resistance and Israel [Courtesy of Ramzy Baroud and Abdallah Aljamal]

I was tortured for years inside the Ramleh prison’s infamous Cell nine, a torture chamber they designated for people like me. I was hanged from the ceiling and beaten.

They put a black bag on my head as they beat and interrogated me for many hours and days. They released dogs and mice in my cell. I couldn’t sleep for days at a time.

They stripped me naked and left me like that for days on end. They didn’t allow me to meet with a lawyer or even receive visits from the Red Cross.

They had me sleep on an old, dirty mattress that was as hard as nails. I was in solitary confinement in Cell number nine for two years.

I felt that I was buried alive. Once they hanged me for three days nonstop. I screamed as loud as I could, but no one would untie me.

When I was in prison, I felt so lonely. Then one day, I saw a little cat walking among the rooms, so I kept throwing her food so that she would be my friend.

Eventually, she started coming inside my cell and would stay with me for hours. When the guards discovered that she was keeping me company, they slit her throat in front of me. I cried for her more than I cried for my own fate.

A few days later, I asked the guard for a cup of tea. She came back and said: “stick your hand out to grab the cup”. I did, but instead she poured boiling water on my hand, causing third-degree burns. I have scars from this incident to this day and I still need help treating my hand.

I cry for Israa’ Ja’abis, whose whole body has been burned yet she remains in an Israeli jail.

I often think of all the women prisoners I left behind.

‘No words’
Sana’a Mohammed Hussein al-Hafi

In May 2015, I wanted to visit my family living in the West Bank. I was missing them terribly as I hadn’t seen them for years. But as soon as I arrived to the Beit Hanoun (Eretz) Crossing, I was detained by Israeli soldiers.

My ordeal on that day started at about 7:30 in the morning. Soldiers searched me in such a humiliating way. They probed every part of my body. They forced me to undress completely. I stayed in that condition till midnight.

In the end, they chained my hands and feet, and blindfolded me.

I begged the officer in charge to allow me to call my family because they were still waiting on the other side of the crossing. The soldiers agreed on the condition that I use the exact phrase: “I am not coming home tonight,” and nothing more.

Sana’a Mohammed Hussein al-Hafi was born in the West Bank. She moved to the Gaza Strip after meeting her future husband. She spent 10 months in prison and a further five months under house arrest for transferring money to a ‘hostile entity (Hamas)’ [Courtesy of Ramzy Baroud and Abdallah Aljamal]

Then more soldiers arrived. They threw me in the back of a large military truck. I felt the presence of many dogs and men surrounding me. The dogs barked and the men laughed. I was so scared.

I was taken to the Ashkelon military compound, where I was searched again in the exact same degrading manner, and placed in a very small cell with a dim light. It smelled terrible. It was very cold although it was early summer. The bed was tiny and filthy. The covers too. The soldiers took all of my possessions, including my watch.

I couldn’t sleep, as I was interrogated every few hours. I would sit on a wooden chair for long periods of time to be subjected to the same routine, filled with shouting and insults and dirty language. I was kept in the Ashkelon compound for seven days. They allowed me to shower once, with very cold water.

At night, I heard voices of men and women being tortured; angry shouts in Hebrew and broken Arabic; doors slamming in a most disturbing manner.

At the end of that week, I was transferred to HaSharon prison, where I was relieved to be with other Palestinian female prisoners, some minors, some mothers like me, and some old ladies.

Every two or three days, I was taken out of my cell for more interrogation. I would leave at dawn and return around midnight. Occasionally, I was put in a large military truck with other women and taken to military court. We were either chained individually or to each other. We would wait for hours only to be told that the court session had been postponed to a later date.

In our cells, we struggled to survive under harsh conditions and medical neglect. Once an old woman prisoner collapsed. She had diabetes and was receiving no medical attention. We all started screaming and crying. Somehow, she survived.

I was in prison for ten months. When I was finally released from prison, I was put under house arrest in Jerusalem for another 5 months. I missed my family. I thought about them every hour of every day. No words can describe how harrowing that experience was, to have your freedom taken away, to live without dignity and without rights.

No words.

The day I saw my mother
Fuad Qassim al-Razam

I have experienced both psychological and physical torture in Israeli jails, which forced me to confess to things I did and didn’t do.

Fuad Qassim al-Razam was born in the Palestinian city of Jerusalem. He spent 31 years in prison for killing an Israeli soldier and an armed settler among other charges [Courtesy of Ramzy Baroud and Abdallah Aljamal]

The first phase of detention is usually the most difficult because the torture is most intense and the methods are most brutal. I was denied food and sleep and I was left hanging from the ceiling for hours.

At times I was left standing in the rain, naked, tied to a pole, with a bag on my head. I would be left in that condition the whole day, while occasionally getting punched, kicked and hit with sticks by soldiers.

I was forbidden from seeing my family for years, and when I finally was allowed to see my mother, she was dying. An ambulance brought her to Beir Al-Saba’ prison, and I was taken in my shackles to see her. She was in terrible health and could no longer speak. I remember the tubes coming out of her hands and nose. Her arms were bruised and blue from where the needles entered her frail skin.

I knew it would be the last time I would ever see her, so I read some Quran to her before they took me back to my cell. She died 20 days later. I know she was proud of me. When I was released, I was not allowed to read verses from the Quran by her grave as I was deported to Gaza immediately after the prisoner exchange in 2011.

One day I will visit her grave.

‘They burned my genitals’
Mohammed Abul-Aziz Abu Shawish

I was arrested by Israel seven times; the first time I was six-years-old. That was in 1970. Then, they accused me of throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers.

I was arrested again when I was a teenager. That time I was beaten up and an Israeli officer lit a match under my genitals. They stripped my clothes off and placed my underwear in my mouth to muffle my screams. I felt pain when I tried to use the bathroom for many days after that incident.

Mohammed Abul-Aziz Abu Shawish was born in the Nuseirat Refugee camp in Gaza in 1964. His family is originally from Barqa, a village in southern Palestine that was ethnically-cleansed in 1948. He spent 9 years in prison after being charged with possessing a weapon and being a member of the Fatah movement [Courtesy of Ramzy Baroud and Abdallah Aljamal]

My last imprisonment was the longest. I was detained on April 23, 1985, and remained in jail for 9 years to be released after the signing of the Oslo Accords.

Even in prison, our fight for our rights never ceased.

We fought through hunger strikes and they fought us back with isolation and torture. As soon as the prison administration would concede to our demands, to end our strike, they would slowly deprive us from everything we had achieved.

They would withhold food, prevent family visitations, even prevent us from meeting with our own prison mates. They often confiscated our books and other educational materials for no reason whatsoever.

When I was released on January 8, 1994, I joined the prisoner rehabilitation unit in the Labour Ministry. I tried my best to help my fellow freed prisoners. Since I retired, I wrote a book entitled: Before My Tormentor is Dead, detailing the years of my imprisonment.

I am not a trained writer, I just want the world to know of our plight.

‘They detained my family’
Shadi Farah

I was arrested on December 30, 2015, when I was only 12-years-old. I was released on November 29, 2018. At the time, I was the youngest Palestinian prisoner in Israeli jails.

Shadi Farah was arrested in his home in Jerusalem at the age of 12. He was accused of trying to kill Israeli soldiers with a knife they found at his house [Courtesy of Ramzy Baroud and Abdallah Aljamal]

My interrogation took place in the Maskoubiah prison in Jerusalem, specifically in Cell number four. After days of physical torture, sleep deprivation and severe beating, they imprisoned my whole family – my mom and dad and sisters and brothers.

They told me that my family was held captive because of me and they would only be released if I confessed to my crimes. They swore at me with profanity I cannot repeat. They threatened to do unspeakable things to my mom and sisters.

After each torture session, I would return to my cell so desperate to sleep. But then soldiers would wake me up by slapping my face, kicking me with their boots and punching me in the stomach.

I love my family, and when they used to prevent them from visiting me, it broke my heart.

‘Prisoners are heros’
Jihad Jamil Abu-Ghabn

In prison, my jailers tried to break my spirit and take away my dignity, not just through violence, but also through specific techniques meant to humiliate and demoralise me.

Jihad Jamil Abu-Ghabn spent nearly 24 years in Israeli jails for participating in the first Intifada and for being involved in the killing of an Israeli settler. He was released in 2011 [Courtesy of Ramzy Baroud and Abdallah Aljamal]

They often placed a bag with a most foul smell over my head, which led me to vomit repeatedly inside the bag. When the bag was removed, I would be left with a swollen face and a massive headache from the intermittent deprivation of oxygen.

Throughout my interrogation (which lasted for months), they had me sit on a chair with uneven legs for hours on end. I could never find a comfortable position, which left me with permanent pain in my back and neck.

At times they would introduce ‘prisoners’ to my cell, claiming to be genuine members of the Palestinian Resistance. I would later discover that these prisoners were actually collaborators who were trying to trick me into confessing. We called these collaboratorsassafir (birds).

Palestinian prisoners are heroes. No words can describe their legendary steadfastness and unfathomable sacrifices.

MORE ON ISRAELI–PALESTINIAN CONFLICT

 

How Israel promotes cyberbullying of US students

George Washington University students who support Palestinian rights are being cyberbullied. (DivestThisTimeatGW)

The Israeli government is encouraging its supporters to engage in a cyberbullying campaign against US students after they voted to divest from companies that profit from Israel’s crimes.

Administrators of the Act.IL app began directing its users to “like” and share a Facebook page that was set up solely to threaten and bully student senators of George Washington University in Washington, DC, who had recently voted in support of the resolution.

The Facebook page smeared the divestment campaign as “anti-Semitic.”

The Act.IL app is the product of a partnership between Israeli think tanks, lobby groups and Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairswhich poured nearly $600,000 into the project, according to revealed documents.

This lobby effort was funded largely by casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a major donor to anti-Palestinian causes and to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

The ministry is in charge of running a covert campaign of sabotage against BDS, the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement in support of Palestinian human rights.

The student senators’ ballots were cast in secret, due to concerns that they could face retaliation if their votes were made public. The vote passed 18-6 with six abstentions on 24 April.

A similar resolution failed to pass – by one vote – last year.

The Facebook page to which the app directed its users, titled “No Secret Ballot,” and an accompanying website with the same name, threatened to expose the student senators who had voted in support of the resolution.

But it seems unlikely they could really have done so, since the voting was done by paper ballot and there is no record of how each student personally voted.

“Foreign government interference in the electoral process is always concerning,” Radhika Sainath, senior staff attorney at Palestine Legal, told The Electronic Intifada.

But, she added, Israel’s “meddling in student democracy by bullying and threatening” college students is “just plain scary.”

The Facebook page and the website were both taken offline soon after, but the app did not remove their listing of the bullying campaign and it remained as an “open mission” until it expired.

Screenshot of the Act.IL app’s “mission” to support a cyberbullying campaign. (@AntiBDSApp)

Students say that the online bullying campaign is an extension of in-person intimidation that occurred leading up to and during the voting process.

Individuals wearing bird costumes and masks, evoking the shadowy blacklisting website Canary Mission, stood outside the senate hall as students voted on the resolution, and reportedly posted signs around campus saying “SJP [Students for Justice in Palestine] you saw two of us, we saw all of you,” according to Mondoweiss.

Canary Mission is an anonymous website that aims to tarnish the reputations of educators and students who speak out for Palestinian rights, and compromise their future professional careers.

University police refused to remove the harassing individuals and failed to protect students, an activist with Divest This Time at GW, a student group which promoted the divestment vote, told The Electronic Intifada.

The student did not wish to be named for fear of retaliation.

“Missions” to bully

The Act.IL app sends users on “missions” to promote Israel’s image, report social media pages and accounts that support Palestinian human rights and harass activists involved in BDS campaigns.

It also encourages users to post pro-Israel talking points in the comment sections of online articles, and to harass journalists who they claim are “biased.”

The app dedicated at least six separate missions to harass New Zealand pop star Lorde after she canceled her Tel Aviv gig in December.

It incentivizes the user experience with points and badges once users complete their missions – effectively turning the harassment of activists into a game.

One of the “missions” the Act.IL app assigned to Israel’s propaganda foot soldiers last November, according to The Jewish Daily Forward, “was to comment on a specific post on the Facebook page of the pro-Palestinian website The Electronic Intifada.”

Israel’s PR operatives wanted to counter the impact of The Electronic Intifada’s reporting on the Dutch government’s support for a promotion by settlement-profiteering Israeli supermarket chain Shufersal.

“War room”

Israel began testing various online propaganda tools in order to counteract negative press, especially after its assaults on Gaza in 2012 and 2014.

These included so-called “hackathons” – events run by the Israeli government in partnership with think tanks and Israel advocacy groups to develop online tools that inject pro-Israel content into social media while smearing BDS campaigns around the globe.

During Israel’s 2014 attack on Gaza, for instance, Israeli institutions set up a “war room” of students tasked with spreading anti-Palestinian propaganda on Facebook.

Another government-backed initiative, revealed in 2012, offered students up to $2,000 to post pro-Israel propaganda online, working for five hours a week “from the comfort of home.”

The Act.IL app was one the products born from these efforts, out of an ongoing project run by the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, an Israeli university with strong ties to the military and its weapons development sector.

The app’s manager has boasted that the Israeli army and the Shin Bet, Israel’s secret police, feed the Act.IL developers information on “inciting content,” saying that even those agencies “couldn’t keep [up] with how fast we were getting things removed.”

The strategic affairs ministry “has started to rebrand these initiatives as ‘algorithmic diplomacy,’” writes Ottawa-based researcher Michael Bueckert, who has been monitoring the app over the last year.

Bueckert runs a Twitter account that tracks the app’s announced “missions.”

The app is classic “astroturfing,” he told The Electronic Intifada, using the common term for a fake grassroots campaign.

It directs users to interact with and share social media content, and can even send emails through users’ Gmail accounts to try to influence the outcome of local campaigns “in a way that appears organic and spontaneous – and deliberately in a way that hides the participation of the Israeli state or any other organizations,” he said.

“A trick”

Although the app consistently interferes with local Palestine solidarity campaigns, Bueckert said, “this is the first time that I’ve noticed it take on this aggressive cyberbullying approach.”

“What the app does is a trick,” Bueckert said.

“If you’re on campus, or involved in a local campaign, and you see all of these ‘likes’ coming in for the other side, you could be confused and assume that there’s a public consensus against your campaign,” when in fact it is just the same group of dedicated users of the app, he added.

Last month, the app directed users to send emails and petitions to the city council of Cambridge, Massachusetts, in an effort to thwart activist pressure on the city to drop Hewlett-Packard over that company’s contracts with the Israeli military.

“These are international app users at the direction of the Israeli government, not local constituents,” Bueckert tweeted at the time.

Citing “aggressive tactics by opponents” of the campaign, the activist group MassAgainstHP said in mid-April that they had to postpone their hearing in front of the city council.

Bueckert said that although online campaigns are a normal way activists can support their causes, what is new about the way that the app works is that Israel itself, with the assistance of its military and secret police, is helping to “promote and facilitate this process of online social media wars.”

He told The Electronic Intifada that it was fascinating to see that there are people who are willing to be voluntarily conscripted as “agents of the Israeli government in a very real way.”

Coordinated digital attacks

In addition to the defunct website to which the app directed its users, NoSecretBallot.com, another anonymous website was launched to harass and smear students involved in the George Washington University divestment campaign.

The website gw-against-antisemitism.com claims the resolution is “anti-Semitic” and “divisive,” and can send an email through the site to senators opposing the vote.

Analysis by The Electronic Intifada shows that both websites are hosted by a private registrant through the same domain name provider and have identical IP addresses, a strong indication that one central organization launched and maintained both sites.

Notably, the Israel on Campus Coalition, an Israel lobby network that closely monitors the Palestine solidarity movement, appears to be involved in attacking the student supporters of divestment at George Washington University.

The ICC tweeted a link on 16 April to a petition opposing the George Washington University divestment resolution, but that tweet has since been deleted.

This tweet from the Israel on Campus Coalition seems to have been deleted.

The ICC continues, however, to excoriate the outcome of the vote and smear a student senator, Brady Forrest, who had been accused of anti-Semitism due to his criticisms of Israeli policies and Jewish student organizations that back Israeli violence against Palestinians.

In an email seen by The Electronic Intifada, which addressed Forrest as “Adolf Hitler,” student senators were warned against using a secret ballot during the divestment vote.

In the email imploring student senators to vote against the resolution, the sender includes a link to the gw-against-antisemitism.com website.

The email sender’s address, however, is listed as tom@jvacampaigns.comJVACampaigns.com is a website that helps organizations with “advocacy” and “strategic messaging” as well as bulk email services.

The Israel on Campus Coalition was listed as one of just 20 main clients on their website, as can be seen in the screenshot below, which was taken on 23 April:

Screenshot of recent JVA Campaign page listing ICC as a client.

As of 4 May, the ICC logo and name on their client roster had been removed:

The ICC seems to have been dropped from JVA Campaign’s current client list.

ICC’s partner organization, Hillel International, still appears as a client.

It is not known why the ICC was removed from the JVA Campaigns client list. The Electronic Intifada did not receive a response from the company by press time.

Meanwhile, in the past week, the Act.IL app has been directing its users to sign up to receive campaign emailsfrom right-wing Florida senator Marco Rubio and to sign a petition opposing a BDS campaign at the City University of New York (CUNY).

The student senate at CUNY planned to vote on a system-wide divestment resolution last week.

However, that vote was postponed indefinitely after senators came under heavy pressure from Israel supporters, according to Rani al-Hindi, a member of the Palestine Solidarity Alliance at Hunter College, which is part of the CUNY system.

In mid-April, the ICC had tweeted the same link to a petition against the resolution that was promoted by the Act.IL app.

A one-page website appeared, smearing the CUNY divestment campaign as “anti-Semitic.” Users could click and send pre-formulated emails in opposition to the divestment vote.

Al-Hindi told The Electronic Intifada that student senators received a deluge of these emails from Israel-aligned students, as well as individuals unaffiliated with the university system, pressuring the senators to vote against the resolution.

Students supportive of the divestment campaign had been facing routine harassment by Zionist students, al-Hindi explained.

Last month, 14 civil rights and social justice groups, including Palestine Legal and the Center for Constitutional Rights, sent a letter to 280 US universities demanding they take urgent action to protect students’ free speech.

Universities must condemn the increasing harassment and intimidation tactics employed by right-wing Israel advocacy groups, including Canary Mission, the letter says.

Nora Barrows-Friedman is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada.

Israel ravaged Lebanon and Beirut, even before the occupation in 1982, with a series of car bombing tactics

Rise and Kill First: First-Hand Accounts of Israel’s Role in a Widespread Campaign of Car (and Bicycle and Donkey) Bombings in Lebanon

Early on, Bergman explains, the operation used mostly “explosives concealed in cans of oil or preserves” built in a metal shop of Kibbutz Mahanayim where Ben-Gal used to live.

The explosives themselves came from the bomb disposal unit of the IDF so as to “greatly minimize the chance that any connection with Israel might be revealed if the explosive devices fell into enemy hands.”

““We’d come there at night,”” Ben-Gal told Bergman, “Meir [Dagan] and I and the rest of the guys, with the Northern Command’s chief engineer, who brought the explosives, and we’d fill those little drums and connect the  fuses.”

The cover of Rise and Kill First

These “little drums” were then “dispatched to couriers in large backpacks, or, if they were too big, on motorcycles, bicycles, or donkeys.”

As Bergman tells it: “Soon the bombs began exploding at the homes of the PLO’s “collaborators” in southern Lebanon, killing everyone there, as well as in PLO positions and offices, mostly in Tyre, Sidon, and the Palestinian refugee camps around them, causing massive damages and casualties.”

The operation was run in complete secrecy, according to Bergman. It was never approved by the government itself, and there is “no way of knowing” to what extent Ezer Weizman, the Defense Minister when the operation was launched, knew about it.

In spite of their efforts, Eitan, Ben-Gal and Dagan were unable to keep their operation fully airtight, leading several senior officers from AMAN (the Hebrew acronym for the Intelligence Department of the Israel Defense Forces General Staff) to push back and strenously object.

The head of AMAN’s Research Division, Amos Gilboa, described to Bergman what he called a “constant struggle” between AMAN and the Northern Command.

“Yanosh [Ben-Gal] lied to us all the time. We did not believe any of  their reports,” Gilboa said. “This was one of the ugliest periods in the history of the country.” Later, AMAN learned “from its sources in Lebanon” about the “car and donkey bombings” but, writes Bergman, they eventually decided to drop the issue.

Pushback also came from within the government itself, as when Deputy Defense Minister Mordechai Zippori learned of an attack that had taken place in April 1980 and during which women and children had been killed following the explosion of a car bomb in southern Lebanon.

The aim had been, according to Bergman, to hit “PLO personnel.” In June, a meeting was convened in Begin’s office, with Zippori accusing Ben-Gal of “carrying out unauthorized actions in Lebanon” and that “in these activities, women and children have been killed.” The latter replied: “Not correct. Four or five terrorists were killed. Who drives around in Lebanon in a Mercedes at 2 a.m.? Only terrorists.”

Begin accepted Ben-Gal’s assurance that he had in fact received permission for the action and called an end to the meeting. According to Bergman, the extent of the Prime Minister’s knowledge about these activities is unclear.

From that point on, however, “the top brass realized there was no point in asking the prime minister to rectify the situation.” The Tel Aviv meeting thus marked the end of any kind of internal pushback against the covert operation conducted by Eitan, Ben-Gal and Dagan, a fateful development as the operation was about to enter its second (and even more violent) stage following the appointment of a new Defense Minister.

On July 16, 1981, Palestinian Katyushah rockets had killed 3 Israeli civilians in the village of Kiryat Shmonah. The next day, the Israeli air force had responded with a massive bombing raid targeting the headquarters of the PLO in downtown Beirut as well as several bridges around Sidon, killing between 200 and 300 people, mostly Lebanese civilians, and wounding over 800.

Philip Habib, President Ronald Reagan’s special envoy in the region, mediated a ceasefire whereby the PLO was required to stop any attacks inside Israel. To Israeli leaders, such an agreement was unacceptable.

The PLO was a “terrorist” organization, and the American decision to consider Arafat a partner in a ceasefire a veritable affront. As to the specifics of the accord, they argued that the PLO should stop all attacks against Israel and Israeli interests, including attacks that took place in the occupied territories or in places like Europe.

As Bergman notes however, “the outside world saw things differently, and Habib made it clear to the Israelis that the United States would back a land incursion into Lebanon only in response to a gross provocation by the PLO.”

On August 5, 1981, Begin picked Ariel Sharon to replace him as Defense Minister.

For the next 10 months or so, as Israeli historians like Zeev Schiff and Ehud Yaari, Benni Morris, Avi Shlaim or Zeev Maoz have long documented, Israel engaged in numerous military operations with the clear purpose of goading the Palestinians into some form of military response, which Israel would then be able to condemn as a “terrorist” attack that justified a major offensive into Lebanon.

August 1981: Ariel Sharon Becomes Defense Minister and Intensifies the FLLF Bombing Campaign to Goad the PLO into Resorting to “Terrorism”

Rise and Kill First represents a major contribution to our understanding of this historical moment, as it demonstrates, based on first-hand accounts from Israeli officers involved in the operation, that the car-bombing campaign that greatly intensified once Sharon became Defense Minister should be understood precisely as one element of this broader strategy of provocation.

Immediately after taking his new functions Sharon decided to “activate Dagan’s secret apparatus in the Northern Command.” He picked Eitan as a “personal emissary” who would “keep an eye on the clandestine activities in the north” and, Bergman explains, “by mid-September 1981, car bombs were exploding regularly in Palestinian neighborhoods of Beirut and other Lebanese cities.”

The author then specifically mentions bombings in Beirut and Sidon in early October, notes that “in December 1981 alone, eighteen bombs in cars or on motorcycles, bicycles, or donkeys blew up near PLO offices or Palestinian concentrations, causing many scores of deaths” and adds that “a new and unknown organization calling itself the Front for the Liberation of Lebanon from Foreigners took responsibility for all of these incidents.”

As Bergman writes: “Sharon hoped that these operations would provoke Arafat into attacking Israel, which could then respond by invading Lebanon, or at least make the PLO retaliate against the Phalanges, whereupon Israel would be able to leap in great force to the defense of the Christians.”

The author goes on to add remarkable operational details. During that stage of the operation, the explosives were “packed in Ariel laundry powder bags” so as to look “like innocent goods” when going through roadblocks. Women were sometimes enlisted to drive “to reduce the likelihood of the cars being caught on the way to the target zone.”

The cars themselves “were developed in the IDF’s Special Operations Executive (Maarach Ha-Mivtsaim Ha-Meyuchadim).” These operations involved an early generation of aerial drones, used to observe as Dagan’s agents drove and parked the cars, then to remotely set off the devices.

The FLLF also “began attacking Syrian installations in Lebanon,” Bergman adds, and even “claimed responsibility for operations against IDF units.” According to Dagan the FLLF was never behind any such attacks but it “took responsibility in order to create credibility, as if it was operating against all of the foreign forces in Lebanon.”

The American Press and its Contemporary Coverage of the FLLF Car-Bombings

Frontpage of the New York Times from February 6, 1983 featuring an article by on Thomas Friedman on a bombing by the Front for the Liberation of Lebanon from Foreigners

While providing remarkable details about the Israeli side of this secret operation, Bergman’s account remains very vague when it comes to the attacks themselves and, more importantly, their victims. Contemporary media accounts of the October 1981 Beirut and Sidon bombings, which he refers to specifically, give a clearer sense of the violence and destruction involved.

On October 1, a car “booby-trapped with 220 pounds of TNT and 20 gallons of gasoline” exploded near the offices of the PLO, in what a UPI journalist described as “a busy street in Moslem west Beirut packed with fruit and vegetable venders and housewives doing their morning shopping.”

The bomb “tore the facade off buildings, destroyed 50 cars and left the street littered with debris and dismembered bodies.” Immediately following the blast a second bomb, weighing 330 pounds and which had been planted in another car parked on the same street, was found and dismantled by bomb disposal experts.

Later that same day, “six other cars loaded with hundreds of pounds of explosives were found and defused in Beirut and Sidon in what was intended as a devastating blitz against Palestinians and leftist Lebanese militiamen by rightist terrorists.”

As Barbara Slavin and Milt Freudenheim reported in the pages of the New York Times, an “anonymous caller” for the FLLF had told “foreign news agencies that the attacks were directed against Palestinian and Syrian targets in Lebanon and would continue “until no foreigners are left.”

” They went on to add that both Mahmoud Labadi, the spokesman for the Palestine Liberation Organization, and Lebanese Prime Minister Chafik Wazzan “blamed Israel and its Christian allies in Lebanon for the car bomb” while “Israel attributed the bombing to internecine P.L.O. warfare.”

Another year of trying hard to erase Palestine and Palestinians

From Google Maps’ erasure of Palestine, to Israel’s Eurovision win, to the new Jewish-Arab movement that plans to save the Israeli left, here are the most popular articles we published this past year.

By +972 Magazine Staff

25. ‘We’ll ensure it doesn’t escalate to violence — on our end’

It’s hard to believe now, but 2018 began with a glimmer of hope for the residents of the Gaza Strip, as nonviolent activists planned mass demonstrations at the Israel-Gaza fence demanding freedom and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.

Ahmed Abu Artema, one of the organizers of the “Great Return March” spoke at the time to +972’s Rami Younis about why he believed hundreds of thousands of people would show up, and what message he’d like to send to Israelis. Read the interview here.

Palestinians demonstrate near Khan Yunis by the border fence between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip on March 09, 2018. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/ Flash90

Palestinians demonstrate near Khan Yunis by the border fence between Israel and the southern Gaza Strip on March 09, 2018. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/ Flash90

 

24. In memory of the first lawyer to bring the occupation to court

Felicia Langer was a Holocaust survivor, a communist, and one of the first Israeli lawyers to defend the Palestinian residents of the occupied territories in the Supreme Court. Read human rights attorney Michael Sfard’s eulogy here.

Felicia Langer exits the High Court in Jerusalem, after the hearing of the appeal against Bassem Shaka's expulsion. November 22, 1979. (Herman Hanina)

Felicia Langer exits the High Court in Jerusalem, after the hearing of the appeal against Bassem Shaka’s expulsion. November 22, 1979. (Herman Hanina)

 

23. Who profits from keeping Gaza on the brink?

Keeping Gaza on the verge of collapse keeps international humanitarian aid money flowing to exactly where it benefits Israeli interests, writes Israeli economist Shir Hever. For the full article, click here.

Palestinians wait to cross into Egypt through the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip after it was opened by Egyptian authorities for humanitarian cases, February 7, 2017. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Palestinians wait to cross into Egypt through the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip after it was opened by Egyptian authorities for humanitarian cases, February 7, 2017. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

 

22. New film uncovers ‘rotting foundation’ of U.S. Israel lobby

A new Al Jazeera documentary provides a sobering look at a lobby that continues to defend Israel’s control of Palestinian lives, despite the many Americans turning against it. Click here to read more.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the AIPAC Conference in Washington D.C. on March 6, 2018. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the AIPAC Conference in Washington D.C. on March 6, 2018. (Haim Zach/GPO)

 

21. ‘Apartheid is a process’

With the passage of the ‘Jewish Nation-State Law,’ Israel constitutionally enshrined discrimination against its Palestinian population. ‘We don’t have to keep looking for policies that resemble Jim Crow,’ Attorney Fady Khoury told +972’s Edo Konrad. Read the interview here.

Palestinians cross the Bethlehem checkpoint as they head to Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City to attend the third Friday prayers of Ramadan on June 1, 2018. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

Palestinians cross the Bethlehem checkpoint as they head to Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City to attend the third Friday prayers of Ramadan on June 1, 2018. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

 

20. We are all accomplices to Israel’s massacre in Gaza

On May 14, Israeli snipers gunned down 60 Palestinian protesters who took part in Gaza’s “Great Return March.” At the time, Mairav Zonszein wrote: “There has been no outrage. We all let this happen. But it is not too late to speak out.” Read the article here.

Protesters carry away someone who was shot by an Israeli sniper along the Gaza border, May 14, 2018. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Protesters carry away someone who was shot by an Israeli sniper along the Gaza border, May 14, 2018. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

 

19. Arabic was an official language in Israel for 70 years, 2 months, and 5 days

Why upend the status quo of the past 70-plus years? Ask the Israeli government.

Israeli Border Police officers guard the entrance to Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, September 21, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israeli Border Police officers guard the entrance to Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, September 21, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

 

18. How Google Maps is erasing Palestine

Ever wonder what it’s like for Palestinians to travel between Israeli checkpoints and roadblocks in the West Bank? A new report details the ways Google Maps’ mapping process in the occupied territories serves the interests of the Israeli government, while contradicting the company’s stated commitment to human rights. Read Henriette Chacar’s article here.

Israeli soldiers inspect Palestinian cars at the Beit Furik checkpoint, near Nablus, West Bank, May 27, 2015. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

Israeli soldiers inspect Palestinian cars at the Beit Furik checkpoint, near Nablus, West Bank, May 27, 2015. (Ahmad Al-Bazz/Activestills.org)

 

17. My great-grandfather saved Jews. Now I’m in jail for refusing to enlist in the IDF

Matan Helman, an Israeli conscientious objector, pens a poignant letter about his Dutch great-grandfather, Richte Taklenbroch, who refused to enlist in the Nazi work camps during the German occupation of the Netherlands. Richte escaped and joined the underground resistance. Read the letter here.

Israeli activists demonstrate on Purim in support of Israeli conscientious objectors, March 24, 2016. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Israeli activists demonstrate on Purim in support of Israeli conscientious objectors, March 24, 2016. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

 

16. Birthright walk-offs get a taste of settler violence

In June, eight Birthright participants walked off their trip in order to learn firsthand about the occupation. While touring through occupied Hebron with Breaking the Silence, they witnessed the violence meted out against Palestinians and anti-occupation activists in the city. Read more here.

Israeli soldiers escort Jewish settlers as they tour the Old City of the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, June 4, 2016. The Israel army has enforced segregation in the city for over two decades, restricting residents’ movement according to their religion. (Wisam Hashlamoun/FLASH90)

Israeli soldiers escort Jewish settlers as they tour the Old City of the occupied West Bank city of Hebron, June 4, 2016. The Israel army has enforced segregation in the city for over two decades, restricting residents’ movement according to their religion. (Wisam Hashlamoun/FLASH90)

 

15. The color of racism: What many get wrong about race relations in Israel

When an Arab family declared their intention to move into Afula, a mostly Mizrahi middle-class city in northern Israel, the locals responded with racism and hate. Meanwhile, anti-racist activists accused the residents of promoting ‘white supremacy.’ Lihi Yona writes that understanding the ways Jewish supremacy and white supremacy intersect in Israel is the first step toward dismantling them. Read the full article here.

Israeli right-wing protesters shout at a pro-peace demonstration, Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, August 9, 2014. Hundreds gathered in Tel Aviv to protest Israel’s attack on Gaza, despite a police decision to revoke the demonstration permit. (Keren Manor/Activestills)

Israeli right-wing protesters shout at a pro-peace demonstration, Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, August 9, 2014. Hundreds gathered in Tel Aviv to protest Israel’s attack on Gaza, despite a police decision to revoke the demonstration permit. (Keren Manor/Activestills)

 

14. The new Jewish-Arab movement that plans to save the Israeli left

Standing Together, a new joint Arab-Jewish movement, is aiming to transform Israeli politics. It won’t be easy, but the Israeli left’s first step back to power might be believing that it can win again. Click herefor the full article.

African asylum seekers and human rights activists, including Standing Together members, protest against deportation of asylum seekers at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on March 24, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

African asylum seekers and human rights activists, including Standing Together members, protest against deportation of asylum seekers at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on March 24, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

 

13. Israeli minister posts video with genocidal chants by fans

At the end of a Facebook video encouraging fair conduct by fans from Beitar Jerusalem, one of Israel’s notoriously racist soccer clubs, those surrounding Miri Regev break out into chants of ‘burn your village,’ directed at the opposing team — from an Arab city in Israel. Read the full story here.

Miri Regev with Beitar Jerusalem fans, January 22, 2018. (Screenshot from Miri Regev's Facebook video)

Miri Regev with Beitar Jerusalem fans, January 22, 2018. (Screenshot from Miri Regev’s Facebook video)

 

12. The far-right nationalist movement roiling Eritreans in Israel

A new militant anti-Muslim movement seeks to establish a Tigrinyan Orthodox-Christian state in what is now Eritrea and parts of Ethiopia. Known as “the Agazians,” the activists are deepening the divisions within the already fractious Eritrean opposition. Read more here.

A man holds an Eritrean flag as asylum seekers protest continued detentions and demand Israel examine their asylum claims, January 5, 2014. (Photo: Activestills.org)

A man holds an Eritrean flag as asylum seekers protest continued detentions and demand Israel examine their asylum claims, January 5, 2014. (Photo: Activestills.org)

 

11. How Childish Gambino explains the problem with Israel’s Eurovision win

Childish Gambino shocked the world this year with a new music video for his hit, “This is America,” which focuses on the oppression of African Americans. In the Israeli context, says Amjad Iraqi, the video serves to illustrate why audiences should focus on the injustices unfolding in the background of artistic performances – especially those representing the state. Read the article here.

Screenshot from Childish Gambino's music video for 'This is America.'

Screenshot from Childish Gambino’s music video for ‘This is America.’

 

10. In memory of Razan al-Najjar

The 21-year-old paramedic was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers while trying to aid wounded protesters near the Gaza-Israel separation fence. Many Israelis either refuse to believe she was actually killed or claim that her killing was somehow justified. Click here for more.

The photo of Razan that circulated on social media.

The photo of Razan that circulated on social media.

 

9. The untold story of Jewish anti-Zionists in Israel

For nearly as long as Palestinians have resisted their displacement, small groups of Jews have joined them. Ran Greenstein’s book, “Zionism and Its Discontents,” brings to life the complex, often contradictory story of those Israelis who saw Palestinian and Jewish liberation as one and the same. Read Joshua Leifer’s review here.

Israeli soldiers hold down an Israeli activist during a demonstration in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. (photo: Activestills)

Israeli soldiers hold down an Israeli activist during a demonstration in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh. (photo: Activestills)

 

8. Ad for Israeli maternity ward portrays fetus as future soldier

Yes, it’s as absurd as it sounds.

An advertisement for Ichilov Hospital's Lis Maternity and Women's Hospital. (Screenshot)

An advertisement for Ichilov Hospital’s Lis Maternity and Women’s Hospital. (Screenshot)

 

7. The Palestine movement taught me to confront anti-Semitism

On American university campuses, pro-Palestine activists are routinely smeared as anti-Semites seeking to destroy Israel. But contrary to what pro-Israel activists claim, the BDS movement has been instrumental in challenging anti-Semitism on the left. Click herefor the full article.

UC Berkeley students demonstrate after the student senate the student senate did not overturn a veto on a bill that would divest from American companies profiting off the occupation. (photo: Ramsey El-qarey)

UC Berkeley students demonstrate after the student senate the student senate did not overturn a veto on a bill that would divest from American companies profiting off the occupation. (photo: Ramsey El-qarey)

 

6. Nabi Saleh is where I lost my Zionism

By the time +972’s Lisa Goldman began going to Nabi Saleh, she had spent about four years reporting on what she saw in the West Bank and Gaza, watching detachedly as her politics moved ever leftward. What she witnessed in that small West Bank village was the last straw. Read the full article here.

Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli troops during a protest to show solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, Nabi Saleh, West Bank, April 21, 2017. (Flash90)

Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli troops during a protest to show solidarity with Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike, Nabi Saleh, West Bank, April 21, 2017. (Flash90)

 

5. The myth of the Gaza ‘border’

What Israel fears more than a Palestinian state is a Palestinian population it cannot disown, and the myth that Gaza is “separated” from Israel helps it balance that fear. That myth must be broken, and that racist fear must be exposed, writes Amjad Iraqi. Read the full article here.

Palestinian protesters inside the Gaza Strip throw stones in the direction of an Israeli military position on the other side of the border fence, Gaza Strip, December 8, 2017. (Ezz Zanoun/Activestills.org)

Palestinian protesters inside the Gaza Strip throw stones in the direction of an Israeli military position on the other side of the fence, Gaza Strip, December 8, 2017. (Ezz Zanoun/Activestills.org)

 

4. Why Israel’s Eurovision contestant became a target for BDS

Netta Barzilai stunned Europeans this past year with a feminist anthem that won the annual Eurovision Song Contest. Despite her undeniable talent, Barzilai is still the official representative of a country that, for more than half a century, has denied millions of people basic rights under a brutal military occupation, writes Orly Noy. Read her full article here.

Netta Barzilai seen during a press conference after the first semifinals of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest. (Wouter van Vliet, EuroVisionary/CC BY-SA 4.0)

Netta Barzilai seen during a press conference after the first semifinals of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest. (Wouter van Vliet, EuroVisionary/CC BY-SA 4.0)

 

3. Videos show Israeli soldiers sniping unarmed protesters in Gaza

As Gaza’s ‘Great Return March’ turned into a full-fledged popular protest movement, the Israeli army scrambled to explain the growing body count. Infographics were released. Talking points were distributed. Israel was defending its sovereign border, they said. Then came the videos.

Israeli snipers seen on the border with Gaza during the Great March of Return, March 30, 2018. (IDF Spokesperson)

Israeli snipers seen on the border with Gaza during the Great March of Return, March 30, 2018. (IDF Spokesperson)

 

2. Denying Palestinians the right to challenge oppression

Attacks against the UK Labour Party for its newly adopted definition of anti-Semitism only contribute to the silencing of Palestinian voices, the potential criminalization of their struggle against Israeli policies, and the negation of their demands for freedom and equality, say two London-based human rights activists. Read the article here.

Illustrative photo of pro-Palestine protesters in London, June 10, 2018. (Alisdare Hickson/ CC BY-SA 2.0)

Illustrative photo of pro-Palestine protesters in London, June 10, 2018. (Alisdare Hickson/ CC BY-SA 2.0)

 

1. ‘I won’t fly refugees to their deaths’: The El Al pilots resisting deportation

The Israeli government announced late last year that it would begin deporting asylum seekers to third countries, where they would be vulnerable to exploitation, humiliation, human trafficking, frequent arrests, and possible death. Months before the plan was nixed, at least three pilots for Israel’s flag carrier published declarations publicly refusing to take part in the forced deportations. Read more here.


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