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Since March, the California legislature has struggled to draft a bill aimed at thwarting BDS - the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.  As readers of these pages know, BDS is a movement that promotes South Africa-style boycott and divestment strategies to oppose Israel and its policies. For many of its supporters, BDS is a way to challenge the very legitimacy of the Jewish state.

After a torturous path of amendment and revision, the State legislature now has in AB 2844 something it thinks it can live with.  But the revised bill, however well-intentioned, remains seriously flawed.  Governor Brown should veto it.

Earlier versions of the bill would have created a list of companies that participate in BDS – defined to include boycotts targeting Israel or settlements – and prohibited companies on the list from becoming state contractors (a blacklist). After being cautioned by its own legal counsel that economic boycotts qualify as protected free speech under the First Amendment, the legislature abandoned its original scheme and converted AB 2844 into a generic anti-discrimination law.

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The New York Times: Israel Quietly Legalizes Pirate Outposts in the West Bank

Unauthorized settlements dot hilltops in the West Bank, and anti-settlement groups and Palestinians say retroactively legalizing them is a methodical effort to change the region’s map.

ISABEL KERSHNER

MITZPE DANNY, West Bank — One night in the fall of 1998, a self-professed “outpost entrepreneur” brought three trailers to a rugged hilltop in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and established his first pirate settlement.

Dozens of youthful supporters came to cheer on the entrepreneur, Shimon Riklin, whose wife, newborn and toddler joined him a few days later. A second family also moved in. To their initial surprise, nobody from the military or government came to remove them. “After six months,” Mr. Riklin said in a recent interview, “I understood it was a done deal.”

They named their outpost Mitzpe Danny, after a British immigrant stabbed to death by a Palestinian at the settlement across the highway, and went on over the next few months to help establish Mitzpe Hagit and then Neve Erez a short drive away. “I jumped from hill to hill,” Mr. Riklin said.

Today, more than 40 Orthodox Jewish families live in Mitzpe Danny, one of a string of outposts on a strategic ridge with breathtaking views southwest to Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives and east all the way to Jordan. They are part of an expansive network of about 100 outposts established mostly over the past two decades without government authorization.

At least one-third of these have either been retroactively legalized or — like Mitzpe Danny — are on their way, in what anti-settlement groups that track the process see as a quiet but methodical effort by the government to change the map of the West Bank, now in its 50th year under Israeli occupation, by entrenching the outposts that spread like fingers across it.

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The Washington Post: Israel wants to bulldoze this ramshackle village, but Europe is providing life support

 By William Booth,  August 28, 2016

For a quick reality check on the current stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there’s no better place to visit than this little village of miserable huts and sheep pens in the middle of nowhere.

The hamlet in the hills south of Hebron has become an improbable proxy in a cold war waged among Jewish settlers, the Israeli government, Western diplomats, peace activists and the 340 or so Arab herders who once inhabited caves on the site and now live in squalid tents.

Israel’s military authority in the West Bank wants to demolish the Palestinian community, contending that the ramshackle structures, made of old tires and weathered tarpaulins, were built without permits and must come down.

The Palestinian residents insist they are not squatters but heirs to the land they have farmed and grazed since the Ottoman era.

They say Israel wants to depopulate the area of Arabs and replace them with Jews.

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Daniel Kurtzer at Project Syndicate: Israel’s Government Hawks and Military Doves

Kurtzer_ThumbnailPRINCETON – Those who lead Israel’s defense establishment often come to consider peace with the Palestinians a necessary condition for the country’s security. Being tasked with maintaining the territories Israel has occupied since the Six-Day War in 1967 evidently causes the military and security brass to support political measures that would end the occupation. And yet the government shows no interest in pursuing a permanent settlement.

To appreciate this divide, consider the late Meir Dagan, who served as Major General of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and then as Director of Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency. Several years ago, I sat on a panel at a conference in Jerusalem convened by then-Israeli President Shimon Peres. To my right sat Dagan, who had just completed eight years as head of Mossad; to my left sat Dore Gold, a former academic and former Israeli ambassador.

The two men held very different views about how best to guarantee Israel’s security, and it is worth recapitulating their respective arguments.

Gold argued that returning to pre-1967 armistice lines would leave Israel without “defensible borders.” He insisted that Israel could guard against threats from the east only if it maintained a military presence in the West Bank and controlled the Jordan River – which runs along the border separating Jordan from Israel and the West Bank.

Dagan countered that the military’s role is to safeguard Israel’s borders, regardless of where those borders are drawn. While the IDF would certainly prefer to operate with the strategic advantages that holding more territory can confer, it would fulfill its mission under whatever conditions the Israeli government set for it.

But Dagan went further...
Read more...

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Who is Threatening Democracy in Israel

Yedioth Ahronoth
by Nahum Barnea

The failed coup in Turkey holds many lessons for Israel. One of them, and not the least of them, is that we do not sufficiently appreciate the regime bequeathed to us by the state’s founders, and mainly—we are not doing enough to preserve it.

The Turkish Air Force officers who were involved in the attempted coup spoke in the name of democracy; their enemy, Erdogan, also speaks in the name of democracy, and both sides bear the name of democracy in vain.  Ataturk, the founding father of modern Turkey, imposed a secular dictatorship on the Turks, in which the army is the supreme source of authority and the guardian of the constitution; Erdogan posed his alternative to this legacy, an Islamic and Ottoman dictatorship. He is photographed with the picture of Ataturk in the background because officially he is still the father of the nation, but his life’s mission is to destroy Ataturk’s legacy. This week’s events bring him another step, an important step, closer to fulfilling his goal.

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David Bernstein has written an articulate defense of those who, like him, refuse to denounce the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, or in some extreme cases even admit that an occupation exists. (“Why I Don’t Call Israel Out on the Occupation,” Opinion, July 8) He argues that simply calling for an immediate end to the Occupation does not recognize the complexity of the situation and will not bring peace and security to Israel.

Sadly, however, my friend David has missed the mark. The occupation can be denounced without calling for immediate withdrawal.

The occupation is evil. It is immoral. It is un-Jewish. When I carried my JNF blue “pushka” on the streets of Brooklyn as a child, when I literally leapt for joy as I listened to the announcement of results of the UN vote in 1947, when I worked, together with David Bernstein at the American Jewish Committee and now at the JCPA, and as chair of Americans for Peace Now, for the safety and the security of the State of Israel I did not dream of a Jewish nation that would be the oppressor of another people.

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Amir Tibon in Politico: Netanyahu vs. the Generals

Israel’s prime minister is fighting hard to weaken the most important moderate force in his country. Which is why he’s going to be a big problem for the next U.S. president.

Ehud Barak hadn’t given a speech in months, and speculation was rife about what he was going to say when he took the stage at a prestigious policy conference in Herzliya, an affluent suburb of Tel Aviv, two weeks ago. Barak was one of Israel’s leading political figures for two decades, having served as the country's prime minister in the late 1990s and later as defense minister under Benjamin Netanyahu from 2009 to 2012. Was he about to announce a political comeback?

It turned out that Barak, a former special ops commando officer, had one last mission in mind: To take out his former boss and partner.

In his speech, Barak accused Netanyahu of cowardice, opportunism and fear-mongering. He warned that Israel's current government, arguably the most right wing in its history, was showing “signs of fascism,” and that if Netanyahu wasn’t stopped, Israel was on course to become an apartheid state. “The entire Zionist project is in grave danger,” he proclaimed. And the main source of that danger wasn't Israel’s external enemies, but rather its own democratically elected leader.

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Neri Zilber in The Daily Beast: Israel’s Secret Weapon Against Terror

Despite Monday’s bus bombing, terror incidents have waned. Is the $100 million a year the U.S. spends on the Palestinian Authority Security Forces paying off?

GUSH ETZION, West Bank — On a recent cold foggy day at the entrance to Bethlehem, Israel Defense Forces Lt. Col. Yoel Pinto pulled his military jeep to the side of the road to point out an overpass where, on occasion, young Palestinians rain down rocks on Israeli cars below.

Pinto, a battalion commander whose infantry unit was responsible for this north-west sector of Gush Etzion, a restive part of the southern West Bank, seemed preternaturally calm despite being at the doorstep of a major Palestinian city—which was likely the point.

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APN's Lara Friedman in Moment Magazine - An All-Women Symposium: The Missing XX-Factor

1| What more could be done to achieve
peace between Israelis and Palestinians?

2| What might women bring to the
peace process if more were included?

with Ruth Calderon, Tamara Cofman Wittes, Nadia Hijab, Naomi Chazan, Caroline Glick, Fania Oz-Salzberger, Laila El-Haddad, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, Anat Saragusti, Cora Weiss, Sarai Aharoni, Noura Erakat, Laura Blumenfeld, Lara Friedman, Simone Susskind, Felice Friedson, Leila Hilal & Galia Golan

 

When did you last hear someone say something new about the peace process? And when did you last hear someone new say it? Every day, it seems, a panel of experts—diplomats, pundits, scholars, chin-pullers of all varieties—convenes to chew over the future of Israeli-Palestinian relations. These groups all have something in common: They are overwhelmingly male. The PBS program Frontline recently attracted criticism for asking 23 male experts and three women to reflect on the career of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. We at Moment have been offenders ourselves, printing past symposia on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that featured far more male than female contributors.

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My love letter to Boston: Farah Stockman in The Boston Globe

APN Board member Sid Topol mentioned in Farah Stockman's farewell column in the Boston Globe.

Dear Boston,

The first time I laid eyes on you, I worried that I might be out of my league. The gold dome of the State House was impressive bling for a Midwestern girl like me. To be honest, I took you for a snob at first. After all, you’re a city with not one but two Harvard clubs, in addition to hosting parts of Harvard itself.

But over time, I got to see your down-to-earth side. Your longshoremen. Your stevedores. Your fierce, proud unions.

It took me years to learn your secrets: that it’s OK to save a parking space shoveled out of the snow in Southie, but not in the South End. That Mike’s Pastry is for tourists, but Modern Pastry is for Nonna.

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