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November 05 2013

‘Women Should Be Submissive', and Other Google Autocomplete Suggestions

A series of ads by UN Women, revealed in late October, used the Google Autocomplete feature to uncover widespread negative attitudes toward women. Global Voices followed reactions to the UN Women campaign and conducted its own experiment in different languages. The results of searches conducted both within the UN Women campaign and Global Voices revealed popular attitudes not only about women’s social and professional roles, but also about their sexuality, appearance and relationships with men.

UN Women ad featuring Google autocomplete suggestions for the phrase

UN Women ad featuring Google autocomplete suggestions for the phrase “women shouldn't”

The creators of the UN Women ads used search phrases like “women cannot”, “women shouldn’t”, “women should” and “women need to” completed by genuine Google search terms to highlight overwhelmingly negative stereotypes, sexist and highly discriminatory views held about women by society globally. The ads quickly went viral and sparked a heated discussion online. Last week, creators have announced that they are planning to expand the campaign in response to the mass online reaction.

The auto-complete function for searches, according to Google, predicts users’ queries based on the search activity of all users of the web as well as the content of indexed pages. The predictions may also be influenced by past searches of the particular user if they are signed into their Google account.

Global Voices asked its contributors from around the world to carry out Google searches using the same or similar phrases as those used in the UN Women campaign, in their own languages. The searches done between October 19 and October 25, 2013, revealed attitudes about the roles women are expected to take in society, often demonstrating the same global prejudices, but sometimes showing contradictions in different countries. Below are searches in 12 languages from different countries and continents:

Spanish

Chile

“Women should not…”. A screenshot by Silvia Viñas. October 21, 2013.

Women should not…
Women should not preach
Women should not work
Women should not talk in the congregation
Women should not drive

Peru

“Women cannot…” A screenshot by Juan Arellano. October 21, 2013.

Women cannot…
Women cannot preach
Women cannot be pastors
Women cannot donate blood
Women cannot live without man

Puerto Rico

“Women should…”. A screenshot by Firuzeh Shokooh Valle. October 21, 2013.

Women should…
Women should be submissive
Women should use the veil
Women should preach
Women should work

French

France

“Women should…”. A screenshot by Suzanne Lehn. October 21, 2013.

Women should…
women should stay at home
women should work
should women preach
women should wear skirts
women should be submissive
women should know
women should vote
women should stay at home
should women work
women should do the cooking

“Women don't know…”. A screen shot by Rayna St. October 21, 2013.

Women don’t know…
women don't know how to drive
women don't know what they want
women don't know how to be in love
women don't know how to read cards

Arabic

Egypt (similar results in Jordan)

“Woman cannot…”. A screenshot by Tarek Amr. October 21, 2013.

Woman cannot…
Woman cannot live without marriage
Woman cannot live without a man
Woman cannot keep a secret
Woman cannot interpret man's silence

Chinese

“Women cannot…”. A screenshot by Gloria Wang. October 21, 2013.

Women cannot…
Women cannot be too smart
Women can't drive
Women cannot give birth
10 topics women cannot discuss with their husbands

Romanian

“Women should not…”. A screenshot by Diana Lungu. October 21, 2013.

women should not…
women should be loved not understood
women should not be understood
women should not wear pants
what women should not do in bed

 Italian

Italy

“Women should…”. A screenshot by Gaia Resta. October 22, 2013.

Women should…
Women should stay at home
should play hard to get
should stay in the kitchen
should be subdued

“Women should not…”. A screenshot by Gaia Resta. October 22, 2013.

Women should not…
Women should not be understood
should not work
should not be understood but loved
should not read

 German

Germany

“Woman should not…”. A screenshot by Katrin Zinoun. October 21, 2013.

Woman should not…
Woman should not teach
My wife should not work

“Woman can…”. A screenshot by Katrin Zinoun. October 21, 2013.

Woman can….
Woman cannot come
Woman cannot get pregnant
Woman cannot cook
Woman cannot get a baby

 Hebrew

“Women don't…”. A screenshot by
Gilad Lotan. October 21, 2013.

Women don't…
Women don't work
Women are not modest
Women don't know how to drive
Women don't want to have kids

 Hungarian

“A woman should be…”. A screenshot by Marietta Le.
October 21, 2013.

A woman should be…
a woman should be a chef in the kitchen
a woman should be pretty and ruthless

 Danish

“Women cannot…”. A screenshot by Solana Larsen. October 20, 2013.

Women cannot…
Women cannot drive
Women cannot control vagina
Women cannot be color blind
Women cannot barbecue

In Danish, the searches for “women cannot” and “women can” yielded the same results.

Russian
Russia

“Women should not…”. A screenshot by Veronica Khokhlova. October 19, 2013.

Women should not…
Women should not be believed
Women should not lift heavy things
Women should not drink
Women should not be trusted

 English

The UK

“Women should…”. A screenshot by Annie Zaman. October 25, 2013.

Women should…
Women should be seen and not heard
Women should stay at home
Women should know their place

 Not all searches carried out by members of Global Voices community turned up negative terms. Nevertheless, the results of the experiment largely confirm UN Women’s worrying conclusion that a great deal of work still remains to be done in order to advance women’s rights and empowerment around the world.

July 24 2013

Sudanese Refugee Detained for Owning a Bicycle in Israel

In September 2012, the Israeli Ministry of Interior implemented a new regulation that allows the State of arrest and detained indefinitely, without trial, asylum-seekers suspected of crimes, even if those suspicions are unsubstantiated and would have not led to a conviction in court. In July 2013, the regulation, The Procedure for Handling Infiltrators [the term used by the State of Israel to vilify asylum-seekers] Involved in Criminal Proceedings, was expanded to include refugees suspected of even misdemeanors. Over 500 asylum seekers have been detained under the Criminal Procedure and sent to the internment camps for refugees in the Negev desert until their deportation from Israel is possible.

On July 18, a Darfuri asylum-seeker and actor, Babaker (Babi) Ibrahim was arrested by Israeli police for not having a receipt for his bicycle, which was thus presumed to be stolen. Babi, a well-known figure in the Sudanese community in Israel, is a member of a refugee troupe that recently staged a satirical play about the mistreatment of refugees in Israel, One Strong Black. Babi's arrest and indefinite detention without trial sparked outrage and an online and offline campaign to release him and other refugees in his situation. On July 20, dozens protested in front of the residence of Attorney General, Adv. Yehuda Weinstein, who approved the regulation:

The Hotline for Migrant Workers, an NGO advocating for the rights of refugees, migrants and human trafficking victims in Israel, provided an update about Babi's current legal situation [heb]:

לאחר שעתירת הביאס קורפוס שלנו נדחתה על ידי בג”ץ, אתמול הגשנו עתירה בשם באבי… עתירתנו דורשת את שחרורו של באבי וגם תוקפת את הנוהל שמכוחו הוא עצור בטענה שאינו חוקתי…
אנו נמשיך להאבק למען שחרורו של באבי ושל כל הפליטים הכלואים בישראל ללא משפט. לא ייתכן שיתקיימו בישראל שתי מערכות משפט נפרדות: אחת לפליטים ואחרת לכל היתר. לא ייתכן שפליטים ייזרקו למעצר עולם ללא ראיות, ללא משפט הוגן, ללא יכולת להתגונן ומבלי שהמשטרה תצטרך להוכיח שהם אשמים בדבר. לא ייתכן שבמדינה דמוקרטית יתקיים נוהל שמשמעותו הנחה מראש שכל רכוש שנמצא בידיהם של בני אדם בעלי צבע עור מסוים הוא גנוב.

After our habeas corpus petition was rejected by the High Court of Justice, yesterday we filed another petition on behalf of Babi… Our petition demands Babi's release and the abrogation of the regulations under which he has been arrested, claiming that the regulation is unconstitutional… We will keep fighting for Babi's release and the freedom of all refugees detained in Israel without trial. The existence of two separate legal systems in Israel: one for refugees and one for everyone else cannot stand. It is outrageous that refugees are sent to life in prison without evidence, without a fair trial, without the opportunity to defend themselves and without the police having to prove that they are guilty of anything. A regulation that it predicated on the assumption that all property possessed by people of a certain skin color is in fact stolen cannot exist in a democratic country.

Advocates Yonatan Berman and Oded Feller wrote on their blog Laissez Passer about the absurdity of detaining people for owning property:

הבלוג פותח בפני קוראיו את פינת הרולטה – נחשו מה יהיה הצעד הבא. ההימור שלנו – מבקשי מקלט שלא יוכלו להציג קבלות המוכיחות כי רכשו את הבגדים שלגופם ייעצרו. כך נבטיח כי כל מבקשי המקלט יסתובבו בעירום. או שאולי, בעצם, כך נבטיח כי כל מבקשי המקלט שיסתובבו לבושים ייעצרו בגין עבירת גניבה, וכל מבקשי המקלט שיסתובבו בעירום ייעצרו בגין התערטלות במקום ציבורי.

The blog opens the roulette section before its readers – guess what will be the next move [by the government]. Our guess – asylum seekers who won't be able to present receipts proving that they've purchased the clothes on their back will be detainees. Thus we will ensure that all asylum-seekers will walk around naked. Or maybe, actually, this way we will ensure that all clothed refugees will be detained for stealing, while all the asylum-seekers who walk around naked will be detained for indecent exposure.

Prominent leftist blogger Yossi Gurvitz wrote on his blog Friends of George:

כמעט 160 שנים אחרי דרד סקוט, כמעט 150 שנים אחרי שהתיקון ה-13 שם קץ לעבדות, מאשר וינשטיין בחתימתו שיש קבוצה שלמה של בני אדם – לגמרי במקרה, כמובן, צבע עורם שחור – שהם, אם לא סחורות ממש, פחותים מבני אדם. די בעלילה עליהם (למשל, מצד נוכל בן העם הנבחר שלא רוצה לשלם להם את משכורותיהם) כדי להשליך אותם לבור משפטי שממנו אין כמעט דרך לצאת. לאברהים יש מזל נדיר: הוא דמות מוכרת. יש לו לא מעט חברים. כמאה מהם יצאו במוצ”ש הביל של יולי להפגין למענו מול ביתו של וינשטיין. לרוב הפליטים אין מזל כזה. אין מי שיכיר אותם, אין מי שיגיש בשמם עתירות הביאס קורפוס. הם נאלמים, ונעלמים אל הבור שחפר עבורם וינשטיין. בציבוריות הישראלית, המקבילה של החלטת דרד סקוט של וינשטיין עברה ללא כל רעש; יש בה יותר מדי תואמי יאנסי, ומעטים עדיין מעיזים לומר ש”אתם טועים בנו, לא נעשה זאת.”

Almost 160 years after Dred Scott v. Sandford, almost 150 years after the 13th Amendment ended slavery [in the U.S.], Weinstein approved with his signature that there is an entire group of people – incidentally, of course – their skin color is black – that they are, if not property per se, are less than human. Libelous claims (for example, from a swindler of The Chosen People who does not want to pay them their salaries [refugees have been threatened with this by employers - E.T.] are enough to dump them into a legal hole from which it is almost impossible go get out. Ibrahim is very lucky: he is a known figure. He has quite a few friends. About one hundred of them went out on a hot July Saturday night to protest for him in front of Weinstein's home. Most refugees are not that lucky. There is no one who knows them, there is no one of file a habeas corpus for them. They are silenced and disappeared into the hole Weinstein dug for them. The Israeli public did not react to Weinstein's decision that parallels the Dred Scott ruling; there are too many twins of William Yancey [southern Democratic congressman, leading proponent of slavery] and few still dare to say “you mistake us. We will not do it!” [response by a northern Democrat to Yancey's demand that the Democratic Party's platform for the 1860 election include pro-slavery statements]

The Facebook page freeBabi was launched, quickly gaining hundreds of “likes”. The page asked users to submit photos and videos of themselves asking for Babi's release. Many sent in their photos, including famous Israeli actors and musicians.

Famous Israeli singer-songwriter Alma Zohar posted a photo of herself with a sign reading: “Free Babi! Keeping innocents in jail costs you and me a lot of money!”
alma

The producers and directors of the play One Strong Black visited Babi in Giv'on Prison on July 23 and informed him about the ongoing campaign to release him. Babi is set to be transferred to the Sahaornim internment camp on July 24.

Giv'on

The campaign received attention in Turkey, Tunisia and Greece as well. Simge and Vulkan from Izmir, Turkey, took this photo of themselves.
Simga

John Brown created this meme using the image of Attorney General Weinstein:

"I don't always approve to lock up innocent people for life But when I do, they're always black"

“I don't always approve to lock up innocent people for life
But when I do, they're always black”

June 09 2013

Israeli Social Justice Protesters Met with Violence by Jerusalem Police

A protest organized by three groups affiliated with the Israeli social justice movement (#j14) was held in Jerusalem on Saturday night (June 8). The protesters demanded a reversal of the decision to export most of Israel's natural gas reserves with only 12.5% of the value of the gas going to the State in taxes. The protesters also voiced objections against the budget of the new government, which is expected to significantly raise taxes on Israel's lower and middle-class, while at the same time cutting government services on which those classes rely. The protest, despite being peaceful and rather small (a few hundreds of protesters) was met with an unusually high level of random police brutality.

Leftist activist Ben Marmara tweeted a series of updates throughout the protest:

שוטרים מכים נשים בירושלים, יש לכלוא את השוטרים
שוטרים היכו מפגינה וכעת עצרו אותה. #J14
שוטרים ממשיכים לעצור בני אדם ולהעמיס אותם על טנדרים. #J14 יש כבר כמה וכמה עצורות ועצורים בירושלים.
כמו בהפגנה ברמת גן גם היום המשטרה עברה על החוק ומנעה בכוח קיום של הפגנה. אח”כ עצרו מפגינים ומפגינות

Policemen are beating up women, they should be jailed.
There are a number of female and male detainees in Jerusalem. #j14 Police keep arresting people and piling them into police vans.
Just like the protest in Ramat Gan [against the export of natural gas], once again, the police broke the law and forcefully prevented a protest. Then they arrested protesters.

Jerusalem-based #j14 activist, Yishai Oltchik, posted this update on Facebook:

אז היום אני יכול לציין את הפעם הראשונה שבה שוטר דפק לי בעיטה. תקף אותי, זאת אומרת.

למה? פשוט כי עמדתי עם שלט הפגנה שקורא לקיום דיון בכנסת בנושא ייצוא הגז. לא דיברתי עם השוטר, לא עמדתי קרוב אל השוטר, אפילו לא הראתי סימנים שאני לא מתכוון לשתף פעולה אם הוא יבקש ממני לזוז. אפילו לא הסתכלתי אליו באופן ישיר. אפילו לא צילמתי, שזה דבר שמותר לעשות אבל בדרך כלל מסתיים בתקיפה.
פשוט עמדתי במקום, ואז הוא הגיע, דחף בעוצמה את הבחורה שהחזיקה איתי את השלט (והעיף אותה על גבה), ועל הדרך בעט בי.

איך הגבתי? קראתי אליו בהפתעה “למה?” ואחרי שניה הרמתי ידיים באוויר (שלא יגיד שאני תוקף אותו) וצעקתי שהשוטר תוקף אותי. הוא כנראה החליט שזה מספיק ועזב אותי לנפשי.
הלכתי לקצין המשטרה הקרוב ואמרתי לו ששוטר בעט בי ללא סיבה; הוא חייך והמשיך ללכת.

ומכל מה שהיה שם, הכאב של הבעיטה, הזעם והעלבון על כך שהותקפתי ללא סיבה (ומי שמכיר אותי יודע שאני לא אדם אלים), מה שהכי מכעיס אותי זו הידיעה שזה לא משהו מיוחד. זה לא יוצא דופן.
פשוט הגיע תורי הפעם, ועוד יש לי מזל שהשוטר הסתפק רק בבעיטה אחת — כי בדרך כלל זה לא נפסק אחרי מכה אחת בודדת.
ראיתי עוד לפחות עוד עשרה אנשים נדחפים בעוצמה ו/או חוטפים מכות ‘בקטנה’ משוטרים, ועוד מעצר אלים אחד או שניים שיצא לי לראות.

 

So today I can mark the first time when a cop kicked me. Attacked me, I mean. Why? Simply because I stood with a sign calling the Knesset [Israeli Parliament] to hold hearings regarding the export of natural gas…. I did not talk to the cop… did not look at him directly. I did not even film him, which is legal but usually ends in assault [by the cops]. I just stood there and then he arrived, forcefully pushed the girl who held the sign with me (throwing her on her back), and on the way, kicked me…. I went to a nearby police officer and told him that the cop kicked me for no reason; he just smiled and kept walking.

The thing that makes me so angry is knowing that this is not something out of the ordinary. It was just my turn this time, and I was lucky that the policemen thought that one kick was enough — because usually it doesn't end after one blow. I saw at least 10 other people being pushed and kicked by policemen, and one or two violent arrests.

Tel Aviv-based #j14 activist Orly Bar-Lev posted this image on Facebook and wrote:

Right to left: "Bibi [nickname for Netanyahu] - stop the economic terrorism!  Orly with a sign in the center: "Export of gas = suicide for the state" and "No to the cut in child stipends" [one of the proposed austerity measures that will greatly harm the lower class]

Right to left: “Bibi [nickname for Netanyahu] – stop the economic terrorism!
Orly in the center: “Export of gas = suicide for the state” and “No to the cut in child stipends” [one of the proposed austerity measures that will greatly harm the lower class]

מאות אזרחים נורמטיביים, שוחרי שלום, לא אלימים ומודאגים שבאו למחות על הגזירות הכלכליות, המצב הכלכלי וכנגד ייצוא הגז, נתקלו היום בירושלים בהתנהלות משטרית אלימה וקשה, חסרת כל פרופורציה.
פרשים??? להכות נשים??? מפגין שנדרס על ידי שוטר על אופנוע???
מה נסגר אתכם?
מי נתן את ההוראה לעצור את ההפגנה באלימות ולדכא את זכות המחאה? מי נתן את ההוראה למנוע מצעדת מחאה דמוקרטית להגיע לביתו של ראש הממשלה?
מי אחראי לטירוף הזה?

Hundreds of law-abiding and peaceful concerned citizens who came to protest against the austerity measures, the economic situation and the export of gas were met with violent and completely disproportional police treatment. Policemen on horses??? Beating up women??? A protester who was run over by a cop on a motorcycle??? What is wrong with you?
Who gave the order to stop this protest violently and repress the right to protest? Who gave the order to stop a democratic rally from reaching the home of the Prime Minister? Who is responsible for this madness?

Andrea Radu re-posted Orly's update and added:

בדמוקרטיה היחידה במזרח התיכון מכים דורסים ועוצרים מפגינים שלוים כי ניסו לממש את זכותם הדמוקרטית להפגין #J14 #1984

In the only democracy in the Middle east, peaceful protesters get run over, beaten and arrested because they attempted to exercise their democratic right to protest.

Policemen riding horses surround #j14 protesters near the Prime Minister's residence in Jerusalem Photo: #j14 activist Gali Fialkow

Policemen riding horses surround #j14 protesters near the Prime Minister's residency in Jerusalem
Photo: #j14 activist Gali Fialkow

The protest and police brutality did not receive a great deal of coverage and Israeli media and activists complained about biased reporting. Naminag who was at the protest tweeted:

בטמקא אומרים שאתמול השוטרים השתמשו ‘בכוח סביר'. וואללה, כי אני ראיתי מפגינה שהוטחה על גרם מדרגות והתגלגלה בהן למטה, שוטר שדרס מפגין עם האופנוע שלו ושוטר שנגח במפגין עם קסדה. וכל זה עוד לפני שצעדנו 100 מ'. #j14

Ynet [major Israeli news site, owned by Yedhioth Aharonot, close to Finance Minister, Yair Lapid] says that policemen used “reasonable force”. Really? Because I saw a protester being pushed down a flight of stairs and rolling down, a policemen who ran over a protester with his motorcycle and a policemen wearing a helmet who headbutted a protester. And all of this before we even marched 100 meters.

On Facebook, often dubbed the “#j14 lawyer”, Barak Cohen, shares this video showing police dragging away a protester:

He shares another video on YouTube showing police arresting him for merely standing on the sidewalk:

March 27 2013

The Pros and Cons of Drafting Israel's Ultra-Orthodox

This post is part of our International Relations & Security coverage.

Ultra-Orthodox soldiers in Israel

Israel Defense Forces share a photo on flickr of Ultra-Orthodox soldiers finishing a course in 2010 (CC BY-NC 2.0)

The Israeli public largely objects to the current policy of allowing ultra-orthodox Jewish youth to avoid army service, but the rule has long been upheld thanks to political power play. Now, for the first time in 18 years, an Israeli prime minister has formed a government without the ultra-orthodox parties and loyal coalition partners Shas and United Torah Judaism, and the policy is up for consideration.

The reason for the surprising exclusion of the ultra-orthodox parties is the meteoric rise of the secular Yesh Atid party, headed by former TV personality and columnist, Yair Lapid.

One of the main focuses of Lapid’s campaign was the demand for an “equal share of the burden” of military service. Meaning, an end to the policy of allowing ultra-orthodox men to avoid army service if they continue their religious studies past the age of 18 with a government stipend, while other Jewish youths are forced to serve in the army at a monthly wage that amounts to pocket money.

Lapid’s success in the polls and his tactical alliance with the Jewish Home party – a party associated with the religious Zionist sector (whose members do serve in the army) – forced Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud-Beytenu party to form a government that will promote the drafting of ultra-orthodox Jews into the army. The ultra-orthodox parties have reacted with horror and even threatened to leave the country en masse if they are drafted.

The anonymous blogger behind Israeli Politics 101 reflects a widespread view in Israel, namely, that integrating ultra-orthodox into national service will also pave their way to integration into the labor force. He writes:

It is important to remember – 29% of children under the age of 6 are Arabs. 30% of the children under the age of 6 in Israel today are ultra-orthodox. Anyone who looks ahead into Israel’s future understands that there is no realistic possibility to continue building the system based solely on the secular Jewish sector and on the religious Zionist sector. In 12 years, they will be a minority whose share in the population will probably continue to decrease. The only way for Israel’s future is re-planning the systems to allow real integration of the Arab and ultra-orthodox sectors.

Leading leftist blogger Yossi Gurvitz, on the other hand, thinks that the neo-liberal parties are raising the issue of “equal sharing of the burden” to distract the public that took to the streets in large numbers to demand social justice in 2011:

Instead of talking about economic equality, we will now talk about “equal sharing of the burden”. The scarecrow of drafting the ultra-orthodox into the IDF will replace, in this new government, the Iranian scarecrow… The drafting of ultra-orthodox will harm everybody. It will cost a great deal of money, it will draft into the army people that the army has no need for – it is suffering from too much manpower even now – and will reverse the standing of women [ultra-orthodox men will only serve in units where genders are segregated – E.T.].. In the end, the IDF will be less combat ready, the military budget will increase by billions [to cover the salaries of the ultra-orthodox and other expenses– E.T.], society will be more militaristic – and it will have much less equality. Under this façade, most of society will continue to become poorer, and the class warfare that Netanyahu is waging will continue to transfer the national wealth from the lower classes to the top 1%.

Ultra-Orthodox social justice activist, Yaacov Lebi [he], thinks staying in the opposition, for once, may benefit the ultra-orthodox community:

As opposed to the handful of politicians and those who have a vested interest in this, the larger ultra-orthodox public will benefit from sitting in the opposition… The ultra-orthodox public will undergo a process of internal and necessary correction and reflection about internal ultra-orthodox problems and the relations between the ultra-orthodox and the State and the rest of its citizens.

Previous attempts by centrist-secular parties, including the party Shinui, headed by Yair Lapid’s father, were unsuccessful and Prime Minister Netanyahu has no interest in changing the status quo and alienating his trusted allies. However, he may be pressured to do just that.

ISN logoThis post and its translations to Spanish, Arabic and French were commissioned by the International Security Network (ISN) as part of a partnership to seek out citizen voices on international relations and security issues worldwide. This post was first published on the ISN blog, see similar stories here.

February 26 2013

A Futile Gagging Order for the ‘Prisoner X’ Scandal

This post is part of our International Relations & Security coverage.

Graffiti of newspaper reader in Tel Aviv, Israel

Graffiti of newspaper reader in Tel Aviv, Israel. Photo by Helga Tawil Souri on flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

After Australia’s ABC aired an exposé on ‘Prisoner X’ on February 12, Israeli media was quick to follow up on the shocking claims that Ben Zygier, an Australian-born Israeli citizen who worked for Mossad, was secretly detained in a maximum-security prison for months before allegedly committing suicide in 2010. However, reports on the scandal were pulled soon after they emerged. The Prime Minister’s Office called an urgent meeting of the editors of all major Israeli news outlets to ask for their cooperation in silencing the story. For a whole day, Israeli media were forbidden from reporting on the story, even as it was making headlines worldwide and Israelis disseminated the news in social media and blogs. Only after three leftist members of the Knesset used their parliamentary immunity to speak on the issue did opaque headlines appear, and an Israeli court lifted the gag order.

The Israeli government used the possible threat to national security to justify its decision to censor the ‘Prisoner X’ scandal. However, many Israeli bloggers remain far from convinced that national security was the main reason behind the pulling of the story.

Noam Shiezaf argued on +972 Magazine:

It was pretty clear by the early morning yesterday that the Prime Minister’s Office (which is in charge of the Mossad) and the Defense Department (under which the military censor operates) are fighting a losing battle. Once a report was out there in the international media, it was impossible to stop it from circulating without taking Chinese-style Internet censorship measures. Plus, the whole rationale was flawed: there is nothing “secret” about something that the entire world knows, so why should Israelis be the only ones who are forbidden access to the information? If anything, such behavior reveals the deeper motive behind most acts of censorship: it is less about protecting state security and more about the protection of individuals and institutions from public scrutiny.

Gal Mor, the editor of Holes in the Net, also disputed the claim that censorship was used to protect national security:

Like in previous scandals (Motke Kedar, who was also dubbed ‘Prisoner X’; Marcus Klinberg; the Lavon Affair; Bus 300) we were told that exposing the affair endangers national security, to the point of endangering its existence…When each of these secret affairs were exposed, the world did not end, and we found out that in the worst case this is a diplomatic incident, and an embarrassment to an intelligence agency, and exposing it contributed greatly to Israel’s democracy and to internal inspections of the agencies. And even if there was a justification for this silencing, we live in a global alley, in which Facebook, Twitter and blogs are only a click away.

The attempts to prevent the dissemination of the ‘Prisoner X’ story after the airing of the exposé shows that Israeli authorities have not yet adjusted to the new media era. In a country where almost half of the population has a Facebook account, slapping a gag order on a report readily available online, only creates greater interest in the story.

ISN logoThis post and its translations to Spanish, Arabic and French were commissioned by the International Security Network (ISN) as part of a partnership to seek out citizen voices on international relations and security issues worldwide. This post was first published on the ISN blog, see similar stories here.

January 29 2013

Spain: Catalonia's “Declaration of Sovereignty” Translated into 36 Languages

On January 23, 2013, amid rising tensions with the Spanish government, the regional parliament of Catalonia approved by majority vote a Declaration of Sovereignty [ca] — seen widely as a prelude to a referendum on independence, expected to be held by 2014. Thanks to a diverse team of collaborators, the online Catalan-language publication Vilaweb [ca] has been able to publish the document in thirty-six languages.
(more…)

December 19 2012

Israel Media Ratings War Spills into Conflict Coverage

This post is part of our International Relations & Security coverage.

Elderly man checks the headlines in tel aviv, israel.

Elderly man checks the headlines in Tel Aviv, Israel - 2005. Photo by Shachar Abiry שחר אבירי on Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Israeli media has undergone significant changes over the past few years. Growing economic strains have increased competition between media outlets fighting for a share of advertising revenue. However, because the market that media outlets operate in is relatively small many are experiencing serious financial problems. This includes the daily newspaper Maariv, which was recently sold to a right-wing publisher. As a result, many of the newspaper’s workers are expected to lose their job. A similar fate may fall upon employees at Channel 10 and the only left-leaning Israeli daily, Haaretz, which are also incurring heavy losses.

Financial troubles have the potential, therefore, to decrease the independence of reporters, who may be less willing to challenge the wishes of their editors or managers who are, in turn, accountable to the owners of media outlets. In a recent blog post on The 7th Eye, Prof. Gabriel Weimann challenged the view that Israeli media is becoming increasingly biased and polarized due to ideological reasons. He writes:

מה שמניע מגמה זו בישראל אינו הזדהות אידיאולוגית, אימוץ גלוי ואמיץ של אג'נדה חברתית או מחויבות ארוכת טווח לקו פוליטי. מי שמעצבים תהליך זה בישראל הם שיקולים תחרותיים, עסקיים ויוקרתיים.

הזדהות עם או יציאה נגד מנהיג פוליטי או מפלגתו אינן בחירות מערכתיות המבוססות על בחינת עמדות והערכות בדבר נכונות הדרך. אלו בחירות המונעת לעתים על-ידי שיקולי תחרות (”אם המתחרה שלי הוא בעד, אז אני נגד”), ולעתים על-ידי רשת סבוכה של קשרים עסקיים, שותפויות בבעלות צולבת של תקשורת ועסקים.

What causes this trend in Israel is not ideological identification, an unabashed and brave adoption of a social agenda or a long-term commitment to a political worldview. What shapes this process are competitiveness, financial considerations and prestige.
(…)
Support or opposition to a political leader or his party are not choices made based on a worldview or assessments regarding whether the leader is right. These are choices that are often motivated by competitive considerations (“if my competitor is for him, I am against”) and sometimes by an intricate web of commercial connections, and cross ownerships of media outlets and businesses.

The desire to maintain a large number of viewers, listeners or readers has increased the importance of ratings and the desire of media outlets not to report matters that might decrease their audience. Israeli media outlets attempt to reflect to their audience what Israeli society likes to think of their country: as a moral, powerful country that only acts in self-defense. This is one reason why the coverage of the Israeli-Arab conflict is generally very sympathetic of the Israeli government’s narrative.

One recent example of this bias is the coverage of the killing near the Gaza-Israel border of Anwar Abdul Hadi Qudaih, a 20-year-old Palestinian. IDF soldiers shot at Anwar after the cease fire that was brokered between Hamas and Israel following Operation Pillar of Defense came into effect. Israeli media adopted the IDF’s line that Anwar and 300 other protesters attempted to breach the border fence and enter Israel. A video of the event showed that the number of protesters was in fact closer to 30 and they were not close to the border fence when the IDF shot Anwar.

The blogger Ishton, who wrote a detailed post about this discrepancy between Israeli coverage and reality, argued:

זה לא רק צה”ל שמפעיל כוח בלתי סביר בעליל, אלא גם התקשורת. ומה נותר לנו? לחפש באתרי חדשות מהעולם את האמת? לכתוב פוסט שיקרא על ידי אלפים בודדים ויותיר מיליונים חשופים לאש החיה של התסלופת הישראלית? כמו עם הפלסטינים, כמו עם אנואר, זה פשוט לא כוחות. כנגד סרטוני יוטיוב ופוסטים בשולי השוליים, עומדת התקשורת ומפגיזה את הקורא – אם בידיעות מעוותות ואם בחוסר ידיעות על האמת… אתם, העיתונאים והעורכים, החתומים על הכתבות הללו, מרגישים בנוח בגלימה השחורה, שאיש לא התיר לכם ללבוש. אתם חורצים את דינם של אנשים, שלא נותר להם בית משפט אחר מלבד התקשורת (כי בתי המשפט שלנו לא יקשיבו להם). ובמחיקתם וסילופם, בכך שאתם “רק עושים את תפקידכם” כשופרי דובר צה”ל, אתם אינכם מדווחים את המצב, אלא מייצרים ומנציחים אותו.

It is not just the IDF that uses excessive force, but also the media. What are we left to do? Search international news sites for the truth? Write a post that will be read by a few thousands but will leave millions exposed to Israeli propaganda? Just like [Israel’s conflict] with the Palestinians, the forces are not evenly matched. Against YouTube videos and marginal posts, stands the media, which either bombards the reader with false reports or just does not report about the truth… You, journalists and editors, who are responsible for these reports, feel comfortable in your black [judges’] gown, which no one allowed you to wear. You seal the fate of people who have no trial left to stand except the media (since our courts won’t hear them). When you distort the truth or erase them, when you are “just doing your job” as the mouthpieces of the IDF spokesperson, you are not reporting on the situation, but creating and perpetuating it.

Increasingly, citizen journalists and bloggers fill in the void of Israeli mainstream media coverage. Bloggers such as Ishton, Idan Landau, Yossi Gurvitz, Haggai Mattar, Noam Rotem, and Yair Kaldor cover and offer commentary of issues that are often neglected by Israeli mainstream media.

This post and its translations to Spanish, Arabic and French were commissioned by the International Security Network (ISN) as part of a partnership to seek out citizen voices on international relations and security issues worldwide. This post was first published on the ISN blog, see similar stories here.

November 26 2012

Israelis React to Barak's Retirement from Politics

Israel's Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, who previously served as Israel's Prime Minister (1999-2001) and IDF Chief of Staff (1991-1995), made a surprise announcement in a press conference today, saying he will be retiring from politics to spend more time with his family. Barak will continue to serve as Israel's Minister of Defense until the next government is formed following the January 2013 elections. This is Barak's second announcement of retirement from politics, the first one coming in 2001 after his defeat in the 2001 general elections.

Barak's popularity has significantly diminished in recent years, after he split from the Labor Party, which he headed, to form a new party, HaAtzmaut. The split insured that Barak could stay in Netanyahu's government after most of the Labor's Member of Knesset (the legislature of Israel) wanted to quit the government. Prior to Barak's announcement, his party, which has five MKs who all split from the Labor Party, was hovering around the 2 per cent election threshold.

Dudi Rosenthal joked on Twitter about Barak's dwindling popularity and options:

המוזיקה נפסקה, כולם מיהרו לתפוס כיסאות ורק אהוד ברק ממשיך לרוץ מסביב כמו מפגר

@DudiRosenthal: The music stopped and everyone rushed to grab a seat, and only Ehud Barak is still running around like an idiot.

Israeli law dictates that at least a third of a party's MKs need to split from their party to be able to form a new party. Barak managed to convince four Labor MKs to split with him (the Labor had 13 seats), but today's announcement ensures that his new HaAtzmaut party now has little to no chance of getting elected.

Israeli journalist Dimi Reider commented:

@dimireider: What a wonderful “F**k You, you're on your own” to the invertebrates who joined him in the Atzmaut farce

Since Barak split the Labor party, which currently has only eight MKs left, the party has been gaining popularity in the polls. Gil Gangnam Klein quipped:

באתי, הרסתי כל מפלגה שיכלתי, פרשתי. #אהוד.ברק.אוטוביוגרפיה

@Garkler: I came, I destroyed every party I could, I retired. #EhudBarakAutobiography

Leftist meme-creator, John Brown, doctored the image of US President Nixon after he resigned in disgrace:


During the Press conference, Barak cited the lack of passion for politics as one reason he's retiring. Noa Mashiah tweeted about this:

כשברק אומר שהפוליטיקה לא היתה אצלו מושא תשוקה, זיינת אותנו בלי חשק?

@mashiahno: When Barak says that politics has never been his desire, [does that mean] you f**ked us without passion?

Jonathan joked on Twitter:

אתם סתם קטנוניים ומתעלמים מכל הדברים הטובים שברק עשה. הייתי מפרט, אבל כבר כתבתי את זה בשירות המיקרו-בלוגינג המתחרה שמגביל סטטוסים לאפס תווים

@CatRobotIL: You're just being petty and ignore all the good things Barak has done. I would elaborate, but I already wrote about it in a competing micro-blogging service that limits updates to zero characters.

Some netizens wrote about Barak's role in commanding over the recent Pillar of Defense Operation in Gaza.

Blogger Ido Kenan wrote:

אז עמוד ענן היה מתנת פרידה? איזה חמודוש, לא היית צריך!

So Pillar of Defense was a going away present? What a cutie, you really shouldn't have

Leftist activist Shachat B. Cotani wrote:

להתראות ותודה על המתים

So long and thanks for the dead

Leading migrant rights lawyer, Yadin Elam, posted Barak's recent campaign poster, which states that “we need a responsible adult here”, and ridiculed it by quoting the lyrics of a famous Zohar Argov song:

אז כבר לא צריך כאן מבוגר אחראי? נישאר יתומים?
בדד? בלי עתיד, בלי תקווה, בלי חלום?

So we no longer need a responsible adult here? We will be orphaned? Alone? Without a future, without hope, without a dream?

Assaf Appelboim tweeted:

מכירים את זה שאחרי הרבה זמן פורשים בשיא? אז ברק, רק ההיפך.

@Appelboy7: You know when after a long time people quit while they're ahead? Well Barak [did] just the opposite.

Dkapuchino mocked Barak's lavish lifestyle in tweeting:

זה השלב שהוא פורש לנהל חיים צנועים בבקתה הצנועה שלו במגדל גינדי?

@dkapuchino: Is this the part when he retires to lead a modest life in his modest hut in the Gindi Towers? [Barak's pricey place of residence]

November 18 2012

Israelis Protest Military Operation against Gaza

Yesterday a Facebook group organized hundreds of Israelis to gather in Tel Aviv's Habima square. The group calls for people to “Refuse the election war! Refuse to die or kill in the name of a political spin.”

The latest exchange of fire between Hamas and Israel started on November 14, when Israeli drones targeted and killed Hamas military leader Ahmed Al-Jabari in the Gaza enclave.

The following 10-second video shows part of the anti-war protest:

Roni More posts a photograph from the protest to Twitter:

I shall not hate

I shall not hate, reads a sign carried during an anti-war protest in Tel Aviv. Photograph shared by @RoniMore1 on Twitter

More photos can be found here.

Many have been critiquing the politics behind this operation. In a popularly shared Facebook post, Lior Bakalu writes:

ארבע שנים כמעט לא עשו כלום, ופתאום נזכרו. ליבי עם תושבי הדרום ותושבי עזה שממשלת ישראל הפכה את המצוקה שלהם לתפאורת רקע לקמפיין בחירות

Four years and they've done nothing, and all of a sudden they've remembered. My heart is with the citizens of the south and the citizens of Gaza who's misery the Israeli government has turned into their elections campaign.

He adds an image outlining military operations from the past 15 years, and their timing in relation to elections. Translated below:

Alaa Younis critiques the politics behind the war:

החמאס עושה בשם האיסלאם את מה שביבי עושה בגלל הבחירות. שניהם שקרנים. לשניהם לא אכפת מהאזרח. ושניהם לא מייצגים אותי.

ובתור רופא שיניים אני אומר לכם: את שניהם צריך לעקור.

What Hamas is doing in the name of Islam, Bibi is doing because of elections. Both are liars. Neither of them care about civilians. And neither of them represent me.
As a dentist I tell you: both need to be extracted.

Joseph Dana is reporting today from Ashkelon, a city that's been hit hard by missiles. He tweets a reaction to the possibility of a ground operation:

@ibnezra: Ppl I am speaking with in Ashkelon amidst air sirens tell me that they don't want a ground invasion b/c it will harm Israel's legitimacy

While there is some opposition amongst Israelis, these opinions and protests are rarely highlighted by mainstream media. Elizabeth Tsurkov posted the following tweet:

@Elizrael: Israeli papers avoid reporting on Palestinian casualties and also don't report on the fact that some Israelis oppose this operation.

She continues:

@Elizrael: If you only receive news on the suffering of Israelis and successful assassinations of terrorists, why would you oppose this operation?

November 15 2012

Israel: “Ashdod Feels like a War Zone”

On November 10, Gaza militants fired an anti-tank missile at an IDF patrol on the Israeli side of the Gaza-Israel border, injuring four. Israel responded with deadly airstrikes on Gaza, Hamas and other militant factions in Gaza fired rockets back. After a cease fire was negotiated and rocket fire from Gaza had almost stopped, IDF drones assassinated Hamas military chief, Ahmad al-Jabari. Gaza militants responded by launching a barrage of rockets. One of those rockets exploded in a home in the southern town of Kiryat Malachi, killing three members of a family. IDF attacks on Gaza have resulted in the death of at least 13 people, some of them civilians, and injured over 100 people.

Israelis living under constant rocket fire in southern Israel shared their experiences and feelings online.

Hagit Eisha, a resident of the southern city Beer Sheva posted this on Facebook:

בדרך להורים שלי לאסוף את הילדה, ארבעה טילים מעליי ומולי, אזעקה, הבזקי אור, שובלי עשן. פחד אלהים. אני צורחת לאבא שלי בטלפון שאני מתה הוא בטוח שמדבר עם בת 12 מרגיע אותי שהוא מחכה לי בחוץ וצהל מגן עליי ואני צורחת. עברו עוד כמה אזעקות מאז והגוף עדיין רועד. חיכיתי שיעשו לזה סוף אבל מלחמה זה מפחיד

On the way to my parents to pick up my daughter. Four missiles above me and in front of me, alarm, flashes of light, smoke trails. I'm so horribly scared. I scream to my father on the phone that I'm dead, and he's certain he's talking to a 12-year-old. He calms me down saying that he's waiting for me outside and that the IDF is protecting me and I scream. There have been several alarms since then and my body is still shaking. I wanted them to put an end to this [rocket fire] but war is scary.


Gal Zohar Za'arur
who lives in southern Israel posted this message on Facebook:

אנחנו במשפחה כבר מבוגרים, הצעיר בן 15, כל נושא האזעקות והטילים כבר לא מרגש אותנו, אזעקה פירושה לספור עד 15 ולקוות לטוב.
במוצאי שבת הייתי אצל חברה טובה כשהייתה אזעקת ‘צבע אדום', במהלך האזעקה הם נכנסו לממ”ד, אני כבר רגיל לא לחפש אותו אבל נכנסתי איתם, שם ראיתי את האח הקטן שלה מחבק את אמא שלו בפחד, לרגע אחד שאלתי את עצמי למה הוא פוחד כל כך, למה הוא עוד לא התרגל.
ובשנייה שאחרי הבנתי שהאבסורד האמיתי הוא לא שהוא מפחד, אלא שאני התרגלתי.

In our family, everyone is grown up, the youngest is 15. The whole thing of alarms and missiles doesn't bother us anymore. An alarm means that you count until 15 and hope for the best. On Saturday night, I was at a good friend's house when the ‘Red Color‘ [radar system] alert went off. During the alert, they went into the bomb shelter. I'm used to not looking for it anymore, but I went in with them. I saw her little brother hugging his mother in fear, and for a moment I thought to myself why he's so afraid, and why he hasn't gotten used to it by now.
And a second later I understood that the real absurdity is not that he's afraid, but that I've gotten used to it.

MK Ilan Gil'on, a member of the dovish Meretz party who lives in Ashdod, posted this image on Facebook, writing: “Going down to the shelter with my granddaughter Noya”

Dana, who lives in Ashdod, posted these two tweets:

לפחות 5 נפילות בלי אזעקה, פיצוצים מכל עבר, אשדוד מרגישה כמו איזור מלחמה. עופרת יצוקה הייתה מסיבת כיתה לעומת עכשיו.
בת 3. מתולתלת, סמוקה ושמנמונת, יצאה לחדר מדרגות עם מטריה ורודה עם נקודות. אמא שלי שאלה אותה למה? והיא ענתה שזה ייגן עלינו. תמימות גנוזה.

At least five hits without the alarm being sounded, explosions all over, Ashdod feels like a war zone. Operation Cast Lead feels like a walk in the park compared to this.
A 3-year-old, curly hair, pink cheeks, chubby, went out to the stairwell with a pink dotted umbrella. My mother asked her why. She said that it will protect us. Hidden innocence.

This video documenting multiple rockets being fired at Beer Sheva was posted on November 14 on Facebook, and received over 4,700 shares

While many Israelis, including those who are currently tweeting from their bomb shelters, expressed their complete support for the IDF, other were more critical of the government.

Shirly Karavani, a resident of the southern city of Ashqelon wrote this widely-shared Facebook update:

שלום, אני תושבת הדרום, ולמרות מה שמנסים מתחכמים למיניהם בערוצי התקשורת, אני ממש, אבל ממש לא מוכנה לזה! גם רוב מי שסביבי אגב, בטח לא כל מי שגרים בשכונות הישנות יותר ואינם מוגנים כלל. כי גם לא היה להם 70,000 ש”ח לממ”ד. אז תפסיקו בבקשה להפוך אותנו לחוסן הלאומי שלכם בבקשה. אני בסך הכל רוצה לחיות בשלום, ולגדל את ביתי בנחת. אני בטוחה שכמוני יש אלפי אמהות בשני צידי הגדר, מאות אלפי אפילו. קורבנות של מנהיגים שלא מנסים למצוא פתרון אמיתי ורואים רק עד קצה הכסא שעליו הם רוצים לשבת.

Hello, I'm a resident of the south, and despite what many smart-asses are saying in the media, I am completely unprepared for this! And so are most who live around me, by the way, especially those who live in older neighborhoods and are not protected at all because they couldn't afford to build a bomb shelter that costs NIS 70,000. So please stop making us into your ‘national strength'. All I want to do it live in peace and raise my daughter. I am certain that there are thousands of mothers like me on both sides of the [Gaza-Israel] fence, hundreds of thousands even. We are victims of leaders who do not attempt to find a real solution and care only about staying in power.

Bar Heffetz, who lives closely to the Gaza-Israel border, wrote:

נגמרו לי המילים, לחשוב שהילדים שלי הם כלי משחק של ביבי וברק.
די כבר…….
3 דקות מחאן יונס

I've run out of words. To think that my children are Bibi and Barak's pawns [Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, respectively]. Enough… 3 minutes from Khan Younis

And later added:

טוב בוקר כזה אני באמת לא זוכר, לא מפסיקים ליפול כאן פצמרים וקאסמים כולל אחד צמוד למרפאה….
אי אפשר לכוון כמה לרחוב עזה ולמגדל החדש של ברק….

I don't remember any morning like this [with so many explosions]. Mortars and Qassams keep landing, one of them close to the clinic…
I wish some of them could be aimed to Gaza street [the official residence of the Prime Minister in Jerusalem] and Barak's new tower [Barak infamously bought an expensive condo in a high-tower in Tel Aviv, and due to public anger, sold it and bought an apartment in a less-expensive high tower]…

A message from Michal Vesser, a teacher and resident of Kfar ‘Aza, near the border, was posted by her student on Facebook:

אל תגנו עלי !
תודה רבה באמת. אם הגנה כזו לא זקוקים להתקפה…
אני יושבת בממ”די בקיבוץ כפר-עזה ומקשיבה להפצצות של מלחמת כל בכל.

אם ברצונכם להגן עלי – אז אנא מכם: אל תשלחו את צה”ל “לנצח”. תתחילו לחשוב לטווח ארוך ולא רק עד לבחירות הבאות. נסו לשאת ולתת עד שיצא עשן לבן. הושיטו יד למחמוד עבאס. תפסיקו עם “חיסולים ממוקדים”, תביטו לעיני האזרחים גם בצד השני.
אני יודעת שמרבית הציבור יאשים אותי בהתייפיפות נפש. אבל אני זו שיושבת כאן עכשיו כשפצמ”רים נופלים בחצרי, לא סער, לא ביבי וגם לא שלי ויאיר. אני זו שבחרה לגדל כאן את ילדיה

אז אל תעשו לי טובה ואל תהרגו אזרחים מעבר לגדר בשביל להגן על חיי. אם אתם מעוניינים להפסיק את פעולות האיבה מן העבר השני – תפתחו את האזניים ותתחילו להקשיב.
סכסוכים אלימים לא נפתרים באלימות נוספת.
שקט אינו מושג על ידי דיכוי האחר. להיפך, זה מתכון בטוח להמשך מעגל האימה.

Don't protect me!
Thank you very much, really. With such defense, who needs offense… I sit in my bomb shelter at the Kfar ‘Aza kibbutz and listen to the bombardment in this all-out war.

If you want to protect me - please don't send the IDF to “win”. Start thinking long-term and not just until the coming elections. Try to negotiate, extend your hand to Mahmoud Abbas. Stop the ‘targeted killings', look into the eyes of the civilians on the other side. I know that most of the public will accuse me of being a bleeding heart. But I'm the one sitting here right now as mortars land in my yard, not Saar [Minister of Education], not Bibi, not Shelly [Yechimovitch, head of the Labor party who expressed her full support for the ongoing IDF operation], not Yair [Lapid, a TV personality-turned-politician who had also expressed support for the government's handling of the crisis]. I am the one who chose to raise her children here

So do me a favor and don't kill civilians on the other side of the fence to protect my life. If you want to see an end to the attacks from the other side, open your ears and start to listen.
Violent conflicts are not solved with additional violence.
Quiet is not achieved by oppressing the other. The opposite is true - it is a recipe for the continuation of the circle of horror.

Many left-leaning Israelis pointed to the connection between the escalating violence and the upcoming elections, set for January 22, 2013. Israeli governments have a record of launching military operations ahead of elections.

Current polls show that the party of the Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, does not cross the election threshold (2% of the votes). Blue Collar, a leftist social media firm posted this image commenting on Barak's interest in escalating the conflict with the Palestinians prior to the elections

“Here's Ehud. Building a campaign from the Gazan mud”

Yoav Abramovich quipped:

כאשר שר הבטחון אומר ש”ישראל תגיב בזמן ובמקום שהיא תמצא לנכון”, הוא מתכוון לסביבות חודשיים לפני הבחירות.

When the Minister of Defense says that “Israel will react at the time and the place of its choosing” he means about two months before the elections.

November 09 2012

Israeli Netizens Celebrate Romney's Defeat

Israeli netizens closely followed the elections in the United States, many of them staying up until the early morning hours to find out who of the candidates crossed the 270 electoral vote threshold. The Israeli social media and blogosphere scene is dominated by people who lean to the Left and thus most hoped that Obama would be re-elected. Liberal Israelis are generally disappointed with Obama's inaction regarding the peace process and human rights violations inside Israel, but Romney is seen as the worst of the two options. Netanyahu's implicit endorsement of Romney, as well as Romney's conservative positions on women's rights, gay rights and social equality made him quite unpopular among Israeli netizens.

Israeli netizens reacted to Obama's victory mostly in the context of Israeli politics - as a blow to Netanyahu, and Netanyahu and Romney's generous financier, billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who also owns the pro-Netanyahu free daily Israel Hayom.

Leftist blogger Kurt Tucholski posted on Facebook [heb]:

הרשו לי לנבא את הכותרת של ישראל היום מחר: במירוץ לנשיאות ארצות הברית הגיע רומני למקום השני, אובמה הגיע למקום הלפני אחרון!

Let me predict tomorrow's headline in Israel Hayom: In the race to the presidency of the United States, Romney came in second while Obama came in one place before last!

While this humorous prediction did not come true, the daily did publish an op-ed titled “The United States Chose Socialism” following Obama's victory.

Asafsky Levy posted this image of Adelson on Facebook:

Feminist blogger H. B. Hoffman described the general atmosphere among Israelis on Twitter:

הפיד שטוף בשמחה לאיד וקריאות לאובמה להיכנס בנתניהו בכל הכוח, ואני רוצה להגיד שזה ממש לא יפה, שלא חיכיתם לי כדי שאוכל להצטרף. אובמה, כנס בו

@vandersister: My feed is full of schadenfreude and calls for Obama to slam Netanyahu hard. And I want to say this is really not nice. It's not nice that you didn't wait for me so I could join. Come on, Obama, slam him.

Journalist and musician Yuval Ben Ami posted on Facebook:

לשלדון אדלסון נשפכו מאה מליון דולר לג'ורה. רק העובדה שזה גרושים בשבילו פוגמת לי בעונג השמחה לאיד.

Sheldon Adelson just had $100 million poured down the drain. Only the fact that it's loose change for him ruins my Schadenfreude.

Ouriel Daskal tweeted about Netanyahu's gamble of supporting Romney:

איך ששלדון אדלסון, שעוסק בהימורים למחייה, וביבי, שעוסק כל היום בהימורים על החיים שלנו, נכשלו כל כך בגדול בהימור שלהם?

@odaskal: How come Sheldon Adelson, who deals with gambling for a living [he made his fortune by constructing casinos] and Bibi [Netanyahu], who constantly gambles with our lives, have failed so terribly with their bet?

Israeli netizens gloated about what they see as Netanyahu's loss:

Eyal Brave created this image that was widely shared on Facebook:

“Benjamin, what's up? Say, you remember how you interfered and tried to influence the presidential elections here in the States?”
Netanyahu: “Yes. Why?”
Obama: “No reason”

Israeli Leftist activist John Brown posted this image:

Commenting on Netanyahu's wrong bet on Romney, Israeli meme artist Amir Schiby created this image:

Netanyahu: “Put all my money on Romney”. “You know what? Put my underwear and Israel too”
Obama next to a house with the signs: “foreclosed” and “for sale”: “Aren't you forgetting something?”

Voicing the hope of some Israelis that the upcoming Israeli elections will result in Netanyahu's loss, Shachar B. Cotani created this widely shared image:

October 26 2012

Israel: The Unification of Right-Wing Parties Gives Birth to Bibirman

Israelis took to Facebook and Twitter to react to the announcement that the two largest right-wing parties in Israel will run on a joint ballot in the upcoming January 2013 elections. The parties, Likud, headed by Prime Minister Binyamin (Bibi) Netanyahu, and Yisrael Beyetenu headed by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, are projected to form the next Israeli government, as all polls show that the right-wing blog will once against be dominant one in the Knesset. The platform of Yisrael Beyetenu is more right-wing than that of the Likud, and includes the call for exchanging territories between Israel and the future Palestinian state, so that Arab citizens of Israel will be forcibly deprived of Israeli citizenship and become Palestinian citizens.

Yoni Barak created this image of the union:

Yoni Barak's image of the union

Bibirman: Yoni Barak's image of the union, shared on Facebook

The liberal social-democratic party Meretz tweeted:

ראש הממשלה נעתר לביברמניות והסכים להביא את ביברמן לישראל.

@MeretzParty: The Prime Minister has answered the calls of the BieberManiacs and brought Bibirman to Israel

Many reacted to the news with jokes about impending doom.

Referring to Lieberman's international unpopularity due to his extreme right-wing stance, meme artist Amir Schiby created this:

Prepare for the coming of the sanctions

Meme artist and internet humorist Avgad Yav'or created this image based on the iconic movie Thelma and Louise:

Lieberman: “Shall we go for this?”. Netanyahu: “Come on”

Leftist meme artist Amir Schiby also created this image, referring to the fact that Yisrael Beytenu is a highly centralized party, in which all major decisions are made by Lieberman himself. The party does not hold primaries and its list of contenders for the elections is determined by Lieberman as well.

Netanyahu: “… and on November 25 the primaries are held”
Lieberman: “Primaries? What is that?”

Lieberman, an immigrant from Moldova, is often compared by Israelis to Putin, also due to Lieberman's undemocratic views, which match those of Russia's authoritarian leader. Amir Schiby created this image

Lieberman and Putin

Displaying her dark sense of humor, Israeli anarchist activist Talkaholic tweeted:

הפיצוץ העז שנשמע הרגע מעזה: יריות שמחה לרגל החתונה המרגשת של ביבי וליברמן.

@Talkaholic: The loud explosion just heard from Gaza: celebratory gunfire marking the emotional wedding of Bibi and Lieberman

October 23 2012

June 24 2012

Israel: Violent Protests Across Tel Aviv #J14

Thousands rushed to the streets of Tel Aviv Saturday evening, June 23rd, after violent clashes erupted between protesters and cops the previous day. On Friday, June 22nd, social justice (#J14) protesters attempted to re-occupy Tel Aviv's Rothshield boulevard with tents and were met with heavy violence from police. The police chief Yoram Ochion stated the protest was not approved due to legal “issues”.

The #J14 official website called on its supporters to assemble at Habima square Saturday evening:

On Friday, June 22nd, children, women, elderly and worried citizen were violently beaten because they executed the most basic right - the right to protest. Bleeding legs and many arrested protesters was the outcome of our attempts to place a tent in the boulevard. The disproportionate use of power and the oppression that we, the citizens of Israel, received today is a violent attempt of the Israeli regime to crush us. They took our apartments, our jobs, our right to live in dignity, our future, hope - and now they're trying to take away our freedom. Get up from your sofa, from the television, A/C's and shopping malls. Come out from your cars, break the walls, and rise with us - proud and determined for the struggle for our future.

In response, thousands hit the streets of Tel Aviv. More than 80 protesters were arrested after heavy violence erupted between protesters and cops. Bank windows were shattered and hundreds blocked two major roads and the Ayalon highway. Slogans such as “the people demand social justice”, “all the people are the opposition” and “the people demand democracy” were chanted throughout the evening.

Here are some tweets and images from Tel Aviv. Orly Barlev writes [heb]:

Many arrested. Earlier, eggs were thrown at the municipality building. Ayalon (hwy), Even Gvirol and Begin roads blocked at the same time. Three banks were violated. Thousands in front of the municipality building right now. #j14

Nitay Peretz comments:

In a country where the elites, banks, government, police and settlers crush the law every day, why are you all of a sudden making such a big deal that a law was broken?

The photograph below shows protesters taking over Ayalon Highway:

The following tweet was posted two days ago but heavily retweeted during the height of the violence:

Place a tent in Rothshield blvd and you'll be violently arrested. Place a caravan on someone's private land in the occupied territories and you'll be funded a house.

And in closing, someone posted an image of a tagged police car. The word written on the back of the police car reads “Mishta-ra'al”. “Mishtara” means police, “Mishtar” means regime, and “ra'al' means poison. Effective word play references both the government and police as toxic.

Here are some useful feeds for those of you who want to follow the Israeli social justice movement:
- Elian's excellent livestream
- #J14 on Twitter
- J14 on public Facebook status updates
- The official J14 website

April 08 2012

Israel: Tweeting the Passover Seder

The Jewish holiday of Passover began on the night of Friday April 6, and millions of Israelis gathered with their family for the Seder, the traditional ritual feast. The feast is preceded by reading the Haggada, which (among other things) describes the Exodus of the People of Israel from Egypt. The Passover Seder is notorious for being lengthy, and if followed according to the rules, eating commences after hours spent around the dinner table, reading from the Haggada and singing. The Seder, which is traditionally done with the extended family, is also infamous, much like American Thanksgiving, as an occasion when one is forced to spend time with disagreeable family members.

Table set for the Passover Seder. Image by Gilabrand, Wikimedia Commons.

Israeli Twitter users, known for their sense of humor and cynicism, could be counted on to tweet their Passover Seder experiences.

Lior Oren wrote:

ואין כמו ערב פסח כדי לזכור כי יש אנשים שאין להם היכן לעשות סדר, הם בודדים בביתם. עם בירה. ולקנא בהם.
@alodium: There's nothing like the evening of Passover to remind you of the people who have no place to do the Seder, and they are lonely in their homes. With a beer [forbidden for consumption on Passover]. And be jealous of them

Rotem wrote:

הצעת חוק- כל ערב פסח, בין השעות שמונה לאחת עשרה כל הרציחות יוכרו כאי שפיות זמנית.
@rotemism: A law proposal - in each evening of Passover, between the hours of 8 and 11 pm, all murders will be recognized as a result of temporary insanity.

Avishay wrote:

עוד לא התחלנו וכבר 3 מתי תתחתן ו4 מה עם ילדים
@avishay_b: We haven't even started yet [the Seder] and I already got three “when will you get married?” and four “and what about children?”

Amir wrote:

השעה שמונה וחצי, ועדיין לא התחלנו. אני הולך להתנצר
@amirimon: It's 8:30 pm and we haven't even started yet. I'm going to convert to Christianity

Referring to the strict religious prohibition on consumption of leavened bread during the week of Passover, and the great effort religious/traditional Jews make to clean their homes and remove all bread prior to the start of the holiday, DKapuchino joked:

סבתא, מצאתי לך פרור לחם בתריסים. את הולכת לגהנום
@dkapuchino: Grandma, I found a bread crumb in the shutters. You're going to hell

Musician Mux 2000 reported:

שיכור. מפריע לסדר הציבורי לקול מחאות האורחים מהצד היותר רציני של השולחן
@mux2000: Drunk. Disturbing the public order to the sounds of disgruntlement of the guests at the more serious side of the table.

The blogger Gal Chen wrote:

יחסית לעובדה שהוא מותיר צלקות נפשיות למספר שנים, ליל הסדר ממש קצר
@galchs: Considering the fact that it leaves emotional scars for year, the Seder is really brief.

And, of course, there were the political tweets:

Noa Dror wrote:

לעולם לא אסלח למדינת ישראל על שהשניאה עלי את היהדות כה. חג אביב שמח וסגר נסבל לכולם.
@noa_dror: I'll never forgive the State of Israel for making me hate Judaism so much. Happy Spring Holiday [an alternative name for Passover] and a tolerable closure to everyone. [Each Passover, Israel enforces a complete closure of the occupied Palestinian territories]

There is a tradition of leaving an empty chair for Prophet Elijah at the Passover Seder table, to express the hope for his return along with the Messiah. In recent years, Israeli families added an empty chair for the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, to also signal the hope for his return. Referring to this practice, Journalist Yair Tarchitsky mocks the Israeli public for not caring about Ouda Tarabin, an Israeli Bedouin who is imprisoned in Egypt for accidentally crossing the border into Egypt.

מרגש לדעת שכמעט בכל בית בישראל השאירו הערב מסביב לשולחן הסדר כיסא ריק לעודה טרבין, הבן של כולנו
@yairtar: So moving to know that almost every home in Israel kept an empty chair at the table for Ouda Tarabin, the son of all of us [a common way of referring to Gilad Shalit]

Israeli blogger and social justice activist Haim Har-Zahav ‏wrote:

אני אף פעם לא אומר את המשפט של ״לשנה הבאה בירושלים הבנויה״, כי אני מקווה שאת הסדר הבא אעשה בישראל ולא בירושלים ‎‫#חי_בגיהנום‪‏
@haimhz: I never say the sentence: “Next year in Jerusalem” [which ends the Seder, signaling the Jews' hope to return to Jerusalem during Exile], because I hope that the next Seder I'll do will be in Israel, not Jerusalem [largely populated by ultra-Orthodox Jews]. #LivingInHell

And then there were the tweets discussing the non-stop tweeting of the Seder itself:

Dudi Rosenthal joked:

אישתי כמעט תפסה אותי מצייץ מתחת לשולחן. למזלי גיליתי תושיה ואמרתי לה שאני מאונן
@DudiRosenthal: My wife almost caught me tweeting under the table. Fortunately, I was resourceful and told her I was masturbating

Liron wrote:

עשרים אחוז אגדה. שישים אחוז אינסטגרם וטוויטר. עשרה אחוז ווטסאפ ואסאמאסים. עשרה אחוז לתקשורת עם הסביבה. תם הסדר
@liront: 20% Haggada. 60% Instagram and Twitter. 10% WhatsApp and SMSes. 10% communication with the people around me. The Seder has ended.

November 19 2011

Israel: Netanyahu Threatens to Replace Interns with Indian Doctors

Israeli medical interns were one of the most prominent sectors in the social protest that stirred Israel this summer and one of the few sectors that keep struggling and striking until a fair agreement is reached. As their struggle has been occupying the front pages of the Israeli newspapers in the last couple of days, Friday's (18/11/11) newspapers have quoted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggesting to the Ministry of Health to replace the interns with foreign labor contractors from India if an agreement can not be reached with them.

This shocking remark, coming from the Prime Minister against the backdrop of poor labor conditions across sectors and the government's tightening control on foreign labor through discontinuing of visas, has been the top conversation topic online over the weekend. As critique over social media is often presented in the form of humor and sarcasm, many Israeli interns have replaced their profile pages on Facebook to pictures of Indian doctors as seen in the profiles collection on Ido Keinan's blog, who reported the phenomenon first.

Message on the wall reads: "Bibi, you live in a Bollywood movie!"


Israeli interns change thier profile pictures to those of Indian doctors to protest PM Netanyahu's intent to replace them with foreign labor contractors

 

 

Israelis have been posting to the Facebook page of “civilians supporting the interns struggle” pictures of Gandhi or of Netanyahu wearing a Sikh turban, subtitled: “Wanted – an Indian PM” or “We can import an Indian PM too”, as well as Photoshop-manipulated pictures of Netanyahu's wife in an Indian Sari.

Caption reads "We can import a PM from India too"

On Twitter @orbar wondered:

When they bring doctors form India will they instruct Oz bullies (the police unit responsible for capturing illegal foreign workers) to ask for medical diplomas?

@nitayp suggests:

I have a solution for this crisis: if the inters call themselves settlers instead of interns suddenly their demands will seem natural and reasonable

Famous Journalist and Television critique Rannan Shaked tweeted:

Bring doctors from India, social workers from Denmark, trains from Japan and community services from Sweden. Only keep bringing the Prime Ministers from your butt.

In a more serious tone, opposition Knesset member, Dov Khenin tweeted:

Netanyahu: “bring doctors from India”. The essence of Capitalism in 3 words. And when these doctors will learn Hebrew and learn to organize their labor, we will deport them and import others from China.

* Many thanks to Elizabeth Tsurkov for her help with curating the tweets.

November 13 2011

Israel: Fury Over Legislation that Would Limit NGO Foreign Funding

The Israeli twittersphere reacted strongly to the decision of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation in the Knesset, approving two bills that would heavily tax foreign donations of human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and would severely limit the amounts the organizations are allowed to receive funding. This legislation was supported by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and due to Israel's parliamentary system, once the coalition endorses the bill, it is most likely to pass in the plenum, where the coalition holds the majority of seats. The votes in the plenum regarding these two pieces of legislation are expected in the coming weeks. If the law passes, human rights NGOs are expected to appeal against it at the Supreme Court, demanding that the law be struck down. The Israeli Attorney General and the Ministry of Justice have warned the committee that the law is unconstitutional (opposes Israel's Basic Laws) and is “very likely” to be struck down by the Supreme Court.

Hagai El-Ad, the Executive Director of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, one of the organizations that would have their funding cut as a result of these bills, wrote that the bills do not reflect the will of the Israeli public, which spent the summer protesting for social justice:

The summer passed, the Knesset’s recess was finally over. Hardly a week or two passed. Has the Knesset opted to now devote its time to what had preoccupied the public all summer, or rather return to anti-democratic-business-as-usual?

So far, the answer is quite clear, and it is a slap in the public’s face. Social legislation? The coalition votes against. Anti-democratic legislation? The coalition is vigorously pursuing this agenda, as if the summer never happened.

Ziv Pug also pointed out the disconnection between the social justice protests in Israel and the government's actions, listing the bills the Knesset has turned down since returning from recess:

נגד זכויות אדם, נגד רווחה, לא דיור ציבורי או אפילו פיקוח על שכר דירה. ממשלת מדינת יהודה עוסקת אך ורק בשרידה ושדידה. זו לא הממשלה שלי
@Zivpug: Against human rights, against welfare, against public housing and even rent control. The government of Judea is only busy with survival and robbery. This is not my government.

Ran Cohen, the Executive Director of Physicians for Human Rights, another NGO that would have its funding cut, reacted on Twitter:

אין לי שום דבר חכם להגיד על תמיכת ועדת השרים בחוק הגבלת המימון לעמותות. אבל יש לי אצבע משולשת, ואני מתכוון להשתמש בה ביתר שאת. י
@Cohen_Ran: I have nothing smart to say about the support of the Ministerial Committee for the law limiting funding of NGOs. But I do have a middle finger, and I plan on using it with greater intensity.

Others discussed the implication of the bills on Israel's democracy.

Blogger Haim Har-Zahav wrote:

הערב אני והגברת נקיים שיחת ״חיינו לאן״, ולראשונה לא אפסול את אופצית ההגירה. לא כי שלום עכשיו לא תגייס תרומות- אלא כי יש מי שחושבים שאסור לה
@haimhz: Tonight the wife and I will have a conversation about our future, and for the first time, I will not rule out the option of emigrating. Not because Peace Now [leftist NGO] will not raise donations - but because some think is should be forbidden from doing so.

Avishai Burla wrote:

לכל הבכיינים שמאימים לרדת מהארץ לברלין, אני חושב שישראל היא מדינה אירופאית נאורה לכל דבר. בדיוק כמו גרמניה רק בדילאי של 72 שנה
@avishay_b: To all the cry babies threatening to emigrate to Berlin, I think Israel is totally an enlightened European state. Just like Germany, only with a 72-year delay.

Blogger Noam R. wrote:

הסיבה היחידה שהחוק החדש מדבר על ארגוני זכויות אדם ולא על מפלגות שמאל היא שהממשלה חושבת שדעת הקהל עוד לא בשלה. אבל חכו, גם זה יגיע
@noamr: The only reason the new law talks about human rights NGOs and not leftist parties is because the government thinks public opinion isn't ready. But way, it will get to this too.
זה לא לפתע, זה לא בבום, זה בהדרגה, לאט לאט, בהתבשלות. #פאשיזם. הוא זוחל
@Rubynet: It doesn't happen suddenly, bam and that's it, it happens gradually, very slowly. #fascismIsCreeping
מכל הממשלות שהיו לנו בשנים האחרונות, היחידה ששורדת קדנציה שלמה זו הפאשיסטית?! מה לעזאזל, ישראל?
@DanielleBN: Out of all the governments we've had in recent years, the only one that lasts a whole term is the fascist one?! What the hell, Israel?
הכותרת בטמקא “מכה לשמאל: הממשלה בעד הגבלת התרומות”. חדשות לטמקא: זה לא מכה לשמאל, זה מכה אנושה לדמוקרטיה. אה, רגע.
@OferRon: The headline on Ynet [one of the most popular news sites in Israel]: “A hit for the Left: the government supports limitations of donations.” Newsflash to Ynet: it is not a hit for the Left, it's a devastating blow to the democracy. Oh, wait…

A widely-shared photo on Facebook, originally posted by We Won't Shut Up, a campaign by a coalition of leftist NGOs, congratulated Israel:

Congrats to the government of Israel!
For joining the exclusive club of countries that place limitations on foreign funding for NGO! Signed: Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sierra Leon, Belarus, China

Others pointed out the hypocrisy in this legislation, considering Netanyahu's election campaign was mostly funded by foreign donors, and the newspaper supporting him, Yisrael Hayom, is funded by the American casino-tycoon, Sheldon Adelson.

A fake account of Yisrael Hayom, the pro-Netanyahu paper, posted:

צריך להבין שמדינה דמוקרטית לא יכולה לאפשר לנתינים זרים לכוון ולשלוט במדיניות הפוליטית, החברתית והערכית שלה. רק כשזה בתקשורת זה די סבבה.
@Not_IsraelHayom: You must understand that a democratic country cannot allow foreign citizens to direct and dictate its political, social and moral policies. It's only pretty good when they control the media.

Daniel K appealed to the United States:

@dkapuchino: Hey, @barackobama @ronpaul Israel just voted to ban foreign donations to political NGOs. Does that cover US foreign aid to the IDF as well?

Blogger Itamar Shaltiel responded:

ראש הממשלה, שלמעלה מ-95 אחוזים מהתרומות שלו מגיעות מארה”ב, תומך בחוק שמגביל תרומות מחו”ל לעמותות. מדהים. באמת מדהים
@itamars: The Prime Minister, over 95 per cent of whose donations come from the United States, supports a law that limits foreign donations to NGOs. Amazing. Truly amazing.

November 09 2011

Israel: Whistleblower Anat Kamm Jailed for Exposing IDF Assassinations

Anat Kamm is an Israeli journalist who was sentenced to 4.5 years in prison for leaking thousands of classified military documents to Israeli Haaretz journalist Uri Blau. Information from the documents suggests that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) had defied a court ruling against assassinating wanted militants in the West Bank who could have potentially been arrested safely.

On December 4th 2008, Blau published a report based on these documents which stated that the IDF senior command planned and executed targeted killings of three people in violation of a 2006 ruling of the Israeli Supreme Court limiting the circumstances in which such a tactic could be used. I couldn't find a working link to the original article by Uri Blau, “License to Kill“, but here's a link to a blog post that reposted the original text.

Kamm is reported to have said during her interrogation: “There were some aspects of the IDF's operations procedures in the West Bank that I felt should be public knowledge… When I was burning the CDs I kept thinking that history tends to forgive people who expose war crimes.” The Israeli police secured a gag order prohibiting Israeli media from reporting on Kamm's arrest. On February 6th 2010 Anat was convicted of espionage and providing confidential information without authorization and placed under house arrest. After almost two years under house arrest, on October 30th 2011, Kamm was sentenced to four and a half years in prison.

image by mish

image by mish

While this story is not new, the court decision on Kamm's sentence this week drew a wide array of Israeli netizen reactions. Noam Lester reposts thoughts [hebrew] he published when the story was first publicized in 2010, protesting the lack of media focus on the reported IDF crime that surfaced from this leak:

We witness again the ritual of concealment, censorship, foreign publishing, leaks to blogs and finally a tiring day of non-stop blabbering media. Once again we sacrifice a victim in order to teach us all not to deal with the security forces, especially not to embarrass and show their wretchedness (and crimes). Everyone is focusing on the emissary (Anat) and not the news she surfaced: the IDF has committed crimes directly violating a court order from the Israeli Supreme Court. For this no one will be tried and certainly no one will sit in prison. But the one who exposed the atrocity - she can be presented as a traitor and sent for life imprisonment.

Anat Balint sarcastically writes:

The severe verdict of four and a half years in prison, given by the Tel-Aviv district court to Anat Kamm is a harsh blow to the 24-year-old whistleblower, and a calming pill to many of the public who followed the evolution of this story since April 2010. The process of turning Kamm to a modern-day witch who is threatening the existing social order has been completed successfully. She was caught, removed away from us, thank god, and now all can be sure that we've returned to believe in the holy values: there's nothing more important than the security of our country and its protection from enemies, there's no holier entity than the military, and there's nothing more severe than trying to hurt either of these.

She continues:

Every person whose part of the complex relationship between government entities, security forces and journalists in Israel understands the sheer irony wrapped in the Kamm affair. Leaks of the same sort are the bread and butter of these relationships, a daily affair. Messages that don't come out through the formal channels, or through an authorized interview, are in effect a type of “leak”, which is, according to the law, a crime. These leaks many times include confidential or top secret documents that somehow find their way to journalists and serve as a basis to their articles.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are many who believe that Kamm's sentence should be more severe. Moshe Goldbladt writes:

I hope that the State Attorney will not accept this absurd punishment that Anat Kamm received. In opposition to the judge ruling in the given verdict, the punishment reflects disrespect towards the state security.

Anat Kamm received the support of the left due to exposing “war crimes” - the claim is total babble - and glorified her for her motivation and ideology. When Kamm's lawyers saw that this heartens left wingers but doesn't help her, she started presenting herself as a young, confused girl who doesn't really understand the judges.

It is now time to stop playing hide-and-seek with Uri Blau and with Haaretz. The journalist, editor and everyone involved in receiving this classified material from Anat Kamm must stand before trial and pay a heavy price for their action. Also in this case we need to be talking about an active prison term for many years. Their claim for regularly having access to classified materials (as Raviv Druker suggests as a witness Kamm's trial) is exactly why they need to learn the consequences of breaking military field security laws in this country.

November 02 2011

Israel: Netizens Strongly Object to the Prospect of a Strike on Iran

Several Israeli media reports in recent days have discussed the possibility of an imminent Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. The reports stated that Israel's security establishment, the IDF, Mossad and Shin Bet object to attacking Iran, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman are pushing the cabinet to agree to strike Iran. Following these reports, the Israeli public, for the first time, started seriously debating this important issue.

As Larry Dafner wrote on +972 Magazine:

Finally, it’s happened. After years of hearing and talking about nothing but the potential danger of a nuclear Iran, this country is hearing and talking about the potential danger of trying to pre-empt that first danger with fighter bombers. We’re hearing not just about “the Iranian threat,” but about “the Israeli threat,” too. And after years of listening to the hasbara king talk about Hitler and 1938 and Holocaust déjà vu, the Israeli public is hearing, indirectly, from the people they trust more than they trust the politicians – the professionals, the career warriors and spies – and the word they’re hearing from those tough guys is a very loud, urgent “NO.”

The response to these reports and the possibility of attacking Iran's nuclear facilities was unanimously negative among Israeli netizens. Some have even started a Facebook event for a protest in front of the Israeli Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv on November 6 against a strike on Iran.

Many netizens saw a possible attack on Iran as a diversion tactic from the recent wave of social justice protests against the economic policies of the Netanyahu government.

חלאס כבר עם האיום האיראני. אם ייפול פה טיל גרעיני נראה התחלה של הבזק והכל ייגמר. זה אפילו לא יכאב. אוברדראפט, לעומת זאת, מרגישים כל הזמן
@haimhz: Enough already with the Iranian threat. If a nuclear missile lands here, we'll see the beginning of a flash and everything will be over. It won't even hurt. An overdraft [living in debt due to Israel's economic policies], on the other hand, you feel all the time.
אם אין לחם תאכלו מלחמה עם איראן
@YishaiO: If there's no bread, eat a war with Iran
אז, למה כולם מדברים על איראן עכשיו? אפרנטלי אהוד ברק עבד קרוב עם כל כתבי הצבא כדי לשכנע שאוטוטו תוקפים. למה? רצו לקצץ בתקציב הביטחון
@odaskal: So why is everyone talking about Iran now? Apparently, Ehud Barak has worked closely with all the military affairs correspondents to convince them we're about to strike. Why? Because they wanted to cut the defense budget.

Others lamented what they perceived to be the stupidity and recklessness of Israel's leadership.

מטורללים, חידלו! #איראן
זה בערך משהו כזה: “אוי לא! הבריון הזה רוצה להרביץ לי! אז עדיף שארביץ לו קודם, ואז זה יראה לו והוא יבכה וילך הביתה!” #איראן
@a_Daydreamer: Crazy people, stop this! This is basically something like: “oh no! This bully wants to beat me up! So it's better I beat him up first, and this will show him and he'll cry and go home!” #Iran
למיטוט הרשות הפלסטינית הקישו 1. למלחמה עם איראן הקישו 2. למאות טילים על ת״א הקישו 3. להתבצרות במצדה הקישו 4. לגוג ומגוג הקישו 0 או המתינו
@doroniko: For causing the collapse of the Palestinian Authority, press 1. For war with Iran, press 2. For hundreds of missiles on Tel Aviv, press 3. For fortifying ourselves on the Masada [before committing mass suicide], press 4. For Gog and Magog [end of the world] press 0 or wait.
“ראיתי שתוקפים אותנו מעזה, את המצב במצרים ובסוריה ואמרתי לעצמי מה שכל ראש ממשלה שפוי היה אומר לעצמו: בוא נפתח עוד חזית” #ביבי.נאום.לאומה
@Omerbara: I saw we were being attacked from Gaza, the situation in Egypt and Syria and told myself what every sane Prime Minister would tell himself: let's open another front. #BibiSpeechToTheNation
אזרחים מטומטמים. לא רק שהממשלה גוזלת מכם את הזכות לחיות בכבוד וברווחה, עכשיו היא גם תגזול מכם את הזכות לחיות #מבצע.איראן
@shanirabi: Stupid citizens. Not only does this government rob you for the right to live in dignity and prosperity, now it will also rob you for the right to live. #OperationIran

Some, of course, used to opportunity to crack jokes. Referencing the slew of recent leaks, Rubynet wrote:

פירסט רול אוף איראן פייט קלאב, יו דונט טוק אבאוט איראן פייט קלאב #מתוך:בטחון.למתחילים
@Rubynet: First rule of Iran fight club, you don't talk about Iran fight club. #From:SecurityForBeginners

Itamar Shaltiel joked about the possible benefits from Israeli cities being subjected to missile fire.

אם נתקוף באיראן, יהיו טילים על תל-אביב. אם יהיו טילים על תל-אביב, מחירי הדירות ירדו. אם מחירי הדירות ירדו, נשיג צדק חברתי #ווין #j14
@itamars: If we attack Iran, missiles will land in Tel Aviv. If missiles land in Tel Aviv, the cost of apartments will go down. If the cost of apartments goes down, we'll get social justice. #WIN #j14
Reposted byiranelection iranelection
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