The Prawer-Begin Plan may or may not pass—but it is already in motion.
On Saturday, thousands gathered across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories to demonstrate against the Prawer-Begin Plan—a controversial bill currently under review in the Israeli Knesset (Parliament) that could displace up to 40,000 Palestinian Bedouin from the Negev Desert.
Syria is in dire need of a humanitarian—not military—intervention.
Before there were allegations of chemical weapons—and breaking news that Bashar al-Assad had gassed 426 children—Bashar al-Assad and his regime had already killed 100,000 of his own people over the past two and a half years.
Being banned from Israel isn’t the closing of the Palestine chapter—it is merely the beginning.
When I was twenty years old I got my first tattoo—it says “We Will Not Be Silent” in Arabic. It is located on the back of my right shoulder—just small enough to be discreet and easily covered around family, but just large enough to start conversations were my sleeve or strap to slip slightly off of my shoulder.
Each of these hunger strikes is rooted in US prison policy, foreign policy and national security.
This week, the hunger strike at Guantànamo Bay Prison reached the six-month mark.
Six months ago, during a routine prison inspection, a prison guard kicked and ruthlessly mishandled a Muslim inmate’s Qu’ran, after a William K. Lietzau, the Pentagon’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Rule of Law and Detainee Policy alleged that several Muslim inmates were hoarding contraband—and quite possibly makeshift weapons—inside of their Qu’rans. Although several journalists and human rights groups demanded photographic evidence of these weapons, the guards were unable to produce anything significant.
In the week following the George Zimmerman verdict, a stream of articles were published comparing the targeting of young, Black men and the policing of Black communities to the targeting of young, Arab men in combat zones and Barack Obama’s [...]
In the week following the George Zimmerman verdict, a stream of articles were published comparing the targeting of young, Black men and the policing of Black communities to the targeting of young, Arab men in combat zones and Barack Obama’s drone war. In particular, these columnists compared Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old Black boy who was fatally shot by George Zimmerman almost two years ago to Abdulrahman Al-Aulaqi, the 16-year-old Yemeni-American teenager who was killed by a drone strike in Yemen around the same time.
Without a freeze on settlement expansion, there is no hope for lasting peace.
On Friday, US Secretary of State John Kerry announced that Israeli and Palestinian leaders had agreed for the first time in three years to meet for “Peace Talks” in Washington, DC.
“I am pleased to announce that we have reached an agreement that establishes a basis for resuming direct final status negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis. This is a significant and welcome step forward. We know that the challenges require some very tough choices in the days ahead. Today, however, I am hopeful,” he announced in Amman on Friday
If everything goes according to plan, Israeli chief negotiator Tzipi Livni and her Palestinian counterpart, Saeb Erekat will travel to Washington, DC as early as next week to begin the talks.
The images of a united Tahrir Square that once spurred the revolution are no more. Instead, the country braces for more violence.
On the night of July 3, exactly 48 hours after General Abdul Fatah Sisi of the Special Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) gave President Morsi an ultimatum—either he listen to the demands of the protesters, or he resigns and the SCAF assumes an interim leadership—President Mohamed Morsi was ousted from power. The army took over the leadership and high profile Muslim Brotherhood officials—including the former president—were arrested. For better or worse, Egypt is once again in democratic transition.
Judging from Twitter, Egypt is in complete chaos. Online, protesters in the square tweeted pictures of a Tahrir Square that resembled the first, triumphant images of the Arab Spring and shared updates as the news broke. Initiatives such as Tahrir [...]
Judging from Twitter, Egypt is in complete chaos.
Online, protesters in the square tweeted pictures of a Tahrir Square that resembled the first, triumphant images of the Arab Spring and shared updates as the news broke. Initiatives such as Tahrir Bodyguard and Operation Anti Sexual Harassment, which formed in response to the rampant sexual assault that characterized the anti-Mubarak uprising, shared phone numbers for hotlines and how to intervene as a bystander if one were to witness a potential assault.
On Sunday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan climbed onto a bus in Ankara, Turkey in front of a crowd of raging protesters and warned that his patience with the protests—that are now in their tenth day—was quickly running out. [...]
On Sunday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan climbed onto a bus in Ankara, Turkey in front of a crowd of raging protesters and warned that his patience with the protests—that are now in their tenth day—was quickly running out.
“Those who do not respect this nation’s party in power will pay a price,” he later said to a crowd of screaming loyalists.
Among liberal Jews, such practices are common, unremarkable, even. But this, however, is Jerusalem.
Among the world’s Jews, a gender war looms at Judaism’s holiest site.
The Women of the Wall are a group of Jewish women who have been holding monthly services at the Kotel, the Western Wall, in Jerusalem. Though this might seem innocuous, the group has attracted arrests and worldwide media attention for their peculiar form of religious civil obedience. The Women of the Wall pray in traditionally male garb – that is to say, they wear the same tallit (prayer shawls) and tefillin (phylacteries) to pray. Among liberal Jews, such practices are common, unremarkable, even. But this, however, is Jerusalem.
The Women of the Wall have been butting heads with Israeli law – a 1967 Protection of Holy Places Law which bars “any religious ceremony that is not performed according to the custom of the place.” At the Kotel, where Haredi (ultra Orthodox) religious practice reigns supreme, this has meant the defacto criminalisation of egalitarian liberal religious ceremonies at the Kotel.
An April 24th ruling granted women the right to pray wearing tallit and tefillin, but the conflict is far from over. The May service was marked by conflict, with the area flooded with Haredi girls.
Heeding calls from their rabbis, religious teenage girls turned up in large numbers to protest the group’s insistence on praying at the wall in religious garb traditionally worn by men. The girls crammed the women’s section directly in front of the wall by 6:30 a.m., forcing the liberal women to conduct their prayer service farther back on the plaza. There, hundreds of police officers locked arms in cordons to hold back throngs of black-hatted Orthodox men who whistled, catcalled, and threw water, candy and a few plastic chairs.
Even after losing the legal fight, the Haredim continue to intimidate the Women of the Wall. Such a scene might suggest a widespread public disapproval of the Women of the Wall, but a recent study by the Israel Democracy Institute found that the majority of Israeli Jews support the Women of the Wall, with support strongest among secular Israelis. Among the diaspora, especially in North America, support for the Women of the Wall appears even stronger.
To understand the ideological flashpoints that the Women of the Wall have raised, we must first understand the differing demographics in conflict, and the relationship between diasporic Jews and those in Israel. In North America, the vast majority of Jews are liberal Jews – Reform and Conservative (Masorti). In Israel, however, the official state Judaism is Orthodox, and an increasingly ultra-Orthodox one at that.
In Israel, liberal Judaism is undoubtedly a second-class citizen. While the state pays the salaries of Orthodox rabbis, it is only recently that the first Reform rabbi, rabbi Miri Gold, won the right for the same. And while the state accepts Orthodox conversions, Reform converts are not considered officially Jewish. In short, Orthodoxy maintains a gatekeeping approach to Judaism in Israel, one which was eventually bound to lead to a conflict between diasporic and Israeli Jewries. While this pales in comparison to the restrictions on Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, it is nevertheless an injustice.
As Judaism’s holiest site, the Kotel belongs to all Jews… including, y’know, women. The minhagim, the customs, of the small minority of ultra-Orthodox should no longer be allowed to rule over the world’s Jews. Though Israeli legislators are scrambling to find a solution, the longer the situation continues, the more relations between Israel and the diaspora will fracture further.
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