Australian air force put on alert after Russian long-range bombers headed south

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Russia thought to be extending its Pacific influence after nuclear-capable aircraft carry out military exercises in Indonesia

An Australian air force base was put on alert while Russian strategic bombers conducted exercises in neutral waters off Indonesia, a move experts said showed Moscow was looking to extend its influence in the Pacific.

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Dozens of Israeli teens: ‘We refuse to enlist out of a commitment to peace’

‘Testimonies of former soldiers teach us that the reality of occupation does not allow one to make a difference from within. The power to change reality does not lay with the single soldier — but with the system as a whole.’

Solidarity protesters and family members protest for Israeli conscientious objector Tair Kaminer, Prison 400, central Israel, January 23, 2016. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Solidarity protesters and family members protest for Israeli conscientious objector Tair Kaminer, Prison 400, central Israel, January 23, 2016. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Sixty-three Israeli teenagers have published an open letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu on Thursday, declaring their refusal to join the Israeli army due to their opposition to the occupation.

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“The army carries out a racist government policy that enforces one legal system for Israelis and another for Palestinian in the same territory,” they write. “Therefore, we have decided not to take any part in the occupation and oppression of the Palestinian people… for as long as people live under an occupation that denies their human rights and national rights – we cannot have peace.”

The group calls itself the “2017 Seniors’ Letter,” continuing a long tradition of similar letters sent by high school seniors announcing their refusal to join the army, dating back to 1970 (the writer of this text was a signatory of the 2001 letter). Members of the group have stated they are willing to be imprisoned for their conscientious objection; one of them, Matan Helman, is already serving a prison sentence. The teens have also stated they will be traveling the country, speaking to others their age, challenging them to rethink their positions on military service and inviting them to join the movement.

The Israeli army does not recognize the right to conscientiously object to the draft based on rejection of the occupation. It does, however, allow for objection based solely on pacifism and the rejection of all forms of violence. These young refusers, therefore, are likely to be denied exemptions, and sent to repeated prison sentences of two to four weeks each, as has been the case with other conscientious objectors in recent years.

In their letter, the young refusers list the occupation, the siege on Gaza, settlements, and violence toward Palestinians as the main reasons for the decision. However, they also mention the ongoing effects of militarism on the Israeli society, enshrining violent solutions instead of peace as a central value, and the effect the occupation has on strengthening Israeli capitalism and dependence on American military aid.

“Testimonies of former soldiers and heads of the security establishment teach us that the reality of occupation does not allow one to make a difference from within,” they write. “The power to change reality does not lay with the single soldier but with the system as a whole. Similarly, the blame for this reality does not lie with the soldier, but with the army and government. This is the system we wish to change.”

Israel arrests three leading Palestinian activists in West Bank

Israeli forces arrest Manal Tamimi, Jamil Barghouti, and Mundar Amira, three prominent activists in the nonviolent struggle against the occupation.

By Yael Marom

Israeli forces arrest Mundar Amira during a demonstration in support of the Tamimi women, Bethlehem, West Bank, December 27, 2017.

Israeli forces arrest Mundar Amira during a demonstration in support of the Tamimi women, Bethlehem, West Bank, December 27, 2017.

The Israeli army arrested a number of prominent activists in the Palestinian popular struggle over the past few days, during protests against President Trump’s declaration on Jerusalem, and the arrests of members of the Tamimi family.

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On Thursday, an Israeli military court decided to extend Ahed and her mother Nariman Tamimi’s detention by five more days. The court also called to release their family member, Nur, on condition, though it then called to delay the release by 48 hours. Ahed was arrested in a night raid after a video of her slapping and striking an Israeli soldier outside her home in Nabi Saleh was published. Her mother was arrested for “incitement” for publishing the video.

Throughout the hearing at Ofer Military Court on Thursday, the military prosecutor demanded that Ahed, Nur, and Nariman’s remand be extended by a week. The court partially accepted the demand, after first extending their detention on Monday. The three are suspected of disturbing the peace, assault, and insulting a civil servant.

On Thursday Israeli forces arrested Manal Tamimi, a central figure in Nabi Saleh’s popular struggle, during a solidarity protest outside Ofer. Manal is suspected of disturbing the peace and will be kept in detention until Sunday, when she is expected to be brought before a judge. Israeli forces also arrested Jamil Barghouti, another prominent activist of the popular committees, at the same demonstration.

WATCH: Manal Tamimi’s arrest outside Ofer Military Court

On Wednesday morning, Israeli forces also arrested Mundar Amira during a demonstration in Bethlehem. He will be brought before a judge on Sunday. The IDF Spokesperson claims that Amira “was arrested after taking part in a violent riot that included stone throwing at security forces in the area.”

Meanwhile, Ahed Tamimi’s Twitter account has allegedly disappeared; the company is not responding to inquiries on the matter. Amira’s Facebook account also reportedly vanished. When previously asked whether Israel is involved in blocking websites, former IDF Censor Sima Vaknin-Gil, who today serves as the director general of the Strategic Affairs Ministry, responded: “The ways of God are wonderful. Some things happen by chance, some things do not.”

Israeli soldiers arrest Jamil Barghouti while protesting outside Ofer Military Court in support of the Tamimi women, December 28, 2017. (Courtesy of PSCC)

Israeli soldiers arrest Jamil Barghouti while protesting outside Ofer Military Court in support of the Tamimi women, December 28, 2017. (Courtesy of PSCC)

Members of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee say that Israel has harshened its measures toward Palestinians since Trump’s declaration, with 15 Palestinians killed and thousands wounded in clashes with security forces. At least 610 Palestinians have been arrested during protests, ambushes, and night raids. Over 170 of those arrested have been children, along with 10 women.

The Popular Struggle Coordination Committee published a message calling to strengthen the protesters across the West Bank, Gaza, and inside Israel, as well as to continue organizing and broadening the struggle against the occupation. In addition, the Committee is calling on the international community and civil society organizations across the world to intervene to protect the rights of the Palestinian people, and support the BDS movement.

We requested a response from the Border Police Spokesperson vis-a-vis the arrest of Manal Tamimi and Jamil Barghouti. Their response will be published here as soon as it is received.

Yael Marom is Just Vision’s public engagement manager in Israel and a co-editor of Local Call, where this article was originally published in Hebrew.

Andrew Adonis quits as Theresa May’s infrastructure tsar over Brexit

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Labour peer says prime minister has become ‘voice of Ukip’ as he resigns as chair of National Infrastructure Commission

Andrew Adonis, the former Labour minister, has resigned as chair of the government-backed National Infrastructure Commission in protest at Theresa May’s management of Brexit, describing the process as “a dangerous populist and nationalist spasm worthy of Donald Trump”.

The former transport secretary headed the body that makes recommendations to the government on projects such as the high-speed rail link HS2. Most recently he recommended that 1m new homes be built in the “brain belt” spanning Oxford, Cambridge and Milton Keynes.

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todayinhistory: May 29th 1953: Hillary and Norgay reach Everest…

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todayinhistory:

May 29th 1953: Hillary and Norgay reach Everest summit

On
this day in 1953, Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay become the
first people to reach the summit of the world’s highest mountain: Mount
Everest. Many previous attempts to scale the peak had failed, but New
Zealander Hillary and Nepalese Norgay reached the top (29,028 feet) at
11.30am local time on May 29th 1953. Norgay later revealed that Hillary
had been the first to step onto the summit. The pair spent only 15
minutes taking pictures at the summit before they began their descent.
Norgay left chocolates in the snow as an offering and Hillary left a
cross that he had been given by John Hunt, leader of the expedition.
News of their success reached London on the morning of Queen Elizabeth
II’s coronation on June 2nd, and upon arrival in Kathmandu, Hillary and
Hunt discovered they had been knighted.

The Mizrahi communities destroyed by the Israeli establishment

Since its founding, Israel has systematically erased hundreds of Palestinian villages from the map. But Palestinians were never the only victims of Israeli expansion. This is the story of the Mizrahi communities erased before and after Israel’s founding.

By Eitan Bronstein Aparicio

A woman confronts a policeman during the eviction of families in the Givat Amal neighborhood, Tel Aviv, December 29, 2014. The Cozihanoff family, with the assistance of the Israeli police, evicted eight families in Givat Amal, in the northern part of Tel Aviv, without proper compensation after a long legal battle.

A woman confronts a policeman during the eviction of families in the Givat Amal neighborhood, Tel Aviv, December 29, 2014. The Cozihanoff family, with the assistance of the Israeli police, evicted eight families in Givat Amal, in the northern part of Tel Aviv, without proper compensation after a long legal battle.

It is well known that since the early days of Zionist immigration to Palestine, the Israeli establishment and its various branches have destroyed hundreds of Palestinian and Syrian villages and towns, which were deemed enemies of the state. The new “Colonial Destruction” map, published by De-Colonizer, an alternative research center on Palestine/Israel, includes the Jewish Mizrahi communities — around half of them Yemenite — which were destroyed by the Zionist authorities before Israel’s founding and by the Israeli state after 1948.

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The term “destru(A)ction” refers to communities that were pushed out against their will — often through physical violence, and always with the help of legal and economic violence. Other towns and neighborhoods, such as the Mahlul and Nordia neighborhoods in Tel Aviv, or the Neve Amal ma’abara in Herzliya, were also destroyed, although its residents were eventually offered compensation.

On the other hand, there were Israeli communities that were demolished despite the will of the residents — in the Sinai Peninsula, for instance — though these demolitions went against the grain of Israel’s colonial expansion, as they occurred in the framework of a peace agreement with Egypt, and thus are not included in the map. The destruction of these communities can be viewed as a form of de-colonization.

The destruction of these Jewish communities should not come to us as a surprise, especially when considering the way in which the Zionist establishment has always viewed and treated those from the East, be they Jewish, Muslim, or Christian — all of them Arab.

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Remember the names

Since Israel’s founding, there has been a hierarchy of oppression. Palestinians endure the most discrimination, yet Jewish Mizrahim, who enjoy the privileges of being Jewish, are discriminated against by Ashkenazim. In the early days of Zionist immigration to Palestine, the discriminatory attitude by the Ashkenazi elite toward Mizrahim was openly racist — the Zionist establishment was Ashkenazi-European, and worked to protect the interests of the state’s founding fathers. They worked diligently in those years, and after the state’s founding, they enshrined those same mechanisms in order to ensure their supremacy.

These are the names of the 12 Jewish Mizrahi communities and neighborhoods that the state or the pre-state Zionist establishment destroyed: the Yemenite colony in Ben Shemen, the Yemenite community in the Sea of Galilee, Tohelet, the Kfar Saba ma’abara, Yamin Moshe, Mamila, Manshiyye, Summayl, Kfar Shalem, Givat Amal, Ha’argazim neighborhood, Emek Ha’teimanim in Ein Kerem. Two of them were demolished years before the state was established, while the remaining 10 were destroyed after 1948. Some of them are still facing the threat of demolition. Most of these communities were established on top of Palestinian villages depopulated during the 1948 War.

Mizrahim walk around the Mamila neighborhood in West Jerusalem, 1957. Mamila, like countless other neighborhoods and communities, was empied of its Palestinian residents in the 1948 war. (GPO)

Mizrahim walk around the Mamila neighborhood in West Jerusalem, 1957. Mamila, like countless other neighborhoods and communities, was empied of its Palestinian residents in the 1948 war. (GPO)

The difference between the treatment of Ashkenazi Jews and the Mizrahim who settled in recently-emptied Palestinian homes is clear. While the Ashkenazim in West Jerusalem and the kibbutzim were granted ownership over the stolen homes, Mizrahim were denied that very same privilege.

A clear example of the state’s discriminatory policies can be found in the story of Tohelet. Yemenite Jews who settled in the homes of the Palestinian village al-Safiriyya were forcible removed, while members belonging to Chabad, who had strong political backing, were able to remain and expand at the expense of Tohelet.

Another example is Givat Amal. Menashe Kalif — who was forcibly removed from his home in 2015 so that it could be demolished — described how his parents were asked by the state to take over the homes of the Arabs of Al-Jammasin al-Gharbi, in order to prevent their return. The land was bought by tycoons who are now attempting to evict the Mizrahi residents without fair compensation.

The Kadoori, Hamias, and Ashram families sit near an improvised Shabat dinner table set near their demolished houses in Givat Amal neighbourhood, Tel Aviv, Israel, September 19, 2014. Two days passed since the third eviction of families in the neighbourhood which left 20 residents homeless without proper compensation or alternative housing solution. By: Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org

The Kadoori, Hamias, and Ashram families sit near an improvised dinner table near their demolished houses in Givat Amal neighborhood, Tel Aviv, Israel, September 19, 2014. (Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org)

After years of right-wing rule by Likud, we can no longer only talk about Mapai — the party that historically discriminated against non-Ashkenazim — as the perpetrator of anti-Mizrahi racism. The Israeli regime, including the pre-state establishment, created the structural, socio-economic conditions that eventually led to the destruction of neighborhoods such as Givat Amal and Kfar Shalem. The condescension toward disenfranchised Mizrahim has become an essential, legal, and economic tenet of the Israeli state, regardless of which political party rules.

Between refugees and new immigrants

The infrastructure of the Palestinian villages settled by Mizrahim was neglected. This was done to force the Mizrahim to agree to evacuate the villages, so that new neighborhoods could be built to bring in massive profits for the state and real estate moguls. At once, the residents who were brought in to live in Palestinian homes were deemed a nuisance invaders. The racism inherent in this process was never openly on display, as it was in the years leading up to Israel’s establishment — but the ethnic identity of its victims is clear: they are all Mizrahim.

Jewish workers demolish homes in Jaffa following the 1948 battle that cleared the city almost all its Palestinian residents, October 6, 1949. (Fritz Cohen/GPO)

Jewish workers demolish homes in Jaffa following the 1948 battle that cleared the city almost all its Palestinian residents, October 6, 1949. (Fritz Cohen/GPO)

A prime example of this racism can be found in the Carmel news log from the 60s, which describes the Tel Aviv municipality’s attempt to remove the Jewish residents of Manshiyye, Jaffa’s most northern neighborhood, whose Palestinian residents were expelled in 1948. The following is a transcript of one of the logs, taken from Anat Even’s film “Yizkor L’Mansiyye”:

This is Manshiyye in Tel Aviv. Over 3,000 families have been evicted from the area in order to allow changes to be made. Although some of the residents have remained for now, construction has already begun. For years, these homes have become piles of ruins… yet people still live among them. It is true that some of the immigrants in Manshiyye refuse to leave as a means of applying pressure… This is the face of Manshiyye, whose few residents and their children refuse to recognize the fact that, according to the official map, the place has been erased and no longer exists. Manshiyye is a breeding grounds for agitation, feelings of discrimination, and Pantherism.

The treatment of Mizrahim is very different from that of Palestinians who used to live in those very same homes. The uprooted Palestinians have no legal redress. The Absentee Property Law, along with a set of other laws passed in the first years of the state, turned Palestinians into a class that lacked all protection under the new regime. Jews who were uprooted from Lifta — a Palestinian village near Jerusalem whose original inhabitants were evacuated in 1948 — were granted compensation from the state. Meanwhile, the Palestinian refugees of the village, some of whom live in Jerusalem, face a brick wall when it comes to their property rights.

In an article published in 2014 by Roni Harel in the Israeli business newspaper Calcalist, Osi Tajer, one of the Jewish evictees of Summayl in central Tel Aviv, gives a surprising response when asked whether he will accept an apartment in the new building — which is to be built on the site of his demolished home — as compensation:

“Nothing, I want to give it to the Arabs as a gift.”

“And where will you live?” asks the reporter.

“I’ll live with them.”

Tajer’s ambitions to live alongside the Palestinians who will return is a reminder of the period before and during the early days of Zionism, in which Jews, Muslims, and Christians lived together in this country. Zionism did not view this shared living in a positive light, and succeeded in putting an end to it. The destruction of Mizrahi communities is an expansion of this tendency.

Eitan Bronstein Aparicio is the co-director and co-founder of De-Colonizer, and the founder of Zochrot. This post was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.