What spurred Israel’s Druze to demand equality now?

“We have to focus on making this a mass movement,” Hamdan concluded. “We woke up a minute too late, but now we have to get on the next train.”

For most of Israel’s minority groups, the Jewish Nation-State Law was far from surprising. But for many Druze citizens, who for decades have served in the military, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Elders of the Israeli Druze community are seen at a mass protest against the 'Jewish Nation-State law' in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, August 4, 2018. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

Elders of the Israeli Druze community are seen at a mass protest against the ‘Jewish Nation-State law’ in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, August 4, 2018. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

Eman Safady, like many Druze citizens of Israel, felt personally betrayed by the Jewish Nation-State Law. A journalist from the village of Abu Snan in the Galilee and an officer at the Union of Journalists in Israel, she was one of the tens of thousands of protesters who took to Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square last weekend to oppose the law.

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The Jewish Nation-State Law did not shock most of Israel’s minority groups. The law is merely a symbolic acknowledgment of a discriminatory reality they’ve long grown accustomed to, in which Israel and its institutions favor Jewish citizens over non-Jews. The law explicitly declared that Israel belongs not to its citizens but to the Jewish people, and stripped Arabic of its status as an official language.

For the Druze community, which has traditionally been categorized differently than other Arabic-speaking, non-Jewish minorities in Israel — the law elicited strong feelings of abandonment.

“They’re trying to anchor our second-class status in law,” said Safady. “Before, I would feel discriminated against, particularly as a woman. But now our inequality is being flaunted in our faces.”

Lately, Safady continued, it seems the Israeli government has been trampling on everybody’s rights, be it the LGBTQ community fighting for equality or secular and non-Orthodox Jewish Israelis advocating for stronger separation of religion and state. This sense of urgency has contributed to the outrage, she said. But there is also another shift taking place — one that began several decades ago.

Israeli President Zalman Shazar welcomes a group of Druze notables at the President's home in Jerusalem for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, April 4, 1968. (Fritz Cohen/GPO)

Israeli President Zalman Shazar welcomes a group of Druze elders at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, April 4, 1968. (Fritz Cohen/GPO)

Israel recognized the Druze community as a distinct ethnic and religious minority, separate from Arab groups, in 1957. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, as of 2017, there were approximately 141,000 Druze in Israel, or 1.6 percent of Israelis. The population grew when Israel annexed the Golan Heights in 1981. although the vast majority of Druze from the Golan never took Israeli citizenship.

In the mainstream Israeli narrative, the Druze are loyal to the state — an anomaly in Israeli perceptions of its minority populations — most visibly because they serve in the military. In the Israeli lexicon, the relationship, with an eye on military service, is commonly referred to as a “blood covenant.” This tradition began in 1956, when a few Druze leaders requested that mandatory conscription — which excludes other Palestinian citizens of Israel — apply also to the men in their community. Since then, enlistment rates have been high.

But the Druze’s unique position in Israeli society has not improved their social or economic standing. “Druze have weak and relatively poor municipalities, lower educational achievements and access gaps to higher education, high rates of unemployment and under-employment (among women especially, and due in part to their residence in small villages in Israel’s northern periphery), and a lack of land for urban development and growth,” explained a 2018 report by the Inter Agency Task Force, a coalition of North American Jewish organizations researching Israel’s Arab citizens.

Tens of thousands of Druze and Jewish Israelis fill Tel Aviv's Rabin Square to protest the 'Jewish Nation-State Law,' August 4, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Tens of thousands of Druze and Jewish Israelis fill Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square to protest the ‘Jewish Nation-State Law,’ August 4, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Over the past couple of decades, discrimination has become more personal for members of the Druze community, and not even the “blood covenant” has granted them immunity.

“The protest on Saturday was about more than the Jewish Nation-State Law,” said Amir Khnifess, head of the newly-formed Forum Against the Nation-State Law. “We were expressing our anger against [the state’s] discriminatory policies toward the Druze community in housing, labor, agriculture, and education.”

Israeli authorities are reverting to strategies they used in the 1950s, when Israel thought it could expel Arabs by chipping away at their living conditions, according to Salim Brake, an academic who focuses on the Druze community. When young people feel they have no prospects, they leave, which in turn weakens minority groups, he explained.

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It was also in the 1950s when Israeli authorities secured a clan system vis-à-vis the Druze by appointing the Tarif family to decide on Druze affairs. “The state would financially support the Tarifs, who, in return, would promote the government’s policies,” explained Brake. “People started realizing that the decisions of the Tarif leadership go against the community’s interests.”

The lack of trust extends to Druze members of parliament, added Brake, who he alleged do not seek to represent or serve the community but rather “act as employees of Zionist, fascist parties,” referring to Ayoub Kara (Likud) and Hamad Ammar (Yisrael Beiteinu), two Druze MKs who promoted and voted in favor of the Jewish Nation-State Law.

Communications Minister Ayoub Kara attends a press conference in the northern Israeli city of Tzfat, July 10, 2018. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Communications Minister Ayoub Kara attends a press conference in the northern Israeli city of Safed, July 10, 2018. (David Cohen/Flash90)

The law is more dangerous than most people understand, continued Brake. “It persecutes our children, our children’s basic rights, and paves the way for other racist laws. It deprives Arab citizens of any political agency.”

The Arab Higher Monitoring Committee, an umbrella organization that represents Arab citizens of Israel, has launched a separate campaign from the Druze.

“They divided us [Arabs] from the start and we agreed to it. We didn’t mind until it started affecting us as well — until we felt the pain ourselves,” said Nadia Hamdan, head of the northern branch of Na’amat, the largest women’s movement in Israel, which is affiliated with the Histadrut, Israel’s historically Zionist labor federation.

Growing up in Israel, most Druze are taught that the military is an integral part of their lives and their position in society, Hamdan continued. “We were raised with military uniforms on our washing lines.”

The issue of military service has been brought up by some Druze, as well as Jewish Israelis who oppose the law. Unlike the rest of the Arabs in Israel, the argument goes, Druze are entitled to full equality through a political paradigm that supposes “no rights without responsibilities.”

The same idea is the basis of a deal Prime Minister Netanyahu is attempting as part of his attempts to smooth things over with the Druze community. So far, Druze leaders have rejected that approach.

Shaykh Mowafaq Tarif, the spiritual leader of the Druze community in Israel, attentds the Druze-led rally to protest against the 'Jewish Nation-State Law,' Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, August 4, 2018. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

Sheikh Mowafaq Tarif, the spiritual leader of the Druze community in Israel, attends the Druze-led rally to protest the ‘Jewish Nation-State Law,’ Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, August 4, 2018. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

“Those who say that we deserve more rights because we serve in the military are wrong. The state is discriminating against all of us,” said Hamdan. “I want to exercise my right to live in dignity — just like people in the kibbutzim and places like Kfar Vradim — regardless of whether I serve in the military or not.”

That sentiment, that equality must be guaranteed irrespective of military service, was also on display at the protest Saturday night — at least from the Druze speakers and demonstrators.

And yet, even at the height of their outrage, the Druze protesters waved Israeli flags and organizers sang the national anthem, Hatikva, on stage. Both Brake and Hamdan disagree with that strategy, but Hamdan believes that at this point in time, unity is the greater imperative.

“We have to focus on making this a mass movement,” Hamdan concluded. “We woke up a minute too late, but now we have to get on the next train.”

601 Irish Artists Pledge to Boycott Cultural Exchanges with Israel

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Ireland’s continued support for the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Movement has extended into the cultural sphere as Israel’s hosting of next year’s Eurovision Song Contest may be without Irish Singers.

A petition created by the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign commits signatories to refrain from performing in Israel or accepting any funding related to Israel’s government.

The rationale for this comes from Israel’s documented attempts to establish a propaganda campaign that would give western countries the impression that Israel is an important patron of artistic and democratic values, while minimizing the image of Israel as an apartheid state.

According to a former Israeli Foreign Minister, Israel’s goals are to promote “culture as a propaganda tool of the first rank” while making sure not to “differentiate propaganda and culture.”

With the Eurovision Song Contest being hosted in Israel, their efforts to promote themselves as a culturally sensitive democracy will be tested by what the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Movement will be able to protest.

This cultural petition was modeled after the successful campaign to boycott Apartheid South Africa in response to the appalling treatment of the native population.

601 signatories come from among Irelands most internationally known actors, writers, poets, painters, sculptures, film-makers, architects, dancers, designers, composers, musicians and others.

Other countries have had similar successes, such as Switzerland, South Africa, and Britain.

“Sadly, this pledge remains as necessary as when it was launched eight years ago,” said Chairperson of Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign Fatin Al-Tamimi.

“Western governments’ continued failure to sanction Israel means it remains necessary for civil society to take action for justice for Palestine. This pledge allows people from the artistic community to take a stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people.”

Ten months without power: the Puerto Ricans still without electricity

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Almost a year after Hurricane Maria ravaged the island’s ailing power infrastructure, the Ruiz family is one of 1,000 still off the grid

They have eaten by candlelight for the past 10 months, powerless and isolated.

Their small home, with its wooden walls and tin roof, nestled high up in the hills of Utuado municipality, somehow survived Hurricane Maria without a scratch. Most others in the surrounding area of this mountainous region were swept apart by the wind. But the hurricane’s raw strength last September didn’t leave everything on their property unscathed. It uprooted a mango tree a few metres down their steep pathway, which crashed onto a pylon that had brought electricity up the slope for 23 years and cut this family of four off from the grid for almost a year.

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Tories under pressure over disciplinary action against Boris Johnson

Let him join the BOE! Bullies of England… and be rid of him Tories!

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Complaint lodged against former foreign secretary as he continues to refuse to apologise for burqa comments

The Conservative party is coming under intense pressure to decide whether to take disciplinary action against Boris Johnson following his continued refusal to apologise for his controversial descriptions of fully veiled Muslim women.

A complaint about Johnson has been lodged with Tory party chairman Brandon Lewis, who is responsible for the party’s code of conduct which says that Tory MPs and other holders of public office should “foster respect and tolerance” in their work.

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Parents who saved their only child by giving her away

Via aleksey godin. Read and think about what we are doing to stolen children of Central American families who tried to emigrate to the US and had their children taken from them.

By Sean Coughlan
BBC News education and family correspondent
  • 3 August 2018
Related Topics

Lien

Image caption

Lien was one of thousands of Dutch Jewish children hidden from the Nazis by a secret resistance network

In August 1942, a stranger knocked on the door of a house in the Hague, in the Netherlands.

An eight-year-old girl was handed over to the safekeeping of the unknown visitor, to be taken to another town. The girl would never see her mother or father again.

Lien de Jong was a Jewish child under Nazi occupation and her parents had taken the agonising decision to try to save her by losing her.

The yellow stars were unpicked from her clothes and she was taken from her home and disappeared into an underground network of resistance families.

‘Look after her’

Lien’s mother had put a note into her coat pocket.

“Imagine for yourself the parting between us,” wrote Lien’s mother to whoever would be looking after her daughter.

“Although you are unknown to me, I imagine you as a man and a woman who will, as a father and mother, care for my only child.

Image caption

A letter sent by Lien’s mother written to the unknown families she hoped would protect her daughter

“She has been taken from me by circumstance. May you, with the best will and wisdom, look after her.”

In August 2018, an Oxford University academic has written a book telling Lien’s haunting story for the first time.

The Cut Out Girl shows how she was one of 4,000 Dutch Jewish children hidden away from the Nazis by non-Jewish families.

The author, Prof Bart van Es, has a personal connection – he is the grandson of the foster parents who risked their lives to protect her.

Secret identities

It’s a story told in close-up and claustrophobic detail.

Lien was passed through safe houses and hidden rooms, living a life of false identities, police raids, escapes and pretending to be someone else’s child in nine different families.

Image caption

Lien, now 84, survived the War but found it difficult to find her own sense of identity

Prof Van Es says even though his family had been part of these resistance efforts, he found a great reluctance to talk about wartime experiences.

If the topic was raised, he says, his grandmother would “shut it off”.

Lien had survived the War – but had fallen out with the Van Es family who had sheltered her.

And when Prof Van Es made contact with Lien, he began to understand the ambiguities and complexities of the Nazi occupation.

‘I had no idea’

Lien, now 84 and speaking this week on a visit to London, has a clear memory of that last time with her parents and relations – almost all of who were to die in the Holocaust.

“I remember the day,” she says. In retrospect it was the “most terrible thing” but at the time, she says, it seemed almost exciting, with all her family gathered to see her off.

“I couldn’t see what was coming, I had no idea.”

Although there was a long tradition of religious tolerance in the Netherlands, Prof Van Es says, he was “shocked” at how much the Dutch authorities had assisted with the detentions and deportation of Jewish families.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Raids rounding up suspects or hideaways in Amsterdam in 1943

There were efficiency targets and financial bonuses for catching Jews – and a higher proportion of the Jewish population in the Netherlands died under the Nazis than in France, Belgium, Italy or even Germany.

It was an intimate kind of savagery – and Prof Van Es says the willingness of the Dutch police to chase Jewish neighbours was a profound “moral failure”.

Lien says her own experiences showed that in human nature “there is no black or white” and that the same ordinary people “can do good or bad things”.

There were people who behaved with principle, others with pragmatism and some who exploited the suffering of others.

Betrayals

Prof Van Es records a woman who appeared to be a patriotic resistance helper, who shared underground newspapers.

But she was an informer who was sending hidden Jewish families to their deaths.

There were others, says Prof Van Es, who showed “amazing bravery” and an almost “transcendent sense of moral purpose”.

Image caption

As the Dutch celebrated the end of Nazism, Lien was left without any family or home to go back to

There were rescuers who carried on despite knowing that they would be caught and killed.

Some women ensured the safety of Jewish babies by registering them as their own, and claiming they had been born from affairs with German soldiers.

These women would face being “absolutely ostracised by their own community” and publicly shamed as collaborators and traitors.

Another man who was unable to cope with looking after hideaway children while trying to keep a job cut off his own finger so he could get sick leave and carry on protecting these Jewish refugees.

‘No difference’

There were others who showed a more opportunistic approach.

One of the Dutch policemen who raided a house where Lien was hiding was a notoriously aggressive hunter of Jews.

Image caption

Lien and Bart van Es, the grandson of her foster parents, who has written her story

As the balance of the War shifted, he became part of the resistance and claimed to have been heroically fighting the Nazis all along.

Not all hideaways were safe. And rescuers were not always good, Lien says.

In one house, she says, she was raped and abused by a relative of the family protecting her.

And such real-life stories do not have tidy endings.

Lien says when the War ended and the Nazis were defeated, “it didn’t make any difference” to her.

“There was no future.” Everything of her old life had been destroyed – there was no scene at the end of the movie where the survivor goes home.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

The Westerbork camp where many Jewish families were transported from the Netherlands

“At the end of the War, I couldn’t listen to what anyone was saying. Nothing anyone said seemed important.

“It took me a very long time to realise that my whole family had gone – all my memories.”

Her parents had died in Auschwitz and she returned to the nearest thing she had to a family, the home of Prof Van Es’s grandparents.

Reconstruction

While post-War Holland was rebuilding, Lien struggled to start again.

She married another Holocaust survivor – a classmate of Anne Frank – but there was an unrelenting sense of dislocation and she attempted suicide.

Almost her only surviving wartime relative had also killed himself.

Image caption

Lien’s childhood had been lost and she had to find a new sense of “belonging”

But it didn’t end there. She trained as a social worker and says she liked to work with children who seemed as lost and rootless as she had felt herself.

“When no-one cares about you, it’s very difficult.”

If not reconciled to her past, she began to face her ghosts.

She had therapy, she wrote about her feelings, she took part in a gathering in Amsterdam of other hidden wartime Jewish children and went to Auschwitz.

She became a mother and grandmother and was back in touch with her wartime foster family.

Image caption

A poem written for Lien by her father before she was taken away into hiding

If she has learned anything from this, she says, it’s the importance of individuals being part of a family and community and having a sense of belonging and shared values.

“It’s very important you have people to belong to.”

Lien talks of her worries about a return of anti-Semitism and intolerance. But she isn’t bitter about her wartime persecutors any more. “They were who they were.”

Prof Van Es says it was an “intense” journey into his own family history.

And as he researched the places where Lien had lived and hidden “the ghosts of the old Europe seemed very present”.

The Cut Out Girl by Bart van Es is published by Penguin Books.

Wednesday Open Thread | Wesley Bell DEFEATED 27 year incumbent St. Louis Prosecutor Bob McCullough in Democratic Primary | 3CHICSPOLITICO

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. (KMOV.com) -In a monumental upset, Wesley Bell has unseated longtime St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. McCulloch, trailing by 10 points with 90 percent of precincts reporting, conceded shortly before 11 p.m. Bell, a Ferguson City Councilman, ran on a criminal-justice reform platform, which includes devoting resources…
— Read on 3chicspolitico.com/2018/08/08/wednesday-open-thread-wesley-bell-defeated-27-year-incumbent-st-louis-prosecutor-bob-mccullough-in-democratic-primary/