How to stop Kahanists from taking over

Twenty-five years after a follower of Meir Kahane massacred Palestinian worshipers in Hebron, Netanyahu is basing his future coalition on a Kahanist party. Now Israelis will have to decide between apartheid and a future of hope and equality.

By Raluca Ganea

Kahanist Michael Ben-Ari gives a speech to right-wing demonstrators who are protesting an event commemorating the Palestinian Nakba at Tel Aviv University, May 14, 2012.

Kahanist Michael Ben-Ari gives a speech to right-wing demonstrators who are protesting an event commemorating the Palestinian Nakba at Tel Aviv University, May 14, 2012.

Reality is often too complex to draw clear lines between cause and effect. But occasionally, a single act by a single person changes the course of history. Twenty-five years ago, on February 25, 1994, Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Palestinian worshipers in the Ibrahimi Mosque in the West Bank city of Hebron.

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Instead of evacuating the Hebron settlement following the massacre, Israel punished the city’s Palestinian residents by severely restricting their movement. The Israeli army imposed a two-month curfew, shut down businesses in one of the city’s main thoroughfares, and turned Hebron into the ghost town it is today. Palestinian suicide bombings commenced shortly afterwards. With Israeli public terrified, the atmosphere became increasingly extreme, leading to the wild incitement that eventually led to the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Since then, Hebron has become the ultimate symbol of Israel’s occupation, and a stronghold of Kahanism – a fascist ideology named for the founder of the Jewish Defense League, Rabbi Meir Kahane, who sought Jewish supremacy through violence. Goldstein was one of Kahane’s followers, and his spirit hovers over the current election cycle in more ways than one.

Last week, one of the rabbis who exerts influence over the far-right Jewish Home party set a precondition for the party’s union with the Kahanist Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party, demanding Otzma member Itamar Ben-Gvir remove Baruch Goldstein’s framed photo from the walls of his office. Ben-Gvir refused, but the unification proceeded nevertheless with the active encouragement of Prime Minister Netanyahu, who is not deterred from potentially forming a coalition with a Kahanist party that openly runs on a racist, ultra-nationalist platform.

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The Kahanists have been Netanyahu’s covert allies since the 1990s. All he had to do was stand on a balcony overlooking angry crowds inciting against Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in Jerusalem’s Zion Square; the Kahanists took care of the rest. In fact, the Kahanism has seeped into a far wider spectrum of Israeli politics than many care to admit, by legitimizing anyone who demands a “Jewish majority” in the Knesset, and anyone who isn’t working with determination and perseverance to end the occupation. The only difference is that Netanyahu, who for decades has excelled in unleashing the demons of Israeli society, has now placed the Kahanists in the front seat.

As was the case 25 years ago, today Israel is still subjugating millions of Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem under military rule. In Hebron, the occupation is particularly pronounced. Over 800 Jewish settlers are living under military protection un a city of 230,000 Palestinians. The two populations live under two separate legal systems.

This reality, in which Israelis are entitled to civil rights that millions of Palestinians are deprived of, has a name: apartheid. The previous Israeli government has contributed more than any other in the past 25 years to institutionalizing this system of apartheid by advocating a policy of annexation, intended to complete the process that began with the occupation of the territories in 1967.

Kahanists Itamar Ben-Gvir (left) and Benzi Gopstein (right) take part in the annual Purim parade on Hebron's Shuhada Street, February 24, 2013 (Activestills.org)

Kahanists Itamar Ben-Gvir (left) and Benzi Gopstein (right) take part in the annual Purim parade on Hebron’s Shuhada Street, February 24, 2013 (Activestills.org)

Anyone who believes that under this policy of accelerated annexation Israel can maintain the status quo in the occupied territories is delusional. In the upcoming elections, voters will have to decide between annexation and apartheid on the one hand — or a courageous policy that will finally put an end to the occupation and the domination of another people. We face a choice between the legacy of Kahane, Goldstein and their heirs in Israeli politics, and a future of hope and equality.

As in any election campaign, the votes of Israeli citizens alone will determine the fate of five million disenfranchised Palestinian women and men. The results will be crucial for their future and that of their children.

Before casting their vote, the Israeli public deserves to hear from each candidate for prime minister and from each of the parties whether they support annexation or an end to the occupation. Most parties, however, present a vaguely centrist platform that misleads the public. Some use sanitized language referring to the “political issue,” others emphasize only Israel’s security needs, while a few speak of separation.

Blurring the harsh reality of the occupation is a victory for the Kahanists and the legacy of Baruch Goldstein. Before April 9, all parties and candidates should take a tour of Hebron. Our leaders should look reality in the face and return to the Israeli public with a clear decision: equality or apartheid.

Raluca Ganea is the Executive Director of “Zazim – Community Action.” This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

The post How to stop Kahanists from taking over appeared first on +972 Magazine.

After More Than Three Decades, Two Death-Row Prisoners Freed in California

Two former California death-row prisoners who had spent a combined 70 years in prison are now free men, after federal courts overturned their convictions and local prosecutors agreed to plea deals on non-capital charges. James Hardy (pictured, left) was freed on February 14, 2019 after pleading guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in exchange for a suspended sentence and release on probation. Freddie Lee Taylor (pictured, right) was released on February 20 after pleading guilty to manslaughter and a sentence of time served. Both men have claims of innocence, but their plea deals make them ineligible for DPIC’s Innocence List. Each spent more than 30 years on death row.

James Hardy was convicted and sentenced to death in Los Angeles in 1984 for the murder of Nancy Morgan and her son, Mitchell Morgan. Hardy was tried along with two co-defendants, Mark Reilly and Clifford Morgan, the husband and father of the victims. Clifford was convicted of hiring Reilly and Hardy to kill his family so he could collect insurance money. Prosecutors argued that Hardy was the actual killer and Reilly the middleman in the conspiracy. On appeal, Hardy argued that his trial attorney had been ineffective because he had failed to investigate or present evidence that the prosecution’s key witness was actually the killer. The California Supreme Court overturned Hardy’s death sentence, and a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit later overturned his conviction, writing, “Hardy’s attorney failed him, and the State of California failed Hardy by putting a man on the stand that it should have known committed the crime.” The court said, “there is a substantial likelihood that the jury would not have convicted Hardy had [his trial lawyer] performed effectively.” Rather than retry Hardy, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office agreed to a plea deal.

Freddie Lee Taylor was convicted and sentenced to death in Contra Costa County in 1986. Taylor had experienced severe trauma and abuse as a child, started using drugs by the age of 10, and was housed from age 13 to 17 in a juvenile detention center that was described in court records as a “gruesome, dehumanizing and frightening world where rape, beatings and fear were constant.” He was arrested in 1984 during a “family dispute” and was sent to a mental institution, where he attempted suicide. Despite doctors’ recommendations that he be placed in a mental hospital because he was a danger to himself or others, he was released by hospital staff. He burglarized the home of 84-year-old Carmen Vasquez, leaving fingerprints in her home. When she was murdered days later, he was identified as a suspect because his fingerprints were at the crime scene. Taylor’s long history of mental illness was ignored at his trial, where his lawyer never requested and the court did not independently order a competency evaluation. His appeal lawyers argued that his conviction was invalid because he was not competent to stand trial. A federal judge reversed Taylor’s conviction in 2016 and the Ninth Circuit upheld that decision in 2018, saying there was insufficient evidence to accurately assess Taylor’s mental health at the time of the crime and his trial. The federal court gave Contra Costa County prosecutors 60 days to decide whether to retry him, but they instead agreed to the plea deal. “Had he not had the benefit of zealous appellate lawyers dedicated to his cause, Freddie Lee Taylor may well have been executed,” Chief Public Defender Robin Lipetzky said. “His is but one case. Others like him who have meritorious claims may not be so fortunate. There are over 700 more people on death row — many waiting for an attorney to be appointed to their case and others still waiting for their cases to be finally resolved by the courts.”

(Nate Gartrell, East Bay man freed from Death Row nearly 33 years after conviction, The Mercury News, February 22, 2019.) Read the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decision in Hardy v. Chappell. See Innocence, Representation, and Mental Illness.

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Exasperated Federal Judge Pokes Holes In Trump Administration’s Refusal To Protect Young Immigrants

Exasperated Federal Judge Pokes Holes In Trump Administration's Refusal To Protect Young Immigrants

Attorneys representing five young adults in New York claimed that it was “arbitrary and capricious” for the Trump administration to deny Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) status to those over 18 last year, because Congress authorized the program in 1990 for immigrants up to the age of 21. [ more › ]

Tommy Robinson banned from Facebook and Instagram

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Far-right founder of English Defence League repeatedly breached hate speech rules

Tommy Robinson, the far-right founder of the English Defence League, has been permanently banned from Facebook and Instagram for repeatedly breaking policies on hate speech, Facebook said.

The company said Robinson, whose real name is Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, broke rules that ban public calls for violence against people based on protected characteristics; rules that ban supporting or appearing with organised hate groups; and policies that prevent people from using the site to bully others.

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Gunboat diplomacy can only harm Britain’s relationship with China | Liu Xiaoming

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Our cooperation is like a symphony: it relies on mutual respect and trust to keep out the noises of enmity

• Liu Xiaoming is China’s ambassador to the UK

A certain British politician’s hyping up of the “China threat” in a recent speech struck a discordant note with the mainstream view in the UK that the country has a strong and constructive relationship with China. It has led me to think about how much could be learned from the world-class concerts by London’s leading symphony orchestra that I have attended, the beauty of which comes from the harmony of various sounds and the coordination between the players. If the China-UK relationship were compared to a symphony, its success would depend on close coordination between the two countries and a firm resistance to interruptions and noises.

In this symphony, China and the UK rely on mutual respect and trust to keep us in tune, and keep out the noise of enmity and confrontation.

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Iceberg twice the size of New York City is set to break off of Antarctica

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Once a rapidly spreading rift intersects with another fissure, an iceberg of at least 660sq miles is set to be loosened, Nasa says

An iceberg roughly twice the size of New York City is set to break away from an Antarctic ice shelf as a result of a rapidly spreading rift that is being monitored by Nasa.

A crack along part of the Brunt ice shelf in Antarctica first appeared in October 2016, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa). The crack is spreading to the east. This rift, known as a Halloween crack, is set to intersect with another fissure that was apparently stable for the past 35 years but is now accelerating north at a rate of around 2.5 miles a year.

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