Newsletter : 18fx0730.txt
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Palestinian Protest Icon Released from Israeli Prison, 'Resistance Continues,'
Declares Palestinian Teen
By Israel Hayom & VOA News
Israel released from prison on Sunday Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi who was jailed
late last year after she was filmed kicking and slapping an Israeli soldier in the village
of Nabi Saleh in the West Bank. An Israel Prison Service spokesman said Tamimi had left
the Sharon prison and was enroute to her village. In Nabi Saleh, supporters welcomed
Tamimi home with banners and Palestinian flags planted on the roof of her home. Hundreds
of chairs were set up for well-wishers in the courtyard.
A video of the assault went viral on social media and turned her into a protest icon.
Addressing the crowd of supporters waving Palestinian flags, Tamimi was defiant. Wearing
her trademark black-and-white checked keffiyeh, Tamimi greeted dozens of well-wishers in
brief remarks outside the home of a villager who was killed in clashes with Israeli
forces. "From this martyr's house, I say: resistance is continuing until the occupation is
removed," she told reporters. "All the female prisoners in jail are strong, and I thank
everyone who stood by me while I was in prison," she said.
Members of the Tamimi family, particularly the women, are regular participants in the
anti-settlement protests in their village, which often turn violent. Tamimi, 17, became a
heroine to Palestinians after the Dec. 15 incident outside her home was streamed live on
Facebook by her mother and went viral. She was 16 at the time. She faced 12 charges,
including aggravated assault, and in March pleaded guilty to a reduced charge sheet that
included assault. She was sentenced to eight months in jail, including time served.
Attorney Gaby Lasky, who represented Tamimi, hailed her client's release, claiming that
the teen had been imprisoned for "political reasons." Tamimi's father Bassem said Saturday
that after her release from prison, "We expect her to lead and we will support her to
lead" the fight against Israel's presence in the West Bank, but also stressed that she was
weighing college options.
Ahed and her mother, Nariman, were arrested in December after Ahed slapped two Israeli
soldiers outside the family home and Nariman filmed the incident and posted it on
Facebook. To Palestinians and their international supporters, Ahed has become a symbol of
resistance to Israel's half-century-old military rule over the Palestinians. She is easily
recognizable with her unruly mop of curly hair.
Bassem Tamimi said that his daughter completed her high school exams in prison, with
the help of other prisoners who taught the required material. He said she initially hoped
to attend a West Bank university but has also received scholarship offers abroad.
Ahed was 16 when she was arrested and turned 17 in custody. Her case has trained a
spotlight on the detention of Palestinian minors by Israel, a practice that has been
criticized by international rights groups. About 300 minors are currently being held,
according to Palestinian figures.
Arab Teens Enter Israel with Machine Guns
By IsraelNationalNews.com & JTA
Two Arab teens from Judea and Samaria entered Israel carrying home-made machine guns.
The teens, from Nablus (Shechem), were found by a Border Police foot patrol in the Seam
Zone, between the Green Line and Israel's security barrier, outside the community of
Oranit near central Israel. They had tried unsuccessfully to run away, according to the
The teens, ages 17 and 18, carried the Carlo-style submachine guns and cartridges in a
colorful school backpack. They were taken for questioning. The infiltration came two days
after a 17-year-old Arab climbed over the fence of the town of Adam north of Jerusalem and
stabbed three people, killing a 31-year-old father of two young children.
Israeli Forces Raid Al-Aqsa Mosque after Clashes
Israeli troops entered Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque, the third-holiest shrine in Islam,
and carried out arrests Friday in what police described as a pursuit of youths who had
lobbed rocks and fireworks during clashes with its forces outside.
The rare raid, on a site that is an icon of Palestinians' statehood hopes and a
frequent catalyst of their conflict with Israel, came as medics in Islamist-ruled Gaza
said Israeli army gunfire killed a man taking part in weekly border protests.
A police spokesman said the troopers were sent into al-Aqsa after suspects who had
barricaded themselves in after running confrontations in the surrounding compound, during
which masked men launched firecrackers from handheld canisters. There was no immediate
word of any violence in the mosque, whose older male worshippers said they had been
allowed to exit after being searched. Witnesses later saw around 20 younger men detained
by police and said mosque prayers later resumed.
Police put the number of arrests at 24, and said four of its officers were injured in
the melee. Muslim authorities said Israeli police stun grenades hurt dozens of people.
"The continued Israeli attacks against occupied Jerusalem will increase tensions and will
drag the region into a religious war that we have long warned against," Palestinian
President Mahmoud Abbas' office said in a statement.
Al-Aqsa compound, also revered by Jews as a vestige of their two ancient temples, was
among areas Israel captured in a 1967 war with Jordan, which retains a stewardship role at
Here's How Birthright Guides Talk about the Palestinians
When Samuel Green talks about Israel's West Bank security barrier with the Birthright
groups he guides, he first explains the Israeli view that the barrier was built to prevent
Palestinian terrorists from breaching Israeli territory and that Israelis generally feel
it has saved lives.
But then he'll talk about what the barrier which is a part wall, part fence
means for Palestinians: how it cuts into West Bank territory, how it has separated
people from their farmland, how they see it as an imposing wall. "It's a disservice to the
people in front of me to leave out such information," Green said. "So if you're trying to
understand why there's conflict, you have to understand why people are annoyed. It's
important to talk about."
That approach contrasts with the one viewed by 2.7 million people in a viral Facebook
video taken by activists of IfNotNow, a group of young American Jews who oppose Israel's
occupation of the West Bank. In the video, a Birthright tour guide spars with a
participant on a Birthright bus over the status of the West Bank.
Rather than aim to present a range of views on Israel's control of the territory, the
guide says "Israel sees the West Bank as part of Israel" a misleading claim that
does not accord with the legal status of the territory or encompass the variety of ways
Israelis see it.
Soon after the bus argument, several participants on that Birthright trip staged a
walk-off from the tour and visited Palestinian areas. It was one of three such walk-offs
conducted in recent weeks all organized by IfNotNow to protest what the
group calls Birthright's silence on Israel's occupation.
The walk-offs have sparked a debate over whether Birthright a popular 10-day
free tour to Israel for young Jews has a responsibility to grapple with Israel's
control of the West Bank. Some 40,000 young Jews, mostly from North America, go on
Birthright every year. For some, it is their first exposure to the country.
But Birthright tour guides say the debate is unnecessary. While acknowledging that they
speak from an Israeli perspective, the guides said they make an effort to represent a
range of opinions on the tour including Palestinian views and are happy to
answer any questions.
"In general, what tour guides are taught is that it's not about us," said Daniel
Rubenstein, an immigrant to Israel from Texas who is about to lead his fourth Birthright
trip. "As educators, it's our job to teach what the various players in this region, in
this conflict and this shared society are saying, and for us to articulate the basic
vision of Zionism as well as Palestinian national identity."
In addition to completing Israel's two-year certification course for tour guides, most
Birthright guides must complete a three-week course run by Birthright. Guides said the
course focuses on how to engage groups in discussion, how to make Israel's history and
nature come alive, and how to relate to a North American audience.
But the guides said the Birthright training course was light on politics. It instructs
guides to represent a range of perspectives, they said but doesn't provide a list of
Israeli talking points on contentious issues like the status of Palestinian refugees or
the security barrier. Green scoffed at the idea that right-wing donors to Birthright, like
casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, dictate how they conduct their tours.
"They don't have a lot of control over what guides say in the field," Green said
regarding Birthright. "They're trusting the guides to execute their vision. It's not like
Birthright says `do this' and the guide parrots something. In the Birthright training, we
were encouraged to represent different points of view. So this idea that Adelson is
dictating how we talk about the conflict is bonkers."
The guides acknowledged that their tours are inevitably given from an Israeli
perspective. One of Birthright's explicit goals is to strengthen American Jews' connection
to the country, along with the Jewish identity of participants. And most if not all of the
guides are either native-born Israelis or Diaspora Jews who chose to make their lives in
"Personally, I'm going to value and weigh some perspectives differently than others,"
said Rubenstein, who worked at the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC in Washington, D.C., before
becoming a guide after moving to Israel. "I'm an Israeli by choice, so I'm not
Wikipedia-neutral, but people are looking to engage with me because of who I am. I strive
to represent different perspectives and make sure all voices are heard."
The tour's itinerary is transparently geared toward giving participants an appreciation
of Israel's natural, historical and cultural attractions. All trips must visit a series of
sites, from the beachfront metropolis of Tel Aviv to the Western Wall in Jerusalem's Old
City to Masada, the ancient hilltop fortress where a group of Jewish rebels held out
against an invading Roman army before committing mass suicide.
Groups will also visit the City of David, a Jewish archaeological site and community in
a Palestinian neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem, over Israel's pre-1967 border.
Palestinians condemn the site's presence as an illegal settlement.
All groups receive a lecture on geopolitics from an Israeli expert. Meeting
Palestinians, and seeing Palestinian life, is not part of the itinerary. Optional programs
that take place immediately following the trip offer Birthright participants the
opportunity to see Palestinian society.
"Part of tour education is that you're educating about the things you see in front of
you," said a Birthright guide who asked to remain anonymous for fear of professional
repercussions. "If the route of your trip didn't take the road next to the Israeli
[security] barrier, you're not going to start a discussion about the Israeli barrier." The
guide said he presents Palestinian viewpoints, but that "it's clearly not a comprehensive
exposure to Palestinian views if you're not meeting a Palestinian."
IfNotNow activists, unsurprisingly, take a far less generous view of the tours'
approach. Rebecca Oliver, one of the participants who walked off the bus said their guide
did willingly answer their questions and discuss the conflict with them. But she said
Palestinians were mentioned only when she and other participants asked about them. And she
said the guide did not present a spectrum of Israeli views on sensitive issues.
In a viral video, the guide does not appear to attempt to be evenhanded when discussing
the West Bank. He inaccurately claims that Israel sees the West Bank as part of the
country (While Israel controls the West Bank to varying degrees, it has not annexed the
territory and treats it differently, in legal terms, than its recognized territory.). He
also claimed that Israel does not demarcate the West Bank on its maps, which is true of
some maps but not all.
"They provide a really, really biased version of what Israel is and what that education
is, and in doing so, they are upholding the Israeli government and the military occupation
in Palestine," Oliver told JTA. "They either provide misinformation or biased information
without clarifying that it's biased or omit it."
Tour guides chafed at the suggestion that discussing the conflict should be more of a
focus. They said that not all participants are interested in a political debate. And they
appreciate that the trip's focus is on Jewish identity.
"When IfNotNow says, `Oh, Birthright doesn't present the full picture of the
Palestinian occupation,' well OK, but that's not the purpose of this trip," said an
American Jewish communal official who has organized and co-led many Birthright trips, but
who didn't want to be named without approval from Birthright. "The point of the trip is
not to learn all of every single aspect of the occupation. It's to learn about Judaism and
Jewish heritage and make friends and have a good time."
Plus, the official added, if Birthright is seeking to drive American Jews politically
rightward, it's doing a bad job. American Jews tend to hold markedly more liberal views on
the conflict than their Israeli counterparts.
"I'm sure the Israeli government gives money [to Birthright] because they have whatever
their goals are," the official said. "I'm not sure how much that translates to a micro
level. If their goal is to transform a generation of Jews into Likud supporters, they've
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