+972 Magazine’s 20 most-read posts of 2016

From Shimon Peres’ dark side to Donald Trump at AIPAC to Airbnb in settlements, here are the most popular articles we published this past year. 

By +972 Magazine Staff

20. Why I had to leave Israel’s Foreign Ministry

As a former Israeli ambassador, Ilan Baruch never expected just how badly the country’s situation would deteriorate, with the Netanyahu government pushing democracy to the brink and doing just about everything in its power to entrench occupation and inequality. So he left. Read his full article here.

An Israeli woman at a rally marking two years since an Israeli soldier was taken captive in Gaza, Jerusalem, July 20, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
An Israeli woman at a rally marking two years since an Israeli soldier was taken captive in Gaza, Jerusalem, July 20, 2016. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

19. Black Lives Matter should change ‘genocide’ language — proudly

The Movement for Black Lives sparked a heated debate among American Jews this past year when it labeled Israel’s policies toward Palestinians ‘genocide.’ Dahlia Scheindlin argued against the use of the term, writing that the movement had an opportunity to set a precedent by displaying commitment to self-criticism, accuracy, and partnership — values sorely needed in America right now.

Black Lives Matter activists organize a die-in action outside a church in Cambridge, MA, December 7, 2014. (Tess Scheflan/Activestills.org)
Black Lives Matter activists organize a die-in action outside a church in Cambridge, MA, December 7, 2014. (Tess Scheflan/Activestills.org)

18. Did the Israeli gov’t admit to pinkwashing this year?

LGBTQ organizations in Israel threatened to cancel Tel Aviv’s yearly Pride Parade unless the government allocated more money to their groups and causes — and not just use the parade to promote Israel as a bastion of progressive liberalism overseas. The government’s response? Just pull the international promotional budget. Click here for more.

Israelis take part in the annual pride parade in Tel Aviv, June 12, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
Israelis take part in the annual pride parade in Tel Aviv, June 12, 2015. (photo: Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

17. Hallel’s murder is a reminder we are all settlers

Just as the gruesome murder of 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel in the settlement of Kiryat Arba this past June horrified an entire country, it pushed some Israelis to blame the settlers for the violence they sometimes face. Just as we must mourn Hallel as a human being and a slain child, Dahlia Scheindlin wrote, we must also mourn her as a settler — because all Israelis are responsible for her presence in the West Bank.

Hallel Yaffa Ariel’s mother mourns over her body during a funeral in Kiryat Arba, West Bank, June 30, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Hallel Yaffa Ariel’s mother mourns over her body during a funeral in Kiryat Arba, West Bank, June 30, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

16. Trump’s victory leaves Obama with only one option on Israel-Palestine

The old peace process is officially toast, the people who led it won’t be part of the next administration, and the policies they pursued are the furthest possible from a Trump administration’s agenda. That leaves Obama with one play, and one play only – a Security Council resolution against the settlements, Noam Sheizaf writes.

U.S. President Barack Obama boards Air Force One at the end of a visit to Israel. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
U.S. President Barack Obama boards Air Force One at the end of a visit to Israel. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

15. Most Israeli Jews think there’s no occupation. So what is it?

A poll conducted this past April found that 72 percent of Jewish Israelis believe Israel’s control over the Palestinian territories doesn’t constitute occupation. So what do you call military rule over a captive population? Natasha Roth clears a few things up for us.

Palestinians cross the Qalandiya checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem, June 26, 2015. (Activestills.org)
Palestinians cross the Qalandiya checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem, June 26, 2015. (Activestills.org)

14. In Israel, BDS is winning

The first ever anti-BDS conference in Israel brought together politicians of all stripes to show their commitment to the fight against boycotts. In doing so, however, they showed just how effective the boycott movement really is. Click here for Mairav Zonszein’s article.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett speaks at Yedioth Ahronoth’s Stop BDS conference, March 28, 2016. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)
Education Minister Naftali Bennett speaks at Yedioth Ahronoth’s Stop BDS conference, March 28, 2016. (Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

13. Israel is trying to enforce gag orders beyond its borders

At Israel’s request, Twitter — among other international online platforms — began blocking Israelis from viewing certain tweets published overseas, in a move reminiscent of the kind of censorship we’re used to hearing about in countries like China, Turkey, Syria, and Iran. Read Michael Schaeffer-Omer Man’s full article here.

Illustrative photo of a man reading an Israeli newspaper at the airport. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of a man reading an Israeli newspaper at the airport. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

12. Thousands of Palestinian and Israeli women waged peace this year

The thousands of Palestinian and Israeli women who marched in Jerusalem and Jericho in October not only demanded peace from their societies, they challenged stereotypes and artificial boundaries to find true partners. Read more here.

Thousands of Palestinian and Israeli women from ‘Women Wage Peace’ march near the West Bank city of Jericho, October 19, 2016. (Flash90)
Thousands of Palestinian and Israeli women from ‘Women Wage Peace’ march near the West Bank city of Jericho, October 19, 2016. (Flash90)

11. Time to break the silence: An open letter to American Jews

For American Jews who haven’t been paying attention — or have simply decided to ignore what has been happening — Edo Konrad politely sums it up in three words: things are bad. But they don’t have to be this way.

IfNotNow activists seen in a police van following an anti-occupation demonstration inside the Anti-Defamation League’s offices. (Gili Getz)
IfNotNow activists seen in a police van following an anti-occupation demonstration inside the Anti-Defamation League’s offices. (Gili Getz)

10. When will the Left start talking about trauma?

It hasn’t been a great few years for the Israeli peace camp. Yakir Englander has a few ideas for how to change that: turn the Left into an open house for every Israeli, whether ultra-Orthodox, religious-Zionists, Mizrahim, expelled settlers from Gaza, Palestinian citizens of Israel, Jerusalemites, Ethiopians, and all the rest. Read more here.

Israeli soldiers mourn beside the grave of Israeli Border Police officer Hadar Cohen during her funeral, Yehud, Israel, February 4, 2016. (Activestills.org)
Israeli soldiers mourn beside the grave of Israeli Border Police officer Hadar Cohen during her funeral, Yehud, Israel, February 4, 2016. (Activestills.org)

9. The moral crisis exposed at the AIPAC conference

Remember when Donald Trump addressed the annual AIPAC conference this past March? That 18,000 Jews sat politely or applauded a man who tapped outright anti-Semites to run his administration was a harbinger of things to come. Read Lisa Goldman’s article here.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C., March 21, 2016. (Photo courtesy of AIPAC)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump addresses the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C., March 21, 2016. (Photo courtesy of AIPAC)

8. ‘There’s a vicious fight in our community’: Simone Zimmerman talks Bernie for the first time

Earlier this year, the Jewish American world was up in arms over the hiring — or firing — of Simone Zimmerman as Bernie Sanders’ Jewish outreach coordinator. For the first time, she talks about what happened in the campaign, the growing anti-occupation movement among U.S. Jews, and why the Jewish establishment lost touch with its youth. Read the interview here.

Simone Zimmerman at an IfNotNow training session in New York. (Rafael Shimunov)
Simone Zimmerman at an IfNotNow training session in New York. (Rafael Shimunov)

7. Meet the YouTube star taking the Jewish world by storm

2016 was the year Avi Schwartzberger launched an outlandish video series showcasing the most taboo sides of Israeli society through the lens of a Birthright alumnus. Read Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man’s terrifyingly real interview with a not-quite-real person.

Avi Schwarzberger. (Screenshot)
Avi Schwarzberger. (Screenshot)

6. The other, darker legacy of Shimon Peres

Shimon Peres, the last member of Israel’s founding generation, was feted internationally as a visionary man of peace. His legacy is in fact far more complex, and often nefarious. Here’s the full story.

President Shimon Peres visits an Israeli police counter-terrorism unit in 2011. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
President Shimon Peres visits an Israeli police counter-terrorism unit in 2011. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

5. Famed feminist British historian refuses prestigious Israeli award

British feminist historian Catherine Hall made a startling announcement this May when she announced she would withdraw her acceptance of an award presented by Tel Aviv University for political reasons. Hall withdrew from the prize “after many discussions with those who are deeply involved with the politics of Israel-Palestine.” Read more here.

Professor Catherine Hall at Portcullis House 2015. (photo: Matthisvalerie/CC BY-SA 4.0)
Professor Catherine Hall at Portcullis House 2015. (photo: Matthisvalerie/CC BY-SA 4.0)

4. Before Zionism: The shared life of Jews and Palestinians

Before the advent of Zionism and Arab nationalism, Jews and Palestinians lived in peace in the holy land. A new book maps out an oft-forgotten history of Israel-Palestine, and offers some guidance on how we may go back to that time. Read the full story here.

Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, toward the end of the Ottoman Empire’s control over Palestine.
Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City, toward the end of the Ottoman Empire’s control over Palestine.

3. Tel Aviv mayor blames occupation for Palestinian violence

Mayor Ron Huldai shocked Israelis this year when he cited the occupation as a factor that causes Palestinians to turn to terrorism. Responding to a deadly attack on Tel Aviv’s Sarona center, which took the lives of four Israelis, Huldai argued that Israelis should focus on the fact that Israel is “perhaps the only country in the world holding another nation under occupation without civil rights.” Read Edo Konrad’s full story here.

Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai (Activestills.org)
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai (Activestills.org)

2. Airbnb lets you vacation in illegal West Bank settlements

Fancy a vacation with breathtaking views of the Holy Land? As first reported on +972, Airbnb will let you rent out luxurious cottages atop barren hilltops, making no mention of the fact that they are in settlements on occupied land. Read more here.

Jewish residents of the illegal outpost Amona, November 17, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Jewish residents of the illegal outpost Amona, November 17, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

1. Israeli soldier executes unarmed Palestinian attacker

On March 24, IDF soldier Elor Azaria was caught on camera firing a single bullet into Abed al Fatah a-Sharif’s head, setting off a firestorm across Israel and the world. Although the IDF’s top brass condemned Azaria and put him on trial, the 18-year-old won the support of the vast majority of Israelis, including top-level ministers. For some it was yet another painful reminder of the brutal realities under occupation, for others it was a reflection of the pressure placed on Israeli soldiers. One thing, however, is likely true: without the video, we may have never known what really happened. Read our most-read story of the year here.