As 2016 comes to a close, +972 Magazine’s editors and bloggers look back at the year that was, and share the articles that most resonated with them – in no particular order.
By +972 Magazine Staff
A new brand of Jewish nonviolence in Palestine
In the summer of 2016, dozens of Jews from the U.S. and other countries came to Palestine to use nonviolence and civil disobedience alongside Palestinians opposing the Israeli occupation. Under the banner of “Occupation is not my Judaism,” the activists helped rebuild homes demolished by the Israeli army, facilitated an entire displaced Palestinian village’s return to to its former homes, and put their bodies on the line to challenge the Israeli military regime of segregation and settlement in Hebron. Lia Tarachansky and Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man joined them to see what they could accomplish by leveraging their privilege as American Jews.
I love Miri Regev
For some, Israeli Culture Minister Miri Regev has become synonymous with provocations, anti-Arab and anti-refugee racism, and populism. But Alon Mizrahi remembers the Miri Regevs of his childhood — Mizrahi girls who were constantly reminded that they were worth less than their Ashkenazi counterparts: “I love the Miri Regevs of this country: I know them as if they were my sisters. I do not accept their hate, because it is a cruel rigidity born, in this case, of self-made inferiority. I do not accept their blindness toward similar human stories, toward shared human experiences.” Read more here.
License to Kill (series)
A Palestinian is arrested for not carrying an ID card. A few hours later, while handcuffed inside a military base, he is shot to death. A Palestinian taxi driver is shot in the back by an Israeli soldier. Investigators say they cannot locate the shooters, even though their identity is known. Two teens are shot to death in their own village by an IDF major. The major admits to lying and committing forgery to cover up his crime. Every year, Israeli soldiers shoot and kill unarmed Palestinians in the occupied territories. Time and again, it seems like the soldiers responsible are never brought to justice. We open up the case files to examine exactly how the army gives its soldiers a license to kill. Read the cases here.
The Long Road to Bethlehem
+972 blogger and Jewish-American-Israeli journalist Mya Guarnieri never had an easy time living in Israel. She quickly found herself feeling that she was on the wrong side of the Green Line so she decided to move to Bethlehem. But navigating Palestinian society as a Jew, living with the haunting tribulations of the occupation and trying to make work a relationship of which neither society approved didn’t turn out to be much easier. Join Mya in her six-part autobiographical series, which might just be one of the best things you read this year. Start reading part one.
IDF Censors redacts 1 in 5 articles it reviews for publication
Some countries have mechanisms for requesting that journalists refrain from publishing sensitive information. Israel is all but alone among Western democratic states that have a military state censor who can impose its will on independent journalists. Nowhere else in similar countries must reported materials be submitted for prior review by the military. Through a freedom of information request, +972 Magazine discovered that since 2011 the IDF Censor has redacted — in full or in part — over 17,000 articles, a shocking view into the full scope of censorship in Israel. Read Haggai Matar’s full story here. Earlier in the year, Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man reported on the new IDF Censor’s attempts to control social media and blogs in Israel, and beyond.
The Right still hasn’t internalized that Palestinians exist
Earlier this year, the Knesset passed a law that would allow it to expel Arab members of Knesset from their positions as elected officials. Growing attempts to marginalize Palestinian citizens come at a time when Palestinian citizens of Israel are more present than ever in the Israeli public sphere. Noam Sheizaf warns that pushing them out completely could wind up changing the rules of the game — pushing Israel even farther into authoritarianism and opening the door to more violence between Arabs and Jews.
One year on: The Iran deal has fulfilled its promise
Contrary to Netanyahu’s shrill alarmism, the Iran nuclear deal blocked Tehran’s path to a nuclear weapon, subjecting it to the most invasive and thorough inspections in the history of nuclear supervision. No matter how the Israeli prime minister tries to spin it, a year after it was signed, the deal has succeeded in doing exactly what it set out to do. Read more here.
Israelis don’t get to hold a referendum on Palestine
A poll this year found that if there were a Brexit-style referendum over whether to maintain Israeli control over the West Bank, most Israelis would choose ‘yes.’ Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man writes that Israelis do not have the democratic right to decide the fate of the Palestinians, or anyone else for that matter. Israelis only have the right to decide their own fate — whether they want their country to be a democracy. If Israelis choose to be a democracy, that means the only people who should be voting on the fate of Palestine should be Palestinians.
Two state solution is dead. Let’s move on
This past year Talal Jabari wrote a piece that stopped us in our tracks. For over 70 years, he argues, Palestinians have been fighting for their existence, for their land, to end the occupation — and what do they have to show for it? An abysmal refugee situation that persists, or rather one that continuously reinvents itself. So what’s Jabari’s solution? To live as a proud Palestinian who happens to be a citizen of Israel instead of continuing the sham Palestinians live in now under the Palestinian Authority. Read the full article here.
The brutal attack on a gay club in Orlando this past June left the LGBTQ community stunned and traumatized. But contrary to the media, which focused on the ethnic origin of the murderer, the question of ISIS or whether he visited radical Islamist websites before he decided to go and massacre LGBTQ people, Yael Marom and Ma’ayan Dak remind us that it doesn’t matter exactly which religion made him hate an entire community. Sometimes it’s Christianity, sometimes it’s radical Jewish extremists, sometimes it’s Islam. It’s always the fear of those who are different, those who challenge the existing order.
The war of succession brewing in Palestine
On the face of it, 2016 was a relatively quiet year for internal Palestinian politics. But behind the scenes the head of the Palestinian security services was being bolstered by Israeli support. Mahmoud Abbas’ eternal rival Mohammed Dahlan was working to rally backers in Egypt. And from prison, Marwan Barghouti began plans for a nonviolent struggle to enlist the Palestinian public worldwide. The struggle over Abbas’ succession looks like it’s just beginning. Read Menachem Klein’s full article here.
From Umm al-Hiran, Zionism’s future looks bleak
The unrecognized Bedouin village of Umm al-Hiran is under threat of demolition and being turned into a Jewish town. That’s the reality Israel’s Bedouin citizens live with every single day under Zionism, which by definition privileges one national group at the expense of another — the indigenous group. As long as there are still people among us who don’t want to be just democratic or Jewish, but simply human beings, argues Orly Noy, it’s time to part ways with Jewish supremacy.
Black Lives Matter platform is a victory for transnational struggles
The Movement for Black Lives platform, published this past August, sparked a heated debate across activist communities, including on this very site. The inclusion of the word “genocide” to describe Israel’s policies toward Palestinians even rubbed some of the most radical activists the wrong way. For Amjad Iraqi, the debate over a single word is a minor one, which misses the larger point. 2016 was the year that Black American activists delivered a powerful message to Palestinians and other oppressed communities around the world: you are not alone in your causes.
The subtle nuances of Obama’s Peres eulogy
President Barack Obama used his heartfelt tribute to Israel’s last-standing founding father in order to deliver a message to Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli public. Standing above Peres’ coffin, Obama urged the country to go beyond passivity and fear, to do something brave and generous for a better future for all living in Israel-Palestine. Click here to read Lisa Goldman’s piece.
Telling the story of Gaza’s obliterated families
There is no shortage of numbers and statistics cited in reporting on periods of war and violence. Often times certain wars come to be represented by numbers. The number of killed, wounded, displaced. The number of homes damaged or destroyed. But photojournalists Anne Paq and Ala Qandil were haunted by one specific number about the 2014 Gaza war. One hundred and forty-two. The 142 families that lost three or more members. Obliterated families. These are their stories.
From Haifa to Beirut: ’48 Palestinians challenge regional isolation
For Palestinian citizens of Israel, particularly those from Haifa and its surroundings, Beirut holds near mythical stature. The two cities share near-identical Arabic dialects, cuisine and the cultural elements, and just a few decades ago traveling between them would have been a mere two-hour drive. Today that is almost unimaginable. Maisan Hamdan decided to challenge those seemingly impenetrable borders when she decided to make the trip to Lebanon’s capital. Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man sat down with her to talk about her journey.
Pro-Israel and racist? Palestinians aren’t surprised
That President-elect Donald Trump tapped white nationalists and champions of the most far-right brand of Zionism to top-level positions sparked a fiery debate among the Jewish community in the United States. But as Samer Badawi writes, the idea that Israel can be a cause célèbre for bigots is hardly news to Palestinians, whose very existence vies with a state that has always been steeped in European, colonial racism.
Yuval Ben-Ami’s project earlier this year was an anti-travelogue — an exploration of places unvisited. Born in a land where restrictions on travel are accepted as normal and essential, he now ventures where travel writers seldom do: nowhere, elsewhere and nearly there. Read the full series.
A year since the Duma murders: Navigating justice and pain
A year after losing his parents and baby brother, six-year-old Ahmad Dawabshe returns to Duma for the first time. At court hearings for the accused murderers, settler youths taunt the remaining family members. A journey through an unimaginably painful year with Samah Salaime, who was there with the family in the early terrifying hours.
The crisis of Israel’s anti-occupation Left
Israelis emigrating — or considering emigration — for political reasons are inadvertently adopting the spirit of the boycott movement in the sense that they, too, have given up on the idea of change coming from within. Mairav Zonszein at her finest, making the political personal.
How to mourn terror victims as a leftist
Leftists always worry that the Right will exploit violence to advance its political agenda, so we tend to remain silent in the face of horrific violence. The Left needs to learn how to mourn while rejecting the political programs of our leaders — and even the victims. The first of two articles this year in which Dahlia Scheindlin reflected on the way leftists relate to victims of political violence and terrorism. Also read her second article on the topic, “Teen’s murder is a reminder that we are all settlers.”